Round 7 WorldSBK, Magny-Cours, France, Race 2

The Superpole race saw Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) claim the win, followed by Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati) and Rea (KRT Kawasaki) respectively.

With the track temperature nearing 40 degrees Celsius for race 2, the action on track would surely be heating up too.

Lights out for race 2, and it was Toprak with the hole shot into turn 1, followed closely by Bautista and Rea. As was the case in race 1, Bautista used the power of the Ducati to blast into the lead down the back straight, Toprak didn’t have an answer. Then Rea dived into 2nd place, looking aggressive early on. Lowes (KRT Kawasaki) got pushed out wide, and dropped down into 6th. Then massive drama as Rea took out the championship leader, sending Bautista flailing into the gravel. Rea caught him on the inside into turn 13, and the two bikes bumped into each other. There was nothing Bautista could do about that, and his race was over.

WorldSBK Magny Cours 11.09.2022 Picture courtesy of WorldSBK

Next lap and positions were as follows: 1. Toprak 2. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) 3. Rea 4. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) 5. Lowes. Then Bassani takes the lead making a great move on Toprak, and sets the new fastest lap of the race with a 1:37.000. Positions were changing, by numerous riders, every corner in a chaotic start to the race.

With 17 laps remaining, Rea got a long lap penalty for the incident with Bautista. Positions were as follows: 1. Bassani 2. Toprak 3. Rinaldi 4. Lowes 5. Rea 6. Redding (BMW Motorrad) 7. Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) 8. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) 9. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha) 10. Lecuona (Honda HRC).

With 15 laps left, Bassani was having one of his best races of the season so far, and doing his best at keeping the world champion at bay behind in 2nd. The leading trio of Bassani, Toprak and Rinaldi had now pulled away from the rest. Rea took his penalty, and rejoined in 7th, in front of Baz 8th and Gerloff in 9th. The gap from Rinaldi in 3rd to Lowes in 4th was 1.2s, and Lowes held a gap of 1.4s to Redding behind in 5th. Rinaldi then makes an audacious move and moved from 3rd into the lead, taking both Bassani and Toprak. Toprak snapped back and took 2nd, while Bassani got forced into 3rd.

With 13 laps to go, Lowes had clawed his way back onto the leading group. Rea had moved up to 6th, and was in front of Locatelli in 7th.

Next lap and Vierge (Honda HRC), went down into turn 13, his race was over. Rinaldi was holding his own out in the lead, and so far was managing to keep Toprak at bay. Toprak however, was getting quicker lap by lap, and set a new fastest lap of 1:36.8. Bassani held a gap of 0.4s to Lowes behind in 4th. Meanwhile further back it was Mahias (Puccetti Kawasaki) 12th, and Nozane (GRT Yamaha) 14th.

Just over half race distance, and Redding in 5th held a gap of 1.7s to Rea in 6th.  Bassani was struggling to keep contact with Rinaldi and Toprak, both had pulled away.

With 8 laps to go, Toprak eventually made his move, and came through on Rinaldi to retake the lead.

With 6 laps remaining, Toprak had pulled out the gap to 0.4s to Rinaldi, who then ran too hot into turn 11, the Chicane, running straight through, and losing time in the process. The gap to Toprak in the lead was now up to 0.8s.

Next lap and Rea moved up into 5th after Redding ran wide. Further back there was a three way battle for 7th between Locatelli, Gerloff 8th and Baz 9th.

With 3 laps to go, Toprak now held a gap of 0.7s to Rinaldi in 2nd, Bassani was in 3rd, Lowes 4th, and Rea in 5th.

WorldSBK Magny Cours 11.09.2022 Picture courtesy of WorldSBK

Last lap, and Toprak crossed the line to take his 2nd win of the weekend. Rinaldi took 2nd, and Bassani took 3rd, to claim his 2nd podium of the weekend. Lowes 4th, Rea 5th, Redding 6th, Locatelli 7th, Gerloff 8th, Baz 9th, and Lecuona 10th.

