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)
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)
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


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 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 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

WSBK: Razgatlioglu Doubles Up in Magny-Cours Superpole Race

After the unexpected rain of Saturday, dry conditions on Sunday morning were welcomed by the teams as they looked to find some sort of setup for the remaining two races of the weekend at Magny-Cours, round eleven of the 2019 Superbike World Championship.

The Superpole race on Sunday morning once again saw Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) starting from the pole position he earned on Saturday morning, while race one winner Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) had to start once more from his qualifying position of sixteenth.

It was a strong start from Rea but it was Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK) who made the holeshot to take the lead, one he held for the opening lap.

Michael van der Mark at Magny-Cours WSBK2019. Image courtesy of Yamaha Racing

Already by the end of the first lap there was a breakaway group of three, with van der Mark, Rea and Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) breaking away from Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK) in fourth.

On lap two, on the entry to the Imola chicane, Rea took the lead from van der Mark, whilst Razgatlioglu had been making strong progress – fifth from sixteenth by the end of the second lap, and on lap three he passed Sykes for fourth and Haslam for third.

At the front, Rea wasn’t escaping from van der Mark, and Razgatlioglu was closing in third. Additionally, the ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati riders, Alvaro Bautista in eighth and Chaz Davies in fourth, were displaying strong pace.

Onto lap five and Razgatlioglu passed van der Mark for second, setting his sights on Rea as Davies closed in on the leading trio from behind.

By the end of lap six Rea and Razgatlioglu were distinctly a pairing at the front, detached from van der Mark in third whose attentions were being further taken by Davies.

Lap seven saw Rea lose the lead to Razgatlioglu, and he held it to the beginning of the final lap. Rea passed for the lead into the hairpin in turn five, but ran wide and Razgatlioglu was able to square him off. Rea was not close enough to make another attempt, meaning Razgatlioglu once again came from sixteenth to win – perhaps more impressively on this occasion considering he had only ten laps to do the job.

Second place for Rea saw a further extension of his championship advantage, which now stands at 103 points ahead of the final race of the weekend in which he will have an outside chance of wrapping up his fifth World Championship.

It was third place for Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK), a positive result for the Dutchman after the disappointment of race one. Of course, the results of the Superpole race determine the front three rows of the second full length race of the weekend, meaning all of the top three will start from the front row.

Chaz Davies was ultimately unable to get close enough to attack van der Mark for the podium and finished fourth ahead of teammate Alvaro Bautista who took fifth ahead of Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK), both Bautista and Lowes repeating their results of Saturday’s race.

Chaz Davis at Magny-Cours WSBK 2019. Image courtesy of Matteo Cavadini/Ducati

Seventh place went to Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha), who was able to take advantage of Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK) and his struggles towards the end of the race to finish seventh while Sykes took eighth. Ninth place went to Leon Haslam who dropped off significantly after the opening laps where he was in the leading group – in the end the #91 was over ten seconds off the win. The top ten was rounded out by Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing) who was clearly much more comfortable in the fully dry conditions than in the half-half of Saturday.

Sandro Cortese took eleventh place ahead of GRT Yamaha WorldSBK teammate Marco Melandri in twelfth and Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) in thirteenth; while Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) was fourteenth and Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) took the final point in fifteenth.

Leon Camier (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) was sixteenth, unable to repeat his impressive result of Saturday, ahead of Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK) in seventeenth, Sylvain Barrier (Brixx Performance) in eighteenth, Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team) in nineteenth and Ryuichi Kiyonari (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) who was the final classified rider in twentieth, the Japanese remounting after a crash.

WSBK: Bautista, Razgatlioglu Collide as Rea Seals Fifth World Title

The second full-length race of the eleventh round of the 2019 Superbike World Championship saw different conditions face the riders compared to the morning in Magny-Cours, with overcast skies and strong winds.

Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing), winner of the first two races of the weekend, started from pole position alongside Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK).

It was a decent start from the Turk from his first pole position but it was Rea who made the holeshot ahead of him.

