The Motul FIM Superbike World Championship makes a stop in the Czech Republic this weekend, which will host the pinnacle of production machine racing for the first time since the 2018 round in Brno. This year a new circuit will see the riders battle for the world titles: the Autodrom Most will make its debut in the WorldSBK calendar, staying at least until 2025.
Autodrom Most was opened in 1983 as the first permanent motor racing complex in what was then known as Czechoslovakia. The circuit has already hosted many events including national motorcycle championships, as testament to the circuit’s commitment to be part of the sports, social and cultural life of the region. Autodrom Most is only one of the several new entries in the 2021 WorldSBK season and it is an unknown circuit to most of the riders and teams, which will have to use first practice sessions to work on the bike set up to tackle the track in the best way.
Autodrom Most has a strategic position in Central Europe thanks to its accessibility from Germany and Austria as well as Poland and also in part due to its advantageous location near the attractive cities of Prague and Karlovy Vary.
Length 4,212 m
Width 12 – 14 m
Longest straight 792 m
Shortest straight 150 m
21 curves (9 left and 12 right)
Superelevation 12.04 m
Maximum up-gradient +2.8 %
Maximum down-gradient -3.2 %
Clockwise travel direction
Having given up 37 points to Toprak Razgatlioglu over the Misano and Donington Park weekends, Jonathan Rea now leads Toprak by 37 in a title race that swings from round to round. Upon arrival in the Czech Republic, Rea’s in fine form – a first hat-trick of 2021 at Assen and five straight poles at the start of the season – and will look to extend his run into Most. He’s won first-time at four new tracks (Chang International Circuit, Sepang, San Juan Villicum and Barcelona-Catalunya), so could he be the favourite this weekend? Team-mate Alex Lowes is also in positive spirits coming to Most, with a new 2022 deal with KRT secured, meaning he can focus on the job in hand.
“It is always exciting going to a new circuit. Most is completely unknown to me and the team. Going to any new circuit I would study previous races, either MotoGP or past races of WorldSBK, but even after scouring the internet for footage it is very difficult to find race coverage of Most. The layout looks nice, some fast and flowing corners so it is exciting to learn something new. When I arrive I will do some laps with my bicycle and do a track walk with my team. The base set-up of our bike is in a really good window and on Friday it will be very important to find a good set-up and a rhythm straight away. Step-by-step we will get ready for the race. We do not have much time in practice but I enjoy that – being under pressure. I am looking forward to seeing what we can do. We had a great weekend in Assen so it would be nice to carry on with that momentum behind us.”
Seeking redemption and aiming to reignite his title aspirations, Toprak Razgatlioglu will be targeting a return to winning ways at Most. Razgatlioglu, like Rea has good form at new tracks, with a podium in Argentina in 2018 and winning two races on WorldSBK’s return to Estoril in 2020. 11 podiums in 2021 and off the back of his first DNF, Toprak will be desperate to establish his pace at Most and, having already gained 37 points on Rea before, will be looking to starting that process once again on a level playing field.
“I am only focused on the coming races, the aim is to fight for the win always. I am looking forward to riding the R1 at Most, and it will be a new circuit for almost everyone so we will see what is possible. I think we are very strong in all circuits now but we will see what happens. My Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK team did an amazing job in Assen, and now we will continue the fight and try for the best position in every race.”
For team-mate Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with BRIXX WorldSBK), his first career podium will spear him; a new track could be the perfect neutral territory for the rookie to continue his strong showings of late and build on Assen’s solid foundations.
“As always, I am excited to get back to riding my R1 WorldSBK and it will be interesting to discover this new circuit in Most. Assen was like a dream, together with my crew we have been working so hard to increase the speed on the limit, and keep taking steps in every race. To be on the podium finally in the long race, after leading for more than 10 laps was an amazing feeling! Now, we will keep working again and try to be strong to push for more good results this weekend.”
Remaining in the lead in terms of the Independent riders and placing sixth in the Championship standings overall, American Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) will put Assen’s Race 2 controversy behind him and tackle the all-new Most venue. He could be one of the key fixtures at the front, as he usually goes well at tracks unknown to the opposition (podiums at Catalunya and Estoril in 2020).
The Yamaha presence on the grid this weekend is expanded further with the YART Yamaha EWC Official Team with Marvin Fritz and local star Karel Hanika making wild card appearances aboard lightly modified versions of the Yamaha R1 bikes they normally race in the FIM Endurance World Championship. Founded in 2001, the YART Yamaha team have enjoyed huge success in the FIM EWC and were crowned champions in 2009. The team were runners up in the championship last year, winning races in Sepang and Estoril and the YART Yamaha R1 has started five of the last six EWC races from pole position, with riders Fritz and Hanika always amongst the fastest in qualifying.
