Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea ensured the 2019 Pirelli French Round will go down in the history books, after Sunday began with Turkey’s first ever winner Razgatlioglu claiming victory in the Superpole Race and culminating with Jonathan Rea winning Race 2 to become the championship’s first ever five-time champion following early misfortune for nearest rival Alvaro Bautista.
In World Supersport Lucas Mahias took the win, with favourites Randy Krummenacher and Federico Caricasulo both crashing out, with 10-points separating the two crashers at the head of the standings.
Ana Carrasco claimed victory in the World Supersport 300 class, while Manuel González extended his championship lead to claim the 2019 title, becoming the youngest rider to ever do so.
22-year-old Toprak Razgatlioglu made it two out of two at the Pirelli French Round, clinching a stunning Tissot Superpole Race victoryafter another battle withJonathan Rea, who as a result created the mathematical possibility of securing a fifth WorldSBK crown in race two.
As the lights went out, Michael van der Marklaunched into an early lead, slipping up the inside of Jonathan Rea into the first corner. Leon Haslam maintained third withTom Sykes climbing two places to fourth. Chaz Davies and Toprak Razgatlioglu were both big movers, improving up to eighth and tenth respectively.
The Razgatlioglu roll continued on the second lap, gaining three places in an incredible move on the brakes into the Adelaide hairpin, overhauling Chaz Davies, Alex Lowes and Michael Ruben Rinaldi. In the meantime, Jonathan Rea had managed to wrestle control away from Michael van der Mark, easing up the inside at the Imola chicane.
Eleven places had been gained in the first two laps, and two more would follow for Razgatlioglu on lap three, as the remarkable prowess of the Turkish rider on the brakes took him past Tom Sykes at the Adelaide hairpin, before Leon Haslam relinquished third three corners later. When Michael van der Mark was overtaken at Adelaide shortly before half distance, the stage was set for a repeat of yesterday’s last lap battle for the lead in race one.
On lap seven, the comeback was complete with the Turkish Puccetti Racing rider storming up the inside of Rea into his favourite overtaking spot, the Adelaide hairpin. The world champion stayed in touch with Razgatlioglu, and even threatened a counter attack on the final lap, but the Ulsterman couldn’t quite get his Kawasaki stopped into turn five, opening the door for Toprak to ease past on the exit and claim his second victory in a row.
The fight for the final front row spot in race two went down to the last lap as well with Chaz Davies, who had earlier made light work of Leon Haslam and Tom Sykes, chasing down the Yamaha of Michael van der Mark.
The Dutchman held on for third in the end, with Davies ensuring he will head the second row of the grid this afternoon in fourth. Alvaro Bautista produced a strong recovery to finish fifth, setting similar lap times to the leaders at various points of the race, but the Spaniard must avoid any mistakes in race two to keep Jonathan Rea waiting for the title. Alex Lowes was sixth, and will complete row two on the grid for race two.
Loris Baz returned the favour after losing out to Tom Sykes in the latter stages of race one. The Frenchman delighted the home crowd by snatching seventh on the last lap with Leon Haslam falling back to ninth by the chequered flag, the last of the points scorers.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi rode a strong race to tenth as all 20 starters completed the Tissot Superpole Race at Magny Cours. By virtue of his strong performance in Saturday’s Tissot Superpole session, Rinaldi will head the fourth row for race two later this afternoon.
Starting from pole position for the first time in WorldSBK, Toprak Razgatlioglu couldn’t make the same lightning start which saw him leap up the order in the two previous races. Rea edged up the inside into Turn 1 to grab the lead but he wouldn’t stay ahead for long, as Michael van der Mark used the slipstream to hit the front at the Adelaide hairpin.
The moment which ultimately proved decisive came on Lap 2 as Razgatlioglu lost the rear of his Kawasaki on the exit of Turn 13. As the Turkish rider fought to control the slide, Alvaro Bautista was powerless to avoid the Race 1 winner and both riders were eliminated on the spot. With the words ‘BAUTISTA OUT’ displayed on his pit-board next time around, Rea now knew that a race victory would see him make history.
Michael van der Mark was keen to ensure that Rea didn’t have an unchallenged run to a fifth WorldSBK crown, keeping the Ulsterman at bay until the Imola chicane on Lap 6. The Dutchman didn’t trail for long with the Yamaha proving a formidable motorcycle down the back straight towards Turn 5, an advantage van der Mark utilised to power past on Lap 8.
