2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship
Round 12 – Circuito San Juan Villicum, Argentina
This weekend the San Juan Villicum Circuit in Argentina will host the penultimate round of the Motul FIM Superbike World Championship. The circuit was built in 2018 and lies at the foot of the Andean cordillera, not far from the border with Chile. The track is 4276 metres long and its layout includes a total of 17 curves, 7 right-handers and 10 to the left with a width of 16 metres. The circuit is anti-clockwise.
This is a very fast track where WorldSBK riders crack the 300 km/h barrier, especially on the start/finish straight that measures more than a kilometre, and between corners 7 and 8 there is an even longer straight.
El Villicum rises at the foot of the Andes at an altitude of about 650 metres above sea level and for that reason it is subject to a wide temperature range between the early hours of the morning and the late afternoon.
Only the World Superbike and Supersport classes will race in Argentina and at the season finale to be staged in Indonesia on the weekend of November 21 as the World Supersport 300 category had their final round last time out in Portugal.
With a 24-point lead heading into Argentina, Toprak Razgatlioglu can mathematically clinch the title this weekend. In short, Razgatlioglu must lead by 62-points or more before heading to Indonesia, even with countback taken into consideration. He has ten full race wins, compared to Rea’s current five so even if Rea won the remaining four full races and it finished level, Toprak already has a countback lead in his pocket.
For Toprak to clinch the Championship on Sunday, he must finish ahead of Rea in Race 1 (or score one point more than him as a minimum). That means if Rea wins Race 1, the title race is guaranteed to go to Indonesia. In terms of San Juan form, Razgatlioglu took a second podium of his career in WorldSBK’s first race there in 2018 and took three rostrums in 2019.
“I like the circuit in San Juan, and had some podiums there before – but we will see. I always say, I am focused only on fighting for the win in the next race, the championship is still changing every weekend! The team are working hard to give me a good bike every time and every race, every session we are improving. We will work to find the best race set-up on Friday with race simulation in Free Practice and then we will see.”
Whilst Toprak must beat Rea on Saturday to have a shot at the title on Sunday, Jonathan Rea must beat Razgatlioglu in Race 1 to guarantee the title race goes to Indonesia. The defending six-time World Champion has won four of the five races held at San Juan and he’s been on the podium in all of them – joined by Toprak in four of those.
Rea has momentum as despite crashing out of the lead twice at Portimao, he did manage to take victory in Race 2 whereas Toprak crashed due to a mechanical failure. The Ulsterman has a pivotal Saturday ahead, which is coincidentally Toprak’s birthday, as he goes to retain his crown. It is unsure if Alex Lowes will be fit to race.
“I am very excited about the potential for Argentina. Villicum is a track that I have enjoyed in the past. It is relatively new to the WorldSBK calendar but I think I have won four out of the five races there. I enjoy the layout of the track; it is quite quirky. It seemed impossible to do flyaway rounds this year so credit to the San Juan Government, Dorna and everyone for making it happen. And all the teams as well, because it is really tough to plan a long haul round with all the restrictions – but we are going. I am looking forward to it. After feeling really good and strong on the bike in Portugal it is good to go to Argentina now and hopefully carry that confidence on. Of course, it is time to think about the championship. We need to keep that in our minds, work hard and try to decrease the deficit in points. The target is to come away from Argentina with a smaller deficit in the championship, to take the fight to the final round.”
Waiting to pick up the pieces and vastly making up ground, Scott Redding is still in Championship contention. 54 points back of the #54 of Razgatlioglu and on the podium in all of the last six races, and in eight of the last nine, Redding can’t be more than 61 points back of Razgatlioglu after Sunday. Redding closed the gap by 20 points at Portimao and with the kind of form he’s in, he may be able to do more in Argentina, even if it’s a new track for him. The Ducati’s top speed advantage will be handy on this fast track.
After a first win in eight years, BMW arrive in Argentina with plenty of reason to smile. Michael van der Mark stormed to a Superpole Race win in the wet at Portimao and was a solid top six contender all weekend. He’s now sixth in the Championship standings, 38-points adrift of Michael Ruben Rinaldi and Andrea Locatelli ahead of him.
Michael van der Mark – BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team
“Personally I enjoy the San Juan track. It has a bit of everything, but there are a lot of tight corners, a lot of combinations and I am looking forward to going there. I think the organisation and Dorna did a fantastic job to make it happen. It is a World Championship and it is nice to go overseas and to go to Argentina. I think that already at Jerez, we started to make steps with the bike with some different set-up and we did a similar thing in Portimão which worked out really well. We were a bit unlucky with the crash in race one and a mechanical problem in race two but it seems that with the change we made on the bike, we can be really more competitive. It is always a question mark how it will go on a different track but at least we go there with a lot of confidence and knowing we can try a lot more things with the set-up now.”
On the other side of the BMW box, Eugene Laverty will again stand-in for the recovering Tom Sykes. Laverty has had a top five at the Circuito San Juan Villicum, and was seventh in his most recent race there in 2019.
Eugene Laverty – BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team
“Firstly I must say a big well done to Dorna and all the teams for making this Argentinian round happen. This is the first time that we’ve travelled outside of Europe since the global pandemic really took hold 18 months ago and that’s a sure sign of progress. I really enjoy the Villicum circuit layout and I’ve enjoyed good results here in previous years. We made progress last time out at Portimão finishing in the top 10 in all three races and slowly but surely the bike is beginning to feel more like my bike. We’ll continue working on the chassis set-up to improve braking and turning during Friday practice as we aim to make another step closer towards fighting for that top 6 this weekend.”
It was a story of ‘what could’ve been’ for Honda at Portimao, with Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC) once again showing podium potential. Unfortunately, the promise was left unfulfilled as Bautista crashed from third in the last corner of the last lap in Race 1 before he was then later taken out by Loris Baz two laps from home. Bautista heads to San Juan with the same potential, and he won on his first visit to San Juan in 2019. With big gains and podium aims, Bautista is keen to make up ground in the standings and get more rostrums to his name. Then, there’s Leon Haslam (Team HRC), with the British rider going in search of back-to-back front rows for the first time since Aragon and Assen back in 2015. He’ll also hope to add his name to the podium this weekend, having been in the mix at Portimao.
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