2022 WorldSBK Season Preview

Yes fans, the new superbike season is nearly here, and if it’s anything like last season, we’re in for a real treat.

wsbk
WSBK Navarra 22.08.2021
Picture courtesy of Ducati Racing

Thirteen rounds of action packed racing await, and hopefully we’ll have a Phillip Island round, which has been pencilled in at the back end of the year, which as of yet we still await the dates to be announced. Round 13 is also unknown as of yet. It seems that we won’t be returning to Navarra in Spain this time round.

So the season kicks off for round 1 in Aragon, Spain on the 8th of April. We will have another Spanish round in Catalunya on the 23rd of September, and as mentioned above it seems no Navarra round.

After that we’ve got Assen, then the first of two trips to Portugal, for Estoril and Portimao later in the year. The UK round at Donington Park is smack bang right in the middle of summer on the 15th July. Will we have bright sunshine, or a complete washout? Either is possible lets be honest. Returns to Misano, Most in Czech Rep, Magny- Cours, France, Argentina, and Mandalika in Indonesia are all on. With question marks above round 12 Phillip Island and 13 still to be announced.

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

There has been a couple of changes to rider line-ups so far, a few of the most notable are Scott Redding switching the red of Ducati for a blue, red and white livery of BMW Motorrad. Alvaro Bautista will take the seat vacated by Redding, and will join the Aruba.it Racing Ducati team. Honda HRC will have two new Spanish riders join them, Iker Lecuona from MotoGP and Xavi Vierge from Moto2. Eugene Laverty is back on a BMW for the Bonovo action team and he will be joined by Loris Baz who makes a return to WorldSBK.

It will take some doing to replicate last season, but I am really excited to see how the new riders for Honda HRC will handle the jump to WorldSBK. They’re both young but definitely talented. Honda didn’t produce one of their finest seasons last year, with both Bautista and Haslam struggling for form most of the year, although Bautista did improve in the last few rounds. If Honda can get their bike working, I think both riders can challenge for good results this season.

Bautista had blistering speed when he made his WorldSBK debut on a Ducati in 2019, and was challenging Jonathan Rea for the win every race in the early part of the season. Although he couldn’t maintain the form right through the season, he did pick up a good few wins early on. Rinaldi had a couple of good races last season, and if Bautista can pick up where he left off last season, I think both riders will provide a stiff test for Toprak and Johnny.

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

Scott Redding was a thorn in both Toprak and Rea’s side last season, providing us fans with one of the most exciting seasons ever. There was no doubt that the Ducati was an absolute missile last season and Scott knew exactly how to inflict the most amount of damage with it. Finishing 3rd behind two of the most talented riders ever to grace WorldSBK is definitely no mean feat. I really hope BMW can provide Scott with a fast bike, because we all want to see him charging hard every race.

Johnny will still be seeking world championship number 7 next season and he knows full well Kawasaki will have to improve their bike if they are going to wrestle that title away from Toprak.

Is it too early to make a prediction? Of course it is, but why not, so here is mine.

Championship result top 3:

  1. Toprak Razgatlioglu
  2. Jonathan Rea
  3. Alvaro Bautista

Race Dates:

  1. Aragon Round – MotorLand Aragon – 8,9,10 April
  2. Dutch Round – TT Circuit Assen – 22,23,24 April
  3. Estoril Round – Circuito Estoril – 20,21,22 May
  4. Emilia – Romagna Round – Misano World Circuit – 10,11,12 June
  5. UK Round – Donington Park – 15,16,17 July
  6. Czech Round – Autodrom Most – 29,30,31 July
  7. French Round – Magny – Cours – 9,10,11 September
  8. Catalunya Round – Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya – 23,24,25 September
  9. Portuguese Round – Autodromo Internacional do Algarve – 7,8,9 October
  10. Argentinean Round – Circuito San Juan Villicum  – 21,22,23 October
  11. Indonesian Round – Mandalika International Street Circuit – 11,12,13 Nov
  12. Australian Round – Phillip Island – TBA*
  13. TBA*

