Having not taken a pole since Estoril 2020, Toprak Razgatlioglu pulled out the lap of his life to set the fastest time of the weekend
The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship’s tenth round of the season at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto saw a titanic Tissot Superpole battle as the grid is set for Race 1 and the Tissot Superpole Race at the Motul Spanish Round. Having been knocked off his pole position perch last time out at Catalunya, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was eager to get back to the head of the field. However, it wouldn’t happen as Turkish delight was on order; Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) took a first pole of the year and a second of his career, as he powered to the head of the field.
THE OPENING PHASES: straight down to business
With the WorldSBK field taking to the track under the beautiful Andalusian sunshine, the first laps came in with some riders going straight to the Q tyre for their first attack on pole. Both title contenders Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea on the Q tyres, as well as Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK), who shadowed teammate Toprak on the first run.
However, it was formation flying as Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), who is far from 100% fit as he nurses a right-hand injury, hit the front ahead of teammate Rea, both on the Q tyre, ahead of Locatelli, following the first flurry of action, both being the first riders into the sub-39 brackets with 1’38.7s, separated by just 0.005s. After the first run, Razgatlioglu was only tenth whilst there were surprises in the top ten, with Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) and Isaac Viñales (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) in seventh and eighth, both just behind an in-form Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC), who was fifth having not used the Q tyre straight away, whilst Leandro Mercado (MIE Racing Honda Team) was also impressive, in and around the top ten.
Leaving it later to go out on track for a first run, Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was already up inside the top three, popping up to third after his first flying lap. Soon, he would be bumped back by teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi, who set his first flying lap on the Q tyre after initially going out on race tyre rubber; Rinaldi went third and was, like the two Kawasaki ahead of him, in the 1’38s bracket. With further changes down the order, Razgatlioglu was down in 13th place.
SETTING THE GRID: Toprak takes charge with stunning final sector surge
The final two minutes set the grid as Alex Lowes improved further, dropping the time down to a 1’38.539, just two tenths outside of Jonathan Rea’s 2019 pole record. However, after being more than two tenths of a second down after three sectors, Toprak Razgatlioglu pulled out the final sector of his life, blasting to the line and storming to his first pole position of the season by just 0.027s. More than a tenth of a second faster in the final sector than his rivals, Razgatlioglu was on fire to deliver Yamaha’s first pole of 2021, beating Lowes who starts second, whilst Jonathan Rea couldn’t take it to the two ahead of him and for a second round running, finishes third. The pole for Yamaha is the 40th in their WorldSBK history, the first since Estoril in 2020, also by Razgatlioglu.
ROW TWO: Italian themed
Fourth place went to the first Ducati rider, Scott Redding, who was able to hold off a late charge from teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi, with the Italian completing the top five. Rinaldi has looked like he’s been fast with race pace too, so a top five starting position could well see him come to the fore in the race. Andrea Locatelli completes the second row, just more than half a second from his teammate’s top time.
ROW THREE SURPRISES: a shock in store?
Heading up the third row of the grid in seventh place is super-sub Loris Baz (Team GoEleven), who was top Independent at the end of Superpole. The Frenchman gave Team GoEleven a return to the top ten, whilst in the middle of the third row, Leon Haslam (Team HRC) took top Honda honours, ahead of his in-form teammate Alvaro Bautista, who takes a first top nine since Misano, which is encouraging given his ability to charge through the field and pull a result out. Completing the top ten, Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) held off a late challenge from a sensational Leandro Mercado, who takes his best Superpole result since Losail 2019.
THE REST OF THE FIELD: a comeback from behind?
Other riders further down the order included Axel Bassani who was 12th whilst it was another tricky Superpole session for BMW, with Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) heading up an all-BMW top five, with substitute teammate Eugene Laverty in 15th, both split by Jonas Folger (Bonovo MGM Racing). Isaac Viñales ended up 16th ahead of Kohta Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), whilst Samuele Cavalieri (Barni Racing Team) was 18th. Marvin Fritz (IXS-YART Yamaha) was 19th, ahead of Andrea Mantovani (Vince64), Christophe Ponsson (Gil Motor Sport Yamaha), Loris Cresson (OUTDO TPR Team Pedercini Racing) and teammate Lachlan Epis.
Top six after Tissot Superpole in WorldSBK, full results here:
1 Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) 1’38.512s
2. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.027s
3. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.102s
4. Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.149s
5. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.348s
6. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) +0.544s
Watch full race action from 14:00 local time (GMT+2) at Jerez and see who will win the first battle of Jerez with the comprehensive WorldSBK VideoPass!