Thrilling Climax to WSBK Racing in Portimao

If Saturday’s Superpole and Race 1 from the Algarve International Circuit, Portimão was edge of the seat racing, what would Sunday’s racing hold in store for us? The reigning Champion, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) had a commanding lead from start to finish in both the Superpole and Race 1 – are we going to see a repeat performance?

An update on Sandro Cortese (OUTDO Kawasaki TPR) following his crash at the end of Race 1: Cortese underwent surgery for a fractured vertebra and has also suffered a fracture of the right tibial bone, four fractured ribs and a suspected fracture of the right ankle. Wishing Cortese a speedy recovery.

Superpole got underway and again it was Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) who claimed victory to start from pole position in Race 2 with Toprak Razgatlioglu (PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Official Team) in second place despite the early pressure he put in on Rea having passed Rea into Turn 1 but then running wide allowing Rea to pass back into 1st and build a gap. Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) finished the top 3 with his first podium since 2014.

Despite an early challenge from Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati), Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) finished 4th, Redding 5th and Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) in an impressive 6th place.

Michael van der Mark at Portimão WSBK 2020. Image courtesy of Yamaha.

In 7th place Michael van der Mark (PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Official Team) managed to finish four seconds ahead of Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team GOELEVEN) and Leon Haslam (Team HRC) who were battling for 8th position.

Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) and Eugene Laverty (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) had an incident at the Turn 5 hairpin on Lap 2 resulting in both riders managing to continue with the race but having fallen down the order in so doing and unfortunately Davies subsequently retiring from the race a few laps later.

With a few laps remaining at Turn 3 we saw Maximilian Scheib (ORELAC Racing VerdNatura) and Marco Melandri (Barni Racing Team) run off the track but fortunately for both riders they were able to continue with Superpole.

After an eventful session the starting grid looked like this:

Row 1 : Rea : Razgatlioglu : Baz  Row 2: Lowes : Redding : Sykes

Row 3 : van der Mark : Rinaldi : Haslam  Row 4 : Gerloff : Bautista : Caricasulo

Row 5 : Fores : Mercado : Melandri  Row 6 : Barrier : Ponsson : Gabellini

Row 7 : Takahashi : Laverty : Scheib  Row 8 : Davies

With 20 laps of racing, Race 2 gets underway with Rea just managing to stay ahead of Razgatlioglu going into the first corner, Redding goes up into 3rd and Baz is down to 4th. At Turn 5 Laverty goes down with his bike ending up in the gravel, Haslam goes up into 7th and on the last corner at Turn 14, Baz suffers a high speed off and goes rolling into the gravel thus bringing his race to an early end.

Redding is now up into 2nd with Rea in 3rd and Lowes passes van der Mark up into 4th. By Lap 3 Rea puts in fastest lap and is just starting to pull out a bit of a gap ahead of Redding who has dropped half a second and is now feeling the heat from Razgatlioglu who is closing in. Van der Mark is hot on the heels of Lowes and Davies is looking to get past Haslam who is causing a bottleneck with Rinaldi and Fores closing in.

Razgatlioglu goes sliding into Turn 5 on Lap 6, he manages to recover the bike and rejoin the track in 14th place and now has a lot of work to do to fight his way back up the field. Turn 5 strikes again when Lowes goes down too, again he manages to rejoin the track but only to make his way to the pits and an early end to his race.

The gap between Rea and third place van der Mark is 3 seconds. Razgatlioglu is looking to get past Mercado to take 12th position and makes his move at the end of the start/finish straight into Turn 1 with a late braking move slipping up on the inside.

Scott Redding at Portimao 2020 WSbK Image courtesy of Ducati

On Lap 11 Van der Mark is closing in on Redding and Turn 5 strikes again when Haslam goes down rejoining the track back down in 13th. Bautista is challenging Rinaldi for 5th position and successfully passes and is now looking to close in on Davies who is in 4th place

Redding is starting to look like he is struggling for pace as van der Mark is all over him and then at Turn 5 Redding runs wide allowing van der Mark to cut through on the inside and claim 2nd place but then loses ground, runs wide at the next corner allowing Redding to pass by on the inside, van der Mark tries to cut back through but doesn’t make it.

By lap 14 Rea has stretched the gap to 4 seconds ahead of Redding with van der Mark hot on his heels determined to gain 2nd place back again.

Gerloff runs wide in Turn 2 on Lap 15 onto the kerb and comes back onto the track and into Fores. Fores goes down and out but Gerloff manages to keep the bike upright going through the gravel to rejoin the track in 11th place.

Van der Mark is not giving up and is trying at every available opportunity to get that 2nd place with Rea stretching his lead to a comfortable 5 seconds.

On the penultimate lap, Haslam passes Melandri up into 12th position with Laverty having a look too. Razgatlioglu has made his way up into 9th and as Caricasulo runs wide, manages to make up another place. The battle for 2nd place is so close, van der Mark is not giving up but Redding is successfully defending his position to the finish line. Rea takes a comfortable win and is now 4 points ahead of Redding in the Championship.

An absolutely thrilling nail biting race and a terrific end to a great weekend of WorldSBK racing.

Round 4 takes places at MotorLand Aragon, Teruel, Spain on the 28th to 30th August.