A mistake from Razgatlioglu in turn five saw him run on and drop back to fourth behind van der Mark and a strong-starting Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) who moved up to third.

Alvaro Bautista and Toprak Razgatlioglu at 2019 WSBK Magny-Cours. Image courtesy of Ducati

In an attempt to come back through on Bautista in turn eleven, Razgatlioglu lost the front and left the Spaniard nowhere to go. The pair of them went down, leaving van der Mark leading from Rea out front whilst Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK) was third.

With seventeen laps to go, Lowes started to close in on the leading pair, although Rea seemed to have a pace advantage on van der Mark.

Rea decided to go to the front with sixteen to go, possibly sensing Lowes closing from behind and wanting to avoid adding another variable in the fight for the win.

Rea, though, was unable to drop van der Mark initially, and Lowes continued his push towards the lead, just eight tenths back on the end of lap seven.

Van der Mark returned to the front at turn five on lap eight, bringing Lowes closer still, and by the end of the lap it was affirmatively a trio at the front.
On lap twelve, Rea hit the front again, squaring van der Mark off at the hairpin. It was clear that Rea thought that this would be his chance to get away.

However, he was denied once more by van der Mark one lap later at the hairpin, to which Rea was able to respond on the entry to the Nurburgring chicane.

Michael van der Mark, Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes at Magny-Cours WSBK 2019. Image courtesy of Yamaha Racing

Rea led as they entered the final nine lap, but both Yamaha riders were still there and a mistake from Rea in turn one allowed van der Mark through on the inside in turn three again. Rea responded once more into the Nurburgring chicane and with each reactive move from Rea to maintain his lead it became more clear that Rea felt he could get away with a few clear laps.

As the race drew into the final five laps, Rea began to stretch out his advantage and it reached to over half a second. Visibly van der Mark was on the limit to try to match Rea’s pace, the championship leader seemingly relatively comfortable in comparison.

With three laps to go the lead approached one second, and in the end it was a relatively straightforward ending to the race for Rea who took victory to claim his fifth straight Superbike World Championship, perhaps the most unlikely one against the strongest opposition he has faced so far in the shape of Alvaro Bautista. It was an unlikely happening coming into the weekend, but the circumstances were right and Rea did not let the opportunity pass.

A second podium of the day was as much as van der Mark could do. The Dutchman was quite spectacular in this race as he tried to stay with Rea, to try to be in a position to attack in the last part of the race, but finally he missed the small amount he needed to really fight with the newly crowned five-times World Champion.

Third place for Alex Lowes was perhaps unexpected but the result of a solid ride from the #22 for his first visit to the podium in a full length race since Thailand.

Fourth place went to Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) who had strong pace, possibly enough for the podium. The problem for Davies came when he had to take to the grass on the inside of turn eleven to avoid Razgatlioglu and Bautista, which cost him a lot of time and positions. In the end, fourth place was a good recovery from the Welshman, finishing ahead of Loris Baz whp had a nother strong ride on the Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha YZF-R1.

Sixth place was quite distant – almost twenty seconds back to Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) who was ahead of Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK), Leon Camier (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) and Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) who completed the top ten.

Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) was eleventh, ahead of Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven), Sylvain Barrier (Brixx Performance), Ryuichi Kiyonari (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) and Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK) who completed the points scorers.

Sandro Cortese – GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK – 2019 WorldSBK – R11 Magny-Cours. Image courtesy of Yamaha Racing

Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team) was sixteenth, ahead of Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing) who had a trip across the gravel early in the race and dropped a lot of times and positions as a result – the Italian crossing the line last of the seventeen finishers at the end of the twenty-one laps.

Aside from Bautista and Razgatlioglu, only Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) failed to finish the second race in Magny-Cours, the final European race of the 2019 season.

Featured image courtesy of Yamaha Racing

WSBK: Razgatlioglu Defeats Rea in Thrilling Last Lap Duel for First Superbike Win

The eight-hundredth race in the history of the Superbike World Championship took place in Magny-Cours at the eleventh round of the 2019 season, as Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) took his maiden victory in the Superbike class.

