2003 Champion Neil Hodgson and 2014 Champion Sylvain Guintoli were at the recent UK Round and gave their thoughts on the 2021 season
The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship may only be four rounds into the season so far but the action certainly hasn’t been lacking across the 12 races of the season which has meant Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with BRIXX WorldSBK) take the Championship lead from Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) by a slender two-point margin. At the recent Prosecco DOC UK Round, 2003 Champion Neil Hodgson and 2014 Champion Sylvain Guintoli revealed their thoughts on how the 2021 season might play out.
Both Guintoli and Hodgson believe the 2021 campaign is shaping up to be something special as the titanic title tussle between Razgatlioglu and Rea shapes up, with both Champions revealing who they believe will prevail in the Championship scrap. The pair also explain riders who have surprised and impressed them so far in 2021 with names such as Razgatlioglu, Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) and Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) all getting a shoutout.
2014 Champion Guintoli, the last Champion before Rea’s streak started in 2015, said on the 2021 campaign: “It’s started really well, there’s loads of competition so this is nice to see. The races are always, or most of the time, a big fight. Really enjoy watching but it looks like Jonny again is going to be the man to beat. Really strong performances from JR. Really excited for the Championship. I think Jonny is going to be hard to beat but it seems amazing to think that all this time he’s been winning and dominating. Such a strong rider, Jonny’s like a complete rider so very hard to beat on the long run of a Championship. Sometimes, some races, he’s been challenged, but he always seems to understand his limits as well.”
Hodgson explained his thoughts about the title battle, saying: “It’s starting to explode! It’s getting exciting. I’m a good friend of Jonathan Rea and I always want him to do well but I also want to see some close racing. I don’t want to see anyone dominating the Championship. Jonathan doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. Toprak has made a big step this year and it’s a pleasure to watch him dance on the motorcycle with the thing moving, crazy, and he looks like he’s smiling inside the helmet. I’m really enjoying it. I think I’m still going to think Jonathan’s going to win the Championship.”
When asked about riders who were impressing in 2021, Guintoli said: “Impressing me, yes. Toprak. It’s not surprising because already you could see he had it in him even when he went back on the Kawasaki. He had this fire inside him. He can challenge maybe but for the full Championship, I don’t know. In the wet conditions, Toprak is maybe not as fast as JR. He’s just committed to WorldSBK for another two years, so he really wants to go and challenge for the title. I hope he can give Jonny some trouble. This is good for us that watch the races.”
Hodgson added: “I think Gerloff. We didn’t know a lot about Garrett when he came last year, and I think we all thought he was impressive and did a good job. Then I thought maybe that’s his level but this year he’s continued to improve. He’s come to Donington Park for the first time and been incredibly fast and it’s a difficult, technical circuit so he’s been a bit of a standout. Also, Toprak has made another step. Alex Lowes is improved on the Kawasaki in the second year, so everyone is getting closer to Jonathan and the races are starting to get more exciting.”
Watch the title battle unfold throughout 2021 using the WorldSBK VideoPass!