Round 6 WorldSBK Most, Czech Rep, Race 2

The earlier Superpole race, saw the reigning champion, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) claim the win, followed by Rea (Kawasaki KRT), and Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati), in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

WorldSBK 31.07.2022 Czech Rep Picture courtesy of Pata Yamaha Brixx

Before the start of the race both Lowes (Kawasaki KRT), and Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW), were declared unfit to start.

Lights out for race 2, and it was Toprak with the hole shot into turn 1, followed by Bautista, Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati), and Rea in 4th. Bassani in particular, was looking really aggressive, and had barged through on Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati).

Next lap and positions were as follows: 1. Toprak 2. Bautista 3. Rinaldi 4. Rea 5. Bassani 6. Redding (BMW Motorrad). Toprak had already pulled out a gap of 0.6s, and was looking keen to get away.

Next lap and Rea out brakes Rinaldi into turn 1, to move up to 3rd. The leading group of 6 riders had already started to pull away from the rest.

On lap 4 of 22, drama for Rinaldi who over shoots into turn 1, losing the front end, and going down into the gravel. He was having a decent race up until that point.

Next lap and Bautista had now closed right up to Toprak, and was looking for a pass. It was Rea behind in 3rd who was setting the fastest lap time of the leading three, 1:32.206, and he was keen to not let either title rival get away. As he had in race 1, Redding was showing good pace, and managed to make a pass on Bassani, moving up to 4th.

With 17 laps remaining, drama for both Bautista and Redding, who both run hot into turn 1, running off the track. Both were able to rejoin, but lost positions in the process. Toprak, and Rea had both pulled away, and Bautista was able to rejoin in 3rd.

Next lap and Rea lined up Toprak into turn 1, and made the pass up the inside of the Turkish rider. Positions were as follows: 1. Rea 2. Toprak 3. Bautista 4. Bassani 5. Redding 6. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha).

With 15 laps to go, Toprak repays the favour, and out brakes Rea into turn 1 to retake the lead. Meanwhile, Bautista had closed the gap down to 0.5s in 3rd. Further back it was 7th Gerloff (GRT Yamaha), 8th Lecuona (Honda HRC), and 9th Vierge (Honda HRC).

With 13 laps of 22 remaining, Redding had closed back up to Bassani, and made the pass up the inside of the Italian into turn 1. Rea was again the quickest of the leading 3, and posted a new fastest lap of 1:32.202. Bautista had clawed his way back, and as in race 1, the Ducati was looking much quicker in the second half of the race.

Next lap, and positions continued to be exchanged almost every lap, this time it was Rea to make another move on Toprak into turn 1, and again he retakes the lead. The gap from Bautista in 3rd to Redding in 4th, had been increased to 1.5s, and it was now a straight battle between the top 3 title contenders for the win.

With just over half race distance gone now, the Ducati was looking increasingly quick, and Bautista powered past Rea down the straight to take over the lead. The Kawasaki ZX10-RR didn’t have an answer to the Ducati’s sheer top end speed. Redding had now lost contact with the group ahead, and was adrift 2.0s behind in 4th, with Bassani behind in 5th.

With 8 laps remaining Toprak again burst under Rea into turn 1 to take 2nd. Bautista however, wasn’t getting away as he had in race 1, with both Toprak, and Rea still right on him. Meanwhile further back, both Nozane (GRT Yamaha), and Hickman (FHO BMW Motorrad) were having a better race in 15th, and 16th respectively.

WorldSBK 31.07.2022 Czech Rep Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Next lap, and a demon on the brakes, Toprak was able to cut under Bautista into turn 20 to retake the lead. Bautista was struggling to match the speed he had in race 1, possibly suffering from tyre grip issues, and Rea was keen to find a way past. Meanwhile further back it was 4th Redding, 5th Bassani, 6th Gerloff, 7th Locatelli, 8th Lecuona.

With 4 laps to go, Toprak looked to have managed his tyres to perfection, and set the new fastest lap a 1:31.713, increasing the gap to 0.9s to Bautista in the process.