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The Driver’s/Team Standings so far at the end of Round 3 look like this:

Riders Standings Team Standings
Pos Rider Points Pos Team Points
1 Jonathan Rea 136 1 Kawasaki 162
2 Scott Redding 132 2 Ducati 134
3 Toprak Razgatlioglu 103 3 Yamaha 131
4 Alex Lowes 91 4 Honda 60
5 Michael van der Mark 82 5 BMW 48
6 Chaz Davies 75 6 Aprilia 4
7 Alvaro Bautista 55
8 Loris Baz 54
9 Michael Ruben Rinaldi 53
10 Tom Sykes 47
11 Leon Haslam 36
12 Garrett Gerloff 22
13 Marco Melandri 17
14 Eugene Laverty 16
15 Sandro Cortese 14
16 Xavi Fores 14
17 Federico Caricasulo 12
18 Maximillan Scheib 10
19 Leandro Mercado 7
20 Christophe Ponsson 4
21 Sylvain Barrier 1

Featured image courtesy of Ducati

Edge of the Seat Racing from Portimao in Superpole and Race 1

WorldSBK Superpole and Race 1 took place today from Algarve International Circuit, Portimão, Portugal with the reigning Champion, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) taking pole position by nearly three tenths of a second with Toprak Razgatlioglu (PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Official Team) taking second place and Rea’s teammate, Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), slotting into third place.

Last weekend’s Race 2 winner, Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT – Racing Ducati); took a tumble at Turn 5 but was able to get back on the track and to the pits for some quick repairs by his team before getting back out on the track again to finish in 8th place.

The top independent rider, Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha), secured a second row start with his impressive pace with the highest place Honda of Leon Haslam (Team HRC) in tenth position. Haslam’s teammate, Alvaro Bautista crashed in Sector 3 and, like Redding, he was able to get the bike back on track and to the pits.

After a tense session the starting grid looked like this:

Row 1 : Rea : Razgatlioglu : Lowes Row 2: Sykes : van der Mark : Baz

Row 3 : Rinaldi : Redding : Laverty Row 4 : Haslam : Gerloff : Bautista

Row 5 : Davies : Cortese : Fores Row 6 : Caricasulo : Scheib : Mercado

Row 7 : Melandri : Barrier : Takahashi Row 8 : Ponsson : Gabellini

With 20 laps of racing, Race 1 gets underway with Rea getting off to a great start with the opposite happening for Redding who, by the first corner is down two places. Sykes on his BMW has a full on wobble nearly losing it at Turn 4 but incredibly recovers and stays on track. Lowes has dropped back into 4th and Redding is now in 6th by Turn 6 and along with Lowes is now closing in on van der Mark.

Rinaldi and Haslam got off to a good start but by Lap 2 Sykes is down to 9th having started from 4th place but manages to make up a place by Lap 3. Rea has set the fastest lap and is now starting to pull away from Razgatlioglu in 2nd place.

Lap 4 sees Redding pass Lowes but then, Redding runs wide and Lowes takes the place back but Redding is all over Lowes looking to get back past. At Turn 11 Redding manages to pass Lowes and this time he makes it stick.

Scott Redding at Portimao WSBK 2020. Image courtesy of Ducati

Third place is now being fought over by Baz, van der Mark and Redding with some incredible racing taking place with the Ducati all over the Yamahas and at one point they are neck and neck but still holding their positions. Van der Mark has a huge wobble and how he managed to hold onto it and his place is incredible.

Lap 6 sees van der Mark running wide and losing two places allowing Redding up into 4th and Lowes into 5th.

On the start-finish straight on Lap 8 Redding passes Baz in a very smooth overtake on the inside and then on the following lap Baz runs wide allowing Lowes and van der Mark to nip past. Meanwhile Redding’s teammate, Davies, is not having a good race at all and has now dropped back to 14th.

By Lap 11 van der Mark is hot on the heels of Redding fighting for position and Baz is now down into 7th place having been passed by Lowes on Lap 12 who is closing in on van der Mark and Redding. The fight for 3rd place is edge of the seat racing.

Rea, by Lap 15, has now pulled out a 4 second lead ahead of Razgatlioglu, both of whom are having a very controlled and smooth race.

Lowes has gone up the inside of Redding and now Rinaldi is having a look. Lap 16 sees Redding run wide, Rinaldi tries to get past on the inside but doesn’t manage it. Lowes is edging away from Redding and the battle for fifth is hotting up.

On Lap 19 Rinaldi passes Redding and they both run wide with Rinaldi managing to stay ahead but Baz slips past Redding up into 6th place with Sykes now having a look to see if he can pass by too.

It’s the final lap and Redding is looking to get back past Baz but Baz is managing to hold the Ducati off for now. Rea crosses the finish line easily in 1st position followed by Razgatlioglu, van der Mark and Lowes. Baz managed to hold off Redding to finish 6th with Redding down in 7th.

Fantastic racing in Race 1, Race 2 is going to be nail biting!

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Featured image courtesy of Yamaha Racing

Ducati claimed their first 1-2 finish since 2012 in WorldSBK Race 2 @ Jerez 2nd August 2020

Race victory in the Superpole race on Day 2 of the WorldSBK championship at Jerez at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto, Andalusia went to reigning Champion Jonathan Rea having taken the lead from polesitter Scott Redding at the start of the race to jump from third to first. Rea held the lead for the full 10 lap race.

