Alex takes fourth in opening Phillip Island race
The first race of the 2019 WorldSBK season at Phillip Island culminated in a titanic last lap battle between Pata Yamaha WorldSBK rider, Alex Lowes, and GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK rider, Marco Melandri, for the final podium position. The two riders swapped positions four times on the final lap alone, with Melandri eventually gaining the advantage with a pass at the final corner to claim third and to secure the GRT Yamaha team a first podium finish on their WorldSBK debut.
It was Alex Lowes, starting from the second row of the grid, who made the running for Yamaha in the early stages, with the 28-year-old Briton embroiled in a heated battle for second place with reigning champion Jonathan Rea, Leon Haslam and Toprak Razgatlioglu, as Alvaro Bautista escaped at the front. A crash for Haslam at half race distance left Lowes and Rea alone to contest second place, until the pair were caught by Melandri with just two laps remaining.
Alex, riding in some pain due to tendonitis in his left wrist, couldn’t hold off the initial challenge from Melandri, but struck back to pass the Italian twice on the final lap. However, it was Melandri who eventually got the better of the battle of the Yamahas, diving up the inside of Lowes on the entry to the final corner to claim third place and the final position on the podium.
The riders will return to action at 12.30 tomorrow, when they will contest the first ever Tissot Superpole Race, a 10-lap sprint to decide the grid for tomorrow’s final 22-lap feature race, which gets underway at 15.00.
“The guys did a good job with the bike, I had a better pace than I did during the test here, and I enjoyed it today. It’s definitely good to be racing again. There were a few little issues holding me back today and, at the end, I had to dig really deep to try and pass Marco back. I couldn’t have tried any harder than I did, but the grip dropped off a lot in the last four or five laps and I was a bit worried about the tyre not lasting the race, so I tried to be as smooth as I could. It was a shame to miss out on the podium in the final corner of the last lap but, overall, it was a decent start to the season.”