UPS AND DOWNS: Bautista’s perfect start to his title defence, but a difficult round for Rea and Razgatlioglu…

Monday, 27 February 2023 07:17 GMT

After an incredible season-opening Australian Round, check out the ups and downs from Phillip Island with plenty of talking points

The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship started its 2023 campaign in style at the iconic Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit with the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round and, after three dramatic races, there were plenty of talking points as well as ups and downs. Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) started his title defence in the perfect fashion with a hat-trick of wins while his 2022 title rivals faltered on Sunday.

The undoubted high of the weekend belongs to Bautista after his three victories. He mastered the conditions in Saturday’s Race 1 to take the first win of 2023 before backing this up with two more victories on Sunday in the Tissot Superpole Race and Race 2. He took a maximum 62 points from Australia and he heads into the Motul Indonesian Round later this week with a 28-point advantage over Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK).

Locatelli is another rider who enjoyed the Australian Round with his first podium of the year, coming in Race 2 after he showed strong pace all weekend. Three top-five finishes means he’s recorded his best start to a WorldSBK campaign and sits second in the standings. Bautista’s teammate, Michael Ruben Rinaldi, had a superb Sunday to claim two second place finishes after a difficult Saturday, while there was also success for Independent riders.

Dominique Aegerter’s (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) WorldSBK career got off to a stunning start in Saturday’s Tissot Superpole session with third place and he briefly led the timesheets. A wet Race 1 was difficult for Aegerter, but he was fighting for the podium in the Tissot Superpole Race before he was taken out by his teammate, while he battled back up from tenth in Race 2 to take seventh. Both Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) and Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) took top-five finishes in Race 2 with Bassani fourth and Oettl in fifth as they fought for top Independent honours, with Oettl recording his best WorldSBK result and Bassani fighting from 14th in Superpole to fourth at the end of Race 2.

Sunday was a challenge for Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) as he could manage only eighth in Race 2 to leave him trailing Bautista by 31 points heading into Indonesia. He also lost ground in the Superpole Race having started from fourth place after he was ran wide by Aegerter which dropped him to ninth place. He gained two positions late on in the Superpole Race but was unable to make up any more positions. For Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) did not score point in Race 2 after a collision with Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) at Turn 4 on Lap 17, with both riders retiring from the race. It was also a difficult day for Aegerter’s teammate, Remy Gardner, after the Australian took Aegerter out of the Superpole Race when both were in the hunt for a maiden podium. Gardner apologised after the crash to his teammate but his misdemeanour earned him a Long Lap Penalty for Race 2.

Watch more incredible WorldSBK action as the Championship heads to Indonesia using the WorldSBK VideoPass!