The first World Superbike race of the season in Australia may be considered a test with points, taking part over a month before first European round in Spain, but that doesn't mean it can't give us entertainment.
Jonathan Rea won the drag race to the first turn, beating Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam to the first apex, but two turns later, Bautista took the lead from the reigning world champion and the Ducati led the way from the two Kawasakis. Tom Sykes lost fourth place to Alex Lowes and fifth to Marco Melandri. The second lap started with the front three breaking away from the fight for fourth, a four way affair as Toprak Razgatlioglu joined in the scrap, but after Haslam and Rea started swapping places, Bautista took the opportunity to set the fastest lap and break away from the green fight.
A lap later, with Bautista's Ducati Panigale V4 over a second clear, setting the fastest lap again, Rea had to take defensive lines to keep Haslam from spoiling his fun, but a lap later, Haslam took second place off him anyway.
Lap five saw Alvaro Bautista three seconds clear of the field as seven riders grouped together to contest second place, Haslam and Rea leading a third Kawasaki as Toprak Razgatlioglu fended off Alex Lowes, Tom Sykes, Michael van der Mark and Marco Melandri. As Bautista kept increasing his lead, lap by lap, van der Mark and Melandri fell off the back of the five bikes in front of them.
Nine laps in, Bautista had a lead of over five seconds over the three Kawasakis and Alex Lowes. Jonathan Rea took the lead back into turn one only to have Leon Haslam take it back at turn three a lap later. As Rea took the lead again into turn one, Alex Lowes took fourth place from Toprak Razgatlioglu and Tom Sykes hauled his BMW into the action, over two seconds clear of Marco Melandri and Michael van der Mark. Another lap and Haslam repeats himself, making turn three his favourite place to take second place from his teammate.
Almost ten seconds in thirteen laps, Bautista was consistently quicker than everyone else every lap, with his lead never decreasing. Leon Haslam and Jonathan Rea looked like they would be slowing each other down for the remainder of the race until, at turn four Haslam had too much speed, too much lean and not enough grip. He slid his Kawasaki out of second place and watched the entire grid pass him before he managed to get his bike back up and running. The battle for second place was then between Rea and Alex Lowes, with Razgatlioglu and Sykes a second behind them. Marco Melandri was almost two seconds back from Sykes, but his independent Yamaha was finally coming into its own and, joined by Michael van der Mark on a factory Yamaha, the pair started to close the gap to Sykes's BMW. Three laps later, on lap sixteen, Tom Sykes had passed Toprak Razgatlioglu and Razgatlioglu was left to deal with Melandri who caught and passed him down the main straight.
Five laps from the end, Alvaro Bautista had an ever-increasing lead of over thirteen seconds, dispelling any suspicions that his tyres might not last the distance. Jonathan Rea in second place only had Alex Lowes to challenge him, and it didn't look like Lowes had any way of taking second place off the champion. Tom Sykes in third place, however, was passed by Melandri in turn three and then Michael van der Mark in turn four. Yamahas held third, fourth and fifth places as Melandri and van der Mark dished it out in their quest to close on Lowes.
On lap twenty of twenty two, fifteen seconds behind Alvaro Bautista, Jonathan Rea finally had some alone time as Alex Lowes had a hard-charging Marco Melandri snapping at his rear wheel, with Michael van der Mark not much further behind. On the penultimate lap, Melandri took third place from Lowes and the two started swapping places, eventually swapping places four times on the last lap.
Alvaro Bautista won his debut World Superbike race in relative peace and quiet, fifteen seconds clear from the fighting behind him, while Jonathan Rea took twenty points in second place. Marco Melandri won the fight for the podium and Alex Lowes had to settle for fourth place, ahead of Michael van der Mark and Toprak Razgatlioglu. Leon Haslam finished the race in fifteenth place, claiming a solitary point after his crash.
Alvaro Bautista thanked Ducati for giving him a fast bike and became the first rookie to win a race in his debut since Max Biaggi.
|1||19||A. BAUTISTA||Ducati Panigale V4 R|
|2||1||J. REA||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||14.983|
|3||33||M. MELANDRI||Yamaha YZF R1||16.934|
|4||22||A. LOWES||Yamaha YZF R1||16.984|
|5||60||M. VAN DER MARK||Yamaha YZF R1||19.179|
|6||54||T. RAZGATLIOGLU||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||21.203|
|7||66||T. SYKES||BMW S1000 RR||21.488|
|8||11||S. CORTESE||Yamaha YZF R1||23.018|
|9||21||M. RINALDI||Ducati Panigale V4 R||25.580|
|10||7||C. DAVIES||Ducati Panigale V4 R||27.124|
|11||81||J. TORRES||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||28.214|
|12||50||E. LAVERTY||Ducati Panigale V4 R||30.055|
|13||28||M. REITERBERGER||BMW S1000 RR||31.859|
|14||36||L. MERCADO||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||34.793|
|15||91||L. HASLAM||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||41.009|
|16||23||R. KIYONARI||Honda CBR1000RR||45.523|
|17||52||A. DELBIANCO||Honda CBR1000RR||1 Lap|
|RET||17||T. HERFOSS||Honda CBR1000RR||16|
|RET||2||L. CAMIER||Honda CBR1000RR||14 Laps|