From aiming for the title and hoping to help your teammate, it’s a power-packed line-up as the fall-out from Navarra sets in
The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship may be giving us plenty of headlines and drama on the track, but the paddock was also alive with the sound of transfer market news, team debate and unleashed emotion. This week’s hottest headlines see everything from transfer market shockwaves, nearly crashing from the lead and front-end feel, so sit back, relax and get all of the headlines from a dramatic weekend – on track and off it.
Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team): “We clearly have some limitations… if the rider could make the difference… then I’d take my hat off to him.”
Speaking on Saturday after the first race, Sykes was downbeat and left wanting more: “We clearly have some limitations with the bike. Michael and I are both capable riders and we both have the same issues. We have a different set-up and different riding style, but the same issues. I’ll continue to strongly believe that for me, speed is no question. In the races, I’m still missing rear traction and turning from the bike, and obviously, there’s only so far we can go with that. We finished sixth in the hot conditions in Race 1, and nobody crashed in front of us, but we’re still 20 seconds from the win. So, there’s still work to be done but there’s no quick fix is there? That’s why, to be honest, I’d like to see if those 20 seconds can be fixed by purely rider alone. If the rider could make the difference on those 20 seconds today, then I’d take my hat off to him.”
On a more positive note, Sykes said that one of the main positives to take away from the Navarra weekend was the improvement in the high temperatures: “There are some positives to take from the weekend. There’s still only three BMWs on the grid, and we’re pretty new to this era of the Championship. Unfortunately, Jonas is still struggling so there’s only myself and Michael that are close in competition. Race 2 saw an improvement, and we had a test here back in June and took that momentum to Donington Park. Then, I tested at a very hot Catalunya and tried different components and geometries and from there, I think we’ve learnt more and that has transferred here.”
Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati): “I want to win the Championship for Ducati this year”
Wearing his heart on his sleeve as ever, Scott Redding praised the effort of his team, bike and performance from Race 1, whilst stating his clear Championship intentions: “I got an amazing start! To beat Jonathan off the line, I was already smiling going into Turn 1! Jonny came through but I expected it as he is always strong in the first laps. I stayed calm, looked to see where he was strong but then after a few laps, I could see he was starting to struggle a bit.
“I made the move, but I didn’t push hard. I wanted to get my rhythm without overriding. The gap got bigger, maybe because I was pushing a bit more. In these conditions, you have to have feeling and that’s what I had, which is important for me to be consistent. I almost crashed in the last corner when I went too tight and touched the kerb, and I thought ‘f*****g idiot Scott, come on’ but apart from that, it was a good race. It’s nice to do this after the new when people say ‘I’m not in it for Ducati’, but I am; I want to win the Championship for Ducati this year, that’s the only thing I want. On Saturday, we showed we can still do it.”
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK): “I feel like I am riding the best I’ve ever ridden; the margin for error is so, so small”
Talking about the front end of his bike on Saturday, Rea said: “The front tyre started to heat up, stability started to go down, front was moving. Just over pushing the front, I had a few front slides and that was enough tell me to brake earlier. When I was having those moments, I lost track position, as much as one second with one mistake. When I release the brake, it’s just not stable. I’m getting pushed from behind, the rears and the combination of the engine braking opening and closing, it’s just unloading the front. In this temperature, you don’t need too much to upset it when you’re riding on the limit.”
Then, speaking on Sunday, Rea was reflective and stated that he’s riding the best he ever has and believes that it’s good that his rivals are also in the mix: “I feel like I am riding the best I’ve ever ridden; the margin for error is so, so small. It also shows just how fast and how hard the others are going as well.”
Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK): “Hopefully, I can start performing a bit better and helping Jonathan a little bit more”
Whilst he may be a little bit adrift of the top three, Alex Lowes is enjoying the spectacle of the title battle and has said he wants to get in on the action to help his teammate: “It’s obviously closer; it’s great to have Ducati, Yamaha and Kawasaki at the top and having good battles every weekend. It’s not just down to riders, it is down to teams to squeeze the most out of each situation. Hopefully, I can start performing a bit better and help Jonathan a little bit more. That’s the target and it is going to be a close run-in at the finish. The other bikes are improving, and it is making our life difficult, but it is good for the Championship. It is going to be exciting, not just for us but for the fans!”
Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK): “I never thought I could do this… now, my eyes just look forward and I see the big names!”
Making one of the most impressive jumps up to WorldSBK from WorldSSP, an emotional Andrea Locatelli couldn’t quite believe what’s happening: “I never thought I could do this because maybe, in the last race of the year, I achieve a good result. But in the end, it arrived immediately at Assen and now we are working very well. We have a good base set-up on the bike. Now, my eyes just look forward and I see the big names: Jonny, Scott and Toprak. This is my target. For sure, it’s not easy. I need to learn a little bit more; we are here to do this. We try at Magny-Cours and also the next races to try to close the gap and maybe fight for the win with them.”
Watch the 2021 drama continue to unfold in one of the closest title races in history with the WorldSBK VideoPass, now at 50% off!