Six-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea edged Alvaro Bautista by 0.101s in a nail-biting duel at Aragon to start his 2022 World Superbike campaign with a win.
In a duel that lasted until the penultimate bend of the final lap, the Kawasaki rider overtook defending champion Razgatlioglu and then outgunned Ducati returnee Bautista to win his 113th race in the production-based category.
Polesitter Razgatlioglu, Alvaro Bautista and Jonathan Rea who started the race from the front row were initially locked in a three-way duel for victory, with each enjoying moments at the front as they exploited their motorcycles’ abilities.
However, after both Rea and Bautista flew past Razgatlioglu while braking for Turn 1 on lap 6, the Yamaha rider had no further involvement in the race, resulting in a final-lap duel between the two leaders.
Bautista exploited his Ducati’s stronger grunt to grab the lead into Turn 16, which follows the long back-straight, after experimenting with this strategy in the final third of the race to mixed success.
However, the Ulsterman spotted what was coming and slammed his Kawasaki into Bautista’s Ducati at the next corner, ensuring he crossed the finish line first.
Later, Rea was able to hold off Bautista in the final laps, depriving Bautista his first win at Ducati by just over a tenth of a second in the season opener.
For the first 10 laps, Razgatlioglu stayed within striking distance of Rea and Bautista, but he didn’t have the speed to keep up with them as the race progressed, and he finished third, 1.5 seconds behind Rea and Bautista.
On his Ducati, Michael Ruben Rinaldi was circling at the tail of the leading trio at one time, but he too fell back in the closing stages of the race, finishing fourth 4.7 seconds behind the leaders.
Andrea Locatelli, running on a factory Yamaha, fell to seventh on the first lap of the race but rallied to finish fifth, nearly ten seconds behind race winner Rea.
Both Honda riders made significant inroads in the early parts of the 18-lap race, with Iker Lecuona finishing sixth and Xavi Vierge sprinting from 13th on the grid to finish seventh at the finish line.
Ilya Mikhalchik continued to impress while filling in for Michael van der Mark on the factory BMW, finishing seventh on his WSBK debut ahead of Bonovo MGM rider Loris Baz on the satellite M1000RR.
Garrett Gerloff of the GRT Yamaha rounded out the top ten. Scott Redding had a difficult day in his maiden race with BMW, finishing 15th after sliding to 17th in the early stages of the race.
Alex Lowes, who crashed his factory Kawasaki on lap 8 while running inside the top five, was the sole prominent retiree from the first race of 2022.
2022 WORLD SUPERBIKE ARAGON, SPAIN – RACE (1) RESULTS
|1||Jonathan Rea||GBR||Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK||18 Laps|
|2||Alvaro Bautista||SPA||Aruba.It Racing Ducati||+0.090s|
|3||Toprak Razgatlioglu||TUR||PATA Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK||+5.416s|
|4||Michael Rinaldi||ITA||Aruba.It Racing Ducati||+10.272s|
|5||Andrea Locatelli||ITA||PATA Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK||+15.767s|
|6||Iker Lecuona||SPA||Team HRC WorldSBK||+18.670s|
|7||Xavi Vierge||SPA||Team HRC WorldSBK||+21.521s|
|8||Ilya Mykhalchyk||UKR||BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team||+21.605s|
|9||Garrett Gerloff||USA||GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team||+21.946s|
|10||Eugene Laverty||IRL||Bonovo Action BMW||+25.346s|
|11||Loris Baz||FRA||Bonovo Action BMW||+25.927s|
|12||Luca Bernardi||SM||Barni Spark Ducati Team||+28.460s|
|13||Philipp Oettl||GER||GoEleven Ducati||+28.728s|
|14||Lucas Mahias||FRA||Puccetti Kawasaki||+29.117s|
|15||Scott Redding||GBR||BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team||+29.637s|
|16||Axel Bassani||ITA||Motocorsa Ducati||+30.861s|
|17||Roberto Tamburini||ITA||Motoxracing Yamaha WorldSBK Team||+31.463s|
|18||Kohta Nozane||JPN||GRT Yamaha||+33.158s|
|19||Christophe Ponsson||FRA||Gil Motor Sport Yamaha||+53.223s|
|20||Leandro Mercado||ARG||MIE Honda Racing||+56.013s|
|21||Hafizh Syahrin||MAL||MIE Honda Racing||+58.063s|
|22||Oliver Konig||CZE||Orelac Racing Kawasaki||+1 Lap|
|23||Loris Cresson||BEL||Pedercini Kawasaki||+1 Lap|
|24||Alex Lowes||GBR||Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK||DNF|
|25||Gabriele Ruiu||ITA||Bmax Racing||DNF|