Penultimate lap and Toprak Razgatlioglu had increased his lead to 1.2s, setting a new fastest lap of 1:31.705. Late drama for both Lecuona, and Gerloff who both suffer mechanical issues. The Texan is able to rejoin, but only at the back of the field. They were both having a decent race until then, notably Gerloff who was running in 6th.

Last lap and Toprak Razgatlioglu crosses the line to take the win, followed by 2nd Bautista, 3rd Rea, 4th Redding, 5th Bassani, 6th Locatelli, 7th Vierge, 8th Oetll (GoEleven Ducati), 9th Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti), 10th Bernardi (Barni Racing Ducati), 14th Hickman (FHO BMW Motorrad), 18th Gerloff.

Result top 5:

  1. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  2. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  4. Redding (BMW Motorrad)
  5. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 298
  2. Rea – 267
  3. Razgatlioglu – 260

 

Round 5 WorldSBK Donington Park, Race 2

The weather was heating up, and so was the racing.

The Superpole race saw the reigning champion, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha), claim his second win of the weekend, followed by Rea (Kawasaki KRT), and Redding (BMW Motorrad), in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

WorldSBK Round 5 Race 2 at Donington Iker Lecuona Picture courtesy of HRC WorldSBK

Lights out for race 2, and again it’s Toprak with the hole shot, followed by Rea, Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati), and Redding in 4th. Rea in particular, was looking more aggressive than he had yesterday, and was keen not to let the Turkish rider get away again.

Next lap and positions were as follows: 1. Toprak 2. Rea 3. Bautista 4. Redding 5. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) 6. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT) 7. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) 8. Lecuona (Honda HRC) 9. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) 10. Baz (Bonovo Action BMW). Toprak put in the new fastest lap of 1:26.696, with Rea still trying to find a way through. The gap behind to Bautista was now 0.6s.

Lap 4 of 23, and it was the turn of Bautista to put in the new fastest lap of 1:26.644. This trio had already pulled out a significant gap to the rest of the field, with only Scott Redding keeping contact in 4th, 0.5s behind.

Lap 6 of 23, and Rea was desperate to find a way through on Toprak. The Turkish rider is an absolute demon on the brakes, and with so few places to pass, it was making life impossible for Rea. He tried a move in the Foggy Esses, briefly getting ahead, but Toprak was able to use the acceleration of the Yamaha R1 to retake the lead. As was the case yesterday, the constant battle between Rea, and Toprak was playing into the hands of Bautista, who had closed the gap to Rea. Meanwhile further back it was 7. Locatelli 8. Bassani 9. Lecuona 12. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 13. Vierge (Honda HRC).

On lap 9 of 23 Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Pedercini) retires from the race. Meanwhile at the front, Rea was still throwing everything he could at Toprak, although the reigning champion was showing his grit, and standing firm. Bautista was still making ground in 3rd, with Redding having a decent ride in 4th, Rinaldi 5th, and Lowes 6th. Further back Tarran Mackenzie (MacAMC Yamah), the reigning BSB champion, was in 15th, while Peter Hickman (FHO BMW) was in 19th.

WorldSBK Round 5 Race 2 at Donington Scott Redding Picture courtesy of BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team

With 11 laps remaining, Rinaldi finds a way through on Redding, who slips back to 5th, Lowes was in 6th. At the front Toprak was still holding off Rea, with a gap of 0.5s, while Bautista was in 3rd. Further back Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), was having another poor race, and was in 18th.

With 8 laps to go, Toprak had pulled out the gap to 0.8s, Rea looked to be having a problem either mechanically, or with the tyres.

Next lap and the gap had been increased to 1.4 to Rea, who was still struggling with the bike. Meanwhile Toprak was looking cool, and calm as he had in race 1, and would surely take the win.

With 5 laps to go, Bautista had now closed right up to Rea, and cuts under him into Melbourne loop taking over 2nd. Further back Bassani gets through on Locatelli to take 7th.

With 3 laps remaining, Eugene Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW), retires from the race, possibly having a mechanical issue. Meanwhile Rea was holding a gap of 1.2s to Rinaldi behind in 4th.

