Round 3 WorldSBK Estoril, Portugal, Race 2

The earlier Superpole race saw Rea (KRT Kawasaki), claim his first win of the weekend, followed by Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) and Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati).

WorldSBK Estoril 22.05.2022 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Lights out for race 2, and it’s Toprak with the hole shot, followed by Rea 2nd, Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) 3rd, Bautista 4th, Leucona (Honda HRC) 5th and Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) 6th. And then drama as light rain began to fall – would this have a bearing on the race?

Next lap, and Rea again showing good pace, takes over the lead from Toprak. His team mate, Lowes, was showing good early pace too and moved up into 5th, and then quickly into 4th moving through on Lecuona, setting a fastest lap of 1:37.222 in the process.

With 18 laps of 21 remaining, it was Lowes with another fastest lap this time 1:37.039, and moved past Bautista with a neat pass. Both the ZX10-RR machines were looking quick in the early stages of the race. Positions were as follows; 1. Rea 2. Razgatlioglu 3. Lowes 4. Bautista 5. Lecuona 6. Locatelli 7. Rinaldi 8. Vierge (Honda HRC) 9. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) 10. Redding (BMW Motorrad).

WorldSBK Estoril 22.05.2022 Lecuona Picture courtesy of Honda Racing Corporation

With 13 laps to go, a group of 4 riders had splintered away from the others, with Locatelli trailing by 2s back in 5th. Positions were as follows; 1. Rea 2. Toprak 3. Lowes 4. Bautista. The former then moves past Lowes to take 3rd. The good news was the earlier light rain had stopped, with the track remaining dry.

With 11 laps to go, as he had in race 1, Bautista was showing good late race pace, and used the top end grunt of the Ducati to overtake both Rea and Toprak down the straight and into turn 1, moving from 3rd into the lead. Meanwhile further back, Bassani was having a decent race and was now up to 7th.

Next lap, and Rea comes through on Bautista, after the Spaniard made a mistake running wide and missing the apex. Rea had gone with the softer tyre option, and it looked to be a valid choice, as the Irishman set a new fastest lap of 1:37.751.

WorldSBK Estoril 22.05.2022 Vierge Picture courtesy of Honda Racing Corporation

With 8 laps to go, Bautista again using the top end speed of the Ducati, powers past Rea to retake the lead into turn 1. Further back it was 10. Redding 12. Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) and 13. Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK).

With 6 laps to go, the leading group was now down to 3, as Lowes went off the track briefly, losing contact in the process. The win looked likely to be fought out amongst the leading group of Rea, Toprak and Bautista.

With 2 laps to go, it was the turn of Toprak to lose contact with Rea and Bautista, after the reigning champion made a mistake and ran wide, seemingly struggling with tyre grip again.

WorldSBK Estoril 22.05.2022 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Last lap, and Rea was all over the back of Bautista, he made his move into the chicane, cutting under the Ducati to take the lead. He held the slim gap into the final sector, and crossed the line to take his 2nd win of the day, and his 117 career win to date. 2nd Bautista, 3rd Toprak, 4th Lowes, 5th Locatelli, 6th Lecuona, 7th Bassani, 8th, Rinaldi, 9th Vierge.

Result top 5:

  1. Rea (KRT Kawasaki)
  2. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  4. Lowes (KRT Kawasaki)
  5. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 161 pts
  2. Rea – 144
  3. Razgatlioglu – 109

Round 3 WorldSBK Estoril, Portugal, Race 1

With the extended break, it was a welcome return to action back on track. The skies were grey and gloomy, but the racing was white hot. Rea (KRT Kawasaki) would claim the Superpole with a fastest lap of 1:35.346, followed by Razagatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) and Bautista (aruba.It Ducati) in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

WSBK Estoril Race 1 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Lights out and it was Razgatlioglu with the hole shot into turn 1 followed by Rea, Locatelli (Pata Yamaha), Bautista and Lowes (KRT Kawasaki). Mercado (MIE Racing Honda) crashed out, and his race was over.

