Aragon WSBK: Rea beats Bautista to win in last-lap thriller

Six-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea pipped Alvaro Bautista by just 0.101s in an nail-biting duel to begin his 2022 World Superbike campaign with a victory at Aragon.

Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team WSBK

The Kawasaki rider first overhauled reigning champion Razgatlioglu and then outgunned Ducati returnee Bautista in a battle that continued until the last corner of the final lap to clinch his 113th race win in the production-based category.

Polesitter Razgatlioglu and fellow front-row starters Bautista and Rea initially engaged in a three-way battle for victory, each enjoying stints at the front as they took advantage of the respective strengths of their bikes.

However, after both Rea and Bautista dispatched Razgatlioglu under braking for Turn 1 on lap 6, the Yamaha rider played no further role in the victory fight, ultimately leading to a last-lap showdown between the leading duo.

Bautista took advantage of the superior grunt of his Ducati to take the lead into Turn 16 that follows the long back-straight, having previously used this tactic to mixed results in the final-thirds of the race.

However, the Ulsterman saw what was coming and fired his Kawasaki inside Bautista's Ducati at the following corner, ensuring he emerged on top heading to the straight/finish straight.

Rea eventually held off Bautista in the run to the finish line, denying Bautista a winning return at Ducati by just over a tenth off a second in the season opener.

Razgatlioglu remained in striking distance of Rea and Bautista for the first 10 laps but didn't have the pace to keep up with the duo as the race wore on, dropping 1.5s behind in third at the finish.

At one point, Michael Ruben Rinaldi was circulating at the tail of the leading trio on his Ducati, but he too dropped back in the closing stages of the race, crossing the finishing line 4.7s behind in fourth.

Factory Yamaha rider Andrea Locatelli slipped to seventh on the opening lap of the race but recovered to finish fifth, nearly 10s down on race winner Rea.

Both Honda riders made big gains in the early stages of the 18-lap contest to bag a strong result for the Japanese marque, with Iker Lecuona finishing sixth and Xavi Vierge charging from 13th on the grid to take seventh at the flag.

Ilya Mikhalchik continued to impress on the factory BMW as he deputised for Michael van der Mark, finishing eighth on his WSBK debut ahead of Bonovo MGM rider Loris Baz on the satellite M1000RR.

The top 10 was rounded out by Garrett Gerloff on the GRT Yamaha.

Scott Redding endured a torrid day in his first outing with BMW, finishing 24s off the top spot in 15th place after dropping to 17th in the early stages of the race.

The only notable retiree from the opening race of 2022 was Alex Lowes, who crashed his factory Kawasaki on lap 8 while running inside the top five.

Aragon WSBK - Race 1 results:

Cla Rider Bike Time Gap
1 United Kingdom Jonathan Rea Kawasaki 33'13.308  
2 Spain Alvaro Bautista Ducati 33'13.398 0.090
3 Turkey Toprak Razgatlioglu Yamaha 33'18.724 5.416
4 Italy Michael Ruben Rinaldi Ducati 33'23.580 10.272
5 Italy Andrea Locatelli Yamaha 33'29.075 15.767
6 Spain Iker Lecuona Honda 33'32.068 18.760
7 Spain Xavi Vierge Honda 33'34.829 21.521
8 Illia Mykhalchyk BMW 33'34.913 21.605
9 United States Garrett Gerloff Yamaha 33'35.254 21.946
10 Ireland Eugene Laverty BMW 33'38.654 25.346
11 France Loris Baz BMW 33'39.235 25.927
12 San Marino Luca Bernardi Ducati 33'41.768 28.460
13 Philipp Oettl Ducati 33'42.036 28.728
14 France Lucas Mahias Kawasaki 33'42.425 29.117
15 United Kingdom Scott Redding BMW 33'42.945 29.637
16 Italy Axel Bassani Ducati 33'44.169 30.861
17 Italy Roberto Tamburini Yamaha 33'44.771 31.463
18 Japan Kohta Nozane Yamaha 33'46.466 33.158
19 France Christophe Ponsson Yamaha 34'06.531 53.223
20 Argentina Leandro Mercado Honda 34'09.321 56.013
21 Malaysia Hafizh Syahrin Honda 34'11.344 58.036
22 Oliver Konig Kawasaki 34'21.345 1'08.037
23 Belgium Loris Cresson Kawasaki 34'29.696 1'16.388
  United Kingdom Alex Lowes Kawasaki 12 Laps  
  Italy Gabriele Ruiu BMW 14 Laps  

Aragon WSBK: Razgatlioglu edges out Bautista to pole by 0.006s

Aragon WSBK: Bautista wins Superpole race on Ducati return