Chatter and grip issue costs Toprak hat-tricks, hails "crazy, incredible" Argentinean fans

Monday, 18 October 2021 06:16 GMT

Championship leader Toprak Razgatlioglu missed out on his aim of a triple in WorldSBK in Race 2, but is the firm favourite going to Indonesia as he leads the Championship by 30 points

The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship will go to the final round of the season after a titanic Motul Argentinean Round sees Championship leader Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) with a 30-point lead over six-time defending World Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). The Turkish rider looked like he had a far superior pace than anyone else at the Circuito San Juan Villicum, but he was denied a first ever triple, as Scott Redding ( Racing – Ducati) took victory ahead of Rea in Race 2, leaving Razgatlioglu third.

Sunday started well for Razgatlioglu, grabbing the holeshot at Turn 1 from second on the grid in the Tissot Superpole Race to win in a last lap showdown against Redding, in scenes similar to Most’s Race 1. Then, from pole position, Razgatlioglu grabbed the holeshot once more into Turn 1 but would have a battle on his hands in the opening laps. Mistakes at Turn 8 on Lap 1 and 2 let Jonathan Rea through on both occasions, although Razgatlioglu wouldn’t give in as the two were once again embroiled in yet another fight, with Redding watching in third and rookie revelation Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) in fourth. Redding soon got ahead of Razgatlioglu and cleared off, whilst Rea got ahead of his title rival with six to go, leaving Razgatlioglu to take third at the flag.

Speaking after the race, Razgatlioglu said: “This weekend, we are very close to taking three wins but after the Superpole Race, I said again that it wouldn’t be easy for me because everyone is very fast. I try my best again and in the last three laps, I was fighting for second position, but Jonny was very fast. Third position, I am on the podium again, so I am happy. We tried a different setup, but I wasn’t happy in the Warm-Up. In the long race, I was feeling some chattering and a grip problem but with third, we are on the podium again, so this is very good, we take good points for the Championship and in Indonesia, we’ll try again for the win. I am happy though, because we didn’t crash or make big mistakes or have any problems, and this is important.”

The Championship going to Indonesia sees Razgatlioglu 30 points clear at the front, the biggest lead he has had going into a round all year, although after the Tissot Superpole Race in Portimao, he was 49 in front. This therefore means that Razgatlioglu, regardless of what Rea does, can finish inside the top four in the three remaining races. If Rea was to win all three and Razgatlioglu was to finish fourth in all three, then they’d be tied on points but by virtue of full-race wins, Razgatlioglu would be crowned Champion. Alternatively, if Razgatlioglu wins Race 1 at the all-new Mandalika International Street Circuit then Rea must be second to take the title to Sunday. Rea can’t lose more than six points to Razgatlioglu in Race 1 if he is to remain in the title fight.

Looking ahead to Indonesia and the all-new Mandalika International Street Circuit, Razgatlioglu said: “This track is new for everyone but normally I like new tracks, as I can learn them quickly. I’ll try to win again; I’m always focused on this. It’s not possible to say now that at the new track, I will be very fast or will win directly, because everyone is strong, and this year is very different. Every race weekend, the Championship changes, but we will see.

“I think the Indonesia track will be very good, and also the Indonesia fans are waiting for WorldSBK, which is very good. I also liked the Argentinean fans this weekend, they are very crazy I think! I have one memory from here when everybody calls me ‘El Turco’ so this is very good for me. After the race, I saw the fans and it is incredible, so thanks for everything!”

Yamaha as a manufacturer are also right in contention, sitting at the top of the Manufacturers’ Championship standings on 574, 16 ahead of Ducati and 54 ahead of Kawasaki. For Kawasaki to remain in the Manufacturers’ Championship battle, they must be first or second in Race 1 and hope that Yamaha and Ducati don’t score highly. To stand a chance of winning the Manufacturers’ Championship in Race 1, Yamaha must secure a win, hope that Ducati are 12th or lower. Regardless of what Kawasaki do, they are out of contention if Yamaha take a top eight.

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