The Turkish rider started well, recovering from a poor starting position of sixteenth – obtained in Saturday morning’s wet Superpole session – to end the first lap in seventh place.

Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) was another rider who made a strong start to the race, coming from eleventh on the grid to lead on lap three before a mistake dropped him back to fourth. It was in trying to recover from this mistake that Davies crashed, nearly taking out Razgatlioglu in the process. It was a strange incident, at the penultimate corner, where Davies never seemed interested in making a move but rather seemed forced into diving to the inside to try to avoid the Turk. A similar incident later in the race for Davies’ factory Ducati teammate, Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati), pointed towards perhaps a characteristic of the bike pushing its riders into these errors. Either way, it wa s abig shame for Davies who looked capable of fighting for the podium and perhaps the win.

The incident between Davies and Toprak split the pack a bit. Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorlsSBK) was out front from Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK) while Razgatlioglu was fourth.

On lap five Sykes began to suffer more with the handling of the BMW, coming under pressure from Rea who in turn was under pressure from van der Mark.

Michael van der Mark – Pata Yamaha WorldSBK – 2019 WorldSBK – R11 Magny-Cours. Image courtesy of Yamaha Racing

Of the three, it was van der Mark who seemed the most comfortable with the setting of his bike, while in comparison Sykes seemed to be suffering in the braking and Rea had some problem with the front of his bike, running on several times into turn eleven.

As the two in front began to struggle more with the pace, van der Mark began to take advantage, taking second from Rea on lap six and one lap later relieving Sykes of the lead.

One lap after Sykes had lost the lead he was down to fifth, as Rea, Razgatlioglu and Loris Baz (Ten Kate – Yamaha) all passed the #66 on lap seven.

Over the next laps, the two Kawasaki riders, Rea and Razgatlioglu, started to pull away from Baz – who eventually dropped back in the end and fought with Sykes. The stablemates, however, were unable to make much impression on van der Mark who was consistent out front, making few mistakes aboard his Yamaha.

Once Rea found his rhythm, however, the gap started to come down to the leader. The pressure was growing on van der Mark, and finally Rea forced the error in the Adelaide Hairpin. Van der Mark lost the front on the entry having found himself in slightly too deep, and when it folded there was no way for him to save it. Rea inherited the lead as a result, and found himself with an advantage of over one second with just over two laps to go.

It seemed a tall ask for Razgatlioglu to reel in Rea in the time he had left, even going onto the final lap the gap was close to one second. But the #54 was able to make a strong first half of the last lap , and going into turn eleven, where Rea had been having so many problems throughout the race, Razgatlioglu was able to dive on the inside of the World Championship leader and squeeze through. It was a tough move, but fair, one which Rea would have been delighted with had the roles been reversed. Not only did Razgatlioglu manage to get passed, but he also got a strong enough exit to ensure that Rea had no way to respond in the remaining four corners.

It was a well-deserved and arguably overdue victory for Razgatlioglu, who has looked likely all season to take a win. The emotions were mixed in parc ferme, as team owner Manuel Puccetti both celebrated his first triumph in the premier class of production derived motorcycle racing, but also pondered the future in the knowledge that the rider who brought him this victory would be leaving next season.

Second place for Jonathan Rea could quite easily have been much less, his lack of comfort with the bike making things complicated for the reigning World Champion. On top of that, the race was hectic, and especially in the beginning there were many overtakes, and a lot of them were on the limit. It was a fantastic race, one fitting of the eight-hundredth in the history of the series, but no doubt one which Rea will be as glad to survive as he was to step once more on the podium. The Northern Irishman’s points lead now stands at precisely one-hundred points, meaning the title possibilities remain open for tomorrow should results go his way.

Tom Sykes was able to rebound in the second half of the race after fading in the back end of the opening ten laps. Loris Baz began to drop off once he lost the carrot of the two Kawasakis ahead of him. That dropped the Frenchman back to his ex-teammate who was able to take advantage and claim his first podium in a full-distance race since the second race in Donington.

