What we learnt from a dramatic Acerbis Catalunya Round in WorldSBK

Tuesday, 22 September 2020 09:05 GMT

A seventh winner of the year for the first time since 2013, a new star on the podium and a Championship battle played out in many ways: thank you Catalunya, you’ve been incredible!

A captivating 2020 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship saw more exhilarating action this weekend at the inaugural Acerbis Catalunya Round. With the headline act of the Championship race between Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati’s Scott Redding, there were plenty of sub-plots too. A return to winning ways for Michael van der Mark (PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Official Team) and Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) and a heroic podium from Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team), the round that had many stories.

Championship hangs in the balance

Despite only winning one race at the Acerbis Catalunya Round, Jonathan Rea was able to extend his lead over Scott Redding in the Championship to 51 points. Neither were able to really grab hold of the round but still, Rea’s gap now means that he has a strong chance of wrapping the title up at Round 7. Redding needs to beat Rea at Magny-Cours and showcase his Race 2 ruthlessness from Barcelona in order to take it to Estoril. From Catalunya, race winners Rea, Davies and Michael van der Mark all scored more than Redding, but the main thing is that it’s not over yet.

#7 becomes the seventh different rider on top

It’d been a long time coming but after more than 15 months of waiting, Chaz Davies was back on top of the rostrum in Race 2. The Welshman had to fight hard, with pressure from Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team GOELEVEN) early on, as well as the onslaught from van der Mark and Garrett Gerloff. Holding on for a 31st career win, Davies is now 51 points behind teammate Redding – the same amount Redding trails Rea by. The seventh different winner of the year so far, a credit to how open 2020 is!

Garrett Gerloff’s breakthrough round

His pure, unmediated joy in parc ferme showed just how much it meant to Garrett Gerloff to be on the World Superbike podium after Race 2 at Catalunya. The 25-year-old Texan, a rookie in this year’s Championship, put in one of the most admirable rides of the season right through the weekend, coming from 15th on the grid in Race 1 to finish eighth, then 14th on the grid to fifth in the Tissot Superpole Race and finishing third in Race 2 – the first American rostrum since the late great Nicky Hayden at the Lausitzring in 2016. A phenomenal achievement by one of the unsung heroes of 2020.

Back in front: Honda and Bautista lead in WorldSBK

Despite not leading a full lap, Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC) took his Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR-R SP to the head of the field in the Tissot Superpole Race, the first time in 2020 that it’d happened. It ended in disaster a few corners later with an enormously violent highside for the Spaniard but proof of his and Honda’s hard work was there for all to see. It really is only a matter of time before regular podiums and the inevitable win comes, something the whole manufacturer should be proud of.

BMW on the fightback

Catalunya Race 2 was a race for many teams to celebrate. At the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team, it was their best race of 2020 as Tom Sykes took a best result of 2020 with fifth, whilst Eugene Laverty was inside the top seven for the first time this year. Besides the race results, there was good vibes throughout the weekend; a top four on the grid for Sykes returned BMW to the fore, whilst they had strong race pace in Free Practice too. Even with a top speed disadvantage, Laverty blasted passed Alex Lowes’ (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) ZX-10RR with relative ease on the front straight.

2020 is a war of attrition

We saw some huge crashes in WorldSBK at Catalunya which sidelined riders. The biggest one was Toprak Razgatlioglu (PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Official Team), who had a big highside at Turn 13 in Sunday’s Warm Up. This put him out of action for the rest of the day after being hospitalised, whilst Leandro Mercado’s (Motocorsa Racing) return didn’t last the out-lap of FP1 when he crashed at the same corner, putting him out. On top of that, Alvaro Bautista’s huge highside in the Tissot Superpole Race left him with a nondisplaced fifth metatarsal fracture on his right foot. As well as all this, Maximilian Scheib (ORELAC Racing VerdNatura) was out through injury after an FP2 crash. In all, 2020 is seeing some riders take big beatings, something that the front runners are all too aware of.

Find out what more lies ahead in World Superbike at Magny-Cours and the Pirelli French Round with the WorldSBK VideoPass!