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

Round 7 WorldSBK Navarra, Spain, Race 2

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

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WSBK Navarra 22.08.2021
Picture courtesy of Ducati Racing

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

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

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

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

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

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WSBK Navarra 22.08.2021
Picture courtesy of Ducati Racing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WSBK Navarra 22.08.2021
Picture courtesy of Ducati Racing

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

Result top 5:

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

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

Championship top 3:

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

 

 

Round 7 WorldSBK Navarra, Spain, Race 1

Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) made it 7 consecutive pole positions, in a first visit to Navarra. Track conditions were dry and hot for the start of the race, with a lot of the grid choosing different tyre options.

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Picture courtesy of https://wsbk.hondaracingcorporation.com/

Lights out and it was Redding (Aruba.it Ducati) who got the hole shot. Rea in pursuit, followed by 3rd Locatelli (Pata Yamaha), 4th Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team), and 5th Sykes (BMW Motorrad).

Rea cuts across Redding and takes the lead. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) was making great progress from a grid position of 8th, and now worked his way up to 4th getting past Lowes. Rea held a gap of 0.6 to Redding, and the two of them were beginning to pull a gap out to Locatelli in 3rd.

The Honda team mates of Bautista and Haslam were struggling again and found themselves in 10th and 14th places respectively. Other notable names included 7th Davies (GoEleven Ducati), 9th V d Mark (BMW Motorrad), and 15th Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team).

On lap 3 and Rea was putting the hammer down, setting a fastest lap of 1:37:351, the gap to Redding now at 0.4 although the Ducati rider seemed to have it all in hand and was keeping up with the pace of Rea.

There was a coming together of two riders on lap 4 in turn 3, Ponsson (Yamaha, and Mercado (Honda), the latter retiring from the race.

Lap 5 and the gap from 2nd to 3rd was now at 1.7 and growing fast. Razgatlioglu in 4th knew he’d have to get past his team mate in 3rd soon to have any chance to try catch the two riders up front.

Lap 6 and Redding uses the top end grunt of the Ducati to get through on Rea down the straight. Rea hangs onto the rear of the Ducati, and keeps himself within striking distance. Further back the Pata Yamahas were struggling with the relentless pace being set by Redding and couldn’t close the gap.

Locatelli then goes wide into a corner, Razgatlioglu doesn’t need a second invitation and makes the pass up the inside of his team mate. The Turk now had work to do in order to catch Rea in 2nd.

Meanwhile further back there was a three way battle for 4th between Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team), 5th Sykes (BMW Motorrad) and 6th Davies (GoEleven Ducati), with the other BMW of V d Mark in 8th and making progress.

Drama for Davies as he crashes his Ducati into turn 9 and subsequently Bautista loses control of his Honda a few corners further on in turn 12. This bumpy track was catching out a number of riders.

Razgatlioglu was pushing his Yamaha to the limit, and found himself going wide into one of the corners. The gap to Rea in 2nd was now 2.3, while Redding still had a gap of 1.1 to Rea, and looked comfortable leading.

Meanwhile Lowes, and Sykes were having there own battle for 5th and 6th with V d Mark a fair distance behind in 7th.

With 12 laps to go Razgatlioglu was losing time to Rea, the gap now stood at 3.3. Further back there was a three way battle for 9th involving GRT Yamaha team mates, Nozane, Gerloff, and Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) in 11th. Gerloff made a poor start ending up in 14th on lap 1, but was now past his team mate down the straight to take 9th.

Another rider crashes, this time its the American rider Uribe (Kawasaki). Massive moment for Rea, and one of many this season, as he loses the front end into turn 9, but manages to correct the slide and save himself losing time to Redding in the process.

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Picture courtesy of https://wsbk.hondaracingcorporation.com/

With 7 laps to go the gap to Redding was still around 1.1, while the gap behind to 3rd was 2.4.  Further back it was Locatelli 4th, Lowes 5th and the BMW team mates of Sykes and V d Mark in 6th and 7th, respectively.

Last lap now and Redding had pushed the gap out to Rea to 2.7 and was looking comfortable for the win. Both Rea and Razgatlioglu looked resigned to 2nd and 3rd places respectively.

Redding crosses the line to claim the win, he never looked troubled throughout the race. Rea takes 2nd, with Razgatlioglu coming 3rd, a decent result from 8th place on the grid. Locatelli 4th, and Lowes 5th.

