Rea and Razgatlioglu set identical time in closest pole margin in WorldSBK history

Saturday, 10 September 2022 09:49 GMT

The six-time World Champion will start from pole, with his second-fastest lap time being quicker than Toprak’s, as both arch-rivals continue to rewrite the record books – this time, together!

The Tissot Superpole session for the 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship was electric as the sun came out and the times tumbled at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours. The Pirelli French Round was largely a washout on Friday but come Saturday, track conditions were ideal for getting down to quick times. In what was another titanic battle, the closest ever WorldSBK pole margin, with both Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) setting an identical pole time although Rea heads the grid courtesy of a faster second-fastest lap time.

OPENING STAGES: gloves off from the start

Riders hit the circuit straight away, eager to get as much dry track time as possible, having lost 95% of Friday. With a new soft tyre for the front which offered more initial grip at their disposal, riders got down to business and were right on the pace. As the first laps came in, it was Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and teammate Jonathan Rea who went immediately quicker than Toprak Razgatlioglu’s (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) time from FP3, whilst Scott Redding (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was third, with Razgatlioglu fourth and Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) completed the top five. However, on his second flying lap, Razgatlioglu rocketed to the top, with a 1’36.354 being the new benchmark, two tenths ahead of Lowes.

Razgatlioglu pushed on for another lap but made a mistake at Turn 6, having to go across the run-off. With eight minutes to go, everyone was back inside the pitlane and preparing for the final runs. Notable riders who were seeking an improvement outside of the top five included home-hero Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW), who was only tenth, one place ahead of Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing). Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) was only 13th, one place ahead of the returning Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team). With the calm in pitlane bringing the tension before the on-track storm to pole position, all bets were off going into the final five minutes.

FINAL PUSH: the battle for French supremacy

Bautista and Lowes hit the track straight away whilst in the pits, Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was waiting for Jonathan Rea, although Rea wasn’t having any of it, the six-time World Champion waving him on and not allowing Mahias to latch onto him for a flying lap. The first laps on the final stint saw Michael Ruben Rinaldi ( Racing – Ducati), Philipp Oettl (Team Goeleven) and Lecuona all up on Toprak’s time, with Rinaldi going fourth and pushing teammate Bautista back to fifth, but red sectors filled the timing screens. Rea went top by a tenth over Redding, whilst Bautista went fourth and Bassani in eighth.

FRONT ROW: an all-time WorldSBK first

A flurry of action in the closing stages saw Rea and Razgatlioglu BOTH set the fastest lap time, with Razgatlioglu rallying on his final lap of the session. A 1’36.124 by both of the title contenders, although it is Rea who starts from pole, courtesy of his second-fastest lap being quicker than Razgatlioglu’s. It’s the third consecutive pole position, the first time he’s achieved that since last year. Razgatlioglu achieves his 13th consecutive front row start, whilst it was a mighty show from Scott Redding, who starts third, his and BMW’s first front row of the season.

BAUTISTA HEADS ROW TWO: heavy hitters coming through

Heading up the second row and making it four manufacturers inside the top four with Alvaro Bautista. The Championship leader has been steadily improving across the weekend and has been solid at a circuit where perhaps it will be more about damage limitation. In the middle of the second row, Garrett Gerloff (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) took top Independent honours and a first top five of the year. After a strong start to the session, Alex Lowes was shuffled back to sixth.

The third row features an Italian battle, with Michael Ruben Rinaldi starting seventh, unable to join teammate Bautista on the second row of the grid. Behind him, Axel Bassani, who is targeting Rinaldi’s seat for 2023, will go from eighth place, eager to get in the battle for the top five. Home-hero Loris Baz got himself up onto the front three rows and took ninth, one place ahead of Philipp Oettl, who took his best Superpole result in WorldSBK in tenth.

OUTSIDE THE TOP TEN: plenty of factory riders

Behind the top ten, Lucas Mahias made it to 11th, whilst behind him, it was a disappointing performance for a trio of factory riders. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) was only 12th whilst heading up the fifth row – an all-factory row – Iker Lecuona starts 13th, his worst Superpole result. Teammate Xavi Vierge joins him in 14th whilst Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) took 15th on his return, albeit following a crash with Leandro Mercado (MIE Racing Honda Team), of which the pair were odds about over who was to blame.

ROUNDING OUT THE ORDER: can a surprise be sprung?

16th for his final weekend at Magny-Cours as a rider was Eugene Laverty, whilst Kohta Nozane (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) secured 17th, ahead of fellow Yamaha riders Roberto Tamburini (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) and Christophe Ponsson (Gil Motor Sport-Yamaha). Completing the top 20 was Luca Bernardi (BARNI Spark Racing Team), who Toprak Razgatlioglu wasn’t happy with on his final flying lap. Hafizh Syahrin (MIE Racing Honda Team) was back in action after his FP3 crash to take 21st ahead of teammate Mercado, whilst debutant Oscar Gutierrez (TPR Team Pedercini Racing) was a respectable 23rd, one place a head Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing VerdNatura), with the whole field covered by 3.080s.

Top six after WorldSBK Superpole at Magny-Cours, full results here:

1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1’36.124s

2. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) +0.000s

3. Scott Redding (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) +0.109s

4. Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) +0.292s

5. Garrett Gerloff (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +0.340s

6. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.400s

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