Alvaro Bautista leveraged a cruel blow to Toprak Razgatlioglu’s already faint title hopes by snatching victory from his rival on the dash to the finish line in the WorldSBK Superpole Race at Portimao.
The Spaniard overcame a difficult opening lap that left him playing catch up to Razgatlioglu out front to steadily reel his rival in and go toe-to-toe with the Pata Yamaha man over the final revolutions.
Though a dogged effort by Razgatlioglu saw him rebuff an advancing Bautista deep into the final lap of the race, Bautista stayed close enough around the last long right-hander to get the slingshot past the Yamaha to take victory by just +0.142secs.
A 23rd WorldSBK win of the season for the Aruba Racing Ducati rider, it means Bautista has eked his overall lead up to 55 points over Razgatlioglu. Should he out-score his rival by seven points (62 point lead) in this afternoon’s Race 2, Bautista will be crowned WorldSBK Champion with a round in hand.
While the end result leaves Bautista sitting even prettier at the summit of the overall standings, for a while it appeared he would in fact give away some of his advantage to Razgatlioglu as he struggled to get up to speed in the early stages.
Bullied down to sixth place at one stage on the opening lap, Bautista did at least get to pick up two spots to fourth simultaneously as he watched Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes exit stage right with almost identical, yet individual low-sides at Turn 5 while running second and fourth.
Fortunate not to take down the Yamahas they were following - Razgatlioglu ahead of Andrea Locatelli - it meant the R1 pair were able to scamper into a comfortable advantage over the early laps.
Bautista, by contrast, initially had his hands full of Michael van der Mark’s BMW but once he worked his way up to third, he’s steadily hunt down Locatelli, getting the move done for second into Turn 1 on lap five despite the Italian’s best efforts to hang it out wide in defence.
Trailing Razgatlioglu by just over a second with five laps remaining, Bautista diligently worked the gap down to get onto his tail with three laps remaining. After feigned attempts to pass in a straight line only drew a superior response from Razgatlioglu on the brakes into Turn 1, when the 2021 WorldSBK Champion successfully repelled the Ducati’s advances at the start of the final lap, it appeared the Turk might finally hold on to victory.
Alas for him, Bautista would get his head down through the final sector to harass the Yamaha entering the long final corner before pulling out wide to find the gap he needed to out-drag him to the flag.
While the marginal three-point gain for first over second in the Superpole Race represents only a scant difference in the already sizeable margin, should Bautista win Race 2 this afternoon and Razgatlioglu finish ninth, lower or fail to finish at all, the title will be assured in Spanish hands once more.
With both Kawasakis out early on, Locatelli took advantage for his seventh podium of the season, while GYTR GRT’s Remy Gardner consolidated Yamaha’s positive morning with the best finish of his rookie campaign thus far in fourth.
Iker Lecuona completed the top five as the best-placed Honda rider, while Michael Ruben Rinaldi shrugged off a 13th place starting position to secure a better grid slot in Race 2 with sixth.
van der Mark held off a busy mid-pack to secure top BMW honours in seventh place, with the final points’ paying positions and the completion of row three for Race 2 assumed by Garrett Gerloff in eighth and Xavi Vierge in ninth.
|2023 Portimao WorldSBK | Portimao | Superpole Race Results | Round 11 of 12|
|1||Alvaro Bautista||🇪🇸||Aruba Ducati||Ducati Panigale V4 R||10 Laps|
|2||Toprak Razgatlioglu||🇹🇷||Pata Crescent Racing||Yamaha R1||+0.142|
|3||Andrea Locatelli||🇮🇹||Pata Crescent Racing||Yamaha R1||+4.024|
|4||Remy Gardner||🇦🇺||GYTR GRT||Yamaha R1||+6.984|
|5||Iker Lecuona||🇪🇸||Team HRC||Honda CBR1000RR-R||+7.236|
|6||Michael Ruben Rinaldi||🇮🇹||Aruba Ducati||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+7.549|
|7||Michael van der Mark||🇳🇱||BMW Motorrad WorldSBK||BMW M 1000 RR||+8.387|
|8||Garrett Gerloff||🇺🇲||Bonovo Racing||BMW M 1000 RR||+9.898|
|9||Xavi Vierge||🇪🇸||Team HRC||Honda CBR1000RR-R||+11.003|
|10||Philipp Oettl||🇩🇪||Go Eleven||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+11.230|
|11||Axel Bassani||🇮🇹||Motocorsa Racing||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+11.362|
|12||Loris Baz||🇫🇷||Bonovo Racing||BMW M 1000 RR||+12.751|
|13||Scott Redding||🇬🇧||BMW Motorrad WorldSBK||BMW M 1000 RR||+12.806|
|14||Dominique Aegerter||🇨🇭||GYTR GRT||Yamaha R1||+13.053|
|15||Danilo Petrucci||🇮🇹||Barni Spark Racing||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+13.609|
|16||Lorenzo Baldassarri||🇮🇹||GMT 94||Yamaha R1||+18.858|
|17||Bradley Ray||🇬🇧||Motoxracing||Yamaha R1||+21.305|
|18||Tito Rabat||🇪🇸||Puccetti Racing||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+21.363|
|19||Hafizh Syahrin||🇲🇾||MIE Racing||Honda CBR1000RR-R||+23.818|
|20||Isaac Vinales||🇪🇸||TPR by Vinales Racing||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+24.348|
|21||Gabriele Ruiu||🇮🇹||B-Max Racing||BMW M 1000 RR||+31.299|
|DNF||Alex Lowes||🇬🇧||Kawasaki Racing Team||Kawasaki ZX-10RR|
|DNF||Jonathan Rea||🇬🇧||Kawasaki Racing Team||Kawasaki ZX-10RR|
|DNS||Eric Granado||🇧🇷||MIE Racing||Honda CBR1000RR-R|
|DNS||Oliver Konig||🇨🇿||Orelac Racing||Kawasaki ZX-10RR|