Loris Baz – Ten Kate Yamaha Supported WorldSBK – 2019 WorldSBK – R11 Magny-Cours. Image courtesy of Yamaha racing

It was a shame that Sykes’ success had to come at the cost of a podium for Loris Baz in his home race. The Frenchman had a strong opportunity to be on the podium in his home race, and although he missed it the fact he was there proves the progress the Ten Kate team are making with the R1.

Rounding out the top five was Alvaro Bautista on the Spaniard’s first trip to Magny-Cours. It was a tough race for Bautista, who spent much of the twenty-one laps alone and was close to crashing in an almost identical incident to his teammate, Davies, when trying to pass Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK). The world title slipped further still from the #19’s hands in this race, but his souring relationship with Ducati management means that his focus is likely already heavily towards 2020 when he goes to HRC.

Lowes ended up sixth, almost six seconds back of Bautista. Behind the Yamaha rider was Leon Camier (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) who had a good ride on his return to racing having been out since Imola in May, the #2 coming home in seventh, a couple of seconds ahead of Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha) WorldSBK). Eugene Laverty (Team GoEleven) was ninth, ahead of Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) who completed the top ten.

Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) was eleventh ahead of Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) in twelfth and Michael van der Mark who remounted after his crash to finish thirteenth. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing) was fourteenth after starting from the second row, whilst Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team) took the final point in fifteenth.

It was a difficult race for Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK) who, whilst his teammate was finishing on the podium, came home in sixteenth ahead of Sylvain Barrier (Brixx Performance) and Ryuichi Kiyonari (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) who was the final classified finisher in eighteenth.

There were only two retirements, the first being Chaz Davies, and the second being Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) who had a nasty high side on the exit of the final chicane but appeared to be mostly unhurt.

WorldSBK: 80th WSBK Win for Rea in Red Flagged Laguna Superpole Race

A dramatic Superpole Race in Laguna Seca for round nine of the 2019 Superbike World Championship saw Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) secure his second win of the weekend, his ninth of the season.

Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) challenged Rea into turn two on the first lap, but the drama was further behind, as Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) made contact with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) and crashed.

There was possible good fortune for the Spaniard, though, as a heavy crash for JD Beach (Attack Performance Estenson Yamaha) and Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team) brought out the red flags. Both Beach and Delbianco were okay, but Bautista was taken to the medical centre after he brought back the #19 Ducati, and then failed to make the restart.

At the resumption of the race, Rea took the holeshot and immediately cleared off, despite being the only rider not on the SCX tyre, designed especially for the ten-lap sprint races. The reigning World Champion was once again untouchable, and collected another thirteen points, extending his points lead to sixty-one – almost a full weekend’s worth of points and a complete flip of the gap between Rea and Bautista ahead of race two in Jerez. It was Rea’s eightieth World Superbike victory, and the 250th for a British rider in the series.

Chaz Davis at Laguna Seca WSBK 2019. Image courtesy of Ducati

Chaz Davies was similarly unchallenged to take another second place, his third of the season. Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK) took the final podium spot for his third top three of the season.

Toprak Razgatlioglu was closing on Sykes in the closing laps of the race, but ran out of time, finishing fourth in the end ahead of Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) who rounded out the top five. Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK) took sixth place ahead of Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha), Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing), Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) who took the final point in ninth and Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK) who completed the top ten.

Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) was eleventh ahead of Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK), Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team), Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven), Ryuichi Kiyonari (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) and Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) who was the final classified rider in sixteenth after running on at turn two.

The only non-finishers were the non-starters of Delbianco, Beach and Bautista.

WorldSBK: Rea Takes Eighth 2019 Win at Laguna as Bautista Crashes Again

The Californian sun welcomed the Superbike World Championship for race one of round nine of the 2019 season, which saw Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) take his eighth win of the season and extend his championship advantage.

From his first Laguna Seca pole position, Rea made the holeshot from Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) who came from third on the grid to follow the Northern Irishman into turn two, the first braking point of the track.
Bautista’s pace on the opening lap was not spectacular, though, and the Spaniard’s ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati teammate, Chaz Davies, moved through in the penultimate corner. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) was able to pass Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK) at turn six for fourth place and, in the early part of the race, was able to go with the leaders.

