The main entrance to Misano, 25 minutes before the start of the Superpole race on Sunday morning – the perfect example of how unimportant unprivileged visitors have become to the organizers and Dorna. Because they can make much higher profits from VIP guests than from ordinary guests, they primarily care about the well-being of the less privileged and even cut costs on the staff at the only two entrances, which resulted in unbearably long waiting times.

Toprak humiliated Ducati at their home race

Of the total of 75,688 visitors who turned up over the whole weekend (previously there were 34,703 in Barcelona and 56,734 in Assen), the clear majority were probably so-called Tifosi. The majority of them were probably the group of Ducatisti, who were hoping for the success of their local heroes Bulega, Petrucci, Rinaldi and Iannone, or at least of the reigning world champion Alvaro Bautista on his red machine from Borgo Panigale, a suburb of Bologna. In the end, however, the brightest red was that of the numerous flags of Turkish fans of Toprak Razgaglioglu, who inflicted the Ducati stars probably the most painful defeat of the entire season. Many are absolutely certain that the BMW newcomer would have won on the Honda CBR-1000RR-R on this memorable day near the Adriatic coast. The excellent results of Iker Lecuona on his Japanese machine and at the same time the modest successes of Toprak’s brand colleagues van der Mark, Redding and Gerloff confirmed this assessment. Even though the latter in particular had to experience one of his darkest and most unlucky weekends in Misano, after being pursued by bad luck in what were at times extremely promising positions.

Eurosport expert and co-commentator Shane “Shakey” Byrne was photographed by us next to the entrance to the women’s tent on the Misano weekend. As a two-time former WSBK winner and even four-time British Superbike (BSB) champion, the Londoner is always a sought-after man in front of the microphone.

First race of the 4th WorldSBK round in Misano

Actually, the announcement from the always modest BMW newcomer Razgatlioglu was rather untypical. When he announced the triple with three victories as his goal before the weekend on the Misano Circuit Sic58, named after Marco Simoncelli, who died in 2011 in his tragic accident in Sepang in the MotoGP Grand Prix, some people probably frowned. On Ducati’s home circuit (after Imola had been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic), of all places, this statement seemed truly bold, but on the first day of racing the Turk effectively managed to lay the foundation for this. In front of countless Ducatisti, the manner of his victory was more than just impressive. Although his machine is likely to have a power deficit of 5 to 10 hp compared to the Panigale V4R and the Reds test on this track more often than anywhere else, Toprak was able to set a pace on his BMW M-1000RR that left all his opponents despairing. This was especially true for rookie and surprise man Nicolo Bulega, who clearly had his factory team-mate Bautista under control again. Bautista even lost his lead in the World Championship by finishing third, and things were to get even worse for the Spaniard the following day.

Shortly after the start, Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was still in the lead ahead of BMW ace Toprak, but the Australian then dropped back to P6. Only bad luck prevented him from achieving a top result in the following race, but the son of 500cc World Champion Wayne has to be kept on the radar since his first podium in Assen. Only the factory-supported GoEleven Ducati privateer Anrea Iannone is placed directly ahead of him in the World Championship in sixth place.
Razgatlioglu’s BMW factory team-mate “Magic” Michael van der Mark, photographed by us in the parc fermé after the first race on Saturday. The Dutchman had worked his way up from 16th place on the grid to 8th place, which, along with Toprak’s exceptional performance, perfectly rounded off the team’s performance.

In the shadow of the podium – unlucky riders with a black Saturday

First and foremost, Pata Yamaha newcomer Jonathan Rea deserves a mention. The 6-time record world champion seems to have been the one to blame for all the bad luck of the first few laps. No sooner had he been able to show his first upward trend in Assen after a catastrophic start to the season with top five results than everything went wrong in the Superpole and in the first race on Saturday there was a high-speed crash in turn 13 with him rolling over several times in the gravel and severe bruising. As for Xavi Vierge (Honda) in turn 4, this had already happened in the first lap. Dominique Aegerter had to park his Yamaha R1 after 18 minutes in front of numerous Swiss compatriots and Sam Lowes (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team Ducati Panigale V4R) ended his race, as he often does, shortly afterwards by flying into the gravel. The same fate befell Tito Rabat from the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing Team, who had started the race from an excellent tenth place, shortly before the end. While Rea had to go to the medical center after his fall and was due to take part the following day with injured hands, the others who had fallen were fortunately uninjured.

We took a photo of the start of the first WorldSSP race – with Yari Montella in the front of the picture, ahead of Adrian Huertas (both Ducati) and Stefano Manzi (Pata Ten Kate Yamaha), who had no chance in the race. Although Dorna and FIM always claim to ensure balanced regulations in this category, one or even several Ducati riders are suspiciously often in the lead, usually completely unchallenged. Last year, Bulega won almost at will, just like Ducati’s flagship Bautista in the WorldSBK.
We took a photo of the FIM offices in the paddock – quite a few team members call it the “Bullshit Village” because the high-handed commissioners of the highest motorsport authority often annoy people with their wrong decisions. The officials, who often act clumsily in MotoGP and, in the view of many of those affected, are extremely unfair, are therefore very low on the popularity scale.