Redding went down to third having also been been passed by Razgatlioglu at the start but whilst battling with Redding, Razgatlioglu suffered technical issues thus ending his race early enabling his teammate van der Mark to claim a podium place.

The top independent rider Loris Baz was up into fourth ahead of the Redding’s teammate, Chaz Davies in fifth place and despite suffering issues in Race 1, Tom Sykes was able to claim 6th place even though he did drop three places from his start position.

Lowes finished in 7th place followed by the Yamaha of Gerloff and claiming the last points paying position was Haslam on the Honda.

The starting grid looked like this:

Row 1 : Rea : Redding : van der Mark

Row 2: Baz : Davies : Sykes

Row 3 : Lowes : Gerloff : Haslam

Row 4 : Razgatlioglu : Bautista : Rinaldi

Row 5 : Laverty : Cortese : Caricasulu

Row 6 : Fores : Scheib :

Row 7 : Melandri : Mercado : Barrier

Row 8 : Gabellini : Takahashi : Ponsson

Race 2 : After the warm up lap, the riders line up on the start grid waiting for the lights to go green and when they do, Rea gets a good start but Razgatlioglu gets an even better start moving from tenth on the grid to 3rd. Davies has a look around the outside of Razgatlioglu but couldn’t quite make the pass and is in 4th.

On Lap 2 Redding goes alongside Rea at the right-hander of Turn 1 and passes on the inside going into the corner. The BMW of Laverty can be seen slowing down with what looks like a technical issue and is unable to finish the race.

Going into turn 3 on Lap 3 Davies goes up the inside of Razgatlioglu into 3rd place, Razgatlioglu is looking to get back past but can’t manage it. On the following lap coming into Turn 9, Davies goes on the inside of Rea pushing him wide and sliding past in a very smooth pass up into 2nd. Ducati are now 1st and 2nd.

Lap 5 sees Razgatlioglu pass Rea but Rea manages to get back past and hang onto 3rd position.

Toprak Razgatlıoğlu at Jerez WSBK 2020. Image courtesy of Yamaha Racing

On Lap 6, Takahashi suffered a crash at Turn 5 thus ending his race and then coming into the corner at Turn 13, we see Baz lose it and slide into the gravel. He was able to get the bike back up and out of the gravel and rejoin the track but was now down in last place.

Razgatlioglu eventually passes Rea on Lap 7 and moves up into 3rd place whilst the battle for 5th is hotting up between van der Mark and Rinaldi, In the meantime the two leading Ducati’s of Redding and Davies are pulling out a comfortable lead against the rest of the pack.

Lowes is looking to get past Rea whilst Rinaldi is looking to get past Lowes and on lap 12 Rinaldi keeps a tight line alongside Lowes going into the corner and manages to stay ahead moving up into 5th place. Lowes tries to respond but Rinaldi has firmly got his sights set on Rea and is edging closer to the reigning Champion.

On the following lap, Rinaldi shoots up on the inside of Rea coming into a corner but then runs wide allowing Rea to move back past again but on Turn 13 Rinaldi pulls out of the corner onto the start/finish line and comes back past Rea on the inside in a very smooth overtake and up into 4th place which he manages to keep hold off.

On Lap 16 Lowes passes Rea on the inside pushing Rea down into 5th and by the following lap we can see van der Mark chasing Rea down in the hopes of getting past too. Surely Rea must have an issue with his bike as he struggling to hold his position.

Sykes is now closing in on Gerloff and by the last lap you can see the riders are struggling with their tyres in the heat with many running wide.

Redding passes the chequered flag with a very comfortable lead over his teammate, Davis followed by Razgatlioglu and Rinaldi. Lowes finishes ahead of Rea who has managed to keep van der Mark behind him to finish 6th.

Another brilliant race win for Redding, his second win of this weekend and a double win for Ducati with 1st and 2nd place.

Scott Redding and Chaz Davis after Race 2 at Jerez WSBK 2020. Image courtesy of Ducati

What a brilliant weekend of WorldSBK racing we have had and luckily we haven’t got long to wait until Round 3 which is next weekend, the 7th to 9th August at the Algarve International Circuit, Portimão, Portugal.

The Driver’s / Team Standings so far at the end of Round 2 at Jerez on the 1st and 2nd August looked like this:

Pos Rider Points Pos Team Points
1 Scott Redding 98 1 Kawasaki 100
2 Jonathan Rea 74 2 Ducati 98
3 Alex Lowes 72 3 Yamaha 86
4 Toprak Razgatlioglu 66 4 Honda 41
5 Chaz Davies 57 5 BMW 27
6 Michael van der Mark 47 6 Aprilia 4
7 Loris Baz 37
8 Alvaro Bautista 37
9 Michael Ruben Rinaldi 30
10 Leon Haslam 28
11 Tom Sykes 26
12 Marco Melandri 15
13 Garrett Gerloff 15
14 Sandro Cortese 14
15 Xavi Forbes 11
16 Maximillan Scheib 10
17 Eugene Laverty 6
18 Christophe Ponsson 4
19 Federico Caricasulo 4
20 Leandro Mercado 1

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Featured Image courtesy of Ducati

WorldSBK Race 1 Gets Off to a Fantastic Start in Jerez

What a great restart to to the WorldSBK championship at Jerez this weekend (31 Jul-02 Aug) for Round 2 in Spain at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto, Andalusia after a five month break.

