BSB Day at Motorcycle Live was a great time for Lee Hardy Racing to announce their plans for 2023, with the unveiling of Bradley Perie.
A successful 2022 season in British Supersport 600 saw Appleyard Macadam Racing Yamaha’s, Perie take no less than 7 wins against a dominant Mar-Train Yamaha rider, Jack Kennedy. Kennedy went on the clinch the title by 9th round at Oulton Park then stepped up to complete the rest of the season in Superbikes to get a head start on 2023. Perie secured the runner up position in convincing style over nearest competitor and teammate, Harry Truelove.
Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda could be said for the 4 DNF’s in 2022 as without those, Brad would have been well on for the championship trophy and could have challenged Kennedy to the final flag, but as they say “if my Aunt had balls, she would be my Uncle” yada yada yada.
Clearly seeing the potential in the young Lancashire based rider, Lee Hardy Racing have signed Perie to step up to the series and make his debut under the teams push for a younger rider in a so called “youth movement”.
There seems to be a push from some of the BSB teams to start the process of finding the next wave of British Superbike stars. In 2022 Lee Hardy was partnered with Leon Haslam who runs the Affinity Sports Academy, which is dedicating itself to aiding the movement, training and bringing through of new talent. However, after what can only be described as a frustrating year for the team, a new plan of attack for 2023 has been laid and Perie is at the forefront of the team’s plans.
It looks like the team has an option for 2024 too in their contract with Perie, but that is only hinted at in the statement below from Lee Hardy. Nothing has been confirmed as to the length of the contract, but no doubt will become clear in time.
Perie said: – “I’m grateful and excited to be making my debut Superbike season with the renowned Lee Hardy Racing team, onboard the proven Kawasaki ZX-10RR along with the Team Green family. It’s a dream come true so I can’t wait to get the ball rolling with the first test in 2023.”
Lee Hardy, Team Principal said: – “I’m very excited to announce our new signing Bradley and particularly keen to secure Bradley for not only 2023, but it’s also important to retain Bradley for a second season. This opportunity will give Bradley a stable situation to learn the Kawasaki ZX-10RR Superbike without the pressure of having to try to succeed in year one.
“Bradley is a complete rookie to the Superbike championship however he has shown me great potential and certainly is a rider that has caught my eye. It is so nice to revert back to the roots of Lee Hardy Racing and give young talent an opportunity to develop and hopefully succeed within BSB.
“There are many things you need to consider as a team owner when you are looking at a new venture, one thing that definitely helped me make my decision was the opening up of the Spanish testing again. This is a great opportunity for Bradley to throw his leg over the 2023 Kawasaki ZX-10RR and complete many laps in a relaxed environment, it’s not just about learning the bike, this will also give Bradley the chance to understand his new crew and get comfortable working with a new team.”
Ross Burridge, Head of Marketing & Racing Department at Kawasaki UK commented: –“Lee runs a great outfit that has not just lots of experience with the ZX-10RR machine but also with developing young talent, almost taking Jake Dixon to Championship glory in 2018.
“We have every faith that Bradley and the team will click from the off, and maximum effort will be put in from all sides to ensure a smooth and successful transition from Supersport to Superbike for Bradley. It’s important that teams start to give young up-and-coming riders a chance in Superbike, and with Lee doing just that, we are right behind him.”
Looking back at the weekends BSB action from Brands Hatch, the first thing coming to my mind is what a dominant performance from the McAMS Yamaha squad! Jason O’Halloran having taken one race victory and 2 x second places while Tarran Mackenzie opposed Jason with a second place and then 2 x victories. It was plain to see prior to the races the McAMS team had serious race pace after practice and qualifying but I for one hoped for a challenge from the other manufacturers would be forthcoming to mix things up. It wasn’t a disappointment to see Yamaha dominate proceedings, but it’s always fun when we have different bikes battling over wins.
Mackenzie seemed relaxed and in really good spirits before the start of Race 1 on the Saturday. Even joking with Eurosport on the grid about how his lack of traction control on the BSB spec Yamaha had nearly high sided him to Kent! Happy to be further up and hoping to have taken another little step towards full fitness after his extra round run out at Donington Park. Tarran certainly had ambitions towards the front of the pack and climbing back towards the showdown positions.
MCE PBM Ducati rider, Josh Brookes, was optimistic saying the team and himself were focused on making progress with the bike. Landing on the podium would be a big step for the team and the Panigale V4.
