Round 4 WorldSBK, Misano, Race 1

Conditions were extremely hot for the Italian round, with track temperatures reaching 44 degrees Celsius. Tyre management would surely be a major factor, especially towards the end of the 21 lap race. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati) secured pole with an unbeaten lap of 1:33.328, followed by Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha), and Rea (KRT Kawasaki), in 2nd, and 3rd respectively.

Lights went out for the 21 lap race, and it was Toprak with the hole shot into turn 1, followed by Bautista, and Rea, who were both looking aggressive in the early stages, no doubt wanting to take an early lead.

On lap 2, the positions were as follows; 1. Razgatlioglu 2. Bautista 3. Rea 4. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) 5. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) 6. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) 7. Vierge (HRC Honda) 8. Lowes (KRT Kawasaki) 9. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 10. Baz (Bonovo BMW).

With 19 laps remaining, Rea, who was looking quick, made a move on Toprak cutting up the inside of the Turkish rider, and moved into the lead. A group of 7 riders had now moved clear from the rest of the field. Ponsson crashed into turn 4, and his race was over.

Next lap, and Toprak now found himself in 3rd, after Bautista was next to pass him. It was now Rea leading, followed by Bautista in 2nd, and Toprak in 3rd. Rea held a gap of 0.4s to Bautista, and looked keen to get away. Meanwhile further back it was Lowes 8th, Gerloff 9th, Lecuona 10th, and Redding (BMW Motorrad) 11th.

With 16 laps to go, Bautista set a new fastest lap of 1:34.3, and was closing in a Rea. Toprak appeared to still be shedding time, and was unable to match the pace of the two upfront. Meanwhile Bassani was having a great ride and was up to 4th, having only qualified in 10th.

With 13 laps remaining of the 21 lap race, the trio up front had now pulled out a gap of 2s to Bassani in 4th. Razgatlioglu had pulled back a bit of time, and was riding hard to stay with Rea, and Bautista. Meanwhile Lowes moved past Vierge to take 7th.

With 10 laps to go, the gap between Bautista, and Toprak was now 0.7s. Meanwhile Rinaldi found some extra pace, after a disappointing start, and was battling Bassani for 4th. Bautista was actively searching for a pass on Rea, and tried into turn 8, but Rea was able to respond out accelerating the Ducati. A few corners later and Bautista took the lead. This time Rea was unable to  respond, and the Ducati powers around the outside of the Kawasaki, and into the lead.

With 7 laps remaining, there was late drama as the reigning champion, Toprak Razgatlioglu, has a mechanical issue and his Yamaha coasts to a stop against the tyre barrier. He cut a dejected figure as his race was over. The win would surely be fought out between Rea and Baustista.

On the next lap, Bautista put the hammer down, trying to break Rea who was still able to maintain the current pace. The gap was now 0.3s between them. Rinaldi found himself in podium contention in 3rd.

With 5 laps to go, Rea had lost contact with Bautista, and the gap was now up to 1.5s. The Spaniard was showing great late race pace on the Ducati, and set a new fastest lap of 1:34.3. Meanwhile, further back, Lowes was up to 5th, Gerloff 8th, and Redding in 10th.

With 3 laps to go, Rea was completely out of contention, possibly suffering from tyre wear issues, and the gap to Bautista was now 3.4s. The Spaniard however, was still able to find extra pace, and set a new fastest race lap of 1:34.221.

On the last lap, Bautista, having judged his race to perfection, crossed the line to take the win. Rea 2nd, Rinaldi 3rd, Bassani 4th, Lowes 5th, Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) 6th, Vierge 7th, Gerloff 8th, Lecuona 9th, Redding 10th.

Result top 5:

  1. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati)
  2. Rea (KRT Kawaski)
  3. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati)
  4. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati)
  5. Lowes (KRT Kawaski)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 186 pts
  2. Rea – 164
  3. Razgatlioglu – 109

Feature Image Credit: WSBK

Round 3 WorldSBK Estoril, Portugal, Race 2

The earlier Superpole race saw Rea (KRT Kawasaki), claim his first win of the weekend, followed by Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) and Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati).

WorldSBK Estoril 22.05.2022 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Lights out for race 2, and it’s Toprak with the hole shot, followed by Rea 2nd, Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) 3rd, Bautista 4th, Leucona (Honda HRC) 5th and Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) 6th. And then drama as light rain began to fall – would this have a bearing on the race?

Next lap, and Rea again showing good pace, takes over the lead from Toprak. His team mate, Lowes, was showing good early pace too and moved up into 5th, and then quickly into 4th moving through on Lecuona, setting a fastest lap of 1:37.222 in the process.

With 18 laps of 21 remaining, it was Lowes with another fastest lap this time 1:37.039, and moved past Bautista with a neat pass. Both the ZX10-RR machines were looking quick in the early stages of the race. Positions were as follows; 1. Rea 2. Razgatlioglu 3. Lowes 4. Bautista 5. Lecuona 6. Locatelli 7. Rinaldi 8. Vierge (Honda HRC) 9. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) 10. Redding (BMW Motorrad).

WorldSBK Estoril 22.05.2022 Lecuona Picture courtesy of Honda Racing Corporation

With 13 laps to go, a group of 4 riders had splintered away from the others, with Locatelli trailing by 2s back in 5th. Positions were as follows; 1. Rea 2. Toprak 3. Lowes 4. Bautista. The former then moves past Lowes to take 3rd. The good news was the earlier light rain had stopped, with the track remaining dry.