Superpole took place earlier in the day with the Championship leader Lowes crashing at Turn 13 in the first phase of the session and was unable to set a lap time but was able to get back on the track with 15 minutes left of the session and will start the race down in 14th place.

Leandro ‘Tati’ Mercado took a tumble at Turn 4. He will start the race in 20th place.

After a tense session rookie Scott Redding took pole position by just 0.034s over Rea closely followed by Sykes.

The starting grid looked like this:

Row 1 : Redding : Rea : Sykes

Row 2: van der Mark : Razgatlioglu : Baz

Row 3 : Davies : Bautista : Haslam

Row 4 : Rinaldi : Laverty : Cortese

Row 5 : Caricasulo : Lowes : Gerloff

Row 6 : Fores : Scheib : Ponsson

Row 7 : Melandri : Mercado : Barrier

Row 8 : Gabellini : Takahashi

Before the start of Race 1, a minute’s silence was held in memory of those who lost their lives to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

With 20 laps of racing and the air temperature at 36 degrees, Race 1 gets underway but Redding does not have a good start at all but manages to cling onto 3rd place by the first corner, Rea goes up into first place whilst Razgatlioglu makes an incredible start and is up into 2nd place from starting 5th.

On Lap 3 Caricasulo crashes at Turn 4 and although he manages to get the bike going again, unfortunately this is only to the pits.

Lap 4 sees firth place man Tom Sykes slowing down and pulling over to the side of the track as he approached Turn 1. It looked like some kind of technical issue as he does manage to get the bike going again and back to the pits. He was able to rejoin the race on Lap 12.

By Lap 5 Rea is pulling out a lead and Razgatlioglu and Redding are squabbling for 3rd place with Razgatlioglu managing to hold off the rookie for now.

Lap 8, a very unhappy van der Mark, suffers engine problems with lots of smoke coming from his bike. He manages to pull over and park the bike before getting a lift back to the pits on the back of a marshal’s scooter.

By Lap 9 although Rea is still holding the lead, the gap between Rea and Razgatlioglu is getting smaller and Lap 10 sees Redding having a look to get past Razgatlioglu whilst Davies, who is in fourth place is lapping half a second quicker than race leader Rea.

Chaz Davis, weaving through the pack at WSBK Jerez 2020. Image courtesy of Dudcati

On Lap 11  Redding passes Razgatlioglu in a very smooth overtake as he now sets his sights on the leader, Rea.

Mercado suffered a crash at Turn 6 on Lap 12 ending his race. Lap 14 sees Redding going down into Turn 6 getting alongside Rea before forcing him wide to claim the lead and although Rea nearly gets back past Redding on Lap 15, it wasn’t to be and Redding starts to pull out a lead.

Rinaldi puts in a fastest lap on Lap 16 and Davies is now up to 5th place but he soon passes Baz on Lap 17 into 4th place and has his sights set on Razgatlioglu. A few times on the last two laps Davies nearly gets past Razgatlioglu but then on the last lap he runs wide effectively ending his hunt for third place.

Redding crosses the finish line 1st followed by Rea in 2nd and Razgatlioglu in 3rd.

A fantastic Race 1 and restart to the season. Looking forward to Race 2 tomorrow.

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Featured Image courtesy of Ducati

The Return of World Superbikes 2020

World Superbikes returns this weekend (31 Jul-02 Aug) for Round 2 in Spain at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto, Andalusia after a five month break when the 2020 battle for the title WorldSBK championship recommences.

At the moment there are 8 more rounds of this season but of course in this current situation this could change at anytime. The remaining rounds are:

Round 3 : Algarve International Circuit, Portimão, Portugal : 07-09 August

Round 4 : MotorLand Aragon, Teruel, Spain : 28-30 August

Round 5 : MotorLand Aragon, Teruel, Spain : 04-06 September

Round 6 : Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Barcelona : 18-20 September

Round 7 : Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, Magny-Cours, France : 02-04 October

Round 8 : Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, Magny-Cours, France : TBC

Round 9 : Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli”, Riviera Di Rimini, Italy : TBC

It has just been announced that after extensive discussions between the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) and Dorna WSBK Organization (DWO), that three rounds have been cancelled and these were to be held at Donington Park (the first time in WorldSBK history that there will not be a round in the UK); the Dutch Round at the TT Circuit Assen (which has been a permanent fixture on the calendar since 1992) and the Qatar Round at the Losail International Circuit.

The Driver’s / Team Standings so far at the end of Round 1 at Philip Island on the 29 Feb-01 Mar looked like this:

Pos Rider Points Pos Team Points
1 Alex Lowes 51 1 Kawasaki 57
2 Scott Redding 39 2 Yamaha 47
3 Toprak Razgatlioglu 34 3 Ducati 39
4 Jonathan Rea 32 4 Honda 23
5 Michael van der Mark 31 5 BMW 17
6 Alvaro Bautista 20
7 Loris Baz 20
8 Chaz Davies 19
9 Leon Haslam 17
10 Tom Sykes 17
11 Maximillan Scheib 10
12 Sandro Cortese 10
13 Michael Ruben Rinaldi 7
14 Xavi Fores 5
15 Eugene Laverty 5
16 Federico Caricasulo 4
17 Garrett Gerloff 2
18 Takumi Takahashi 0

During the five months hiatus, teams were busy developing their bikes, engines and race strategies and the riders were continuing with their fitness regimes to ensure they are race fit.