Rider and Team line-up so far:

  • Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK: Toprak Razgatlioglu / Andrea Locatelli
  • Aruba.it Racing Ducati: Alvaro Bautista / Michael Ruben Rinadi
  • Kawasaki Racing Team: Jonathan Rea / Alex Lowes
  • BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: Scott Redding / Michael van der Mark
  • Team HRC Honda: Iker Lecuona / Xavi Vierge
  • GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team: Garrett Gerloff / Kohta Nozane
  • Motocorsa Racing: Axel Bassani
  • TeamGoEleven: Philipp Oettl
  • Kawasaki Puccetti Racing: Lucas Mahias
  • Barni Racing Team: Luca Bernardi
  • Bonovo action BMW Racing Team: Eugene Laverty / Loris Baz
  • OUTDO TPR Team Perdercini Racing: Loris Cresson
  • MIE Racing Honda Team: Leandro Mercado / Hafizh Syahrin

* Race Calender and rider/team line-up taken from http://WorldSBK.com

 

Raul Fernandez Believes he is “Moral Champion”

In an interview with Spanish Autosport, Raul Fernandez claimed that he is the “moral” Moto2 champion in 2021. He believes his team placed “stones and obstacles” in his way, preventing him from taking the title.

Raul Fernandez is the Moto2 rookie who burst onto the grid in 2021, claiming a phenomenal 12 podiums, 7 pole positions and 8 race wins. The latter surpasses the previous record held by Marc Marquez, who won 7 races in his rookie Moto2 season.

These results saw him clinch 2nd in the Moto2 championship, eventually won by his KTM Ajo teammate Remy Gardner. He missed out on the title by just 4 points.

When speaking to Spanish Autosport, Fernandez stated that “no one knew how to guide” him and his team of “inexperienced” mechanics. He believes this played a role in him failing to secure the title in his maiden Moto2 season.

“The problem we had is that my whole team – and when I say my team I mean my mechanics, who I was very lucky to find such a special group – were inexperienced and nobody knew how to guide us. And that is why today we don’t have the championship crown. But morally it has been proved by the result that I am the strongest rider, with more wins, poles, fastest laps.”

“Remy is the champion, he has scored more points, but really with the speed we had and being a fish that swims against the current, I honestly feel morally champion. What we have done, being all new and getting to know each other this year, it’s impressive.”

Image credit: MotoGP

Fernandez then stated that he felt “stones and obstacles” had been placed in his way by his team, handing the championship to his teammate. He claimed that having a “figure” in the team to guide and support himself and the mechanics would have helped them secure the title.

“I have lacked a hand to guide us, a hand to tell us, like little children before they trip over a stone, to be careful. A figure that would guide us and open the way for us, a figure that would want to help us to win, not a figure that would put stones and obstacles in our way so that we wouldn’t succeed. That was the key.”

“It has cost us sweat and tears. In the middle of the year we talked and all of [my mechanics] were having a hard time. We were all looking forward to the end of the season.”

Their strong performances across the 2021 season mean that both Fernandez and Gardner will be moving up to MotoGP, joining the Tech3 KTM Factory Team for 2022. Back in August, when his promotion was confirmed, Fernandez stated that “it’s the dream of any rider to arrive to this class”.

Feature image credit: KTM Press.

Sam Lowes victorious as Moto2 returns to Misano

After crashing out at the Grand Prix of the Americas and seeing his championship lead reduced to just nine points, all eyes were on Remy Gardner and his rookie teammate (and championship rival) Raul Fernandez as we moved into round 16 of the 2021 Moto2 season with a return to Misano.

But this is a season where we have learned to expect the unexpected. After a difficult qualifying in damp conditions, Raul started from 9th place on the grid and Gardner from 14th, his worst starting position of the season.

Moto2 Misano 2021 Picture courtesy of marcvds.com

Fernandez quickly moved up the order to 2nd place by lap 6, but Gardner struggled to make progress, initially dropping back, then moving up to 8th by the start of lap 5.  His attempt at passing Somkiat Chantra forced the Honda Team Asia rider into the gravel, with Gardner being given a long lap penalty.