For their wildcard entries in Most the YART Yamaha bikes have been modified to meet the WorldSBK technical regulations whilst retaining many of the specialist components rarely seen in the WorldSBK paddock, but essential when racing for 24 hours at Le Mans and the Bol d’Or. One of the major changes will be the switch to the Pirelli rubber mandated in World Superbike as the team ride Endurance events on Bridgestones.
For Fritz, this weekend will mark his WorldSBK debut, having spent the last five seasons contesting FIM EWC with the YART Yamaha squad. The German was champion of the IDM Superbike Championship in 2016, while he also won the 2014 IDM Supersport 600 class, both on Yamaha machinery, and he raced at the Czech circuit whilst contesting the 2007 IDM 125cc Championship.
“I’m really looking forward to Most. It’s like a dream come true for me and my first time racing in the World Superbikes – I’ve raced Superstock before but never WorldSBK. I’m excited for the first free practice; I know the level of some of the riders from Suzuka, but it will be interesting to see the difference between the performance of the bikes. I’ve ridden at Most, and I’ve also raced there in the IDM 125cc Championship back in 2007, but I’ve not done that many laps so we will see. The track is really nice, when you come out of the hairpin at the back there’s a good flowing section which is fun. The first chicane is going to be one to watch, you have to brake hard to stop the bike and the asphalt there isn’t so great, which is a bit of a pity because the rest of the lap is a lot of fun. I’d like to say a big thanks to YART Yamaha and everybody for making this happen. I can’t wait to get going.”
Team-mate Hanika, who was born in Brno, has held the lap record at Most since 2019 and will be making his second WorldSBK appearance, having finished in the points at Laguna Seca in 2018. The 25-year-old spent several years in Moto3 after winning the Red Bull Rookies Cup and European Moto3 Championship in 2013. He joined YART Yamaha in EWC last year and was a part of the team’s victories at the 8 Hours of Sepang and 12 Hours of Estoril.
“I’m very happy to get this opportunity to be joining the WorldSBK grid as a wildcard with the YART Yamaha team. Thanks to everyone who’s been behind this, especially Mandy and Yamaha. Most is a track where I’ve had the lap record for around two years, it’s a difficult circuit for sure but it has a nice flow. You must be really hard on the brakes for the first corner, which I think is going to be important for all of the races. The tarmac is overall good, but in the first sector it’s not too great. I believe it will suit our bike well, so I’m looking forward to the weekend and to racing at home in front of the Czech fans.”
Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi were back in the mix at Assen, as both riders placed Ducati second in all three races of the weekend. Redding took second in both Race 1 and Race 2 whilst Rinaldi was promoted to second in the Tissot Superpole Race, after Razgatlioglu and Locatelli got demoted a place for exceeding track limits. Coming to Most, both took part in a track day at the circuit to get a basic understanding of the layout and to try and gain an advantage on their opposition. If they can get the Ducati Panigale V4 R operating in its sweet spot, expect to see the Bologna bullets at the sharp end again, as both aim to return to the title fight.
“We had a day of practice day on this new circuit but riding a street bike is not particularly indicative other than to familiarize yourself with the layout of the track. At the same time I must admit that I really like riding on new circuits and I hope I can do well.”
“Most is certainly a different track compared to the ones we usually see on the WorldSBK calendar. It will be important to understand the circuit as soon as possible and be competitive from the first round, hoping that the weather conditions will allow us to work with continuity.”
An up-and-down Dutch Round at Assen left BMW with a ‘what could’ve been’ as they left the Netherlands. Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was able to place to take two seventh place finishes and a 15th after a Race 2 crash, but it was Michael van der Mark who shone brightly with a fourth in Race 1 and sixth in Race 2; a big highside in the Tissot Superpole Race blotted his copybook from what was otherwise a strong home showing. Van der Mark and Sykes’ form is promising ahead of Most, a circuit they’ve not visited. The fast and flowing nature, like Assen, may well see the BMW M 1000 RR perform strongly, particularly with the neutral Most territory.
Michael van der Mark
“I’ve been to Most, but that was 13 years ago. I watched an on-board lap on YouTube and noticed that I have forgotten half of the track, so it I think one can say that it’s like a new circuit for me. So in the first couple of laps I will just try to learn the track and find some markers, braking points and stuff like that. The last couple of weekends, we saw that we were making progress. The gap to the podium was getting smaller and smaller. So we now have to try and find these last couple of tenths, especially on race pace, to be able to fight for the podium. It is difficult to say what to expect for this weekend on a new track but this is our goal, for sure.”
