Everything pointed to him. A hat-trick in the last round of the calendar, as well as the lead in the World Superbike Championship, were the main reasons for the rider who stood out today during the first day of the Prosecco DOC Catalunya WorldSBK. Álvaro Bautista, once again. The Spaniard made the most of every opportunity he had on the asphalt and thus completed all the pending missions of the day: to sign Superpole and win Race 1 at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
The day for WorldSBK started with Álvaro Bautista’s fastest lap, followed by his Aruba.it Racing-Ducati team-mate Michael Rinaldi. Jonathan Rea, meanwhile, was the closest of the two Ducati riders. A few hours later, both these positions and those of the rest of his rivals would change significantly, except for Álvaro Bautista, who did not relinquish the lead at any time.
The Talavera de la Reina rider was clear from the start and led from start to finish. Proof of this was the almost nine-second advantage over second and third placed Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). Second position, however, was in the hands of Michael Rinaldi.
In fact, Race 1 had two major phases. The first one lasted a little more than three laps and the second one lasted seventeen. The reason for the split was a red flag caused by Eric Granado (Petronas MIE Racing Honda Team), who went to the ground in the Stadium area without serious consequences for him. After a second start, Rinaldi also crashed when he was running second due to a touch with another Ducati rider, Axel Bassani. That second position did not last long for Bassani, as the race direction imposed a long lap penalty for the incident.
Jonathan Rea was in charge of defending the silver after the incident, with the Turkish rider somewhat distanced from him. It wasn’t until the final lap that Razgatlioglu was able to overtake the multi-champion of the discipline in the braking at turn 1. Even so, the Turkish rider entered the turn almost losing control of his bike, something that seemed to foreshadow Rea’s overtaking again. Eventually, Razgatlioglu was able to hold on to second place during that last lap, to the detriment of Rea, who had to settle for third place.
Axel Bassani, despite the long lap, just missed out on the podium. Even so, race direction is studying whether or not the Italian’s penalty was carried out correctly, so the results could still change. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) rounded off the top five, followed by Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) and home rider Xavi Vierge (Team HRC), who has been in the top ten so far this season. Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) and Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) rounded off the top ten.
Less fortunate than Vierge were Isaac Viñales (TPR by Viñales Racing) and Iker Lecuona (Team HRC). Both crashed during the final stages of the race. The Spaniards will surely try to make up for it tomorrow in front of the home fans at the Circuit.
Bulega, stronger leader after first Supersport race in Barcelona
Nicolo Bulega could start to sound as a strong candidate for the Supersport crown this year. The Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team rider won at the Circuit after dominating almost every lap. The only other rider to get into a head-to-head battle with him was Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Augusta Reparto Corse), but in the end the Turkish rider finished third.
His team-mate Marcel Schroetter was the third in contention, finding a place in between the two riders. Despite closing the top five in the early stages, the German maintained a great pace, constantly overtaking to consolidate his second place, just six tenths of a second behind Bulega. Meanwhile, Sofuoglu was caught up in a large group of riders who were trying to make it difficult for the Turkish rider to take the podium.
The one who tried the hardest was Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha). The second in the championship didn’t want to give up a single point to Bulega, but the strategy didn’t work out well. During the last laps, Manzi held on to the third position, but Sofuoglu didn’t want to give him the pleasure. So much so that on the last lap they overtook each other seven times. It was necessary to review the images to find out who crossed the finish line first. That was the Turkish rider, who signed his first podium in the category. In addition, Manzi was penalised and finished sixth.
Buis reigns amidst equality in Supersport 300
The first race of the WorldSSP 300 series at the Circuit was, as it usually happens, a constant display of interesting battles and young talents eager to stand out. And that is precisely what Jeffrey Buis did today. The MTM Kawasaki rider, who started from fifth position, had enough skill and cunning to take the reins of the race during the first laps.
After the first quarter of the race, the Dutchman seemed to be struggling, being overtaken by a large group of up to eight riders. However, after several laps of constant changes, Buis regained the lead with three laps to go before the chequered flag. With the Kawasaki rider on the top step of the podium, Samuel di Sora was second and Mirko Gennai (Team BrCorse) third. Both were in the leading group for most of the race.
Championship leader Peter Svoboda (Fusport-RT Motorsport by SKM Kawasaki) more than saved what could have been a difficult race, as he started 16th. Svoboda was fourth, followed by a rider who deserves a special mention, Humberto Maier (Yamaha MS Racing/AD78 Latin America Team). Maier, who had won Superpole, was relegated to the back of the grid after receiving a penalty for reckless driving in qualifying. However, having learned his lesson, Maier moved up several positions to 5th, despite having lapped in 2nd place.
Victories for Ercolani and Manso in the Yamaha Cup
The Yamaha R3 bLU cRU European Championship Cup has finished its run at the Circuit after holding two scoring races today. In the first one, Emiliano Ercolani took the top position, followed by Aldi Satya Mahendra and Dorian Joulin. In the second, Gustavo Manso beat Ercolani by a thousandth of a second. Kevin Fontainha completed the second podium of the day. The only Spaniard present, Marc Vich, was sixth and fourth respectively.
A day for fans
Beyond racing, fans were able to enjoy a day with multiple proposals. In addition to the Paddock Show, where the podiums and interviews with the riders took place, some of the attendees were able to enjoy the adrenaline of riding around the Circuit thanks to the Parade Lap, and doing it just a few minutes after their idols. The first of the two Pit Walks scheduled for this weekend also took place, which provided the opportunity to walk around the pit lane and see all the garages and the teams that occupy them up close.
Tomorrow, from 9.00 am to 10.00 am, the WorldSBK, WorldSSP and WorldSSP 300 Warm Up sessions will follow one after the other. The WorldSBK Tissot Superpole Race will take place at 11.00 am, followed by the Pit Walk at 11.25 am. The final races will take place at 12.30 pm (WorldSSP), 2.00 pm (WorldSBK) and 3.15 pm (WorldSSP 300).
A sustainable event
The Prosecco DOC Catalunya WorldSBK has been ISO 20121 certified since 2021 for its commitment to sustainability, promoting actions to raise awareness among all stakeholders.
This year, for instance, sustainable mobility and the efficient use of resources are promoted. For this purpose, the Circuit works with suppliers that use electric vehicles, and also has charging points in the paddock for teams and promoters. The efficient use of resources is also promoted, with an emphasis on water consumption restrictions due to the current drought context.
Another action to be highlighted is a committed and 0 km catering offer, the reduction of plastic waste through reusable cups, as well as the correct segregation of all waste, and the donation of surplus food generated by the teams.
All this always trying to raise awareness in the community with areas such as the Crater Forest, the sustainability stand in the paddock (open from 9.00 am to 2.00 pm). The Red Cross point located next to Gate 1 offers ambulance service for people with reduced mobility.
Fans can enter the venue from 8.00 am through Gate 1. Ticket office 1 will also be open for any formalities, and vehicles can be parked in car parks A1 and A2. The grandstands open for viewing are C, B, G and Pelouse Privilege (the building will be closed), while the Main and VIP Grandstands are for the exclusive use of people with paddock access.