2021 FIM Superbike World Championship
Round Two – Estoril
The 2021 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship takes to the Circuito Estoril this weekend and after a sunny opening Friday to start the Round, patterns are already emerging. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with BRIXX WorldSBK) was shining brightly like in 2020, but the opposition are right behind him with very little to split them going into the remainder of the weekend, with three different manufacturers inside the top three.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with BRIXX WorldSBK) was once again on fine form in the hotter afternoon session at the Circuito Estoril, with the Turkish rider putting in a strong run of fast laps to head the majority of FP2 and therefore, both sessions, despite a closing-stages off-track excursion.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu – P1
“It was a very good day in Estoril! We know from last year that me and my Yamaha R1 can be very strong at this circuit, but like I said at the start of the week – we are not coming here relaxed. Today we did some very good work with my team, which will be very important for the race. And also today we managed to be in first position in Free Practice, which I am happy about, we worked well to see how the performance is in the long run and how the bike reaction is after 15 laps. Speed and rhythm are both quite good, I’m happy with both so far and I think we are ready to race tomorrow.”
Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) put together a 19-lap run on the SCX tyre throughout the afternoon, with numerous laps inside the 1’37s bracket. The British rider was second in FP2, and second overall on the combined times, as he aims to cement another challenge to the top this weekend.
Scott Redding – P2
“In the afternoon we tried the soft tyres and the feeling was not bad. I still cannot say for sure what my choice will be for the race but in these two sessions, we have collected very important data. In any case, I’m confident to have a good race tomorrow because last year, despite the problems in qualifying and in Race-1, I felt very comfortable on this track. It’s clear that it will be important to do a good qualifying session to start in the front”.
Championship leader and reigning six-time World Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) placed third overall and fifth in the afternoon session, as he got about dialing himself into the Circuito Estoril layout.
Jonathan Rea – P3
“The red flag gave us a chance to try something different on the bike. I am struggling on the last part of braking to stop the bike. Trail braking into the corner is an area we need to focus on to improve for Saturday. Everything else felt quite good – mechanical traction, the agility of the bike, even turning, which was something I felt weak with last year. I am just not comfortable on the brakes, but I am sure if we find this it will put us closer to Toprak. He is really in his own race at the minute but I feel like I am in there in the battle for the podium. We need to improve a little bit to fight for better positions tomorrow. It is quite bumpy out there, especially the stadium section, after the little chicane, but I feel the bike is working quite well over the bumps.”
Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) took fourth place overall behind teammate Rea, with the Kawasakis not on top after the opening day of action, much like MotorLand Aragon. Both riders are relying on their morning time, as neither improved in the afternoon session.
Alex Lowes – P4
“We had a good day. The track conditions we had this afternoon were a lot hotter than the ones we had for the race weekend in October, and a lot hotter than we had this morning in FP1. I wanted them to be hot to be honest, to see how I feel on the bike. I felt quite good, I used the same tyres as I had this morning to start the second session and was still able to go quite fast. Then I put some new tyres on and tried to do a longer run. I struggled a bit with a full tank, on the bottom of the suspension a little bit. I was going to ride right to the end but then the red flag came out, so I came in and we made a small adjustment. Even on the very last lap, on the same tyres I had been riding on, I felt quite good. We have a bit of direction and I feel a lot better than I did last October, so I am looking forward to tomorrow. I understand where I can improve my riding, especially in the second sector.”
Ducati’s Michael Ruben Rinaldi had it a little bit quieter in the afternoon, as he improved his time and dipped into the 1’37s, placing third in FP2 with a final flying lap to propel him up the order and to fifth overall.
Michael Rinaldi – P5
“We arrive in Portugal after the difficult weekend in Aragon. Since FP1, therefore, our approach has been different: we tried to learn from last week’s mistakes and I think this day has been positive. The third place in FP2 and the fifth in the combined standings are two encouraging results, especially on this track that I don’t consider one of my favorites. We still have FP3 to work on but I’m confident that we can do a good result in the race“.
Leading the charge for the Independent riders was Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), with the American once again shining on his way to sixth overall.
Gerloff was joined by three other Independent riders in an opening day that showcased great pace from the non-factory entrants. Eugene Laverty (RC Squadra Corse) had his best day of the season so far as he placed seventh overall, ahead of Chaz Davies (Team GoEleven) and Jonas Folger (Bonovo MGM Racing), both of whom were eighth and ninth combined. For Davies, the afternoon session saw him suffer a technical issue, meaning he missed the majority of the session.
Completing the top ten overall was the top factory BMW and Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), although he crashed at Turn 1 in FP2.