On Lap 15 Raul Fernandez’s fortunes changed again – after running slightly wide and clipping the white line on turn 15, both bike and rider were sent cartwheeling into the gravel. Fortunately uninjured, Raul could only watch as Gardner crossed the line in 7th place, the championship lead stretching out once again to 18 points.

Instead it was a good day at the office for the Elf Marc VDS Racing Team, with Sam Lowes starting from pole and claiming the top spot on the podium. Teammate Augusto Fernandez received a long lap penalty before the race had even started, for riding slowly on the racing line during qualifying. Starting from 3rd on the grid, he took his penalty early, rejoined in 14th place, and worked his way back up to the top 4, eventually finishing in second.

Off the line Lowes held onto the lead after a brief challenge from his teammate, as behind him Aron Canet moved up past Jorge Navarro into 2nd and Augusto dropped back into 4th.

By the end of lap 1 Canet had taken the lead, until lap 4 when Navarro moved up to challenge, Canet forced him wide and Lowes was able to pass them both, and in the meantime Raul Fernandez moved up to 3rd.

Going into lap 6, Lowes had a lead of half a second, and started to stretch it out, as Raul Fernandez passed Canet to gain 2nd place. Lap 7 saw Raul close in on Lowes, as Gardner’s attempted overtake of Chantra resulted in a long lap penalty. A prolonged battle with Augusto Fernandez saw Gardner struggle to maintain his pace and by lap 15 Augusto was running in 6th, Stefano Manzi 7th and Gardner 8th.

After Raul Fernandez’ crash, Gardner took to the long lap loop, and rejoined in 7th place in front of Marco Bezzecchi.

On lap 18, Lowes ran wide allowing Canet to seize the opportunity to take the lead, but Lowes regained the place on lap 22 whilst fighting the front end, and Canet began to drop back almost immediately. On the last lap, Lowes led by a second over Canet, who was in turn half a second ahead of Augusto Fernandez. As they approached the chequered flag Augusto caught up to Canet to snatch 2nd.

Lowes & Fernandez podium Moto2 Misano 2021 Picture courtesy of marcvds.com

With only 2 rounds remaining, can Raul Fernandez fight back to take the championship crown in his rookie season? Or can Gardner recover his composure and increase his lead?

First fifteen riders:

1              Sam Lowes GBR  – Elf Marc VDS Racing Team – 25 points

2              Augusto Fernandez SPA – Elf Marc VDS Racing Team – 20

3              Aron Canet SPA  – Aspar Team Moto2 – 16

4              Celestino Vietti ITA – SKY Racing Team VR46 – 13

5              Jorge Navarro SPA – +EGO Speed Up – 11

6              Stefano Manzi ITA – Flexbox HP40 – 10

7              Remy Gardner AUS – Red Bull KTM Ajo – 9

8              Fabio Di Giannantonio ITA – Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 – 8

9              Ai Ogura JPN – IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia – 7

10           Marcos Ramirez SPA – American Racing – 6

11           Albert Arenas SPA – Aspar Team Moto2 – 5

12           Bo Bendsneyder NED – Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team – 4

13           Jake Dixon GBR – Petronas Sprinta Racing -3

14           Thomas Luthi SWI – Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team – 2

15           Marcel Schrotter GER – Liqui Moly Intact GP – 1

 

Round 12 WorldSBK Argentina Race 2

After making it two for two, with the win in race one yesterday and the Superpole race today, Toprak (Pata Yamaha) was looking in scintillating form in San Juan, and was looking to make it a clean sweep of wins.

WorldSBK Agentina 17.10.2021 Picture courtesy of Aruba.it Ducati

Lights out and again Razgatlioglu gets the hole shot. Rea (KRT Kawasaki) second, Redding (Aruba.it Ducati) third, Bassani (motocorsa Ducati) fourth, vd Mark (BMW Motorrad) fifth and Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) sixth.

