Mahias wins first WorldSSP race of season as Gonzalez claims WorldSSP300 title.
The Pirelli French Round will go down in the history books of the Motul Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK), as Kawasaki Racing Team’s Jonathan Rea clinched a fifth-consecutive title at Magny-Cours.
It began with Turkey’s first-ever winner in Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) and finished with Rea winning race two to become the championship’s first ever five-time champion following early misfortune for nearest rival Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati).
Starting from pole position for the first time in WorldSBK, Razgatlioglu couldn’t make the same lightning start which saw him leap up the order in the two previous races. Rea edged up the inside into turn one to grab the lead but he wouldn’t stay ahead for long, as Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) used the slipstream to hit the front at the Adelaide hairpin.
The moment which ultimately proved decisive in the 2019 series came on lap two as Razgatlioglu lost the rear of his Kawasaki on the exit of turn 13. As the Turkish rider fought to control the slide, Bautista was powerless to avoid the race one winner and both riders were eliminated on the spot. With the words ‘Bautista out’ displayed on his pit-board next time around, Rea now knew that a race victory would see him make history.
Van der Mark was keen to ensure that Rea didn’t have an unchallenged run to a fifth WorldSBK crown, keeping the Ulsterman at bay until the Imola chicane on lap six. The Dutchman didn’t trail for long with the Yamaha proving a formidable motorcycle down the back straight towards turn five, an advantage van der Mark utilised to power past on lap eight.
As the race ticked over half distance, Rea mounted another attack on the leader with Van der Mark going defensive into Adelaide. The championship leader was wise to this tactic though and drew alongside into the following Nurburgring chicane, making the move stick on lap 13. With Van der Mark no longer close enough to make use of the slipstream next time around, Rea had the margin he needed to ease clear.
Despite a valiant effort from Van der Mark, the advantage grew to over one-second, allowing Rea to close out the final laps and claim his 12th victory of 2019. This one was the sweetest of all though as he completed one of the great WorldSBK comebacks. From 61 points behind, Rea now holds an unassailable 129-point advantage and a place in the history books as the first ever five-time WorldSBK champion.
Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) completed the team’s first double-podium of the season with a close third, consolidating third in the championship standings, while Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), who was heavily delayed in the early collision between his teammate Bautista and Razgatlioglu, recovered to finish fourth, overtaking home favourite Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha) on lap 14. Despite a late challenge from the Frenchman, he was forced to settle for fifth, completing a positive weekend at his home round as the Top Independent Rider in race two.
Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) closed out the final European round of his WorldSBK career with a strong charge from 15th on the grid to sixth, winning a close three-way fight on the last lap. The Italian finished just a tenth of a second clear of Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) with Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) right behind the pair in eighth. Leon Camier (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) was ninth, finishing clear of Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing).
Unpredictability reigned in a dramatic WorldSSP race at the Pirelli French Round as championship favourites Randy Krummenacher and Federico Caricasulo (Bardahl Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) both crashed out to leave the championship open.
This allowed Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) to claim his first win of the season after a thrilling last lap scrap with Isaac Vinales (Kallio Racing), with Ayrton Badovini (Team Pedercini Racing) third. It was Kawasaki’s first WorldSSP victory since Kenan Sofuoglu at Portimao in 2017, ending Yamaha’s 24-race winning streak in the class.
The championship now moves on to Argentina at the Circuito San Juan Villicum with Krummenacher retaining his ten-point lead over team-mate Federico Caricasulo, while Jules Cluzel (GMT94 Yamaha) still holds an outside chance of the crown after scoring sixth on Sunday.
The Pirelli French Round saw a special moment in the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship as Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP300) claimed her second victory of the season, while also handing over her crown to Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) who clinched the 2019 title with second place ahead of Scott Deroue (Kawasaki Motoport).