The voices of most of the WSBK challengers before the Estoril round
With his podium in the first race, Toprak surprised positively on Saturday. The next day it was Garrett Gerloff who stood behind the two Kawasaki Assen Rea and Lowes instead of the Turk on the podium. Thanks to his risky but perfectly successful strategy, Scott Redding, a Ducati, made it onto the podium in Motorland Aragon only in the last race. Judging by his results from the previous year, he and the World Cup leader, in contrast to Razgatlioglu, are even among the outsiders. His best result in October 2020 was a second place behind Chaz Davies in his last race for the Aruba.it Ducati factory team. Below are some of the voices of the most important challengers of the leading Kawasaki duo in the intermediate standings.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu (Yamaha) – World Championship fourth: „In the Superpole Race, my strategy was to choose the rain tire because I saw it was starting to rain again on the grid. My goal was to finish well in the sprint race, especially for the second race, so that I would be able to start from a better starting position later. In this respect, sixth place was a good result. Given the conditions, many riders chose the intermediates up front, so it was an uphill battle to get that result. In the second race I tried again to fight for the podium. I was quite strong in the first few laps, was even in the lead for a few laps and enjoyed fighting. The feeling wasn’t good in the middle of the race and I had some problems to deal with, but sixth place can still be an important result for the championship. We’ll see how it goes next weekend in Estoril. I love this track, my Yamaha R1 is better than before, and I have very good memories of last year.” (the editors: With two victories, Toprak was the outstanding man at the 2020 season finale).
Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing Ducati) – WC-third: “Yes, it’s true, I took a big risk in the second race. In my career, however, the intermediates have let me down twice. Both times when I was close to getting a great result. For this reason I asked my team without hesitation to put on slicks for the last race. On the first few laps I tried not to make any mistakes and then of course it wasn’t difficult to take the lead. Obviously I would have preferred to win the race by fighting after fighting the other guys. But it’s still a major achievement, especially considering what happened this weekend. Now, of course, I hope that Estoril will continue this success on Sunday afternoon and that it won’t be a lottery with the tires.“ (the editors: According to the current weather forecast, there is a similarly high probability of rain on Friday and Saturday as before in Aragon on Sunday).
Andrea Locatelli (Yamaha) – WC-9th: „I’m pretty happy because in the end we finished the weekend overall on P9. It’s not easy for me in the first and second laps, so we have to work on it now. In addition, the wet conditions at the races on Sunday were indeed difficult. In the middle of the second race I was able to drive pretty fast in Aragon and the feeling was good. Overall, I learned a lot in the first lap, and we did an excellent job with the guys on the team. It was one of those days when you could be unlucky or lucky. If we had used the slick tires, it might have been a good chance for us to finish a lot better. But it was okay, we missed this opportunity, anyway it was only my first race weekend in WorldSBK. Now we’re going to continue at Estoril and hope we can put a lot more pressure on as I have more confidence in the Yamaha R1 and I think this track is a wonderful opportunity for us. “ (the editors: Last year “Loca” finished second in the WorldSSP 600 behind Lucas Mahias in Estoril, after which he rode the Superbike R1 for the first time for a test and set good times with it from the start).
Michael van der Mark (BMW) – WC-seventh: „On Sunday morning we had a wet warm-up phase during which I was in the rain on the BMW M-1000RR for the first time. To be honest, I still had an absolutely good feeling from the first lap. The Superpole race was in mixed conditions, but I chose the slick tire and this was the right choice in the end. However, during the race it kept raining at times, which slowed me down in places, but it was still a good result for us. The second race on Sunday was again a gamble when choosing tires. I realized early on that I had made the wrong choice before the start as the track dried up quickly. Still, we got off to a good start and had some incredible fights. But I knew that at the beginning I had put too much stress on the tires and in the end some guys passed me. But we have to be satisfied with the two P5 positions and, above all, with the experience I have gained with the BMW M-1000RR. Now I’m happy, it goes on straight away, last year I wasn’t too bad there that Sunday.” (the editors: Like most of the riders, “Magic Michael” decided in the 2nd race for intermediates and only Folger and Redding for slicks. In Estoril he finished third and fourth in the 1st race on Sunday after a crash at Turn 7 last year).
