2022 WorldSBK Season Preview

Yes fans, the new superbike season is nearly here, and if it’s anything like last season, we’re in for a real treat.

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WSBK Navarra 22.08.2021
Picture courtesy of Ducati Racing

Thirteen rounds of action packed racing await, and hopefully we’ll have a Phillip Island round, which has been pencilled in at the back end of the year, which as of yet we still await the dates to be announced. Round 13 is also unknown as of yet. It seems that we won’t be returning to Navarra in Spain this time round.

So the season kicks off for round 1 in Aragon, Spain on the 8th of April. We will have another Spanish round in Catalunya on the 23rd of September, and as mentioned above it seems no Navarra round.

After that we’ve got Assen, then the first of two trips to Portugal, for Estoril and Portimao later in the year. The UK round at Donington Park is smack bang right in the middle of summer on the 15th July. Will we have bright sunshine, or a complete washout? Either is possible lets be honest. Returns to Misano, Most in Czech Rep, Magny- Cours, France, Argentina, and Mandalika in Indonesia are all on. With question marks above round 12 Phillip Island and 13 still to be announced.

WorldSBK Portimao 03.10.21 Race 2 Bautista Picture courtesy of Aruba.it Ducati

There has been a couple of changes to rider line-ups so far, a few of the most notable are Scott Redding switching the red of Ducati for a blue, red and white livery of BMW Motorrad. Alvaro Bautista will take the seat vacated by Redding, and will join the Aruba.it Racing Ducati team. Honda HRC will have two new Spanish riders join them, Iker Lecuona from MotoGP and Xavi Vierge from Moto2. Eugene Laverty is back on a BMW for the Bonovo action team and he will be joined by Loris Baz who makes a return to WorldSBK.

It will take some doing to replicate last season, but I am really excited to see how the new riders for Honda HRC will handle the jump to WorldSBK. They’re both young but definitely talented. Honda didn’t produce one of their finest seasons last year, with both Bautista and Haslam struggling for form most of the year, although Bautista did improve in the last few rounds. If Honda can get their bike working, I think both riders can challenge for good results this season.

Bautista had blistering speed when he made his WorldSBK debut on a Ducati in 2019, and was challenging Jonathan Rea for the win every race in the early part of the season. Although he couldn’t maintain the form right through the season, he did pick up a good few wins early on. Rinaldi had a couple of good races last season, and if Bautista can pick up where he left off last season, I think both riders will provide a stiff test for Toprak and Johnny.

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

Scott Redding was a thorn in both Toprak and Rea’s side last season, providing us fans with one of the most exciting seasons ever. There was no doubt that the Ducati was an absolute missile last season and Scott knew exactly how to inflict the most amount of damage with it. Finishing 3rd behind two of the most talented riders ever to grace WorldSBK is definitely no mean feat. I really hope BMW can provide Scott with a fast bike, because we all want to see him charging hard every race.

Johnny will still be seeking world championship number 7 next season and he knows full well Kawasaki will have to improve their bike if they are going to wrestle that title away from Toprak.

Is it too early to make a prediction? Of course it is, but why not, so here is mine.

Championship result top 3:

  1. Toprak Razgatlioglu
  2. Jonathan Rea
  3. Alvaro Bautista

Race Dates:

  1. Aragon Round – MotorLand Aragon – 8,9,10 April
  2. Dutch Round – TT Circuit Assen – 22,23,24 April
  3. Estoril Round – Circuito Estoril – 20,21,22 May
  4. Emilia – Romagna Round – Misano World Circuit – 10,11,12 June
  5. UK Round – Donington Park – 15,16,17 July
  6. Czech Round – Autodrom Most – 29,30,31 July
  7. French Round – Magny – Cours – 9,10,11 September
  8. Catalunya Round – Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya – 23,24,25 September
  9. Portuguese Round – Autodromo Internacional do Algarve – 7,8,9 October
  10. Argentinean Round – Circuito San Juan Villicum  – 21,22,23 October
  11. Indonesian Round – Mandalika International Street Circuit – 11,12,13 Nov
  12. Australian Round – Phillip Island – TBA*
  13. TBA*