With 11 laps to go, as he had in race 1, Bautista was showing good late race pace, and used the top end grunt of the Ducati to overtake both Rea and Toprak down the straight and into turn 1, moving from 3rd into the lead. Meanwhile further back, Bassani was having a decent race and was now up to 7th.

Next lap, and Rea comes through on Bautista, after the Spaniard made a mistake running wide and missing the apex. Rea had gone with the softer tyre option, and it looked to be a valid choice, as the Irishman set a new fastest lap of 1:37.751.

WorldSBK Estoril 22.05.2022 Vierge Picture courtesy of Honda Racing Corporation

With 8 laps to go, Bautista again using the top end speed of the Ducati, powers past Rea to retake the lead into turn 1. Further back it was 10. Redding 12. Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) and 13. Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK).

With 6 laps to go, the leading group was now down to 3, as Lowes went off the track briefly, losing contact in the process. The win looked likely to be fought out amongst the leading group of Rea, Toprak and Bautista.

With 2 laps to go, it was the turn of Toprak to lose contact with Rea and Bautista, after the reigning champion made a mistake and ran wide, seemingly struggling with tyre grip again.

WorldSBK Estoril 22.05.2022 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Last lap, and Rea was all over the back of Bautista, he made his move into the chicane, cutting under the Ducati to take the lead. He held the slim gap into the final sector, and crossed the line to take his 2nd win of the day, and his 117 career win to date. 2nd Bautista, 3rd Toprak, 4th Lowes, 5th Locatelli, 6th Lecuona, 7th Bassani, 8th, Rinaldi, 9th Vierge.

Result top 5:

  1. Rea (KRT Kawasaki)
  2. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  4. Lowes (KRT Kawasaki)
  5. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 161 pts
  2. Rea – 144
  3. Razgatlioglu – 109

Round 3 WorldSBK Estoril, Portugal, Race 1

With the extended break, it was a welcome return to action back on track. The skies were grey and gloomy, but the racing was white hot. Rea (KRT Kawasaki) would claim the Superpole with a fastest lap of 1:35.346, followed by Razagatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) and Bautista (aruba.It Ducati) in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

WSBK Estoril Race 1 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Lights out and it was Razgatlioglu with the hole shot into turn 1 followed by Rea, Locatelli (Pata Yamaha), Bautista and Lowes (KRT Kawasaki). Mercado (MIE Racing Honda) crashed out, and his race was over.

With 20 laps to go, it was Toprak and Rea setting a very quick pace, and they were already pulling out a gap to the group of Locatelli and Bautista behind. Rea had gone with the harder tyre option and was able to match the pace of Toprak on the softer tyre, Rea setting a fastest lap of 1:36.258. Then drama into turn 6, Rea ran into the back of Toprak making contact with his rear tyre, but both riders were able to stay upright. The gap to Locatelli in 3rd was now at 1.0s.

With 18 laps to go Redding was again showing an improvement on the BMW, and was in 5th. Bautista used the top end speed of his Ducati to blast past Locatelli down the straight and took over 3rd. Meanwhile at the front both Toprak and Rea were still very much locked in battle, with only a gap of 0.5s between them.

With 16 laps to go, Razgatlioglu who was giving everything, ran too hot into turn 3, allowing Rea to come through and take the lead. Positions were as follows: 1. Rea 2. Razgatlioglu 3. Bautista 4. Locatelli 5. Redding (BMW Motorrad) 6. Lecuona (Honda HRC) 7. Vierge (Honda HRC) 8. Lowes.

With 14 laps to go Toprak out brakes Rea into turn 1 to retake the lead. Bautista was struggling to match the pace of the two at the front.

With 12 laps out of 21 remaining, it was now Rea who out braked Toprak again into turn 1, and took over the lead. Neither rider was giving an inch, and you felt the race win would be fought out between the two of them. Bautista had distanced Locatelli, and was having a lonely ride in 3rd. Meanwhile further back it was Laverty (Bonovo action BMW) in 13th and Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) in 14th.

Next lap, and Toprak retakes the lead, again it’s into turn 1. Bautista was 1.7s behind in 3rd.

WSBK Estoril Race 1 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Just over half race distance, and Rea responds yet again, retaking the lead again into turn 1. This was becoming one of the all time great battles between Rea and Toprak, with the lead changing virtually every lap. Meanwhile Bautista was finding good late race pace, and set a new fastest lap of 1:36.7. The Spaniard wasn’t out of contention for the race win yet.

Next lap and the battle between Toprak and Rea showed no sign of ending, and yes, you guessed it, Toprak retook the lead into turn 1, both riders leaving braking to the very latest possible into the corner.

With 8 laps of 21 remaining, Rea again stuffs his ZX10-RR under the Yamaha R1 of Toprak, again it’s turn 1, and he retakes the lead. This battle looked to be going down to the wire. Meanwhile further back there was a 3 way battle for 5th between Redding, and the Honda team mates of Lecuona and Vierge. Bautista however, had now closed the gap to Toprak to 1.0s.