WorldSBK Round 5 Race 2 at Donington Toprak Razgatlioglu Picture courtesy of Pata Yamaha BRIXX WorldSBK

Last lap, and Toprak crosses the line proving he’s the king of Donington, taking his first career triple win across the weekend, and massively reducing the gap to the championship leader, Bautista, who comes in 2nd. Rea 3rd, Rinaldi 4th, Redding 5th, Lowes 6th, Bassani 7th, Locatelli 8th, Baz 9th, Lecuona 10th. Tarran Mackenzie takes 15th, while Hickman takes 19th on their debuts.

Result top 5:

  1. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  2. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  4. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati)
  5. Redding (BMW Motorrad)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 246
  2. Rea – 229
  3. Razgatlioglu – 203

 

 

Donington Park World Superbikes Couldn’t Have Planned It Better!

This weekend we are lucky enough to host the British round of the World Superbike series at Donington Park in Derbyshire and as far as I am concerned, it couldn’t have worked out better for them and us. At the time of writing this, the old laptop is pointing towards a temperature on Saturday of 28°c, Sunday showing 31°c and it doesn’t look like the wind is going to climb over 6 mph all weekend. SAFE TO SAY YOU’RE GONNA’ NEED YOUR SUNCREAM AND A HAT!

WSBK Estoril Race 1 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Long hailed one of the jewels in the crown of British Racing, the 2.5 mile circuit winds its way across the rolling British countryside. Anyone who has visited Donington and walked down the Craner Curves to the Old Hairpin for example, will know it’s quite the hike. You are however rewarded by the stunning views and the spectating really does take some beating. Donington does cater well for slips, trips and falls with its gravel traps however it retains that “close to the track” feel that most British circuits, barring Silverstone offer. Hence Donington being a true fan favourite in person and on the TV.

The start of the season in World SBK has been anything (and everything) but boring. Unfortunately “boring” has been a moniker that the series has struggled to shake off it’s back in previous years. However, with some tweeking of the technical regulation by the series owner, to ensure the various manufacturers perform as closely as possible, and the recruitment of some seriously talented riders over the last 2-3 seasons, we have been served up nothing short of bar to bar, wheel to wheel, fairing to fairing, nonstop racing action AND IT’S ABSOLUTEY BRILLIANT!

Alvaro Bautista at Aragon 2022 WSBK. Image courtesy of Ducati

Jonathan Rea having taken a step this year aboard his Kawasaki ZX10R to ultimately close the gap (and overtake) last year’s World Superbike Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu on his Yamaha R1, plus the resurgence of the Ducati Panigale in the hands of returning factory rider Alvaro Bautista. Bautista has replaced regular race winner Scott Redding after he stepped away from the Italian Factory to race on BMW machinery for the 2022/2023 season. Bautista has taken the fight to both Rea and Razgatlioglu and put the dampers on any of Kawasaki and Yamaha’s hard work in the off season. After a string of hard-fought victories, the Spaniard holds a steady 36 points in the lead going into Donington on Rea with Razgatlioglu following another 43 points further back. Based on this alone, we are in for one hell of a treat this weekend.

The sweetener this weekend being the wildcards. The reigning British Superbike Champion, Tarran Mackenzie will make his World Superbike debut aboard a SBK Spec version of his McAms Yamaha R1. Taz was scheduled to debut at the Assen round of the world championship, however a pre-season training accident ruled him out of both Assen and even the opening rounds of the British Superbikes.

Speaking recently to worldsbk.com Tarran said “I am very excited to finally make my debut in the Superbike World Championship at Donington. It feels like it’s been a long time coming and I was obviously disappointed when we couldn’t do Assen. Donington is a special track for me as it’s only 10 minutes down the road from home, I’ve had some great success there in BSB so I am looking forward to getting out on a World Superbike-spec R1 and seeing what both myself and the McAMS Yamaha team can achieve. Obviously, there is a lot to learn with the engine and electronics, but I know the chassis well as my BSB bike is very similar. The level in World Championship is really high and I’m looking forward to getting out on track and giving it our all. I have to say a huge thanks to Steve and the McAMS Yamaha team, as well as Andrea and everyone at Yamaha Racing for making this possible.”

