A race without spectators on the Circuito do Estoril, but one that, like Aragon, offered almost everything that this sport has to offer in terms of tension and drama and, like at the season opener, there were numerous surprises.

Overpowering Rea – almost all opponents struggle with setbacks

As the reigning world champion had asserted after his second victory on Sunday, he was still convinced on Friday evening to operate pure damage limitation in Estoril. After he hadn’t had a chance to catch Redding and overtake Toprak in the first race on Saturday with the harder SC0 tire, hardly any viewer would have bet on the Kawasaki ace for on Sunday. Especially not when it became clear that he was even running in the morning sprint race with normal racing tires. The two of them had already been on the softer SCX tires in the first race and of course also relied on these rear tires in the Superpole Race. What followed on Sunday morning, however, was a demonstration by the World Cup leader, which not even he had expected before.

Jonathan Rea tho the Superpole Race: he races are never easy, but it was fun, kudos to Pirelli because the SC0 tire obviously works in a pretty wide range and also kudos to my crew for making amazing decisions all weekend. To get a podium now, even my first win in Estoril, that really means a lot to me. Of course, it’s unbelievable that I finally won my first race at Estoril with it. This is also very important for the second race. But it is particularly important to me to emphasize at this point that his thoughts are with Jason Dupasquier and his family at the moment. With this in mind, I can’t be particularly happy at the moment, even if I’m grateful to my team for what a great bike they made available to me.

Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) ahead of Eugene Laverty (BMW), Alex Lowes (Kawasaki) and Chaz Davies (Ducati) was already aware before the weekend – that after the disastrous weekend of the previous year, he was not going to have an easy task.

The winner of the Saturday morning race after the Superpole race, Scott Redding:I have to admit that I am very confused because Johnny Rea was so fast over 10 laps on the normal racing tire. It looks like Kawasaki has found an extra grip that makes it almost unbeatable. After a race like this, I am almost speechless for the time being, so of course they are the absolute favourites for the afternoon race.

This was said by the man who had won the first race the day before. Toprak Razgatlioglu admitted that the world championship leader was very strong this time, and it just wasn’t enough for him because he also had a drop on his SCX tire towards the end. For the Ducati driver, however, things should turn out to be much worse in the second race on Sunday than losing just a few points in the sprint race. With 13 points after the Superpole race, his deficit on the world championship leader was still manageable. Things looked worse for Honda, however, because neither driver had scored points that morning. The same goes for BMW newcomer Michael van der Mark and his brand colleague Jonas Folger, who had to digest positions 13 and 18.

One of the most positive surprises after his season opener with no points in Portugal was definitely Eugene Laverty (BMW), who had been strong on Saturday before his crash and finished on P8 on Sunday morning, right behind his works team colleague Tom Sykes from last year.

Drama without end in the last race on Sunday
Redding and Toprak had jump-start, as we immediately recorded in our live blog on Sunday. It was interesting that the FIM commissioners needed until after the race to find out about the same thing for the Englishman. The Turks, however, punished them with a long-lap penalty during the race, after which he fought his way back to P3 with a knife between his teeth. At the top there was the first real duel of the year between the reigning champion and his strongest challenger and runner-up world champion of 2020, Scott Redding. The Ducati rider should actually have won the race because his new team-mate Michael Ruben Rinaldi almost knocked the Kawasaki driver off the track. He then lost several positions and had to fight his way back from P6.

Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki ZX-10RR) and his crew shortly before the start – as in Aragon Gerloff, in the second race with Rinaldi, another driver almost brought him down, and he lost several positions. How he fought his way back afterwards was simply sensational.

The duel between the two WSBK titans with a clear winner
What many could hardly imagine came true, and the world championship leader caught up with the Ducati rider who was at the top. We already noted in our live blog that he should now wait for a mistake from his rival and may just put him under a little pressure for the time being. This is exactly what he did at first and the second time at start and finish he decided not only to show Redding his front wheel, but also to walk past him before Turn 1. The Ducati Hope fought its way back briefly, but was caught again by Rea at the next opportunity. Immediately afterwards it happened and the Ducati Hope made its first fatal mistake of the season and crashed seven laps before the end in Turn 4, which clearly decided the duel between these two and Rea drove towards a sure victory. Scott then rose again and still drove to P14, but the points were later stripped from him due to a punishment from his jump start. Behind Davies, Toprak was the laughing third and despite two long-lap penalties, he took the third podium this weekend and is second in the World Cup, 3 points ahead of Redding but already 35 behind Rea.

Johnny Rea (Kawasaki ZX-10RR) after his sensational victory – what Jack Miller, Fabio Quartararo and Toprak can do, he can for a long time. A wonderful “stoppie” from the 6-time record world champion and already 103-time winner of the Superbike World Championship.

Jonathan Rea after his one-two on Sunday and the overall victory in Estoril: It wasn’t easy, but race two was fun, to be honest. I had a tough moment with Rinaldi at Turn 4 and fell back a little when Laverty came up with good pace. At first, I thought I was in a little trouble because most of the starters had the SCX tire. But we decided on the somewhat harder SC0. I still believed that I could fight. After about four laps, I was still not very convinced. But when I had a bit of free rein, I could see that Toprak and Chaz weren’t leaving. Then Toprak suddenly got a penalty and that was like a free pass to the chase forward. Difficult to pass, especially at Estoril. Scott was on a really solid rhythm, but I caught up with him in sectors two, three and four. I only had slight problems in the first sector. Step by step I got closer to him and was pretty happy to be able to stay in the slipstream soon. I could feel Scott trying to counter another corner when I was already ahead. Then I saw on my pit board that it was outside. It’s a shame for him, but it gave me some breathing space, and I was able to concentrate on my race. Sticking to lap times of 1’37 minutes was pretty tough because the track temperature was extremely high. Kudos to Pirelli because the SC0 tire obviously works over a fairly broad range. Kudos to my crew too, of course. To get a podium and two wins means it was an amazing weekend.