Next lap and once again the lead changed hands, this time the reigning champion retakes the lead, again it’s turn 1. The constant battle between Rea and Toprak had allowed Bautista to catch them, and he was now 0.4s behind, and was looking to have managed his tyres well.

With 6 laps to go, Rea was pushing hard, and ran wide into turn 1, allowing Bautista to come past and into 2nd. The Spaniard now had Toprak in his sights, and was looking quick. Meanwhile further back, Lecuona had got past Redding, and was now in 5th.

With 4 laps to go, Toprak held a gap of 0.4s to Bautista. Rea looked to have completely lost tyre grip, and was losing contact with the two at the front. Meanwhile further back it was Lowes in 8th, Baz (Bonovo action BMW) 9th and Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati) in 10th.

With 2 laps remaining, Bautista was all over the back of Toprak and looking for the pass. The hard battle between Rea and Razgatlioglu had taken a toll on the tyres, and both of them were now struggling with limited grip in the closing stages of the race.

WSBK Estoril Race 1 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Last lap, and Toprak was desperately still trying to keep Bautista at bay. Into the final corner, and Bautista got the drive out of the corner to power past Toprak and pip him to the line. Toprak looked disgusted and shook his head, but Bautista had judged the race to perfection using all of his experience to claim the win. Top ten positions were as follows: 1. Bautista 2. Razgatlioglu 3. Rea 4. Locatelli 5. Vierge 6. Lecuona 7. Lowes 8. Redding 9. Rinaldi 10. Baz. If the Superpole race and race 2 are anything as exciting as this one, race fans are in for a treat.

Result Top 5:

  1. Bautista (aruba.it Ducati)
  2. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  3. Rea (KRT Kawasaki)
  4. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)
  5. Vierge (Honda HRC)

Top 3 championship:

  1. Bautista 134
  2. Rea 107
  3. Razgatlioglu 84

 

 

 

Round 2 WorldSBK Assen, Netherlands, Race 2

The Superpole race saw Rea (Kawasaki KRT) claim his 2nd win of the weekend, followed by Bautista (aruba.it Ducati)* (who would go on to be penalised a position due to exceeding the track limits), and Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) who crossed in 3rd. The final position saw Toprak moved up into 2nd, with Bautista in 3rd.

Race 2 saw conditions match those of yesterday. Would Rea be able to claim a clean sweep of wins this weekend?

WSBK Assen 23.04.2022 Razgatlioglu and Locatelli Picture courtesy of Pata Yamaha

Lights out and it was Razgatlioglu with the hole shot, followed closely by his team mate Locatelli, who in turn had Bautista, Lecuona (Honda HRC) and Rea in close pursuit. A bad day for GRT Yamaha who lose both of their riders. First Nozane continued his poor form by crashing into turn 1, and then Gerloff ran into the back of Rea. Rea managed to keep the bike upright, but Gerloff’s race was over.

Next lap and it was the turn of Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) to go down, this time in turn 8. Meanwhile Rea not letting the earlier incident upset his rhythm, moved past Lecuona into 4th. It was Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) in 8th who set the fastest lap of 1:34.093 however, and was looking quick.

With 18 laps to go, Rea continued to gain positions, this time moving past Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) into 3rd, and then past Bautista into 2nd. Toprak was still out in the lead, and it looked like it would be a repeat of race 1, with this trio clearing off into the distance.

WSBK Assen 23.04.2022 Lowes Picture courtesy of KRT Kawasaki

With 16 laps remaining huge drama unfolded, as Toprak and Rea collided into turn 2, with both of them hitting the deck, putting an end to their race. Bautista narrowly avoided getting caught up in the crash, and now found himself the new race leader. Positions were now as follows: 1. Bautista 2. Lecuona (Honda HRC) 3. Bassani 4. Locatelli 5. Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati) 6. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT) 7. Redding (BMW Motorrad) and 8. Vierge (Honda HRC).

The two former MotoGP riders, Bautista and Lecuona, were now battling each other out for the race win. Could Lecuona claim his first WorldSBK podium?

With 13 laps to go, Bassani continued to show impressive pace, and had now moved up to 4th, with Lowes behind in 5th. Redding too was having a better race, and was now up to 6th. Rinaldi lost places, and was now in 7th.

With 11 laps remaining, Bautista had pulled the trigger, and had extended his gap over Lecuona to 2.8s. Meanwhile behind, Redding was looking to make a move on Lowes for 5th. Vd Mark, the local Dutch rider, was having a decent race moving up to 8th, whilst still recovering from an injury to his ankle.

With 9 laps to go, Bautista was showing no signs of weakness, and had increased the gap to 4.4s over Lecuona. The Honda rider himself held a gap of 0.4 to Locatelli behind in 3rd. Positions were as follows; 1. Bautista 2. Lecuona 3. Locatelli 4. Bassani 5. Lowes and 6. Redding.

WSBK Assen 23.04.2022 Podium Bautista, Lecuona and Locatelli Picture courtesy of Honda HRC

On lap 14 of 21, Redding made his move on both Bassani and Lowes, moving up into 4th. The BMW was certainly working much better for Redding this weekend, and he was showing his raw pace of last season. Meanwhile further back a 3 way battle had now developed between Vd Mark, Vierge (Honda HRC) and Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing).

With 5 laps to go, Lecuona was holding firm in 2nd, and still held a gap of 0.2s to Locatelli who looked like he had extra grip, and was lining up a pass on the Spaniard.