“I am obviously very much looking forward to the new venture. I have been to the Czech Republic a number of times before but Most is a new circuit for myself and I believe for most of the WorldSBK paddock. This is going to be very interesting and hopefully now with our base set-up of the new BMW M 1000 RR we can have a strong start to the weekend and look to build on this in preparation for the races even if we only have a small amount of time on Friday to do so. The weekend will be a kind of an unpredictable one in terms of results because most of the teams are going there with zero information. I am looking forward to this new challenge.”
Achieving their best full-race result of 2021 so far, Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC) hopes that Assen’s Race 2 was a turning point for Honda, despite crashes in Race 1 and the Tissot Superpole Race. His late race pace was exceptional, faster than Chaz Davies (Team GoEleven) ahead of him and at one point, more than half-a-second faster than his ex-teammate. Can he take advantage of the unknown quantity of Autodrom Most and the high-speed nature of the track? Teammate Leon Haslam had a tricky Assen, with just an eighth in Race 1 and a tenth in Race 2 as his point-scoring rides.
“The last race weekend was something of an uphill climb, but we were gradually able to improve our performance and results by working well on the set-up of the bike, especially on the electronics side. We would like to start from where we left off there and place consistently in the top five right from Friday morning. Let’s see; Most is a new track for the Superbikes and we will try to keep improving after Assen. I raced at Most many years ago, in the 125cc European Championship (2002), but I don’t remember the track layout very well, just a few points like the first chicane, which is very fast. Anyway, we will all have to get to grips with the track and find our references, and I just hope to work well with my team, find good sensations, and have fun riding my CBR at this track.”
“I’m very much looking forward to Most. I’ve seen many videos of the track on the internet and it’s always nice to go to a new circuit – I think it can be an exciting race. Not many riders have been here, so it’s very much a level playing field. We’ll continue our development work with the Honda and have some more things to try. So we’ll keep pushing as always and look forward to a new race in the Czech Republic.”
Chaz Davies is ninth in the overall standings, 20 points behind Gerloff. Davies took a fourth place in Race 2 at Assen, something he’ll hope to gain confidence from going to the Czech Republic.
Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) lies 12th overall, after another splendid double top ten at Assen with tenth and ninth in Race 1 and Race 2. Like Gerloff, Bassani could benefit from Most, as he also took part in the track day with Redding and Rinaldi. Tito Rabat (Barni Racing Team) will aim to make more progress and break back into the top ten. Kohta Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) is next up in 16th, whilst Isaac Viñales (ORELAC Racing VerdNatura) is 17th, having taken his best WorldSBK result at Assen in 11th in Race 1. Leandro Mercado (MIE Racing Honda Team) scored his first points last time out, as did Loris Cresson (OUTDO TPR Team Pedercini Racing).
Eugene Laverty (RC Squadra Corse) will not be in attendance as the team continues their internal restructuring whilst Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) will also be out, following his Race 1 crash at Assen, where he picked up a left scaphoid fracture. Mahias returned to France for surgery, but the Czech Round will come too soon for Mahias. Jonas Folger (Bonovo MGM Racing) will have to wait until Thursday before the round be declared fit or not, whilst Christophe Ponsson (Gil Motor Sport – Yamaha) returns.
American Jason Uribe (OUTDO TPR Team Pedercini Racing) will debut in WorldSBK this weekend, as he is the second rider in the Italian team this weekend. This will be the first time since Magny-Cours 2018 that there’s been two American riders on the grid of a WorldSBK race, when it was Jake Gagne and PJ Jacobsen.
WorldSBK Championship Points
Michael Ruben Rinaldi
Michael Van Der Mark
A new venue has the potential to throw up plenty of surprises as the weekend progresses. With just two practice sessions before diving straight into Tissot Superpole, the work completed on Friday is crucial to setting up the entire weekend. In the last five races, Aegerter has won all five, a winning streak that puts him second in the all-time list and only behind Andrea Locatelli, on nine – but it has not been easy for him. Last time out at Assen, he withstood challenges from both Philipp Oettl (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and Steven Odendaal (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) as both looked to end his winning run. Aegerter has opened up a 44-point lead over Odendaal in the Championship and, with the season approaching the halfway stage, Odendaal and Oettl will need to start getting on top of Aegerter sooner rather than later. Aegerter completed a track day at the Autodrom Most, while Odendaal and teammate Peter Sebestyen completed a test day at the Czech track.