The decisive moment when Redding made a mistake shortly before and then found himself in the gravel with his Aruba.it Ducati. You can’t allow yourself to make mistakes like this in a fight with Jonathan Rea if you want to fight for the title with him.

Alex Lowes after a strong Sunday (on Saturday he suffered his first fall of the season): We recovered well on the second day, but the Superpole race was incredibly tough. Started from tenth on the grid and the first corner is so tight that it is difficult to make up a lot of places. Starting from the fourth row was a mortgage, but I still fought my way behind the leading group and Rinaldi. I felt a bit faster than him, but I couldn’t overtake him anywhere on the track. In the second race I had a start from the second row, but that was difficult too. In the hotter conditions, I didn’t manage the SCO tire as well as Jonathan did. In the last part of the race, when Razgatlioglu passed me again, I thought I am not fast enough to stay with him today. This time I wanted to be smart and get a few more points. It was two pretty good races on Sunday, lots of information and much better than we did here last year.

Alex Lowes (Kawasaki) in front of Yamaha factory rider Andrea Locatelli – in contrast to the Italian, Lowes was criticized by unsuspecting journalists for an allegedly poor performance in Estoril. Despite his crash on Saturday, he scored no fewer points than “Loca” and, in contrast to him, already has three podium places on the account. In addition, he is fourth in the World Cup, only 10 points behind Redding, not that bad at all!

The few winners and many losers after the first 2 rounds

Besides Jonathan Rea, Toprak Razgatlioglu and Alex Lowes, there were only a few who could be really satisfied with the weekend in Portugal. They were the three best on Sunday, even if not all the clerks would admit it. As a challenger in the title fight, Redding is of course one of the losers after only 32 points in Estoril versus 53 from Rea. Just like HRC Honda with a strong drop compared to a strong result in the previous year at the same location. But BMW also fell short of expectations with a sixth place in “Magic Michael” as the best result. After two fourth places in the first two races, Garrett Gerloff failed again in the last race of the weekend, as in Aragon, and his zero is not the only trouble for the US boy. He has to start in the first Misano race as a penalty for killing Rinaldi out of the pit lane and can be happy to make it into the top ten.

Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha) after two strong fourth places, the crash pilot was once again on duty, and yet he is still ahead of all the Honda and BMW drivers. His brand colleague Andrea Locatelli is also well behind him in the World Championship with P9, which is not easy to digest for a driver of the works team, otherwise the Texan would have deserved his place.

Will Honda and BMW take the necessary step?
That seems to be the most important question before the round in Misano because it can almost always be looking up. With the M-1000RR, BMW has launched a new model and signed Michael van der Mark, a second podium candidate for the works team. Now, just like with Honda, the necessary results are needed. Otherwise, the blue-whites have to put up with the reproach of only half-heartedly operating their work. Their waiver of tests last year in the November tests had caused astonishment and this season they were also the last to go on the racetrack. The two young factory riders from Ducati and Yamaha are also under pressure. Both Locatelli and Rinaldi each have a private driver of the same brand for whom they are competing in the World Cup. That’s why Misano needs a significant improvement, otherwise they both belong to the B-Team.

Alvaro Bautista (HRC Honda) crashed three times on Friday – nevertheless he made it into the top ten in all three races after that. This was better than in Aragon, but worse than in October 2020 in Estoril the first time with the new CBR-1000RR-R SP Fireblade.

Tom Sykes (BMW) after the Estoril Sunday:The bike was much better than on Saturday. We had made a small change and felt a significant improvement in the bike. But still I stumbled in the race, and it’s a shame when you lose positions like that. Whatever the reason, we’re losing too much ground to some other riders right now. The BMW M-1000RR is certainly strong in some sections, and we understand why. Unfortunately, I got stuck behind some other drivers and that caused a problem with the braking system. When I had a free track again, I was able to pick up more speed and found a much better rhythm. Obviously I’m not happy with the result, but considering where we were in the first race, it’s still a big improvement. We definitely learned a lot this Sunday in Estoril, and now we have to keep improving.

Tom Sykes (BMW M-1000RR) before the start – after two top six results in Aragon, the best result of the Huddersfield man in the Superpole Race was 7th, which only earned 3 points. Scott Redding already has twice as many points despite a crash in 6 races.

The result of the two races on Sunday

The stand in the world championship with many surprises

One of the most important findings after the WSBK lap in Estoril is the fact that drivers like Jonas Folger have an extremely difficult time preparing for the season, in contrast to many other competitors. With Eugene Laverty with just one test before the start of the season, this could have been expected. But the other BMW drivers sounded quite confident after the first two tests. The hangover only started after the season started. With the German, it looks as if he didn’t win gold with BMW, despite lip service to the contrary, shortly before the first races. In the world championship with 8 points after 6 races is like a veritable disaster. Similar to Tito Rabat, who has only 5 points more than the German on the account, but at least showed an increasing tendency in Portugal compared to Aragon.

Position 16 of Scott Redding is in red because it was the result of a punishment after a jump start, which meant that he slipped two places down from 14th place and didn’t get any points in the second race on Sunday.

Unless otherwise stated, this applies to all images (© WorldSBK, BMW, HRC Honda und Kawasaki Racing).