Tom Sykes – P10
“We stayed on the same tyre during this morning’s FP1 session which meant we significantly dropped down the order in the latter stages of the session. Then this afternoon in the hot conditions it was tricky, we needed to do some trial-and-error tests but in the end, we found some positive information which was good. We had a small crash during the session, but big credit to the boys as they soon put the beauty back together again, so we were back on track with fairly limited track time lost. Overall good information today, we do know its going to be difficult track conditions for everybody tomorrow, but certainly now we hope to make some good improvements tomorrow.”
There were all sorts of issues for Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), as he missed almost the entirety of Free Practice 1 in the morning, before having a clearer run at things in the afternoon to finish 12th overall.
Michael van der Mark – P12
“It was not an easy Friday, unfortunately this morning we lost most of the session with a technical problem, which was a lot of important time lost. Then this afternoon’s session we went out, but in the opening stages I struggled with the grip of the bike. We made some changes during the session which was a big improvement, and I was able to improve my lap time which I was happy about. For us, the most important thing is to complete a full session tomorrow morning and make some progress from today.”
Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC) crashed not once, twice but three times throughout the course of the day, as he suffered one of his worst Fridays to finish 15th on the combined times.
Alvaro Bautista – P15
“I feel good physically and haven’t hurt myself but the day didn’t go as we expected or wanted. I started the first session fast and strong and felt I could push because my feeling with the bike was quite good. But then I crashed without any real reason; I just lost the front through turn 3 at full lean. The bike wasn’t too damaged, and the team did well to fix it quickly, but unfortunately I then had another crash. At Aragón we made some changes to the set-up that looked promising, and we wanted to try them again in the ideal conditions we had today. In the afternoon we reverted to a more standard set-up, but the session was kind of a repeat of the morning. Good feeling, good speed but I crashed in the first corner of the second lap without warning. At that point, I lost a little confidence and so although we were a bit faster than in session one, I rode a little more carefully. We will now try and understand what happened. We definitely have some ideas for tomorrow and can better understand the bike’s limit. A pity about today though as I felt so strong during the morning. Tomorrow is another day anyway, and we just have to put it all together and better exploit our potential”.
Team-mate Leon Haslam didn’t do much better, as he was only 13th.
Leon Haslam – P13
“It’s been a difficult day and unfortunately it looks like some of the Aragón set-up issues have carried over to this round, at least today. On a positive side, we made a few steps towards the end of the second session but we still have work to do, I think. We will analyse the data carefully this evening and see what we can find during tomorrow’s final practice. Hopefully we can improve our feeling and take another step before the Superpole and Race 1”.
Tito Rabat crashed at Turn 4 in FP2 on his way to 14th overall, but it was Kohta Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) who was 18th but suffered a huge crash at Turn 13 which sent his motorcycle cartwheeling through the air. He went to the medical centre and was thankfully declared fit. Christophe Ponsson (Alstare Yamaha) also suffered a spill at Turn 9 but re-joined. Samuele Cavalieri (TPR Team Pedercini Racing) suffered technical issues in the afternoon session, although he finished ahead of teammate Loris Cresson, with both 21st and 22nd respectively.
It was a dramatic day of action in the FIM Supersport World Championship as the paddock descended on the Circuito Estoril for Round 2 of the 2021 campaign, the Gaerne Estoril Round. Swiss rookie Dominique Aegerter (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) usurped the rest of the field with a last gasp effort to top the timesheets after Friday’s two practice sessions.
It had looked like Jules Cluzel (GMT94 Yamaha) and team-mate Federico Caricasulo would be at the top of the timesheets with nothing to separate the pair as the session came to a close. However, Aegerter put in a lap of 1’40.571s with just a few minutes remaining of the session to head the field ahead of Frenchman Cluzel by 0.164s. Caricasulo eventually finished in third despite looking like he was going to go faster than Aegerter later in the session, with the Italian also topping the morning running in Free Practice 1.
German Philipp Oettl (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) finished in fourth place, just three tenths off Aegerter’s pace, while Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha ParkinGo Team) was fifth in both sessions as well as the combined times; the Spanish rider yet again showing his consistent pace in WorldSSP. Christoffer Bergman (Wojick Racing Team) was sixth with the Swede showing strong pace in the early stages of Free Practice 2 by topping the times in the early stages of the session although he did have a crash at Turn 1 later on in the session.
Steven Odendaal (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) was in seventh place, less than half a second away from Aegerter’s pace, showing how compact the field is in the 2021 campaign. He was just ahead of Finnish rider Niki Tuuli (MV Agusta Corse Clienti) who recovered from a crash at the final corner in Free Practice 1 to finish eighth in the combined standings, with 2019 Champion Randy Krummenacher (EAB Racing Team) and Italian Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) completing the top ten; all ten riders separated by less than 0.7 seconds after Friday’s action.
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