With 20 laps to go, it was Toprak and Rea setting a very quick pace, and they were already pulling out a gap to the group of Locatelli and Bautista behind. Rea had gone with the harder tyre option and was able to match the pace of Toprak on the softer tyre, Rea setting a fastest lap of 1:36.258. Then drama into turn 6, Rea ran into the back of Toprak making contact with his rear tyre, but both riders were able to stay upright. The gap to Locatelli in 3rd was now at 1.0s.

With 18 laps to go Redding was again showing an improvement on the BMW, and was in 5th. Bautista used the top end speed of his Ducati to blast past Locatelli down the straight and took over 3rd. Meanwhile at the front both Toprak and Rea were still very much locked in battle, with only a gap of 0.5s between them.

With 16 laps to go, Razgatlioglu who was giving everything, ran too hot into turn 3, allowing Rea to come through and take the lead. Positions were as follows: 1. Rea 2. Razgatlioglu 3. Bautista 4. Locatelli 5. Redding (BMW Motorrad) 6. Lecuona (Honda HRC) 7. Vierge (Honda HRC) 8. Lowes.

With 14 laps to go Toprak out brakes Rea into turn 1 to retake the lead. Bautista was struggling to match the pace of the two at the front.

With 12 laps out of 21 remaining, it was now Rea who out braked Toprak again into turn 1, and took over the lead. Neither rider was giving an inch, and you felt the race win would be fought out between the two of them. Bautista had distanced Locatelli, and was having a lonely ride in 3rd. Meanwhile further back it was Laverty (Bonovo action BMW) in 13th and Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) in 14th.

Next lap, and Toprak retakes the lead, again it’s into turn 1. Bautista was 1.7s behind in 3rd.

WSBK Estoril Race 1 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Just over half race distance, and Rea responds yet again, retaking the lead again into turn 1. This was becoming one of the all time great battles between Rea and Toprak, with the lead changing virtually every lap. Meanwhile Bautista was finding good late race pace, and set a new fastest lap of 1:36.7. The Spaniard wasn’t out of contention for the race win yet.

Next lap and the battle between Toprak and Rea showed no sign of ending, and yes, you guessed it, Toprak retook the lead into turn 1, both riders leaving braking to the very latest possible into the corner.

With 8 laps of 21 remaining, Rea again stuffs his ZX10-RR under the Yamaha R1 of Toprak, again it’s turn 1, and he retakes the lead. This battle looked to be going down to the wire. Meanwhile further back there was a 3 way battle for 5th between Redding, and the Honda team mates of Lecuona and Vierge. Bautista however, had now closed the gap to Toprak to 1.0s.

Next lap and once again the lead changed hands, this time the reigning champion retakes the lead, again it’s turn 1. The constant battle between Rea and Toprak had allowed Bautista to catch them, and he was now 0.4s behind, and was looking to have managed his tyres well.

With 6 laps to go, Rea was pushing hard, and ran wide into turn 1, allowing Bautista to come past and into 2nd. The Spaniard now had Toprak in his sights, and was looking quick. Meanwhile further back, Lecuona had got past Redding, and was now in 5th.

With 4 laps to go, Toprak held a gap of 0.4s to Bautista. Rea looked to have completely lost tyre grip, and was losing contact with the two at the front. Meanwhile further back it was Lowes in 8th, Baz (Bonovo action BMW) 9th and Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati) in 10th.

With 2 laps remaining, Bautista was all over the back of Toprak and looking for the pass. The hard battle between Rea and Razgatlioglu had taken a toll on the tyres, and both of them were now struggling with limited grip in the closing stages of the race.

WSBK Estoril Race 1 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Last lap, and Toprak was desperately still trying to keep Bautista at bay. Into the final corner, and Bautista got the drive out of the corner to power past Toprak and pip him to the line. Toprak looked disgusted and shook his head, but Bautista had judged the race to perfection using all of his experience to claim the win. Top ten positions were as follows: 1. Bautista 2. Razgatlioglu 3. Rea 4. Locatelli 5. Vierge 6. Lecuona 7. Lowes 8. Redding 9. Rinaldi 10. Baz. If the Superpole race and race 2 are anything as exciting as this one, race fans are in for a treat.