Tom Sykes (BMW) – WC-fith: „Sunday was indeed a bittersweet day. We definitely had a Superpole race to forget, which I don’t want to go into too much detail about. As a result, my starting position in the second race was compromised, and I was only on P10. For the second race, I wanted to use the slick tire. But after the unlucky morning we decided to play it safe with intermediates. Overall, after a good start, it was a bit of a waiting game. I could see what the guys were doing in front of me. Given the tires I was riding on, I tried a different strategy. Above all, I wanted to find out where the BMW M-1000RR worked well and where we need to improve. Unfortunately we just missed the podium today, but given our results here last year, that’s a huge improvement. At Estoril I was in the top ten twice last year and with the new model I’m hoping for an improvement. “
Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha) – WC-Sixth: “Of course, I am incredibly sorry for what happened when I fell, and I immediately apologized to Johnny after the race. I didn’t want to overtake him before this happened, but had problems decelerating, while Rea braked hard and well on the outside. So I tried to stay inside as much as possible so as not to catch him, but everything went so quickly and I was already on the ground. It was still a strong Sunday after 3rd place in the Superpole Race and despite my crash in the 2nd race, it was still seventh. It’s not that bad in the World Cup and of course I want to keep improving to make up for the gap next weekend. With two podium finishes last year and a crash in the last race, I just missed the top ten in the World Championship. Well, it will continue in a week, thank you from everyone for your support, and I am already very much looking forward to it.”
Leon Haslam (HRC Honda) – 12th, after P8 on Saturday, and on Sunday without points: „Unfortunately, the Superpole race did not go well after a positive and wet warm-up. One of the problems was that we should have ridden the intermediate, but we also had a bit of throttle problems. So a difficult race in which I took risks several times. Then in the last race, like most drivers, we went with the intermediate solution, i.e. intermediates and the pace felt excellent. I felt we had solved the morning’s problems and was in good spirits. So it was just a shame that I crashed. While the overall results weren’t what we wanted, I feel we made a good step in this final race, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can do at Estoril next weekend.” (the editors: Last year, Leon, who was often referred to as “Pocket Rocket” by his compatriots in allusion to his famous father, had his second-best result of the season there and was three times in the top ten, with the best result on Saturday).
Alvaro Bautista (HRC Honda) – 13th World Championship after 8th place on Saturday, like Haslam on Sunday without points: „ At the Superpole race, we opted for rain tires. When the track began to dry out, the drivers with intermediates and slicks naturally had a different pace. In the end I still ended up in seventh place as the second fastest of the drivers who had opted for rain tires. The positive is that I had a good feeling with the bike in conditions where we had problems in the past. This means that we have taken a step forward in this regard. In race 2 the track was wetter than in the morning, and we opted for intermediates, but the asphalt dried quickly during the race. It was the first time I used these tires. I didn’t really feel comfortable with a somewhat improvised mixing setup. Towards the middle of the race, I had the same electrical problem as on Saturday and kept trying to change gear. I had to deal with the situation and drive very carefully so as not to take any risks. It’s a shame because without this problem we would have fought for the podium yesterday and at least the top 6 today. Still, we have to focus on the positive things, on the fact that we have worked very well on the setup, the geometry, the suspension and also the electronics. That gives me a lot of positive energy for the next weekend in Estoril.“ (the editorial team: Last year, Alvaro was twice in the top ten on Sunday and once he was fifth after a crash and P17 in the first race).
The losers of the 1st weekend
Jonas Folger and Lucas Mahias are not among them because they both achieved a top ten place in Aragon despite modest and, in the case of the French, completely inadequate preparation. Similar to Mahias, Eugene Laverty had also risen with a test handicap in the first weekend of the season. He retired on Saturday with technical problems, after which he and his team made the wrong tire choice in both races on Sunday. The 13-time WSBK winner from Northern Ireland remains the unlucky person of the near-series World Championship, and he travels to Estoril without points. Tito Rabat practically had a total loss and has to hope for an improvement for Estoril. For Tati Mercado, after MIE Honda’s allegedly temporary withdrawal, the season has been as good as it gets. While rookies like Nozane, Bassani and others still have to be given some time, Rinaldi in particular is one of the losers in the WSBK opener in 2021, with a 7th place as the best result. Chaz Davies started well, but then came a fall, and now he has to wipe out the gap just like Rabat in Estoril.
Circuito do Estoril
The combined schedule of Mugello MotoGP and WorldSBK Estoril
>Estoril preview: see separate report on this page (coming soon).
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