The six-time Champion claimed pole position and led the early stages of the races before his title rival fought his way through for victory
The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship has seen the title race take a different direction, with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) taking the clear Championship lead by five points over Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). It was a combative performance from Rea, but now, with the deadlock broken, he’ll aim to turn things back around on Sunday in the Tissot Superpole Race and Race 2.
Reigning Champion Rea made his usual bright start at the front but didn’t grab the holeshot, as Razgatlioglu came through on the inside. However, soon enough, Rea was back at the front on the run to Turn 5, with teammate Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) also getting involved, battling with Razgatlioglu and allowing Rea to get a lead of around 0.7s on the opening lap. However, he was soon reeled in by a relentless Razgatlioglu and the Turk took over at the front at Turn 5 on Lap 4, before breaking clear. Rea tried to go with him but ultimately couldn’t maintain the pace, settling for second position.
Speaking about the first race of the weekend, Rea commented on what he’s lacking to fight with Razgatlioglu: “As soon as the grip drops, I feel entering the corner we’re getting pushed that little bit too much. It’s putting stress on the front and I don’t have the same power to stop. Not just from a braking point of view, but confidence and talking with the front tyre. That would be priority one tomorrow. I could see, in some areas, coming off the long Turn 3 our bike was really good with mechanical traction. I could really ride onto the back of Toprak. But stopping at T5, I had nothing. I was really on the limit. Turning down to the apex, I lost too much on the first acceleration and first gear. At least now I’ve been riding with someone most of the race, so we can give some good information to the engineers to improve tomorrow.”
Razgatlioglu has shown relentless pace throughout the Motul French Round at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours and will be looking for more of the same in tomorrow’s Tissot Superpole Race and Race 2. However, with Rea now knowing where the Turkish rider is stronger over the course of a race, the fight could be even closer throughout Sunday’s action as the top two in the Championship duel it out for top honours in France.
Racing action kicks off at 11:00 local time (GMT+2) for the all-important Tissot Superpole Race, and you can watch it with the WorldSBK VideoPass!