The Championship gap increases: Razgatlioglu’s "special" day, Rea aiming ‘to get a bit closer’

Saturday, 16 October 2021 19:30 GMT

The Championship top two react after finishing one and two in Race 1 as WorldSBK returned to Argentina

The battle to be crowned Champion in the 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship continues to rage on and Race 1 at the Circuito San Juan Villicum was no exception as Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) went head-to-head, with the Championship leader coming out on top and Razgatlioglu extending his lead in the standings to 29 points.

Razgatlioglu had qualified on the first row, with second place, after the 15-minute Tissot Superpole session on Saturday morning while Rea could only manage fifth place. However, both got good starts as the lights went out for Race 1 and were the leading two riders after Turn 1 while polesitter Scott Redding ( Racing – Ducati) crashed out.

The Turkish star came into the Argentinean Round with a 24-point advantage over Rea and extended that by five points with victory in Race 1, leading every lap and eventually finishing around five seconds clear of Rea after the 21-lap battle, celebrating his 25th birthday with his 50th WorldSBK podium, and the 12th win of his campaign.

Discussing his victory, Razgatlioglu said: “This weekend we are very strong. This race was not easy for me because I’m pushing every lap for a consistent lap time. I tried to make no mistakes. We are here and I’m very happy. Also, thanks to my team who did an incredible job this weekend. Every session, they are improving my bike. It’s also a very special day for me because it’s my birthday!”

Rea was able to put pressure on Razgatlioglu in the opening stages of the race but soon saw his Championship rival pull away from him, with the gap up to more than three seconds by the end of lap nine before Razgatlioglu found another couple of seconds across the second half of the race to win by 5.295 seconds. Rea’s second place came off the back of a difficult Friday where he lost most of Free Practice 2 after a crash, and fifth place in Superpole to start from the second row.

Explaining his view of Race 1, the six-time Champion said: “I was pretty happy with that and no regrets, I did my maximum. I just struggled in some areas of the track, especially sector three I was losing a lot of time there. That punch from nine, across to ten, 11 and then the flip-flop, I was losing too much time. I felt good in the rest of the track. We’ve been changing the bike quite a lot. I really messed up not having that time in FP2 to understand the bike, the package and the tyres but the pretty good news for us is that we made the SCX tyre work for the whole race. It was quite consistent, my rhythm was strong, it caused me no problems in the front and that bodes well for tomorrow. We’ll try to make a few extra steps and we can try to get a little bit closer.”

The pair will do battle again on Sunday with two races! Watch all the action from Argentina starting at 10:00 Local Time (GMT-3) with Warm-Up using the WorldSBK VideoPass!