Razgatlioglu’s masterpiece in France – the Championship is completely open
It can be said that the Turk’s first almost triple victory would have been very unlikely, if not even unthinkable, had it rained on Saturday afternoon, for example, as according to the previous forecast. In Donington Park, too, the Turk had been lucky with the weather when, despite other forecasts, it had mostly remained dry. But on the other hand you can say that on the dry track he is currently a force that even Jonathan Rea has to bite almost never before in his Kawasaki time. The Kawasaki rider was slowed down by questionable FIM regulations shortly before the start of the season. But in Aragon he was extremely strong in changeable conditions, while Toprak had trouble on the first lap as expected. But after that he showed a constancy that had never been seen from him before. Thanks to his strength, the title fight is still completely open at the moment.
Can Rea strike back in Barcelona?
If you look at the results of the previous year, it looks great for the reigning world champion. The Yamaha rider had a bad fall in the warm-up on Sunday morning in 2020 and had to pause for both races on Saturday after P6. Razgatlioglu’s memories of the Circuito de Cataluña from this spring are also anything but good. After finishing sixth on the first day of the official tests, 0.541 seconds behind Jonathan Rea, the Yamaha Hope had to pause on Sunday due to a positive Corona test. The defending champion at least got a win last year, as well as places 2 and 4 in the home of his team, and they were the only ones to test there again in the meantime at high temperatures. So his chances of striking back in the Catalonia round are not that bad. Above all, Scott Redding could also be at the forefront again, and he had already snatched points from Toprak several times in the last races.
Some rider voices after the weekend in France
Alvaro Bautista (HRC Honda): „I am generally satisfied with our weekend here in Magny-Cours. On Sunday, we made some changes to the bike’s setup, especially to the electronics. Nothing big, but we saw a small improvement that made me feel more confident. I felt a little better with the bike, and so I was able to be competitive in the Superpole race, where I usually have more problems and make a good comeback from fourteenth on the grid in just ten laps. Thanks to my seventh place, I was able to move up two rows on the grid for the second race. With the higher temperatures in the afternoon, the track conditions were more difficult and slippery. But the feeling was still better than it was sometimes under similar conditions. I got off to a good start, but then I took the wrong line at the first braking point and lost a few positions. I recovered, kept a steady pace and finished sixth, which I think is the best we can do right now. Now we’re going to tracks that I really like, so we’ll keep working and see what we can achieve there.“
Leon Haslam (HRC Honda): “To be honest, my expectations after qualifying were a bit higher. We had some problems in the first two races, but in the last run I felt that we had improved a lot with the bike. Unfortunately, I didn’t finish. The weekend ended with an early fall. But the changes and the progress we made with the bike setup made me feel more comfortable. So I’m disappointed that it ended like this, but I felt more comfortable than before that weekend. After this step, we can now look forward to the next lap in Barcelona, where we completed a very productive test a few weeks ago, especially when it comes to feeling at the front and braking.“
Leandro Mercado (MIE Honda): “A very difficult weekend for us. Unfortunately, the changes we made to the setup here in France didn’t work the way we wanted them to. The sprint race was tough, so we made a few small changes for Race 2. That wasn’t bad, at least in the early stages and on fresh tires. I was able to stay in the group with Rabat, Nozane, Mahias and Ponsson. But I couldn’t really attack like I wanted to. I lost on the fast sections of the track and generally when accelerating. And then the situation got tougher when the tires started to wear off. In short, it was a weekend that was against the usual trend for us, but we will try to improve in the next few races.“
Michael van der Mark (BMW): „The Superpole race on Sunday morning was okay. I had good pace and a good feeling with the bike. I was only one or two tenths short of staying with Scott Redding and fighting for fourth place. I went into the main race with confidence and got off to a strong start, but after a couple of laps I had problems. I’ve had a few moments with a couple of drivers and lost a lot of time there, but right now the package is just not good enough to fight every corner with the other guys. In some corners, we lose too much time.“
Tom Sykes (BMW): „Today was difficult. Get me on an open track and I can drive in the front row, get me back on an open track in the warm-up, and we can consistently be in the top four. We just can’t ride with the others. Unfortunately, when I’m with the other drivers it becomes a lot more stop-and-go, and we can’t follow them when it comes to accelerating. As soon as I had free space, my lap times dropped to positive values and weren’t too far from fifth position. But we cannot bridge the gap at this level. There is a lot of information to see, I’ll check with the team to see where we can improve.“
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team): „It seems like we are having some issues to stop the bike as soon as the grip of the rear tyre drops. When the tyre is fresh for ten laps I feel quite confident, quite good. I knew if I was going to have a solid chance to have a race win, then it would be the Superpole race. We made some big set-up changes, so massive kudos to the guys in the garage because we never give up. We just wanted to keep improving the bike. As I could see in the cooler conditions, I could use the SC1 tyre, but as soon as the temperature comes up it moves too much for my riding style. I need that extra stability that the 508 tyre brings. We are a so over-geared for the exit of the first gear corners and the final chicane. I was losing too many metres.“
Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team): „I probably should have been on the podium yesterday, crashing so close to the end, but I knew I had good pace around here, so it is nice to get back on the podium in the Superpole Race. I have been struggling in the last few months with some issues. Such a shame after the Race Two crash. Disappointed on one hand as honestly it’s the best I’ve been riding all year and yet this is my worst points haul of the year. Racing is like that sometimes. I had an issue with the brake which didn’t allow me to enter T7 like I wanted, and that caught me out, unfortunately. Anyway, my speed was there, so now I’ll take the positive points and turn my focus to the next race which is the home race of the team at Montmelo, close to Barcelona.“
The tight situation in the Superbike World Championship
While Razgatlioglu and Rea are only separated by 7 points, the gap behind the two has widened again. Alex Lowes lost 4th position to Andrea Locatelli, but until Garrett Gerloff in 9th place the gaps are quite small. Scott Redding has to hope for mistakes or failures of the two ahead of him in order to have a chance in the fight for the title. The situation is one of the worst for the two BMW private riders, Eugene Laverty and Jonas Folger. One only scored points at two events, and the other ended up with a team that had fooled him for the first time before the start of the season. The dodgy team didn’t even come to the tests in Barcelona at the time, so the Northern Irishman was condemned to watch. With Germans, on the other hand, it is either his riding performance, the material or his team that prevent him from performing well. In the case of Tito Rabat, it may be due to the lack of speed that the Catalan has so far disappointed. If you compare to these cases what Lucas Mahias achieved despite poor preparation and fall injuries, the Frenchman, along with Andrea Locatelli and Axel Bassani, is one of the bright spots of the first eight rounds.
WorldSBK’s still uncertain calendar for 2021
After all, the chance for dry races in the next three laps is very good, which should especially reassure Toprak Razgatlioglu. The next three rounds from Barcelona could be decisive. This is also because the two rounds in Argentina and Indonesia are not yet considered secured. After all, the Dorna people firmly believe in it. The Spaniards are ultimately responsible for holding a world championship that deserves this name, together with the more than questionable FIM as the highest motorsport authority. Rea had been stronger than the Turk on all the upcoming routes that had been driven so far. Only the Mandalika Circuit on the island of Lombok, which has not yet been completed, is new territory for all pilots.
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