Leon Haslam at MotorLand Aragon WSBK test on 16-17th of July 2020. Image courtesy of Honda racing corporation

Two days of testing took place at MotorLand Aragon on the 16th/17th July where track temperatures were pushing 50 degrees celsius during the afternoon session. Topping the board at the end of day one was Team HRC’s Leon Haslam who beat his teammate Alvaro Bautista followed by Christophe Ponsson riding for Nuova M2 Racing who are putting in five wildcard appearances this season on the Aprilia RSV4 1000. Ponsson was incredibly only about a second off Haslam’s pace.

Day two of testing still saw the scorching heat meaning the track temperature was high again leading to a few crashes and red flags with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) riding the ZX-10RR being the man to beat after setting a blistering time in the morning session with his teammate Alex Lowes in 4th.

Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) was 2nd a mere 0.156s behind Rea and Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) 3rd with his teammate Eugene Laverty in 6th place.

Toprak Razgatlioglu (PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Official Team) finished 5th and whilst Leon Haslam in the Honda HRC team was inside the top five after lunch, he finished the day in 9th with his teammate Alvaro Bautista down in 15th.

So after five months of waiting this is shaping up to be an exciting restart to the 2020 WorldSBK season.

Featured image courtesy of Ducati

Ten things you didn’t know you needed to know about Michael Rutter

I met Michael at this year’s Bike Show @ the Excel and he very kindly answered some questions for me.

Michael is known as “The Blade” and currently races in the National Superstock 1000 Championship aboard a BMW S1000RR. He has a reputation for being at his best in wet conditions and his favourite circuit is Oulton Park. Michael has won 29 British Superbike Championship races with the most recent being at Silverstone in 2010, and finished as series runner-up twice. He has also contested MotoGP and World Superbike Championship.

1. What is the best feeling about being on a motorbike?
The freedom and the speed.

2. What is the one thing people would never know about you just by looking at you?
Oh blimey, I don’t know!

3. What was your most embarrassing moment on a motorbike?
When I was going to take some newcomers out on the Classic TT and I forgot my gloves.

4. What is the worst thing your mum caught you doing as a kid?
Nothing. (Editor’s note: yeah, right!!!!!!!!!!)

5. Do you have a lucky thing/ritual before the start of a race?
No, not really although if it was a number I didn’t like, I wouldn’t have it.

6. What was the first motorbike you owned?
A TS50X Suzuki.

7. What is your favourite stretch of road to ride on (not including a race track)?
The road from Bridgnorth to Stour Bridge, I run all my bikes in on that road.

8. If you hadn’t been a racer, what would you have been?
A mechanic.

9. Would you ride pillion? If so, who with?
No, never.

10. If you got arrested, what would your friends and family assume you had done?
Definitely for speeding!

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World Superbike Round 1 at Philip Island 29.02.2020 / 01.03.2020

Race One : What a fantastic start to the season, the top 3 riding past the chequered in a photo finish end to the race were Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team) through in first place; Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) in second and Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) in third.

Toprak Razgatlioglu winner of Race One at Phillip Island WSBK 2020. Image courtesy of Yamaha Racing

The starting grid looked like this:
Row 1 : Sykes : Redding : Rea
Row 2: Razgatlioglu : Haslam : van der Mark
Row 3 : Baz : Lowes : Cortese
Row 4 : Fores : Scheib : Caricasulo
Row 5 : Laverty : Rinaldi : Bautista
Row 6 : Davies : Gerloff : Takahashi

Rea got off to a good start but whilst still on lap 1 he soon made contact with Sykes and went off into the gravel but managed to keep the bike upright and re-joined the track in last place with Sykes now in the lead followed by Redding and van der Mark.

On lap 3 Baz ran wide and went down to 11th place and the following lap saw Rea and Caricasulo make contact at turn 4, both riders managing to keep the bikes upright but then turn 8, we saw Rea going round the outside of Rinaldi where he lost it and ended up in the gravel and ending his race. Rea got caught under the bike briefly and ended up with a burnt leg but otherwise he was okay.

Lap 10 saw Fores come off at turn 2, the second Kawasaki out of the race and Lap 11 saw Redding move ahead of van der Mark followed by Sykes but Sykes then drops back to 4th as he is overtaken by Razgatlioglu taking him up to 3rd.

On lap 12 we saw Haslam pass Sykes pushing him down into 6th now – Sykes was on a different back tyre to the rest of those around him so maybe that was the reason for him dropping back.

Redding ran wide on lap 14 leading to him being passed by Razgatlioglu, van der Mark and then Razgatlioglu went down the inside of his teammate to take him to the front of the grid. Lap 15 sees Haslam go up into 4th position but by lap 17 he was back down into 5th again.

