On the edge and on the limit, just one point separates Razgatlioglu and Rea as Andalusia awaits
The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship rumbles into the tenth round and the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto in Andalusia, Spain. The Motul Spanish Round will see the 100th WorldSBK race in Spain and welcomed the Championship to the country for the first time back in 1990.
At the head of the field, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) has a miniscule one-point lead of title rival and defending six-time World Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), as both push each other to new levels each round in a style never seen before. Not wanting to give an inch and aiming to beat each other to the next corner, let alone just the race, something special awaits at Jerez.
Aiming for a perfect ten in the beautiful south, Toprak Razgatlioglu is hoping to get back to winning ways at Jerez, having not been able to grab a victory at Catalunya. Currently on eight wins for the season, the Turkish sensation is within striking distance of getting to double figures, which would make him the first Yamaha WorldSBK rider to reach this tally in one season.
Struck by mechanical problems in Catalunya’s Race 1 and in the Tissot Superpole Race at Jerez in 2020, he hopes that his luck improves this weekend. Teammate Andrea Locatelli is in the mix and after a tricky Catalunya, heads to a circuit he knows well with the aim of helping Toprak as well as returning to the rostrum.
In the slipstream of his title rival, Jonathan Rea knows that Jerez is vital. A track of which he was a winner at in 2020 but also a track where high track temperatures aren’t favourable for Kawasaki, it’s hard to tell how the weekend will go.
Rea’s form however speaks for itself at the Spanish track, with three wins and seven podiums, although he’s only made it to the podium three times out of the last six races held there, only taking one win in the same period. With the Championship so tight at the top, every point matters for Rea, who comes into the round off the back of a sixth place in Race 2 at Catalunya and where high track temperatures once again played a part. Teammate Alex Lowes couldn’t crack the top six at Jerez in 2020 and seeks a first full-race podium since Donington Park.
Perhaps Jerez will be painted red for a second year running; Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) is 60 points behind Razgatlioglu but with high track temperatures expected, it may favour the British star and the Ducati Panigale V4 R.
Although admitting that they struggle in heat, the capacity to cope with such temperatures seems better for Ducati riders, who maintain a stable race pace and come strong at the end. An inspired tyre choice saw both he and Catalunya Race 2 winner Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) opt for the SC0 rear tyre instead of the SCX used by their opponents, a choice that gave them a double podium. Redding won twice at Jerez in 2020 with high temperatures, heading a Ducati 1-2.
Crucial for title aspirations and the manufacturer standings – Ducati trail leaders Yamaha by just a point – could the Ducati riders be the ones to watch?
Race 2 at Jerez will be the 100th run on Spanish soil. The presence of Spain in the WorldSBK championship began here in Jerez in 1990 on the 18th of March, opening round of the season.
1. Toprak Razgatlioglu (TUR) Yamaha (399 points)
2. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Kawasaki (398 points)
3. Scott Redding (GBR) Ducati (339 points)