Top 5:

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

Riders out: Bautista (Honda HRC), Davies (GoEleven Ducati), Mathias (Kawasaki), Mercado (Honda)

Top 3 Championship:

  1. Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) 286 pts
  2. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) 279
  3. Redding (Aruba.it Ducati) 241

 

 

Moto2: Dark clouds loom over the Austrian Alps

And so Moto2 returns after the five week summer break with Round 10, the Styrian Grand Prix, high in the Austrian Alps, and Sunday’s race certainly brought plenty of ups and downs.

Moto2
Pic courtesy of marcvds Racing Team

All eyes were on the weather over the weekend, with dark clouds looming over practice and qualifying. The rain stayed away and the race was declared dry, but away from the racing line the track remained damp and greasy.

Before Sunday’s race Australia’s Remy Gardner led the championship on 184 points, his Red Bull KTM Ajo teammate Raul Fernandez 2nd with 153, Bezzecchi 3rd on 128, Britain’s Sam Lowes 4th on 99, and Fabio Di Giannantonio 5th with 73.

During free practice news broke that Raul Fernandez will be moving up to MotoGP next season, to join his current teammate Remy Gardner at KTM, but did the unfortunate timing of the announcement impact on Fernandez’s performance?

For only the second time this season, neither of Red Bull KTM Ajo teammates made an appearance on the podium. Remy Gardner started from pole, and his teammate Raul Fernandez on the 2nd row in 4th after a frustrating qualifying.

It looked as though Sunday would be Japanese rookie Ai Ogura’s time to shine, as he briefly held pole position during qualifying. He was pipped at the post by Gardner, but claimed his first front row start of the season in second, with Italy’s Marco Bezzecchi making up the front row in 3rd. Alongside Raul Fernandez on the second row were Aron Canet in 5th and Augusto Fernandez 6th. On the third row, Britain’s Sam Lowes started 7th, Lorenzo dalla Porta 8th, and Somkiat Chandra 9th.

Gardner briefly led the opening lap before being passed by Bezzecchi, and his attempt to reclaim the lead was foiled by running wide, also allowing teammate Raul Fernandez through. Ogura dropped back to 5th, and the next few laps saw Gardner retaking the lead, Aron Canet up into second, the pair of them pulling ahead of Bezzecchi and Raul Fernandez who were battling for 3rd. On lap 6 Fernandez ran very wide into turn 9, dropping down to 7th place, Ai Ogura moving back up into 4th, and Gardner and Canet stretching out to almost a second ahead of 3rd place Bezzecchi.

On lap 11 Ogura posted the fastest lap of the race and looked set for the first podium finish of his rookie Moto2 season, but after incurring a late penalty for exceeding track limits ended up by crossing the line in 5th. After completing the race it was announced that Ogura had been penalised a further 3 seconds for exceeding track limits during the long lap penalty. Despite this he finished far enough ahead of 6th place Celestino Vietti to hold on to the position.

Lap 20 saw an uncharacteristic error from Gardner, late on the brakes into turn 1 and running into the gravel to avoid the back wheel of Bezzecchi. He managed to keep the bike upright and rejoined in 5th.

Marco Bezzecchi of SKY Racing Team VR46 held onto the lead to claim his first win of the season, despite pressure from Spain’s Aron Canet who finished second, and the 3rd podium spot was claimed by Augusto Fernandez, celebrating his second podium in as many races. Remy Gardner crossed the line in 4th, and Raul Fernandez finished 7th, the worst finish of his rookie Moto2 season. Despite moving up to 5th on lap 4, Britain’s Sam Lowes had a difficult race, but still managed to finish within the points in 14th.

Moto2
Pic courtesy of marcvds Racing Team

The top five positions in the championship remain the same – Gardner increases his lead from 31 to 35 points ahead of second place Raul Fernandez. Bezzecchi, in third, closes the gap on Fernandez from 25 to 9 points, with fourth place Lowes trailing by 52 points, and Italy’s Fabio Di Giannantonio in 5th, 25 points behind Lowes.

Sunday 15th August sees the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring. Can Ai Ogura make up for his disappointment and claim a podium spot? Will the Ajo Red Bull team return to form? And can Bezzecchi leapfrog Raul Fernandez on the championship table?

