Dramatic Europe final – the World Cup remains open
After the reigning world champion fell in the first two races of Portimão as a huge favourite in both races, the chance of defending his title seemed to be only theoretical. But then Jonathan Rea proved why he is already 6-time record world champion and the best superbike rider of all time. The Northern Irishman literally drove as if his life was at stake. Although he snapped at the end of the long start-finish straight several times in Toprak and Redding, he did not give up and fought his way back to the top. You could see with the naked eye that there was no herb against the Kawasaki ace in the winding part of the route. But Razgatlioglu did not want to give up and the unexpected happened to him and the Turk fell in the target turn 15 like his opponent in the fight for the title the day before. This cleared the way for a unleashed Rea, who gave his pursuers no chance and won the last race in Europe.
Did Toprak himself end up being a victim of his ruthlessness?
Many observers asked themselves this question after the Turk had repeatedly shown himself to be extremely ruthless and sometimes deliberately very rowdy towards his competitors on Saturday afternoon. Once, the world championship leader crashed sideways into Jonathan Rea, who was only able to prevent a fall with luck and skill. After the first run, Scott Redding also complained bitterly about the excessive attacks of the Yamaha rider. The fact that his words were cut out of the official Dorna report on his interview did nothing to change that. It rather shows how FIM and Dorna like to trivialize unfair maneuvers by drivers like Marc Marquez and Raztaglioglu. In this respect, they were also complicit in the Rossi-Marquez Clash in Sepang in 2015. But according to a rumour in the paddock, it could well be that Toprak had laid an egg with it. In any case, immediately before his fall, you saw something break off on his Yamaha R1, which could indicate this thesis. The truth of this will definitely never come out.
BMW back in the dry on the ground of facts
Michael van der Mark’s victory in the Superpole Race on a wet track only confirmed that the Dutchman is just as good a rain driver as his team-mate Tom Sykes and his replacement Eugene Laverty. His first win for BMW since the success of Chaz Davies in 2013 in the second race of lap 10 at the Nürburgring, and only the thirteenth for the German brand. But as with most of Tom Sykes’ podium finishes since his factory return to WorldSBK in 2019, it was the driver to whom the honour belonged. On the dry track it would only have been P7 without the fall of Alvaro Bautista, who was in front of him, but it was still enough for 6th place. After all, Eugene Laverty also showed a clean performance as Sykes replacement and in tenth place he made it for the third time Weekend in the top ten. However, this does not change the fact that BMW is still well behind the best. After all, two private drivers saw the chequered flag in race 2 ahead of the man from Gouda as the best of the German-English troop.
BMW’s victories so far in WorldSBK
The World Championship stand in WorldSBK after 11 of 13 rounds
Only 24 points separate Toprak from the reigning world champion, after more than twice as many just one race before. Even Scott Redding still has, albeit minimal, chances of winning the title. While Michael van der Mark was able to make up a position at the expense of Alex Lowes, who was injured on the right hand, team-mate Tom Sykes was thrown out of the top ten. Just like Chaz Davies since Barcelona, the man from Huddersfield is already missing in the paddock and the two should be back in the last two rounds in Argentina and Indonesia. The BMW driver will end his life in the factory team of the blue and white on this occasion, and the Welshman will then hang his helmet on the famous nail.
The calendar, with only two rounds to go
In the end, FIM and Dorna confirmed the two questionable rounds in Argentina and Indonesia. In view of the loss of sponsors, this is one of the reasons why numerous drivers and teams either do not participate at all or only take part in Europe. The most prominent victims were Loris Baz, whose Ten Kate team failed to raise the money for a full season in WorldSBK. But even for top Supersport drivers like the Austrian Thomas Gradinger and the German Patrick Hobelsberger, there was no chance for a full season in the second Corona year. In San Juan, except one time winner Alvaro Bautista, only the reigning world champion has won all races so far. We can therefore assume that it will be exciting again in two weeks’ time.
Unless otherwise mentioned, applies to all images (© WorldSBK).
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