Result top 5:

  1. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  2. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati)
  4. Lowes (KRT Kawasaki)
  5. Rea (KRT Kawasaki)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 332
  2. Razgatlioglu – 302
  3. Rea – 285

Round 7 WorldSBK, Magny-Cours, France, Race 1

Superpole saw Rea (KRT Kawasaki) take top spot with an unbeaten time of 1:36.124, followed by Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha), and Redding (BMW Motorrad) in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Conditions were perfect for Race 1, with Toprak opting to go with a harder front tyre, while most of the grid chose a softer option.

WorldSBK Magny Cours 10.09.2022 Bautista – Picture courtesy of WorldSBK

Lights out for race 1, and it was Toprak with the hole shot into turn one, followed by Redding, Rea and Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati). Lowes (KRT Kawasaki) in particular, was looking quite aggressive early doors. With his hard front tyre yet to get up to race temperature, Toprak ran wide and allowed Redding to come through and snatch the lead.

Next lap and both Toprak, and Rea came through on Redding, the Brit getting barged down into 3rd. And then in the space of a one lap, massive drama as first Rea goes down into the last chicane turn 17, looking like he clipped the curb on the exit. A few corners later, and Toprak appeared as if he could not get his Yamaha R1 stopped into turn 13, with the rear violently snapping around. It could have been a nasty crash, but with the skill of a world champ he was able to rejoin the race in 23rd. Rea was not as lucky,  his ZX-10RR needed to have work done on it, and went back to the garage.

Bautista was now in 2nd behind Redding, and could no doubt scarcely believe his luck, with his two main title rivals both going out.

With 17 laps remaining positions were as follows: 1. Redding 2. Bautista 3. Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) 4. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) 5. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) 6. Lowes 7. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha).

Next lap and Bautista had closed the gap to Redding, and was looking for a way past. The gap behind to Baz in 3rd was now 1.4s. With the power, and in particular the aggressive acceleration of the Ducati, Redding was battling to keep Bautista at bay. The Spaniard does eventually come through on Redding, snapping under him to take over the lead. Further back it was the Honda HRC team mates of Lecuona and Vierge in 8th, and 9th respectively, Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) 12th, and Toprak was in 23rd.

On lap 9 of 21, Bautista ran wide, and allowed Redding to close the gap. Meanwhile behind in 3rd, Baz was struggling to keep contact with the leading two, and had now been caught by Bassani and Rinaldi.

Rea managed to get back out on track after his bike was repaired, and was obviously trying to get a few more laps of racing in, although any chance of scoring points was now out of the question. Meanwhile at the front, there was now a three way scrap for 3rd, with both Bassani and Rinaldi  keen to claim a podium. Further back it was Gerloff and Lowes in 6th, and 7th respectively.

With 10 laps to go, Rinaldi made his move, and dived under Bassani to take 4th. And with the pressure mounting behind, Baz crashed out and into the gravel, his race was over. Meanwhile at the front, Bautista was now finding his groove, and set the new fastest lap of the race of a 1:36.715, increasing his lead over Redding to 1.2s.

With 8 laps remaining, Rinaldi over shot turn 1 and flew across the gravel, although he was able to stay upright and rejoin the race in 8th. Meanwhile at the front Bautista continued to increase his lead, with the gap now 1.5s to Redding. Incredibly, Toprak was now up to 14th, after scything through the back end of the field, and was in point scoring contention.

Next lap, and Bautista as usually happens on the Ducati, was finding extra pace in the second half of the race, and the gap had increased to 1.6s to Redding. Gerloff was having a decent race in 4th, as too was Lecuona further back in 6th.

With 4 laps to go, Locatelli had moved up from 12th, and was now in 9th. Gerloff was all over the back of Lowes in 4th, and looking for a way past, although the Brit was having a decent race himself, and rode aggressively as he had all race. Postions were as follows: 1. Bautista 2. Redding 3. Bassani 4. Lowes 5. Gerloff.

Next lap and Bautista was looking comfortable out in the lead, with a gap of now almost 3s to Redding. Vierge looked to be having some trouble as he was steadily losing places, and was now down in 13th.

