The next instalment of one of the fiercest rivalries is set to play out at the iconic Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, where surprises are often just around the corner
The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship has reached fever pitch and ahead of the Hyundai N Catalunya Round, there’s plenty left to give as the ninth round of the season at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya beckons.
The raging title battle between Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) hit a new level at Magny-Cours, following a protest from Kawasaki over Toprak’s Tissot Superpole Race win for a track limits infringement on the last lap. Rivals on track and now with the teams in an intense rivalry off it, this could well be yet another classic weekend for what is becoming one of WorldSBK’s greatest rivalries.
Sporting a slender seven-point advantage coming into the Catalunya weekend, Toprak Razgatlioglu managed to break the deadlock at Magny-Cours, having been level on points with Rea after Navarra. A combative Toprak fought off everything Rea threw at him on-track at Magny-Cours, with the two embroiled in a spectacular final lap in the Tissot Superpole Race and a relentless start to Race 2 where neither gave in. Last year at Catalunya, it was a weekend to forget for Razgatlioglu, as he was ruled unfit after a Sunday morning Warm-Up crash. Teammate Andrea Locatelli is in form and has finished his last 12 races inside the top five; he heads to the place he took the 2020 WorldSSP title.
Right behind Razgatlioglu, Jonathan Rea heads to KRT’s home round, with the workshop a stone’s throw from the track. Rea took victory in the Tissot Superpole Race at Magny-Cours, his first win since Assen in Race 2, but knows he’s going to need full-race points if he is to halt Toprak. Rea’s pushing to retain his crown for a seventh straight year, although after eight rounds, he trails in the standings but heads to a track where he won at in 2020. On the other side of the garage, teammate Alex Lowes aims to bounce back after crashing from third at Magny-Cours in both Race 1 and Race 2. Ninth, seventh and eighth were Lowes’ Catalunya results in 2020; he’ll hope 2021 is better.
Third in the Championship but a distant 72 points back, Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) will need a strong Catalunya and a touch of misfortune for his title rivals if he’s to have a realistic chance of the title. Second place at Catalunya in Race 1 last season and with Ducati winning in Race 2, the potential is there for Redding to have a strong weekend at a track he knows well. Teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi was a race leader at the track in 2020 before he was forced to retire from the lead battle in Race 2. The Italian had a mixed Magny-Cours with a fourth and seventh in Race 1 and 2 respectively; he’ll go in search of a podium – his first since Assen’s Superpole Race.
1. Toprak Razgatlioglu (TUR) Yamaha (370 points)
2. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Kawasaki (363 points)
3. Scott Redding (GBR) Ducati (298 points)