Jonathan Rea victorious as World Superbike Championship blasts off at Motorland Aragon in Spain
Jonathan Rea made the perfect start to the 2022 World Superbike Championship with a dramatic last-corner victory at Motorland Aragon in Spain on Saturday.
The six-time champion fought off old foe Alvaro Bautista, who used the speed of his Aruba.it Ducati to continuously pass Rea on the main straight as they fought for the lead.
Spaniard Bautista made the same slipstreaming pass on the final lap to hit the front going into the final long left-hander, but Rea had anticipated the move and was able to cut back underneath his Ducati rival.
The Kawasaki rider crossed the line to seal his 113th carer WSBK win by 0.090s from Bautista, with reigning champion Toprak Razgatlioglu a safe third on the Pata Yamaha, five seconds back, ahead of Bautista’s team-mate Michael Ruben Rinaldi.
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Rea said: “I really enjoyed it. I had quite a few areas where my bike was really good. I was too conservative in sector three on the last lap and that invited (Bautista) in the last corner.
“I thought whatever happens, go down fighting so I rode to the side of him, blocked his exit and did all I could to get to the line.”
Pole man Razgatlioglu was involved in the fight for the lead with Rea and Bautista in the first third of the race before the 25-year-old Turkish rider dropped back.
However, Razgatlioglu will be encouraged by his rostrum finish at a circuit where the Yamaha has not been strong in the past.
Race winner Rea was toasting his ninth success at Motorland Aragon as the 35-year-old threw down the gauntlet with a hard-fought win as he embarks on his quest to win a seventh world crown.
Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) and new Honda signing Iker Lecuona were the top six.
Eugene Laverty finished 10th on the Bonovo Action BMW, while Scott Redding – third in the standings last season – struggled to 15th as he made his race debut for the official BMW Motorrad team.
The Superpole race is scheduled for 10:00 BST on Sunday with race two at 13:00 BST.