A phenomenal weekend for Axel Bassani, who proved that – in his words – it was “difficult but not impossible” to make passes with the top three in the Championship in a stunning Race 2 fight
One of the revelations of the 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship season continued to show what was arguably their strongest round so far this year. Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing), the youngest rider on the grid and a rookie in WorldSBK, battled with the big guns of the Championship on Sunday afternoon as he put in another spectacular performance on his Ducati Panigale V4 R. His strong results have got people talking more and more about him, as he puts in a late charge to take the Best Independent Rider crown in 2021.
Bassani’s weekend started well with his best Friday yet leaving him inside the top seven overall, before he capitalised on that strong start by snatching a career-first front row, becoming the 152nd rider to achieve a front row in WorldSBK. Moving to Race 1, Bassani got a poor start as he started off the racing line, but picked his way through to the third place, before Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) got their noses in front. Fifth in Race 1, Bassani was fourth in the Tissot Superpole Race, getting the better of both Rinaldi and Lowes, with just three lead riders in the Championship – Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK Team), Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) – ahead of him.
However, it was Race 2 where Bassani really did put on a spectacular show as the Italian sensation went from fourth on the grid and was right in the mix from the off. Battling hard with Razgatlioglu, Rea and Redding, he was a firm fixture in the battle for victory in the first half of the race. However, he couldn’t quite match the mid-to-late race pace of the three ahead of him, but he finished fourth once more and demonstrated that he has the potential to be a real star in WorldSBK.
Speaking after the Motul Argentinean Round and having moved up into ninth in the Championship standings, Bassani said: “I am very happy for this weekend and I am very happy with the work we did in the team. It was an amazing weekend for me, and I had the possibility to learn a lot of things from the other riders, in particular from Scott, Jonny and Toprak. They are the best riders in WorldSBK at the moment and it is incredible to stay with them.”
Bassani has really come into his own as he has grown in stature and made incremental gains as the season has gone on. Having scored just 16 points from his opening two rounds, Bassani has scored a minimum of 18 points each round since Catalunya – in Barcelona, he scored 32 and his first podium came in the wet of Race 1. However, in Argentina, it was his best dry weekend, scoring 30 points and taking a career-first front row, which was also the first for the team. Since Catalunya, Bassani has scored the fifth-highest number of points with 99, more than his fellow rookie Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) and Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), and just one less than his fellow countryman Michael Ruben Rinaldi.
Talking about the start of Race 2 and his battle, Bassani looked back at the duel and also looked ahead to Indonesia and the final round of the year: “At the start of the race, I tried to do the overtakes but it is very difficult but not impossible! Now I know that it is possible, so I will try to replicate this result in the next races. The target is the top five and if it is possible, we’ll take a podium! It’s good that Indonesia is a new track for all, it is very important for me. We will see what happens when we are there!”
With his surge in form, Bassani could be looking at a top seven in the Championship as he goes to chase down Alex Lowes and Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), who are level on points at 213 each. Bassani, who has 199, needs to out-score both by 15 points in order to secure a top seven finish in the Championship, something that would be an outstanding achievement given he wasn’t expected to do this in his rookie season. It could be a spectacular end to the season for the Italian.
Can Bassani cause a surprise in Indonesia? Find out with the comprehensive WorldSBK VideoPass!