First fifteen riders:

1              Marco Bezzecchi ITA – SKY Racing Team VR46 – 25 points

2              Aron Canet SPA – Aspar Team Moto2 – 20

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

4              Remy Gardner AUS – Red Bull KTM Ajo – 13

5              Ai Ogura JPN – IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia – 11

6              Celestino Vietti ITA – SKY Racing Team VR46 – 10

7              Raul Fernandez SPA – Red Bull KTM Ajo – 9 points

8              Somkiat Chantra THA – IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia – 8

9              Xavi Vierge SPA – Petronas Sprinta Racing – 7

10           Marcel Schrotter GER – Liqui Moly Intact GP – 6

11           Jake Dixon GBR – Petronas Sprinta Racing – 5

12           Lorenzo Dalla Porta ITA – Italtrans Racing Team – 4

13           Fabio Di Giannantonio ITA – Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 – 3

14           Sam Lowes GBR                – Elf Marc VDS Racing Team – 2

15           Albert Arenas SPA – Aspar Team Moto2 – 1

 

Round 6 WorldSBK Most Autodrom, Czech Republic, Race 2

Race 2 of the WorldSBK action took place on Sunday 8th August at Most Autodrom, Czech Republic – the earlier Superpole race saw Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) claim the his 2nd win of the weekend, while Redding (Aruba.it Ducati), and Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) were 2nd and 3rd.

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Redding & Rea, Race 2 @ Most Autodrom 08.08.2021
Pic courtesy of Aruba.it Ducati

The Turk was on pole position for race 2, and was looking to make it a clean sweep of wins across the weekend, could he do it? The whole grid, except Rea, and Uribe had gone with the super soft SCX rear tyre, the former two deciding on the harder SC0 compound rear.

Lights out and both the Pata Yamaha riders made excellent starts, Razgatlioglu and Locatelli leading the pack into turn 1 in 1st and 2nd. Further behind was a massive crash involving 4 riders: Bassani (Ducati), Delbianco (Honda), Hanika (Yamaha) and Bautista (HRC Honda). Both Bassani and Delbianco retiring from the race.

A leading group of 5 riders had formed and was already beginning to pull away from the others. In 1st was Razgatlioglu, 2nd Locatelli, 3rd Redding, 4th Rea and 5th Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team).

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Michael Rinaldi, Race 2 @ Most Autodrom 08.08.2021
Pic courtesy of Aruba.it Ducati

Meanwhile further down the field other notable names included the BMW teammates of 6th Sykes (BMW Motorrad) and 12th Vd Mark. Eighth place is Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) and in 9th Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team).

With 20 laps to go Razgatlioglu was trying to distance the group putting in a fastest lap of 1:32.827. Redding sensing the Turkish rider is pulling away, passes Locatelli into 2nd place, in the same corner Toprak passed him in race 1. The group of 5, now slowing becoming a group of 3 as the Kawasaki team mates of Rea and Lowes, were struggling with the pace being set at the front.

Next lap and now Redding puts in a new fastest lap of 1:32.674. The lead group of 3 riders now steadily pulling away from the Kawasaki team mates.

With 18 laps to go, Redding outbrakes Razgatlioglu down the straight, into turn 1 to take over the lead. Redding putting in a new fastest lap of 1:32.439. He was looking like he had a point to prove after getting pipped to the line in race 1.

Meanwhile further back, Vd Mark had moved up to 10th, 7 places better than his grid position. Gerloff was in 9th, while Rinaldi was in 8th.

Redding was increasing his gap to Raztaglioglu, it was now 0.5. The Kawasaki of Rea was again looking twitchy and unstable with changes of direction and through corners, his previous crash in race 1 still looming large in his mind no doubt.

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Pecco Bagnaia, Race 2 @ Most Autodrom 08.08.2021
Pic courtesy of Aruba.it Ducati

With 13 laps to go Rea gets through around the outside of Locatelli trying to close the gap to 2nd. Redding was pushing the gap to nearly 1.0 to Razgatlioglu in 2nd, the gap now at 0.8.

Meanwhile further back Sykes in 6th had now been caught by a group including: 7th Haslam ( HRC Honda ), 8th Rinaldi, 9th Vd Mark and 10th Gerloff.

With 8 laps to go Haslam loses 3 places to go back to 10th, possibly having tyre issues. The Honda Team mates now sitting in disappointing 10th, and 11th places.

Six laps remaining and Redding had increased his lead to 2nd to 1.5, while the gap from 2nd to Rea in 3rd was now 6.6. Meanwhile further down the field the battle for 6th was still ongoing, with Vd Mark in 7th doing a great job from a grid position of 17th, getting past Gerloff again.

With 4 laps remaining it was all Redding’s to lose, the gap to 2nd now at 2.6, Razgatlioglu looking to have resigned himself to a 2nd place. Lowes ( Kawasaki Racing Team ) in 5th had now been caught by the group of 6th Rinaldi, 7th Vd Mark and 8th Gerloff.