Rider and Team line-up so far:

  • Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK: Toprak Razgatlioglu / Andrea Locatelli
  • Aruba.it Racing Ducati: Alvaro Bautista / Michael Ruben Rinadi
  • Kawasaki Racing Team: Jonathan Rea / Alex Lowes
  • BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: Scott Redding / Michael van der Mark
  • Team HRC Honda: Iker Lecuona / Xavi Vierge
  • GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team: Garrett Gerloff / Kohta Nozane
  • Motocorsa Racing: Axel Bassani
  • TeamGoEleven: Philipp Oettl
  • Kawasaki Puccetti Racing: Lucas Mahias
  • Barni Racing Team: Luca Bernardi
  • Bonovo action BMW Racing Team: Eugene Laverty / Loris Baz
  • OUTDO TPR Team Perdercini Racing: Loris Cresson
  • MIE Racing Honda Team: Leandro Mercado / Hafizh Syahrin

* Race Calender and rider/team line-up taken from http://WorldSBK.com

 

What Next For JR 65 ?

So for the first time in over 5 years, the number 65, not number 1, will adorn the front end of Jonathan Rea’s Kawasaki ZX-10R. In the immediate aftermath of the Indonesian race, Rea looked shell shocked, yet as always was gracious in his praise for the new champion.

Jonathan Rea Misano WSBK. Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

No one can argue that the Northern Irishman is a proper gentleman both on and off the track. Look beneath the grin and cordial demeanour however, and you’ll discover a burning desire to win. It can hardly come as a surprise that winning means so much to the 6 time world champion, yet more than anything, it is his relentless hunger to keep proving himself, which is really awe-inspiring.

In Toprak Razgatlioglu, Rea has met an opponent just as hungry as he himself is. An opponent who leaves nothing behind on the track and pushes Rea to another level. Yes the Kawasaki struggled in a lot of areas, out performed in terms of top end speed, by not only the Ducati’s, but also by the Yamaha’s. What was of more concern, certainly of trying to find a solution, was the stability issues, especially into hard braking corners which plagued the Kawasaki all season. Rea was using “Marc Marques” skills saving what could have been several nasty crashes. The save at Donington Park springs to  mind, as Rea somehow managed to “motocross” his way off-road down the Craner Curves, still managing to rejoin the race. He was not as lucky in Portimao and was involved in a really scary high speed crash, walking away from a mangled ZX-10R.

Michael van der Mark, Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes at Magny-Cours WSBK 2019. Image courtesy of Yamaha Racing

A certain Valentino Rossi finally hung up his leathers this year at the age of 42, putting a bookend to 3 decades of racing. Rossi never lost his hunger for competing at the top level, and when new, younger opponents came onto the scene, he was able to reinvent himself, applying what the younger riders were doing and honing his craft.

I could see Rea doing something similar, extending his career for several more years. Certainly the talented crop of young riders in WorldSBK at the moment, will push Rea further. Not only Toprak and Scott Redding, but also the likes of Axel Bassani, Andrea Locatelli, Garrett Gerloff and the talented Iker Lecuona who comes from MotoGP.

Jonathan Rea at the 2020 Philip Island Test. Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

The future is a hard thing to predict, but what does look certain is WorldSBK continuing to provide action packed racing, whether or not Jonathan Rea is still there. Although as fans of the sport, we all still hope he is there for many years to come.

 

Round 13 WorldSBK Indonesia Race 1

After the torrential downpour yesterday, both races 1 and 2 would be decided on Sunday, while the Superpole race was cancelled. Conditions were once again mixed, with dark clouds on the horizon, and the track was still damp in some places.

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

With a points advantage of 30, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) knew 2nd place would be good enough for the championship win. Jonathan Rea (KRT Kawasaki) meanwhile, knew he’d have to try get the win, and force the championship to race 2.