As the race ticked over half distance, Rea mounted another attack on the leader with van der Mark going defensive into Adelaide. The championship leader was wise to this tactic though and drew alongside into the following Nurburgring chicane, making the move stick on Lap 13. With van der Mark no longer close enough to make use of the slipstream next time around, Rea had the margin he needed to ease clear.
Despite a valiant effort from van der Mark, the advantage grew to over one-second, allowing Rea to close out the final laps and claim his 12th victory of 2019. This one was the sweetest of all though as he completed one of the great WorldSBK comebacks. From 61 points behind, Rea now holds an unassailable 129-point advantage and a place in the history books as the first ever five-time WorldSBK champion.
Alex Lowes completed the team’s first double-podium of the season with a close third, consolidating third in the championship standings, while Chaz Davies, who was heavily delayed in the early collision between his team-mate Alvaro Bautista and Toprak Razgatlioglu, recovered to finish fourth, overtaking home favourite Loris Baz on Lap 14. Despite a late challenge from the Frenchman, he was forced to settle for fifth, completing a positive weekend at his home round as the Top Independent Rider in Race 2.
Marco Melandri closed out the final European round of his WorldSBK career with a strong charge from 15th on the grid to sixth, winning a close three-way fight on the last lap. The Italian finished just a tenth of a second clear of Leon Haslam with Tom Sykes right behind the pair in eighth.
Leon Camier capped off an impressive comeback to the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship with ninth place, finishing a second clear of Jordi Torres. Elsewhere, there were points for French wildcard Sylvain Barrier in 13th but disappointment for Sandro Cortese who was forced to retire midway through the race while running in the top ten.
Jonathan Rea – P1
“I can quite believe it. It has been an incredible year so far, and a year I have never given up, I’ve kept believing in myself, believing in my bike, believing in my crew and believing in my effort. After the fourth race, it was so tough to keep turning up when you know that he is going to be so difficult to win, but in the mid-season, we turn things around. I don’t have so many words right now, because I did not expect this today. I had no idea what was going to happen. If I would win today, what was the point situation, but I knew when I got the sign that Bautista was out that I could mathematically have the chance. And I did it! Thanks to all my team, all my family and all the people who have been working with me, Kawasaki, the sponsors, all the people that made this possible. It’s a huge team effort, and I couldn’t be here without them.”
Michael van der Mark – P2
“I tried everything today! We improved the bike a bit in some area but toward the end, we lost quite a lot from Johnny but I really enjoyed this race and we had a nice battle! Of course, I saw that Alvaro was out so I knew Rea wasn’t going to do any crazy thing. I tried to stay with him, I passed him a few times but in the end he was a bit stronger. I want to thank my team because we got another podium.”
Alex Lowes – P3
“I have got a little bit of good luck at the start of the race with the accident that happened in front of me. But after that, I felt strong on the bike and I was able to ride in 1’37 and catch Jonathan and Michael. Unfortunately, I pushed a lot in the middle and when I got there my front tyre was worn out a lot, so I couldn’t fight with van der Mark in the end but I am pleased with the podium and it set us out nicely for the final two fly-aways of the year.”
Chaz Davies – P4
“In both races today I finished in fourth place, which in itself is not a bad result, but I feel I could have got a lot more. In race 2 I almost got caught up in the incident between Toprak and Álvaro so took avoiding action by going off the track. Unfortunately, I came off the grass at four seconds back and finished the race with the same gap that I was unable to make up. It was so frustrating not to get the chance to fight for the win, because the pace was there.”
Loris Baz – P5
“Every race we close the gap to the race winner, and the same was true this afternoon. I’m much happier than I was yesterday, because yesterday I was not so happy with the bike and how I rode the last laps, but today was much better. This morning was also strong, but we had a technical issue after five laps and I just had to ride the bike to the end, although I still managed to beat Leon and Tom. This afternoon I lost again time at the beginning with Michael Rinaldi and Leon, but once past them I was as quick as the top guys over the remaining 15 or so laps. I’m happy; we didn’t quite make the podium, but we need to remember where we’ve come from and that we’re now up there and fighting with the factory bikes. We’re doing our job and I’m sure we’ll be up there challenging for the podium really soon.”