Final lap, and Bautista crossed the line to take the win, followed by Redding who had one of his best races of the season so far. Bassani 3rd, Lowes 4th, Gerloff 5th, Rinaldi 6th, Locatelli 7th, Oettl (GoEleven Ducati), 8th, Lecuona 9th, Mahias (Puccetti Kawaski) 10th. Toprak 11th.

Result top 5:

  1. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati)
  2. Redding (BMW Motorrad)
  3. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati)
  4. Lowes (KRT Kawaski)
  5. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 323
  2. Rea – 267
  3. Razgatioglu – 265

Feature image courtesy of WorldSBK

Round 6 WorldSBK Most, Czech Rep, Race 2

The earlier Superpole race, saw the reigning champion, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) claim the win, followed by Rea (Kawasaki KRT), and Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati), in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

WorldSBK 31.07.2022 Czech Rep Picture courtesy of Pata Yamaha Brixx

Before the start of the race both Lowes (Kawasaki KRT), and Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW), were declared unfit to start.

Lights out for race 2, and it was Toprak with the hole shot into turn 1, followed by Bautista, Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati), and Rea in 4th. Bassani in particular, was looking really aggressive, and had barged through on Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati).

Next lap and positions were as follows: 1. Toprak 2. Bautista 3. Rinaldi 4. Rea 5. Bassani 6. Redding (BMW Motorrad). Toprak had already pulled out a gap of 0.6s, and was looking keen to get away.

Next lap and Rea out brakes Rinaldi into turn 1, to move up to 3rd. The leading group of 6 riders had already started to pull away from the rest.

On lap 4 of 22, drama for Rinaldi who over shoots into turn 1, losing the front end, and going down into the gravel. He was having a decent race up until that point.

Next lap and Bautista had now closed right up to Toprak, and was looking for a pass. It was Rea behind in 3rd who was setting the fastest lap time of the leading three, 1:32.206, and he was keen to not let either title rival get away. As he had in race 1, Redding was showing good pace, and managed to make a pass on Bassani, moving up to 4th.

With 17 laps remaining, drama for both Bautista and Redding, who both run hot into turn 1, running off the track. Both were able to rejoin, but lost positions in the process. Toprak, and Rea had both pulled away, and Bautista was able to rejoin in 3rd.

Next lap and Rea lined up Toprak into turn 1, and made the pass up the inside of the Turkish rider. Positions were as follows: 1. Rea 2. Toprak 3. Bautista 4. Bassani 5. Redding 6. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha).

With 15 laps to go, Toprak repays the favour, and out brakes Rea into turn 1 to retake the lead. Meanwhile, Bautista had closed the gap down to 0.5s in 3rd. Further back it was 7th Gerloff (GRT Yamaha), 8th Lecuona (Honda HRC), and 9th Vierge (Honda HRC).

With 13 laps of 22 remaining, Redding had closed back up to Bassani, and made the pass up the inside of the Italian into turn 1. Rea was again the quickest of the leading 3, and posted a new fastest lap of 1:32.202. Bautista had clawed his way back, and as in race 1, the Ducati was looking much quicker in the second half of the race.

Next lap, and positions continued to be exchanged almost every lap, this time it was Rea to make another move on Toprak into turn 1, and again he retakes the lead. The gap from Bautista in 3rd to Redding in 4th, had been increased to 1.5s, and it was now a straight battle between the top 3 title contenders for the win.

With just over half race distance gone now, the Ducati was looking increasingly quick, and Bautista powered past Rea down the straight to take over the lead. The Kawasaki ZX10-RR didn’t have an answer to the Ducati’s sheer top end speed. Redding had now lost contact with the group ahead, and was adrift 2.0s behind in 4th, with Bassani behind in 5th.

With 8 laps remaining Toprak again burst under Rea into turn 1 to take 2nd. Bautista however, wasn’t getting away as he had in race 1, with both Toprak, and Rea still right on him. Meanwhile further back, both Nozane (GRT Yamaha), and Hickman (FHO BMW Motorrad) were having a better race in 15th, and 16th respectively.

WorldSBK 31.07.2022 Czech Rep Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Next lap, and a demon on the brakes, Toprak was able to cut under Bautista into turn 20 to retake the lead. Bautista was struggling to match the speed he had in race 1, possibly suffering from tyre grip issues, and Rea was keen to find a way past. Meanwhile further back it was 4th Redding, 5th Bassani, 6th Gerloff, 7th Locatelli, 8th Lecuona.

