The fifth round of the 2020 WorldSBK season brought a new name to the top and some of the most exciting racing so far this year
The 2020 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship had all the credentials of being one of the most captivating seasons in years on paper before lights out in Australia. Little did we know that after five rounds, we’d have had five different winners across three different manufacturers and some of the most exciting stories the Championship has laid eyes on in recent times. The Pirelli Teruel Round was a barnstormer and from a new race winner in Race 1 to the Championship fight taking a dramatic turn, it’s time to pick out some of the biggest themes from the weekend.
Rinaldi has what it takes
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team GOELEVEN) is only in his second full season of WorldSBK action and after numerous strong rides, Race 1 in Teruel proved to be a breakthrough ride. He led every lap from a first front row and set the fastest lap of the race to take a career-first victory by almost six seconds ahead of Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), the most successful WorldSBK rider of all time. Rinaldi romped clear of Rea to give the GOELEVEN squad a first victory and Ducati’s first Independent win since Sylvain Guintoli at Magny-Cours, 2012. Not only did he take victory, but he backed it up in the Tissot Superpole Race with third and an enthralling second in Race 2 after a race-long duel with Rea. Rinaldi has grown in stature and now, he’s in contention for more success.
Back-to-back rounds at one track bring more differences than similarities
After the Prosecco DOC Aragon Round just the weekend before, you’d be forgiven if you thought that the results would be the same. They couldn’t have been much more different; Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) won Race 1 of Aragon but crashed out of third in Race 1 in Teruel. Rinaldi was 7.4s off victory in Race 1 the first time round but dazzled to finish 5.8s clear for a first ever win in Teruel. Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) was nearly victorious in the first Aragon encounter and took two podiums, whilst the second saw him take a podium and suffer a DNF. Honda’s full-race potential wasn’t met by Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC) and BMW had a far better second Aragon meeting than the first. One constant across both weekends? Jonathan Rea’s consistency.
Rea vs Redding: experience does count
Jonathan Rea and Scott Redding are pretty much in a two-horse race for the title, but both had contrasting weekends. Rea was at the front in all three races in Teruel and never finished outside the top two, winning Race 2. On the other hand, Redding crashed in Race 1, won the Tissot Superpole Race and was a dejected third in Race 2. Rea’s experience of churning out results when he can’t win is paying off again, but he’s also capitalising on Redding’s inexperience of WorldSBK at tracks that he’s still learning on a World Superbike motorcycle; in the last nine races, Rea’s been on every rostrum whilst Redding’s been on five. The final result? A 36-point lead for Rea with nine races to go.
BMW make some strides
Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) and teammate Eugene Laverty were first and second in the 2013 WorldSBK Championship; they know how to win races, but the BMW is slightly different. The first Aragon weekend was abysmal, but the German manufacturer pulled together and managed to vastly improve in Superpole for Sykes and return both riders to the top ten in the races. A double top ten for Sykes was bettered by Eugene Laverty’s eighth place – a best of the year for him – and for the first time in 2020, both scored the same amount of points. Can they improve towards the top six?
Haslam brings home the bacon for Honda
The plucky British courage of Leon Haslam (Team HRC) has really started to shine through Team HRC. Renowned for his versatility and ability to develop a motorcycle, the 2010 WorldSBK runner-up took a season’s-best fourth place finish in Race 2 at MotorLand Aragon whilst his teammate Alvaro Bautista was back in the box after a crash. The ‘Pocket Rocket’ was at times lapping quicker than Scott Redding in third and closed him in by more than a second in the final two laps. Still yet to DNF in 2020, Haslam’s consistency of bringing the bike home is proving valuable to Honda.
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