Belfast Telegraph

Rea has to play second fiddle again as Bautista dominates

Runner-up: Jonathan Rea had three second places in Spain for the third successive meeting
Runner-up: Jonathan Rea had three second places in Spain for the third successive meeting

By Roy Harris

Spaniard Alvaro Bautista continued his 2019 World Superbike domination at Motorland Aragon in Spain over the weekend, cruising away from the opposition in all three races to make it nine wins from nine starts this season on his Ducati V4.

Four-time champion Jonathan Rea got the better of team-mate Leon Haslam, Chas Davies and Alex Lowes to score three second place finishes for the third meeting in a row.

Eugene Laverty had a good weekend as top independent rider on the Team Goeleven Ducati V4 despite a slip-off in Saturday's opening race after unluckily clipping the back of Davies, who was lining up a move on Rea for second.

Bautista made the perfect start from pole position in race one on Saturday while Rea, starting from row four following a qualifying mistake by both Rea and his team when they left it too late to put in a final qualifying lap.

Rea and BMW rider Markus Reiterberger touched leaving the start and the German ended up on the ground unhurt, as Rea began a charge through to second after a hard-fought battle with Tom Sykes, Davies, Lowes and Laverty.

In yesterday's 10-lap Superpole race Bautista soon broke clear with Rea again having to battle through from 10th to join Sykes, Laverty, Davies and Lowes in a fierce scrap for the final two podium positions.

In the end it was a shoot-out between Lowes and Rea, the Yamaha and the Kawasaki side-by-side and almost touching before Jonathan fired his way through at turn four and holding on to take runner-up spot with Lowes, Davies, Sykes and Laverty completing the top six.

The final 18-lap encounter yesterday was a replay of the earlier Superpole sprint, with Bautista clearing off at the front after Rea, this time starting from second on the grid, just failing to make the opening corner ahead of the Spaniard.

Rea, Lowes, Davies and Haslam again duelled in the Spanish sun with Rea at one stage looking as if fourth was the best he could before he came with a late charge into third, and then when Davies ran slightly wide on the last lap at turn one he took full advantage to nick second, which he held right to the chequered flag.

Laverty was involved in his own private race-long battle with Jordi Torres and Michael van der Mark, eventually finishing sixth to be the first Independent machine home.

Bautista's win gave Ducati a historic 350th WSBK race victory.

Rea said: "I really enjoyed the battles this weekend.

"It was tougher than I expected yesterday and I had to really fight for my points as the riders I was dicing with all had similar pace.

"In the last race I had to throw the kitchen sink at it to make the podium and then Chas made his own mistake that allowed me through to second. Alvaro and his bike are setting new benchmarks and the gap is too big at the moment.

"We have to keep battling to reduce the gap to the front at Assen next weekend."

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