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)

Six Of The Best: BSB Nuggets

As the countdown to the 2020 Bennett’s British Superbike Season ticks towards the series roaring into life at Donington Park on August 7th, here are a few fun facts about the series’ history for you to wow your mates with down the pub when taking in a (socially distanced) cold one.  Each fact is relevant to its numerical position in the list.

1. The Birth Of The Championship 

The British Superbike Championship (BSB) can trace its origins back to 1988 at the start of the Superbike racing boom, which coincided with the inaugural World Superbike Championship season.

The first BSB season was contested under Formula TT rules with race number one taking place in May 1988 at the Carnaby track on the site of a former RAF base near Bridlington in East Yorkshire. The first race winner was Darren Dixon who piloted his Suzuki RG500 all the way to the first championship title later in the year.

Dixon went on to become a star in the field of sidecar racing, winning the World Sidecar Championship in 1995 and 1996. Dixon’s son Jake came second in the 2018 BSB Championship and now competes in Moto2.

2. Always The Bridesmaid 

Fact number two refers to the second position in the BSB Championship achieved by Chris ‘Stalker’ Walker four years on the trot between 1997 and 2000.

Perhaps the most heartbreaking of these second placed finishes came at the climax of the 2000 season. With just three laps remaining in the final race, Walker led the pack only for his engine to fail on him. Despite trying desperately to reignite his machine, the mechanical problem allowed title rival Neil Hodgson to overtake Walker not just in the race but overall in the championship.

3. Niall’s Treble Triumph 

They say three is the magic number and it certainly was for Niall Mackenzie who became the most dominant rider of the 1990s, taking the BSB title three years in a row in 1996, 1997 and 1998.

Riding on the spectacular Cadbury’s Boost Yamaha team—run by former Grand Prix rider Rob McElnea—Mackenzie racked up 14 wins over the course of the 1997 season. This record was only bettered by Leon Camier with 19 during his dominant 2009 title win, and only Shane Byrne has won more BSB titles than the super Scot.

The Mackenzie name lives on as Niall’s sons Tarran and Taylor both now compete in the BSB and Superstock championships respectively.

4. Champions From Afar 

Over the course of British Superbike history, there have been four riders from outside the UK and Ireland who have finished the season top of the pile.

The first was Australian Troy Bayliss who piloted his GSE Ducati 996 to the 1999 title before going on to win a hat-trick of championships in World Superbikes. Spaniard Gregorio Lavilla only got his ride aboard the Airwaves Ducati 999 just days before the start of the 2005 season as a substitute for the injured James Haydon, but ended the season as champion after surprising many and holding off the challenge of the Honda riders and team-mate Leon Haslam.

Ryuichi Kiyonari became the first Japanese rider to claim the BSB title when he prevailed at the end of the dramatic 2006 championship decider at Brands Hatch. ‘Kiyo’ repeated the feat in 2007 and then after a spell in World Superbikes returned in 2010 to make it a hat-trick of titles all aboard the HM Plant Honda CBR1000RR FireBlade.

The most recent foreigner to win the British championship was Australian King of the Cadwell Park Mountain Josh Brookes who won his first (and to date only) BSB crown aboard the Milwaukee Yamaha R1 in 2015.

5. Rockin’ All Over The World 

Five British Superbike riders (including two former champions) have gone on to win the World Superbike crown after making the move from the domestic series.

As mentioned earlier, Troy Bayliss won the British title in 1999 before going on to add the World crown on three occasions in 2001, 2008 and 2009. Lancashire rider Neil Hodgson capitalised on Chris Walker’s dramatic engine failure in the final race of the 2000 season to win the BSB title aboard the GSE Ducati 996 (same bike ridden by Bayliss the previous year) and then conquered the world in 2003.

James Toseland rode the Paul Bird-backed Vimto Honda VTR1000 during the 2000 BSB season before moving up to the World Championship, winning the global crown on two occasions in 2004 and aboard the HannSpree Ten Kate Honda in 2007.

In the same year that Toseland bagged his second World Championship, Tom Sykes made his BSB debut aboard the Stobart Vent-Axia Honda FireBlade. After a year with Rizla Suzuki in 2008, Sykes made the step up to WSBK with Yamaha Moto Italia. Four years after making his World Championship debut in 2013, Sykes won his maiden title aboard the Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10R.