Alvaro Bautista and Chaz Davies in Race One at Laguna Seca WSBK 2019. Image courtesy of Ducati

It was not long, though, before Rea, Davies and Bautista were able to get away at the front. There was fighting brewing between them, though. Davies had chosen the SCX rear tyre, designed for the ten-lap Superpole race, and knew he needed to get to the front to make the most of that choice. He made a move on Rea at the Andretti Hairpin, but was unable to make it stick. At this point, Bautista’s pace was starting to pick up and the #19 was beginning to pressurise his teammate.

Bautista’s challenge for the win was over before long, though, as he crashed out at turn six with twenty-one laps to go. The Spaniard was able to get back on, but didn’t have the pace to reach the points. To pour the salt into the wounds of the 2006 125cc World Champion, he was later lapped by Rea and Davies.

After Bautista’s crash, Davies’ time was running out to make a move before his tyre went away. That move never came, and eventually Rea eased away to what became an eighth win of 2019, which he took by 5.693 seconds. Rea’s twenty-five-point extension took his championship advantage to forty-nine points which, with four-and-two-thirds rounds to go, including Magny-Cours, makes the championship look significantly less attainable for Bautista. The turnaround in fortunes between the championship’s top two since Imola has been stark, and completely unexpected which has been reflected in the surprise of almost everyone involved with the championship from the fans to the riders themselves.

Davies’ second place was his first rostrum since the Imola Superpole race and the result of what appears to be a breakthrough with the Panigale V4R for the Welshman over the course of this weekend. In the two remaining races Davies will be aiming for his first win of the season. His preference towards the SCX tyre might suggest his best chance will be the Superpole race. With Bautista at such a mathematical disadvantage in the championship, it will be interesting to see the extent to which Ducati now ask Davies to play the team game for the rest of the season, and whether Davies will be in the position to help out his teammate if that is what is asked of him.

Toprak Razgatlioglu continued his run of podium positions, taking at least one in every round since Imola. It was a lonely race for the Turk, finishing two seconds ahead of Sykes in fourth, who was unable to respond to Toprak’s lap one move, and seven seconds behind Davies. Toprak’s poor qualifying position of seventh place didn’t impact his race as much as initially thought, since he didn’t have the pace of the leaders regardless of where he started.

Sykes’ fourth place might not have been a podium, but BMW will have been happy to beat the factory Yamaha of Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK) in such a tight track. Equally, fifth will have been below the expectations of both Lowes and Yamaha coming into this weekend, where they were on the podium one year ago.

Sixth place went to Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) who had a fantastic race on the privateer Kawasaki, running in fifth place for much of the race before his SCX tyre gave best and had a few goes at flicking the Spaniard. Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK) was able to take his broken wrist to another top ten with seventh place ahead of Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha), Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) and Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) who completed the top ten.

Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) finished his first race since Assen in eleventh place, still suffering with two broken wrists. Particularly the right wrist was a problem for Laverty, a problem which is helped, relatively, by Laguna’s layout which contains only four right-handers. Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) was twelfth ahead of Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team), Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), who looks somewhat lost at the moment with the YZF-R1, and Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK) who took the final point on his return to the World Championship after missing Donington with the flu.

Ryuichi Kiyonari (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) was the final rider to finish on the lead lap in sixteenth, whilst Alvaro Bautista finished seventeenth after his crash.

Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) went down about half-a-lap before Bautista at the Corkscrew, whilst wildcard JD Beach (Attack Performance Estenson Yamaha) retired from his first WorldSBK race with twelve laps to go.

Featured image courtesy of Ducati

WorldSBK: Rea Beats Razgatlioglu to Donington Race 3 Win

The good weather from the morning remained in the afternoon in Donington for the second full-length race of the weekend, in which Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) took his first triple of the season.

Starting from pole position, courtesy of his Superpole Sprint Race win, Rea made the holeshot from Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) and Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati), although the Spaniard was soon demoted to fourth by Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) completed the top five on lap one, whilst the three Yamaha riders – Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK), Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK) and Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha) – were fighting behind.

