Our last lesson of 2020: what we learnt from WorldSBK at Estoril

Monday, 19 October 2020 09:10 GMT

The climax of this astonishing season certainly didn’t disappoint and some of the big talking points will be sure to run and run through winter…

The final round of the 2020 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is over and preparations for 2021 have already started in the WorldSBK paddock. However, before we get wrapped up in the frenzy of the off-season, the final round of a memorable 2020 season gave us plenty to mull over in the months that we’ll be without racing. From Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) vs Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati), Yamaha’s domination at Estoril and the new star which is America’s Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team), there is a lot to get through.

The title fight’s gap was big, but the drama was sensational

In motorcycle racing, you can never be 100% certain of anything. That was never clearer than in the Tissot Superpole session, when Redding suffered a huge crash. Fastest in every session until then, he was doing what he needed to but the fall put him last on the grid. Easy picking for Jonny Rea then? Not a chance; Rea crashed at Turn 4 but got a banker lap in, meaning he would start 15th – his worst Superpole in 10 years. But what if Redding hadn’t crashed; or what if Redding had been leading the title race. Despite the gap that had been built up, the crashes and the drama meant that actually, going into Race 1, it was unpredictable. After all that 2020 has shown, who’d bet against the fastest man of the weekend storming through for the first ever last-to-first win whilst the Champion-elect suffered an issue. It wasn’t to be, but once more, the unpredictability puts things in perspective…

Yamaha’s stunning weekend at Estoril

Yamaha’s weekend in Portugal was arguably one of the manufacturer’s best in WorldSBK; Toprak Razgatlioglu (PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Official Team) took his and Turkey’s first pole in the class whilst the manufacturer achieved a first-ever 1-2-3 finish in the Tissot Superpole Race with Garrett Gerloff and Razgatlioglu’s teammate Michael van der Mark following the Turkish star home. On top of that, Razgatlioglu became the first Yamaha rider since Marco Melandri in 2011 to win more than twice for the manufacturer. With Razgatlioglu and Gerloff staying with Yamaha in 2021, could this be an aspect of new normal?

Talking of new Yamaha stars…

One thing that we didn’t just learn at Estoril but in the final three rounds of 2020 is that Garrett Gerloff is the real deal. The podium at Catalunya was no fluke and at a circuit he’d never seen before, he was straight on the podium again at Estoril – not once but twice, and coming from the front row. Not many riders can honestly say that in their rookie season at two circuits they’d NEVER seen, that they could fight for the podium. Three rostrums in 2020 and a well-deserved upgrade to 2021 factory machinery for next season, Gerloff will surely be able to challenge for victories…

Honda’s first season is done and it’s pretty level!

After 24 races, eight rounds and one crazy season, both Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC) and teammate Leon Haslam were tied on points as the curtain came down on 2020. 113 each, Bautista is classified ahead of Haslam by virtue of a sole podium at MotorLand Aragon in August. For a completely new project and for HRC’s factory return for the first time since 2002, that’s not bad going. They scored points in all but two races in 2020 and gathered valuable data ahead of next year’s campaign, in which both will remain with the team. With the consistency and the race-winning potential Bautista showed at Catalunya, Honda may well be a formidable force to be reckoned with moving forwards.

Chaz Davies proves a HUGE point

With over 30 races wins to his name, most of which have been at Ducati, Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) put in a sterling effort to show the WorldSBK fraternity exactly what he was made of with a stunning Race 2 victory at Estoril. Third in the Championship and closer to teammate Redding than Redding was to Rea, Davies will be replaced in the team by Michael Ruben Rinaldi in 2021. Still without a ride, the Welshman will be a valuable asset to any team and at the age of 33, showed that he’s still got that winning factor.

The 2020 WorldSBK season may be over but 2021 preparation is already underway: enjoy that and all the classics from years gone-by with the WorldSBK VideoPass!