Perhaps the most successful rider to have won the WSBK title after making his debut in BSB is none other than Jonathan Rea. After making his bow aboard the Red Bull Honda FireBlade in 2006 and then eventually stepping up to the factory HM Plant Honda team for 2007, finishing second in the championship behind team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari, Rea made the move to World Supersport for 2008. After eventually making the step up to the WSBK Championship in 2009, Rea went on to record five successive World Championships between 2015 and 2019, becoming the most successful rider in the history of the series.

6. Shakey’s Supremacy 

We couldn’t mention this number without making reference to the six British Superbike titles won by the most successful rider in the championship’s history, Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne.

Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne At BSB Oulton Park 2017. Image courtesy of Ducati

The first of Byrne’s titles came aboard the Monstermob Ducati 998 in 2003 before spells in World Superbikes and Moto GP. After returning to the British series in 2006 with Rizla Suzuki and Stobart Vent-Axia Honda in 2007, another ride aboard a Ducati (this time the 1098) yielded his second championship in 2008.

Following another brief stint in the World Superbike Championship and then a return to BSB with HM Plant Honda, Byrne reunited with former team boss Paul Bird in 2012 and netted his third British title the same year aboard the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki, repeating the trick in 2014. After the PBM team switched to a factory backed BeWiser Ducati Panigale 1199, Byrne notched another two back to back titles in 2016 and 2017.

Another rider will have to go a long way to depose Shane Byrne’s place in the BSB history books.

Those are our top six facts from BSB history. We look forward to seeing what the 2020 season can add to that when we hit Donington Park on August 7th.

Featured Image courtesy of Ducati

Quick 10 With……James Whitham

His Twitter bio reads “Ex bike racer . . have been skilfully avoiding a proper job for 30 years .. stunt dad”

Prior to gracing our screens, he has won the 80cc British Championship, the 1300cc Production British Championship and the TT Superbike Challenge.

He is a British Superbike Champion having won the title in 1993, was BSB runner-up in 1996 and raced in World Superbikes from 1994 to 1998, a team mate of Carl Fogarty. He competed in World Supersport from 2000-2002 and held the track record at Donington Park until 2007.

He runs trackdays with Paul Drinkwater Sports Motorcycling and his famous “6T9” logo can be seen on the leathers of big names in bike racing and around the circuits all over the UK.

British and World Superbike viewers will recognise him from Eurosport as a TV commentator and pundit. His quick wit, humour and amazing technological insight into bikes is without doubt the best you will find on television. His commentary partnership with Jack Burnicle for British Superbikes is quite possibly the most entertaining TV motorsport duet on air.

He is a true legend, a fantastic bike rider, a respected man on and off the circuit and a genuinely top bloke. His biography ‘What A Good Do!’ is a brilliant read (I highly recommend it).

These are his Quick 10 questions and he is……James Whitham.

What is your favourite racing circuit?

You tend to favour the tracks you go well at, regardless of whether they’re interesting to ride . . my fave UK circuit is Cadwell Park and worldwide is Monza

Who was your racing idol?

Mike Hailwood

Who would you regard as your toughest opponent?

Carl Fogarty

Considering racers of all time, you are a team principal and money is no object. Which two racers would you have in your team?

Mike Hailwood and Jarno Saarinen

If you could invite four famous people to dinner (past and present), who would you invite?

Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Nando Parrado and Muhammad Ali

Your personal racing number? What was it and the reason behind it?

69 – reads the same either way up !

What is the best race you have been involved in?

’01 World Supersport race Monza . . . 6 of us glued together for the whole race

Is there a race or series you have not competed in that you would like to or had wanted to?

I would’ve loved a season on a 250cc (2 stroke) GP bike

How did you get interested in motor racing? What ignited that spark?

My dad was a motorcyclist and took me to spectate at some race meetings as a kid . . . I was doomed from there really !

What is the best advice in racing you have been given?

Mick Grant always said that I should leave a team or sponsor on the best of terms . . . Don’t burn your bridges I suppose . . . good advice.

 

I have said this before, but when you get to interview somebody who you are a fan of and have great respect for then as a writer it is a dream come true.

In this instance I am truly thankful for James taking the time out from his busy schedule to answer the Quick 10 and can’t wait to see him and hear his funny, intelligent and interesting insight on BSB next season. I want to wish James all the best of health and thank him and Paul Drinkwater for this opportunity.

For more information on James and the track days on offer please visit http://www.jameswhitham.com/ and you can follow him on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/Jimwhit69

Neil Simmons

Twitter: @world_racing