Joining the McAms team at Donington is the FHO Racing team. Peter Hickman will make his 3rd Wildcard appearance in the World Superbike series riding his very own motorcycle from the British Superbike series. As with the McAms bike, it will be running an upgraded electronics package to match the other race entrants with the hope of being in for the win.

In a statement released by the FHO Racing team, Peter Hickman says “I’m mega excited to get a chance to have a go at the World superbikes. I’ve done it twice – once in 2012 with Worx Suzuki and again in 2019 with the BMW World Superbike team but both times were last minute arrangements, jumping on bikes I had never seen before. This time I’ll be riding my FHO Racing BMW which I race in the British Superbike Championship so that will be good. We are having to work on raising the electronics package to World Superbike spec which will change things quite a lot which could be interesting, but we’ll see. I think it’s fantastic that we’re getting the chance to do this as a team and it’s all down to Faye. She’s owned the team for a year and a half and we’ve already done BSB, North West 200, Isle of Man TT and now we’re getting to do a World Superbike wildcard which is pretty cool. It’ll be good for everyone in the team to get to do a World Superbike round together. We’ve all done bits here and there not as a team, so I think it’s going to be a really great thing for us all.”

Also returning to the series is previous Kawasaki KRT rider and current Vison Track Kawasaki rider Leon Haslam, returning again for Team Pedercini Racing on their Kawasaki ZX10R. Not a last-minute decision. This has been in the making since the start of the season when Pedercini scaled back their two-bike team to a single bike entry and agreeing with Leon to join forces for four races this year. So far Leon has rode for the team at the Assen round where he scored 13th, 17th and 16th place finishes. Let’s hope Donington Park offers some home round advantage for Leon and he can pick up some much needed racing confidence after a somewhat disappointing start to the 2022 BSB season. Leon is also scheduled to ride for the Pedercini team at the Most and Portimao rounds later in the season.

WSBK Assen 23.04.2022 Razgatlioglu and Locatelli Picture courtesy of Pata Yamaha

As for the other Brits, it goes without saying we hope that Scott Redding, Alex Lowes and Jonathan Rea have a great race. It’s been a while since we had a full compliment flying the flag for us on the world stage. It’s very nice to see some fresh faces being given a chance to shine. Well done to Yamaha, McAms, Kawasaki, Lucio Pedercini, BMW and Faye Ho for making the brave choices to invest further money into a sport famous for its expense. With the cost of living rising across the globe and the financial constraints placed on business in general, it’s a wonder we go racing at all.

Have a goodun’.

Racing Armchair

@racingarmchair

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 2 WorldSBK Assen, Netherlands, Race 2

The Superpole race saw Rea (Kawasaki KRT) claim his 2nd win of the weekend, followed by Bautista (aruba.it Ducati)* (who would go on to be penalised a position due to exceeding the track limits), and Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) who crossed in 3rd. The final position saw Toprak moved up into 2nd, with Bautista in 3rd.

Race 2 saw conditions match those of yesterday. Would Rea be able to claim a clean sweep of wins this weekend?

WSBK Assen 23.04.2022 Razgatlioglu and Locatelli Picture courtesy of Pata Yamaha

Lights out and it was Razgatlioglu with the hole shot, followed closely by his team mate Locatelli, who in turn had Bautista, Lecuona (Honda HRC) and Rea in close pursuit. A bad day for GRT Yamaha who lose both of their riders. First Nozane continued his poor form by crashing into turn 1, and then Gerloff ran into the back of Rea. Rea managed to keep the bike upright, but Gerloff’s race was over.

Next lap and it was the turn of Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) to go down, this time in turn 8. Meanwhile Rea not letting the earlier incident upset his rhythm, moved past Lecuona into 4th. It was Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) in 8th who set the fastest lap of 1:34.093 however, and was looking quick.

With 18 laps to go, Rea continued to gain positions, this time moving past Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) into 3rd, and then past Bautista into 2nd. Toprak was still out in the lead, and it looked like it would be a repeat of race 1, with this trio clearing off into the distance.