It’s edge of the seat stuff now as lap 17 saw Razgatliolu and by van der Mark swapping 1st and 2nd places a couple of times with Lowes now up into 3rd place. Laps 18 and 19 became a 3 way battle with Razgatliolu, van der Mark and Lowes all swapping  places numerous times.

The final lap sees van der Mark get pushed down into 4th with Redding passing him and then out of the last corner there is a final dash to the finish with Razgatlioglu, Lowes and Redding pretty much neck and neck going towards the chequered flag with Razgatlioglu pipping the other two to the post making it the closest podium of the century!

The last time Yamaha won the first race of the season was in 1989 so a fabulous victory for the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team and of course Razgatlioglu.

An absolutely brilliant nail biting start to the season. Race 2 tomorrow is going to be exciting ….

The top six following WorldSBK Race 1:
1. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team)
2. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
3. Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati)
4. Michael van der Mark (PATA YAMAHA WORLDSBK OFFICIAL TEAM)
5. Leon Haslam (Team HRC)
6. Alvaro Bautosta (Team HRC)

Race Two

The starting grid looked like this:

Row 1 : Rea : Razgatlioglu : Redding
Row 2: Lowes : van der Mark : Sykes
Row 3 : Baz : Haslam : Rinaldi
Row 4 : Cortese : Fores : Scheib
Row 5 : Caricasulo : Bautista : Davies
Row 6 : Takahashi

Non Starters due to injuries in the 10 lap sprint race earlier this morning are Gerloff, Laverty and Camier.

A clean start is had by all to the start of the Race 2, van der Mark has a great start and manages to overtake round the outside and come from 5th to 1st but lap two sees Rea take the lead back. Contact is made between Haslam and Rinaldi in turn 10 sending both riders into the gravel, Haslam manages to rejoin in last place but Rinaldi is not so lucky.

Start of Race 2 at Phillip Island WSBK 2020. Image courtesy of Ducati

Lap 3 sees 1.6 seconds covering the top 10 riders. Redding goes up the inside of Lowes to take 3rd place and Fores made contact with Sykes on lap 4 but kept the bike going. Lap 5 we see Redding passing Razgatlioglu quickly followed by Lowes pushing the Turkish rider down to 5th.

By lap 8 Baz takes second position from taken van der Mark only to lose it again on the next lap but then makes a bold move and passes van der Mark and Rea to take the lead Rea. Further back Lowes makes contact with Razgatlioglu causing him to go wide and rejoin the pack in 8th. Takahashi’s bike broke down on lap 11 together with the GRT Yamaha bike of Caricasulo.

The next few laps we see Rea and Baz swapping positions, all very clean riding and great overtaking.

Lap 14 Lowes comes from 4th and takes van der Mark and Baz to go into 2nd position, further round the track Baz had a wobble but managed to collect it and amazingly keep his position!

Laps 15, 16 and 17 sees some fantastic racing with Lowes and Rea swapping places with van der Mark joining in too ending with Lowes ahead, Rea second followed by van der Mark. On lap 18 Baz loses it again and goes off into the dirt but manages to keep it going but mechanical problems with the bike of Razgatlioglu means the rider retires on this lap.

The last few laps and the racing is getting even more exciting (if that were possible) where we have Lowes taking the lead from Rea, Rea going wide and van der Mark coming past. Rea nearly loses the bike at this point but manages to hang on to it and re-takes 2nd place quickly followed by Redding pushing van der Mark down into 4th!

WSBK 2020 Phillip Island Race Two podium winners, Lowes, Rea and Redding third. Image courtesy of Ducati

The last lap and I’m on the edge of my seat as Rea is having a look to try and get past Lowes and as they come out of the last corner on the run up to the chequered flag, Rea gives it everything but Lowes just managed to stay ahead and take the win.

Wow! What a fantastic race. Great riding all weekend from all the riders. Qatar in a couple of weeks time is going to be fantastic.

The top six following WorldSBK Race 2:
1. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
2. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
3. Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati)
4. Michael van der Mark (PATA YAMAHA WORLDSBK OFFICIAL TEAM)
5. Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati)
6. Alvaro Bautista (HRC Team)

Driver’s / Team Standings so far:

WSBK Standings

Pos Rider Points Pos Team Points
1 Lowes 51 1 Kawasaki 57
2 Redding 39 2 Yamaha 47
3 Razgatlioglu 34 3 Ducat 39
4 Rea 32 4 Honda 23
5 van der Mark 31 5 BMW 17
6 Bautista 20
7 Baz 20
8 Davies 19
9 Haslam 17
10 Sykes 17
11 Scheib 10
12 Cortese 10
13 Rinaldi 7
14 Fores 5
15 Laverty 5
16 Caricasulo 4
17 Gerloff 2
Takahashi

 

WorldSBK Testing at Philip Island

The final round of testing before the start of the 2020 Superbike World Championship took place at the Philip Island circuit this week with Toprak Razgatlioglu topping the charts at the end of Day one for PATA YAMAHA.

The first session ended half an hour early due there being oil on the track caused by Takumi Takahashi’s Honda (MIE Racing Althea Honda Team) between turns 3 and 4 and after second practice the Honda rider finished in 19th place. Rain interrupted the second session later in the day.

