From years gone by, domination at the start of a WorldSBK season does not necessarily mean that is how it will stay…
Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) has stormed into WorldSBK and given veterans of the championship a serious warning, after winning the opening six races of the 2019 season. However, he is not the first rider to achieve this incredible feat. The first rider to win six on the bounce was Doug Polen in 1991, who went on to win one more to make it seven in a row. However, the first rider to win six at the start of the season was Troy Bayliss, back in the phenomenal 2002 season.
So, cast your minds back to 2002. The start of the season at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia saw Troy Bayliss open the win account, taking a double and beating Colin Edwards – his main championship challenger – hands-down. You can watch his dominant display in Race 1 here, whilst he also back it up with a double too! 50 points for Bayliss after Round 1 – watch Race 2 here!
The pattern was similar at Phillip Island for round two and for Kyalami in South Africa for round three. Watch Race 1 from Phillip Island here, where despite Edwards leading for a little while, Bayliss eventually stormed clear. Race two and Bayliss make it another double – watch how he took the win in style at his home circuit, here!
By this point, Bayliss – who had won the 2001 WorldSBK title, was looking unbeatable, with six wins all by more than two seconds to Edwards; Edwards looking like he had no answers for the rampant Australian. More worryingly, the gap had extended out to a huge 45 points between the two, which, whilst recoverable, had never been done before – and only six races had been completed! You can watch the opening six races for FREE, here!
As they say, the rest is history and Colin Edwards put in a phenomenal comeback, winning the remaining nine races with a points deficit of 58 to overcome after he took a few points away from Bayliss in the middle of the year. At what will forever be known as the ‘Showdown at Imola’ Edwards and Bayliss battled hard for the entirety of the two races in front of a massive Italian crowd.
With Alvaro Bautista winning the opening races with a combined a gap of 48.666s, the race is now on for Jonathan Rea to start to recover the deficit he has been forced to deal with. Nobody is unbeatable and as history has shown, it often takes domination at the start of a season to set up a thrilling end. And history has a habit of repeating itself from time to time.
You can see whether or not Alvaro Bautista can continue his domination throughout 2019 with the WorldSBK VideoPass!