Although Oettl has become a regular podium contender throughout his two seasons in WorldSSP, the German rider is still chasing his first win in the class. Oettl ran Aegerter close in the first half of Race 2 at Assen and will be hoping to push him even further at Most as he looks to become the third victor of the 2021 campaign and hope to move up from third in the standings. Spanish rider Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha ParkinGo Team) has come close to his first podium in WorldSSP after making a step forward in 2021 with seven top-six finishes out of eight races in 2021, and nearly always in the lead group. Could the unpredictability of a new venue provide Gonzalez, who successfully underwent surgery for compartment surgery, the perfect opportunity to take his first WorldSSP podium? If Gonzalez secures points finishes at Most, his run of races in the points in WorldSSP will stand at 25 and equal the all-time record, set by Roberto Rolfo between Jerez 2013 and Phillip Island 2016.
Sitting fourth in the Championship standings, Luca Bernardi (CM Racing) has been one of the revelations of the 2021 campaign. The Sammarinese rider has claimed three podiums in 2021, all second places and all behind Aegerter, but the Prosecco DOC Dutch Round proved to be a more difficult affair for the 19-year-old. He was only able to secure tenth in the Tissot Superpole session and fell down to 12th in Race 1. Race 2 was a better result for Bernardi, with fifth, and only two seconds away from a podium. The Sammarinese rider will be hoping he can qualify better at Most to try and re-join the podium celebrations.
A team of massive success in WorldSSP, GMT94 Yamaha will have a new line-up at Most with Jules Cluzel being joined by Valentin Debise. Federico Caricasulo, who joined the team for the 2021 season, and GMT94 Yamaha parted company by mutual consent with Debise has tested for the team following his success in the French championship at Magny-Cours and also brings with him some recent WorldSBK experience having competed in two rounds in 2020. It’s been a difficult campaign for GMT94 Yamaha so far with Cluzel yet to finish higher than third place, and the team only taking one pole position when Caricasulo went fastest at Estoril. The team will be hoping Most marks a turning point in their campaign, and they can return to the top step of the rostrum. On top of the new line-up, Patrick Hobelsberger will make his WorldSSP return with the team in the Czech Republic as a one event rider.
After claiming his first podium since returning to the Championship, Randy Krummenacher (EAB Racing Team) will be hoping he can repeat his result at Assen to show it wasn’t just a flash in the pan, but a regular occurrence throughout the remainder of the 2021 season. Marcel Brenner will replace Davide Pizzoli at VFT Racing while Eduardo Montero Huerta will continue in place of Thomas Gradinger at DK Motorsport. Christoffer Bergman (Wojcik Racing Team) is scheduled to return to action after missing the Dutch Round through an injury picked up at the Estoril 12 Hours but will need to be cleared to race, as will Hannes Soomer (Kallio Racing) and Shogo Kawasaki (G.A.P. MOTOZOO Racing by Puccetti).
There are two wildcard riders scheduled to compete at the Autodrom Most with Ondrej Vostatek (Compos Racing Team By YART) and Jiri Mrkyvka (Maco Racing) joining the grid. Croatian rider Martin Vugrinec (Ferquest – Unior Racing Team) will make his WorldSSP debut as a one event rider, and in doing so will become the first rider from Croatian to compete in WorldSSP, while Eemeli Lahti (HRP Suzuki) will compete for the second consecutive event on his Suzuki machine after a solid showing at Assen.
WorldSSP Championship Points
Raffaele De Rosa
Can Alexander Oncu
Galang Hendra Pratama
44 riders are scheduled to compete as the title battle in WorldSSP300 begins to take shop after three rounds of the 2021 campaign, with Spanish rider Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) leading the way after six races.
Unpredictability has, as always, been a huge part of the 2021 season but two riders have managed to be consistently fighting at the front during races. Huertas holds an 18-point advantage over Tom Booth-Amos (Fusport – RT Motorsports by SKM – Kawasaki) with the duo pulling away from the rest of the field. Out of the six races so far, Huertas has three wins with Booth-Amos claiming two. Crucially, Booth-Amos crashed out at the final corner of the final lap at both Misano Race 2 and Assen Race 1, allowing Huertas to build a gap. Booth-Amos rectified this with victory in Race 2 at Assen with Huertas in fifth.
French rider Samuel Di Sora (Leader Team Flembbo) claimed his second podium of the season at Assen in Race 2, allowing him to leap into third place in the Championship standings on 64 points. Di Sora heads into the Most weekend on the back of two third places and a fourth in the last three races and will be hoping this form continues for more podiums as he looks to close the 26-point gap to Booth-Amos.
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