Round 13 WorldSBK Indonesia Race 1

After the torrential downpour yesterday, both races 1 and 2 would be decided on Sunday, while the Superpole race was cancelled. Conditions were once again mixed, with dark clouds on the horizon, and the track was still damp in some places.

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

With a points advantage of 30, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) knew 2nd place would be good enough for the championship win. Jonathan Rea (KRT Kawasaki) meanwhile, knew he’d have to try get the win, and force the championship to race 2.

Lights out and its Rea with the hole shot, followed by Redding (aruba.it Ducati) in 2nd, Toprak in 3rd, Sykes (BMW Motorrad) 4th and Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) 5th. Toprak knew he had to put Rea under pressure, and maybe force him into a mistake.

With 18 laps to go, the pressure pays off and Razgatlioglu gets past Rea. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) made a brilliant start and was up to 3rd, 0.3 seconds behind Rea.

With 16 laps to go Bassani was flying, and gets through on both Rea and Razgatlioglu to take over the lead. Rea meanwhile sensed an opportunity and returned the favour, getting back in front after passing Bassani and Toprak. This was no holes barred racing at its best, the riders were leaving nothing behind.

With 15 laps to go, Rea sets a fastest lap of 1:37.418, the track was now mostly dry, and the riders were confident. Next was the turn of Toprak to post a fastest time of 1:36.772, the lap times now tumbling down.

Rea had the hammer down and was pushing, setting a new fastest lap of 1:35.830. With Toprak on his wheel however, Rea knew he’d need help from somewhere else if he was to keep his hopes of a 7th title alive.

And then with 12 laps to go Razgatlioglu slides up the inside of Rea, both wheels of the Yamaha looked completely out of line, yet somehow as he has done all season long, the Turk gets it stopped and makes the apex to retake the lead. Meanwhile Redding was getting quicker every lap and moves through on Bassani to take 3rd.

Redding was finding his groove, and with 10 laps to go the Ducati rider gets past Rea to take 2nd. He was only 0.1 behind Toprak, and was hunting him down. Again, it was this trio of riders who would be having the final showdown, as has been the story all season long.

The pressure pays off the next lap, as Razgatlioglu is forced into running wide, and Scott accepts taking over the lead. Rea now in 2nd, while Toprak gets back into 3rd, but had Bassani all over the back of him.

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

All the riders were feeling the pressure ramp up, and with 5 laps to go it was the turn of Redding to run wide into turn 10, Rea seized the momentum and retook the lead. As it stood, Toprak would need to get past Redding if he was to take his first championship title.

With 3 laps to go, Redding again runs wide, allowing Toprak to come through and take 2nd. Rea meanwhile could do no more, and was having a great race, but it would not be enough ultimately.

Rea crosses the line in 1st, followed by Toprak Razgatlioglu in 2nd and with it claiming his first ever WorldSBK championship title. Redding gets 3rd.

Result top 5:

  1. Rea (KRT Kawasaki)
  2. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  3. Redding (aruba.it Ducati)
  4. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati)
  5. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)

 

Championship top 3:

  1. Razgtlioglu – 551
  2. Rea – 526
  3. Redding 481

 

Round 11 WorldSBK Portimao, Portugal Race 2

The Superpole race saw vd Mark (BMW Motorrad) claim the win followed by Redding (aruba.it Ducati) in 2nd and Baz (go eleven Ducati) 3rd.

WorldSBK Portimao 03.10.21 Race 2 Razgalioglu Picture courtest of Pata Yamaha Racing

Lights out for race 2 and its Redding with the hole shot into turn 1, followed by the Pata Yamaha team mates of Locatelli and Razgatlioglu. Rea (Kawasaki KRT) was a man on a mission, already up to 3rd, from a grid position of 10th. It was Redding, followed by Locatelli 2nd, Rea 3rd, Razgatlioglu 4th, Bassani (motocorsa Ducati) 5th and vd Mark 6th.

With 18 laps to go, Rea blasts past Locatelli down the straight to take 2nd, then cuts up on Redding down the sweeping left hander to take over the lead for the first time.