The Tissot sprint race with Toprak’s second stroke

The Turk showed again on Sunday morning how much a driver can make a difference when he has outstanding talent and an indomitable will to win. Even though Ducati hopeful Bulega initially started off like a man possessed, Razgatlioglu was not impressed and on his BMW M-1000RR he showed the local hero his rear wheel from the fourth of 10 laps. But not only that, Toprak continuously pulled away from his pursuer and also won the second race of the weekend on Sunday morning without any problems. Bautista, on the other hand, had his second race crash on lap 5 after the opening race in Australia, losing him important points that he urgently needed in the fight to defend his title. The Spaniard was able to continue the race after that, but he didn’t manage to finish any higher than P17. Sam Lowes also had his second crash of the weekend four laps earlier. Remy Gardner and Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) ended their race involuntarily in the same turn 10 as Bautista after Iannone, who was ahead of them, swerved, causing the two unlucky riders to collide. Kawasaki factory rider Alex Lowes took another podium finish this season with P3 and is still one of the

Jonathan Rea (here behind Iannone, who finished fifth in the sprint) gritted his teeth despite his injured hands and managed to finish eighth, ahead of Danilo “Petrux” Petrucci, behind an excellently driving Lecuona on the increasingly powerful Honda CBR-1000RR-R. According to Ducati chief strategist “Gigi” dall’Igna, the Italian in yellow with the number 29 will have to improve if he wants to be promoted to the red factory team as a possible successor to Bautista.
Tenth in the Tissot sprint race and thus without any points was the unlucky Domi Aegerter, photographed here by us posing for a selfie-hunter in the paddock. A little later, the Swiss rider was to face further adversity, which meant that he had to accept a zero round for the first time in his WSBK career.

The second WSBK race on Sunday sealed the Ducati disgrace

If Toprak had just won just ahead of one of the reds, the third defeat of this almost embarrassing weekend for Ducati would have been somewhat bearable. But the unleashed Turk went one better and literally destroyed his pursuers Bulega and Bautista when he extended his lead over them so significantly during the last race that he was even able to afford one of his famous “stoppies” as he crossed the finish line. The rest of the Ducati competition except Toprak remained well behind the duo as expected, but the man on top of the podium dashed the hope of a Ducati festival, which hardly anyone had expected before this weekend. Best of the rest once again remained Kawasaki figurehead Alex Lowes with P4 ahead of Locatelli on the best Yamaha and Petrucci with P6 as the best private rider, of course on Ducati. Right behind him was Kawasaki newcomer Axel Bassani, who celebrated his best result of the season so far with the greens. The top ten were completed by Gardner, Lecuona and veteran Rea, while Aegerter and BMW factory rider van der Mark had to retire with technical problems. Rinaldi, Pirro (both Ducati) and Norrodin (Honda) crashed, as did the unlucky Gerloff (BMW) together with Vierge (Honda).

The number 54 dominated this weekend despite the most difficult conditions and inflicted a painful defeat on the successful Ducati factory team in their home race. Toprak is even more likely to be in the lead for Donington and Most in the next two rounds, because on these two courses in particular the preference for Ducati is far less evident than in the first four rounds.
Record world champion Jonathan Rea photographed by us after his race on Sunday afternoon, which ended in unbearable pain. The Northern Irishman has to accept his first season with the Blues as a year of getting used to the Yamaha R1, without seriously thinking about the title fight.

The conclusion after the first third of the season

It is definitely thanks to the exceptional talent Toprak that the fight for the world championship has not been missed for the third time in a row, because Ducati is still clearly favored by the FIM. In the previous two years, Bautista had been victorious far too often without being seriously challenged and without having to push himself to the limit, but now he has competition in his own camp. But the man of the first four rounds is clearly Razgatlioglu on the BMW M-1000RR, despite outstanding performances by rookie Bulega. While the places in the factory teams at Kawasaki and BMW remain unchanged for the coming year, there are still many unanswered questions regarding the driver line-up. One piece of bad news in this regard is the already expected withdrawal of Bonovo Action BMW, which opens up a very painful gap in the paddock in terms of possible places for the coming season. First of all, however, the focus is now on the current year, which has seen a new planning error on the part of Dorna and the FIM. As was to be expected early on, another round in Hungary was canceled, which was already suspected early on after the calendar was announced. For the second time at Lake Balaton, the partners from the mafia-plagued country east of Austria proved to be completely untrustworthy and Estoril is filling the gap, but only a week before the end of the season in Jerez and not in August.

Marcel Schrötter (MV Agusta) took sixth place twice in the WorldSSP despite a modest twelfth place on the grid, meaning that the Bavarian does not have to write off his chances in the World Championship prematurely, even though he is in fourth place. A win would be very helpful for Donington or at the latest Most, so that they do not lose touch with the leader Huertas ( Ducati), who is currently only 32 points behind.
Our panoramic shot of the pit area shortly before the second round of the WSBK on Sunday. Here you can see at a glance how much more important the VIP guests are to the organizers and Dorna. On the right are the covered areas for the well-heeled visitors who can afford ticket prices of several hundred euros per person. In return, as we have often experienced, there are free drinks and food as well as privileged access everywhere, without ever having to queue.

Unless otherwise stated, this applies to all images (© WorldSBK).