Honda Racings’ Glenn Irwin was feeling good after a strong round at Knockhill and a good test at Donington Park, but noted that all four of the Honda riders were complaining of the same issues. Glenn had gone radical on some new settings on the CBR1000RR including reverting back to the standard Honda swinging arm. Acknowledging that Honda go well at the Brands round but not especially in the Superbike category, Glenn was hoping for a run of solid top 10 finishes. Unfortunately, not to be the case for Glenn in race 1 as he lost the front end into the Druids hairpin on lap 1, thus ending his Saturday much earlier than expected.
Brad Ray was happy on the grid. Acknowledging it was his first front row start at his home circuit in the Superbike category, Brad was very much aware of the pace the McAMS Yamaha team had in their pockets. A lot was said in not so many words “I just hope we can stick it to the McAMS boys!”
Jason O’Halloran’s plan was simple enough. Go and win!
Race 1 was an expected battle between the Yamaha riders with O’Halloran, Ray and Mackenzie within a second of each other for most of the race but the surprise addition to the party was Tommy Bridewell on the Oxford Products Ducati Panigale. Ray and Mackenzie squabbled over second place, lap after lap which allowed O’Halloran to stretch his lead to a hand full of bike lengths. Bridewell made his way forward from his starting position of 4th, having frequented the podium at Brands in 2021, it was all looking goodfor Bridewell before finding himself held behind Kyle Ryde for a handful of laps.
A chasing pack of Haslam, Jackson, Iddon and Vickers sat in behind and held on to the pace as the laps counted down with Brookes further back in a lonely 7th place. Bridewell continued his charge eventually passing Ryde and bridging the gap to the front running Yamahas, joining in the fight for race victory and the podium positions. It would seem though Bridewell had used a lot of tyre passing Ryde and then racing to join front pack, eventually finding himself in second place in front of Mackenzie and Ray after a flurry of position exchanges and a bit of a moment from Mackenzie where he seemed to miss a gear coming out of Surtees. Mackenzie wasn’t to be beaten to second though and after some very exciting racing, we rounded the final curve with O’Halloran followed by Mackenzie, Bridewell and Ray.
Race 2 lines up slightly different due to the race results of the previous day.
Mackenzie on pole from Bridewell, Ray, O’Halloran, Haslam, Jackson, Ryde, Brookes, Skinner and Vickers. Vickers who managed a fastest lap inside the top 10 even with a race 1 crash, goes on to crash in race 2 which makes it his 7th crash in 9 races. Vickers was linked with the PBM Ducati team mid-season 2021 for a 2022 ride prior to the team deciding to go with Josh Brookes and Tom Sykes instead.
Glenn Irwin lines up in 17th after his first lap crash from Saturday’s race. Lap 1 incidents are again present for Glenn after having to take avoiding action when brother, Andy Irwin clips Peter Hickman causing a crash for the Synetiq BMW and running both Peter and Glenn off the track and leaving a mountain to climb for both the BMW and Honda riders.
Another strange incident involved Lee Jackson when he slipped off on lap 4 with Christian Iddon seeming to crash in sympathy directly behind him, with perhaps a momentary distraction upsetting the apple cart for the Buildbase Suzuki rider following the FS3 Kawasaki off the tarmac. Josh Brookes then went on to DNF in a very similar crash to that of Lee Jackson on lap 7.
A mega fight back from Glenn Irwin put him in 10th for race 2. A strong performance from this year’s reigning champion, Tarran Mackenzie ended with himself back on to the podium, ultimately taking the win over his McAMS teammate, Jason O’Halloran followed by another solid podium from Tommy Bridewell.
After this result, the championship lead swings in favour of Jason O’Halloran after a very strong couple of rounds from the Australian.
Race 3 went on to start very positively for both Ray and Mackenzie. Josh Brookes cemented his weekend to forget for him and the MCE Ducati team with a lap one crash (interestingly Tom Sykes was also wheeled off the grid and subsequently couldn’t start the race); while Glenn Irwin clearly had a point to prove with his up the inside move at Paddock Hill Bend to take the lead of the race on lap 3.
The Yamaha’s spent a few laps squabbling over second place as Ray and O’Halloran exchanged overtakes but a move from Ray on Irwin ultimately handed O’Halloran the place back when Ray ran wide trying to complete the move. The interruption to Irwin’s rhythm led to a loss of 2 places in the space of a few corners which left him in third behind Mackenzie where he ultimately went on to finish. A very positive ending to a difficult weekend for Glenn but Brands has always been a bit of a bogey track for the Honda man.