Lights out and its Rea with the hole shot, followed by Redding (aruba.it Ducati) in 2nd, Toprak in 3rd, Sykes (BMW Motorrad) 4th and Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) 5th. Toprak knew he had to put Rea under pressure, and maybe force him into a mistake.

With 18 laps to go, the pressure pays off and Razgatlioglu gets past Rea. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) made a brilliant start and was up to 3rd, 0.3 seconds behind Rea.

With 16 laps to go Bassani was flying, and gets through on both Rea and Razgatlioglu to take over the lead. Rea meanwhile sensed an opportunity and returned the favour, getting back in front after passing Bassani and Toprak. This was no holes barred racing at its best, the riders were leaving nothing behind.

With 15 laps to go, Rea sets a fastest lap of 1:37.418, the track was now mostly dry, and the riders were confident. Next was the turn of Toprak to post a fastest time of 1:36.772, the lap times now tumbling down.

Rea had the hammer down and was pushing, setting a new fastest lap of 1:35.830. With Toprak on his wheel however, Rea knew he’d need help from somewhere else if he was to keep his hopes of a 7th title alive.

And then with 12 laps to go Razgatlioglu slides up the inside of Rea, both wheels of the Yamaha looked completely out of line, yet somehow as he has done all season long, the Turk gets it stopped and makes the apex to retake the lead. Meanwhile Redding was getting quicker every lap and moves through on Bassani to take 3rd.

Redding was finding his groove, and with 10 laps to go the Ducati rider gets past Rea to take 2nd. He was only 0.1 behind Toprak, and was hunting him down. Again, it was this trio of riders who would be having the final showdown, as has been the story all season long.

The pressure pays off the next lap, as Razgatlioglu is forced into running wide, and Scott accepts taking over the lead. Rea now in 2nd, while Toprak gets back into 3rd, but had Bassani all over the back of him.

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

All the riders were feeling the pressure ramp up, and with 5 laps to go it was the turn of Redding to run wide into turn 10, Rea seized the momentum and retook the lead. As it stood, Toprak would need to get past Redding if he was to take his first championship title.

With 3 laps to go, Redding again runs wide, allowing Toprak to come through and take 2nd. Rea meanwhile could do no more, and was having a great race, but it would not be enough ultimately.

Rea crosses the line in 1st, followed by Toprak Razgatlioglu in 2nd and with it claiming his first ever WorldSBK championship title. Redding gets 3rd.

Result top 5:

  1. Rea (KRT Kawasaki)
  2. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  3. Redding (aruba.it Ducati)
  4. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati)
  5. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)

 

Championship top 3:

  1. Razgtlioglu – 551
  2. Rea – 526
  3. Redding 481

 

Round 12 WorldSBK Argentina Race 2

After making it two for two, with the win in race one yesterday and the Superpole race today, Toprak (Pata Yamaha) was looking in scintillating form in San Juan, and was looking to make it a clean sweep of wins.

WorldSBK Agentina 17.10.2021 Picture courtesy of Aruba.it Ducati

Lights out and again Razgatlioglu gets the hole shot. Rea (KRT Kawasaki) second, Redding (Aruba.it Ducati) third, Bassani (motocorsa Ducati) fourth, vd Mark (BMW Motorrad) fifth and Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) sixth.

Rea was keen not to allow Toprak to escape as he had in race one, and was putting the pressure on in search of a way up the inside of the Yamaha, but was unable to make a move stick. Bassani swooped by on Redding to take third. Toprak went wide out of the straight and allowed Rea to take over the lead.

With 19 laps to go, Rea had put the hammer down setting a new fastest lap of 1:38.256; the front four of Rea, Razgatlioglu, Bassani and Redding were pulling away from the rest. Toprak didn’t stay behind Rea long, before diving up the inside of the Irishman to retake the lead.

