#AragonWorldSBK – Sunday roundup: WorldSBK, World Supersport, WorldSSP300
The final WorldSBK race of the weekend continued to provide action and entertainment from lap one, with hard passes and an exciting battle taking place. Out in the lead of the race once more, Alvaro Bautista took his ninth consecutive race win to equal 2003 WorldSBK champion Neil Hodgson in winning the opening nine races of the season, as well as giving Ducati their 350th WorldSBK win.
Bautista took the advantage from pole position, seeing-off Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) into Turn 1. For the first time in the weekend in the blue-riband class, everyone made their way through the opening corners safely and without drama. Chaz Davies was an early improver and up to third place, whilst Alex Lowes was a strong fourth despite dropping back. Tom Sykes wasn’t the fastest starter and dropped back, allowing a rapid-starting Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) and Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) to get in close proximity.
A move made by Davies at Turn 7 on lap two to get ahead of Rea and pushed the reigning four-time champion back into the jaws of the chasing pack. An action-packed second lap saw passes galore, with Tom Sykes making an error at Turn 12 and seeing Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team) and Jordi Torres pass through – Torres now sixth from eighth on the grid, one of the strongest showings in WorldSBK by the Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki.
Alex Lowes was starting his comeback through the order, up to third position at Turn 1, ahead of Rea, who was starting to look vulnerable. Rea was now down in fourth and his teammate, Leon Haslam, was closing him down too. Behind this squabble over second position, Eugene Laverty was closing too, having disposed of Spanish home-hero Torres.
On lap eight, Davies began to pull away and put some distance in between himself and Lowes. Rea ran wide and took teammate Haslam with him; the Kawasaki riders were not looking like they were going to be able to mount a podium challenge. Lowes challenged Davies but was not able to make a pass. Further down the order, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) retired.
With Laverty dropping back from the battle for second and not able to initiate a challenge for the podium, Rea was starting his own resurgence, passing Lowes at Turn 7 but Lowes was able to get back ahead at Turn 8. Rea eventually made the move stick at Turn 12, dispatching of Lowes and soon setting off after Davies, who was escaping. Two laps later, and Haslam made his way passed Lowes at Turn 1, pursuing his teammate and Davies in second. Lowes would remain in fifth, firmly planted and on his way to a tenth consecutive top five placing.
Whilst Rea looked set for a guaranteed podium, teammate Haslam had other ideas and got ahead of the Ulsterman, taking over as the leader in the Kawasaki challenge. A lap later, and Rea repaid the compliment in identical fashion.
The penultimate lap beckoned, and it was Rea and Davies who renewed their rivalry. Rea put his trademark passing move on Davies at Turn 4, slicing under the Welshman, only for the 2011 WorldSSP champion to fight back at Turn 5. Leon Haslam, after initially being dropped by half-a-second, was now right back in the battle for the podium; something he hadn’t stood on since Race 2 at Phillip Island.
On the final lap, a mistake by Davies at Turn 1 allowed Rea to come straight through and put in the lap of his life to put distance into Davies. Haslam wasn’t able to capitalise on the mistake by Davies and whilst Davies was coming back towards Rea into the final corner, there was nothing he could do to get ahead.
Bautista took the win, ahead of Rea by another huge margin; the ninth time that those two have finished in that order in 2019. Davies completed the podium for the second time at the Motocard Aragon Round, whilst Haslam and Lowes completed the top five. Laverty took sixth, ahead of Jordi Torres – taking his fourth consecutive top ten finish for the first time since 2017, during Race 2 and Portimao. Michael van der Mark completed his weekend with an eighth place, ahead of Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) and Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK).
Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) was a dejected 11th, with Sykes right behind, having faded mid-race. Leon Camier (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) and teammate Kiyonari were 13th and 14th respectively, whilst Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) finally finished at MotorLand Aragon, with 15th.
The FIM Supersport World Championship saw an intriguing race in the first part of the 16-lap encounter, before a traditional fairing-bashing battle took place in the final part of the race. Eventually, it was Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) who took the win to extend his championship lead at the top of the WorldSSP title race!
Starting well from pole position, 22-year-old Austrian Thomas Gradinger couldn’t fend off a courageous Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) into Turn 1, as the Italian took the lead. For Caricasulo’s teammate, Randy Krummenacher, it was another poor start, which saw Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) take advantage. One rider who achieved a good start was Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse), who, from sixth on the grid, was soon into fifth, ahead of Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and his Japanese teammate, Hikari Okubo.
Caricasulo and Gradinger pulled away, with a 1.7 second gap after just two laps of the MotorLand Aragon circuit. The battle for third saw Randy Krummenacher take advantage of Jules Cluzel at Turn 1 on lap three, and a lap later, it was De Rosa’s turn to pick off the fading Frenchman.
However, with the gaps forming, it was the riders in third and fourth who soon started lapping the faster times, and soon the 1.7s gap soon evaporated, with two back-to-back fastest laps coming from De Rosa on laps six and seven.
Despite Cluzel languishing in an isolated fifth position, the battle raged behind him, with Mahias, Okubo and Corentin Perolari (GMT94 YAMAHA) and Europe Supersport Cup rider, Kyle Smith (Team Pedercini Racing). Smith was able to get as high as sixth before dropping back, with Perolari coming through towards the end.
