There are very few certainties in the WorldSBK calendar – but a Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) battle at MotorLand Aragon seems as close as you can get. In a repeat of last year’s Aragon Round, the two leading riders of the championship clashed sensationally in the final laps, with the Welshman avoiding a first Rea double of the season and taking his second win of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, and a record seventh around the Aragon bends.
Davies now moves into second place in the Championship standings, just 12 points away from Rea. Behind them, Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) completes the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati pursuit on 96 points, after taking third in the Spanish Race 2.
The race start was similar to yesterday’s affair. Again, it was Rea sticking amongst the Ducatis at the front, with the Panigale R showing incredible pace at the Alcañiz circuit. This time it was Xavi Fores (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team) and Melandri heading the early laps, with a calculating Rea waiting behind.
Just one mistake is enough for the reigning champion to pounce, and as it happened there were two. First a wobble from Melandri (who has had some worrying difficulties controlling the bike throughout the weekend, despite showing very good rhythm) allowed Rea to move up to second. Fores, looking for his first win in front of his passionate local fans, held his provisional lead well under Rea’s pressure – until Lap 9, when his front-end gave in and left the Spaniard on the floor, leaving way for what seemed to be becoming a trademark Rea double.
But, with one Ducati rider leaving the leading group, in came another. Chaz Davies didn’t have the amazing start he did in Race 1, but quietly he benefitted from the action at the front to creep up to Rea and Melandri, picking off the Yamahas along the way. He was too far back to greatly trouble Rea in yesterday’s Race 1, his Superpole 2 slip a disadvantage too large to overcome. But on Sunday, with five laps to go and having already overcome his teammate, he got past the Northern Irishman. With the pair coming in close into the final lap and ready for a photo finish, Rea went wide in the middle sector, handing Davies a phenomenal win.
Behind them, Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) came in fourth and fifth, respectively, the Dutchman unable to take advantage of his front row start despite leading in Lap 1.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) suffered a nightmare race off the grid, falling from third to eighth at the first turn, with Davies in ninth passing him shortly after. The Brit fought back to sixth at the checkered flag, but will be disappointed at his results throughout the weekend after two front-row starts.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) came in one better after his debut yesterday, finishing seventh and as the lead independent rider. Behind him Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) came back strongly from yesterday’s crash with Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) and Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), ending the race eighth and pleasing the home fans. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and Savadori completed the top ten, in ninth and tenth respectively, with the other local rider Roman Ramos (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) finishing eleventh.
Third time’s the charm for Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing), as the German made good of his first FIM Supersport World Championship Superpole to grab his first win. Only three races into his World Supersport career, he led his Yamaha back into first place after a poor start and dominated the latter two-thirds of the race, with only Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) endangering the German’s lead.
This is the first victory for Cortese since 2012, when he met the checkered flag in the penultimate race of his Moto3™ championship-winning season. A huge win and a return to the podium, after missing out at the Chang International Circuit, moving now just four points away from defending champion Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) who could only come in fourth. The Frenchman couldn’t keep up with the leading pace from the halfway mark and finished 5 seconds off the podium places.
Teammate Caricasulo was the only rider to give Cortese problems in the latter stages of the race, coming as close as two tenths of a second off the lead. Unable to make a pass, he eventually had to defend his position in the final laps from Jules Cluzel (NRT), who completed the podium.
Far behind the leading four, an electric battle for fifth position took place around the final laps at MotorLand Aragon, with the British pair of Kyle Smith (GEMAR Team Lorini) and Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing) just edging ahead of Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), returning to WorldSSP this weekend.
Previous championship leader and Thai race-winner Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) went down on Lap 4 and fell back to 27th position. The Swiss did manage to fight back to 11th, minimising damages and scoring what could end up being vital points at the year-end.
Raffaele de Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) made a fantastic start, dashing off the line from the second row straight into first place by the first turn. The Italian was performing admirably with the MV Agusta amongst the front-group Yamahas, fighting for his first podium finish of the season, but an unfortunate technical issue put his race to rest halfway through. On the same lap, Ayrton Badovini (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) crashed on Turn 7, completing a disastrous race for the MV Agustas.
Completing the top ten, it was Niki Tuuli (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) in eighth, just creeping ahead of Anthony West (EAB antwest Racing) in ninth, with Rob Hartog (Team Hartog – Against Cancer) making in in tenth place and as the first FIM Europe Supersport Cup rider.
Koen Meuffels (KTM Fortron Junior Team) made his debut FIM Supersport 300 World Championship race one to remember, with a photo-finish win over fellow Dutch rider Scott Deroue (Motosport Kawasaki) at MotorLand Aragon. Mika Pérez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) repeated his performance from last year with a third place finish, despite leading six out of the eleven laps.
The first race of the WorldSSP300 season showed all of the same hallmarks from last year, when the debuting category proved to be one of the most exciting and unpredictable competitions in all of motorsports. Halfway through the race, a nine-strong group had formed at the front, with just about every rider taking the provisional lead at some point as the gap from first to ninth kept under one second.
That group remained together until the end, with the exception of sixteen-year-old Tom Edwards (Nutec-Benjan-Kawasaki) who crashed out with less than two laps to go. It ended up being a drag race finish to the line, with Meuffels edging out last year’s winner and poleman Deroue by three hundredths of a second.
Just missing out on the podium were Mykyta Kalinin (GP Project Team) in fourth, Robert Schotman (Motosport Kawasaki) in fifth, and Ana Carrasco (DS Junior Team), who led the second-most laps at MotorLand Aragon but comes away with just ten points, finishing in sixth. Glenn van Straalen (KTM Fortron Junior Team) and Dorren Loureiro (DS Junior Team) completed the runaway group in seventh and eighth, respectively.
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