With 18 laps to go, Rea now found himself in third after Redding got by. The Ducatis were looking good and Bassani was all over the back of Rea now.

With 17 laps to go, Redding uses the Ducati power to get past Razgatlioglu down the back straight but subsequently goes wide into the next corner, allowing both Toprak and Rea through.

With 15 laps to go, it was Razgatlioglu leading, followed by Rea, Redding, vd Mark and Rinaldi. As they had all season, both Razgatlioglu and Rea were going faring to faring, and the lead swapped several times.

With 14 laps to go Razgatlioglu puts in a fastest lap of 1:37.968, but he can’t break Rea or Redding behind as he had in race one. Meanwhile further back, Davies (GoEleven Ducati) was sat in eigth, chased by Haslam (Honda HRC) and Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team).

With 12 laps to go Redding takes the lead, getting up the inside of Toprak having previously gone through on Rea. Would he be able to get away?

With 10 laps to go, Redding puts in a fastest lap of 1:37.716, steadily pulling away from both Razgatlioglu and Rea behind. Bassani fought back, and is now right on the back of Rea.

With six to go, Rea outbrakes Razgatlioglu into turn one to take 2nd. Meanwhile Redding was looking comfortable in the lead, and held a gap of over two seconds to Rea.

Last lap and Redding denies Razgatlioglu a clean sweep of wins, claiming his first win in Argentina. Rea came across the line for second, ahead of Razgatlioglu, Bassani, Rinaldi, vd Mark, Locatelli and Gerloff.

Top Five Classification:

  1. Redding (Aruba.it Ducati)
  2. Rea (KRT Kawasaki)
  3. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  4. Bassani (motocorsa Ducati)
  5. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati)

Top Three Championship Classification:

  1. Razgatlioglu – 531 pts
  2. Rea – 501
  3. Redding 465

Round 12 WorldSBK Argentina Race 1

Toprak Razgatlioglu took victory in Race one of the Argentinian round of WorldSBK.

WorldSBK Argentina Race 1 Picture courtesy of KRT (Kawasaki Racing Team)

Lights out and it’s Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) with the hole shot into turn one, but disaster for Redding (Aruba.it Ducati) who loses the front end, and his Ducati spins out into the gravel. It is Razgatlioglu in first, Rea (KRT Kawasaki) second, Lowes (KRT Kawasaki) third, Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) fourth and Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) fifth.

Twenty laps to go and Razgatlioglu and Rea are steadily pulling away from the field. Redding rejoins 15 seconds behind in last place, while further back it’s vd Mark seventh, Haslam (Honda HRC) eighth and Laverty (BMW Motorrad) ninth. Next to crash out is Bautista (Honda HRC), and his race is over.

With 18 laps to go, Razgatlioglu increased his gap to Rea to 1.8 and was looking comfortable out in front, while Rea was battling to hold onto his 2nd position. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) uses all the top end speed of the Ducati to get through on Lowes down the back straight – the Kawasaki having no answer to the power of the Ducati.

With 12 laps to go, Redding had climbed up to P14. Meanwhile at the front Toprak had cleared off into the distance, and would not be caught unless he made a huge mistake, but was looking odds on for the win. Rea was looking resigned to his second place.

With six laps to go, Bassani (motocorsa Ducati) has got past Lowes, and held a gap of 0.3 to the Kawasaki. Further back it was Locatelli 7th, Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 8th, Haslam (Honda HRC) 9th and Laverty (BMW Motorrad) 10th.

Last lap, and Razgatlioglu crosses the line for his 12th win of the season, Rea 2nd, Rinaldi 3rd, Lowes 4th, Bassani 5th. Meanwhile Redding takes 9th.

Top Five Classification:

  1. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  2. Rea (KRT Kawasaki)
  3. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati)
  4. Lowes (KRT Kawasaki)
  5. Bassani (motocorsa Ducati)

Top Three Championship Classification:

  1. Razgatlioglu – 503 pts
  2. Rea – 474
  3. Redding – 431

 

Round 11 WorldSBK Portimao, Portugal Race 2

The Superpole race saw vd Mark (BMW Motorrad) claim the win followed by Redding (aruba.it Ducati) in 2nd and Baz (go eleven Ducati) 3rd.