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Arubia.it Ducati, Race 2 @ Most Autodrom 08.08.2021
Pic courtesy of Aruba.it Ducati

Final lap now, and Redding doesn’t let up his pace, crossing the finish line to take his first win in Most. Razgatlioglu crosses in 2nd with Rea in 3rd, Locatelli in 4th, 5th Rinaldi who gets past Lowes.

Top 5:

  1. Scott Redding ( Aruba.it Ducati )
  2. Toprak Razgatlioglu ( Pata Yamaha )
  3. Jonathan Rea ( Kawasaki Racing Team )
  4. Andrea Locatelli ( Pata Yamaha )
  5. Michael Ruben Rinaldi ( Aruba.it Ducati )

Top 3 championship:

  1. Rea ( Kawasaki Racing Team ) 266 pts
  2. Razgatlioglu ( Pata Yamaha ) 263
  3. Redding ( Aruba.it Ducati ) 216

Round 6 WorldSBK Most, Czech Republic, Race 1

Most Autodrom welcomed WorldSBK for the first time for round 6 of the championship.

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Race 1 Podium @ Most Autodrom 08.08.2021
Pic courtesy of Aruiba.it Ducati

Superpole saw Jonathan Rea (KRT Kawasaki) claim his 6th consecutive pole, leaving 2nd and 3rd places for Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) and Scott Redding (Aruba.it Ducati) respectively.

Track conditions looked excellent for race 1 with most of the Yamaha and both Honda riders opting for the super soft X rear tyre. The rest of the riders going for the slightly harder SC0 compound rear tyre.

Lights out and its Rea with a great start, Razgatlioglu gets the hole shot into turn 1 and Redding in 3rd. Rinaldi (Ducati) also has a great start from 8th on grid into 4th. Sykes (BMW) runs off into turn 1, but manages to rejoin in 5th.

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Pecco Bagnaia, Race 1 @ Most Autodrom 08.08.2021
Pic courtesy of Ducati Lenovo Team

The leading group of Razgatlioglu, Rea and Redding were beginning to pull out a gap from the rest of the field. Meanwhile further down were the two Honda riders, Bautista and Haslam, with Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) in 8th, 9th and 10th respectively.

With 20 laps remaining, positions in the front were starting to shake up, with Redding first going through on Rea, then out braking Razgatlioglu into turn 1 to take over the lead. Rea then retakes 2nd as Razgatlioglu goes wide into turn 10. Meanwhile Redding was putting the hammer down, trying to distance his chasers by posting a new fastest lap of 1:33.076.

With 18 laps to go, bizarrely both Lowes (KRT Kawasaki), and Davies (Aruba.it Ducati) both went down into turn 1 separately, Lowes losing the front end. Both riders were able to rejoin.

Meanwhile back with the leading group, Rea’s Kawasaki was looking increasingly unstable through corners and Razgatlioglu would take advantage of this going through on Rea into turn 20 after Rea goes wide. The response from the world champion was immediate, as he powered around the outside of the Yamaha rider to retake 2nd.

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Redding, Rea & Raz, Race 1 @ Most Autodrom 08.08.2021
Pic courtesy of Aruba.it Ducati

Out in the lead Redding was taking advantage of this scrap behind him to further increase his lead out to Rea in 2nd to 1.8. Razgatlioglu showing his skill on the brakes by out braking Rea at the end of the straight into turn 1 to retake 2nd. As it has all season, this battle between the Turk and the Brit was showing no sign of let up.

With 9 laps remaining, Redding now had a 0.9 gap to Razgatlioglu in 2nd. Then disaster for Rea who loses the front going into turn 1, sending his Kawasaki unceremoniously ploughing into the gravel. He rejoins in 11th place, but his race is effectively over in terms of challenging the lead group.

This new racetrack was proving tricky for some, with 5 riders now having crashed out so far.

Razgatlioglu was now hunting down Redding in 1st, with 4 laps to go the gap was now down to 0.4. Then unbelievably into the fast turn 20, for the 2nd time Rea loses the front end of the Kawasaki, sending both the bike and himself catapulting into the gravel.  It was a high speed crash, and looked nasty, but thankfully he was able to walk away.

With 4 laps to go, Razgatlioglu has now caught up to Redding and makes the pass on him into turn 14, after Redding goes wide. Redding responds by using the top end speed of the Ducati to power past Razgatlioglu down the straight, and retakes the lead into turn 1. Neither rider was backing down and this battle would go down to the wire.