Result Top 5:

  1. Bautista (aruba.it Ducati)
  2. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  3. Rea (KRT Kawasaki)
  4. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)
  5. Vierge (Honda HRC)

Top 3 championship:

  1. Bautista 134
  2. Rea 107
  3. Razgatlioglu 84

 

 

 

TOBC Triumph Wins 80th Daytona 200

The TOBC – Triumph racing team, supported by FreedomRoad Financing, powers Brandon Paasch to win the 80th Daytona 200.

Danny Paasch, winner 80th Daytona 200. Picture courtesy of Triumph Motorcycles

Brandon Paasch defends his title to win his second consecutive Daytona 200 on a Triumph Street Triple RS with the Triumph Street Triple RS setting fastest lap and Danny Eslick having the most overtakes of the race!

Coming off its first season of competition in the 2021 British Supersport Championship, the Triumph Street Triple RS wins its American debut at the World Center of Racing. The winning motorcycle was ridden by defending champion Brandon Paasch, who used his experience gained in the 2021 season with the Triumph Street Triple RS and his past success at the 200 to make the most of the 765 triple’s power around Daytona’s banking.

Paasch started P4 and made it a Triumph 1 – 2 across the stripe first time around, and confidently keeping with the lead pack for the duration of the race. The Triumph 765 triple engine didn’t break a sweat as it endured the 57 lap, 200 mile, race to keep Paasch in the sweet spot. Coming out of the final pit-stop Paasch found himself in fourth, and a couple seconds outside of the lead pack. To catch-up with the front three, putting himself in position for the win, Paasch set the fastest lap of the race at 1:49:959. On the final turn of the final lap, Paasch who was patiently waiting for his opportunity, twisted the throttle and trusted the draft and the triple Triumph engine to power him to the win by 0.007 of a second at the chequers.

80th Daytona 200. Picture courtesy of Triumph Motorcycles

Danny Eslick, who started P8, left the grid with a terrific start, and led the race by the end of the first lap. From there Eslick ran with the lead pack until the red flag. Mid-race, as a result of fighting the high-winds and spending a good amount of the race without the benefit of a draft, Eslick lost ground and his race-lead as he drifted into the pits on fumes. Coming out of the pit, Eslick was able to re-gain significant ground, ending the race with a 6th place finish.

Jeremy Appleton – Global Racing Manager, Triumph Motorcycles: “The Street Triple RS proved its performance and reliability credentials with the win today. The unique nature of Daytona, with its long, high-speed banking and tight in-field showed our bike’s speed and handling abilities in Brandon’s capable hands. He had the race pace, race craft and great maturity today and this win was richly deserved. Danny also showed his class throughout the race and would, undoubtedly, have been right there at the end had the windy conditions running without a draft not slowed him on pit-road. On top of the performance from Brandon and Danny, the preparation, ability, and professionalism of the TOBC racing team cannot be over-stated. The effort and attention to detail that Michelle and her whole crew put into the build-up and execution of the race is a great example of single-minded dedication to winning. With the support of FreedomRoad Financial and all the team partners, Triumph is celebrating the biggest race win for the Street Triple RS to date.

Michelle Lindsay – TOBC racing owner: “After the 2018 season, I wasn’t sure we’d be back at the top of the podium again. To win the Daytona 200 on our first race with Triumph is more than I could have ever asked for. I’m proud of Brandon and Danny for their performances today, and very thankful for Triumph Motorcycles and FreedomRoad Financial for helping us even get back on the grid, Boulder Motorsports for helping to build a winning motorcycle. I’m also extremely proud to have such an amazing group of individuals working in my team. Their dedication and work ethic towards getting the 765 on the podium are unparalleled. This win is truly a team effort, and we couldn’t have brought this great crew back together if it wasn’t for the support from our key sponsors Politus & Matovina P.A. Attorneys, Palm Beach Police and Fire Foundation, Jay Geeker Studios, Pirelli, and K-Tech.”

