Bautista wins Jerez opener as Rea, Lowes collide on final bend

Alvaro Bautista powers to the top of the podium in front of his home fans in Jerez, but there is controversy behind as Alex Lowes and Jonathan Rea come to blows at the final turn.
Bautista wins Jerez opener as Rea, Lowes collide on final bend

Jerez WorldSBK - Race Results (1)

UPDATE: Jonathan Rea penalised down to fourth position for his collision with Alex Lowes. Marco Melandri promoted into a third place - all other results unchanged

Alvaro Bautista notched up his 12th World Superbike Championship win of the season with another dominant victory in front of his home fans in Jerez, but there was controversy behind as his title rival Jonathan Rea was involved in a final corner collision with Alex Lowes.

Immediately rebuilding the points’ advantage he’d ceded to Imola double winner Rea last month, Ducati's Bautista started second on the grid behind the pole sitting Kawasaki but after scything past on the opening lap he wasn't troubled thereafter.

At one stage lapping a second quicker than the opposition, Bautista sprinted home a clear winner by seven seconds over Pata Yamaha’s Michael van der Mark.

The Dutchman, who started down in seventh, produced a stellar performance on the Pata Yamaha to quickly pick his way back to the front, overtaking Rea for second on lap eight and immediately pumping in the only laps comparable with Bautista’s ahead.

By contrast, Rea endured a dismal afternoon – one that could prove costly for his title dreams – after struggling to match the Yamahas. Evidently struggling with tyre wear as track temperatures rose to 49 degrees, after being overhauled by van der Mark, his Pata team-mate Lowes quickly pounced to demote his countryman to fourth.

However, Rea was able to regroup and stay with Lowes, the pair engaging in a feisty fight for the final podium spot with numerous retakes of position. It all came to a desperate end though when Rea – echoing the actions of many riders in years before him – dived for the position at the final left-hand hairpin, seemingly catching Lowes surprised and leading to contact.

The wobble was enough to send an unfortunate Lowes down into the gravel trap, with a sheepish Rea cruising to the line in third place. Though the incident was under investigation, the result is now declared notwithstanding appeals.

Lowes’ late exit lifted an entertaining battle between Marco Melandri and Toprak Razgatlioglu up to fourth and fifth, the Italian eventually getting the better of the Turkish rider.

Tom Sykes led the BMW challenge in a solid sixth place, with Chaz Davies climbing slowly to seventh – albeit 26secs behind his race winning team-mate – while Sandro Cortese picked up a top eight finish on the second of the GRT Yamahas.

Seemingly suffering in the same manner as Rea, Leon Haslam faded to ninth, ahead of Michael Ruben Rinaldi on the Barni Ducati.

Elsewhere, Loris Baz picked up points on his return in a lonely run to 12th, while Tommy Bridewell was also secured digits for his 14th place.