Rea was keen not to allow Toprak to escape as he had in race one, and was putting the pressure on in search of a way up the inside of the Yamaha, but was unable to make a move stick. Bassani swooped by on Redding to take third. Toprak went wide out of the straight and allowed Rea to take over the lead.

With 19 laps to go, Rea had put the hammer down setting a new fastest lap of 1:38.256; the front four of Rea, Razgatlioglu, Bassani and Redding were pulling away from the rest. Toprak didn’t stay behind Rea long, before diving up the inside of the Irishman to retake the lead.

With 18 laps to go, Rea now found himself in third after Redding got by. The Ducatis were looking good and Bassani was all over the back of Rea now.

With 17 laps to go, Redding uses the Ducati power to get past Razgatlioglu down the back straight but subsequently goes wide into the next corner, allowing both Toprak and Rea through.

With 15 laps to go, it was Razgatlioglu leading, followed by Rea, Redding, vd Mark and Rinaldi. As they had all season, both Razgatlioglu and Rea were going faring to faring, and the lead swapped several times.

With 14 laps to go Razgatlioglu puts in a fastest lap of 1:37.968, but he can’t break Rea or Redding behind as he had in race one. Meanwhile further back, Davies (GoEleven Ducati) was sat in eigth, chased by Haslam (Honda HRC) and Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team).

With 12 laps to go Redding takes the lead, getting up the inside of Toprak having previously gone through on Rea. Would he be able to get away?

With 10 laps to go, Redding puts in a fastest lap of 1:37.716, steadily pulling away from both Razgatlioglu and Rea behind. Bassani fought back, and is now right on the back of Rea.

With six to go, Rea outbrakes Razgatlioglu into turn one to take 2nd. Meanwhile Redding was looking comfortable in the lead, and held a gap of over two seconds to Rea.

Last lap and Redding denies Razgatlioglu a clean sweep of wins, claiming his first win in Argentina. Rea came across the line for second, ahead of Razgatlioglu, Bassani, Rinaldi, vd Mark, Locatelli and Gerloff.

Top Five Classification:

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

Top Three Championship Classification:

  1. Razgatlioglu – 531 pts
  2. Rea – 501
  3. Redding 465

Round 12 WorldSBK Argentina Race 1

Toprak Razgatlioglu took victory in Race one of the Argentinian round of WorldSBK.

WorldSBK Argentina Race 1 Picture courtesy of KRT (Kawasaki Racing Team)

Lights out and it’s Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) with the hole shot into turn one, but disaster for Redding (Aruba.it Ducati) who loses the front end, and his Ducati spins out into the gravel. It is Razgatlioglu in first, Rea (KRT Kawasaki) second, Lowes (KRT Kawasaki) third, Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) fourth and Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) fifth.

Twenty laps to go and Razgatlioglu and Rea are steadily pulling away from the field. Redding rejoins 15 seconds behind in last place, while further back it’s vd Mark seventh, Haslam (Honda HRC) eighth and Laverty (BMW Motorrad) ninth. Next to crash out is Bautista (Honda HRC), and his race is over.

With 18 laps to go, Razgatlioglu increased his gap to Rea to 1.8 and was looking comfortable out in front, while Rea was battling to hold onto his 2nd position. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) uses all the top end speed of the Ducati to get through on Lowes down the back straight – the Kawasaki having no answer to the power of the Ducati.

With 12 laps to go, Redding had climbed up to P14. Meanwhile at the front Toprak had cleared off into the distance, and would not be caught unless he made a huge mistake, but was looking odds on for the win. Rea was looking resigned to his second place.

With six laps to go, Bassani (motocorsa Ducati) has got past Lowes, and held a gap of 0.3 to the Kawasaki. Further back it was Locatelli 7th, Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 8th, Haslam (Honda HRC) 9th and Laverty (BMW Motorrad) 10th.

Last lap, and Razgatlioglu crosses the line for his 12th win of the season, Rea 2nd, Rinaldi 3rd, Lowes 4th, Bassani 5th. Meanwhile Redding takes 9th.