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Michael Rinaldi, Race 1 @ Most Autodrom 08.08.2021
Pic courtesy of Aruba.it Ducati

Meanwhile further down the field the Texan – Gerloff, Haslam and Sykes had all moved up to 6th, 7th and 8th respectively.

Last lap now, and Redding knew Razgatlioglu would be planning to make a move on him, but where would it come? Into the last few corners and Razgatlioglu makes the perfect block pass up the inside of Redding. It’s a tough move, but Redding can’t complain as there is no contact between them. Razgatlioglu cranks the throttle of the Yamaha wide open to cross the line in 1st. Redding stays in his slipstream trying to use the power of the Ducati to try to get by, but is unable and has to settle for 2nd, a very close finish by both riders.

The top 5:

  1. Toprak Razgatlioglu ( Pata Yamaha )
  2. Scott Redding ( Aruba.it Ducati )
  3. Andrea Locatelli ( Pata Yamaha )
  4. Michael Ruben Rinaldi ( Ducati )
  5. Axel Bassani ( Ducati )

The top 3 of championship:

  1. Jonathan Rea ( KRT Kawasaki ) 243 pts
  2. Toprak Razgatlioglu ( Pata Yamaha ) 231
  3. Scott Redding ( Aruba.it Ducati ) 182

 

 

Battle rages at the Cathedral of Speed

Going into the weekend Remy Gardner leads the Moto2 championship by 36 points from his teammate Raul Fernandez, but the rookie earns his fourth pole of the season, as an eventful race sees him dropping back to ninth then clawing his way back to emerge victorious in the 9th round of Moto2 2021.

Image courtesy of KTM/Rob Gray (Polarity Photo)

Fernandez’s teammate Remy Gardner starts from 2nd place and Sam Lowes completes the front row, ahead of Aron Canet in 4th, Ai Ogura 5th and Jorge Navarro starting 6th.

Off the line it is Canet who gets the best start, forcing Raul out wide into the first bend, causing him to drop back to 4th. Della Porta who started 8th gets caught in the middle of the group into turn 2 – catches the rear wheel of Navarro and is spat off, fortunately avoiding the other machines as his bike is launched into the air from the centre of the pack.

Canet leads, Gardner in second is closely followed by Lowes in third. Tony Arbolino crashes out uninjured shortly after at turn 7, his bike flipping across the gravel.

Lowes moves up past Gardner, then takes Canet to lead at the end of the first lap – Lowes leads briefly before Canet reclaims the lead.

Ai Ogura and Augusto Fernandez pass Raul Fernandez. Raul runs wide through turns 6 & 7 and drops back to ninth as Schrotter passes him.

Image courtesy of KTM/Rob Gray (Polarity Photo)

Gardner passes Lowes out of the chicane, and Lowes gets back past Canet to move back into 2nd

Joe Roberts crashes out at turn 9, meaning that both Italtrans bikes are out of the race.

Augusto Fernandez moves up into 3rd, as Raul battles for 7th, then gradually works himself back up to 6th.

With 20 laps to go Lowes starts to close the gap on Gardner. Approaching the start/finish line Lowes slots past, the two almost swapping paint, but Augusto Fernandez spots his opportunity and passes both of them, taking the lead, making it a 1-2 for Elf Marc VDS Racing Team, Gardner in 3rd and Aron Canet in 4th. Meanwhile Raul Fernandez is back up to 5th, and DiGiannantonio moves up past Ai Ogura into 6th.

On lap 7 Raul passes Canet to move up to 4th, as Lowes, who is all over the back of Augusto, passes him to take the lead. A gap of just over a second separates Gardner in 3rd and Raul in 4th, giving Raul a clear space to push on.

Image courtesy of KTM/Rob Gray (Polarity Photo)

Gardner slots past Augusto into 2nd, and 3 laps later Raul catches Augusto, but Augusto takes Gardner to move back into 2nd.

On lap 14 Augusto Fernandez increases the pressure on Sam Lowes, passing him to take the lead, as Raul gets past his teammate Gardner to move up into 3rd.

Gardner starts to drop back slightly from the top 3, and shortly after Raul takes Lowes to move up into 2nd place. The leading 4 start to spread out as Lowes struggles to match Raul Fernandez’s pace, as DiGiannantonio crashes out at turn 9 from 6th.

