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The twists and turns of an intense title fight: Razgatlioglu takes Championship lead from Rea

Sunday, 4 July 2021 15:02 GMT

Race 2 at Donington could be the pivotal moment in the 2021 Championship battle after Rea’s error and Razgalioglu’s victory…

Twist, turns, shocks and surprises were the order of the day in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship title battle as Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with BRIXX WorldSBK) claimed a stunning Race 2 victory at Donington Park as title rival Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) crashed out from the lead of the race at the Prosecco DOC UK Round.

After Razgatlioglu cut the lead to 15 points after his sensational Race 1 victory on Saturday after starting from 13th place, Rea opened the gap back up to 23 points with a lights-to-flag win in the Tissot Superpole Race as Razgatlioglu finished in sixth place. The duo spent the first half of Race 2 battle with both leading the race at various points, before Rea’s crash on Lap 11 of the 23-lap race at Coppice corner.

With Razgatlioglu going on to take victory, his 25 points and Rea’s no score means the Championship has swung again: this time, in favour of Razgatlioglu. After looking like he might head into the next round 28 points down on the six-time Champion, Razgatlioglu will take a two-point lead into the Prosecco DOC Dutch Round.

After moving into the Championship lead, Razgatlioglu said: “Normally, Donington Park is a favourite track because in 2018 and 2019 I got two podiums with second. This year, I took two victories. I’m really happy because we were also quick on Friday, and just focused on the win because I needed to win at this track. I normally like Assen and also I’m not looking at the Championship points because I’m always focussed on the race.”

“This morning, in the Superpole Race, was not good because I tried my best but finished sixth on the intermediate tyre. I say ‘I hope for dry conditions in Race 2’ because for me Race 2 was important, because I need good points for the Championship. In the race, for me, it wasn’t easy because every lap I was pushing for the win. I followed Jonny because the racetrack grip was not like yesterday, three times I lost the front tyre. He made a big mistake, he crashed, and after I just tried for consistent lap times.”

Rea had taken the lead from Razgatlioglu on Lap 10 after the Turkish rider went wide at Coppice corner but just one lap later, Rea found himself on the grass and gravel at the same corner after making a mistake with Rea able to re-mount the bike but re-joined down in 20th place where he would finish Race 2.

Discussing the title battle, Rea said: “I made a small mistake behind Toprak and let him get away and thought ‘this is my race’. I was able to catch him at ease, so I tried to keep my powder dry and then he made a mistake. When I went to the front, I kept my head down and then I just got really caught; I was on the bumps at Coppice.”

“I was a little bit more disappointed yesterday, I had nothing for Toprak. Today, I did. It’s a bit bittersweet. I feel a lot more positive today going forward in the season, we can fight in a difficult track where there’s a lot of changes of direction and the bike needs to turn well. Looking forward to Assen in a few weeks. We did what we could. We lost the Championship lead by a couple of points now, so all to play for after four rounds.”

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