With 4 laps to go, Toprak looked to have managed his tyres to perfection, and set the new fastest lap a 1:31.713, increasing the gap to 0.9s to Bautista in the process.

Penultimate lap and Toprak Razgatlioglu had increased his lead to 1.2s, setting a new fastest lap of 1:31.705. Late drama for both Lecuona, and Gerloff who both suffer mechanical issues. The Texan is able to rejoin, but only at the back of the field. They were both having a decent race until then, notably Gerloff who was running in 6th.

Last lap and Toprak Razgatlioglu crosses the line to take the win, followed by 2nd Bautista, 3rd Rea, 4th Redding, 5th Bassani, 6th Locatelli, 7th Vierge, 8th Oetll (GoEleven Ducati), 9th Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti), 10th Bernardi (Barni Racing Ducati), 14th Hickman (FHO BMW Motorrad), 18th Gerloff.

Result top 5:

  1. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  2. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  4. Redding (BMW Motorrad)
  5. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 298
  2. Rea – 267
  3. Razgatlioglu – 260

 

Round 6 WorldSBK, Czech Rep, Race 1

Rea (Kawasaki KRT) set the fastest time in superpole with a time of 1:30.947, followed by Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha), and Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) in second and third respectively.

Conditions in Most were much cooler then previous rounds, with the threat of rain hanging in the air.

Lights out for Race 1 and it’s Toprak Razgatlioglu with the hole shot into Turn 1 followed closely by Rea and Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati). Locatelli (Pata Yamaha), was having all kinds of early issues, and ran straight off the track into Turn 1, narrowly avoiding colliding with the leading riders.

Next lap and positions were as follows: 1. Razgatlioglu 2. Rea 3. Bautista 4. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) 5. Redding (BMW Motorrad) 6. Locatelli 7. Rinaldi 8. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT) 9. Baz (Bonovo action BMW) 10. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team).

With 20 laps remaining, it was Bassani in 4th who set the new fastest lap of 1:32.303. Toprak, and Rea were pulling away from Bautista who was struggling to keep contact.

Next lap, and it was the turn of Toprak Razgatlioglu to set a new fastest lap. Rea was still all over the back of the reigning champion and looking for an early pass. Meanwhile Rinaldi had a terrible start from 3rd and now found himself in 7th.

With 17 laps of 22 left Rea makes his move, cutting  under Toprak to take over the lead. The Kawasaki was showing good acceleration out of the corners.

Next lap, and Toprak responded by out-braking Rea down the straight into Turn 1 to re-take the lead. The constant battling at the front had allowed Bautista to catch up, and there was now a three way battle for the lead. Toprak made a mistake and ran slightly wide, and Rea was quick enough to snap back and take back the lead.

With 14 laps to go, Rea held a gap of 0.2s to Toprak behind in P2. Further back Redding was having a great race, and was now up to 4th after getting past Bassani. Positions were as follows: 4. Redding 5. Bassani 6. Locatelli 7. Rinaldi.

Next lap, and Toprak again retook the lead into Turn 1, out-braking Rea. A few corners later, Rea responded by cutting under Toprak to take back the lead. All the while Bautista waited for his chance to strike back in 3rd. With light rain now falling around the track, riders were allowed to enter the pits to change their tyres.

Credit: Kawasaki Racing Team

On lap 11 of 22, Bautista made his move, getting through on Toprak and then using the power of the Ducati to blast past Rea down the straight, moving from 3rd to 1st in a couple of corners. The Ducati, as it had all season, was again showing good late race pace. Redding and Bassani had caught the lead group, with five riders now vying for the race win.

With 10 laps to go, it was British rider, Redding who set the new fastest lap of 1:32.545. Further back it was: P7 Lowes, P8 Rinaldi, P9 Lecuona and P10 Gerloff.

With 9 laps to go, Toprak re-took Rea into Turn 1 to take over 2nd, while Rea was now in 3rd with Redding behind. Rea responded a few corners later taking Toprak. Next it was the turn of Redding to take Toprak into turn 20, moving into 3rd. Toprak was now in 4th, while Redding was having one of the best races of his season so far.