Next lap and Locatelli makes the move on Lecuona going into 2nd. Meanwhile, Bautista was away and no doubt had the win in the bag, with a gap of nearly 10s. Further back, both Lowes and Bassani had fought their way back to Redding, and there was now a 3 way fight for 4th.

WSBK Assen 23.04.2022 Locatelli Picture courtesy of Pata Yamaha

Last lap and Bautista crosses the line to claim the win, followed by Locatelli and Lecuona. Lowes and Bassani both got past Redding, followed by Rinaldi in 7th, Vd Mark in 8th, Vierge 9th and Mahias rounding out the top 10. *Bassani would go on to be penalised for exceeding track limits, and conceded his position to Redding who claims 5th.

Result top 5:

  1. Bautista (aruba.it Ducati)
  2. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)
  3. Lecuona (Honda HRC)
  4. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT)
  5. Redding (BMW Motorrad)

Out: Rea (Kawasaki KRT), Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha), Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), Baz (Bonovo Action BMW), Oetll (GoEleven Ducati).

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista 109 pts
  2. Rea 91
  3. Razgatlioglu 64

 

Round 2 WorldSBK Assen, Netherlands, Race 1

Superpole went to the reigning world champion, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha), with a fastest ever lap record of 1:32.934.

Jonathan Rea WSBK 23.04.2022 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki KRT

Conditions for race 1 were close to ideal, with the track temperature around 30 degrees celsius and dry. All the riders opted for the softer SCX tyre option, except Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) who went with the harder option. Eugene Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW) was still nursing an injured right forearm, and was subsequently declared unfit to race.

Lights out and it’s Toprak with the hole shot into turn 1 followed by his Yamaha team mate Locatelli, who in turn was followed by the Kawasaki team mates of Rea and Lowes. They in turn who were followed by the Ducati team mates of Bautista and Rinaldi.

Onto the next lap and Rea, showing good early pace, moved up past Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) to take over 2nd place. Positions were as follows: 1. Razgatlioglu; 2. Rea; 3. Locatelli; 4. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT); 5. Bautista (aruba.it Ducati) and 6. Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati). Rea was keen to keep the race pace high, and break up this group of dangerous riders, and had already pulled out a gap of 0.5s to Locatelli in 3rd.

With 18 laps to go Rea passes Razgatlioglu down the straight, however Toprak fought back to stay with him. Further back it was 7th Lecuona (Honda HRC), followed by 8th Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati), 9th Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) and 10th Gerloff who was struggling with the hard tyre, and subsequently losing places.

With 16 laps to go, the leading group of 6 riders had distanced the rest. Rea still out front, now held a gap of 0.2s to Toprak behind in 2nd. Redding (BMW Motorrad) was having a better time of it, and had moved up to 10th, getting past the Texan, who was struggling with his grip levels.

Razgatlioglu : WSBK 23.04.2022 Picture courtesy of Pata Yamaha

With 14 laps remaining, the lead group was reduced down to 5, with Rinaldi now losing contact with those ahead of him. Meanwhile his team mate set a new fastest lap of 1:35.246, and was gaining ground, subsequently moving past Lowes to take 4th. The Ducati was looking quick through the faster sectors, and Bautista was using this advantage to gain time on those ahead.

With 11 laps to go, it was Locatelli next up for the Spaniard Bautista, who made no mistake and passed the Italian into the chicane to take 3rd. Bautista was now 0.7s behind Razgatlioglu and, as Redding had shown last season, the Ducati was capable of late race pace. Lowes retires due to a mechanical issue.

Next lap, and Bautista was now right on Razgatlioglu, the Ducati was running half a second faster than both Rea and Toprak. This trio had already distanced Locatelli who was slipping back, and the win would no doubt be fought out amongst themselves.

With 8 laps to go Toprak out brakes Rea into the chicane, clearly feeling the mounting pressure from Bautista behind, and wants to get away. Meanwhile further back Redding was now up to 9th, Gerloff was in 11th and Lecuona was having a decent race in a lonely 6th. Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) was having another difficult race, and found himself in 19th.

With 6 laps remaining, Rea repays the favour and out brakes Toprak into turn 1. Bautista sensing an opportunity also passes Toprak. The Turkish rider now finding himself in 3rd. It was clear to see how the Ducati was gaining time on the Kawasaki through the fast sectors. Next up it was the turn of Rinaldi to suffer a mechanical and subsequently retire.

Lap 17 of 21, and Bautista was now right on the back of Rea. Meanwhile Razgatlioglu was hanging onto 3rd, but didn’t seem to have the pace of the two ahead of him. Bautista makes a move on Rea, but the Irishman is able to snap straight back re-taking the lead around the outside.

With 3 laps to go, Rea had now put the hammer down, and had increased his lead to 0.4s, surely knowing the Ducati would close the gap through the fast sectors. Razgatlioglu looked too far behind, and was out of contention for the race win, it would come down to Rea v Bautista.

Lecuona : WSBK 23.04.2022 Picture courtesy of Honda HRC

Last lap then, and Rea was still hanging onto a decent lead. The Spaniard again closed the gap through the faster sectors, but it wouldn’t be enough and Rea crossed the line to take the win, followed by Bautista and Toprak. Positions were as follows: 1. Rea, 2. Bautista, 3. Razgatlioglu, 4. Locatelli, 5. Lecuona, 6. Baz, 7. Oettl (GoEleven Ducati), 8. Gerloff and 9. Redding.

