In the final action of the weekend for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, it was yet another thrilling encounter from lights-out to the chequered flag. It was action right from the start, with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) coming out on top after another tough scrap with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing).
Heading towards Turn 1 for the first time, Jonathan Rea rocketed from pole position to grab the holeshot, ahead of Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing), whilst Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) blasted into third. At the Old Hairpin however, Bautista was passed by home-hero Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). Chaz Davies had a strong opening, running as high as fifth, right behind his teammate. It was a nightmare for Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) one lap later, as the Spaniard retired.
With the race settling down, on Lap 3, Razgatlioglu took the lead at the circuit where he took his first WorldSBK career podium. With a strong out-braking manoeuvre at the Melbourne Loop, he was able to pinch the advantage. However, two laps later, Rea took the lead back and one lap further on, Haslam momentarily got ahead of the Turk at the Foggy Esses. At the Melbourne Loop, Razgatlioglu recovered and the 22-year-old was back in second.
Razgatlioglu was able to retake the lead from Rea, with the two riders dancing side-by-side around the Donington Park circuit. Another late-braking move at the Melbourne Loop saw him retake the lead and then, putting the hammer down. Razgatlioglu and Rea broke clear of the fading Haslam in third place, whilst Alvaro Bautista was all over the rear-end of the five-time WorldSBK race winner.
With 12 to go, it was a rare error at the Foggy Esses from Toprak, allowing Rea to cut through and take the lead back from the young Turk. A lap later, and the battle for third started to ignite with Bautista taking the final podium position from Leon Haslam. With all the swapping, slowly but surely, Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha) was now closing down Leon Haslam, with Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) in sixth. Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was seventh from tenth on the grid, whilst Davies had slipped to eighth.
There was a change in the battle for fifth place, as Alex Lowes forced Baz wide at the Foggy Esses, with the British rider getting ahead into the Melbourne Loop. Even further back, double winner from Donington Park in 2018, Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team), got ahead of Davies for eighth place.
In the closing stages, there were two battles: for first and second between Rea and Razgatlioglu, and for third place between Bautista, Lowes, Haslam and Baz – with Lowes getting ahead of Haslam with just three laps to go. Going into the final lap, half-a-second split the leading two, whilst Bautista had a small buffer for a safe third place.
Coming to the line for the final time, Jonathan Rea completed a Donington Park hat-trick at home, the first triple he has achieved this season. Razgatlioglu took another podium with second and Alvaro Bautista took his first podium of the weekend, although he now trails the reigning WorldSBK champion by 24 points. Alex Lowes was fourth whilst Leon Haslam completed the top five, only just ahead Loris Baz.
Tom Sykes was the best of the rest, with Michael van der Mark taking a hearty, hard-earnt eighth, ahead of Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), who completed the top ten after a disappointing Prosecco DOC UK Round. Peter Hickman (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was 11th, ahead of Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team), with Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) and Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team) completing the points.
It was yet another thrilling WorldSSP encounter, with Donington Park hosting more dramatic racing. It was fight that would come alive in the final quarter of the race, with the championship battle going down to the final lap. Despite the best efforts from Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team), it would be Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) who would take his second win of the season.
A blistering start for Caricasulo saw the Italian take the holeshot into Turn 1, ahead of Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) and Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing). Mahias took second off Cluzel at Turn 4, whilst Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) was only tenth, following a poor Tissot Superpole. Right behind the leading trio was wildcard, Brad Jones (Appleyard Macadam Integro), who was fourth. One surprise was Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing) who was up to fifth, with Japanese star Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in sixth, after a relatively quiet weekend up to this point.
On Lap 3, it was all change at the front as Lucas Mahias hit the front at McLean’s, whilst on entrance to the Foggy Esses, Jules Cluzel got ahead of Caricasulo too. Like it had been after the first session of the weekend on Friday, it was a French rider 1-2. At the start of Lap 5, Isaac Viñales crashed out of contention for the podium at Turn 1, whilst Randy Krummenacher was now making headway, into eighth position.
The front three were beginning to break away at the head of the field, whilst Brad Jones continued to ride strongly in fourth in front of a huge, supportive home crowd. Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse) began closing him down however and on Lap 6, the Italian got ahead of the wildcard at the final corner. De Rosa had a poor opening lap to the race but was slowly making his way back through to the positions where he started from.
On the seventh lap, De Rosa had not broken clear of Jones but now right behind both of them was Randy Krummenacher. The Swiss rider dive-bombed Jones into the Melbourne Loop and was now up to fifth. Hannes Soomer (MPM WILSport Racedays) was on the back of the battle for fourth and was far-and-away the best Honda rider. Krummenacher took fourth at the Melbourne Loop on Lap 8, now with clear air to his teammate, with plenty of space to bridge in order to get on podium terms.
