Alvaro Bautista has taken another comprehensive step forward in the 2023 WorldSBK Championship fight after overcoming a grid penalty to claim his sixth victory in seven races at Assen.
Bautista had originally qualified on pole position - only his third since the start of his dominant era of WorldSBK began at the start of the 2022 season - only to be demoted back to fourth as punishment for loitering on the racing line as he exited the pit-lane into the path of faster riders.
Despite the set-back, Bautista was soon on the prowl in the early stages of Race 1, shrugging off the early attentions of Alex Lowes in third before working his way past Toprak Razgatlioglu on lap six coming out of the final corner.
Up front, pole man Jonathan Rea - who got the hole-shot into Turn 1 - proved a more stubborn foe, but with Bautista swarming all over the Kawasaki it was only a matter of time before he got the jump on the Ulsterman.
The move eventually came just before the half-way point on lap nine, Bautista scorching into a lead he'd extend to more than three seconds by the chequered flag for another 25 points.
Though he didn't succeed with his spirited defence, Rea brought the Kawasaki home in second position for much-needed return to the WorldSBK podium, just ahead of 2021 WorldSBK Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu.
The Turk held second early on as he shadowed Rea, but lost touch with the leaders once he was passed by Bautista.
Though he'd work his way back onto the rear of Rea as the chequered flag loomed, he couldn't get the better of the Ulsterman, leaving him third.
His Pata Yamaha team-mate Andrea Locatelli followed him home in a distant fourth, the Italian prevailing in an entertaining scrap that ebbed and flowed as the race progressed. Initially held by Lowes, he was displaced by countryman Scott Redding on lap nine.
However, the Brits were overhauled by the advancing Italian front behind them with Axel Bassani getting by before Locatelli picked his way through too, eventually getting through on the Ducati rider too for fourth.
Bassani held on for fifth to secure top independents' honours aboard the Motocross Ducati, just ahead of Dominique Aegerter. The Swiss rider ran with the lead group in the opening laps before a mistake dropped him down to 12th, before battling back to sixth at the flag.
A fading Lowes ended up seventh, ahead of the second GYTR GRT Yamaha of Remy Gardner and Barni Spark Racing's Danilo Petrucci, the pair demoting a frustrated Redding to tenth after the ROKiT BMW rider struggled to the end.
Outside the top ten, Xavi Vierge, Garrett Gerloff and Michael van der Mark crossed the line 11th, 12th and 13th, with a busy battle for the final few points eventually went the way of Philipp Oettl and Michael Ruben Rinaldi, the latter struggling home in 15th having only started 16th.
Elsewhere, Bradley Ray held down a position inside the top fifteen for parts of the race but couldn't quite sustain that peak, eventually finishing 18th in a race of low attrition.
With only two non-finishers, Iker Lecuona crashed out on the Honda, while Tom Sykes slumped into another technical DNF as he continues his search for his first point on the Puccetti Kawasaki.
WorldSBK Assen - Race 1 Results
|2023 WorldSBK | Assen, Netherlands | Race 1 Results | Rd. 3 of 12|
|1||Alvaro Bautista||ESP||Aruba.it Ducati||Ducati Panigale V4 R||22 Laps|
|2||Jonathan Rea||GBR||Kawasaki Racing Team||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+3.148|
|3||Toprak Razgatlioglu||TUR||Pata Crescent Racing||Yamaha R1||+3.891|
|4||Andrea Locatelli||ITA||Pata Crescent Racing||Yamaha R1||+10.105|
|5||Axel Bassani||ITA||Motocorsa Racing||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+10.498|
|6||Dominique Aegerter||CHE||GYTR GRT||Yamaha R1||+13.952|
|7||Alex Lowes||GBR||Kawasaki Racing Team||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+14.098|
|8||Remy Gardner||AUS||GYTR GRT||Yamaha R1||+16.942|
|9||Danilo Petrucci||ITA||Barni Spark Racing||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+17.807|
|10||Scott Redding||GBR||BMW Motorrad WorldSBK||BMW M 1000 RR||+18.066|
|11||Xavi Vierge||ESP||Team HRC||Honda CBR1000RR-R||+22.002|
|12||Garrett Gerloff||USA||Bonovo Racing||BMW M 1000 RR||+23.632|
|13||Michael van der Mark||NED||BMW Motorrad WorldSBK||BMW M 1000 RR||+23.819|
|14||Philipp Oettl||GER||Go Eleven||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+25.088|
|15||Michael Ruben Rinaldi||ITA||Aruba.it Ducati||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+26.803|
|16||Lorenzo Baldassarri||ITA||GMT 94||Yamaha R1||+34.593|
|17||Loris Baz||FRA||Bonovo Racing||BMW M 1000 RR||+34.719|
|18||Bradley Ray||GBR||Motoxracing||Yamaha R1||+47.346|
|19||Hafizh Syahrin||MAL||MIE Racing||Honda CBR1000RR-R||+50.486|
|20||Oliver Konig||CZE||Orelac Racing||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+52.310|
|21||Eric Granado||BRA||MIE Racing||Honda CBR1000RR-R||+1m >|
|22||Gabriele Ruiu||POR||B-Max Racing||BMW M 1000 RR||+1m >|
|23||Isaac Vinales||ESP||TPR by Vinales Racing||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+1m >|
|DNF||Tom Sykes||GBR||Puccetti Racing||Kawasaki ZX-10RR|
|DNF||Iker Lecuona||ESP||Team HRC||Honda CBR1000RR-R|