WSBK Assen 23.04.2022 Lowes Picture courtesy of KRT Kawasaki

With 16 laps remaining huge drama unfolded, as Toprak and Rea collided into turn 2, with both of them hitting the deck, putting an end to their race. Bautista narrowly avoided getting caught up in the crash, and now found himself the new race leader. Positions were now as follows: 1. Bautista 2. Lecuona (Honda HRC) 3. Bassani 4. Locatelli 5. Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati) 6. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT) 7. Redding (BMW Motorrad) and 8. Vierge (Honda HRC).

The two former MotoGP riders, Bautista and Lecuona, were now battling each other out for the race win. Could Lecuona claim his first WorldSBK podium?

With 13 laps to go, Bassani continued to show impressive pace, and had now moved up to 4th, with Lowes behind in 5th. Redding too was having a better race, and was now up to 6th. Rinaldi lost places, and was now in 7th.

With 11 laps remaining, Bautista had pulled the trigger, and had extended his gap over Lecuona to 2.8s. Meanwhile behind, Redding was looking to make a move on Lowes for 5th. Vd Mark, the local Dutch rider, was having a decent race moving up to 8th, whilst still recovering from an injury to his ankle.

With 9 laps to go, Bautista was showing no signs of weakness, and had increased the gap to 4.4s over Lecuona. The Honda rider himself held a gap of 0.4 to Locatelli behind in 3rd. Positions were as follows; 1. Bautista 2. Lecuona 3. Locatelli 4. Bassani 5. Lowes and 6. Redding.

WSBK Assen 23.04.2022 Podium Bautista, Lecuona and Locatelli Picture courtesy of Honda HRC

On lap 14 of 21, Redding made his move on both Bassani and Lowes, moving up into 4th. The BMW was certainly working much better for Redding this weekend, and he was showing his raw pace of last season. Meanwhile further back a 3 way battle had now developed between Vd Mark, Vierge (Honda HRC) and Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing).

With 5 laps to go, Lecuona was holding firm in 2nd, and still held a gap of 0.2s to Locatelli who looked like he had extra grip, and was lining up a pass on the Spaniard.

Next lap and Locatelli makes the move on Lecuona going into 2nd. Meanwhile, Bautista was away and no doubt had the win in the bag, with a gap of nearly 10s. Further back, both Lowes and Bassani had fought their way back to Redding, and there was now a 3 way fight for 4th.

WSBK Assen 23.04.2022 Locatelli Picture courtesy of Pata Yamaha

Last lap and Bautista crosses the line to claim the win, followed by Locatelli and Lecuona. Lowes and Bassani both got past Redding, followed by Rinaldi in 7th, Vd Mark in 8th, Vierge 9th and Mahias rounding out the top 10. *Bassani would go on to be penalised for exceeding track limits, and conceded his position to Redding who claims 5th.

Result top 5:

  1. Bautista (aruba.it Ducati)
  2. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)
  3. Lecuona (Honda HRC)
  4. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT)
  5. Redding (BMW Motorrad)

Out: Rea (Kawasaki KRT), Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha), Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), Baz (Bonovo Action BMW), Oetll (GoEleven Ducati).

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista 109 pts
  2. Rea 91
  3. Razgatlioglu 64

 

Round 2 WorldSBK Assen, Netherlands, Race 1

Superpole went to the reigning world champion, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha), with a fastest ever lap record of 1:32.934.

Jonathan Rea WSBK 23.04.2022 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki KRT

Conditions for race 1 were close to ideal, with the track temperature around 30 degrees celsius and dry. All the riders opted for the softer SCX tyre option, except Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) who went with the harder option. Eugene Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW) was still nursing an injured right forearm, and was subsequently declared unfit to race.

Lights out and it’s Toprak with the hole shot into turn 1 followed by his Yamaha team mate Locatelli, who in turn was followed by the Kawasaki team mates of Rea and Lowes. They in turn who were followed by the Ducati team mates of Bautista and Rinaldi.

Onto the next lap and Rea, showing good early pace, moved up past Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) to take over 2nd place. Positions were as follows: 1. Razgatlioglu; 2. Rea; 3. Locatelli; 4. Lowes (Kawasaki KRT); 5. Bautista (aruba.it Ducati) and 6. Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati). Rea was keen to keep the race pace high, and break up this group of dangerous riders, and had already pulled out a gap of 0.5s to Locatelli in 3rd.

