Aruba.it Ducati’s Alvaro Bautista continued his 2023 WorldSBK domination with a commanding victory at Mandalika on Saturday afternoon.
The Spaniard’s unbeaten run stretched to four as round two kicked off just as the season opener had concluded. Five seconds the gap to Pata Yamaha’s podium challengers Toprak Razgatlioglu and Andrea Locatelli at the chequered flag.
Razgatlioglu maintained his impeccable Indonesian pole record as 2023’s race one prepared. Locatelli lining up alongside his teammate with Australia’s triple winner Bautista competing the Lombok front row.
Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea was forced to start the 21 lap race from eight on the grid after a late demotion for slow riding during the Superpole session, with fellow KRT rider Alex Lowes one place behind. Michael Rinaldi, Loris Baz, Axel Bassani and Danilo Petrucci completing the leading rows from fourth to seventh respectively ahead of lights out, with Remy Gardner and Eric Granado missing due to sickness.
The acton ignited on a dry and 50℃ temperature track with Razgatlioglu holding his advantage from a hard pushing Bassani, Bautista quickly bettering the satellite Ducati as his factory teammate skittled himself out of contention at turn one.
Petrucci sat fourth as the opening lap settled in. Locatelli dropped to fifth from Lowes and an advancing Xavi Vierge on the Honda Fireblade with Rea battling BMW’s Scott Redding for eighth.
Rea was through on Vierge for seventh as the second lap concluded. Bonovo’s Garrett Gerloff heading BMW teammate Baz on the edge of the top ten before Michael van der Mark split the pair on the factory M1000RR next time around.
A trio of Ducatis trailed Razgatlioglu by a quarter of a second as lap four fired up. Locatelli up to fourth as Rea found sixth with Lowes neatly behind before the Northern Irishman continued his climb.
Bautista took charge on lap six as the top eight continued to run within two seconds of each other. Bassani the next to dispatch the former race leader as Razgatlioglu was relegated into the path of his teammate, for third. The 2021 champion hitting back at turn ten one lap later.
A new fastest lap allowed the Aruba rider to advance his lead to almost a second at a third race distance. The pack beginning to spend out under the increasing pace. Van der Mark headed the BMW contingent from ninth on lap nine, Baz and Redding behind with Dominique Aegerter breaking the pattern from 12th on the GRT Yamaha.
The double Supersport champion was the man on the move next time around as he dispatched the Brit for 11th. Honda’s Iker Lecuona taking his own look at the number 45 just a tenth behind with GoEleven’s Philipp Oettl disappointing Redding further as the lap played out.
Lowes bettered Rea for fifth at the halfway stage with Bassani the next in his sights. Fourth captured briefly next time around as first Tom Sykes retired into pitlane on the Puccetti ZX10-RR with a visibly frustrated Redding shortly behind.
Petrucci began to hassle the six-time champ with eight laps to go. The move completed through turn ten as the Italian advanced to sixth, Aegerter enjoying similar success further back for tenth with Vierge attempting his own look at Rea moments later.
Late race pace brought van der Mark into contention with six to go. The Dutchman hard on the wheels of the fading Kawasaki before he finally capitalised down the inside at turn ten, Rea immediately hitting back with a move worthy of an apology before the fight continued to play out.
There was further anguish for KRT as Vierge got the better of Lowes for sixth. Van der Mark securing eighth from Rea shortly after as he began to hunt down his former teammate, while Aegerter arrived to challenge for ninth.
The penultimate lap found Bautista with another dominant five-second lead over the Pata duo. Van der Mark quickly through on both Lowes and Vierge as he swept up to sixth with Aegerter doing likewise on both KRT riders behind.
Four wins from four races saw the reigning champion’s title defence strengthened as he claimed Ducati’s maiden win at the Lombok venue. Razgatlioglu and Locatelli completed the podium celebrations with Bassani and Petrucci a second clear of van der Mark’s impressive late charge. Vierge, Aegerter, Rea and Lowes rounded out the top ten while Baz, Lecuona, Oettl, Gerloff and GMT94’s Lorenzo Baldassarri completed the points finishers ahead of Hafizh Syahrin, Oliver Konig and a limping Sykes, four laps down.