With 7 laps to go, Redding took Rea into turn 1. The gap to Bautista was now 0.6s and closing. The pace at the front was too high for Bassani, who had now lost contact with the group and was adrift in 5th.

Next lap and positions were as follows: P1 Bautista, P2 Redding, P3 Rea and P4 Toprak.

With 4 laps to go, Bautista looked to be controlling a gap of 0.7s to Redding in 2nd.

Next lap, and again Toprak takes Rea into turn 1 to take 3rd, while Rea was now in 4th. Meanwhile Bautista looked comfortable at the front, and had pulled the gap out to 0.9s. Redding had the bit between his teeth, but wasn’t able to reduce the gap to the Spaniard.

Penultimate lap and 2nd and 3rd places were still very much up for grabs. Bautista, barring any incident, looked to have the win sewn up.

Credit: Kawasaki Racing Team

Last lap, and Bautista crossed the line to take Ducati’s 1000th win in World Superbikes. Toprak made a lunge on Redding, cutting inside him and forcing him wide to take 2nd. Meanwhile Redding after going wide had to hold off Rea, which he did to take his first podium of the season. It was a disappointing result for Rea who took 4th. Bassani was 5th, 6th Locatelli, 7th Rinadi, 8th Lecuona (Honda HRC), 9th Lowes, 10th Gerloff.

Result top 5:

  1. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati)
  2. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  3. Redding (BMW Motorrad)
  4. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  5. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 271
  2. Rea – 242
  3. Razgatlioglu- 223

 

Round 5 WorldSBK Donington Park, Race 2

The weather was heating up, and so was the racing.

The Superpole race saw the reigning champion, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha), claim his second win of the weekend, followed by Rea (Kawasaki KRT), and Redding (BMW Motorrad), in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

WorldSBK Round 5 Race 2 at Donington Iker Lecuona Picture courtesy of HRC WorldSBK

Lights out for race 2, and again it’s Toprak with the hole shot, followed by Rea, Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati), and Redding in 4th. Rea in particular, was looking more aggressive than he had yesterday, and was keen not to let the Turkish rider get away again.

Next lap and positions were as follows: 1. Toprak 2. Rea 3. Bautista 4. Redding 5. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) 6. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT) 7. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) 8. Lecuona (Honda HRC) 9. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) 10. Baz (Bonovo Action BMW). Toprak put in the new fastest lap of 1:26.696, with Rea still trying to find a way through. The gap behind to Bautista was now 0.6s.

Lap 4 of 23, and it was the turn of Bautista to put in the new fastest lap of 1:26.644. This trio had already pulled out a significant gap to the rest of the field, with only Scott Redding keeping contact in 4th, 0.5s behind.

Lap 6 of 23, and Rea was desperate to find a way through on Toprak. The Turkish rider is an absolute demon on the brakes, and with so few places to pass, it was making life impossible for Rea. He tried a move in the Foggy Esses, briefly getting ahead, but Toprak was able to use the acceleration of the Yamaha R1 to retake the lead. As was the case yesterday, the constant battle between Rea, and Toprak was playing into the hands of Bautista, who had closed the gap to Rea. Meanwhile further back it was 7. Locatelli 8. Bassani 9. Lecuona 12. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 13. Vierge (Honda HRC).

On lap 9 of 23 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Pedercini) retires from the race. Meanwhile at the front, Rea was still throwing everything he could at Toprak, although the reigning champion was showing his grit, and standing firm. Bautista was still making ground in 3rd, with Redding having a decent ride in 4th, Rinaldi 5th, and Lowes 6th. Further back Tarran Mackenzie (MacAMC Yamah), the reigning BSB champion, was in 15th, while Peter Hickman (FHO BMW) was in 19th.

WorldSBK Round 5 Race 2 at Donington Scott Redding Picture courtesy of BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team

With 11 laps remaining, Rinaldi finds a way through on Redding, who slips back to 5th, Lowes was in 6th. At the front Toprak was still holding off Rea, with a gap of 0.5s, while Bautista was in 3rd. Further back Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), was having another poor race, and was in 18th.