With 18 laps to go Rea passes Razgatlioglu down the straight, however Toprak fought back to stay with him. Further back it was 7th Lecuona (Honda HRC), followed by 8th Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati), 9th Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) and 10th Gerloff who was struggling with the hard tyre, and subsequently losing places.

With 16 laps to go, the leading group of 6 riders had distanced the rest. Rea still out front, now held a gap of 0.2s to Toprak behind in 2nd. Redding (BMW Motorrad) was having a better time of it, and had moved up to 10th, getting past the Texan, who was struggling with his grip levels.

Razgatlioglu : WSBK 23.04.2022 Picture courtesy of Pata Yamaha

With 14 laps remaining, the lead group was reduced down to 5, with Rinaldi now losing contact with those ahead of him. Meanwhile his team mate set a new fastest lap of 1:35.246, and was gaining ground, subsequently moving past Lowes to take 4th. The Ducati was looking quick through the faster sectors, and Bautista was using this advantage to gain time on those ahead.

With 11 laps to go, it was Locatelli next up for the Spaniard Bautista, who made no mistake and passed the Italian into the chicane to take 3rd. Bautista was now 0.7s behind Razgatlioglu and, as Redding had shown last season, the Ducati was capable of late race pace. Lowes retires due to a mechanical issue.

Next lap, and Bautista was now right on Razgatlioglu, the Ducati was running half a second faster than both Rea and Toprak. This trio had already distanced Locatelli who was slipping back, and the win would no doubt be fought out amongst themselves.

With 8 laps to go Toprak out brakes Rea into the chicane, clearly feeling the mounting pressure from Bautista behind, and wants to get away. Meanwhile further back Redding was now up to 9th, Gerloff was in 11th and Lecuona was having a decent race in a lonely 6th. Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) was having another difficult race, and found himself in 19th.

With 6 laps remaining, Rea repays the favour and out brakes Toprak into turn 1. Bautista sensing an opportunity also passes Toprak. The Turkish rider now finding himself in 3rd. It was clear to see how the Ducati was gaining time on the Kawasaki through the fast sectors. Next up it was the turn of Rinaldi to suffer a mechanical and subsequently retire.

Lap 17 of 21, and Bautista was now right on the back of Rea. Meanwhile Razgatlioglu was hanging onto 3rd, but didn’t seem to have the pace of the two ahead of him. Bautista makes a move on Rea, but the Irishman is able to snap straight back re-taking the lead around the outside.

With 3 laps to go, Rea had now put the hammer down, and had increased his lead to 0.4s, surely knowing the Ducati would close the gap through the fast sectors. Razgatlioglu looked too far behind, and was out of contention for the race win, it would come down to Rea v Bautista.

Lecuona : WSBK 23.04.2022 Picture courtesy of Honda HRC

Last lap then, and Rea was still hanging onto a decent lead. The Spaniard again closed the gap through the faster sectors, but it wouldn’t be enough and Rea crossed the line to take the win, followed by Bautista and Toprak. Positions were as follows: 1. Rea, 2. Bautista, 3. Razgatlioglu, 4. Locatelli, 5. Lecuona, 6. Baz, 7. Oettl (GoEleven Ducati), 8. Gerloff and 9. Redding.

Result top 5:

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

Top 3 championship:

  1. Bautista 57 pts
  2. Rea 54
  3. Razgatlioglu 39

Round 1 WorldSBK Aragon, Spain, Race 2

The first Superpole race of the new season saw Bautista (aruba.it Ducati) exact revenge for getting pipped in race 1 and claim the win, followed by 2nd Rea (Kawasaki KRT), and 3rd Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha).

Alvaro Bautista & Michael Rinaldi – WorldSBK Aragon 10.04.2022 Picture courtesy of Aruba.it Racing

The track temperature was slightly higher for race 2, compared to race 1, with most of the riders again opting for the softer tyre option. Lights out, and its Rea with the hole shot into turn 1, pursued by the Ducati team mates of Bautista and Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati, with Razgatlioglu closely behind in 4th. This group of 4 was already gaining an advantage on the rest of the field, pulling out a slight gap.