Result top 5:

  1. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  2. Baustista (aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  4. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)
  5. Lecuona (Honda HRC)

Top 3 championship:

  1. Bautista 57 pts
  2. Rea 54
  3. Razgatlioglu 39

Round 1 WorldSBK Aragon, Spain, Race 2

The first Superpole race of the new season saw Bautista (aruba.it Ducati) exact revenge for getting pipped in race 1 and claim the win, followed by 2nd Rea (Kawasaki KRT), and 3rd Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha).

Alvaro Bautista & Michael Rinaldi – WorldSBK Aragon 10.04.2022 Picture courtesy of Aruba.it Racing

The track temperature was slightly higher for race 2, compared to race 1, with most of the riders again opting for the softer tyre option. Lights out, and its Rea with the hole shot into turn 1, pursued by the Ducati team mates of Bautista and Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati, with Razgatlioglu closely behind in 4th. This group of 4 was already gaining an advantage on the rest of the field, pulling out a slight gap.

With 16 laps to go, the two aruba.it Ducatis were looking quick and Rea was going to have his hands full shortly in trying to keep them at bay. Positions were: 1st Rea, 2nd Bautista, 3rd Rinaldi, 4th, Razgatlioglu and 5th Lowes (Kawasaki KRT).

Next lap and with Rea feeling the pressure from the Ducatis behind, makes a mistake by running too hot into turn 1, allowing both Bautista and Rinaldi through. Rea now anxious to get back to the front, had to first deal with the immediate problem of getting past the reigning world champion in 3rd. Further back there was a four way battle for 7th between the Honda team mates of Lecuona (Honda HRC), Vierge, Loris Baz (Bonovo action BMW) and Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorlsSBK Team).

With 13 laps to go Rea manages to out break Toprak into turn 1 taking back 3rd. Meanwhile the two Ducatis at the front were looking quick, most notably Bautista who was pulling away. Would the Spaniard be able to claim his 2nd win of the day? Further back Redding (BMW Motorrad) was still having a miserable weekend, and now found himself dead last in 23rd place. Seemingly unable to get the BMW into corners. What is happening in that garage?

With 11 laps to go Rea had the head down and was desperate to regain contact with the Ducatis at the front, both of whom were having a cracking race. Behind Rea it was; 4th Razgatlioglu, 5th Lowes, 6th Baz, 7th Lecuona, 8th Vierge and 9th Gerloff.

Next lap and Rea had now closed the gap to 2nd place Rinaldi to 0.8s. Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) was having an incredible race and had now moved all the way up to 6th. Meanwhile further back both Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team, and Laverty (Bonovo action BMW) were struggling, and found themselves in 14th and 15th respectively.

With 8 laps to go the increasing pressure on Rinaldi told, and he was forced into a mistake running wide into turn 1, allowing Rea to come past for an easy 2nd place. Rea was now running 0.3s a lap faster than Bautista at the front, but would he have enough laps left to catch the Spaniard?

Next lap and with Rea pushing as hard as he dared, he over shot turn 1, running wide and losing precious time. The gap to Bautista was now pushed out to 1.8s with more work left for Rea. Meanwhile Redding retired, giving up on a shockingly dreadful weekend.

With 6 laps to go it was Rinaldi in 3rd who now set the fastest lap of 1:51.377, although the race pace was faster yesterday, even although the track temperature was colder. Further back Gerloff in 10th, was all over the back of Vierge in 9th, and looking for the pass.

With 5 laps to go Razgatlioglu had found a bit of late race pace, and was closing in on 3rd place Rinaldi cutting the gap down to 0.3s. Could the Turkish rider claim a podium postion? Nozane had a nasty crash into turn 7, sending his Yamaha down the road in a shower of sparks. He was able to walk away, but his race was over.

WorldSBK Aragon 10.04.2022 Picture courtesy of Honda Racing Corporation

Next lap and Toprak set the new fastest lap of 1:51.177, quicker than both the riders ahead of him. Bautista looked to have the win sealed up and was comfortable in the lead, with Rea too far behind to cause any trouble. Second and 3rd were all still to play for however.

With 3 laps to go Razgatlioglu out brakes Rinaldi into turn 2, and takes 3rd. Meanwhile Rea was far enough ahead in 2nd to be comfortable, without having to look over his shoulder.

Last lap and Bautista crosses the line in 1st to take his 2nd win of the day, putting himself at the top of the championship in the process. Second Rea, 3rd Razgatlioglu, 4th Rinaldi, 5th Lowes, 6th Bassani, 7th Baz, 8th Vierge, 9th Gerloff, 10th Lecuona.

Result top 5:

  1. Bautista (aruba.it Ducati)
  2. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  3. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  4. Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati)
  5. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista 57 pts
  2. Rea 54
  3. Razgatlioglu 39

 

 

Round 1 WorldSBK Aragon, Spain, Race 1

Jonathan Rea winner of Race 1, Aragon 2022 WSBK. Image courtesy of @KRT_WorldSBK / Twitter

The first Superpole of the season saw Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) claim top spot with a time of 1:48.267 (an all time lap record), followed by Bautista (aruba.it Ducati), and Rea (Kawasaki KRT) in 2nd, and 3rd respectively.

