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

 

Round 9 WorldSBK Catalunya, Spain, Race 1

It was Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad) who ended Jonathan Rea’s (Kawasaki KRT) dominance of superpoles by claiming his very own with a fastest lap of 1:40.408. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) getting 2nd with Rea in 3rd.

Catalunya Race 1 WorldSBK Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team – Provec Racing

The start of race one was declared wet with rain pelting down onto the track. No surprise then that the whole grid went with wet tyres. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) retired before the start, unfortunately crashing out on the sighting lap.

Lights out and it was Razgatlioglu with a great start in the tricky conditions, getting the hole shot into turn 1. Locatelli on the other Pata Yamaha was briefly in 2nd before Rea came through to claim the position. It was Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) in 3rd, Locatelli 4th and Bassani (Motocorsa Racing Ducati) in 5th from a grid position of 11th. However both Sykes and Redding (Aruba.it Ducati) had terrible starts and found themselves way down in 9th and 10th respectively.

By the start of lap 2, Rea had found a way past Razgatlioglu and was looking to get away, although the Turkish rider was having none of it and they swapped the lead several times. Bassani was now up to 3rd, looking confident in the difficult conditions and looking to join the battle up front.

Rea had put the hammer down on lap 3, posting a fastest lap of 1:57.362 and this pace was now putting a significant gap into Toprak behind who had to deal with Bassani who had closed right behind him. Further back the Honda team mates of Haslam and Bautista were in 9th and 14th respectively with Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) in 10th and Redding who had slipped further back to 11th.

Rinaldi and vd Mark (BMW Motorrad) were having a battle for 4th place. Both bikes came together with Rinaldi coming off the better and scraping through to take 4th. Meanwhile up front Razgatlioglu had his hands full keeping Bassani at bay with both riders giving the spectators a real treat, swapping positions several times. This was all playing into the Northern Irishman’s hands and he had now increased his gap at the front to 2.5 on lap 4.

Further back Lowes (Kawasaki KRT) had now moved into 5th, taking the position from vd Mark. Redding was 7.5 behind the leader in 10th and looking very unsure of his Ducati in the brutal conditions.

Razgatlioglu responded to the pace of Rea putting in a new fastest lap of 1:56.777. Meanwhile further back there was a three way battle for 8th, 9th and 10th between Sykes, Locatelli and Redding respectively, with the latter eventually moving through to take 8th.

With 15 laps to go, Bassani takes 2nd from Razgatlioglu, the Italian looking for his first ever WorldSBK win. No doubt Toprak was getting more frustrated as he saw his championship lead being cut.

Meanwhile Haslam had now caught the group of Rinaldi 4th, vd Mark 5th and Lowes 6th to make it a four way battle. At the front Razgatlioglu responds with another fastest lap of 1:56.544, desperate not to let Bassani get away.

With 12 laps to go, Redding had now made it onto the back of the Haslam group into 8th and was looking more confident into the tricky corners, but would there be enough laps for him to get any further?

Halfway stage of the race and Rea now appeared to be losing his advantage with both Bassani and Razgatlioglu less than a second behind. The Turkish rider setting a previous lap nearly a whole second quicker than Rea.

Catalunya Race 1 WorldSBK Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team – Provec Racing

With 9 laps left, Razgatlioglu had come through on Bassani and then drives his Yamaha around the outside of Rea to take over the lead. Bassani then uses all the grunt of the Ducati to power past Rea down the straight, Rea falling back like a stone now and would soon have vd Mark on him. Redding meanwhile, was in 6th and looking for a way past Rinaldi in 5th.

Then drama with 6 laps to go, disaster strikes for Razgatlioglu, his Yamaha losing all power and that spells the end of his race. Bassani could not believe his fortune and takes over the race lead.

With 5 laps to go, there was now a group of 5 riders all vying for the win. Rea continued to slip back and both Ducati team mates came through, Rinaldi in 2nd with Redding in 3rd, Rea now 4th and vd Mark in 5th.

