News 25 Feb 2023

Bautista edges Rea in wet-weather Phillip Island opener

Bulega emerges victorious in dramatic opening WorldSSP bout.

Image: Russell Colvin.

Reigning Superbike world champion Alvaro Bautista has started his title defence in the best possible way, edging Jonathan Rea in the wet-weather season-opening race at Phillip Island as Nicolo Bulega won what was a dramatic Supersport World Championship encounter.

The precipitation had set in before the start of the opening premier class encounter, with Bautista ( Racing Ducati) and Kawasaki Racing Team’s Rea breaking away early.

It seemed like it was advantage Rea until the halfway point when Bautista reeled the number 65 back in, making a decisive pass into turn three and then managed the gap at the front to bank 25 points to start the season.

Rea ultimately finished 3.471s back in second, with former champion Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon) also standing on the podium, a distant third.

Teammate to the Turkish rider, Andrea Locatelli was fourth as Motocorsa Racing’s Axel Bassani completed the top five, leading Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) and Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) who was elevated ahead of Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing) after the Italian was given a one place penalty for irresponsible riding following collision with the number 97 at turn 11.

BMW-equipped duo Scott Redding and Garrett Gerloff rounded out the top 10, while Australian Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha) finished his first WorldSBK bout in P12. Notably Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team) fell with 11 laps to go and has been taken to the medical centre for further evaluation.

Image: Russell Colvin.

A dramatic Supersport World Championship (WorldSSP) opener saw Bulega ( Racing Ducati) ultimately emerge victorious after a red flag restart and rain delays.

The race started in tricky, mixed conditions, and was red-flagged after two laps following a multi-bike fall at Siberia that involved Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) and Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team). Huertas has notably been declared unfit with a lumbar contusion and will be transported to the hospital for further assessment.

The race was delayed further following the warm-up lap for the restart, but finally got underway in damp to wet conditions after Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) fell on the third warm-up lap.

In the 10-lap shortened bout, Bulega took the checkered flag 0.942s clear of Nicholas Spinelli (VFT Racing Yamaha), with John McPhee (Vince64 by Puccetti Racing) delivering an inspired performance in the challenging conditions to finish third.

Crossing the line a distant fourth was Dynavolt Triumph’s Niki Tuuli, ahead of Tarran Mackenzie (Petronas MIE MS Racing Honda Team), superpole leader Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) and Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse).

Featuring in positions eight to 10 were Anupab Sarmoon (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team), Jorge Navarro (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) and Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team), while Australia’s Oli Bayliss D34G completed the first race of the season in P16.

Detailed results