Conditions for race 1 were dry, if not slightly on the cool side, with track temperatures struggling to reach 28 degrees. As a result most of the riders would opt for the softer SC X tyre.

Lights out and its Bautista who grabs the hole shot, although Toprak was having none of it and barges through, with Rea barrelling past both of them ultimately. The start of this season seems to be carrying off from where we left it last season, in terms of the all out action, white knuckle racing.

Onto lap 3 then, and Razgatlioglu takes over the lead out braking Rea into turn 1 after the straight. Rea strikes back immediately driving under the no.1 bike. The ZX-10RR looking to have received a much needed boost in power over the winter break.

With 16 laps to go, 4 riders had pulled out a gap to the rest of the field. It was; 1st Rea, 2nd Razgatlioglu, 3rd Bautista, and 4th Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati). Iker Lecuona (Honda HRC) was a further 1.2 behind in 5th, a solid ride from the ex-MotoGP rider. Futher back Scott Redding (BMW Motorrad) was all the way down in 19th, a nightmare for the 3rd placed rider in the championship last season. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was also struggling after slipping back to 13th.

With 14 laps to go the group of 4 at the front was now cut to 3, as Rinaldi had slipped back to 1.1 behind Bautista in 3rd. Razgatlioglu had managed to retake the lead, and the leading 3 riders were having a ding-dong battle, with postions changing every lap.

Alvaro Bautista at Aragon 2022 WSBK. Image courtesy of Ducati

Next lap and both Rea, and Bautista out break Razgatlioglu down the straight into turn 1. The Spaniard was now at the front, with the Ducati looking to have kept all of the top end speed it had last season. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT) was now in 5th, and trying to bridge a gap of 2.3 to Rinaldi in 4th.

With 12 laps to go Rea dives up the inside of Bautista to retake the lead. The stability of the Kawasaki was already showing a massive improvement on where it was last season, and Rea was looking a lot more comfortable then he had last season. Lowes goes down, it wasn’t a high speed crash, but his race is over. The Honda team mates of Lecuona, and Vierge now find themselves in 5th, and 6th respectively, a very decent ride from both the ex-MotoGP, and Moto2 riders.

Next lap and its Bautista who repays the favour, diving up the inside of Rea  into turn 1. The Kawasaki had no answer to the shear top end speed of the Ducati, as was the case last season. The world champion was still in 3rd, and keeping in touch with the two at the front. Further back it was now Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) in 5th, followed by the Honda team mates behind in 6th, and 7th. Rea puts in a nice block pass to retake the lead, although Bautista was currently the fastest rider on track with a lap time of 1:50.207.

With 7 laps to go Redding had moved up to 15th, and was at least now in the points. Gerloff too, had also moved up places and was now in 11th. Other notable positions were the Bonovo action BMW team mates of Baz 9th, and Laverty 12th.

With 5 laps to go Rea had edged out a gap of 0.3 to Bautista. Toprak was now losing contact with the two ahead of him, possibly suffering from tyre wear issues. It would surely come down to either Rea, or Bautista for the race win.

With 3 laps to go Rea now had the bit between his teeth, and had extended his gap to Bautista to 0.5. The Spaniard had work to do if he was going to claim the first win of the season. Toprak was now 1.9 behind in 3rd, and out of contention. The Ducati had the advantage in terms of top end speed, but the ZX-10RR had the better turning of the two. This would surely come down to the wire, who had the better grip?

Last lap now and Bautista pulls the trigger, slip streaming Rea down the back straight, then pulling around to out break Rea. Jonny snaps right back, and drives the Kawasaki under the Ducati using the better turning of his bike to full effect, looking so smooth in the process, nice move. Bautista powers out the last corner, but its Rea who edges ahead to claim the first win of the new season. Bautista crosses just behind for 2nd, 3rd Razgatlioglu, 4th Rinaldi, 5th Locatelli, 6th Lecuona, 7th Vierge, 10th Laverty, 15th Redding.

What an action packed start to the new season.

Result top 5:

  1. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  2. Bautista (aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  4. Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati)
  5. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)

Championship top 3:

  1. Rea 25 pts
  2. Bautista 20
  3. Razgatlioglu 16

IMPORTANT PORTIMAO TEST NEXT UP FOR KRT’s WorldSBK TEAM

KRT’s WorldSBK pairing of Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes are eager to get back into testing action at the undulating Autódromo Internacional do Algarve for a two-day track session on 8 and 9 February.  Here’s what KRT have to say:

Alex Lowes Picture courtesy of KRT Provec Racing

After two winter tests at the Spanish circuit of Jerez, utilising new parts and settings for the 2022 Ninja ZX-10RR, the forthcoming on-track action in Portugal will be useful to make comparisons with all the data gathered so far at a very different circuit design.

After posting some astounding lap times, despite only riding for half a day in the previous Jerez test in January, six times world champion Rea has already demonstrated his sheer pace on the 2022 Ninja ZX-10RR. He also had the opportunity to complete a long run on which delivered pleasing results and valuable information to his team; information which has already been fed back to the KMC engineers in Japan.