Next lap, and Rea subsequently loses his lead to both Redding and Razgatlioglu down the straight. Rea now in 3rd. Further back it was Locatelli 4th, Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati) 5th, Bautista (HRC Honda) 6th, Baz 7th and vd Mark who had a terrible start, was now languishing in 8th.

WorldSBK Portimao 03.10.21 Race 2 Rinaldi Picture courtesy of Honda Racing Corporation

With 16 laps to go, Razgatlioglu tries to out brake Redding into turn 1 but locks up the front, which allows Rea space to pass. Following corner, and this time Redding runs wide, again Jonny capitalises and retakes the lead for the 2nd time.

With 15 laps to go, Rea puts in a fastest lap of 1:41.942. Again as in race 1, it is this group of title contenders pulling away from the rest. Razgatlioglu finally does make his move on Redding, moving up to 2nd and is now 0.3 behind Rea.

With 13 laps to go, Razgatlioglu passes Rea down the straight, the Kawasaki suffering from a lack of top end speed in comparison to the Yamaha R1. Toprak is next to post a fastest lap of 1:41.522, but Rea is able to stay right on his wheel. Meanwhile Bautista has moved up to 5th.

With 9 laps to go, Razgatlioglu loses the front end of his Yamaha into the high speed turn 15, nearly an identical crash to Rea in race 1. The Yamaha flying into the gravel. The Turkish rider is able to get onto his feet, but his race is over. Redding meanwhile, is starting to lose touch with Rea, the gap now 1.1.

With 7 laps to go there was a three way battle for 3rd between Locatelli, Bautista and Baz. Both of them subsequently passing the Italian. It was Baz 3rd, Bautista 4th and Locatelli 5th.

WorldSBK Portimao 03.10.21 Race 2 Bautista Picture courtesy of Aruba.it Ducati

Last 2 laps remaining, and Rea has increased his lead over Redding to 2.6 and looking comfortable at the front. Meanwhile Bautista makes a lunge from along way back into turn 5 on Baz, who then makes contact with Bautista and subsequently punts him off the track.

Rea crosses the line for his 13th win at Portimao, followed by Redding 2nd, Baz 3rd, Locatelli 4th, Gerloff 5th and vd Mark 6th.

Result top 5:

  1. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  2. Redding (aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Baz (go Eleven Ducati)
  4. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)
  5. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team)

Out: Bautista, Razgatlioglu, Rabat, Epis, Ruiu

Championship top 3:

  1. Razgatlioglu – 478 pts
  2. Rea – 454
  3. Redding 424

 

Round 11 WorldSBK Portimao, Portugal, Race 1

Toprak Razgatlioglu claimed victory in Race One in Portimao after a thrilling race.

WorldSBK Round 11 Portimao 02.10.2021 Picture courtesy of arubi,it Ducati

Superpole saw Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) claim top spot with an unbeaten lap of 1:40.219, followed by Rea (Kawasaki KRT) 2nd and Haslam (HRC Honda) in 3rd. The WorldSBK show would be bidding farewell to Europe after this weekend of racing ahead of the international races in Argentina and Indonesia.

Lights out and it was Razgatlioglu with the hole shot into turn 1, but he gets mugged by Jonathan Rea straight away after drifting wide.  All the while Scott Redding (aruba.it Ducati) now in third is watching the action unfold in front of him. It is Razgatlioglu, followed by Rea in 2nd, Redding 3rd, Haslam 4th, Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati) 5th and Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) 6th.

With 19 laps to go, Razgatlioglu again drifts wide into a corner, opening the door for Rea, who doesn’t hesitate and dives up the inside. Toprak is having none of it and forces his way up the inside of Rea the next corner, the two riders coming together and swapping paint. Only lap 2 and the “red mist” has already descended on these two title contenders, the action really heating up now.

WorldSBK Round 11 Portimao 02.10.2021 Picture courtesy of arubi,it Ducati

With 18 laps to go, Redding puts in a fastest lap of 1:41.719, the pace of the front three already distancing Haslam and the group behind. Rea tries the same move on Razgatlioglu, this time making it stick to take the lead. Now it is the turn of Redding, who uses the slipstream of the two bikes in front to power past both of them into turn 1 and take over the lead for the first time. It was breathtaking racing and as dramatic as the whole season has been so far.