Michael van der Mark and Toprak Razgatlıoğlu the 2020 Wsbk testing at Phillip Island. Image courtesy of Yamaha racing

Toprak and his teammate Michael van der Mark had been trying to find the balance between performace and the durability of the tyres by focusing on small upgrades and Michael finished 7th at the end of day one.

Tom Sykes riding for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK team finished in 2nd by just 0.022 seconds behind Toprak with Loris Baz (Ten Kate Yamaha Racing) finishing just 0.015 seconds behind him in third place – all very close at the top! Baz’s teammate, Eugene Laverty finished in 8th, less than a second off the top time.

Despite a crash (he was okay) at Turn 4, Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) finished in ninth place with his reigning Champion teammate Jonathan Rea continuing to show his pace in 4th place. Rea last won at this circuit in 2017 so is looking to change that to a win this year.

This year marks the return of Team HRC as a full-factory outfit so Leon Haslam and Alvaro Bautista have been focusing on various aspects of the bikes in this season’s testing at Portimao and here in Philip Island ending the day in 5th and 15th place respectively.

Finishing the top six was the Ducati ridden by Scott Redding (Aruba.It Racing – Ducati) with his teammate, Chaz Davies, down in 10th some 1.373 seconds behind the top runner, Toprak. The ZX-10RR ridden by Sandro Cortese (OUTDO Kawasaki TPR) finished 11th followed by Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team GOELEVEN) in 12th.

Xavi Fores (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) finished ahead of Maximilian Scheib (ORELAC Racing VerdNatura) followed by Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team) finishing in 16th place ahead of teammate Garrett Gerloff. Finishing off the board was Leon Camier in 18th place for the (Barni Racing Team).

The unofficial top six lap times from day one:
1. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team) 1.’30.740
2. Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) +0.022
3. Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +0.037
4. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.256
5. Leon Haslam (Team HRC) +0.456
6. Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) +0.496

Day two of testing resulted in the top 17 riders covered by just 1.5 seconds!
Rain came during the stages with numerous crashes and red flags including Alvaro Bautista, Scott Redding and Jonathan Rea but despite crashing, Rea still finished at the top just ahead of Loris Baz who impressively is still using his 2019 engine! Can’t wait to see what the 2020 engine brings for the Frenchman and the independent Ten Kate Racing Yamaha team.

‘Pocket Rocket’ Leon Haslam finished 3rd on the new CBR1000RR-R whilst his teammate Alvaro Bautista crashed at Turn 4 (he was okay) but finished down in 17th.

Scott Redding – Phillip Island Test 2020. Image courtesy of Matteo Cavadini/Ducati Media

WorldSBK rookie Scott Redding improved in his standings from yesterday’s testing and got up to 4th for the ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati team whilst his teammate Chaz Davies couldn’t quite keep up with him and finished in 13th
Finishing in 5th for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team was 2013 WorldSBK Champion Tom Sykes with his teammate Eugene Laverty finishing in 11th.

Finishing the top 6 was Michael van der Mark despite crashing in the morning at Turn 10 (he was okay) and down in in 7th was Toprak Razgatlioglu despite finishing top of the board in yesterday’s practice.

Impressively the independent Team GOELEVEN finished in 8th with Michael Ruben Rinaldi at the helm.

Sandro Cortese had his first day of testing on the ZX-10RR for the OUTDO Kawasaki – TPR team and finished 13th followed by Xavi Fores riding for (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing). In 15th was Maximilian Scheib for (ORELAC Racing VerdNatura) team just ahead of Garrett Gerloff for the (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team) closely followed by his teammate Federico Caricasulo

Unofficial top six lap times from day two:
1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1’30.523
2. Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +0.235
3. Leon Haslam (HRC Team) +0.359
4. Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) +0.362
5. Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) +0.472
6. Michael van der Mark (PATA YAMAHA WORLDSBK OFFICIAL TEAM) +0.564

The start of the WorldSBK season starts this coming weekend and is looking like it’s going to be a really exciting season with all to play for.

 

World Superbike Testing at Portimao

Toprak Razgatlioglu. Image courtesy of Yamaha racing

Testing for the 2020 Superbike World Championship continued in Portimao with Toprak Razgatlioglu topping the charts for PATA YAMAHA.

The rain stayed away for the first day of testing with the sun even making a welcome appearance. This was only Scott Redding’s second time at Portimao and he was setting quick lap times on this tight hairpins and long corners circuit. By the end of the day Scott Redding was top of the charts with teammate, Chaz Davies, managing 7th.

At lunchtime Yamaha were placed one, two and three. Loris Baz, with the independent team, Ten Kate Racing Yamaha, was at the top with Toprak Razgatlioglu and Michael van der Mark with the PATA YAMAHA, in second and third respectively. By the end of the day they were all pushed down one place.

Irishman, Eugene Laverty, finished 5th for the (BMW Motorrad) despite suffering an engine failure at Turn 3 at lunchtime resulting in a red flag with his teammate, Tom Sykes finishing a respectable 6th place.

The HRC Team with their CBR1000RR-R slotted into fifth at lunchtime with Leon Haslam but at the end of the day he finished in eight place with his teammate, Alvaro Bautista, down in 15th.