With 8 laps to go, Toprak had pulled out the gap to 0.8s, Rea looked to be having a problem either mechanically, or with the tyres.

Next lap and the gap had been increased to 1.4 to Rea, who was still struggling with the bike. Meanwhile Toprak was looking cool, and calm as he had in race 1, and would surely take the win.

With 5 laps to go, Bautista had now closed right up to Rea, and cuts under him into Melbourne loop taking over 2nd. Further back Bassani gets through on Locatelli to take 7th.

With 3 laps remaining, Eugene Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW), retires from the race, possibly having a mechanical issue. Meanwhile Rea was holding a gap of 1.2s to Rinaldi behind in 4th.

WorldSBK Round 5 Race 2 at Donington Toprak Razgatlioglu Picture courtesy of Pata Yamaha BRIXX WorldSBK

Last lap, and Toprak crosses the line proving he’s the king of Donington, taking his first career triple win across the weekend, and massively reducing the gap to the championship leader, Bautista, who comes in 2nd. Rea 3rd, Rinaldi 4th, Redding 5th, Lowes 6th, Bassani 7th, Locatelli 8th, Baz 9th, Lecuona 10th. Tarran Mackenzie takes 15th, while Hickman takes 19th on their debuts.

Result top 5:

  1. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  2. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  4. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati)
  5. Redding (BMW Motorrad)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 246
  2. Rea – 229
  3. Razgatlioglu – 203

 

 

Round 5 WorldSBK, Donington Park, Race 1

Donington Park was awash in glorious sunshine for the British round of WorldSBK, with the air temperature at 25 degrees Celsius, and a track temperature of 44 degrees Celsius. We were set for a scorcher on, and off, the track.

Rea (Kawasaki KRT) secured pole position with an unbeatable time of 1:36.080, followed by his team mate Lowes in 2nd and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) in 3rd.

WSBK Round 5 Race 1 Donington Toprak Razgatlioglu Picture courtesy of Pata Yamaha BRIXX WorldSBK

Lights out for race 1, and Toprak gets the hole shot, followed by the Kawasaki team mates of Lowes and Rea, Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati) finds himself in 4th.

Next lap and positions were as follows: 1. Toprak 2. Lowes 3. Bautista 4. Rea 5. Lecuona (Honda HRC) 6. Redding (BMW Motorrad).

On lap 3 of 23 it was Lowes with the new fastest lap of 1:27.4 and was looking good in 2nd. Meanwhile in the lead, Toprak had now pulled the gap to 2nd place to 0.6s, and was showing great early race pace. Rea was looking frustrated in 4th, as he could see his title rivals disappearing into the distance, and was desperate to make up positions.

Next lap, and Toprak was showing no signs of slowing down, increasing his lead to 0.9s. Lowes had started to slip back, and Rea was able to get past his team mate to take over 3rd, setting a new fastest lap in the process of 1:27.263. Meanwhile it was Bautista in 2nd, and was showing good pace on the Ducati. Further back positions were as follows: 5. Redding 6. Lecuona 7. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati). 8. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) 9. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 10. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha).

With 17 laps to go Rea was still desperate to get past the Spaniard ahead of him. Meanwhile Toprak had now pulled the gap out to 1.6s. After showing good pace early on, Lowes had now dropped down to 5th, with Redding moving up a place. Rea tries a move on Bautista into turn 12 Goddards, but can’t get it done, as the Ducati has such good acceleration.

Next lap and the Argentine, Mercado crashes out, his race is over. Rea again tries a move into turn 12, this time he gets it done cutting under Bautista to take over 2nd. Rea was now 2.9s behind Toprak Razgatlioglu, and had massive work to do to catch him. Redding was in 4th, and 2.2s behind Bautista.

Tarran Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha), the reigning BSB champion, was having a decent ride in 12th on his debut. Further back it was a disappointing day for both Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), and Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW), in 18th, and 20th respectively.

