Toprak Razgatlioglu was the undisputed man of the weekend in Barcelona. As expected, the celebration from his new team was corresponding and confirmation that BMW’s enormous efforts over the last few months were paying off. This was also proven by the excellent results of his new factory team colleague “Magic” Michael van der Mark, who was already in the same team with him at Yamaha in 2020.

Thanks to Toprak, no uniformity on WorldSBK Sunday in Catalonia

Without the Turk, the final day of the Barcelona weekend would have been virtually worthless from a sporting perspective, at least as far as the fight for victory is concerned. Even though BMW newcomer and exceptional expert Toprak Razgatlioglu had absolutely no chance in the last race of the day on Sunday, as we announced the day before, in the morning he caused the sensation of the second WSBK round of 2024. For his toughest opponent until 2021, Jonathan Rea, as his successor in the Pata Prometeon Yamaha factory team, however, did not find a conciliatory end to the last day in Barcelona. However, his new teammate Andrea Locatelli also experienced a nightmare in the final race. Similar to Domi Aegerter, who won the WorldSSP two years earlier and left the Circuito de Cataluña with a top result as a WSBK rookie in 2023. For Andrea Iannone, however, joy and sorrow were very close together on the final day of the first event of this year on Spanish soil. Below are the most important happenings, or at least some of them, from the third day in Montmeló in their chronological order

Our photo from the roof of the huge pit area of the Circuito de Cataluña, from which you can enjoy a very good all-round view, with a view of the back with the paddock. While we have been able to attend a MotoGP race here over ten times, this opportunity for WorldSBK has only been available a few times, as it was only added to the calendar in 2020.

The sprint race as the highlight of the Barcelona weekend

It doesn’t often happen that the Tissot Sprint Race, which was introduced in 2019, includes the highlight of a WorldSBK round. This time, however, we claim that this is exactly what happened on Sunday morning on March 24, 2024 in Montmeló near Barcelona. As in the first run the day before, Sam Lowes shot into the lead on his ELF Marc VDS Racing Team Ducati Panigale V4R on the first lap. Instead of a crash like on Saturday, the most impressive rookie of the season after Andrea Iannone said goodbye to the top group this time with a declining performance and ended up only eleventh. From lap 4 onwards, a tough battle developed for the top positions, with Iannone, Bulega and Razgatlioglu initially being the main actors. From the third to last round, a duel developed between Toprak and last year’s winner. Alvaro Bautista had worked his way up from 11th on the grid and took the lead from the Turk on the final lap. But anyone who knows the BMW newcomer a little knew that he would look for even the tiniest gap in order to get past the little spaniard again.

BMW newcomer Toprak Razgatlioglu as the frontrunner is an image that many people have to get used to. But after the monotony of the last two years in WorldSBK, this shouldn’t be difficult for most fans. In the background on the right Philipp Oettl (Yamaha) goes astray.

Razgatlioglu beats Bautista in the style of Valentino Rossi

One can safely see the last lap of the Tissot Sprint Race in Catalonia as revenge for what Toprak experienced in Portimão last year. At that time, the Turk had literally outclassed his opponent Alvaro Bautista on his Ducati in the corners, only to be effortlessly overtaken by him again in acceleration and on the straights. As previously feared, Razgatlioglu also faced this fate in Barcelona. But because the Superpole race only lasts 10 laps and the BMW M-1000RR is not as inferior to the Panigale V4R as the Yamaha R1 thanks to less speed disadvantage, there was a small chance of achieving the actually impossible. Toprak grabbed this straw when, in the style of MotoGP icon Valentino Rossi, he intercepted the little Spaniard in the finish corner and, although there was hardly any space for it, pushed past the stunned Ducati factory rider on the inside. He briefly left the line, which Iannone, who was behind, immediately took advantage of to take second place. Behind them Bulega, Alex Lowes, the resurgent “Magic” Michael van der Mark, Danilo Petrucci, Andrea Locatelli and with the last point Remy Gardner ahead of the Swiss GYTR GRT Yamaha teammate Aegerter.

In the sprint race, the winner of the previous two years in Barcelona was seen in the lead for the first time, but in the end he was badly beaten by the man on the far right in the last corner at the finish. For Michael van der Mark with number 60 on the BMW M-1000RR, after three top ten results in the first four races, it was another top result in the fifth round of the season.
After the first race win on Saturday, the first sprint victory for BMW newcomer Toprak followed, while Jonathan Rea missed the points in thirteenth place for the fifth time in a row on the Yamaha R1, which was still new to him. The day before, the Northern Irishman had already suffered a painful retirement after burning the clutch at the start.
Route sketch of the Circuito de Cataluña in Montmeló near Barcelona, with a straight that is much too long for the Ducati competition, similar to that in Portimão. Here, the machines from Kawasaki and Yamaha in particular lose valuable tenths on each lap due to their low permitted maximum speed of barely over 15,000 rpm on the 4,657 kilometer long course with 8 right-hand and 6 left-hand corners.