Brandon Paasch – 2021 & 2022 Daytona 200 Winner: “We did it!!! It’s unbelievably surreal to be a 2-time Daytona 200 winner, but I can’t say this race didn’t play out exactly as I imagined it. After last year’s win, I knew I had a winning strategy, and after a full season on the Street Triple RS, I had complete confidence in the bike and in the preparation of the TOBC racing team, to execute it. I’m thankful for FreedomRoad Financial for helping to make this race effort possible, and for the continued support from the Classic Car Club of Manhattan, Evolve GT, and Luxe Star, and am looking forward to celebrating with the team.”

80th Daytona 200. Picture courtesy of Triumph Motorcycles

Danny Eslick – 4-time Daytona 200 Winner: “Today was tough. A couple things didn’t go my way, which kept me off the podium. Thanks to Triumph, FreedomRoad Financial, and TOBC racing, all of the right elements were here for the win. The bike and the team have all the right pieces for success. I’ll just have to wait a year to snag my 5th win.”

Content courtesy of Triumph Motorcycles

 

The Ducati Lenovo Team concludes MotoGP pre-season testing at Sepang

In the latest press release from the Ducati Lenovo Team, they have concluded MotoGP pre-season testing at Sepang with Bagnaia sixth and Miller fourteenth. Enea Bastianini is the fastest (new unofficial Sepang record) with the Desmosedici GP bike of the Gresini Racing team.

Pecco Bagnaia Testing Sepang Feb 2022 Picture courtesy of The Ducati Lenovo Team

Francesco Bagnaia and Jack Miller concluded the first MotoGP pre-season test of 2022 at Sepang International Circuit (Malaysia). Over the two days, the Ducati Lenovo Team riders could lap again at the Malaysian track (which had been absent from the MotoGP calendar for the past two years) with their Desmosedici GP bikes in 2022 configuration.Despite the scorching temperatures, the Borgo Panigale team’s riders found good conditions to ride, except for the last few hours of the second day, which were disturbed by rain. During the Sepang test, both Bagnaia and Miller continued the testing program they began last November in Spain, at Jerez de la Frontera, testing the new solutions developed by the Ducati Corse engineers over the winter.With 110 laps under his belt and a best time of 1:58.265, Pecco closed the test in sixth position, while Jack, who completed 92 laps, finished fourteenth with a best time of 1:58.645, 380 thousandths behind his teammate. Enea Bastianini topped the Sepang test with the Ducati Desmosedici GP of the Gresini Racing team, thanks to a lap in 1:58.131, 172 thousandths faster than the current circuit record.After these first two days on track for 2022, the Ducati Lenovo Team riders will have another three days of testing next weekend. From 11th-13th February, MotoGP will make its debut at the brand new Mandalika Street Circuit in Lombok, Indonesia, for the final official test before the season opener scheduled on 6th March in Qatar.Francesco Bagnaia (#63 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 1:58.265 (6th):“I am happy with how this second day of testing went. We are definitely not at the level I aim for yet, but I know we will get there soon. In just two days of working with the new bike, we have taken a big step forward, and with each session, we continued to improve. Now we have to keep working in this direction to be ready for the start of the Championship. These days, I did not concentrate on finding the best time. My priority now is to work on developing the bike, which has shown to have really great potential. I am satisfied and can’t wait to get on track for another three days of testing next week in Indonesia.”

Jack Miller Testing Sepang Feb 2022 Picture courtesy of The Ducati Lenovo Team

Jack Miller (#43 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 1:58.645 (14th):“Thanks to the data we gathered on the first day, we were able to take a big step forward today, and I also felt more comfortable on the bike. Unfortunately, we missed the afternoon because of the rain, but we could still carry out most of our program. I have been busy testing some new components, and maybe if we had pushed harder, we could have been even faster, but we are still not far off the front. In general, I’m satisfied with these first two days of work, and I can’t wait to get back on track in a few days at Mandalika.”