Top Five Classification:

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

Top Three Championship Classification:

  1. Razgatlioglu – 503 pts
  2. Rea – 474
  3. Redding – 431

 

More twists and turns in Moto2 at the Circuit of the Americas

There’s definitely one thing the 2021 Moto2 season has not been, and that is predictable.  Last weekend’s outing at the Red Bull Ring of the Americas was no exception, creating yet more twists and turns in a fascinating and entertaining season.

Moto2 Americas Augusto Fernandez. Picture courtesy of marcvds.com

Over the last few rounds the championship has evolved into a two-horse race between the Ajo KTM teammates Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez, with Gardner holding onto the top spot with a seemingly comfortable lead.  Going into the weekend, Gardner, on 271 points, was 34 points ahead of Fernandez on 237 with Marco Bezzecchi in third place on 190.

Team Ajo KTM yet again dominated the front row with Raul Fernandez starting on pole (the sixth of his rookie season in Moto2), Gardner second and Fabio Di Giannantonio third. Behind them, Marco Bezzecchi started in fourth place, alongside American Cameron Beaubier in fifth, his best start of the season, and Augusto Fernandez in sixth.

Britain’s Jake Dixon started on row 5 in 13th place and Sam Lowes on row 6 in 16th.

Into turn 1 the local rider Cameron Beaubier slots through to take the lead, but only briefly as he runs wide, allowing both Ajo KTM riders through, with Raul taking the lead.

Beaubier drops back to fourth and then fifth as he is passed by Di Giannantonio and Bezzecchi, but comes back at Bezzecchi to regain fourth.

Gardner passes his teammate, but is unable to make it stick, and on lap 2 Gardner is passed by Di Giannantonio, then Beaubier passes both of them to edge back up into second. The ensuing battle allows Fernandez to stretch out a lead of almost 2 seconds at the front.

Lap 3, and Gardner is back up into second place, Beaubier is pushing hard and passes him on lap 4, but is unable to make it stick.

Everything changes on lap 6 as Gardner crashes out, losing the front end in the tight left hander of Turn 15. He tries desperately to restart his stalled machine, but eventually returns to his garage to watch the remainder of the race.

Raul Fernandez now leads by 2.2 seconds from Di Giannantonio, with Bezecchi, Beaubier and Italy’s Tony Arbolino battling for third.

Digiannantonio starts to make inroads into Fernandez’s lead, bringing it down to 1.7 seconds by lap 9.

Sam Lowes, who dropped back several places in the early stages of the race, suffered mechanical issues and limped his Elf Marc VDS machine back to the pitlane.

Moto2 Americas Sam Lowes. Picture courtesy of marcvds.com

By lap 14 Raul Fernandez has again stretched out a 2 second lead over Di Giannantonio, who is in turn 2.7 seconds ahead of 3rd place Bezzecchi, with Augusto Fernandez in 4th, Beaubier in 5th and Arbolino in 6th. These positions remained the same for the final few laps.

After an eventful weekend, Gardner’s championship lead is reduced to nine points, but with Raul Fernandez on a roll can he keep his place at the top as we return to Misano?

First fifteen riders:

1              Raul Fernandez SPA – Red Bull KTM Ajo – 25 points

2              Fabio Di Giannantonio ITA – Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 – 20

3              Marco Bezzecchi ITA – SKY Racing Team VR46 – 16

4              Augusto Fernandez SPA – Elf Marc VDS Racing Team – 13

5              Cameron Beaubier USA – American Racing – 11

6              Tony Arbolino ITA – Liqui Moly Intact GP                – 10

7              Ai Ogura JPN – IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia – 9

8              Xavi Vierge SPA – Petronas Sprinta Racing – 8

9              Marcos Ramirez                SPA – American Racing – 7

10           Jake Dixon GBR – Petronas Sprinta Racing – 6

11           Aron Canet – SPA Inde Aspar Team – 5

12           Jorge Navarro SPA – MB Conveyors Speed Up – 4

13           Simone Corsi ITA – MV Agusta Forward Racing – 3

14           Somkiat Chantra THA – IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia – 2

15           Bo Bendsneyder NED – Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team – 1

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

 

Injured Fernandez claims fifth victory of 2021

Spain’s Raul Fernandez took the fifth win of his rookie Moto2 season, despite undergoing surgery during the week for a broken bone in his right hand after a training incident.