With 12 laps to go Bassani had moved up to 6th, getting past Lecuona who was now in 7th on his Donington Park debut. Meanwhile at the front, Rea couldn’t shake off the intentions of Bautista who was all over the back of the Kawasaki. All of this was playing right into the hands of the reigning champion, who was continuing to pull away, and was now 4s ahead of Rea.

With 9 laps of 23 remaining, Rea ran wide into turn 12 the previous lap, allowing Bautista to come through, and retake 2nd. Toprak was now 4.7s ahead, and any chance of him getting caught was now firmly over. Then drama for Bautista the championship leader, who lost the front end into turn 12 going down into the gravel, he rejoined but later retired, giving a massive boost for both Rea, and Toprak in the points standings. Redding now found himself in podium contention in 3rd.

With 7 laps left positions were as follows; 1. Toprak 2. Rea 3. Redding 4. Lowes 5. Bassani 6. Rinaldi.

Next lap and Lowes had found some late race pace, and had caught right up to Redding, now only 0.3s behind him. Redding who himself seemed to be struggling with either tires, or the new rear swing arm, which the team had just fitted this weekend. Meanwhile the Texan Gerloff had moved up to 8th.

WSBK Round 5 Race 1 Donington Toprak Razgatlioglu; Jonathan Rea & Alex Lowes Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

With 4 laps left, Redding was really struggling to resist the attempts of Lowes behind. Lowes finally made the right move into turn 12, and took over 3rd place. Redding fought back down Craner curves with some exciting racing for the fans, but Lowes held on to the position.

Penultimate lap, and Toprak was having fun out in the lead sliding his R1 Yamaha through Craner curves. Rea was still following, with Lowes in 3rd, followed by 4. Redding 5. Bassani 6. Rinaldi 7. Lecuona.

Last lap, and Toprak Razgatlioglu crosses the line to take his first win of the season, certainly looking more like the rider of last season. 2. Rea 3. Lowes 4. Redding 5. Bassani 6. Rinaldi 7. Gerloff 8. Lecuona 9. Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) 10. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha). Meanwhile Tarran Mackenzie finishes 14th on his debut to claim 2 championship points, while the Isle of Man superstar Peter Hickman finishes in 22nd.

Result top 5:

  1. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  2. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  3. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT)
  4. Redding (BMW Motorrad)
  5. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 220
  2. Rea – 204
  3. Razgatlioglu – 166

Donington Park World Superbikes Couldn’t Have Planned It Better!

This weekend we are lucky enough to host the British round of the World Superbike series at Donington Park in Derbyshire and as far as I am concerned, it couldn’t have worked out better for them and us. At the time of writing this, the old laptop is pointing towards a temperature on Saturday of 28°c, Sunday showing 31°c and it doesn’t look like the wind is going to climb over 6 mph all weekend. SAFE TO SAY YOU’RE GONNA’ NEED YOUR SUNCREAM AND A HAT!

WSBK Estoril Race 1 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Long hailed one of the jewels in the crown of British Racing, the 2.5 mile circuit winds its way across the rolling British countryside. Anyone who has visited Donington and walked down the Craner Curves to the Old Hairpin for example, will know it’s quite the hike. You are however rewarded by the stunning views and the spectating really does take some beating. Donington does cater well for slips, trips and falls with its gravel traps however it retains that “close to the track” feel that most British circuits, barring Silverstone offer. Hence Donington being a true fan favourite in person and on the TV.

The start of the season in World SBK has been anything (and everything) but boring. Unfortunately “boring” has been a moniker that the series has struggled to shake off it’s back in previous years. However, with some tweeking of the technical regulation by the series owner, to ensure the various manufacturers perform as closely as possible, and the recruitment of some seriously talented riders over the last 2-3 seasons, we have been served up nothing short of bar to bar, wheel to wheel, fairing to fairing, nonstop racing action AND IT’S ABSOLUTEY BRILLIANT!

