2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship
Round Ten Jerez
The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship rumbles into the tenth round and the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto in Andalusia this weekend. The Motul Spanish Round will see the 100th WorldSBK race in Spain which welcomed the Championship to the country for the first time back in 1990.
At the head of the field, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) has a miniscule one-point lead of title rival and defending six-time World Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), as both push each other to new levels each round in a style never seen before. Not wanting to give an inch and aiming to beat each other to the next corner, let alone just the race, something special awaits at Jerez.
Aiming for a perfect ten in the beautiful south, Toprak Razgatlioglu is hoping to get back to winning ways at Jerez, having not been able to grab a victory at Catalunya. Currently on eight wins for the season, the Turkish sensation is within striking distance of getting to double figures, which would make him the first Yamaha WorldSBK rider to reach this tally in one season. Struck by mechanical problems in Catalunya’s Race 1 and in the Tissot Superpole Race at Jerez in 2020, he hopes that his luck improves this weekend. Teammate Andrea Locatelli is in the mix and after a tricky Catalunya, heads to a circuit he knows well with the aim of helping Toprak as well as returning to the rostrum.
In the slipstream of his title rival, Jonathan Rea knows that Jerez is vital. A track of which he was a winner at in 2020 in but also a track where high track temperatures aren’t favourable for Kawasaki, it’s hard to tell how the weekend will go. Rea’s form however speaks for itself at the Spanish track, with three wins and seven podiums, although he’s only made it to the podium three times out of the last six races held there, only taking one win in the same period. With the Championship so tight at the top, every point matters for Rea, who comes into the round off the back of a sixth place in Race 2 at Catalunya and where high track temperatures once again played a part.
“We ride a lot in Jerez in November, January and February, when the track is very cold. So, when the track is hot and greasy it’s a little bit different. Last year we rode there when the season restarted after Round One in Australia. So, we have good data from there last year. It was hot for the races, I remember because it was in the middle of summer. I think the problems we faced at Barcelona we need to really fix and make better for the races in Jerez. There is definitely work to do.”
Team-mate Alex Lowes couldn’t crack the top six at Jerez in 2020 and seeks a first full-race podium since Donington Park.
“After the Barcelona weekend and getting taken out of that last race it was quite messy, with a lot of bikes around. I got clipped by another rider and luckily I got away relatively unscathed from the crash. I have fractured my hand but otherwise I feel quite good. I feel like I can try and ride at Jerez. My neck is a little bit stiff but I will work hard on my recovery these next three days, with Albert our physio, and be in a position to try to ride. It is not an ideal situation but I will go to Jerez and the plan is to try to ride.”
Perhaps Jerez will be painted red for a second year running; Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) is 60 points behind Razgatlioglu but with high track temperatures expected, it may favour the British star and the Ducati Panigale V4 R. Although admitting that they struggle in heat, the capacity to cope with such temperatures seems better for Ducati riders, who maintain a stable race pace and come strong at the end. An inspired tyre choice saw both he and Catalunya Race 2 winner Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) opt for the SC0 rear tyre instead of the SCX used by their opponents, a choice that gave them a double podium. Redding won twice at Jerez in 2020 with high temperatures, heading a Ducati 1-2. Crucial for title aspirations and the manufacturer standings – Ducati trail leaders Yamaha by just a point – could the Ducati riders be the ones to watch?
“Last year we worked very well at the Jerez circuit although obviously that weekend came at a very different time in the calendar. For this reason we’ll probably find different conditions. In any case, Jerez is a track where I feel comfortable and I’m sure we can obtain important results“.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi
“We come from a very positive weekend in which we have shown that we can be competitive in all conditions, both under the rain and on a dry track. The team is working very well and it is clear that we have made progress. I can’t wait to get out on track tomorrow because I really like the Jerez circuit“.
In good form and getting stronger, Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC) is starting to show the potential of the Honda project, having been right in contention during the dry Sunday running in Barcelona. A return to the podium in the Superpole Race and a solid fourth in Race 2, Bautista wishes for more of the same at Jerez. Having recently completed a private test at the Andalusian venue, he and teammate Leon Haslam could well be in a prime position to make hay whilst the sun shines over the Honda box. Haslam also showed strength at Catalunya and both riders were competitive at Jerez in 2020; could we see them in contention once more?
“We arrive at Jerez in very good spirits after a positive weekend at Barcelona. We hope to have the same feeling and be able to work as well as we did last weekend. Jerez is a slightly different track to Barcelona though, as although there are some long corners, there aren’t so many straights so maybe we’ll suffer a little more, but we’ll see. We completed a test recently so we have some references that will be useful. We are always trying to improve and are currently fixing some details that are taking us in the right direction. I hope to have another good weekend in front of the Spanish fans.”
“Jerez is a circuit at which I struggled a lot last year. Having said that, we made a very good test there in hot conditions not so long ago, and this is quite a positive sign because we generally struggle in high temperatures. So hopefully this information can help us as we head into the race weekend. Once again, we will be testing a series of things to see if we can improve our overall package.”
BMW Motorrad WorldSBK rider Tom Sykes (GBR) will not participate in the coming round in light of the injury he suffered in the accident in last Sunday’s race in Barcelona (ESP). Sykes will now fully focus on his recovery in order to be ready for the following round at Portimão (POR).
At Jerez, BMW factory rider Eugene Laverty (IRL) will stand in and line up for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team. Team-mate Michael van der Mark won here back in 2019, his last full-race victory to-date. He is five points clear of Sykes in the standings and just 29 from a top five placing overall. Firmly in the battle and heading to a track where he took a podium in 2020, van der Mark will be keen to shine.
The Independent battle is alive and kicking with the top two getting closer; Axel Bassani’s podium coupled with Garrett Gerloff’s Race 1 sighting lap crash means just 26 points split the pair, Gerloff ahead. Chaz Davies (Team GoEleven) is out for Jerez, replaced by 2020 podium-finisher and current MotoAmerica star Loris Baz. The Frenchman is back in action at a circuit he took two top five finishes at in 2020. Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) is the next Independent in 14th overall, just a point clear of Japanese rookie Kohta Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team). At Catalunya, Nozane was top Yamaha in Race 1 and took his first top ten in a full-distance race.
Outside of the main protagonists, Isaac Viñales (ORELAC Racing VerdNatura) hopes he can continue his progress, whilst Christophe Ponsson comes to Jerez off the back of his first ever top ten finish in WorldSBK after Catalunya’s Superpole Race. Jonas Folger (Bonovo MGM Racing) aims to return to the points at a circuit he won at in 2015’s Moto2 season, whereas Leandro Mercado (MIE Racing Honda Team) aims to build on a first top ten of 2021 at Catalunya. Samuele Cavalieri (Barni Racing Team) returns to action, whilst Loris Cresson (OUTDO TPR Team Pedercini Racing) heads for Jerez with Lachlan Epis as teammate once again. Two extra riders for the weekend: Marvin Fritz (IXS-YART Yamaha) and Andrea Mantovani (Vince64) both join the field again.
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