With seven laps to go, Cluzel hit the front and immediately began to put distance into Mahias. Caricasulo was now looking impatient, struggling to get into second ahead of the 2017 WorldSSP champion. Meanwhile, Randy Krummenacher set the fastest lap of the race and was digging deep to try and get on terms with his teammate and main championship rival.
With five laps left, Caricasulo finally got ahead of Mahias down into the Foggy Esses and instantly, broke clear of Mahias. Krummenacher had set the fastest lap of the race for a third consecutive lap, meaning that the WorldSSP championship fight was now absolutely on between the teammates. The gap between Cluzel at the front and Caricasulo in second was coming down too, with Caricasulo now with the fastest lap of the race.
The last lap beckoned, with Caricasulo closing down Cluzel. Mahias looked a safe third as Krummenacher began to fade. Caricasulo tried once at the Melbourne Loop but couldn’t make the move stick, leaving Cluzel room to cut back through and take the win. Caricasulo was second with Mahias on the podium again, whilst Randy Krummenacher took fourth.
Raffaele De Rosa took fifth, whilst Hannes Soomer crashed out of sixth. This promoted Thomas Gradinger into sixth, ahead of Jack Kennedy, Corentin Perolari (GMT94 YAMAHA), Brad Jones and Ayrton Badovini (Team Pedercini Racing), who completed the top ten. Outside the top ten, Rob Hartog (Team Hartog – Against Cancer) was 12th for his best result of the season, whilst contrastingly, Hikari Okubo took his worst result of the year in 13th. Hannes Soomer remounted for 15th.
Before the race had even started, there was drama, as pole-sitter Ton Kawakami (BCD Yamaha MS Racing) and teammate Andy Verdoïa had to start from the back of the grid, having failed tyre pressure tests, meaning the only rider on the front row of the WorldSSP300 grid was Galang Hendra Pratama (Semakin Di Depan Biblion Motoxracing). With Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) out through injury and Scott Deroue (Kawasaki MOTOPORT) failing to make it through from the Last Chance Race, points were there for the taking.
It was a phenomenal opening lap, as Dorren Loureiro (Nutec – RT Motorsports by SKM – Kawasaki) was swerved into by 2018 runner-up Mika Perez (Scuderia Maranga Racing) on the start line and consequently crashed. Galang Hendra Pratama took the lead and held it for the opening lap. There was more drama out down the field, as Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP300) crashed at the Melbourne Hairpin with Borja Sanchez (Scuderia Maranga Racing).
After that, the race settled down at the front with Hendra Pratama leading Bruno Ieraci (Kawasaki GP Project), although Andy Verdoïa from the back of the grid was now back in the mix, inside the top ten. Soon enough, he would be in third place and then, he took both Ieraci and Hendra Pratama in one fell swoop with eight laps to go. Following him through the order in the leading group was Hugo De Cancellis (Team Trasimeno Yamaha), with France leading and in second place.
As the leading group battled, it was fractured with two and a half laps to go, with Hugo De Cancellis coming from fourth to first at the Foggy Esses before crashing, wiping out Bruno Ieraci. Then, one lap later, Hendra Pratama crashed at the Melbourne Loop as he clattered into Jan-Ole Jahnig (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team).
On the final lap, Verdoïa was leading ahead of Kevin Sabatucci (Team Trasimeno Yamaha), who had ghosted up to the leading group. The Italian rider got ahead of Verdoïa at the Foggy Esses, with Nick Kalinin (Nutec – RT Motorsport by SKM – Kawasaki) in the mix too. However, in the final few corners, there were no changes and Sabatucci took the win to deny France a first win in the hands of a heroic Verdoïa.
Victor Steeman (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team) was in fourth ahead of teammate Jahnig, whilst Dion Otten (MTM Racing Team), Oliver König (ACCR Czech Talent Team), Koen Meuffels (Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team), Dino Iozzo (Nutec – RT Motorsports by SKM – Kawasaki) and Tom Bramich (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team).
With a first podium for an Italian rider in 2019, Sabatucci took the country’s third win in the history of WorldSSP300. It was also the third time in 2019 that the WorldSSP300 podium has featured three different nationalities.
Manuel Gonzalez holds onto his lead in the championship, with a 43-point lead from Ana Carrasco and Scott Deroue (Kawasaki MOTOPORT), who are both still tied on points. Gonzalez can mathematically win the championship at Portimao, such has been his dominance.
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