2021 Donington World Superbike Race 1 Result: Drying Track Makes Racing Tricky

Superbikes return to Donington Park, home of the first World Superbike race in 1988, and the UK brought out its finest dreary weather for Saturday, punishing riders throughout the morning's Superpole session. The rain eased off before the race and the track was dry enough for slick tyres, although still too cold for most riders to choose the SCX sprint tyre that's been favoured in recent races. In the absence of Supersport racing, with Brexit and Covid coinciding to cause uncertainty in the costs when the calendar was being written up, the wet weekend feels a little less packed than usual, especially with the circuit limiting attendance to just four thousand spectators. 

Jonathan Rea sat in pole, as he has in every Saturday race of 2021, and got a good start, sweeping across the track ahead of the BMWs, but he was soon joined at the front by talk-of-the-town Toprak Razgatlioglu who scythed his way from thirteenth place on the grid, to separate the BMWs of Tom Sykes and Michael van der Mark in spectacular style before taking second place from Sykes and catching Rea. Garrett Gerloff, Leon Haslam, Alex Lowes and Scott Redding rounded out the top eight on the first lap.

On lap two, Scott Redding crashed at Craner Curves, sliding the rear and ending his race from seventh place, while Toprak Razgatlioglu caught Jonathan Rea and passed him into Coppice, the last corner before the short straight to Foggy's Esses. Razgatlioglu nearly conceded the lead back at the Melbourne hairpin, demonstrating that his choice of the SCX, one of only three riders to take the softer tyre, was a risky one with the track as cold as it was. In spite of this, he set the fastest lap.

Razgatlioglu had Rea right behind him, but Rea them lost control of his bike and took to the grass around the old part of the track, but he kept his bike upright and rejoined the track just over three seconds behind Razgatlioglu's Yamaha, with Michael van der Mark on his tail. Tom Sykes was a second further back, dealing with Leon Haslam and Alex Lowes, with Garrett Gerloff threatening to join them. 

Razgatlioglu set the fastest laps on laps three, four and five, but Rea took them off him on laps four and five as he tried to close the gap and recover the time he lost in his off track excursion. Trading fastest laps again, Jonathan Rea escaped Michael van der Mark and closed the gap to Toprak Razgatlioglu to just over a second, only to slide the rear and buck his Kawasaki, nearly losing the rear, but losing a second and a half instead. A lap later, he nearly crashed again at Redgate, turn one, while Razgatlioglu set the fastest lap again.

At half race distance, the track was drying out and the pace increased. Tom Sykes closed in on Michael van der Mark and a five bike train fighting for third place evolved out of the drying track. 

When Tom Sykes caught Michael van der Mark, the pair touched briefly as Sykes took third place from van der Mark, and Alex Lowes took fourth place from him a few turns later, at Coppice. Garrett Gerloff took advantage of a mistake by van der Mark to take fifth from him before the lap was out and van der Mark went from third to sixth in one lap. 

Jonathan Rea took the fastest lap on lap twelve, only to have Razgatlioglu claim it back a lap later, and the lap after that, building a four second gap over Rea. Alex Lowes, over ten seconds behind, took third place from Sykes at the Melbourne hairpin, and Garrett Gerloff followed him. When Lowes made a mistake at Goddards, the second hairpin at the end of the lap, Gerloff snuck under him and cleanly took third place from him.

At the front of the race, Razgatlioglu caught and passed his first back marker, Jonas Folger, who looked a little surprised to have company. On lap sixteen, Garrett Gerloff crashed out of third place, losing the front at Goddards. He picked his Yamaha up and recovered in eighth place only to have that taken from him by Lucas Mahias. Gerloff struck back and took eighth back and chased down Alvaro Bautista in seventh place, eventually passing him on lap nineteen when Bautista went wide into Goddards. 

The last three laps ticked off with Razgatlioglu almost five seconds clear of Rea who had eleven seconds advantage over his teammate Alex Lowes. Tom Sykes was a couple of seconds further back with his teammate Michael van der Mark fighting off Leon Haslam a further couple of seconds behind Sykes.

Toprak Razgatlioglu passed Loris Cresson on his way to victory, claiming his second win of the season and cementing his second place in the championship. Jonathan Rea finished in second place, conceding five points in the title chase to Razgatlioglu, with his Kawasaki teammate Alex Lowes taking third place. The BMWs of Tom Sykes and Michael van der Mark finished off the podium, in fourth and fifth place respectively, while Leon Haslam had to settle for sixth place. Garrett Gerloff recovered in seventh place, in spite of crashing.

Toprak Razgatlioglu then ran out of fuel. 

Alex Lowes gave him a tow and was joined by Lucas Mahias in pushing the race-winning Yamaha around the full four kilometre circuit. To add insult to injury, when it came time for the Japanese anthem to be played on the podium, there was a long silence before a random tune played over the speakers, much to the amusement of the podium. 

Toprak Razgatlioglu cut Jonathan Rea's lead int he championship to just fifteen points, while Alex Lowes joined Scott Redding fifty points further behind, sharing third place ahead of Michael Ruben Rinaldi and Garrett Gerloff. Axel Bassani was the first Ducati across the line in tenth place on a Saturday the Italian factory would rather forget. 

