Furious Bautista lashes out at Rea over WorldSBK clash, Rea 'sorry' but...

Alvaro Bautista doesn't hold back in his stinging assessment of Jonathan Rea's conduct after following WorldSBK Many-Cours clash, brands penalty as 'unfair'

Alvaro Bautista - Aruba.it Ducati WorldSBK

Alvaro Bautista has inferred that Jonathan Rea ‘intentionally’ came at him with an ‘out of limits’ move that resulted in the 2022 WorldSBK Championship leader being dramatically shoved out of race two at Magny-Cours.

Bautista and Rea were jostling over second place on lap two when the latter slipped up the inside of his rival’s Ducati but continued to hang it out wide, prompting a touch that sent Bautista barrelling into the gravel trap and out of the race.

A dramatic flash point in what has been a largely clean three-way fight for the 2022 WorldSBK title involving Bautista, Rea and Razgatlioglu, the Kawasaki rider was handed a long lap penalty - which dropped him to seventh initially - as punishment before fighting back to fifth at the flag.

While the damage to his points’ lead - now 30 points compared with 31 points at the start of the weekend - was softened by low/no scores for his rivals in race one, Bautista was nonetheless furious with his rival’s ‘unacceptable’ aggressive riding 

“The manoeuvre was out of the limits, for me. This wasn’t a mistake from Jonathan, he intentionally came to me. I think it’s unacceptable, these kinds of things, coming from any rider but especially coming from a great Champion like him. 

“This kind of action, he showed he’s very fast, very brave, he’s a Champion. He won in the past, he wins, he stayed at the front, but he showed a Champion cannot do this kind of action. For me, it’s unacceptable. 

The Spaniard also turned his ire against race stewards for settling on a single long lap penalty for Rea, Bautista saying it’s ‘not fair’ he was still allowed to collect solid points.

“It’s nice for the Championship but, for me, it’s strange for me that if the stewards consider that it was a bad manoeuvre from Jonathan and they gave him a Long Lap Penalty, I think, it’s not enough. I get out of the race and he finished in fifth place; I think it’s not fair.”

Rea facing uphill struggle for WorldSBK title 

Rea, meanwhile, defended the overtake saying that while he was ‘really sorry’ Bautista was forced into a crash, he maintains he ‘didn’t blow’ his own corner like his rival.

“Firstly, I’m really sorry he went down. There was some contact there. I’ve been to see him already and offered him my apologies and gave my point of view. I listened to him so, for me, I’ve turned the page now. I arrived at Turn 13 with zero bad intentions. 

“I only had to make a pass; I knew that Toprak would be the guy with the pace. I tried to make a good last sector before the long back straight. I went down to the inside, he committed to the apex so, of course, there was contact. 

“For me, it wasn’t an over the line manoeuvre. I made my apex. I didn’t blow my own corner. Of course, I’m sorry he lost points; I don’t want to ride in this way. I got the penalty. I didn’t know whether to expect something or not and I had to take it.”

Regardless, having crashed out of race one, a fifth in race two and a third in the Superpole Race made this his lowest scoring WorldSBK round since joining Kawasaki in 2015.

It means the Ulsterman is facing an uphill task to get back into the fight for a seventh WorldSBK title, now 47 points adrift of Bautista out front.