Bridewell had another solid and very positive run overtaking Ray for 4th place (only to be pipped back by Ray before the finish line), while Mackenzie went on to overtake his teammate for the lead on lap 15. O’Halloran wasn’t up for settling, and lined up a run into the last corner to, and snatch the lead from, Mackenzie on the final lap but in true Hopper v Hill and very typical of Brands, O’Show got the move done, up the inside of Mackenzie under braking, but ran wide allowing Mackenzie to cut back and out drag Jason to the line to take the final race win of the weekend.
This Racing Armchair predicted Tarran could easily be into the showdown positions after a good show at Brands, unfortunately this performance has come at the expense of Josh Brookes whom has slipped from the showdown spots to 11th after his double DNF.
My positive of the weekend has to be Tarran Mackenzie proving he can come off a round of World Superbikes, riding on different electronics and fall back into BSB winning races. That is a massive warning shot across the bow of the other riders in the series. They have had a little break from Tarran while he worked on recovering and coming back to being fully fit. I think like busses, we have waited for one and now twelve could come at once and I think Tarran will go on now to post a series of wins. No stranger to coming from behind to win in the showdown, as he did in 2021, Tarran has laid down a glove to his competition and especially his team mate. Watch this space.
My negative is twofold. It was so nice to see Brookes smiling on the grid of race 1. The series needs people like Josh. Never afraid to speak his mind and not always playing the corporate man, Josh is still a breath of fresh air in the paddock so to see a double DNF was pretty soul destroying for me and will no doubt harm any confidence built up in the last few weeks. This links back to a story I wrote a few weeks ago about the position the Panigale finds itself in where every other manufacturer seems to have bridged the gap to the Ducati and ultimately has dismissed any obvious advantage the Panigale once had. So much so that when Tom Sykes didn’t start race 3, he didn’t seem particularly bothered. He seemed more relieved that he didn’t have to go and wrestle a result from the Panigale V4 but thatis just my observation. Perhaps it’s just the usually level headed, pragmatic Yorkshireman not letting a dismal continuation of his first season back in BSB get under his skin. I’m sure Tom will click with the Duke soon enough.
My second negative is one of disappointment for Danny Buchan. The Synetiq BMW rider has had strong finishes at Brands Hatch in the past but this weekend it wasn’t to be. DNF, 15th and a 13th certainly aren’t the results Danny, or the team would want. This weekend’s results at Brands have dropped Buchan (as in the case of Brookes) out of the showdown at the hands of Hickman and Mackenzie.
A three week break to Thruxton should give some riders time to come down to earth again and also allows other riders to pick themselves up, dust themselves down and remember they’re all part of the best national championship on the planet!
P.S Josh, if you fancy a pint send me a DM. No one gives better advice than The Racing Armchair!
KRT’s WorldSBK pairing of Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes are eager to get back into testing action at the undulating Autódromo Internacional do Algarve for a two-day track session on 8 and 9 February. Here’s what KRT have to say:
After two winter tests at the Spanish circuit of Jerez, utilising new parts and settings for the 2022 Ninja ZX-10RR, the forthcoming on-track action in Portugal will be useful to make comparisons with all the data gathered so far at a very different circuit design.
After posting some astounding lap times, despite only riding for half a day in the previous Jerez test in January, six times world champion Rea has already demonstrated his sheer pace on the 2022 Ninja ZX-10RR. He also had the opportunity to complete a long run on which delivered pleasing results and valuable information to his team; information which has already been fed back to the KMC engineers in Japan.
Lowes has been working hard on his physical conditioning after a 2021 season affected by injury throughout. Like Rea, he has also found the two post-2021 season winter tests held so far confidence-building and useful in terms of settling on a final direction for race set-up in 2022.
The 4.592km long Algarve circuit – commonly know as Portimao – is a very popular testing and racing venue and features some of the most dramatic changes of incline and highest numbers of blind corner entries of any circuit on the WorldSBK calendar. It is scheduled as the ninth round of the forthcoming season, between 7-9 October.