WorldSBK Portimao 03.10.21 Race 2 Razgalioglu Picture courtest of Pata Yamaha Racing

Lights out for race 2 and its Redding with the hole shot into turn 1, followed by the Pata Yamaha team mates of Locatelli and Razgatlioglu. Rea (Kawasaki KRT) was a man on a mission, already up to 3rd, from a grid position of 10th. It was Redding, followed by Locatelli 2nd, Rea 3rd, Razgatlioglu 4th, Bassani (motocorsa Ducati) 5th and vd Mark 6th.

With 18 laps to go, Rea blasts past Locatelli down the straight to take 2nd, then cuts up on Redding down the sweeping left hander to take over the lead for the first time.

Next lap, and Rea subsequently loses his lead to both Redding and Razgatlioglu down the straight. Rea now in 3rd. Further back it was Locatelli 4th, Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati) 5th, Bautista (HRC Honda) 6th, Baz 7th and vd Mark who had a terrible start, was now languishing in 8th.

WorldSBK Portimao 03.10.21 Race 2 Rinaldi Picture courtesy of Honda Racing Corporation

With 16 laps to go, Razgatlioglu tries to out brake Redding into turn 1 but locks up the front, which allows Rea space to pass. Following corner, and this time Redding runs wide, again Jonny capitalises and retakes the lead for the 2nd time.

With 15 laps to go, Rea puts in a fastest lap of 1:41.942. Again as in race 1, it is this group of title contenders pulling away from the rest. Razgatlioglu finally does make his move on Redding, moving up to 2nd and is now 0.3 behind Rea.

With 13 laps to go, Razgatlioglu passes Rea down the straight, the Kawasaki suffering from a lack of top end speed in comparison to the Yamaha R1. Toprak is next to post a fastest lap of 1:41.522, but Rea is able to stay right on his wheel. Meanwhile Bautista has moved up to 5th.

With 9 laps to go, Razgatlioglu loses the front end of his Yamaha into the high speed turn 15, nearly an identical crash to Rea in race 1. The Yamaha flying into the gravel. The Turkish rider is able to get onto his feet, but his race is over. Redding meanwhile, is starting to lose touch with Rea, the gap now 1.1.

With 7 laps to go there was a three way battle for 3rd between Locatelli, Bautista and Baz. Both of them subsequently passing the Italian. It was Baz 3rd, Bautista 4th and Locatelli 5th.

WorldSBK Portimao 03.10.21 Race 2 Bautista Picture courtesy of Aruba.it Ducati

Last 2 laps remaining, and Rea has increased his lead over Redding to 2.6 and looking comfortable at the front. Meanwhile Bautista makes a lunge from along way back into turn 5 on Baz, who then makes contact with Bautista and subsequently punts him off the track.

Rea crosses the line for his 13th win at Portimao, followed by Redding 2nd, Baz 3rd, Locatelli 4th, Gerloff 5th and vd Mark 6th.

Result top 5:

  1. Rea (Kawasaki KRT)
  2. Redding (aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Baz (go Eleven Ducati)
  4. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)
  5. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team)

Out: Bautista, Razgatlioglu, Rabat, Epis, Ruiu

Championship top 3:

  1. Razgatlioglu – 478 pts
  2. Rea – 454
  3. Redding 424

 

Round 11 WorldSBK Portimao, Portugal, Race 1

Toprak Razgatlioglu claimed victory in Race One in Portimao after a thrilling race.

WorldSBK Round 11 Portimao 02.10.2021 Picture courtesy of arubi,it Ducati

Superpole saw Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) claim top spot with an unbeaten lap of 1:40.219, followed by Rea (Kawasaki KRT) 2nd and Haslam (HRC Honda) in 3rd. The WorldSBK show would be bidding farewell to Europe after this weekend of racing ahead of the international races in Argentina and Indonesia.