Results:

Pos No. Rider Bike Gap
1 54 T. RAZGATLIOGLU Yamaha YZF R1  
2 1 J. REA Kawasaki ZX-10RR 2.419
3 22 A. LOWES Kawasaki ZX-10RR 12.261
4 66 T. SYKES BMW M 1000 RR 14.625
5 60 M. VAN DER MARK BMW M 1000 RR 16.447
6 91 L. HASLAM Honda CBR1000 RR-R 17.028
7 31 G. GERLOFF Yamaha YZF R1 33.345
8 19 A. BAUTISTA Honda CBR1000 RR-R 37.385
9 44 L. MAHIAS Kawasaki ZX-10RR 43.566
10 47 A. BASSANI Ducati Panigale V4 R 43.836
11 7 C. DAVIES Ducati Panigale V4 R 48.102
12 21 M. RINALDI Ducati Panigale V4 R 8.436
13 50 E. LAVERTY BMW M 1000 RR 59.392
14 12 L. MOSSEY Kawasaki ZX-10RR 1'01.922
15 32 I. VINALES Kawasaki ZX-10RR 1'22.275
16 84 L. CRESSON Kawasaki ZX-10RR 1 Lap
RET 94 J. FOLGER BMW M 1000 RR 21
RET 53 T. RABAT Ducati Panigale V4 R 13
RET 55 A. LOCATELLI Yamaha YZF R1 17 Laps
RET 45 S. REDDING Ducati Panigale V4 R 22 Laps
RET 23 C. PONSSON Yamaha YZF R1 1
Round Number: 
4
2021
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Comments

Listened to an interview of Toprak a while ago where he said his aim is to go to MotoGP as WSBK champion. If he manages to beat Rea this season, he might really regret his decision not to chase that MotoGP seat. 

Strongly believe that he would have chosen to go, if it wasn't for Kenan's influence.. On the other hand, would he be where he is today without Kenan, that's another question..

"demonstrating that his choice of the SCX, one of only three riders to take the softer tyre, was a risky one", isn't soft usually better when cold? Plus, why Japanese anthem? For Manufacturer?

1. The SCX needs a bit of heat in it to work. 
2. Yes, for Yamaha. 

The SCX was introduced especially for the half distance Superpole races. The commentators mentioned - generally it's thought you need a minimum track temp of 25C and the track was only 21C I think, memory..

Teams have discovered the SCX will usually last a full race distance. But it is considered a bit tricky around high and low track temps.

The normal tyre the SCO is "harder" and a safer but maybe slower choice, it seems to be first choice for Kawa for all races, just a Kawa bike and set up thing.

Hope that helps. 

No. The SCX Being the softest raceable tire will under most normal circumstances work better than all the others when cold, even if it's too cold for the SCX. Your statement still makes no sense: "although still too cold for most riders to choose the SCX sprint tyre". This implies there was some other choice. Full Q tire for a full length race? I doubt it.

Here's the problem with your assumptions. You are absolutely correct abiout front tyres, but rear tyres are reversed. In colder weather, you want a stiffer rear. If you find this counter-intuitive, read the Pirelli guidelines

CRITERIA FOR SELECTION AND USE OF THE COMPOUNDS

The selection criterion for using one compound rather than another is based on three parameters, all of which are equally important:

1) the severity of the asphalt
2) the asphalt temperature
3) the required duration of the race

For the front compounds, the criteria for use is not the same as that adopted for selecting rear compounds because, in addition to the temperature and the severity of the asphalt, it is important to consider the track layout and, above all, the rider’s riding style.
In any case, generally speaking, when the track temperature increases, the compound tends to lose its compactness and rigidity, sometimes causing problems in movement during leaning. In this case, it is better to use a more rigid compound (such as the SC2).
On the other hand, when the track is cold, the compound tends to become more rigid and this leads to a penalisation as regards grip, with possible under-steering and stability while braking. In these conditions it is better to use a soft compound such as the SC1.
The SC3 compound, on the other hand, is the most versatile in that it allows for good performance and high mileage in all asphalt and track conditions.

As for which rear compound to use, hot asphalt loses part of its natural mechanical grip, becoming smooth and more ‘slippery’. In these conditions a soft compound (such as the SC0) is necessary, as it can penetrate the asphalt surface as much as possible.
Cold asphalt, on the other hand, tends to be more aggressive and rougher, offering more mechanical grip which, while on the one hand is an advantage, on the other hand it can cause the tyre to rip and tear, therefore requiring a compound with more mechanical resistance (such as the SC2 or SC3).

Wow, he was on it!  Bike going in every which direction but seemingly all under control.  Amazing first few corners and got into P2 within 1/2 lap, then passed and gone!  Rea so very lucky/skilled once again, saving multiple crashes and still picking up a second place. 

It wasn't really picked up on by the commentators but as far as I could see Toprak started running out of fuel before the Mlebourne loop, his body language really weird on the bike and I think the bike sounding funny.  He dead set coasted over the line, bike already dead.  I think he played it down in the interview afterward, hell it would have been a travesty had he lost the race after such a performance.

We've had lots of debate about green paint here. Today we saw real green grass! Rea's long excursion didn't cost him a place. Gerloff, thanks to gaps in WSBK of seconds instead of 10th's of seconds in MotoGP--and electric rather than corner worker start--only lost a few places. But, a true highside (Redding) is pretty much the same in both classes.

Rea was very lucky yesterday not to cut some grass sliding face down across it.

Redding was not, careers wax and wane on these things.