With 17 laps to go, it is the turn of Rea to put in a new fastest lap of 1:41.645 and he held a gap of 1.6 to Haslam behind in fourth. Further back it was Rinaldi 5th, Locatelli 6th, Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 7th and Baz (go Eleven Ducati) 8th, (still riding for the injured Chaz Davies. )

Rea then moves from 3rd to take the lead; both Redding and Razgatlioglu had gone wide in the previous corners and Rea was looking fired up. And then into the high speed turn 15, huge drama as Rea loses the front of his Kawasaki at around 150 MPH, viciously sending it cartwheeling down the track and into the gravel. Amazingly he gets back onto his feet, very lucky to walk away from a scary crash seemingly unhurt.

With 13 laps to go, Redding and Razgatlioglu had continued to pull away from the rest, the gap now at 4 seconds, There was now a large group of five riders who were all battling it out for 3rd. It was Haslam 3rd, Rinaldi 4th, Locatelli 5th, Baz 6th, Gerloff 7th, Bautista (HRC Honda) 8th and vd Mark (BMW Motorrad) 9th.

A lap later, Bautista, again as in Jerez, was showing great pace late on and had moved up to 6th.

With 10 laps to go, Razgatlioglu makes his move on Redding into turn 1, coming from a long way out and out brakes the Ducati rider. Toprak looks to have the pace to push on further, while Redding looks to just be hanging on.

Shortly thereafter into turn 5, Locatelli runs into the back of vd Mark, taking them both out. The Dutchman was understandably furious as he was making good progress.

Into the final four now, and Redding has closed right onto the back of Razgatlioglu, but he can’t find a way past the Turkish rider on the brakes. He would have to find another option to have any chance of the win.

Last lap and Toprak now held a gap of 0.3 to Redding, but could he hold off the charging Ducati behind? Meanwhile further back it was Bautista and Baz fighting it out for 3rd.

WorldSBK Round 11 Portimao 02.10.2021 Picture courtesy of arubi,it Ducati

Razgatlioglu crosses the line to take the win, holding off Redding who takes 2nd, Baz 3rd, after Bautista crashes into the last corner. Rinaldi 4th, Haslam 5th, Gerloff 6th and Bassani (motocorsa Ducati) 7th.

Top Five Classification:

  1. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  2. Redding (aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Baz (go Eleven Ducati)
  4. Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati)
  5. Haslam (HRC Honda)

Out: Rea, vd Mark, Bautista, Epis (Kawasaki), Ruiu

Top three championship Classification:

  1. Razgatlioglu – 474
  2. Rea – 429
  3. Redding – 395

 

Round 9 WorldSBK Catalunya, Spain, Race 2

Thankfully we had blue skies and the sun was out for dry racing conditions on Sunday. For the Superpole race, Rea (Kawasaki KRT) decided on the harder Sc0 tyre, while most of the other riders went for the softer ScX rear tyre. After a restarted race due to a crash and subsequent red flag, Rea went on to take his first win of the weekend followed by Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) in 2nd and Bautista (Honda HRC) in 3rd, who takes his first podium of the season.

WorldSBK Race 2 Catalunya 19.09.2021 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team Provec Racing

For race 2, the riders were barely off before a big incident at turn 1 involving Sykes (BMW Motorrad) and Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) saw the race red flagged for the second time today. It was decided the restarted race would be brought down to 19 laps.

Lights out for the shortened race and its Razgatlioglu with the hole shot down into turn 1, followed by Rea in 2nd, Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati) 3rd, Bautista 4th and Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) in 5th. Redding, as in race 1, was down in 10th.

Track temperature was around 40 degrees Celcius and the riders knew the second half of the race would be crucial in terms of managing tyre wear. Only the Ducati team mates of Rinaldi and Redding had gone with the harder Sc0 rear tyre, while everyone else went with a softer option.