 

Yamaha Outlines Test Plan Ahead of 2022 WorldSBK Season

Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK’s pre-season preparations get underway this week at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, serving as the first of four tests for reigning WorldSBK Champion Toprak Razgatlıoğlu and last year’s rookie sensation Andrea Locatelli to gear up for the 2022 FIM Superbike World Championship. Here’s what Yamaha have to say:

Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK’s pre-season testing Picture courtesy of Yamaha Racing

Returning to the track for the first time since claiming the WorldSBK “Triple Crown” in Indonesia, the team is unloading its Yamaha R1 WorldSBK bikes in Portugal today to set up for two days of running on 8-9 February. Acting as a first shakedown for the upcoming season, the Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK squad and Yamaha staff will evaluate 2022 technical updates, both mechanical and electronic, with their focus on development confirmations rather than outright performance.

Razgatlıoğlu and Locatelli will then be back in action at a private MotorLand Aragon test on 3-4 March, alongside the GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team who will complete their first outing of 2022 with riders Garrett Gerloff and Kohta Nozane.

The target for Aragon will be to re-confirm the development plan completed over the winter and find a strong base set-up at a track that hasn’t often played to the Yamaha R1 WorldSBK’s strengths. It will also be a key opportunity for “rookie-no-more” Locatelli to ride at Aragon again, this time with a lot more experience, four podiums and a plethora of top-five results since his debut at the circuit in 2021.

March weather can be unpredictable in the Teruel region, so Misano (16-17 March), where GRT Yamaha is set to continue its pre-season preparations, has also been penciled in as a back-up option for the championship-winning Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK crew.

Then it’s back to Spain to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, where both Yamaha teams will officially unveil their colours for the 2022 season. Fans will also be excited to see Razgatlıoğlu take to the track with the coveted #1 on his Yamaha R1 WorldSBK for the first time from 25-26 March! But most importantly, both teams will look to finalise their full race packages with just a week to spare prior to the WorldSBK Official Test at Aragon on 4-5 April. These two tests will also give Yamaha a chance to square up the competition before the first races of the season.

Finally, Yamaha and the Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK team will begin its much-awaited title defense campaign at the opening round of the 2022 FIM Superbike World Championship at MotorLand Aragon from 8-10 April.

Pre-Season Test Dates:

Portimão – 8-9 February (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK only)

Aragon – 3-4 March

Misano – 16-17 March (GRT Yamaha only – back-up option for Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK)

Barcelona-Catalunya – 25-26 March

Aragon – Official WorldSBK Test – 4-5 April

Red Hot Tracks This Season

The action on track was red hot last season, and most of the drama played out on some of the best tracks in the world. I’ve made a short list of my favourite tracks WorldSBK will be visiting this year, and a couple of reasons why I think so, and also who I will be tipping to take the win this year. What are your favourite tracks? We would love to hear via our social media channels.

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

Donington Park – Great Britain ( Round 5 ) 15,16,17 July

  • Last years winner race 1: Toprak Razgatlioglu
  • This years winner race 1: Jonathan Rea ???
  • Circuit favours which bike? – Yamaha / Ducati

A staple on the WorldSBK calendar for many years, Donington Park is one of the classic British race tracks, also one of the oldest, being in operation since the 1930’s. It always produces close racing, with its mix of long sweeping corners, changes in elevation and also a handful of sharp, hard braking corners. It was also home to the British round of MotoGP, until being moved to Silverstone where it is currently held.

Jonathan Rea had a nightmare of a round last season, going off-road down the Craner Curves and crashing out later on. Toprak Razgatlioglu took full advantage of Rea’s misfortune, and scooped the race 1 win. I have a feeling Rea will be looking for retribution this year, and hopefully Kawasaki will have addressed the problems which plagued Rea last season, especially the nervous front end of the ZX10-RR. Rea however, will have his hands full keeping both the Yamaha’s and Ducati’s at bay.

Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Assen – Netherlands ( Round 2 ) 22,23,24 April

  • Last years winner race 1: Jonathan Rea
  • This years winner race 1: Toprak Razgatlioglu ???
  • Circuit favours which bike? Yamaha

Another classic track, and one which many of the riders like. A fast, flowing track, with plenty of high speed sweeping corners, and also providing one of the best atmospheres, with the Dutch fans providing loads of noisy support. Toprak was unfortunately rammed into by Garrett Gerloff last year, sending the Turkish rider down, who was understandably furious after the race. And as Toprak had done in Donington, it was the turn of Rea to gladly snap up the win in race 1, going on to claim a clean sweep of wins in Assen.

It is a track which definitely suits the agile, smooth turning attributes of the Yamaha, and Toprak will no doubt be keen to right the wrong afflicted to him last season.

Race 2 Jerez Scott Redding and Toprak Razgatlioglu Picture courtesy of Aruba.it Ducati

Portimao – Algarve, Portugal ( Round 9 ) 7,8,9 October

  • Last years winner race 1: Toprak Razgatlioglu
  • This years winner race 1: Toprak Razgatlioglu ??? 
  • Circuit favours which bike? Yamaha

If a track regularly gets described as a “rollercoaster” even someone who has no interest in racing will have some idea of what is meant. The architect who came up with the plans for Portimao, one Ricardo Pina, is an absolute genius. One of the most exciting, and dramatic race tracks ever constructed, Portimao has it all. Changes in elevation and camber, fast sweeping corners, entries into blind corners, and bikes flying over the tops of hills. Something the Australian Jack Miller demonstrated for us all, as he “bunny hoped” his MotoGP Ducati over the crest of one of the most scary corners on the track last season in MotoGP.

Jonathan Rea had a terrifying crash into one of the fastest corners last season, and amazingly was able to walk away unhurt. It provided a great race however, and was voted by Eurosport as the race of the season. Toprak was the man for the occasion and scooped the win for race 1. Scott Redding kept the Yamaha rider honest for much of the race, and the Ducati definitely had the pace to match the Yamaha over the sweeping corners.

I can see Toprak taking the win again this coming season, with perhaps pressure from Alvaro Bautista on the Ducati, or maybe from one of the young guns on the Honda, Iker Lecuona maybe?

Alvaro Bautista and Scott Redding at Aragon Round 4 WSBK 2020. Image courtesy of Honda Racing

Phillip Island, Australia ( Round 12 TBA )

  • Last years winner: N/A
  • This years winner: Alvaro Bautista ???
  • Circuit favours which bike? Ducati / Yamaha

With no racing in Australia for the past two years due to the Covid pandemic, everyone including fans will be desperate to see a return of racing to this iconic race track. No exact dates have yet been decided, but we hope we’ll see racing there some time in late November.

Another track with high speed, sweeping corners and dramatic vistas, Phillip Island has been the scene of some of the best motorcycle races of all time. Alvaro Bautista had an amazing start to his WorldSBK career back in 2019, and really lay down the challenge to the reigning champion, Jonathan Rea. Alvaro on the Ducati was really quick that season, and secured a couple of impressive wins early on in the season, including here at Phillip Island.

I think being reunited with the Ducati this season will be really good for Alvaro, and I can see him claiming a win here at Phillip Island, using all the power, and top end speed of the Ducati.

All in all, this is hopefully going to be another exciting and dramatic season of racing, and we cannot wait for the season opener in Aragon in April.

Get in touch with us, and let us know what you think will be the most exciting races in 2022.

 

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

 

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

 

Faultless Fabio tops an incredible year by taking the championship in Misano

Quartararo

After a 2020 campaign which promised to be so much more for Fabio Quartararo, the Frenchman showed exactly why he is a star of both the present and the future in 2021.

At the beginning of the 2020 season it looked like Quartararo was on course to dominate the entire year. But after a strong start the then SRT rider faded away as the rounds went on and Joan Mir took the crown.