Lowes has been working hard on his physical conditioning after a 2021 season affected by injury throughout. Like Rea, he has also found the two post-2021 season winter tests held so far confidence-building and useful in terms of settling on a final direction for race set-up in 2022.

The 4.592km long Algarve circuit – commonly know as Portimao – is a very popular testing and racing venue and features some of the most dramatic changes of incline and highest numbers of blind corner entries of any circuit on the WorldSBK calendar. It is scheduled as the ninth round of the forthcoming season, between 7-9 October.

After this Portimao test the team should have all the data in requires to make any adjustments and improvements before the next KRT test at Montmelo in Catalunya on March 25 and 26.

Jonathan Rea Picture courtesy of KRT Provec Racing

STATEMENTS:

Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “It is nice to get back on the bike, especially at Portimao, which a track I enjoy. After our shakedown test recently in Jerez our biggest target is to reconfirm the positive items we have tested during December and January. That will give us good info, because if we can confirm these items at a couple of circuits, it means we are on the right way. The idea is just to keep building the package. I feel we have definitely improved the bike since last year. I was able to make a long run in Jerez and we found some positives with the bike and my riding style, so it is important to try and maybe focus on getting some information on how the tyres behave and the new items after many laps. Hopefully the weather is consistent and we can continue to build the package to start the season. There will also be more bikes on track at Portimao and a lot of the key manufacturers will be there testing. This is the first real test where everyone is together – which is always nice to draw some comparisons.”

Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “The recent Jerez test for me was very much a technical test, ticking off new parts. My crew chief Marcel is very technical so I had new stuff to try – just trying to analyse what is definitely better. Portimao is a track that I have always had a good feeling with on the Kawasaki and we have a good base set-up with our 2021 bike. So, to compare new parts will be quite good, because we already have a good feeling. If we can improve that with the new stuff then it should set us up well for the year. Trying stuff at two different tracks means that if it is positive at both tracks then you are a lot more confident committing to that base set-up going into a new season. It is going to be a busy test! I would like to ride as much as possible just to get back into it. I have been working really hard on my physical condition since the end of the season. That has been the biggest focus of mine because I know if I am going to be healthy it is going to make the biggest difference, no matter what changes we make on the bike. We will make a plan with Marcel in terms of how many days we are going to ride. After this test we have a big break so we are really going to have to be clear with the feedback to all the guys in Japan, and to all the engineers within the teams, so we can work hard in the break before the Montmelo test at the end of March. Portimao will be an important test and I am looking forward to getting out and seeing where we are compared to a few of our rivals.”

Guim Roda (KRT Team Manager): “Initially we didn’t have a plan to test in Portimao, because we were considering to make a test in the middle of the year. But, because we had a few points to check on the bike, we would like to compare them on different tracks. Portimao and Jerez are quite different. Also, we have a gap of one month to keep working before the next Montmelo test, ten days before the first race of the year. So, we considered this opportunity at Portimao was a good point to test again. So we joined with Ducati, who had rented the track, to make this test. For us, this is a kind of continuation of the items we tested at Jerez, to double check and confirm the direction of the bike set-up and the performance of the items we have received so far. We will do this so that we can have the best possible bike set-up, in combination with the riders.”

Yamaha Outlines Test Plan Ahead of 2022 WorldSBK Season

Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK’s pre-season preparations get underway this week at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, serving as the first of four tests for reigning WorldSBK Champion Toprak Razgatlıoğlu and last year’s rookie sensation Andrea Locatelli to gear up for the 2022 FIM Superbike World Championship. Here’s what Yamaha have to say:

Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK’s pre-season testing Picture courtesy of Yamaha Racing

Returning to the track for the first time since claiming the WorldSBK “Triple Crown” in Indonesia, the team is unloading its Yamaha R1 WorldSBK bikes in Portugal today to set up for two days of running on 8-9 February. Acting as a first shakedown for the upcoming season, the Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK squad and Yamaha staff will evaluate 2022 technical updates, both mechanical and electronic, with their focus on development confirmations rather than outright performance.

Razgatlıoğlu and Locatelli will then be back in action at a private MotorLand Aragon test on 3-4 March, alongside the GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team who will complete their first outing of 2022 with riders Garrett Gerloff and Kohta Nozane.

The target for Aragon will be to re-confirm the development plan completed over the winter and find a strong base set-up at a track that hasn’t often played to the Yamaha R1 WorldSBK’s strengths. It will also be a key opportunity for “rookie-no-more” Locatelli to ride at Aragon again, this time with a lot more experience, four podiums and a plethora of top-five results since his debut at the circuit in 2021.

March weather can be unpredictable in the Teruel region, so Misano (16-17 March), where GRT Yamaha is set to continue its pre-season preparations, has also been penciled in as a back-up option for the championship-winning Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK crew.

Then it’s back to Spain to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, where both Yamaha teams will officially unveil their colours for the 2022 season. Fans will also be excited to see Razgatlıoğlu take to the track with the coveted #1 on his Yamaha R1 WorldSBK for the first time from 25-26 March! But most importantly, both teams will look to finalise their full race packages with just a week to spare prior to the WorldSBK Official Test at Aragon on 4-5 April. These two tests will also give Yamaha a chance to square up the competition before the first races of the season.

Finally, Yamaha and the Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK team will begin its much-awaited title defense campaign at the opening round of the 2022 FIM Superbike World Championship at MotorLand Aragon from 8-10 April.