With 17 laps to go, it was Rinaldi who set a new fastest lap of 1:42.566 and he was breathing down the neck of the Turkish rider in front after powering past Rea down the straight.

Next lap and Redding was now up to 6th and, as he had in race 1, he was now finding his groove and looking ready for a fight. Bautista was in front of Redding and feeling more confident on his Honda after his podium in the Superpole race. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was in 7th and trying to hang onto the group in front of him.

Lap 6 of 19 now, and Rinaldi finds a way past Razgatlioglu and holds a lead of 0.4. Rea was in 3rd and Locatelli was in 4th, followed by the group of Bautista, Redding and Gerloff who was starting to slip backwards.

WorldSBK Race 2 Catalunya 19.09.2021 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team Provec Racing

Redding was desperate to get past Bautista and tried several times to dive up the inside of the Honda rider although every time he tried, he was way too hot into the corner going wide which allowed Alvaro to respond and retake the position back.

With 11 laps to go Rea was dropping back to Locatelli, no doubt suffering tyre wear issues. Both Bautista and Redding were doing faster lap times and would soon catch him. Meanwhile further back it was Bassani (motocorsa racing Ducati) in 8th, Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 9th and vd Mark (BMW Motorrad) in 10th.

With 9 laps to go, Redding takes both Bautista and Rea, the latter who had himself been passed by Locatelli and was dropping back like a stone now really struggling with grip.

With 8 laps to go, Razgatlioglu fights back and dives up the inside of Rinaldi into turn 6 to retake the lead. If he was also suffering with tyre wear, the Yamaha rider was definitely handling it better. However the harder tyre choice seemed to be working very well for both of the Ducati riders.

With 5 laps to go, Rinaldi out brakes Razgatlioglu down the long straight and into turn 1 to retake the lead. The two holding a gap of 3 seconds to Locatelli in 3rd.

Three laps to go and Rinaldi was pulling away from Razgatlioglu and now held a  gap of 1.5 to the Turkish rider. Meanwhile Redding moves up the inside of Locatelli down into turn 1 and was now hunting down the Yamaha rider in 2nd.

Onto the last lap now and Redding was within a second of Razgatlioglu. Further back Rea was still holding onto 6th, with Gerloff in 7th. Toprak was definitely falling back but would there be enough time for Redding to catch him?

Rinaldi crosses the line to take the win followed by Razgatlioglu who holds on for 2nd, Redding 3rd, Bautista 4th, Locatelli 5th, Rea 6th, Gerloff 7th and Bassani 8th.

WorldSBK Race 2 Catalunya 19.09.2021 Picture courtesy of Yamaha Racing

And the result means Razgatlioglu retakes the top spot of the championship yet again, this time by a single point. This season is going down to the wire and is still too hard to call.

Result top 5:

  1. Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati)
  2. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  3. Redding (aruba.it Ducati)
  4. Bautista (Honda HRC)
  5. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)

Rider out: Sykes (BMW Motorrad), Lowes (Kawasaki KRT), Epis (Pedercini Kawasaki), Cresson (Pedercini Kawasaki), Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing)

Championship top 3:

  1. Razgatlioglu –  399 pts
  2. Rea 398
  3. Redding 339

 

Round 9 WorldSBK Catalunya, Spain, Race 1

It was Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad) who ended Jonathan Rea’s (Kawasaki KRT) dominance of superpoles by claiming his very own with a fastest lap of 1:40.408. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) getting 2nd with Rea in 3rd.

Catalunya Race 1 WorldSBK Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team – Provec Racing

The start of race one was declared wet with rain pelting down onto the track. No surprise then that the whole grid went with wet tyres. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) retired before the start, unfortunately crashing out on the sighting lap.

Lights out and it was Razgatlioglu with a great start in the tricky conditions, getting the hole shot into turn 1. Locatelli on the other Pata Yamaha was briefly in 2nd before Rea came through to claim the position. It was Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) in 3rd, Locatelli 4th and Bassani (Motocorsa Racing Ducati) in 5th from a grid position of 11th. However both Sykes and Redding (Aruba.it Ducati) had terrible starts and found themselves way down in 9th and 10th respectively.