2021 MVDS team during the 2021 Season of World Motorcycle Championship 2021 race 13 GP of Aragon in Motorland de Aragon, Alcaniz Spain © 2021 mirco lazzari mircolazzari@yahoo.it

Round 13 of the 2021 Moto2 season took us to the Motorland circuit in Aragon, and the weight of expectation sat firmly on the shoulders of Britain’s Sam Lowes. Holder of several Moto2 track records including most wins, most pole starts, best race lap and all time lap record, plus winning here in 2020, history seemed set to repeat itself after he qualified in pole position.

But it wasn’t meant to be. Fernandez, starting from 3rd place on the grid, passed his teammate Remy Gardner on the first lap to move up into 2nd and on lap 2 passed Lowes to take the lead. Doubts lingered over whether Raul would be able to maintain the blistering pace, but he held on to first place for the remainder of the race, with Lowes remaining comfortably in second until crashing out at turn 7 on lap 13. Fernandez crossed the finish line over 7 seconds ahead of 2nd place Gardner.

2021 MVDS team during the 2021 Season of World Motorcycle Championship 2021 race 13 GP of Aragon in Motorland de Aragon, Alcaniz Spain © 2021 mirco lazzari mircolazzari@yahoo.it

Tyre options for the weekend were medium or supersoft, with the vast majority of the field opting for the latter. Tyre preservation was a concern, and potentially a factor in the high rate of attrition, with crashes including Dalla Porta on lap 8, Lowes on lap 13, Bezzecchi on lap 10, Bulega on lap 18 and Chantra on lap 19, all fortunately escaping uninjured.

Gardner found himself in a battle for 3rd with Ai Ogura and Hector Garzo; on lap 5 he managed to gain and hold onto the place, with Garzo crashing out shortly after. Ogura dropped back to 7th place after being passed by Aron Canet and Marco Bezzecchi, and eventually finished 8th, even despite Bezzecchi crashing out on the corkscrew on lap 10.

The fight for third place then raged between Jorge Navarro, Aron Canet & Augusto Fernandez, swapping back and forth, with Augusto finally crossing the line 1.5 seconds behind second place Gardner.

2021 MVDS team during the 2021 Season of World Motorcycle Championship 2021 race 13 GP of Aragon in Motorland de Aragon, Alcaniz Spain © 2021 mirco lazzari mircolazzari@yahoo.it

Next weekend takes us to the San Marino Grand Prix, with Gardner maintaining his lead at the top of the championship with 251 points, 39 points ahead of second place Raul Fernandez. This weekend’s non-finishes for Bezzecchi and Lowes mean that the gap is widening between the Red Bull KTM Ajo teammates and the rest of the championship, but with five rounds still to go, what further surprises lie in store?

First fifteen riders:

1              Raul Fernandez SPA – Red Bull KTM Ajo – 25 points

2              Remy Gardner AUS – Red Bull KTM Ajo – 20

3              Augusto Fernandez SPA – Elf Marc VDS Racing Team – 16

4              Jorge Navarro SPA – Lightech Speed Up – 13

5              Aron Canet SPA – Aspar Team Moto2 – 11

6              Fabio Di Giannantonio ITA – Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 – 10

7              Fermín Aldeguer SPA – +Ego Speed Up – 9

8              Ai Ogura JPN – IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia – 8

9              Tony Arbolino ITA Liqui Moly Intact GP – 7

10           Simone Corsi ITA – MV Agusta Forward Racing – 6

11           Marcel Schrotter GER – Liqui Moly Intact GP – 5

12           Marcos Ramirez                SPA – American Racing – 4

13           Joe Roberts USA – Italtrans Racing Team                – 3

14           Cameron Beaubier USA – American Racing – 2

15           Celestino Vietti ITA – SKY Racing Team VR46 – 1