Boosting one of the longest start-finish straights on the WorldSBK calendar, the circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is expected to see championship leader Alvaro Bautista continue his impressive form and challenge for victory.

After Bautista took victory in race one in Magny-Cours, the former MotoGP rider looked set to challenge Razgatlioglu in race two, that was before a controversial clash between Rea and himself took over the headlines.

Eager to make his way through on Bautista, Rea made an aggressive lunge to the inside of the Spaniard at turn 14 before clattering into the Ducati rider - a collision which led Bautista to call Rea ‘not a real champion’

After seeing his lead in the WorldSBK championship standings drop from over 50 points to 30, avoiding a repeat DNF is of high priority for Bautista at his home round.

Speaking ahead of the weekend, Bautista added: "I’m looking forward to the race in Barcelona because it will be my home race. It’s a track I like a lot. We will approach the race like we did before. 

"We will try to work well from Friday to try to have a good feeling with the bike. Let’s see what happen. There is no expectation. On paper, it’s a good track for us. Magny-Cours was a bad track for us, and we were competitive. 

"Nothing is clear right now, fortunately the bike changed a lot compared to the last time. I will try to do my best. 

"The important thing will be to get the maximum in all situations and try not to make mistakes. After that, I will try to be competitive and try to do good races for the Spanish fans."

‘Yamaha not fast like Ducati’ 

After securing yet another double victory in France, the third consecutive race weekend where Razgatlioglu has won two or more races, the Turkish star arrives in Spain as the rider to beat.

However, the reigning world champion is expecting a tough round given the lack of top speed his R1 possesses compared to Bautista’s Panigale V4 R.

Razgatlioglu added: "Barcelona is not an easy track for the Yamaha because we are not fast like the Ducati in the straight. I know that it won’t be an easy race for us in Catalunya, but we will try to fight for the best position possible and we will see."

Can Rea bounce back and bring himself back into WorldSBK contention?

While Bautista and Razgatlioglu have dominated the last few rounds in terms of race wins, Rea is without a victory in 12 races.

Just one podium in the Superpole race was the best Rea could manage at Magny-Cours after the Kawasaki rider also crashed in race one.

With his ZX-10RR seemingly struggling compared to the Yamaha and Ducati of his rivals, Rea will need a big weekend in Catalunya after falling 47 points behind Bautista.

"I am really looking forward to the Barcelona race [weekend] because we had a great test there a few weeks ago, where I felt comfortable on the bike," added Rea. 

"We were fast and consistent. We worked on our pace in hot conditions. It has always been a difficult circuit for us there. 

"I haven’t had too much success at Barcelona so I am looking forward to turning that around. It is my team’s home race, so I am looking forward to seeing many friendly faces around the paddock, team sponsors and local fans. 

"I spend a lot of time in that area so it feels like a second home to me. After a difficult Magny-Cours it is important that we are able to rebound in a good way and score some difficult points. 

"Since we restarted the season at Magny-Cours these races are coming along in quick succession, so it is really important to be healthy, strong and consistent from now until the end of the season." 

In other WorldSBK news, Michael Ruben Rinaldi, who himself came under fire from Rea following their heated on-track battle in Magny-Cours, has agreed to a new deal with Aruba.it Ducati - meaning all ten factory seats have now been filled for the 2023 WorldSBK championship rider line-up.