Pre-Season Test Dates:

Portimão – 8-9 February (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK only)

Aragon – 3-4 March

Misano – 16-17 March (GRT Yamaha only – back-up option for Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK)

Barcelona-Catalunya – 25-26 March

Aragon – Official WorldSBK Test – 4-5 April

Red Hot Tracks This Season

The action on track was red hot last season, and most of the drama played out on some of the best tracks in the world. I’ve made a short list of my favourite tracks WorldSBK will be visiting this year, and a couple of reasons why I think so, and also who I will be tipping to take the win this year. What are your favourite tracks? We would love to hear via our social media channels.

2021 WorldSBK Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu. Picture courtesy of Yamaha Racing.

Donington Park – Great Britain ( Round 5 ) 15,16,17 July

  • Last years winner race 1: Toprak Razgatlioglu
  • This years winner race 1: Jonathan Rea ???
  • Circuit favours which bike? – Yamaha / Ducati

A staple on the WorldSBK calendar for many years, Donington Park is one of the classic British race tracks, also one of the oldest, being in operation since the 1930’s. It always produces close racing, with its mix of long sweeping corners, changes in elevation and also a handful of sharp, hard braking corners. It was also home to the British round of MotoGP, until being moved to Silverstone where it is currently held.

Jonathan Rea had a nightmare of a round last season, going off-road down the Craner Curves and crashing out later on. Toprak Razgatlioglu took full advantage of Rea’s misfortune, and scooped the race 1 win. I have a feeling Rea will be looking for retribution this year, and hopefully Kawasaki will have addressed the problems which plagued Rea last season, especially the nervous front end of the ZX10-RR. Rea however, will have his hands full keeping both the Yamaha’s and Ducati’s at bay.

Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Assen – Netherlands ( Round 2 ) 22,23,24 April

  • Last years winner race 1: Jonathan Rea
  • This years winner race 1: Toprak Razgatlioglu ???
  • Circuit favours which bike? Yamaha

Another classic track, and one which many of the riders like. A fast, flowing track, with plenty of high speed sweeping corners, and also providing one of the best atmospheres, with the Dutch fans providing loads of noisy support. Toprak was unfortunately rammed into by Garrett Gerloff last year, sending the Turkish rider down, who was understandably furious after the race. And as Toprak had done in Donington, it was the turn of Rea to gladly snap up the win in race 1, going on to claim a clean sweep of wins in Assen.

It is a track which definitely suits the agile, smooth turning attributes of the Yamaha, and Toprak will no doubt be keen to right the wrong afflicted to him last season.

Race 2 Jerez Scott Redding and Toprak Razgatlioglu Picture courtesy of Aruba.it Ducati

Portimao – Algarve, Portugal ( Round 9 ) 7,8,9 October

  • Last years winner race 1: Toprak Razgatlioglu
  • This years winner race 1: Toprak Razgatlioglu ??? 
  • Circuit favours which bike? Yamaha

If a track regularly gets described as a “rollercoaster” even someone who has no interest in racing will have some idea of what is meant. The architect who came up with the plans for Portimao, one Ricardo Pina, is an absolute genius. One of the most exciting, and dramatic race tracks ever constructed, Portimao has it all. Changes in elevation and camber, fast sweeping corners, entries into blind corners, and bikes flying over the tops of hills. Something the Australian Jack Miller demonstrated for us all, as he “bunny hoped” his MotoGP Ducati over the crest of one of the most scary corners on the track last season in MotoGP.

Jonathan Rea had a terrifying crash into one of the fastest corners last season, and amazingly was able to walk away unhurt. It provided a great race however, and was voted by Eurosport as the race of the season. Toprak was the man for the occasion and scooped the win for race 1. Scott Redding kept the Yamaha rider honest for much of the race, and the Ducati definitely had the pace to match the Yamaha over the sweeping corners.

I can see Toprak taking the win again this coming season, with perhaps pressure from Alvaro Bautista on the Ducati, or maybe from one of the young guns on the Honda, Iker Lecuona maybe?

Alvaro Bautista and Scott Redding at Aragon Round 4 WSBK 2020. Image courtesy of Honda Racing

Phillip Island, Australia ( Round 12 TBA )

  • Last years winner: N/A
  • This years winner: Alvaro Bautista ???
  • Circuit favours which bike? Ducati / Yamaha

With no racing in Australia for the past two years due to the Covid pandemic, everyone including fans will be desperate to see a return of racing to this iconic race track. No exact dates have yet been decided, but we hope we’ll see racing there some time in late November.

Another track with high speed, sweeping corners and dramatic vistas, Phillip Island has been the scene of some of the best motorcycle races of all time. Alvaro Bautista had an amazing start to his WorldSBK career back in 2019, and really lay down the challenge to the reigning champion, Jonathan Rea. Alvaro on the Ducati was really quick that season, and secured a couple of impressive wins early on in the season, including here at Phillip Island.

I think being reunited with the Ducati this season will be really good for Alvaro, and I can see him claiming a win here at Phillip Island, using all the power, and top end speed of the Ducati.

All in all, this is hopefully going to be another exciting and dramatic season of racing, and we cannot wait for the season opener in Aragon in April.

Get in touch with us, and let us know what you think will be the most exciting races in 2022.

 

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