Raul pursues Augusto, edging ever closer until he makes the move along the start/finish straight at the end of lap 17, with Augusto unable to come back at him.

Augusto runs wide, giving Lowes the opportunity to move up into 2nd. Raul is starting to stretch out his lead with a 0.8 second lead over Lowes.

Lap 20 sees Aron Canet crashes out of 7th place, sliding into the gravel at turn 3.

Image courtesy of KTM/Rob Gray (Polarity Photo)

Raul leads by over a second, breaking away from Lowes, Augusto and Gardner. Into lap 22 at the end of the start/finish straight Augusto gets the drive past Lowes to move up into second. Lowes checks over his left shoulder into turn 1, as Gardner slips past on his right, dropping Lowes down into 4th.

At the end of lap 23 Gardner passes Augusto, who pushes hard but is unable to come back at Gardner.

Raul Fernandez takes his third win of the season, ahead of his teammate Remy Gardner, with Augusto Fernandez claiming the 3rd podium spot.

Gardner’s lead at the top of the championship narrows slightly to 31 points ahead of Raul Fernandez going into the summer break, Fernandez extends his lead over 3rd place Bezzecchi from 11 points to 25, and Lowes holds onto 4th place overall.  With ten rounds still to go can Gardner hold onto the lead or will rookie Raul Fernandez spring yet more surprises?

Image courtesy of KTM/Rob Gray (Polarity Photo)

 

First fifteen riders:

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

2              Remy Gardner AUS – Red Bull Ajo KTM – 20

3              Augusto Fernandez SPA –  – 16

4              Sam Lowes BRI – Elf Marc VDS Racing Team – 13

5              Marco Bezzecchi ITA – Sky Racing Team VR46 – 11

6              Ai Ogura JPN – IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia – 10

7              Jorge Navarro SPA – MB Conveyors Speed Up – 9

8              Xavi Vierge SPA – Petronas Sprinta Racing – 8

9              Marcel Schrotter GER – Liqui Moly Intact – 7

10           Celestino Vietti ITA – SKY Racing Team VR46 – 6

11           Somkiat Chantra THA – IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia – 5

12           Albert Arenas SPA – Inde Aspar Team – 4

13           Stefano Manzi ITA – Flexbox HP40 – 3

14           Thomas Luthi SWI – Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team – 2

15           Bo Bendsneyer NED – Pertamina SAG – 1

 

Gardner extends lead in Moto2 championship

Remy Gardner dominated the 8th round of Moto2 at the Sachsenring in Germany to take third win in a row, increasing his lead at the top of the championship.

Raul Fernandez at the 2021 Moto2 Le Mans Race. Image courtesy of Rob Gray (Polarity Photo)/KTM

Heading into the weekend, Gardner on 139 points was only 11 points ahead of his teammate Raul Fernandez, with Italian Marco Bezzecchi 3rd on 101, and Britain’s Sam Lowes 4th on 75.

The Sachsenring, at 2.28 miles, is a tight, twisty track, and the focus for the weekend was on tyre preservation. High temperatures on Friday and Saturday, with a slightly cooler temperature on race day also added to the tension, with the whole field on a hard compound on the front and a soft rear.

A blistering lap time of 1:23.397 in Q2 earned Raul Fernandez pole, pushing Di Giannantonio into 2nd, with Remy Gardner completing the front row. After a crash in Q2, Britain’s Sam Lowes started on the 3rd row of the grid in 7th place.

Fernandez took the lead off the line, closely followed by Gardner. Di Giannantonio dropped back into 6th, and Xavi Vierge moved up from 5th on grid up into 3rd.

The opening laps seemed to be shaping up to be another battle between Fernandez and Gardner, as the two Ajo KTMs pulled away from the rest of the field, with a half second gap opening up behind them to Vierge.

On lap two, Gardner passed his teammate and took the lead, as Sam Lowes dropped back into 14th.

The Ajo’s increased their lead with every lap – 2.5 secs ahead of third place on lap 3, and on lap 4 a gap of 3.8 secs.

Gardner settled into a rhythm putting in faster lap times, with Raul Fernandez pushing hard to stay on his tail, but on Lap 5 the rookie showed his lack of experience and lost the front end at turn 3, sliding into the gravel and out of the race.

Spain’s Aron Canet, who started 10th on the grid, had worked his way up through the field and now moved up to second, starting to pull away from Bezzecchi.

Gardner, riding a lonely race, gradually stretched out his lead to 5 seconds ahead of Canet with Bezzecchi in 3rd.