Lights out and it was Razgatlioglu with the hole shot into turn 1, but he gets mugged by Jonathan Rea straight away after drifting wide.  All the while Scott Redding (aruba.it Ducati) now in third is watching the action unfold in front of him. It is Razgatlioglu, followed by Rea in 2nd, Redding 3rd, Haslam 4th, Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati) 5th and Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) 6th.

With 19 laps to go, Razgatlioglu again drifts wide into a corner, opening the door for Rea, who doesn’t hesitate and dives up the inside. Toprak is having none of it and forces his way up the inside of Rea the next corner, the two riders coming together and swapping paint. Only lap 2 and the “red mist” has already descended on these two title contenders, the action really heating up now.

WorldSBK Round 11 Portimao 02.10.2021 Picture courtesy of arubi,it Ducati

With 18 laps to go, Redding puts in a fastest lap of 1:41.719, the pace of the front three already distancing Haslam and the group behind. Rea tries the same move on Razgatlioglu, this time making it stick to take the lead. Now it is the turn of Redding, who uses the slipstream of the two bikes in front to power past both of them into turn 1 and take over the lead for the first time. It was breathtaking racing and as dramatic as the whole season has been so far.

With 17 laps to go, it is the turn of Rea to put in a new fastest lap of 1:41.645 and he held a gap of 1.6 to Haslam behind in fourth. Further back it was Rinaldi 5th, Locatelli 6th, Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 7th and Baz (go Eleven Ducati) 8th, (still riding for the injured Chaz Davies. )

Rea then moves from 3rd to take the lead; both Redding and Razgatlioglu had gone wide in the previous corners and Rea was looking fired up. And then into the high speed turn 15, huge drama as Rea loses the front of his Kawasaki at around 150 MPH, viciously sending it cartwheeling down the track and into the gravel. Amazingly he gets back onto his feet, very lucky to walk away from a scary crash seemingly unhurt.

With 13 laps to go, Redding and Razgatlioglu had continued to pull away from the rest, the gap now at 4 seconds, There was now a large group of five riders who were all battling it out for 3rd. It was Haslam 3rd, Rinaldi 4th, Locatelli 5th, Baz 6th, Gerloff 7th, Bautista (HRC Honda) 8th and vd Mark (BMW Motorrad) 9th.

A lap later, Bautista, again as in Jerez, was showing great pace late on and had moved up to 6th.

With 10 laps to go, Razgatlioglu makes his move on Redding into turn 1, coming from a long way out and out brakes the Ducati rider. Toprak looks to have the pace to push on further, while Redding looks to just be hanging on.

Shortly thereafter into turn 5, Locatelli runs into the back of vd Mark, taking them both out. The Dutchman was understandably furious as he was making good progress.

Into the final four now, and Redding has closed right onto the back of Razgatlioglu, but he can’t find a way past the Turkish rider on the brakes. He would have to find another option to have any chance of the win.

Last lap and Toprak now held a gap of 0.3 to Redding, but could he hold off the charging Ducati behind? Meanwhile further back it was Bautista and Baz fighting it out for 3rd.

WorldSBK Round 11 Portimao 02.10.2021 Picture courtesy of arubi,it Ducati

Razgatlioglu crosses the line to take the win, holding off Redding who takes 2nd, Baz 3rd, after Bautista crashes into the last corner. Rinaldi 4th, Haslam 5th, Gerloff 6th and Bassani (motocorsa Ducati) 7th.

Top Five Classification:

  1. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  2. Redding (aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Baz (go Eleven Ducati)
  4. Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati)
  5. Haslam (HRC Honda)

Out: Rea, vd Mark, Bautista, Epis (Kawasaki), Ruiu

Top three championship Classification:

  1. Razgatlioglu – 474
  2. Rea – 429
  3. Redding – 395

 

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