By the start of lap 2, Rea had found a way past Razgatlioglu and was looking to get away, although the Turkish rider was having none of it and they swapped the lead several times. Bassani was now up to 3rd, looking confident in the difficult conditions and looking to join the battle up front.

Rea had put the hammer down on lap 3, posting a fastest lap of 1:57.362 and this pace was now putting a significant gap into Toprak behind who had to deal with Bassani who had closed right behind him. Further back the Honda team mates of Haslam and Bautista were in 9th and 14th respectively with Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) in 10th and Redding who had slipped further back to 11th.

Rinaldi and vd Mark (BMW Motorrad) were having a battle for 4th place. Both bikes came together with Rinaldi coming off the better and scraping through to take 4th. Meanwhile up front Razgatlioglu had his hands full keeping Bassani at bay with both riders giving the spectators a real treat, swapping positions several times. This was all playing into the Northern Irishman’s hands and he had now increased his gap at the front to 2.5 on lap 4.

Further back Lowes (Kawasaki KRT) had now moved into 5th, taking the position from vd Mark. Redding was 7.5 behind the leader in 10th and looking very unsure of his Ducati in the brutal conditions.

Razgatlioglu responded to the pace of Rea putting in a new fastest lap of 1:56.777. Meanwhile further back there was a three way battle for 8th, 9th and 10th between Sykes, Locatelli and Redding respectively, with the latter eventually moving through to take 8th.

With 15 laps to go, Bassani takes 2nd from Razgatlioglu, the Italian looking for his first ever WorldSBK win. No doubt Toprak was getting more frustrated as he saw his championship lead being cut.

Meanwhile Haslam had now caught the group of Rinaldi 4th, vd Mark 5th and Lowes 6th to make it a four way battle. At the front Razgatlioglu responds with another fastest lap of 1:56.544, desperate not to let Bassani get away.

With 12 laps to go, Redding had now made it onto the back of the Haslam group into 8th and was looking more confident into the tricky corners, but would there be enough laps for him to get any further?

Halfway stage of the race and Rea now appeared to be losing his advantage with both Bassani and Razgatlioglu less than a second behind. The Turkish rider setting a previous lap nearly a whole second quicker than Rea.

Catalunya Race 1 WorldSBK Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team – Provec Racing

With 9 laps left, Razgatlioglu had come through on Bassani and then drives his Yamaha around the outside of Rea to take over the lead. Bassani then uses all the grunt of the Ducati to power past Rea down the straight, Rea falling back like a stone now and would soon have vd Mark on him. Redding meanwhile, was in 6th and looking for a way past Rinaldi in 5th.

Then drama with 6 laps to go, disaster strikes for Razgatlioglu, his Yamaha losing all power and that spells the end of his race. Bassani could not believe his fortune and takes over the race lead.

With 5 laps to go, there was now a group of 5 riders all vying for the win. Rea continued to slip back and both Ducati team mates came through, Rinaldi in 2nd with Redding in 3rd, Rea now 4th and vd Mark in 5th.

Lap 18 and Redding was really in the groove and after getting by on his team mate, he had Bassani firmly in his crosshairs in the process setting a fastest lap of 1:56.166.

Into turn 5 and Redding makes a block pass on Bassani, taking over the lead. With only 3 laps to go could Bassani respond? Meanwhile Rea was desperately trying to hold off vd Mark in 4th.

Redding does not allow Bassani back into contention and takes an amazing win after only being in 10th on lap 1. Bassani comes over the line in 2nd, Rinaldi 3rd, Rea 4th and vd Mark 5th. Other notable places were Lowes in 6th, Haslam 7th, Sykes 8th and Bautista 9th.

The result meant Rea would again take over at the top of this quite breathtaking championship from Razgatlioglu.