Álvaro Bautista – DNF
“Fortunately physically I’m OK after the crash, I’m just a bit disappointed because I think in race 2 I was able to fight for the win. For sure the weekend was tough, it was a new track that I’d never seen before and there was very little time to ride in dry conditions. Yesterday in the first race I managed to improve the feeling with the track and made up a lot of positions, while today in race 2 I made a good start and felt really good with the bike up at the front. Unfortunately, I was involved in Razgatlioglu’s crash at Turn 13 and his mistake caused my retirement. It’s a pity to finish in this way but it’s all part of racing. Congratulations to Jonathan Rea because he had a great season. During the championship Jonathan has always been able to get the best out of every situation, and for sure we didn’t lose the title because of this race.”
Unpredictability reigns in a dramatic WorldSSP race at the Pirelli French Round as championship favourites Randy Krummenacher and Federico Caricasulo both crashed out to leave the championship finely poised. This left the door open for Lucas Mahias to claim his first win of the season after a thrilling last lap scrap with Isaac Vinales.
As the race got underway, Jules Cluzel immediately grabbed the lead from first-time polesitter Kyle Smith but there was drama behind with three riders colliding at Turn 1. Maximilien Bau, Nacho Calero and Federico Fuligni were the riders involved with the red flags immediately brought out. All three riders were conscious although they will be transported to Nevers hospital for further assessments.
The quick restart procedure was brought into effect and Cluzel made no mistake once again, edging ahead of Smith. The shortened 12-lap race exploded into life moments later as Randy Krummenacher highsided on the exit of the 180 corner. The Swiss rider was lucky to be avoided by Lucas Mahias, who was forced to take avoiding action, but his exit presented team-mate and title rival Federico Caricasulo with a golden opportunity.
The Italian responded by grabbing the lead on the second lap, slipstreaming past Cluzel and Ayrton Badovini on the way into the Adelaide hairpin on Lap 2. The astonishing WorldSSP title battle took another unbelievable twist on Lap 4 though as Caricasulo, enjoying a two-second lead lost the front end of his Yamaha at Turn 13. He did remount and appeared on course to salvage some points before a second crash at Estoril ended his afternoon.
The championship fight now seemed to swinging in Jules Cluzel’s direction but the Frenchman couldn’t keep a busy pack of riders at bay. Isaac Vinales hit the front for the first time shortly after half distance with Lucas Mahias following through into second, setting the stage for a battle between the two that would keep us guessing all the way until the finish. Cluzel was also powerless to prevent Ayrton Badovini and a fast-finishing Raffaele De Rosa moving through, leaving him to dispute fifth place with Hikari Okubo.
The corner speed of the Kawasaki in the hands of Lucas Mahias was proving a formidable prospect, with the 2017 champion cutting underneath Vinales at Estoril on Lap 8. Although the Spaniard would out-drag his opponent to the Adelaide hairpin, Mahias regained the advantage after a superior run through Imola put him in position to outbrake the Yamaha into Turn 13.
The race reached a thrilling conclusion with Vinales regaining the lead on the penultimate lap, but cheered on by the enthusiastic French crowd, Mahias shadowed the Spaniard through the final lap before diving up the inside into Turn 13. Vinales had one last opportunity on the approach to the tight right-hander of Turn 15 but Mahias took the perfect defensive line, covering the inside and holding on for Kawasaki’s first WorldSSP victory since Kenan Sofuoglu at Portimao in 2017, ending Yamaha’s 24-race winning streak in the class.
The battle for third was also settled at Turn 15 on the last lap with Ayrton Badovini outbraking Raffaele De Rosa as MV Agusta missed out on a first podium since Imola. Hikari Okubo got the better of Jules Cluzel for fifth in the end with the GMT94 YAMAHA rider scoring ten valuable points to keep his slim championship hopes alive, closing to within 38 of series leader Randy Krummenacher.
Corentin Perolari followed his team-mate home in seventh with Thomas Gradinger producing an impressive recovery ride on his return from injury, climbing from 21st on the grid to finish eighth. Polesitter Kyle Smith ultimately faded back to ninth, although this result was enough to crown him Europe Supersport Cup winner for 2019. Peter Sebestyen completed a top ten which included all four manufacturers.
The Supersport World Championship now moves on to the Motul Argentinian Round at the Circuito San Juan Villicum with Randy Krummenacher retaining his ten-point lead over team-mate Federico Caricasulo. Jules Cluzel still holds an outside chance of the crown with two races remaining.
