Turkey’s star rider, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK Team) has claimed the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship after a dramatic race one at the Pertamina Mandalika International Street Circuit on the island of Lombok in Indonesia.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) took the race victory, but Razgatlioglu’s second place was enough for him to clinch the championship and become the first ever Turkish rider to win the WorldSBK title. At 25 years, he becomes the third youngest rider to win the championship in its 33 year history and the first rider to dethrone six-time WorldSBK Champion, Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Rea. Toprak is the protégé of former WorldSSP champion, Turkey’s Kenan Sofuoglu.
His second place gave him a 25-point advantage over Rea with one race to run – but his title victory was secure on a countback of most wins for the season. His 2021 journey with Yamaha has seen him amass 13 wins, 29 podiums and 3 pole positions to clinch the season title for 2021.
Despite some rain falling prior to the start of race one, which was delayed and shortened to 20 laps from the original 21, all riders started on slick tyres. Polesitter, Razgatlioglu lost ground as the lights went out but battled his way back to lead the race at the start of lap three after overtaking Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) into the right-hander of turn one. Behind, Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) was making his way through the field to briefly lead the race after passing Rea on lap four at turn 12 and then Razgatlioglu on lap five at turn ten.
At the end of lap five, Rea forced his way through on Bassani on the exit of turn 16 before Razgatlioglu followed through at turn one at the start of lap six, before Rea and Razgatlioglu exchanged first place throughout lap six. Rea eventually re-claimed the lead and started lapping around one tenth quicker than his title rival, who remained in second place. On lap nine, Razgatlioglu took the lead with a move on Rea into turn ten. Lap ten featured yet another change for the lead as Rea passed Razgatlioglu into turn 16, before Razgatlioglu responded straight away into turn one. On the same lap Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) claimed second place from Rea with a similar move that Rea made on Razgatlioglu at turn 16.
Turn 16 continued to provide drama as Razgatlioglu ran wide into the long left-hander at the penultimate corner, losing the lead of the race to Redding, and Rea moved into second place with the Turkish star re-joining in third place. Although he lost the two positions, he started chipping away at the gap chasing down the lead two riders. Rea took control of the race on lap 16, before Redding lost ground trying to respond to Rea’s move allowing Razgatlioglu to close the gap. Redding lost more time at turn 16 and, despite defending into turn 17, Razgatlioglu made the title-winning overtake on lap 18 at turn one. Razgatlioglu closed the gap to Rea throughout the final two laps but claimed second place behind Rea to take the 2021 title.
The top three in the Championship are now locked into place; Razgatlioglu in first, Rea in second and Redding in third. It means Razgatlioglu has claimed Yamaha’s first title since the 2009 season, when they won with American Ben Spies, and ended Rea’s run of consecutive titles at six. The Turkish star, at 25 years, one month and five days, becomes the third-youngest champion of all time, behind James Toseland and Troy Corser. Rea’s victory means he has now won at 21 different circuits, a record for wins at different venues in WorldSBK.
Bassani ran in the top three for the majority of the first half of the race and briefly led the race, before he eventually dropped back from the leading three. He eventually finished in fifth place after losing out to Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) in the closing stages of the race, as Locatelli made up ground as track conditions continued to improve.
He had also made a move on Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) to move into fifth place and push the Dutch rider down to sixth place; van der Mark showed strong pace again in the difficult conditions as he looked to challenge for a podium, but ultimately fell to sixth place. Locatelli’s fourth place means he moves into fourth in the Championship standings, one point clear of Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), while van der Mark could still claim fifth from Rinaldo.
Alvaro Bautista’s penultimate race for Team HRC saw him claim seventh place after withstanding a late charge from Chaz Davies (Team GoEleven), with Davies looking to end his WorldSBK career on a high note. Argentinean rider Leandro Mercado (MIE Racing Honda Team) claimed ninth place after another strong performance, beating Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) who claimed tenth. Sykes had been running inside the top six in the early stages of the race before dropping back.
Despite a strong start and running in the top positions in the early stages of the race, Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) finished in 11th place; with Bassani in fifth, the battle for Top Independent Rider in 2021 will go down to the final race. Rinaldi finished in 12th place as he lost ground in the race for fourth place in the standings. Isaac Viñales (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) was another who had strong early race pace but dropped back slightly in the closing stages, finishing in 13th. Samuele Cavalieri (Barni Racing Team) claimed 14th place with Kohta Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) claiming the final points-paying position.