Monotony at the end – Ducati double victory as previously expected

It must have been clear to any semi-initiated observer that the starting position on row one would make Alvaro Bautista the overwhelming favorite over the full distance. This was especially true after his Ducati factory team colleague Nicolo Bulega was unable to get his tire management under control the day before and ultimately had to give up victory with completely destroyed rubber shortly before the finish. This time the Italian rookie and reigning WSSP world champion stayed behind his teammate from the middle of the race, but towards the end it became clear that his second win of the season would not come to fruition and Bautista won for the first time this year. Toprak had disappointment written all over his face during the interview after third place, but ultimately the BMW newcomer was able to be happy about his two previous race victories and the best result of all participants this weekend.

When there was still some excitement in the early stages – Toprak (BMW M-1000RR) on the heels of Bulega and Bautista (both Ducati Panigale V4R). A little later, the Spaniard, who was still in P2 here, clearly separated himself from his pursuers and won as unchallenged as he did in all races in 2022 and 2024. Razgatlioglu fell far behind in the end and saw the checkered flag over seven seconds behind.
Our photo of the WorldSBK paddock in Barcelona – compared to MotoGP, most of the stands were almost empty or even partially closed, as is usual in Misano. If the Prototype World Championship is taking place in neighboring Portugal at the same time, you shouldn’t be surprised. At this point, you are only allowed to be confused about the planning of FIM and Dorna.

The tops and flops of the last race

Decency prohibits us from celebrating Jonathan Rea’s eighth place as a highlight. Normally, anything other than a podium is usually a disaster for the record world champion and best WorldSBK pilot of all time. But after 5 zeros in a row, the first top ten result is something of a relief for the Northern Irishman and his new team, which has been plagued by a lot of bad luck. The fact that, with the exception of the first race on Saturday, nothing went as planned for Andrea Iannone further underlines what was possibly the Pata Prometeon Yamaha’s worst weekend in a long time. But fortunately, from now on there are tracks that are better for them, on which the disadvantages compared to Ducati set by FIM and Dorna are less noticeable. This time things went very differently for the Ducati private riders. Danilo Petrucci recorded at least two top ten results and a fifth place, while Andrea Iannone did not have a good finish in Montmeló after two excellent races with a crash in race two. Things went even worse for compatriot Michael Ruben Rinaldi, with only an eleventh place on Saturday and zero points including a crash on Sunday. Philipp Oettl was spared the latter, but the German has not yet been able to match his impressive results on the GoEleven Ducati in the previous two years on the Yamaha. However, this should be forgiven especially in Australia and Barcelona (due to a lack of top speed).

Remy Gardner (on the right in the picture with “Petrux” next to him and Rea rushing behind him) was the fastest Yamaha rider on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, after crossing the finish line, he was given a penalty for exceeding the so-called track limits, which meant he came 7th instead of 6th. Nevertheless, it was his second-best result in 2024 after the Tissot Sprint Race in his home country, when he was sixth.

The unclear cases regarding their performance in Catalonia

The case for Dominique Aegerter and Garrett Gerloff is similar to that of Scott Redding. The weekend in Montmeló was very different for them and, in addition to disappointments, there were also results that gave reason to hope for an upward trend. The former has now always been in the top ten in six races and so there is nothing to complain about, although things had gone much better for him at the beginning of the previous year. But due to a virus infection, the Swiss was unable to take part in the last two tests before the trip to Australia, so his team must be happy with his performances. The Texan, on the other hand, is probably not particularly satisfied with the start to Europe. Although Gerloff achieved his third top ten result of the season on Sunday afternoon, his results in Barcelona during Yamaha times were much more successful, especially in his rookie year in 2020. Like Redding, he had even achieved a podium back then; for Garrett it was the first of his WSBK career. The former finished in Catalonia with exactly the same result that he had already achieved in the first race of the season.

Scott Redding (front in the picture) photographed by us at the start of the BSB run in Assen in 2019. 11th place in race 2 in Barcelona is not the order of magnitude in which the Englishman feels comfortable and unfortunately there were all zeros in between. However, Scottie has good memories of Assen, having already won two races there in the English (BSB) championship.
Xavi Vierge held the Honda flag high and Tito Rabat took his first point of the year. Race two was the worst WorldSBK race of the second round and of the season so far. Andrea Locatelli was also off the track shortly after the start, but was able to continue without crashing and save 3 points in the end. For someone who said victory or a podium was his goal on Thursday, the weekend was ultimately a complete disaster for the Italian, despite P4 in race 1 on Saturday.
The value in red for the Ducati Panigale V4R means an increase in power of around 10 to 15 hp compared to the Kawasaki and Yamaha. This is reflected in significantly better acceleration and significantly higher top speed. This statement is underlined by the very good values of BMW and Honda, which have to live with a significantly lower speed handicap, but are still disadvantaged.

