#ARGWorldSBK – Day 3 roundup: World Superbike, World Supersport
The final race of the weekend at the Motul Argentinean Round was a thrilling spectacle, with plenty of hard action and big moves all the way through the pack. Despite making his own mistakes and needing to fight in the early stages, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) romped to win number two of the weekend, holding off the opposition.
Off the start and into Turn 1, Jonathan Rea held on to his first position, whilst Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) battled behind. Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) was a fast starter and into fourth, whilst Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) and his teammate Michael van der Mark were fifth and sixth. Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) had dropped to seventh.
With the race beginning to take shape, Rea pulled away from Bautista, whilst Toprak Razgatliolgu was as relentless as ever, chasing down Bautista. Bautista and Rea in-turn were trading fastest lap times. Chaz Davies had picked off the Yamahas ahead of him one by one, using the top speed advantage of the Ducati Panigale V4 R down the long straights of San Juan to good effect. The next target for the Welshman was Razgatlioglu, who was going to need to fight hard to resist the former WorldSBK runner-up.
There was drama up front for Rea, who made a big mistake at Turn 8 and ran completely off the circuit, allowing Bautista to take the lead for the first time. However, Rea wouldn’t give in and a lap later, on Lap 8, Rea fought back and pushed his way back to the front at Turn 7, shoving Bautista wide. The squabble between the two heavyweights allowed Razgatlioglu and Davies to close up.
With 13 laps left to go, Davies took third from Razgatlioglu with a strong move at Turn 10 on the Turkish rider. The former WorldSSP Champion from 2011 was now a move on a mission and soon, caught his teammate. Bautista tried to fight but Davies powered ahead of his teammate two laps later to take second. 2.6s to close down on the race leader, Davies had plenty of work to keep him occupied for the remainder of the race.
Bautista however was in more problems and with 9 laps to go, as Toprak Razgatlioglu had regrouped and was immediately able to get ahead of the Spaniard, sweeping around the outside at Turn 2 to take third from the Race 1 winner. Bautista was losing time to Michael van der Mark hand over fist and needed to get to the end of the 26-year-old Dutchman got him.
Further down the field, Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) was having an incredible race, climbing all the way up to the fringes of the top ten. The home hero picked off Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) and at Turn 10 with eight laps left, dived up the inside of factory Kawasaki rider Leon Haslam to take eighth place. A lap later, and Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) was up ahead of Haslam and Torres. Ahead of all of them, Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) was a sitting duck.
With four laps to go, Mercado got ahead of Rinaldi at Turn 15, sparking a massive roar from the partisan crown trackside. However, Laverty got ahead of the pair of them on the front straight, pushing Mercado back to eighth whilst the Irishman went in pursuit of his best result since Aragon. In terms of Mercado, he had come from 19th to eighth; an astonishing comeback.
Out front on the final lap, Jonathan Rea was uncatchable and took victory for a fourth time in Argentina and now, extended his consecutive point-scoring finishes run to 45 – the first time a rider has ever achieved this. Chaz Davies was up into second whilst Toprak Razgatlioglu completed a stellar weekend with another podium, his sixth in seven races. Fourth belonged to Michael van der Mark whilst Alvaro Bautista limped home to complete the top five. Alex Lowes was up to sixth.
Eugene Laverty put in a strong ride up to seventh, but ride of the day went to home-hero Mercado, who stormed from last on the grid to eighth, much to the delight of the crowd. Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) was ninth ahead of Leon Haslam in 10th. Sandro Cortese slipped to 15th, having run as high as fourth in the early stages.
The title was on the line ahead of the World Supersport race in San Juan, Argentina, making the duel one of the most important in 2019. In a thrilling race where plenty of mistakes and hard moves were seen, it was Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) who delivered the goods to take victory and keep his title hopes alive, whilst for a second round on the trot, there were no BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team Yamaha riders on the podium.
Down into the first turn for the first time of asking and it was pole-sitter Corentin Perolari (GMT94 YAMAHA) who had the advantage, whilst Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki duo Kyle Smith and Ayrton Badovini collided, sending the Italian down to seventh. Jules Cluzel was up to second place whilst Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was in third. Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) had got the better of his teammate Randy Krummenacher, with the two title contenders fifth and sixth respectively.
The opening laps were crucial for the leading group, with Jules Cluzel hitting the front ahead of teammate Perolari before drilling in three brand new lap records, pulling clear of his teammate. Further back, Caricasulo was making headway and got ahead of Kyle Smith, before pinching third place a lap later from Corentin Perolari – the Frenchman fading, having lost second position to Lucas Mahias.
Randy Krummenacher made his first move on Lap 6, capitalising on the slipstream down the back straight and pushing Kyle Smith wide at Turn 8. Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing) followed the Swiss rider through and took sixth. However, at the front, Cluzel was streaking clear and eight laps in, was nearly three seconds ahead of the big battle for second, which now had five riders closely matched. Caricasulo made his way into second place at Turn 10, pushing ahead of Lucas Mahias. From eighth to second, the Italian was flying.
Cluzel was still out front and lapping consistently, seeking to keep his championship hopes alive. However, having set the fastest lap, Lucas Mahias was not done for and attempted an ambitious pass at Turn 8 to get ahead of Caricasulo, only for Caricasulo to fight back. The two swapping paint brought Krummenacher into play.
Mistakes were soon occurring in the race, as Isaac Viñales almost wiped out Randy Krummenacher at Turn 1. Then, at Turn 10, Corentin Perolari got it all wrong and narrowly avoided taking down Caricasulo and Mahias. Half a lap later, Caricasulo himself got himself in a pickle at Turn 1, running wide and losing places to Mahias and teammate Krummenacher.
Krummenacher was now in third, whilst Perolari was fourth ahead of Caricasulo. The leading positions had swapped frantically, with Caricasulo now the rider who was needing to push hard. Amidst all the mistakes and changes, Raffaele De Rosa was up to seventh and the faster than those ahead of him.
Three laps remained and Corentin Perolari bundled down the inside of Randy Krummenacher at Turn 1 and took the pair wide, allowing Isaac Viñales to burst through and putting Krummenacher just one place ahead of his teammate and title rival. However, it would be fireworks a lap later at Turn 7, as Caricasulo clashed with Krummenacher and pushed his way through. De Rosa followed ahead and now, Krummenacher found himself back in seventh.
The final lap was now upon the field, with Cluzel and Mahias way out front and rooted to their positions. However, Caricasulo went ahead of Perolari for fourth, but ran wide, allowing the pole-sitter to come back ahead. Krummenacher was out of the fight and down in seventh, so Caricasulo knew he needed to take advantage.
Cluzel stormed to victory ahead of Mahias, whilst Isaac Viñales held on to third. In the battle for fourth, Perolari held off Caricasulo, whilst De Rosa and Krummenacher were in behind – Caricasulo making up two points in the Championship standings on his teammate. Thomas Gradinger (Kallio Racing) was up to eighth after a lonely race, whilst Kyle Smith and Ayrton Badovini completed the top ten.
The Championship race now goes to Qatar and the Losail International Circuit, with Krummenacher, Caricasulo and Cluzel ready to fight it out for the title.