WSBK: Michael Ruben Rinaldi takes victory as Alvaro Bautista crashes out of the lead
Michael Ruben Rinaldi starts the weekend how he means to go on as he took the first win of the weekend at Aragon ahead of Toprak Razgatlioglu.
At the start of the race it was Jonathan Rea on pole from Alvaro Bautista and Toprak Razgatlioglu on the front row. All three of the ‘Titanic Trio’ led the field once again from the moment that the lights went out.
As the red lights went out it was Bautista who grabbed the hole-shot as he blasted passed Rea into turn one. Throughout the opening lap Rea was eyeing up a move on the Ducati as he was desperate to get the lead back from the Spaniard. As they reached the back straight Bautista blasted away like a rocket from the Kawasaki and the Yamaha.
Rea went from attacking to defending as the six-time WorldSBK Champion was being hunted by his old rival, Razgatlioglu. The Turkish rider is still in the hunt for the title, however slim his chances may be, and he was determined to pass the Kawasaki to get further towards Bautista.
Iker Lecuona’s WorldSBK season is going from bad to worse as he was given a Double Long Lap Penalty for jumping the start of the race. The Team HRC rider had made his way up to seventh but would further plummet down the order.
By the start of the fourth lap the ‘Titanic Trio’ had completely checked out as they spread the gap to fourth place to 1.5 seconds over Michael Ruben Rinaldi. Rea had a look at Bautista but got it wrong and ran it wide, the British rider managed to regather his line and kept second place.
As the front three stretched the field all eyes turned to Danilo Petrucci who started from last place, but by lap five the Italian had found his way into 10th place.
A rare mistake as Bautista is seen down on the floor! The Spaniard had zero pressure as he was 1.3 seconds ahead of Rea and Razgatlioglu. The reigning WorldSBK Champion has blown this title battle wide open as Razgatlioglu swooped into the lead after Bautista’s mistake.
Rea took back the lead from Razgatlioglu as the two old rivals began to dual. But lurking behind and closing in was Bautista’s team-mate and potential savior, Rinaldi.
The battle at the front had died down as Razgatlioglu was stalking his prey and waiting for his time to pounce to pass Rea for the lead once again. However, Rinaldi was now 0.3 seconds behind Razgatlioglu.
13 laps into the race and Razgatlioglu has been relegated from a steady second place to third as Rinaldi passed the 2021 WorldSBK Champion. With only five laps to go the battle for the lead was still at large with Rea, Rinaldi and Razgatlioglu.
Four laps to go and Rinaldi gave Rea a taste of his own medicine as the Italian passed Rea at his own favorite overtaking spot. However, Rea snapped straight back at Rinaldi and took the lead back off of him. But into the final corner Rinaldi grabbed back the lead using the power of the Ducati.
Razgatlioglu decided it was time to pounce as he passed Rea for second place and now had to start the hunt to pass Rinaldi for the race win with three laps to go.
Last lap time and Rinaldi was 1 second clear of second place and seemingly had the win wrapped up. However, his team-mate, Bautista, started the last lap in 16th place, one place outside of the point positions.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi takes the chequered flag first for the first time in two years as he claims his first win of the 2023 season. Behind the Italian was Razgatlioglu and Rea, but Bautista did not the reach the finish line as he crashed out of the opening race of the weekend for the second time.
Feature image: WorldSBK.com