The battle at the front was now between four bikes and also, with a different race leader. Thomas Gradinger came through and passed Caricasulo at Turn 4, to become the first Austrian rider to lead a WorldSSP race. Austria’s dream of a WorldSSP race winner started to look like it was finally going to come to reality.
With four laps remaining, it was a wild WorldSSP race which saw Gradinger make a mistake at the final corner, dropping from first to fourth. Four riders abreast down the main straight, Caricasulo and De Rosa took over, whilst Krummenacher watched on holding his breath in third. The last lap was set to be a thriller, as De Rosa took the lead when Krummenacher made a mistake at Turn 12. Were we about to see the first non-Yamaha win for the first time in almost a year-and-a-half?
The last lap came around quickly and soon, the gloves were off! Krummenacher passed his teammate at Turn 1 and soon went in pursuit of race leader De Rosa. Gradinger was still in the battle in fourth, but unable to make any passes on the final lap, achieving his joint-best result. Down the back straight and Krummenacher slipstreamed his way through, before slamming his Yamaha down the inside of De Rosa’s MV Agusta. Through the final corner and over the rise to the finish line, Krummenacher took a second win of the season, whilst De Rosa took his first podium of the year, with fellow countryman Federico Caricasulo in third. Gradinger was fourth.
Behind the leading quartet, Jules Cluzel’s damage limitation efforts saw him conclude in fifth position, with teammate Corentin Perolari, who took his best finish of the season. Lucas Mahias finally got the better of his teammate Hikari Okubo for seventh place, whilst Kyle Smith was top ESS rider in ninth. Completing the top ten was Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing), who recovered to tenth after running wide in the early stages.
Completing the points was Peter Sebestyen (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda), who was top Honda in the race after Hannes Soomer (MPM WILSport Racedays) crashed on the final lap. Teammate Jules Danilo was just 0.116s behind him, whilst Federico Fuligni (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse) was a further 0.314s back. 14th and 15th went to Loris Cresson (Kallio Racing) and Maria Herrera (MS Racing) respectively.
Krummenacher gave Yamaha their 81st WorldSSP win, whilst giving Switzerland their first win on European soil, as well as achieving the nation’s 16th podium – putting them one behind the United States overall, 22 years after the first Swiss rider achieved a podium, with Yves Briguet at Monza, 1997.
It was a crazy return to action for the WorldSSP300 championship at the Motocard Aragon Round in 2019, with a flurry of action from the start to the end, making for an incredibly exciting season in prospect. The winner of the first race of the season was 16-years-old Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team), whilst defending champion Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP300) crashed out at Turn 13, making her title defence even harder work for the remainder of the season.
From lights out, it was a great start from Indonesian rider, Galang Hendra Pratama (Semakin Di Depan Biblion Motoxracing) took the lead and to the amazement, led the field safely through the opening corners, with no casualties in a packed grid. Gonzalez took the lead early on but there was no escaping, as he oscillated back-and-forth, as riders passed each other to try and establish a constant running order.
As the race went on, Victor Steeman (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team), Hugo De Cancellis (Team Trasimeno) and Maximilian Kappler (Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team) all battled it out, whilst Andy Verdoia (BCD Yamaha MS Racing) and Jan-Ole Jahnig (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team) joined the leading group.
It was a disaster in the middle of the race for the reigning champion, Ana Carrasco, as she crashed out after tangling with Koen Meuffels (Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team), who in-turn was having a tricky race having won at the track last season. Other falls consisted of sole Turkish rider Bahattin Sofuoglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing by TSM) crashing at Turn 2, as well as Indonesian Hendra Pratama, who crashed after contact with Verdoia at Turn 10; the Marc Marquez corner.
As the race reached the closing stages, all kinds of different riders entered the battle, with Omar Bonoli (Team Trasimeno), Scott Deroue (Kawasaki MOTOPORT) and Nick Kalinin (NUTEC – RT Motorsports by SKM – Kawasaki) all got in on the action. All three of them had raced through the field from 14th, 15th and 16th, all looking to take the opening win of the season from the lowest grid positions in WorldSSP300 history (that record held by Manuel Bastianelli of Prodina IRCOS Kawasaki, from 13th on the grid at Misano in 2018.
Into the last lap and it looked like we would get a victory from 14th, as Omar Bonoli took over at the front; the 17-year-old looking like he had the pace, before De Cancellis came passed at Turn 7 and immediately looked to break away. However, a fantastic move at Turn 9 by Manuel Gonzalez soon saw a last lap battle. Into the final corner and Gonzalez made a move to the lead and pushed De Cancellis wide, holding on to the lead to take his first ever win as the second-youngest rider in the class! Completing the podium was Scott Deroue, starting his championship challenge off in fine style.
Behind them, Jahnig, Verdoia and Steeman, whilst completing the top ten was Bonoli, Bruno Ieraci (Kawasaki GP Project) who in-turn had come from the back of the grid after a penalty, 2018 Aragon winner Koen Meuffels and Maximilian Kappler.
Outside of the top ten were Robert Schotman (Kawasaki MOTOPORT), Mateo Perdeneau (Team MHP Racing-Patrick Pons), Filippo Rovelli (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team), Nick Kalinin and 2018 runner-up, Mika Perez (Scuderia Maranga Racing). 2017 champion, Marc Garcia (DS Junior Team) could only manage 25th position on his return to the championship.