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.
|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|