Alvaro Bautista and Chaz Davis at Donington 2019 WSBK. Image courtesy of Ducati

Lowes and Baz were able to get past van der Mark, and started to close down Davies, who was dropping off Bautista in fourth.

Meanwhile, out front, Rea and Razgatlioglu were edging away from Haslam behind. That is, they were until Toprak hit the front. When the Turk took the lead from Rea, Haslam was able to close in, as was Bautista who was able to make it an eight-wheeled battle for the lead with twenty laps to go.

Rea reclaimed the lead with just over seventeen laps to go when Razgatlioglu ran wide in the Melbourne Hairpin. Fortunately for the #54, he only dropped to second, as Haslam also ran slightly wide. The mistake from Razgatlioglu didn’t split the group, though, and neither did the fighting between Toprak and Haslam who swapped positions in the Foggy Esses and the Melbourne Hairpin.

Two laps after his mistake in the penultimate corner, Razgatlioglu re-took the lead from Rea in the same spot.

With thirteen laps to go,  Rea was  in second and his teammate, Haslam, in third, Bautista’s desire to get past the #91 Kawasaki was  growing.

One lap later, the gap from second to third was negated once more, as Razgatlioglu ran wide on the entry to the Foggy Esses which cost him both time and the lead which Rea took once more.

The lap after, Bautista was past Haslam at the Melbourne Hairpin. It was a clean move, despite coming from quite a way back. It was an important move for the Spaniard to make, as the leading two Kawasakis were escaping and Loris Baz was dragging Alex Lowes up to the front group.

Lowes passed Baz with eight laps to go, but continued to drag the Frenchman up to Haslam, and Sykes was closing too.

With two laps to go, the battle was on for the win, but a moment for Razgatlioglu in the Foggy Esses gave the Turk too much work to do on the final lap, which meant Rea took his third win of the weekend, his sixth of the season and his first triple. Additionally, Rea’s championship advantage grew to twenty-four points over Bautista with tracks Rea believes to be in his favour on the WorldSBK horizon.

Razgatlioglu’s third second place to Jonathan Rea in the last three Sunday races will not have gone down particularly well. However, the Turk has only one less podium since Imola than Bautista who was unbeaten before the Italian round, which is impressive from the second-year Puccetti rider.

Alvaro Bautista ended his recent run of misfortune in WorldSBK second races to take his first podium of the weekend with third place. Having lost the championship lead this weekend, there will now need to be a change in mindset for the Spaniard at Laguna Secam and for the second half of the season.

Alex Lowes was fourth. It was his best race of the weekend, and could have been better but he took too long to pass Haslam, leaving him without the time to attack Bautista for the final podium spot. Haslam’s fifth place looked unlikely with a few laps to go with two Yamahas and a BMW closing him down, but he hung on from Baz who was sixth and Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK) who recovered from eleventh on the grid (due to his declassification from race one) to finish seventh. However, there will have been some disappointment from Sykes, who could have fought with Rea and Razgatlioglu had he started from the front row.

Michael van der Mark – Pata Yamaha WorldSBK – 2019 WorldSBK – R8 Donington. Image courtesy of Yamaha Racing

Michael van der Mark’s target for the Donington weekend was top tens following his crash in Misano in which he broke a wrist. Top tens is what he achieved, beating Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) to eighth in race two. Davies himself finished ninth after dropping off following the opening laps when he was fighting inside the top five. Marco Melandri’s gamble on the SCX tyre (designed for the ten lap Superpole race) got him to tenth place with the GRT Yamaha WorldSBK YZF-R1 early on, and the Italian remained there to round out the top ten for the second time on Sunday.

Peter Hickman’s BMW Motorrad WorldSBK S1000RR held together in the second race and he finished eleventh, ahead of Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team), Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) and Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team) completed the points, whilst Ryuichi Kiyonari (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) was the final classified rider in sixteenth.

Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) was the only non-finisher, as he retired with bike problems early on.