World Superbikes: Alvaro Bautista powers to fourth win in a row over reigning champion Jonathan Rea
Man of the moment Alvaro Bautista extended his lead in the World Superbike Championship with a dominant victory in race one at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand on Saturday.
Reigning champion Jonathan Rea sealed second place on his Kawasaki behind the Spaniard, who powered to his fourth win in a row on the Aruba.it Ducati by 8.2 seconds.
Rea and Bautista disputed the lead in the early stages and there was drama on lap three, when the Ducati rider took the lead at Turn 3 only for Rea to cut back underneath him as the pair collided.
Bautista somehow managed to remain upright and showed his disapproval as he shook his head following the contact.
In the searing heat, he fought his way back after losing ground and with 12 laps to go, Bautista overtook Rea at Turn 3 and made it stick.
From there he began to pull clear with Rea unable to respond on his Kawasaki.
Former MotoGP rider Bautista has now set a new record as the only rookie ever to win their first four races following another impressive display on the Panigale V4 R.
He has increased his advantage at the top to 18 points over Ulsterman Rea, who had to settle for the runner-up spot once more after finishing second three times behind the red Ducati at Phillip Island.
Alex Lowes claimed the final place on the rostrum ahead of his Pata Yamaha team-mate, Michael van der Mark, while Leon Haslam crossed the line in fifth position on the second of the factory Kawasaki machines.
Marco Melandri completed the top six on the GRT Yamaha ahead of team-mate Sandro Cortese.
There was disappointment for Eugene Laverty, who crashed out at high speed after an apparent brake issue on the approach to Turn 12, with the Go Eleven Ducti rider fortunately escaping injury.