Toprak draws level with Rea – but Redding takes the overall victory
With full-bodied words before the race, the Turk announced that he wanted to fight for victory in Navarra, and that his Yamaha was working perfectly on this difficult track. But then came qualifying and the first two races, where he was clearly beaten twice in a row by Scott Redding and Jonathan Rea. At least Toprak Razgatlioglu made it onto the podium both times. The weather could play an important role in the next round. If it rains, the Yamaha rider should lose a lot of feathers, i.e. points. At least that’s what a look at the statistics says, if you look at last year’s races in France. At the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, the World Championship leader was only nine points short of the maximum because he was only fourth with tire problems in the last race. Before that, he had won both races with ease. Toprak, on the other hand, only got a meagre 18 points in the three races on the wet track, less than Redding with his victory in the last run.
BMW only fourth force
Except for Tom Sykes’ first row in qualifying, the blue-and-whites were not able to fight at the very front, as is so often the case. After all, the Huddersfield man was still very strong. For him this must have been a particular satisfaction because his successor had been officially presented before the Navarre weekend. In all three races, he didn’t give Michael van der Mark a chance. With the overall winner on the track in the middle of the famous Rioja area, BMW, as his new team-mate, has definitely landed a big fish. The question is rather whether this will turn out really well for Redding. Unsurprisingly, opinions differ widely on this point. Actually quite rightly, because the German brand is currently only fourth and only Honda is currently even worse compared to the competition.
HRC Honda and spoiled for choice
Meanwhile, there are increasing rumours that the world’s largest manufacturer wants to add a new model. The agony of choice for team principal Leon Camier and his people are more a question of the rider. The decision for an even better machine than the CBR-1000RR-R SP Fireblade is already made in Japan and has to be given a lot of thought. At the moment, however, the two riders are also being scrutinized and one of them is being mentioned more and more often as a returnee to the British Superbike Championship (BSB). Leon Haslam is the oldest pilot in the paddock and very valuable as a development worker for HRC. This season, however, he often lacked results in the race. His teammate Alvaro Bautista, on the other hand, is always associated with Ducati, but he definitely crashed too often for the Reds for their taste. Especially when it came to the head-to-head race with Rea for the title in 2019, the little Spaniard showed unexpected weaknesses. In this respect, it would not be a surprise for Honda to sign Andrea Locatelli. Maybe even at the side of the disappointed Tom Sykes. These are the furthest ahead in the World Cup without a contract for 2021.
Few viewers in Navarre – the horror prices had an impact
We had pointed out in advance that the organizer, with exorbitant prices for the grandstand seats, charged more than three times the entrance fee than Jerez de la Frontera two years ago. Because the tickets cost over EUR 150, the main stand was as good as empty and the few visitors were satisfied with standing tickets for a little more than a third. In the second Corona year, the organizers went completely wrong with their failed strategy and received the receipt for their audacity. For visitors from many countries in Central Europe, it will be more difficult for Spain from now on anyway due to the pandemic. From next week, for example, countries such as Germany and Austria will be on Spain’s risk list. This should make it easy for many fans to forego a visit to the race.
The statistics of qualifying in 2021 – Johnny Rea towers over everyone
In addition to the reigning world champion, Scott Redding stands out in particular. While Rea definitely took over the title of Mister Superpole from Tom Sykes, the Englishman is the second best of all WorldSBK heroes with an average of 3rd place on the grid after 7 laps. The Ducati rider is the only one besides the Northern Irishman who was always in the first row, at least statistically, even if he missed it in Donington Park with starting position 6. Third best is not Toprak, but with Alex Lowes the second Kawasaki works rider, just ahead of Razgatlioglu and Tom Sykes. The latter is still the pole record holder ahead of WSBK veteran Troy Corser, but his former Kawasaki team-mate is getting closer and closer to him with giant strides. A good three years ago, the record world champion was only sixth in the all-time best list behind Sykes, Troy Corser, Troy Bayliss, Carl Fogarty, Doug Poland and Neil Hodgson. But a lot has happened since then, and he was able to double his number and is already in second position with a total of 34 pole positions up to Navarra. Only Sykes and Corser are left in front of the Kawasaki ace, and if he continues like this, he will catch up with Sykes.
Stand in the WorldSBK world championships
Because Jonathan Rea has been victorious eight times and Toprak has only won six times, we have the reigning world champion in our overview as the leader. Sure, four of his eight victories at Rea have been achieved in the Superpole Race, but in the official statistics they are whole and not half triumphs. However, with the introduction of sprint races, the 10-lap runs were given a reduced number of points. Therefore, it has become really difficult to compare the current performance of the pilots with before 2019. In principle, one would even have to differentiate in the statistics, but fortunately this does not matter at all with Jonathan Rea. The Northern Irishman has already pulverized almost all records, and in terms of the number of titles and victories he may never be surpassed. We will shortly go into detail about his chances of defending his title in a half-year summary of the WSBK. Despite the technical disadvantage of his team (see the next paragraph), the chances of this are still excellent.
The team and manufacturer classification of the WorldSBK
The fact that Kawasaki has dropped to 3rd place in the constructors’ championship despite the new model of its ZX-10RR seems surprising at first glance. But you have to know that due to a scandalous decision by the FIM shortly before the start of the season, their new model was formally castrated. The desk criminals of the highest motor sports authority are doing everything they can to throw sticks between the legs of the Japanese company. While BMW was allowed a much higher maximum speed with their new M-1000RR, the men of the FIM slowed down the Greens painfully with a hair-raising low value even before the first race. In order to keep up with the competition, world champion Jonathan Rea often has to go over the limit, which threatens to fall. The consequence of this was seen in Donington Park and Most, when, completely untypical for him, he had to accept a crash three times in the race. Just because Rinaldi rarely convinces and Locatelli only opened the button from Assen, Pata Yamaha and Aruba Ducati are still just behind the best team of the last 6 years.
Circuito de Navarra
How to proceed in the provisional calendar
According to the plan, the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours will be the next stop two weeks after the Navarra premiere, and another 14 days later a so-called three-man block will begin. Just like in the first year of the WSBK in 1988, when lap 5 was driven in Sugo, with only one week apart (on August 28), it went on to Le Mans and 7 days later it was driven in Estoril. Back then, of course, both races on Sunday and there were fewer points than today and no Superpole Race. Four-cylinder engines were limited to 750 cc and only 9 laps were held. For more information, see our richly illustrated history. This season it is only the second time Barcelona with the Circuito de Cataluña, Jerez and Portimão. What comes next, however, is still questionable because many rightly doubted the races in Argentina and Indonesia when the first calendar was published. Either replacement laps on other routes or a shortening of the calendar can be expected. At least in MotoGP, the events in Australia, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia have already been cancelled one after the other.
Unless otherwise mentioned, applies to all images (© WorldSBK).