Interim ranking in the World Championship and what happens next

From the third round in Assen, fans can hope for possibly the first open weekend, where the advantages of Ducati, which have dominated the scene since 2019, should finally be less important. In the “Cathedral of Speed” in the land of windmills, the start-finish straight is pleasantly short. For this reason, in contrast to, for example, Phillip Island, Catalonia, Aragon or Portugal, the Ducati competition should be able to fight on a somewhat equal footing despite disadvantages in acceleration and top speed. In any case, we are very pleased to be able to report on what will hopefully be an exciting event from the Netherlands. In contrast to MotoGP weekends on this circuit, the Superbike World Championship is a very relaxed affair, with no traffic jams on arrival and departure, as well as hardly any waiting times at the refreshment stands and, by international comparison, also very inexpensive. The World Cup is still completely open this time after only a sixth of the 2024 season. Luckily there are already 4 different winners in the first two rounds and for the first time since 2021 there is even a chance of a real title fight.

Our overview of results with the interim results and confirmation of our fears before the round in Catalonia that Kawasaki figurehead Alex Lowes would not be able to keep his lead. But he was at least able to keep the damage to a minimum and is now tied on points with Bautista in the chasing position before Assen comes to a track where his disadvantages compared to the factory Ducatis should be less than in Barcelona.
Shortly after the start of the last race in Barcelona, the positions were taken and the two men in red (on the right Bautista and on the left behind Toprak Bulega) pulled away unchallengeable from the middle of the race. This leaves fans to hope that there will only be a few such races by the end of the season, in which, like last year and in 2022, the winner is almost certain before the start.
WorldSSP with Red Flag Race – Schrötter narrowly misses out on his first victory

In contrast to the second race of the WSBK, the middle category offered a lot of drama. There was also a red flag and a lot of excitement from one of the most controversial and ultimately close WSSP races in recent years. In the first part, a violent crash by the Pole Piotr Biesiekirski caused him to stop after 6 laps, as he first had to be rescued on a stretcher. Afterwards, in the final sprint, which was reduced to the same distance, there was a fierce battle for victory, in which the top 5 ultimately crossed the checkered flag within 0.714 seconds. In the end, Stefano Manzi from Pata Yamaha Ten Kate Racing had a narrow lead over Marcel Schrötter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), Lucas Mahias (GMT94 Yamaha) and Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team Ducati). While veteran Mahias from France was happy about his first podium in years, the World Championship leader from Italy was also satisfied despite P4. At best it was bittersweet despite second place for Schrötter.

The blink of an eye finale at the finish of the WorldSSP with the better finish for Manzi (62), just ahead of Schrötter (23, left). The German readily admitted in the post-race interview that he was between crying and laughing. Missing out on his first WorldSSP win of his career, less than a tenth behind after a tiny mistake just before the finish, was definitely a mixed experience for the Bavarian.
Our summary of the results from the second race of the WorldSSP in Barcelona. 3rd place is very remarkable for the 2017 world champion from France, who still has the speed and necessary bite to fight at the front. For some former Moto3 and Moto2 heroes like Kaito Toba, John McPhee, Niccolò Antonelli and Simone Corsi, things didn’t go as planned in Catalonia.

Revenge from Iglesias in the WorldSSP 300 race

The day before there had been a veritable scandal, which was once again caused by the mess of the highest motor sports authority, the FIM. At the award ceremony, Inigo Iglesias Bravo splashed his victory champagne, only to hear hours later that he had been sent back due to a long-lap penalty that, according to the resourceful officials, had not been taken and that he had to give the trophy back. This is not only embarrassing, but also extremely annoying for those affected and reporters when everything is turned upside down within a very short space of time. But the young Spaniard gave the best possible answer to his anger and what he saw as extremely unfair treatment the next day on his Kawasaki Ninja 400. He was just ahead when no fewer than a pack of 12 pilots crossed the checkered flag within a second . In doing so, he also ensured that a Kawasaki ultimately won this weekend, after Australia Alex Lowes had achieved this twice in the WorldSBK in Round 1. Jeffrey Buis (Freudenberg KTM-PALIGO Racing), as the winner of Saturday’s race (actually crossing the finish line second behind Iglesias), only remained in 17th place this time, meaning the Dutchman missed out on the points. However, he was less than two seconds behind the winner of the second run, which impressively underlines the level of performance in the junior category.

Our summary of the results with the caveat that FIM and Dorna may change their minds later and throw everything overboard. We already experienced this, for example, in Jerez 2019 on Saturday afternoon. First, Jonathan Rea was celebrated as third in the first race, after which the Northern Irishman was moved back due to alleged “irresponsible riding” and had to start from the back in the sprint race the next day. His then “victim” Alex Lowes, however, absolved Rea of any guilt in an interview after this incident. Interestingly, such judgments are usually only made against pilots who had previously expressed criticism of the FIM, which of course was the case with Johnny.

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