On lap 21 Lowes moved up into 8th place, meanwhile Bezzecchi & Di Giannantonio swapped places in a battle for 3rd, with Bezzecchi eventually making it stick.

Gardner extended his lead to 6.5 secs over 2nd place Canet, who in turn was over 2 seconds ahead of Bezzecchi.

On lap 26 Honda Team Asia rookie Ai Ogura passed Xavi Vierge to move up into 5th, and both Ogura and Bezzecchi started to close in on Canet.

Remy Gardner at the 2021 Le Mans Moto2 RaceImage courtesy of Rob Gray (Polarity Photo)/KTM

The last lap brought yet more surprises, with Vierge, running in 6th, crashing out on turn 1, followed by Joe Roberts at the same corner, and Ai Ogura out on turn 8. Gardner crossed the line comfortably ahead of Canet who held onto 2nd, with Bezzecchi in 3rd. Di Giannantonio claimed 4th, and after the incidents on the last lap Sam Lowes moved up to take 5th.

The gap at the top of the championship has now widened, with Gardner going into the next round at Assen 36 points clear of teammate Fernandez, who is now only 11 points ahead of Bezzecchi. Can Fernandez pull something out of the bag at the Dutch TT, or will Gardner make it four in a row and further increase his lead?

First fifteen riders:

1              Remy Gardner AUS – Red Bull Ajo KTM – 25 points

2              Arón Canet SPA – Aspar Team – 20

3              Marco Bezzecchi ITA – SKY Racing Team VR46 – 16

4              Fabio Di Giannantonio ITA – Federal Oil Gresini – 13

5              Sam Lowes BRI – Elf Marc VDS Racing Team – 11

6              Marcel Schrotter GER – Liqui Moly Intact – 10

7              Jorge Navarro SPA – MB Conveyors Speed Up – 9

8              Albert Arenas SPA – Inde Aspar Team – 8

9              Marcos Ramirez SPA – American Racing – 7

10           Cameron Beaubier USA – American Racing – 6

11           Nicolo Bulega ITA – Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 – 5

12           Alonso López SPA – Flexbox HP40 – 4

13           Bo Bendsneyer NED – Pertamina SAG – 3

14           Barry Baltus        BEL – NTS RW Racing GP – 2

15           Celestino Vietti ITA – SKY Racing Team VR46 – 1

2013 TT Revisited – All Too Soon It’s Over for Another Year

This is the last of the blogs I wrote during TT 2013 and is a summary of the majority of Race Week. These blogs were never intended to report on the racing results – there are people out there much better at that than me. Instead, I realised that I was in an incredibly privileged position to have been in the heart of the paddock, at the side of the road, and right in with the action. For many, visiting the Isle of Man TT has not yet been possible, and many others who had visited previously couldn’t get back for whatever reason. So for them I decided it would be good to try and capture and describe the experience. It has been superb reliving these days as I edited these pieces, and I really hope we get racing back next year. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the final instalment…

IOM TT – Picture courtesy of Keith Quirk

It’s Saturday evening, and all the racing for TT2013 (and the Post TT at Billown) is over. It has been a beautiful day again, but all day I’ve had that feeling you get when you’ve been on a most fantastic holiday and never want to go home. I know a lot of my friends and fellow tweeters are feeling the same. This last fortnight was incredibly special in many ways – the emergence of a new pretender to the throne of the King of the Mountain title (has anybody called Michael Dunlop the Prince of the Mountain yet?!) with the current King of the Mountain claiming his 20th victory and 41st podium proving that he is not going to be deposed that easily just yet.

Although my blog was never intended to be about results and the technicalities of racing, McGuinness was so, so close to 21 – the end of the TT Zero race was about as thrilling as you can get. Believe me, I never ever thought I would use the words ‘thrilling’ and ‘TT Zero’ in the same sentence, but how close was it?? As I think I have already mentioned in one of my pieces I remember when it was an amazing feat for just one of the electric bikes to make it all the way around the course and now we are actually seeing close racing.

Wednesday was a stunning day, and me and my friends (one local, 2 old friends on their first TT visit) started off at Sulby, next to a snoring man who claimed he had seen all the bikes going past and that he was merely resting his eyes. He definitely woke up when Gary Johnson came through on the MV! After the Supersport had been won by Michael Dunlop, with Anstey second & McGuinness third, we picnicked in the sunshine, then headed up to Bungalow for the sidecars second race. It was absolutely packed, and the views as stunning as they could be on such a beautiful day. Sadly, our boys were forced to retire at Union Mills, but it really was something to see them over the Mountain.