But this year there was no doubting the Frenchman to take the title as he entered the paddock in Yamaha’s factory outfit with a fresh outlook on what was ahead of him. With two rounds still remaining in 2021, Quartararo currently has five race wins including 10 podiums to his name this year. Only six times in 16 races has he finished outside of the top three in the current campaign.

The title fight looked like it would be heading to Portimao as Pecco Bagnaia was set to take the victory in the Emilia Romagna GP but after crashing out with only a few laps remaining, Quartararo’s glory was confirmed.

After the race, the new World Champion said he is in disbelief at becoming France’s first premier-class title winner.

“I still can’t believe it! I can’t even talk, it feels amazing,” he said in a Yamaha press release.

“Maybe later I can talk a bit more. Right now, I’m living the dream! It feels good to also have my family with me, and we will enjoy this a lot tonight and until the end of the season.

“Of course this was not the way I wanted Pecco (Bagnaia’s) weekend to end, but I’m happy he’s okay. Now we are the World Champion.

“I have no words and I have no more liquid left in my body to cry. It feels so good, but I can’t even describe what I’m feeling right now.”

Quartararo
Credit: Yamaha MotoGP

But it wasn’t an easy task to clinch the championship in Misano. Wet weather in qualifying disrupted the Yamaha rider’s pace which saw him start the race down in 15th.

A cool and controlled charge through the pack however put the 22-year-old right where he needed to be when Bagnaia crashed out. Quartararo was tantalizingly close to making it the perfect finish with a podium position, but tyre wear and a charging Enea Bastianini ultimately led to him ending fourth.

But at the end of the top-three’s celebrations, the Frenchman took to the podium stand with his family in an emotional celebration.

“To be on the podium with a big part of my family and my family from the circuit – I have no words,” he said.

“MotoGP has been going on for quite a long time. To be the first Frenchman to win it is amazing. I’m also happy for Yamaha because they haven’t won a title since 2015, and today we won it again.

“It’s an amazing feeling!”

A truly deserving winner of the MotoGP Championship after what has been an impeccable year for Quartararo. All eyes will now be on 2022 to see if he can defend the crown.

Quartararo remains cautious, Bagnaia going for the win in Misano

Quartararo

The two championship rivals, Fabio Quartararo and Pecco Bagnaia, have both gave differing opinions on how they will approach this weekend.

Heading into the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Quartararo holds a 52-point lead in the Riders’ Standings.

With just two rounds remaining after this weekend, which means just 50 more points will be up for grabs, this is the first ‘match point’ the Frenchman has at claiming the title.

Fabio Quartararo, Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP

But the Yamaha rider has said his mindset has changed since his second place result last time out in Austin and will be smart about how he rides this weekend.

“Austin was really tough but rewarding,” he said in a Yamaha press release.

“That second place was great for the championship, especially because we only have three GPs left.

“For this final part of the competition my mindset has changed a little. The last time we were in Misano, I was racing for the win and not thinking about the championship at all.

“Of course I will still do my best as always to get the best result possible this weekend, because that’s what I enjoy most, but I will try to be smart about it.”

When the MotoGP paddock headed to Misano just over a month ago for Round 14, Quartararo was beaten to the line by championship rival Pecco Bagnaia.

The Italian rider will need to be on the same form this weekend if he is to have any chance of winning this year’s championship.

The aim of the VR|46 Academy is to produce a premier class champion. Francesco Bagnaia Credit: Ducati Corse

Bagnaia has said the objective is clear this weekend, to win the race and keep the fight going to Portimao.

“To be back racing at Misano after the stunning victory that I took here in front of my home crowd a month ago is definitely very exciting,” he said.

“That weekend everything was perfect, and the two days of post-race testing were very positive for us. Nevertheless, we have to stay focused: our rivals will come to this Grand Prix much better prepared, and the track conditions will be different, with lower track temperatures than a month ago.

“It will be essential to work well from the first sessions. The objective will be to fight for the win and keep the Championship open until the end.”

©2017 The Pitcrewonline