Result top 5:

  1. Redding (aruba.it Ducati)
  2. Bassani (motocorsa racing Ducati)
  3. Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati)
  4. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  5. vd Mark (BMW Motorrad)

Out: Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha), Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team)

Championship top 3:

  1. Rea 376 pts
  2. Razgatlioglu 370
  3. Redding 323

 

 

Round 7 WorldSBK Navarra, Spain, Race 2

The earlier Superpole race finished an exact copy of race 1 with Redding (Aruba.it Ducati) taking the win, followed by 2nd Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team)., and 3rd Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha).

wsbk
WSBK Navarra 22.08.2021
Picture courtesy of Ducati Racing

Race 2 saw track temperatures rising to nearly 50 degrees celsius., with riders deciding on a wide range of tyre options. Redding choosing a softer front tyre, while Rea and Razgatlioglu opted for a harder tyre. Could Redding make it a clean sweep of wins at Navarra?

After a delayed start, it was lights out and Redding with another quick fire blast off the line, again got the hole shot, great start. The same couldn’t be said for Rea who slipped back to 5th from his 2nd on grid.

The gloves were definitely off with Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) slicing his way from nowhere briefly taking the lead from a stunned Redding before then going wide into a corner to concede the lead back to Redding.

Starting lap 2 and it stood: 1st Redding, 2nd Locatelli, 3rd Razgatlioglu, 4th Rea, 5th Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team), 6th Sykes (BMW Motorrad).

Then more drama for Davies (GoEleven Ducati) who was having a miserable weekend. He lost the front end of his bike into turn 9, subsequently sending it ploughing into the back of Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) who found himself helplessly sliding into the gravel. Both riders were out of the race.

wsbk
WSBK Navarra 22.08.2021
Picture courtesy of Ducati Racing

Onto lap 3 and Razgatlioglu, showing impressive speed, gets through on Redding to take the lead. Then it’s the turn of Rea, who cuts under Redding into the hairpin corner to take 2nd. As in race 1 this trio was again pulling clear of the rest.

The northern Irishman had his sights on the Turk, and wasn’t letting him escape, setting a new fastest lap of 1:37.609. Meanwhile Redding was looking like he was struggling to match the pace and was slipping further back.

Further down the field it was the BMW team mates of Sykes and Vd Mark in 5th and 6th respectively, with Lowes in 7th and Bautista (Honda HRC) further back in 10th.

With 15 laps to go, Lowes comes through on Vd Mark into turn 15 to take 6th.

Rea was closing in on Razgatlioglu, but looked like he was really struggling with front end chatter, the bike visibly bouncing into some corners. Rea held a gap of 0.5 to Redding in 3rd.

With 11 laps to go, Razgatlioglu had a gap of 0.5 to Rea in 2nd. Meanwhile Redding had found something, and was now right within striking distance of Rea.

Nine laps to go and Razgatlioglu found a second wind and was pulling clear of Rea, pushing the gap out to 1.0. Meanwhile Honda continued their poor weekend, with Haslam (Honda HRC) sending his bike sliding in a shower of sparks into the gravel. He cut a dejected figure trudging back.

Rea was really under pressure from Redding now and only had a gap 0.3 to the Ducati. The pressure was telling with Rea losing the front end, but as he had in race 1, he somehow managed to save it. Rea was fighting the Kawasaki into the corners and subsequently went wide, letting Redding through.

Redding now had his sights firmly on the Yamaha but with only 3 laps left could he catch Razgatlioglu who was looking comfortable, and held a 1.0 advantage.

Last lap and Razgatlioglu was holding his nerve keeping Redding at bay. He crosses the line to deny Redding a hat trick of wins, Redding getting 2nd while Rea crossed further down in 3rd.

wsbk
WSBK Navarra 22.08.2021
Picture courtesy of Ducati Racing

Amazingly enough, the result means there is a two way tie for the lead of the championship between Rea and Razgatlioglu. Surely this season will come down to the wire. Expect more fireworks!

Result top 5:

  1. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  2. Redding (Aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team)
  4. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)
  5. Sykes (BMW Motorrad)

Riders out: Davies (GoEleven Ducati), Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), Uramoto (Suzuki), Haslam (Honda HRC).

