As anyone who pays attention to racing can tell you, clashes between riders can (and do) happen. Sometimes, it’s what’s often referred to as “a racing incident,” where two or more riders crash because they’re both trying to be in the same place at the same time. Other times, it might be construed as intentional on a rider’s part—although of course, it’s rare that any rider would ever say “I meant to hit them.”
On September 11, 2022, at Race Two of the World Superbike round at Magny-Cours, Jonathan Rea and Alvaro Bautista came together in a fairly ugly crash on Lap Two, at turn 13. As race winner Toprak Razgatlioglu later explained, turn 13 is one of the few places where it’s possible for other bikes to pass Bautista’s Ducati, because of the way its acceleration works.
The video clearly shows Rea’s bike knocking Bautista’s bike aside as they both go for the corner apex—and Bautista sliding away, angrily getting up, and unable to finish the race. Thankfully, he was uninjured. After the WSBK stewards reviewed the incident, they determined that it was Rea’s fault, and slapped him with a Long Lap Penalty—something that Bautista later said didn’t sit right with him.
“The maneuver 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,” Bautista later said in a statement.
“For me, it’s unacceptable. It’s nice for the Championship but, for me, it’s strange for me that if the stewards consider that it was a bad maneuver 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,” he went on. It’s worth noting that Bautista currently leads the WSBK rider’s championship in 2022, followed by Razgatlioglu in second and Rea in third.
For his part, Rea maintains that it was a racing incident, and went to talk to Bautista in the paddock about it after the race was over. He later said, “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.”
Rea continued, “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 maneuver. 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.” He went on to make a similar public post on his official Facebook page.
No one aside from Rea knows what was going on inside his mind at that exact moment in time. Bautista’s fans back him up, and Rea’s fans back their man as well. We’re glad no one got hurt, but what do you think?