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Race report

Argentina WSBK: Bautista dominates after Razgatlioglu crash

Alvaro Bautista put one hand on the 2022 World Superbike Championship title with victory in the opening race in Argentina after his main rival Toprak Razgatlioglu crashed on the opening lap.

Alvaro Bautista, Aruba.it Racing Ducati

Polesitter Razgatlioglu was attempting to retake the lead he had lost to Bautista when he went down under braking for Turn 9, suffering a costly crash during an important stage of the championship.

Bautista was able to capitalise on the uncharacteristic error from his Yamaha rival to stretch out a massive 80-point lead in the standings, the biggest it has been all year, to boost his chances of winning the title.

Story of the race

At the start of the 21-lap contest, Razgatlioglu pulled away cleanly from pole to hold the lead from Rea into Turn 1, while Bautista briefly lost third to a fast-starting Honda of Iker Lecuona.

Having quickly repassed Lecuona, Bautista proceeded to use the horsepower advantage of his Ducati on the back straight, passing both Rea and Razgatlioglu in a single move going into Turn 8.

Razgatlioglu was quick to retaliate, but in an ill-thought attempt to take the lead immediately he pushed the boundaries of his Yamaha, hitting the deck before the slow Turn 9 left-hander.

Bautista had to take evasive action and slipped to fourth in the immediate aftermath of the incident, behind new race leader Rea, Axel Bassani and Lecuona.

As Bassani passed Rea to take the lead into Turn 8 on lap 2, Bautista began his recovery ride and quickly dispatched the Honda of Lecuona before closing on to the back of the leading duo.

Four laps later Bautista had cleared the Kawasaki of six-time champion Rea and on the seventh tour he made the decisive move for the lead, passing the Motocorsa Ducati of Bassani with relative ease into Turn 8.

With Rea and Bassani subsequently engaging in a long battle for the runner-up spot, the Spanish rider could cruise out front, claiming a dominant victory by 5.1s.

The result was also significant for Bautista's championship hopes as Razgatlioglu could only a salvage a single point after remounting his Yamaha, putting the Ducati rider a step closer to his maiden WSBK title with just eight races to run in 2022, including two in Argentina on Sunday.

Rea eventually managed to beat Bassani for second after trading positions with the rising Ducati star several times during the race, making a move stick into Turn 1 with just three laps remaining.

Rea, who is enduring his longest losing streak since joining Kawasaki in 2015, now trails Bautista by 87 points in the championship.

Although Lecuona didn’t have the pace to finish on the podium, he put on a respectable show on his first visit to Villicum to finish fourth, ahead of the second factory Ducati of Michael Ruben Rinaldi.

Alex Lowes held on to sixth on the works Kawasaki from the top BMW of Scott Redding, as Andrea Locatelli rose from 11th to finish eighth on his Yamaha.

Xavi Vierge collected more points for Honda in ninth, while Michael van der Mark rounded out the top 10 on the works BMW.

Razgatlioglu was able to mount a strong recovery to take the chequered flag in 15th, but his chances of defending his title now look bleak going into Sunday's two races.

Argentina WSBK - Race 1 results:

Pos. No. Rider  Bike  Gap
1 19  Alvaro Bautista Ducati  
2 65  Jonathan Rea Kawasaki 5.141
3 47  Axel Bassani Ducati 6.689
4 Iker Lecuona Honda 11.917
5 21  Michael Ruben Rinaldi Ducati 13.882
6 22  Alex Lowes Kawasaki 14.507
7 45  Scott Redding BMW 18.402
8 55  Andrea Locatelli Yamaha 18.869
9 97  Xavi Vierge Honda 19.540
10 60  Michael van der Mark BMW 24.661
11 44  Lucas Mahias Kawasaki 31.397
12 12  Xavi Fores Ducati 32.969
13 31  Garrett Gerloff Yamaha 35.081
14 50  Eugene Laverty BMW 36.961
15 Toprak Razgatlioglu Yamaha 39.885
16 76  Loris Baz BMW 40.371
17 Philipp Ottl Ducati 44.885
18 Kohta Nozane Yamaha 45.220
19 52  Oliver Konig Kawasaki 1'04.546
20 27  Maximilian Scheib Honda 1'19.515
21 39  Marco Solorza Kawasaki 1'32.427
Ret 36  Leandro Mercado Honda Retirement

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