The independent teams of Barni Racing Team finished in ninth with Sandro Cortese, Garrett Gerloff with the GRT Yamaha World SBK Junior Team finished in tenth. Eleventh place went to Michael Ruben Rinaldi with Team Goeleven, followed by Leandro Mercado with Motocorsa Racing despite bringing out the second red flag of the day when he crashed at Turn 14 late in the day.

Riding the ZX-10RR for Kawasaki Puccetti Racing was Xavi Fores who finished ahead of Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team) and Sylvain Barrier (Brixx Performance) .

Unofficial top six lap times from day one:
1. Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) 1’41.179
2. Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +0.573
3. Toprak Razgatlioglu (PATA YAMAHA WORLDSBK OFFICIAL TEAM) +0.702
4. Michael van der Mark (PATA YAMAHA WORLDSBK OFFICIAL TEAM) +0.878
5. Eugene Laverty (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) +1.482
6. Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) +1.561

Day two brought with it numerous incidents and red flags. Despite being top of the board yesterday, Scott Redding seemed to be saving his pace until the last ten minutes when he was just pipped to the top post by Toprak Razgatlioglu closely followed by Loris Baz.

Chaz Davis, at Portimao WSBK testing 2020. Image courtesy of Matteo Cavadini/Ducati Media

Michael van der Mark finished fourth, Chaz Davies was not in the top ten during the afternoon but found his pace at the end and finished fifth. Finishing the top six was Leon Haslam setting his fastest lap time during testing at Portimao. Haslam’s team mate, Alvaro Bautista, finished down in 15th.

Both the independent GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team riders, Federico Caricasulo and his teammate Garrett Gerloff finished a very respectable ninth and tenth respectively.

Although both the BMW Motorrad riders, Tom Sykes and Eugene Laverty finished in the top six on Day One, they were knocked down to seventh and eighth on Day Two despite having a good day of testing.

Unofficial top six lap times from day two:
1. Toprak Razgatlioglu (PATA YAMAHA WORLDSBK OFFICIAL TEAM) 1’40.804
2. Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) +0.079
3. Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +0.190
4. Michael van der Mark (PATA YAMAHA WORLDSBK OFFICIAL TEAM) +0.622
5. Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) +0.795
6. Leon Haslam (HRC Team) +0.851

The WSB teams will be jetting off to Phillip Island in Australia next for the final round of testing just before the start of the season. This is shaping up to be really exciting.

 

World Superbike Season is getting started

With thirteen rounds having been confirmed by the FIM and Dorna WSBK Organization for the 2020 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship Calendar, taking place across 11 different countries and four different continents, the season will begin in Australia at the Philip Island Grand Prix circuit from 28th February to 1st March with the final pre-season Official test for WorldSBK and WorldSSP on the 24th and 25th February, the week before the first round of the year.

Leon Haslam has joined the new-look HRC WorldSBK team, Michael Ruben Rinaldi has gone to Team Go Eleven Ducati, Toprak Razgatlioglu has replaced Alex Lowes at the Pata Yamaha team with the British rider heading to Kawasaki alongside Jonathan Rea.

BSB champion Scott Redding is set for his rookie World Superbike campaign with Aruba.it Racing Ducati replacing Alvaro Bautista at the factory Ducati team with the Spanish rider heading to Honda.

GRT Yamaha has revealed an all-new line-up of Federico Caricasulo and Garrett Gerloff.

The 2020 World Superbike Championship entry looks like this:

Kawasaki Racing Team : Jonathan Rea & Alex Lowes
Aruba.it Racing Ducati : Chaz Davies & Scott Redding
Pata Yamaha : Michael van der Mark & Toprak Razgatlioglu
Honda : Alvaro Bautista & Leon Haslam
BMW Motorrad : Tom Sykes & Eugene Laverty
Pedercini Kawasaki : Jordi Torres & Lorenzo Savadori
GRT Yamaha : Federico Caricasulo & Garrett Gerloff
Ten Kate Yamaha : Loris Baz
Barni Ducati : Leon Camier
Orelac Kawasaki : Maxmilian Scheib
Team Go Eleven Ducati : Michael Ruben Rinaldi
Puccetti Kawasaki : Xavi Fores
Honda Mie Racing Team : Takumi Takahashi
Team Motocorsa Ducati : Leandro Mercado (From Jerez round onwards)

Winter testing for the 2020 season at Jerez began in late November, five weeks after the 2019 season finale in Qatar at the Losail International Circuit on October 24-26.

At the end of Day One of testing on the 22nd January the top six looked like this:
1) Leon Haslam (HRC Team) 1’52.149
2) Michael van der Mark (PATA Yamaha World SBK Official Team) +0.031
3) Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team) +0.064
4) Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) +0.359
5) Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +0.511
6) Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) +0.948

At the end of final day of testing on the 23rd January the top six looked like this:

1) Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1’40.983 (19 laps)
2) Toprak Razgatlioglu (PATA Yamaha World SBK Official Team) +0.231 (42 laps)
3) Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) +0.424 (43 laps)
4) Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.659 (44 laps)
5) Michael van der Mark (PATA Yamaha World SBK Official Team) +1.724 (43 laps)
6) Leon Haslam (HRC Team) +1.814 (32 laps)

Although as always you cannot read too much into times in testing due to different conditions etc., it looks like we could be in for a really exciting season.

The WSB are now in Portimao for the next round of testing.

Featured Image courtesy of Matteo Cavadini/ Ducati