Damage limitation for Jonathan Rea as Alvaro Bautista makes rare mistake at Jerez
World Superbike Championship leader Alvaro Bautista dramatically crashed out of the second race on Sunday to hand Jonathan Rea a glimmer of hope in the title race.
The Spaniard won the opening race on Saturday and followed up with victory in the Superpole race to cap a double at Jerez on the Aruba.it Ducati, moving him onto 13 wins this season.
However, the former MotoGP rider suffered a setback with his first crash in World Superbikes as he slid out of the lead at the start of lap two.
Reigning champion Rea was soon fighting for the lead with eventual winner Michael van der Mark, whose Pata Yamaha team-mate, Alex Lowes, crashed on the first lap.
Rea led van der Mark and Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha) in the early stages, with Chaz Davies trying to cling on to the leaders on the second of the Aruba.it Ducati machines.
The top five were covered by only one second with 15 laps to go, but there was more drama when Melandri attempted a pass on Davies, sending both riders crashing out at turn five.
Dutchman van der Mark was pressurising Rea for the lead and he moved ahead with 14 laps remaining. Kawasaki star Rea initially kept pace with the Yamaha rider, but van der Mark gradually began to ease clear and the 26-year-old opened a cushion of two seconds.
He went on to wrap up the win by 3.5 seconds from Rea, with the final place on the podium going to the impressive Toprak Razgatlioglu (Puccetti Kawasaki).
A crash for Ryuichi Kiyonari (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) at the fast Turn 11 resulted in gravel being put all over the circuit and the red flag came out with two laps to go. Kiyonari walked away from the crash, although his bike was extensively damaged.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi took a career-best fourth on the Barni Ducati, whilst Leon Haslam completed the top five ahead of Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha).
Following Bautista’s demise, Rea has closed the championship deficit to 41 points.
In the earlier Superpole race, Bautista won by 2.7 seconds from van der Mark, with Melandri sealing third.
Rea, who was forced to start from the back of the grid after being penalised for his collision with Lowes on the last lap of Saturday’s race, finished in fourth.
British rider Lowes’ miserable weekend was compounded when he crashed out at turn seven.
Round seven of the series will take place at Misano in Italy from June 21-23.