With 16 laps to go, the two aruba.it Ducatis were looking quick and Rea was going to have his hands full shortly in trying to keep them at bay. Positions were: 1st Rea, 2nd Bautista, 3rd Rinaldi, 4th, Razgatlioglu and 5th Lowes (Kawasaki KRT).

Next lap and with Rea feeling the pressure from the Ducatis behind, makes a mistake by running too hot into turn 1, allowing both Bautista and Rinaldi through. Rea now anxious to get back to the front, had to first deal with the immediate problem of getting past the reigning world champion in 3rd. Further back there was a four way battle for 7th between the Honda team mates of Lecuona (Honda HRC), Vierge, Loris Baz (Bonovo action BMW) and Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorlsSBK Team).

With 13 laps to go Rea manages to out break Toprak into turn 1 taking back 3rd. Meanwhile the two Ducatis at the front were looking quick, most notably Bautista who was pulling away. Would the Spaniard be able to claim his 2nd win of the day? Further back Redding (BMW Motorrad) was still having a miserable weekend, and now found himself dead last in 23rd place. Seemingly unable to get the BMW into corners. What is happening in that garage?

With 11 laps to go Rea had the head down and was desperate to regain contact with the Ducatis at the front, both of whom were having a cracking race. Behind Rea it was; 4th Razgatlioglu, 5th Lowes, 6th Baz, 7th Lecuona, 8th Vierge and 9th Gerloff.

Next lap and Rea had now closed the gap to 2nd place Rinaldi to 0.8s. Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) was having an incredible race and had now moved all the way up to 6th. Meanwhile further back both Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team, and Laverty (Bonovo action BMW) were struggling, and found themselves in 14th and 15th respectively.

With 8 laps to go the increasing pressure on Rinaldi told, and he was forced into a mistake running wide into turn 1, allowing Rea to come past for an easy 2nd place. Rea was now running 0.3s a lap faster than Bautista at the front, but would he have enough laps left to catch the Spaniard?

Next lap and with Rea pushing as hard as he dared, he over shot turn 1, running wide and losing precious time. The gap to Bautista was now pushed out to 1.8s with more work left for Rea. Meanwhile Redding retired, giving up on a shockingly dreadful weekend.

With 6 laps to go it was Rinaldi in 3rd who now set the fastest lap of 1:51.377, although the race pace was faster yesterday, even although the track temperature was colder. Further back Gerloff in 10th, was all over the back of Vierge in 9th, and looking for the pass.

With 5 laps to go Razgatlioglu had found a bit of late race pace, and was closing in on 3rd place Rinaldi cutting the gap down to 0.3s. Could the Turkish rider claim a podium postion? Nozane had a nasty crash into turn 7, sending his Yamaha down the road in a shower of sparks. He was able to walk away, but his race was over.

WorldSBK Aragon 10.04.2022 Picture courtesy of Honda Racing Corporation

Next lap and Toprak set the new fastest lap of 1:51.177, quicker than both the riders ahead of him. Bautista looked to have the win sealed up and was comfortable in the lead, with Rea too far behind to cause any trouble. Second and 3rd were all still to play for however.

With 3 laps to go Razgatlioglu out brakes Rinaldi into turn 2, and takes 3rd. Meanwhile Rea was far enough ahead in 2nd to be comfortable, without having to look over his shoulder.

Last lap and Bautista crosses the line in 1st to take his 2nd win of the day, putting himself at the top of the championship in the process. Second Rea, 3rd Razgatlioglu, 4th Rinaldi, 5th Lowes, 6th Bassani, 7th Baz, 8th Vierge, 9th Gerloff, 10th Lecuona.

Result top 5:

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

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista 57 pts
  2. Rea 54
  3. Razgatlioglu 39

 

 

IMPORTANT PORTIMAO TEST NEXT UP FOR KRT’s WorldSBK TEAM

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:

Alex Lowes Picture courtesy of KRT Provec Racing

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 Picture courtesy of KRT Provec Racing

STATEMENTS:

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.”

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.

 

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