The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship’s first ever race at the Autodrom Most in the Czech Republic fired up on Saturday and was a thrilling spectacle across the 22 laps of the new circuit. After Rea crashed twice, it was a head-to-head grandstand finish between Razgatlioglu and Redding, with the Turk coming out on top in a final lap thriller.
TYRE TALK: once again key
Tyres were once again an influencing factor, with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) opting for the SC1 development front and SC0 rear, whilst second on the grid and second in the Championship Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with BRIXX WorldSBK) went different and opted for the standard SC1 front and the SCX rear. Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) played it safe, with a standard SC1 front and SC0 rear
LIGHTS OUT: Most’s first ever race ignites
As the lights went out, Rea and Razgatlioglu got their customary flying starts and into Turn 1, the Turk got the holeshot ahead of Rea, whilst Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) out-braked himself and had to use the escape road. Scott Redding was third whilst Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) blasted up the order into fourth, from eighth on the grid. Sykes rejoined the action in fifth, whilst it was a bright start for Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC), up from 11th and into seventh.
Rea put a stunning pass on Razgatlioglu at Turn 18 on Lap 2 but ran wide, giving Toprak the lead back and allowing Redding to come steaming on through and into second. Redding wasn’t done there though, as he then blasted through on Razgatlioglu on Lap 3 at Turn 1. Razgatlioglu then went wide at Turn 10, with Rea hitting second as the gloves came off.
RACE OF ATTRITION: big names are claimed
There was drama down field as Alessandro Delbianco (MIE Racing Honda Team) crashed out at Turn 15 on Lap 3, before Karel Hanika (IXS-YART Yamaha) crashed on Lap 4. The crashes kept coming as American debutant Jayson Uribe (OUTDO TPR Team Pedercini Racing) also went down at Turn 15.
Big names were also part of the drama as Lap 5 claimed Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) at Turn 1, before Chaz Davies (Team GoEleven) joined him in a separate incident, both able to rejoin before Davies eventually retired.
On Lap 7, Rea had been closed back in by Razgatlioglu as both were dropped by Redding by 1.8 seconds. Turn 13 saw the Ulsterman make a mistake, allowing Razgatlioglu to pounce at Turn 14 before Rea got him back at Turn 20. Toprak then repaid the favour at Turn 1 on the following lap before he began to edge closer to Redding. Further down the field, it was drama for Jonas Folger (Bonovo MGM Racing) on Lap 8, as he suffered a big engine blow up at Turn 20 but thankfully didn’t leave any fluid on the track. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with BRIXX WorldSBK) quietly went about his business and was into fourth ahead of Rinaldi.
On Lap 10, it was close again between Razgatlioglu and Rea with the title battle now being played out between the two, whilst Tito Rabat’s (Barni Racing Team) race was over as he crashed at Turn 1, before Alvaro Bautista tumbled down the order from sixth to 11th after a mistake, promoting Italian rookie sensation into sixth place, placing him as top Independent rider. Further down and having been in the points, Belgian rider Loris Cresson (OUTDO TPR Team Pedercini Racing) added to the Italian team’s tricky Race 1, crashing out at Turn 15.
A TWIST AND A TURN: mistakes and a costly crash
The gap between Redding and Razgatlioglu was now down to under a second as Lap 13 started, but Lap 14 would see a major moment for the race and an even bigger moment for the Championship. Jonathan Rea, chasing Toprak, tucked the front from third at Turn 1, just as he and Razgatlioglu were edging closer to Redding. Rea remounted in the blink of an eye, circulating in 11th but with eight to go, he had a chance of the top ten.
The tyres were now coming into play in the final six laps, as Razgatlioglu with the SCX tyre was now right with race leader Redding, who in-turn was setting a strong pace. Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), who was having a quiet race in sixth, also began setting his personal best lap and sector times, also on the SCX tyre. There was also a big battle for fourth, as Axel Bassani was giving Rinaldi something to think about.
CLOSER AT THE FRONT AND ANOTHER CRASH: a tale of two halves…
With five to go, Rea crashed again, this time heavily at Turn 20 but the Championship leader was up on his feet. Meanwhile, in a titanic fight at the front, Razgatlioglu went around the outside of Redding at Turn 14 with four to go, before Redding blasted back ahead at Turn 1 a lap later. The gloves were off as the passionate Most fans were on their feet, with WorldSBK putting on a stunning spectacle in the first WorldSBK race at the track.
FINAL LAP THRILLER: one of the best in WorldSBK
The last lap was upon the leading two and Redding rode a fantastic first half a lap, but Razgatlioglu was relentless in the final two sectors, as he made a bold move at Turn 15 but ran wide. Everyone sat back, thinking Redding had the race done but a stunning run through Turn 16, 17, 18 and 19 brought Razgatlioglu back into contention and he lay it all on the line, putting on a thrilling move at Turn 20, running Redding wide. Redding powered the Ducati to the line out of the last corner and closed right in, but it was too late. Razgatlioglu took one of his finest wins, with Redding in second and Andrea Locatelli taking third, some 13.8 seconds behind. – www.worldsbk.com
Top six after Race 1 at Most, full results here:
1. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with BRIXX WorldSBK)
2. Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.040s
3. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with BRIXX WorldSBK) +13.838s
4. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +16.650s
5. Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) +16.935s
6. Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +17.099s