After this Portimao test the team should have all the data in requires to make any adjustments and improvements before the next KRT test at Montmelo in Catalunya on March 25 and 26.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “It is nice to get back on the bike, especially at Portimao, which a track I enjoy. After our shakedown test recently in Jerez our biggest target is to reconfirm the positive items we have tested during December and January. That will give us good info, because if we can confirm these items at a couple of circuits, it means we are on the right way. The idea is just to keep building the package. I feel we have definitely improved the bike since last year. I was able to make a long run in Jerez and we found some positives with the bike and my riding style, so it is important to try and maybe focus on getting some information on how the tyres behave and the new items after many laps. Hopefully the weather is consistent and we can continue to build the package to start the season. There will also be more bikes on track at Portimao and a lot of the key manufacturers will be there testing. This is the first real test where everyone is together – which is always nice to draw some comparisons.”
Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “The recent Jerez test for me was very much a technical test, ticking off new parts. My crew chief Marcel is very technical so I had new stuff to try – just trying to analyse what is definitely better. Portimao is a track that I have always had a good feeling with on the Kawasaki and we have a good base set-up with our 2021 bike. So, to compare new parts will be quite good, because we already have a good feeling. If we can improve that with the new stuff then it should set us up well for the year. Trying stuff at two different tracks means that if it is positive at both tracks then you are a lot more confident committing to that base set-up going into a new season. It is going to be a busy test! I would like to ride as much as possible just to get back into it. I have been working really hard on my physical condition since the end of the season. That has been the biggest focus of mine because I know if I am going to be healthy it is going to make the biggest difference, no matter what changes we make on the bike. We will make a plan with Marcel in terms of how many days we are going to ride. After this test we have a big break so we are really going to have to be clear with the feedback to all the guys in Japan, and to all the engineers within the teams, so we can work hard in the break before the Montmelo test at the end of March. Portimao will be an important test and I am looking forward to getting out and seeing where we are compared to a few of our rivals.”
Guim Roda (KRT Team Manager): “Initially we didn’t have a plan to test in Portimao, because we were considering to make a test in the middle of the year. But, because we had a few points to check on the bike, we would like to compare them on different tracks. Portimao and Jerez are quite different. Also, we have a gap of one month to keep working before the next Montmelo test, ten days before the first race of the year. So, we considered this opportunity at Portimao was a good point to test again. So we joined with Ducati, who had rented the track, to make this test. For us, this is a kind of continuation of the items we tested at Jerez, to double check and confirm the direction of the bike set-up and the performance of the items we have received so far. We will do this so that we can have the best possible bike set-up, in combination with the riders.”
In World Superbike news Chaz Davies is to be the Riders’ Coach for the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Team.
Chaz Davies coach for Aruba.it Racing – Picture courtesy of Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Team
Chaz Davies will remain part of the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati family and will take on the role of Coach, putting his experience and talent at the disposal of Alvaro Bautista, Michael Rinaldi and Nicolò Bulega who – in the 2022 season – will make his debut in the Supersport World Championship riding the Ducati Panigale V2 of the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati WSSP Team.
The Welsh rider will start a new adventure that will allow him to be at the centre of the action again after 8 campaigns (6 with the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team), 266 races, 28 victories and 89 podiums gained with a Ducati machine in the World Superbike Championship.
Stefano Cecconi (Team Principal, Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) says:
“We are happy to be able to count on Chaz again, albeit in a new role both for him and for our team. His experience will certainly be of great help to our riders, allowing them to express their full potential. His contribution to the SuperSport project will also be fundamental for both Nicolò Bulega and the team, as the Panigale V2 has the DNA of the twin-cylinder Superbikes on which Chaz has achieved outstanding results over the past years”.
Chaz Davies (Riders’ Coach, Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) says:
“I’m absolutely thrilled to remain part of the racing world and especially with the Aruba.it – Ducati family, with whom I enjoyed the best years of my racing career. It will be an interesting perspective to see the action from ‘the other side of the fence’! I believe that with my seven years of experience as an official Ducati rider and knowledge of both the Ducati V2 and V4 bikes I am well equipped to contribute to the future success of the team. We have excellent riders for the 2022 SBK/WSS campaigns and I will give everything I can to maximise their potential. I want to thank Stefano Cecconi, Feel Racing and Ducati for this opportunity and can’t wait to get started!”
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Toprak Razgatlioglu took victory in Race one of the Argentinian round of WorldSBK.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Toprak Razgatlioglu claimed victory in Race One in Portimao after a thrilling race.
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.
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.
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.