There were a number of retirements in the race including Saturday’s winners Reeves & Sayle. The Birchall brothers had a fantastic start and eventually they took the win. Moly/Farrance came home in second place and Harrison/Aylott took third. We ended the day with Italian food and a few drinks, and already I could feel the sadness that there was only one day of racing left building inside me. Thursday was a rest day for me, to recover from late nights sat in the garden drinking with friends and to recoup some energy for the Senior.

IOM TT – Picture courtesy of Keith Quirk

In the evening we had the TTTweetmeet 2013 at the Creg. So great to meet up with people we see regularly on our timelines. Standing on the balcony I looked out to the views and I was reminded just how lucky I was (as if I weren’t already sure) – a real ‘I live here’ moment. It was also a fantastic effort on the charity front, with £1035 being raised for the Joey Dunlop Foundation which will help them to carry on doing their fantastic work with the property at Braddan.

Friday dawned – another superb day weather wise, and the anticipation for the Senior was palpable around the Island. Would Dunlop claim his fifth win? Would he take the lightweight and set a new record of 6? Would McGuinness come back strong? Would we see Gary Johnson, Cam Donald, Anstey or any of the others come and nick it? That is the beauty of these races – it really could be anyone. They all have the skill, they all have the experience, but would their machinery perform and keep them going over the 6 laps? Before we find that out, we had the Lightweight race to go. James Hillier won after close racing at the start which saw him increase his lead to over 30 seconds from

Dean Harrison had 35 seconds over our local lad Conor Cummins. Anyone who saw Conor’s accident will agree that to see him back to podium form is nothing short of amazing.

So finally, it was time for the Senior. The riders set off one by one but before everybody was out on the course, a red flag came out. News soon came over the radio that there had been an incident at Bray Hill and there it was again. That sick feeling in the pit of the stomach. The spectators sitting in the sunshine opposite me were subdued as we waited for more news. The next information that came out was that there had been an incident on Bray Hill, involving a rider, who was ok, but that some spectators had been hurt.

It is easy to get drawn into tweeting about what’s going on, and I shared a couple of tweets without really thinking. After realising that I could be doing more harm than good until we knew all the details I stopped. Sadly it was not the same for everyone – pictures were appearing on Twitter of the scene, which then were picked up by the mainstream media. The official ACU statement confirmed that 10 spectators were injured, with injuries ranging from minor to serious but not life threatening. It was also confirmed that the rider involved had sustained a fracture.

It was inevitable that there would be some kind of backlash in the media. They were quick to pick up on events, talking about how dangerous it is, and how many people get hurt. I would be surprised if anybody out there yesterday, or any of the other days, did not realise that it could be dangerous. There are signs all around the course warning of danger, as there is a warning in the Programme/guide. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that with bikes travelling at c.190 miles an hour in places, there is potential for something to go wrong. But then is that not part of the beauty of road racing? The option to sit so near to the action and feel the speed at close quarters is not like anything else in the world.

Again, there are calls for its banning. I wonder how many calls there have been to ban people from climbing Mount Everest? What about skiing? Rallying? Or Formula 1? There is nobody out on that course – rider or spectator – who does not know what the risks are, and who doesn’t love the sport any less because of it?

The number of visitors this year felt like the most there have been in years. Both weeks were buzzing, and thousands of people have enjoyed the spectacle that is the Isle of Man TT. It has been going for over 100 years, and I can’t see it going anywhere fast. Especially if we have anything to do with it. My thoughts are with those injured and I hope they all make a full & speedy recovery. It also seems appropriate to remember again Yoshinari Matsushita – RIP Yoshi.

And now it is all over…. the spectacular firework display last night in Douglas and the Post TT Races at Billown rounded off the fortnight in superb style. Every year I wonder if next year will be as good, and every year it proves it can stand up to the previous year. It has been the most amazing fortnight, full of new experiences, new friends, old friends, fast bikes, sunshine & fun. I miss it already.

IOM TT – Picture courtesy of Keith Quirk

The Island has already started its transformation back to a sleepy spot in the Irish Sea – it always amazes me how fast everybody disappears and how quickly the road falls silent. Living near a campsite means a steady stream of bikes up and down the main road near my flat. Today, it is noticeably quieter and I have really missed it!!

Monday and the return to work is all too close. But I have the Southern 100 in July and Classic TT and Manx Grand Prix in August lined up.

Then of course, there’s always next year…..