Lap 18 and Redding was really in the groove and after getting by on his team mate, he had Bassani firmly in his crosshairs in the process setting a fastest lap of 1:56.166.

Into turn 5 and Redding makes a block pass on Bassani, taking over the lead. With only 3 laps to go could Bassani respond? Meanwhile Rea was desperately trying to hold off vd Mark in 4th.

Redding does not allow Bassani back into contention and takes an amazing win after only being in 10th on lap 1. Bassani comes over the line in 2nd, Rinaldi 3rd, Rea 4th and vd Mark 5th. Other notable places were Lowes in 6th, Haslam 7th, Sykes 8th and Bautista 9th.

The result meant Rea would again take over at the top of this quite breathtaking championship from Razgatlioglu.

Result top 5:

  1. Redding (aruba.it Ducati)
  2. Bassani (motocorsa racing Ducati)
  3. Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati)
  4. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  5. vd Mark (BMW Motorrad)

Out: Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha), Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team)

Championship top 3:

  1. Rea 376 pts
  2. Razgatlioglu 370
  3. Redding 323

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

Round 4 WorldSBK Donington Park Race 1

World Super Bikes makes a welcome return to Donington Park after missing out last year due to the Covid 19 restrictions. The historic track, being the place where it all began back in 1988, hosting the first ever WorldSBK race.  Would we see history in the making this weekend?

Dramatic scenes at Donington. (Courtesy of: WorldSBK website).

Championship leader Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) was looking in scintillating form, setting the fastest time in FP 1, as well as in a wet FP3. With the heavens opening to make for a wet Superpole, it wouldn’t dampen Rea’s pace, topping the grid in an unbeaten time of 1:40.101. Completing the front row would be the BMW teammates, Michael van der Mark  1:40.626, and Tom Sykes in 1:40.763.

The weather for Race 1 was looking typically mixed for a British summers day. With a massive downpour earlier in the morning, the race was declared wet, even although by start time the track was dry in most places. Tyre choice would be crucial, and it seemed most of the grid was going for slicks.

Lights out, and it was Jonathan Rea who got the hole shot into turn 1, closely followed by the two BMWs of van der Mark, and Sykes. It was Toprak Razgatlioglu (Yamaha) with a wonder start who was grabbing all the headlines early on, scything through the field from a lowly qualifying position of 13th, by turn 1 he was already up to 5th place. Winner last time around in Misano race 2, Razgatlioglu (TR) wasn’t hanging about, getting past both BMWs by the end of the first lap.

T.R was now hunting down Rea, who nearly went down after his rear tyre hit a damp patch. Further back in the field it was still very close, Gerloff (Yamaha) was passed in the Melbourne Loop by Redding (Ducati) who subsequently went down at the top of Craner Curves. The damp track was causing havoc, who was going to be able to hold their nerve? Another crash through the Craner Curves and its Christophe Ponsson (Yamaha) who went down.

T.R was now caught up to Rea and made his pass on lap 2. Across the start/finish line to begin lap 3, Rea again slides at the top of Craner Curves, this time running off the track and down across the wet grass, somehow managing to avoid a massive crash, rejoins the track to remain in 2nd place. Razgatlioglu lays down the first marker by putting in a fastest lap of 1:33.292.

Spectators get a fantastic race. (Courtesy of WorldSBK website).

Van Der Mark (BMW) was now right behind Rea after his excursion, and looking for a way past. Further back it was Leon Haslam (Honda) in 5th place clawing his way up to Sykes in 4th, while Gerloff in 7th was closing up to Alex Lowes (Kawasaki) in 6th. Both Razgatlioglu and Gerloff were using the slick soft X-tyre, and it was noticeable in their times.

With 20 laps to go, Razgatlioglu already held a gap of 3.1 to Rea, and was slowly applying more pressure, putting in another fastest lap of 1:32.706. The world champion would respond the next lap setting a new fastest lap of 1:31.441. It was turning out to be ‘anything you can do, I can do better.’

