"The pressure is on them!" – lead Championship trio discuss epic title battle

Sunday, 22 August 2021 13:45 GMT

Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea are level on points at the top of the standings while Scott Redding has more than halved his deficit over the last two rounds…

For the first time ever, the FIM Superbike World Championship has completed 21 races and still, there’s quite literally nothing to split top two in the Championship. The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship sees Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) locked together at the top of the standings as both sit pretty on 311 points. Meanwhile, the gap to third place is also closing, with Scott Redding ( Racing – Ducati) now 38 points back, having been 81 behind just two rounds ago.

In Race 1, Redding maintained his Most momentum by taking victory once again, ahead of Rea and Razgatlioglu who simply didn’t have an answer for the Ducati rider. Then, on Sunday morning in the Tissot Superpole Race, it was Redding again who battled and barged his way into the lead, with Rea and Razgatlioglu giving a carbon copy of Saturday afternoon.

However, it was all-change in Race 2 and in more ways than one; in an explosive start, Redding was attacked by Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) into Turn 5 but was soon punted back as Razgatlioglu came through to the lead, a position he held until the end. Rea was soon under more pressure from Redding, and the Kawasaki man had two major front-end moments (Turn 15 and Turn 13 on consecutive laps), allowing Redding to strike. In the end, Razgatlioglu won by just over a second ahead of Redding and Rea, thus becoming the new Championship leader by virtue of five full-length race wins compared to Rea’s four.

Speaking about becoming Championship leader, Razgatlioglu refused to be ruffled by returning to the top, maintaining his focus on the present: “I’m just, today, focused on winning. Maybe I am the leader, but I am always focused on each race. I try again the next race, I’m fighting again. This weekend, for me, wasn’t easy but every race I’m fighting for a good position. It was an important win.”

Rea was also not flustered about losing the Championship lead on countback with race wins, with the six-time Champion focusing on himself in a ‘six-round Championship’ for the second half of the season. He said: “The Championship is close. Level on points with six rounds to go. We’ll just forget that first part of the season. We’ll start with a six-round Championship and excited to get stuck in and see what we can do. We’ll just focus on ourselves really. There’s a lot of racing left, WorldSBK is a three-race programme. You can win or lose a lot of points depending on how the weekend goes. I don’t think any one round matters. I’ve made my mistakes this season and paid the price for that but we’re right in the hunt now. Breakeven, if you like.”

Redding was adamant that the pressure was on his nearest rivals rather than himself as he still remains 38 points behind: “Everyone was kind of writing me off basically, but that doesn’t bother me. I don’t care. In the end, if I win, great. If I don’t, I gave it my everything. It will be what it will be. I will just try my best every time I go out to try to maximise the situation. I just want to do it with a bit more ease. I need to stop forcing the situation and the pressure is on them. It’s not on me. Those two are worrying about each other more than they’re worrying about me at the moment. I can only cause them trouble because I have a gap and I have to close the gap. If one of them makes a mistake, it puts them closer to me and then it’s harder for them. For me, I’m a race gap away basically so I need time to come back. But if I make a mistake, I wasn’t that close anyway. I’m quite relaxed at the moment. We will see. Keep putting the pressure on, keep trying to be consistent and consistency is key.”

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