On track duels, off-track drama and a title fight like no other – their rivalry has captivated all…
The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is heading for a showdown with the Pirelli Indonesian Round at the Pertamina Mandalika International Street Circuit up next. The all-new track promises to give a title battle to remember, but there’s been some huge moments already this year. So, what were the top ten battles between the two in 2021 ahead of the #WorldSBKFinale?
The Donington Park weekend in the UK was a special one, as the WorldSBK class returned to its birthplace after a year away. Race 1 was stunning with Toprak Razgatlioglu’s surge through the field, but Race 2 gave us a battle between him and Jonathan Rea. On consecutive laps, both made mistakes at Turn 8 on Lap 10 and Lap 11, with Razgatlioglu leading before running wide, but then Rea, who took the lead, crashed from the lead at the same turn. The first twist of the season…
Navarra was the second new track for 2021 with Rea keen to find a way through to the top of the podium in northern Spain. The six-time World Champion battled both Razgatlioglu and Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) in the opening laps, with Razgatlioglu initially getting ahead at Turn 1 on Lap 3. However, Rea wouldn’t have it any of it, fighting back at Turn 2 with both colliding. Redding eventually won ahead of Rea and Razgatlioglu, but it was a defining moment in 2021 for the rivalry.
Aiming for what he thought at the time would be his first WorldSBK hat-trick, Razgatlioglu was at his beloved Magny-Cours, the scene of his first WorldSBK win back in 2019. Race 2 for the Turkish rider welcomed a battle with Rea, with the two relentlessly swapping places, particularly at Turn 5 and 11. As the race entered its closing stages, a couple of mistakes from Rea let Razgatlioglu pull away in the last laps to take another win, although there’d be plenty of drama to come at the end of the day.
After a difficult Saturday for all following the loss of Dean Berta Viñales in WorldSSP300, the WorldSBK stars put on a stunning show in his honour as Race 1 kickstarted Sunday action. It was again Rea and Razgatlioglu who led the way, with Toprak trying an ambitious move at Turn 6 on Lap 7 resulting in a big collision. Then, on Lap 14, after stalking his prey, the Turk pounced on Rea and edged his way clear, taking his first win since Magny-Cours and increasing his Championship lead.
The Portimao weekend was incredible and again, Razgatlioglu and Rea duelled for supremacy. Rea was particularly strong into Turn 11, where he ran through Razgatlioglu on more than one occasion – including the first lap when he came from tenth on the grid. However, Toprak had Turn 1 perfected. They exchanged positions in fierce fashion again at those turns with 13 to go, before with ten to go, Razgatlioglu’s front mudguard failed, and he crashed at Turn 15. Rea capitalised, taking 25 points.
Check back for part two of the countdown ahead of the showdown and watch all the action from Indonesia with the WorldSBK VideoPass!