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 4 WorldSBK Donington Park Race 1

World Super Bikes makes a welcome return to Donington Park after missing out last year due to the Covid 19 restrictions. The historic track, being the place where it all began back in 1988, hosting the first ever WorldSBK race.  Would we see history in the making this weekend?

Dramatic scenes at Donington. (Courtesy of: WorldSBK website).

Championship leader Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) was looking in scintillating form, setting the fastest time in FP 1, as well as in a wet FP3. With the heavens opening to make for a wet Superpole, it wouldn’t dampen Rea’s pace, topping the grid in an unbeaten time of 1:40.101. Completing the front row would be the BMW teammates, Michael van der Mark  1:40.626, and Tom Sykes in 1:40.763.

The weather for Race 1 was looking typically mixed for a British summers day. With a massive downpour earlier in the morning, the race was declared wet, even although by start time the track was dry in most places. Tyre choice would be crucial, and it seemed most of the grid was going for slicks.

Lights out, and it was Jonathan Rea who got the hole shot into turn 1, closely followed by the two BMWs of van der Mark, and Sykes. It was Toprak Razgatlioglu (Yamaha) with a wonder start who was grabbing all the headlines early on, scything through the field from a lowly qualifying position of 13th, by turn 1 he was already up to 5th place. Winner last time around in Misano race 2, Razgatlioglu (TR) wasn’t hanging about, getting past both BMWs by the end of the first lap.

T.R was now hunting down Rea, who nearly went down after his rear tyre hit a damp patch. Further back in the field it was still very close, Gerloff (Yamaha) was passed in the Melbourne Loop by Redding (Ducati) who subsequently went down at the top of Craner Curves. The damp track was causing havoc, who was going to be able to hold their nerve? Another crash through the Craner Curves and its Christophe Ponsson (Yamaha) who went down.

T.R was now caught up to Rea and made his pass on lap 2. Across the start/finish line to begin lap 3, Rea again slides at the top of Craner Curves, this time running off the track and down across the wet grass, somehow managing to avoid a massive crash, rejoins the track to remain in 2nd place. Razgatlioglu lays down the first marker by putting in a fastest lap of 1:33.292.

Spectators get a fantastic race. (Courtesy of WorldSBK website).

Van Der Mark (BMW) was now right behind Rea after his excursion, and looking for a way past. Further back it was Leon Haslam (Honda) in 5th place clawing his way up to Sykes in 4th, while Gerloff in 7th was closing up to Alex Lowes (Kawasaki) in 6th. Both Razgatlioglu and Gerloff were using the slick soft X-tyre, and it was noticeable in their times.

With 20 laps to go, Razgatlioglu already held a gap of 3.1 to Rea, and was slowly applying more pressure, putting in another fastest lap of 1:32.706. The world champion would respond the next lap setting a new fastest lap of 1:31.441. It was turning out to be ‘anything you can do, I can do better.’

Again, with 18 laps to go Rea puts in another fastest lap of 1:30.648, reducing the gap to T.R to 1.948. He wouldn’t be giving up any time soon. With the track mostly dry now, faster times were being set. Razgatlioglu responded with 17 laps to go, setting a new fastest lap of 1:30.126. The drying track was still catching some riders out, with Andrea Locatelli (Yamaha) crashing hard, but he managed to walk away unhurt.

Another big moment for Rea at Redgate turn 1 with 15 laps to go, the rear stepped out, the slide is saved, but Rea lost valuable time to T.R. With the sun now shining down onto the track, the fans were being treated to absolutely sublime racing. Donington we missed you!

With 13 laps to go, van der Mark was getting closed down quickly by his team mate in 4th, and Lowes in 5th. Gerloff got through on Haslam with 12 laps to go. In a ding-dong battle, Sykes decides to make a move on his teammate, opening the door for Lowes, van der Mark now going from 3rd to 5th. All the while Gerloff was gaining on the trio.  Into the Melbourne Loop van der Mark runs in hot, and bumps shoulders with Lowes, somehow both riders managed to stay on, but this allowed Gerloff to gain a place – moving up to 5th.

Meanwhile at the front with 11 laps remaining, Rea puts in a new fastest lap of 1:28.908, hoping to claw his way back to T.R. The gap now at 3.4. Immediately the next lap T.R responds with a 1:28.815, not allowing Rea to have any momentum. Tito Rabat (Ducati) retires due to a mechanical problem.

With 9 laps to go Lowes makes a move on Sykes, out-braking him into the Melbourne Loop – pushing him wide, this in turn leaves Gerloff space to dive inside Sykes, going from 3rd to 5th in one corner. Last corner, turn 12 (Goddards) and Gerloff drives up the inside of Lowes, aggressive riding by the Texan – now on for a podium.

Razgatlioglu now lapping Jonas Folger (BMW) with 8 laps to go, showing no signs of slowing down. The gap to Rea now at 3.9. Drama for Gerloff going into turn 12 with 7 laps to go, he loses the front end and goes down, managing to get back on track now in 8th position, no doubt seething under his helmet after all the work he did earlier.

Lap 18 of 23 and the gap between Razgatlioglu to Rea now at 4.2, with Rea seemingly having accepted his 2nd place, or possibly not able to respond anymore to Razgatlioglu’s lap times – tyre wear almost certainly an issue for both riders now.

With 5 laps remaining Alvaro Bautista (Honda) had steadily moved up to 7th from a grid position of 16th, although he had Gerloff looking to make a pass on him, which he did, pushing him back a position. Gerloff was now hunting down Haslam in 6th place with only 4 laps remaining. Meanwhile at the head the gap between Razgatlioglu and Rea was now up to 5.0.

Last lap – late drama, Razgatlioglu’s bike looks to be spluttering from low fuel, he managed to cross the line, but lost the gap he made to Rea, who crossed in 2nd place.  Lowes the local lad, gets 3rd place for his 200th WSBK start.

Sportsmanship between first and second place. (Courtesy of: WorldSBK website).

There is a star on the Turkish flag, and Razgatlioglu no doubt surely is one, with a bright future ahead of him. After an action packed race 1, what will the Superpole race, and race 2 bring?

Race Results:

  1. Toprak Razgatlioglu – Yamaha
  2. Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki
  3. Alex Lowes – Kawasaki
  4. Tom Sykes – BMW
  5. Michael van der Mark – BMW
  6. Leon Haslam – Honda
  7. Garrett Gerloff – Yamaha
  8. Alvaro Bautista – Honda
  9. Lucas Mahias – Kawasaki
  10. Axel Bassani – Ducati

Out – Jonas Folger – BMW, Tito Rabat – Ducati, Andrea Locatelli – Yamaha, Scott Redding – Ducati, Christophe Ponsson – Yamaha.

Championship Standings:

  1. Rea – 169 pts
  2. Raz – 154
  3. Red – 104
  4. Low – 104
  5. Rin – 86

 

(Featured image – courtesy of: BBC)

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