Alvaro Bautista at Aragon 2022 WSBK. Image courtesy of Ducati

Jonathan Rea having taken a step this year aboard his Kawasaki ZX10R to ultimately close the gap (and overtake) last year’s World Superbike Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu on his Yamaha R1, plus the resurgence of the Ducati Panigale in the hands of returning factory rider Alvaro Bautista. Bautista has replaced regular race winner Scott Redding after he stepped away from the Italian Factory to race on BMW machinery for the 2022/2023 season. Bautista has taken the fight to both Rea and Razgatlioglu and put the dampers on any of Kawasaki and Yamaha’s hard work in the off season. After a string of hard-fought victories, the Spaniard holds a steady 36 points in the lead going into Donington on Rea with Razgatlioglu following another 43 points further back. Based on this alone, we are in for one hell of a treat this weekend.

The sweetener this weekend being the wildcards. The reigning British Superbike Champion, Tarran Mackenzie will make his World Superbike debut aboard a SBK Spec version of his McAms Yamaha R1. Taz was scheduled to debut at the Assen round of the world championship, however a pre-season training accident ruled him out of both Assen and even the opening rounds of the British Superbikes.

Speaking recently to worldsbk.com Tarran said “I am very excited to finally make my debut in the Superbike World Championship at Donington. It feels like it’s been a long time coming and I was obviously disappointed when we couldn’t do Assen. Donington is a special track for me as it’s only 10 minutes down the road from home, I’ve had some great success there in BSB so I am looking forward to getting out on a World Superbike-spec R1 and seeing what both myself and the McAMS Yamaha team can achieve. Obviously, there is a lot to learn with the engine and electronics, but I know the chassis well as my BSB bike is very similar. The level in World Championship is really high and I’m looking forward to getting out on track and giving it our all. I have to say a huge thanks to Steve and the McAMS Yamaha team, as well as Andrea and everyone at Yamaha Racing for making this possible.”

Joining the McAms team at Donington is the FHO Racing team. Peter Hickman will make his 3rd Wildcard appearance in the World Superbike series riding his very own motorcycle from the British Superbike series. As with the McAms bike, it will be running an upgraded electronics package to match the other race entrants with the hope of being in for the win.

In a statement released by the FHO Racing team, Peter Hickman says “I’m mega excited to get a chance to have a go at the World superbikes. I’ve done it twice – once in 2012 with Worx Suzuki and again in 2019 with the BMW World Superbike team but both times were last minute arrangements, jumping on bikes I had never seen before. This time I’ll be riding my FHO Racing BMW which I race in the British Superbike Championship so that will be good. We are having to work on raising the electronics package to World Superbike spec which will change things quite a lot which could be interesting, but we’ll see. I think it’s fantastic that we’re getting the chance to do this as a team and it’s all down to Faye. She’s owned the team for a year and a half and we’ve already done BSB, North West 200, Isle of Man TT and now we’re getting to do a World Superbike wildcard which is pretty cool. It’ll be good for everyone in the team to get to do a World Superbike round together. We’ve all done bits here and there not as a team, so I think it’s going to be a really great thing for us all.”

Also returning to the series is previous Kawasaki KRT rider and current Vison Track Kawasaki rider Leon Haslam, returning again for Team Pedercini Racing on their Kawasaki ZX10R. Not a last-minute decision. This has been in the making since the start of the season when Pedercini scaled back their two-bike team to a single bike entry and agreeing with Leon to join forces for four races this year. So far Leon has rode for the team at the Assen round where he scored 13th, 17th and 16th place finishes. Let’s hope Donington Park offers some home round advantage for Leon and he can pick up some much needed racing confidence after a somewhat disappointing start to the 2022 BSB season. Leon is also scheduled to ride for the Pedercini team at the Most and Portimao rounds later in the season.

WSBK Assen 23.04.2022 Razgatlioglu and Locatelli Picture courtesy of Pata Yamaha

As for the other Brits, it goes without saying we hope that Scott Redding, Alex Lowes and Jonathan Rea have a great race. It’s been a while since we had a full compliment flying the flag for us on the world stage. It’s very nice to see some fresh faces being given a chance to shine. Well done to Yamaha, McAms, Kawasaki, Lucio Pedercini, BMW and Faye Ho for making the brave choices to invest further money into a sport famous for its expense. With the cost of living rising across the globe and the financial constraints placed on business in general, it’s a wonder we go racing at all.

Have a goodun’.

Racing Armchair

@racingarmchair

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

 

 

 

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