The #WorldSBKFinale is well and truly alive, and the two heavyweights of the title race were duking it out from the start
The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship fired into life for the Pirelli Indonesia Round at the Pertamina Mandalika International Street Circuit, with the #WorldSBKFinale lighting up from the start. After day one at the all-new track, it was Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) who set the benchmark in both FP1 and FP2, the Turk looking to build on a successful Friday to clinch the Championship and defeat Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). Both riders are in the fight for the title, and it could be the battle we’ve been hoping for.
RAZGATLIOGLU VS REA: day one to the blue corner
Razgatlioglu got down to a strong pace straight away, despite being a little bit late to his pit box at the start of the session. However, he was unflappable and unstoppable, taking to the circuit and going quicker than his morning time, before concluding the day on top with a 1’34.230. On fine form at a brand-new track, Razgatlioglu stole a march and is the firm favourite going into the remainder of the weekend, just under two tenths clear having sported a 1.5s advantage in the morning. On the other side of the garage and aiming to end his rookie season well, Andrea Locatelli did many laps with Razgatlioglu as he set about learning the circuit and was inside the top three for most of the session before finishing eighth overall.
After losing more than 20 minutes in the pits in FP1 during the morning, Jonathan Rea was out to make amends in FP2 and the afternoon session. The Ulsterman, fighting for a seventh successive title but 30 points down on Championship leader Razgatlioglu in the standings, had a much stronger FP2 session and led sporadically in the opening stages. However, he was demoted soon after but remained a solid feature inside the top three, chipping away in each sector and making incremental improvements to finish second overall. Back in action and returning from injury, teammate Alex Lowes finished day in seventh despite an early fall at Turn 2 and hopes to help his teammate out throughout the weekend.
INDEPENDENT RESURGENCE: Gerloff gets his form back
The battle for top Independent is to be fought this weekend and currently leading the fight by 14 points, Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was back to his old self, inside the top three throughout the day and finishing third come the chequered flag at the end of the afternoon. However, Gerloff hasn’t got the battle won just yet, as Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) had a strong opening day. The rookie Italian is in good form and finished the day in tenth overall. Come the races, it promises to be an intriguing battle.
STRONG START: Honda on form, Ducati top five
It was a strong session for Honda as Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC) blasted up the order in the closing stages of FP2 to go fourth, having been sixth in FP1. It wasn’t the most straightforward day for the Spaniard though, as he had technical problems at the start. He was in fine form though, with a strong time at the end of FP2 putting him as one of the front-runners. Teammate Leon Haslam reiterated Honda’s strengths, finishing in sixth overall. Both riders will leave the team after the weekend, with Bautista heading back to the factory Ducati team, whilst Haslam’s future is to be confirmed.
Fifth place went to Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), with the British rider having a solid but unassuming start to his Pirelli Indonesian Round. Redding was outside of the top ten going into the final stint of the session but put together some strong times to elevate himself up the order. He leads Ducati’s charge this weekend, as the Italian manufacturer are just 16 points behind Yamaha in the manufacturers’ Championship standings. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was 11th overall and will aim to find something to put himself back into the mix for the rest of the round.
SOLID DEBUT: BMW hoping for more but show potential
Top BMW honours went to Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), with the Dutchman coming to what is a second-home round, with him having Indonesian heritage. Van der Mark took ninth overall and was a feature inside the top ten at various points, something that shows good signs on Friday for someone who hasn’t always been in the top half of the leaderboard after day one. Teammate Tom Sykes returns for his final weekend of racing in the team, with his future also unconfirmed. The 2013 World Champion took 13th overall as he bedded himself back in, although he did suffer a crash at Turn 6 in FP1. Both BMWs hope to end their season strongly, with it being the M 1000 RR’s first in WorldSBK.
BEST OF THE REST: noteworthy surprises behind
One of the bigger surprises during Indonesia’s opening day was Isaac Viñales (Orelac Racing VerdNatura), with the Spaniard coming on strongly and even featuring inside the top three at points through FP1. Finishing 12th overall, he was the best Independent Kawasaki, less than three quarters of a second behind Razgatlioglu’s top time. Next Independent was Kohta Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) who was likewise looking good, ahead of Chaz Davies (Team GoEleven). The Welshman is in his swansong weekend and was 15th on day one, ahead of Leandro Mercado (MIE Racing Honda Team), Christophe Ponsson (Gil Motor Sport Yamaha) and Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing). Samuele Cavalieri (Barni Racing Team) and Oliver Konig (OUTDO TPR Team Pedercini Racing) brought up the rear, with Konig finding more than four seconds compared to his FP1 time, following a crash at Turn 2.
Top six after day one at the Pertamina Mandalika Circuit, full results here:
1. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) 1’34.230s
2. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.174s
3. Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) +0.225s
4. Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC) +0.230s
5. Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.349s
6. Leon Haslam (Team HRC) +0.371s
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