Championship top 3:

  1. Rea 311 pts
  2. Razgatlioglu 311
  3. Redding 273

 

 

Jonathan Rea – The Art of Psychological Racing

As the great Julian Ryder once said about racing at the highest level: “Talent will get you onto the stage, but winning is a matter between the ears”.

Jonathan Rea at Aragon 2020. Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

It is quite possible that Jonathan Rea has modelled his WorldSBK career on that line, and then some.

In 2020, given all the uncertainty that has gone with it, this attribute was overlooked by TV broadcasters (and in the interests of outright entertainment of the viewers, perhaps rightly so). However, as the dust has now settled on the season, it is high time to salute this remarkable, and ruthless attribute in Jonathan Rea’s arsenal:

The ability to read and control the championship.

Whilst Rea’s detractors will often highlight his supposed lack of charisma, however they cannot criticise or belittle his ability to know exactly what is needed to be done on track in any given scenario.

Few have the ability and it is the preserve of only the greatest champions: think Mick Doohan, Valentino Rossi or Carl Fogarty in the motorbike world – Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost from Formula 1. Jonathan Rea is the same.

They do not “see red” when a rival overtakes them. They do not panic and adopt a “win it or bin it” attitude. They can even accept that some days they will not be spraying the champagne on the podium.

That last one may come as a surprise to some, but it is true.

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

Immediate glory on the track, these few know, pales in comparison to lifting the championship trophy at the end of the season. Their place in the standings is the only thing that matters.  It consoles them, when a race weekend heads south. You can see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices when they give answers either on the grid or in the interviews in the build up to race day.  They are fixated on it. It’s the obsession which pushes them further than the others.

This ability has been showcased on multiple occasions throughout Rea’s career. Perhaps the most clear example came in 2019. Whilst all and sundry had written off his title chances, after Alvaro Bautista’s incredible run of 13 wins from the opening 16 races, Rea’s head never dropped. By ensuring that he constantly mopped up the next best places, he had put himself in prime position to catch Bautista as an when the Spaniard’s incredible run came to an end.

The patience and discipline shown in sticking to what needed to be done ensured that, despite Bautista’s early-season dominance, Rea was never more than a couple of victories away from taking the lead in the championship.  Once that happened, Rea hit the racers’ zenith. Such was the confidence in himself and his team, it was inevitable he’d hit his own ‘purple patch’

As has been the case for the past three seasons – Chaz Davies(left) is the only rider who can challenge Jonathan Rea (right) for the title.

In 2020, the championship battle required a different tactic. With the Kawasaki being more competitive at the start of the season, Rea was able to trade early-season victories with Scott Redding. Once his rival faltered and a gap in the standings had been established, Rea defaulted to prioritising scoring only as many points as he needed to keep Redding behind. He was content enough to let other riders go up the road, safe in the knowledge that his rival could not score sufficient points to make any meaningful inroads (if any at all) to his lead.

Described like that, it is a brutal suffocation of his rivals. Yet there is a fine art to it – and is very difficult to spot on track. Certainly to a casual observer. Rea has to always ensure that his rival (Redding in 2020, Tom Sykes in 2015) finished behind him.

You cannot afford to ride slow with this tactic, let’s make that clear.

If someone puts together a string of qualifying-style laps in an attempt to break away from the field, Rea uses his judgement to let them go. He has a target pace to ride to, with a small margin to increase pace should he need to recover places later in the race.

Many riders attempt to employ this tactic. Few succeed. Even fewer succeed year after year. As racing goes, this is psychological warfare: Grind down your opponent until he believes you are always that little bit better or faster than him. When a rival cracks – as Sykes and Redding did respectively – it looks sudden and spectacular as the defeated challenger loses heart and finds himself falling back through the field – or worse crashing out.

This kind of moment ensures that race result which ultimately seals the championship, but it has taken weeks, sometimes months to grind the opponent down to such a state.

Jonathan Rea Celebrating his six WSBK titles. Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

You cannot pull that off overnight. Neither can you be taught it. A state of mind. You have to be utterly ruthless with your opponent – yet at the same time make it so subtle very few can spot what you’re doing until its too late.

Jonathan Rea – a true master of his art.

Ed Hocknull