“This was my target when I started the weekend, and this is the best place for me to win. It was a very strange race. I made a good first start and I was at the front, but then the red flag came out. At the restart, I lost some positions, but I kept calm. Randy crashed just in front of me, and I thought that I would crash too. I lost the front group, but I was able to come back and then I had a great fight with many riders. I am not strong on the straights, but I am quite confident in the corners, and there is where I was able to overtake and win!”.
“I’m so happy with this result, as there have been too many crashes this season. But today, I finally made the podium here at Magny-Cours, which is a new track for me. Overall, it’s been a hard weekend because of the changeable weather conditions we had in practice and qualifying, which meant we got almost no dry track time ahead of the race. As I said, I’m really happy to have been in the fight for the win until the end and to finally finish on the podium here in France.”
The Pirelli French Round saw a special moment in the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship as Ana Carrasco claimed her second victory of the season, while also handing over her crown to Manuel Gonzalez who clinched the 2019 title with second place, succeeding Carrasco as world champion.
Chasing the victory he needed to keep his title hopes alive, Scott Deroue made the perfect start to lead the opening lap although several riders were eying up the all-important slipstream which makes such a difference in WorldSSP300. Gonzalez was faced with a tricky task of picking his way through the traffic but the 17-year-old made steady progress, climbing to fourth by the end of Lap 2.
Gonzalez hit the front for the first time on Lap 4, drafting past Carrasco on the run towards the Adelaide hairpin, but with no-one able to escape the group, the championship leader soon slipped back into the pack. A leading group of four was soon established at the front though with Carrasco, Gonzalez and Deroue joined by Andy Verdoia while Galang Hendra Pratama fell back after a brief spell out front.
Mindful that third place would guarantee the championship even if Scott Deroue won, Manuel Gonzalez will have been happy to see such a small leading group and rode a mature race, keeping his title rivals in sight at all times. Deroue wasn’t giving it up without a fight though and set a New Record on the penultimate lap as he desperately tried to improve on fourth. The fight for the win was settled in Carrasco’s favour though courtesy of a last lap move on Verdoia at the 180 corner, while Gonzalez made sure of the title by outbraking the French rider, and Deroue into Turn 15 to snatch second.
As a result, Gonzalez becomes the youngest ever world champion in motorcycle road racing history, and follows in the footsteps of Carrasco and Marc Garciaas the third WorldSSP300 champion, each hailing from Spain. Gonzalez also sets a new points record for a single season in the class with today’s result, and has the opportunity to add to that tally at the final round of the season at Losail in October.
Scott Deroue took the final podium position, and now goes to Qatar level on points with Carrasco in the battle to finish championship runner-up, while Andy Verdoia maintains an outside chance after finishing fourth. Galang Hendra Pratama finished a lonely fifth in the end while Livio Loi, winner of yesterday’s Last Chance Race, stormed through the field from 29th on the grid to take sixth.
Bruno Ieraci matched his best result of the season in seventh, the sixth different nationalities within that top seven, with Jeffrey Buis also claiming his best result of 2019 in eighth. Victor Steeman was ninth, continuing his consistent campaign while Nick Kalinin kept up his strong recent form by rounding out the top ten.
“I am very happy with this victory. I think we have done a good job all weekend! It’s a shame to lose the championship here where I won it last year. But now we have to focus on the battle for the second position in the overall standings. We will try to win in Qatar and we will see. I want to congratulate Manuel because he did quite a perfect season and he deserves the title this year.”
“The race was good and I knew on the last lap that the group was a four, so I only had to finish in this group. But I tried to finish on the podium because it is always nicer to finish there and see yourself up on the podium. I tried in the last corner to overtake Verdoia and Deroue and I have to be happy because I was near the top in most of the races; only one zero score in Donington. I had some wins and some podiums so I am very happy with my season.”
“To be honest I was a quite difficult race because Ana was setting such a good pace. I tried to follow but it was very hard and sometimes there was a small gap and I had to close that gap again. In the end it worked out because I was there near the end. On the straight I had to brake later before the hairpin, and with three riders in front of me it was difficult to do. I got into second place but three corners from the end I nearly lost the front. My exit was not so good so Manuel passed me on the straight but I nearly passed him back before the last corner. It did not work out but third is OK, so I am happy.”
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