All three WorldSBK races at Estoril went down to the wire with Race 2 an epic showdown between six-time Champion Jonathan Rea and Alvaro Bautista
Sunday at the Estoril Round for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship proved to be a dramatic affair with two more last-lap deciders at the Circuito Estoril. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was able to come out on top in both at the Circuito Estoril as he beat title rival Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) in an epic showdown throughout the second half of the final lap.
Rea was able to close the gap from just under three tenths at the end of Lap 19 to 0.157s at the end of Lap 20, the penultimate lap, with the fastest lap of the race set by Rea on Lap 20 as he closed up on the Spaniard. On the final lap of the race, Rea made his move into Turn 7 with the pair exiting the corner sliding their respective machines as they looked to fight for the win.
Two corners later, Rea went for a move on the inside of the Turn 9 hairpin that forms part of the chicane to move into the lead of the race and from there he pushed on. It almost unravelled for him through the long right-hander of Turn 13 as he had a huge moment but was able to save it to take his second victory of the weekend and close the gap to Bautista in the Championship to 27 points.
Reacting to his last lap battle, Rea said: “I played my cards especially on the last lap. The race was quite stressful. We had this sea mist all race, especially in the last section of the circuit, going into Turns, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 so my visor was full of water and after a few laps behind Toprak, we had grip so I just convinced myself that it was dry. When Alvaro came past, it was like a seriousness of the race just switched on, so I knew I had to be there, to go with him.
“He did a really good job and I could use his slipstream on the start straight just to claw back a few kilometres, even though he was going away it was just enough to keep me there. I made a good Turn 1, by Turn 3 I was already there so I could be calmer at the rest of the track just to stay there. When it came to plotting a last lap move, I made a mistake with two laps to go and I had to arrive. It was really tough. I thought ‘should I make a big lunge into six?’ but he had such good traction through Turns 4 and 5 and along the back straight so it would’ve been too much. My mechanical traction from six was incredible. Parked the bike on the apex of Turn 7 and saw what I could do. He cut back again and then I thought about the chicane. Just go, park it on the apex, and try to cover my line. It was enough although I had a big slide at the last corner. I thought he was going to get me on the line, so I tried to make myself as small as possible. It was really, really exciting especially when you come out on top in a race like that.”
Bautista had been on the other end of a last-lap winning move in Race 1 was he outddragged Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) to the line on the final lap to claim victory. However, despite losing out on the win on the last lap, Bautista remains 17 points clear of Rea in the Championship battle and 52 clear of reigning Champion Razgatlioglu as he goes in search of his first WorldSBK title.
Discussing his epic fight with Rea, Bautista said: “in the end, I got a gap to Jonathan and the other riders, so it was nice but on the last lap the battle with Jonny was good. He tried to pass me into Turn 7, and I was prepared for this. I recovered the position. In the chicane, I tried to close the door, I thought I closed it quite well, but he just opened the door on the entry and just put the bike in front of me on entry. That’s all. Then I had to change the line and there was a bit of a gap to him on the exit of the chicane. I was too far and especially on the last lap, in the last sector, it started to rain so I just made the last corner without feeling the rear tyre slide, so I couldn’t do what I did yesterday, but I am happy that we fought until the end for victory.”
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