Again, with 18 laps to go Rea puts in another fastest lap of 1:30.648, reducing the gap to T.R to 1.948. He wouldn’t be giving up any time soon. With the track mostly dry now, faster times were being set. Razgatlioglu responded with 17 laps to go, setting a new fastest lap of 1:30.126. The drying track was still catching some riders out, with Andrea Locatelli (Yamaha) crashing hard, but he managed to walk away unhurt.

Another big moment for Rea at Redgate turn 1 with 15 laps to go, the rear stepped out, the slide is saved, but Rea lost valuable time to T.R. With the sun now shining down onto the track, the fans were being treated to absolutely sublime racing. Donington we missed you!

With 13 laps to go, van der Mark was getting closed down quickly by his team mate in 4th, and Lowes in 5th. Gerloff got through on Haslam with 12 laps to go. In a ding-dong battle, Sykes decides to make a move on his teammate, opening the door for Lowes, van der Mark now going from 3rd to 5th. All the while Gerloff was gaining on the trio.  Into the Melbourne Loop van der Mark runs in hot, and bumps shoulders with Lowes, somehow both riders managed to stay on, but this allowed Gerloff to gain a place – moving up to 5th.

Meanwhile at the front with 11 laps remaining, Rea puts in a new fastest lap of 1:28.908, hoping to claw his way back to T.R. The gap now at 3.4. Immediately the next lap T.R responds with a 1:28.815, not allowing Rea to have any momentum. Tito Rabat (Ducati) retires due to a mechanical problem.

With 9 laps to go Lowes makes a move on Sykes, out-braking him into the Melbourne Loop – pushing him wide, this in turn leaves Gerloff space to dive inside Sykes, going from 3rd to 5th in one corner. Last corner, turn 12 (Goddards) and Gerloff drives up the inside of Lowes, aggressive riding by the Texan – now on for a podium.

Razgatlioglu now lapping Jonas Folger (BMW) with 8 laps to go, showing no signs of slowing down. The gap to Rea now at 3.9. Drama for Gerloff going into turn 12 with 7 laps to go, he loses the front end and goes down, managing to get back on track now in 8th position, no doubt seething under his helmet after all the work he did earlier.

Lap 18 of 23 and the gap between Razgatlioglu to Rea now at 4.2, with Rea seemingly having accepted his 2nd place, or possibly not able to respond anymore to Razgatlioglu’s lap times – tyre wear almost certainly an issue for both riders now.

With 5 laps remaining Alvaro Bautista (Honda) had steadily moved up to 7th from a grid position of 16th, although he had Gerloff looking to make a pass on him, which he did, pushing him back a position. Gerloff was now hunting down Haslam in 6th place with only 4 laps remaining. Meanwhile at the head the gap between Razgatlioglu and Rea was now up to 5.0.

Last lap – late drama, Razgatlioglu’s bike looks to be spluttering from low fuel, he managed to cross the line, but lost the gap he made to Rea, who crossed in 2nd place.  Lowes the local lad, gets 3rd place for his 200th WSBK start.

Sportsmanship between first and second place. (Courtesy of: WorldSBK website).

There is a star on the Turkish flag, and Razgatlioglu no doubt surely is one, with a bright future ahead of him. After an action packed race 1, what will the Superpole race, and race 2 bring?

Race Results:

  1. Toprak Razgatlioglu – Yamaha
  2. Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki
  3. Alex Lowes – Kawasaki
  4. Tom Sykes – BMW
  5. Michael van der Mark – BMW
  6. Leon Haslam – Honda
  7. Garrett Gerloff – Yamaha
  8. Alvaro Bautista – Honda
  9. Lucas Mahias – Kawasaki
  10. Axel Bassani – Ducati

Out – Jonas Folger – BMW, Tito Rabat – Ducati, Andrea Locatelli – Yamaha, Scott Redding – Ducati, Christophe Ponsson – Yamaha.

Championship Standings:

  1. Rea – 169 pts
  2. Raz – 154
  3. Red – 104
  4. Low – 104
  5. Rin – 86

 

(Featured image – courtesy of: BBC)