Toprak Razgatlioglu, Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK: “First, I want to say thank you to my family and to Kenan Sofuoglu because we are a big family. Also, thanks to my team, they did an incredible job this year. Sometimes we crashed, sometimes we had good races and finally we are here. I’m really happy. It’s a special day for me today because this Championship is for my dad. It has always been my dream. He’s not here anymore, he passed away, but I feel he is watching. I’m really happy. It’s an incredible day for me and we are World Champion. Thanks to everyone!”
WorldSBK Race 1 Podium (full results here)
1 Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
2 Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) +0.670s
3 Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +2.155s
A shortened race two for the final battle of the 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship at Indonesia’s Mandalika International Street Circuit provided plenty of drama in wet conditions. Rain reduced the race to 12 laps, with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) taking his second victory of the weekend after battling with Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). Third went to BMW’s Michael van der Mark, with newly-crowned world champion Toprak Razgatlioglu on the Yamaha fourth.
As the race got underway, newly crowned Champion Toprak Razgatligolu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) held the race lead, with the top five quickly breaking away with Rea and Redding taking charge. Rea and Redding both exchanged first place as they looked to end the season on the top step of the rostrum, including a superb move by Rea around the outside of the Ducati rider on lap seven. As the final lap started, Redding was able to make a move into turn one before Rea responded at turn ten. Heading into turn 16, Redding went up the inside of Rea but ran wide, allowing Rea to move back into the lead of the race and claim his second victory at Mandalika.
Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) got a good start to be in the lead group of five riders, and on lap four he looked to move up the order into a podium place. Into turn 17, Bassani and Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) made contact and Bassani crashed out of the race, with the incident placed under investigation by the FIM WorldSBK Stewards, with no further action taken. On the run to turn 17, Bassani and Razgatlioglu were battling which allowed van der Mark to get alongside Bassani on the exit.
Van der Mark and Razgatlioglu fought for third place with the former teammates going head-to-head for the final place on the podium, with van der Mark passing the 2021 Champion on lap 7 to claim his third podium of the 2021 and the 50th podium placement in WorldSBK for BMW. Razgatlioglu came home in fourth place meaning the gap between him and Rea at the end of the season was 13 points, while it also secured the Manufacturers’ Championship for Yamaha for only the second time; Yamaha winning the Riders’, Teams’ and Manufacturers’ titles in 2021.
Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) finished his BMW stint with a top five finish in the wet conditions, finishing three seconds clear of Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) in sixth place. Gerloff’s result, coupled with Bassani’s retirement, meant Gerloff claimed the Best Independent Rider award for 2021. He finished ahead of teammate Kohta Nozane in seventh place, the best of his rookie season in WorldSBK as he ended the season on a high.
Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) finished in eighth place after a battle with Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) in race two. Although Rinaldi did get ahead of Locatelli on track, he had a crash at turn six which forced him out of the race and allowed Locatelli to claim fourth in the Championship standings. Following the race, Rinaldi was transported to RSUD NTB Hospital by air ambulance for further assessments after being diagnosed with a cervical strain. Isaac Viñales (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) ended his rookie campaign with his best result of the season with ninth, ahead of fellow Spaniard Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC); whose Team HRC career ended with a top ten finish.
Frenchman Christophe Ponsson (Gil Motor Sport-Yamaha) finished 11th place after he battled with the retiring Chaz Davies (Team GoEleven) in the closing stages of the race, with Davies ending his WorldSBK career with 99 podiums, 32 victories and 2999.5 points. Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) finished in 13th place and Samuele Cavalieri (Barni Racing Team) was 14th and the last of the classified riders.
Despite a good start and running in the top six, Leandro Mercado (MIE Racing Honda Team) crashed out of the race at turn 14. Oliver König (OUTDO TPR Team Pedercini Racing) was declared unfit after a race one crash, where he was diagnosed with a minimal head injury. Leon Haslam’s Team HRC farewell came to a premature end after he was declared unfit with a right shoulder functional impairment and missed both races, while Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was declared unfit with a right acromioclavicular join separation.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK): “Super happy. Thanks to my team, they made all the right decisions. After our tough FP1, we got the bike in a really good area. To come here and win in the dry, win in the wet, in front of the amazing fans… massive thanks to the fans who stayed around in the wet weather. It was so nice to get a race, albeit it was very wet. Super happy with our effort this year. I rode with a lot of heart. I did my best, no regrets. Congratulations again to Toprak and Yamaha and look forward to battling again in 2022.”
WorldSBK Race 2 Podium (full results here)
1 Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
2 Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.283s
3 Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) +7.437s
2021 Championship standings(full results here)
1 Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) 564
2 Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 551
3 Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 501