2019 WorldSBK Misano - Riviera di Rimini
Missed Opportunity for Lowes as Baz Leads the Yamaha Charge in Misano
The weather made for tricky conditions in this afternoon's WorldSBK Race 1 in Misano. After a delay due to the onset of heavy rain it was Pata Yamaha WorldSBK rider, Alex Lowes, who took a commanding lead when the race finally got underway, only for the race to be stopped after three laps as the storm intensified. Seven laps into the restarted race and Lowes was back at the front and pulling away from Jonathan Rea, until the 28-year-old Briton was caught out by standing water on the inside of turn 11 and crashed out of the race. As a result, it was Loris Baz who was the first Yamaha rider home in fourth place, in just his second appearance on the Ten Kate Yamaha Supported WorldSBK R1. The GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK pairing of Marco Melandri and Sandro Cortese had an eventful race, battling throughout for position and eventually finishing in sixth and seventh places respectively.
It was Cortese who made the early running today, as an impressive Superpole performance saw him qualify second, to secure only his second front row start aboard the GRT Yamaha R1. Lowes headed up the second row having qualified fourth, while Melandri and Baz were expecting a tough race after securing positions 13 and 16 on the grid.
Disruption due to rain meant that WorldSBK Race 1 finally got underway at the third attempt, with Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes immediately pulling away at the head of the race. Lowes shadowed the reigning World Champion until the spray from Rea's bike made visibility an issue, at which point he made his move for the lead. Lowes had built up a lead of more than a second when he crashed out at turn 11 after aquaplaning on standing water.
In the meantime, Baz had managed to work his way through the field, passing the two GRT Yamaha riders who were battling for position in a six-rider group, and slotting into fifth place behind Leon Haslam and Alvaro Bautista. When Haslam crashed out the Frenchman pushed hard to catch Bautista for the final podium place but was unable to match the Spaniard's pace on a drying track and had to settle for fourth place at the line.
Melandri and Cortese got the better of the group in which they had been battling for the majority of the race, pulling away in the closing stages of the 18-lap race to secure sixth and seventh places at the chequered flag.
Pata Yamaha rider, Michael van der Mark, played no part in proceedings today, following a heavy crash in FP2 yesterday in which he sustained a concussion, a fractured Trapezium and Radius in his right arm and two fractured ribs on his right side. The Jerez race winner remained in Rimini Hospital overnight as a precautionary measure but has now been released. Van der Mark will undergo surgery on his fractured radius early next week, after which doctors will be able to better assess the time needed for recovery.
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK - DNF
"I felt good in the wet conditions this morning and the bike was working well. In the race I was waiting behind Jonathan because 18-laps is a long race in the wet and I didn't want to use up the soft compound rear tyre too early. There was a lot of water on track and at one point I was struggling to see through the spray thrown off Jonathan's bike, so I put in a pass and managed to pull a bit of a gap. I was feeling strong and hadn't had any slides at all, which is sometimes worse because it builds confidence. When I arrived into turn 11, I could see that there was a lot more water on the track than on the previous laps. I tried to brake a bit more before I went in but I just lost the rear as it aquaplaned and I was off. Sorry to the team and to Yamaha, a victory or at worst a podium was there, and it was shame to finish this way today."
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK - P6
"It was a very, very difficult day, both in the dry and the wet. I never had the feeling with the bike that I was looking for, especially on maximum lean angle. During the race I made a mistake at the beginning when I tried to brake later to stay with the group, but the pace was simply not there today. Difficult conditions, a difficult race and a difficult situation. Tomorrow we will start the sprint race from the back because of the Jerez penalty, so I have nothing to lose. Top nine is the target, but I suspect it's not going to be easy."
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK - P7
"It was a very tough race, as the conditions were very difficult but. It was a completely new situation for us, as we've never raced this bike in the rain, so it was a pretty steep learning curve for both me and the team. This meant we weren't in a position to fight for the top positions, but the goal was to finish the race with as many points as possible, and this is what we did. Of course, I'm not completely happy with seventh after qualifying second on the grid, but I think we have a good day ahead of us tomorrow, with two races in which we can build on what was, overall, a fairly positive start today."
Ten Kate Yamaha Supported WorldSBK - P4
"Four weeks ago, the team were still building the bike and everyone else had done 14 races, while we had completed not even one lap, so it feels good to finish fourth here today. I'm really happy with the result but also with the progress we've made with understanding the bike in the dry. I was angry with myself for crashing in Superpole this morning, but the race was cool. When Haslam crashed I pushed really hard to catch Bautista for the final podium place but, as the track started to dry, he was able to increase his pace and it wasn't possible to close him down. I'm really happy with the result and big thanks to all the guys in the team for their hard work."