THE VERY BEST OF THE ‘TITANIC TRIO’: unmissable races in one of WorldSBK’s fiercest rivalries

Thursday, 4 July 2024 06:02 GMT

Three-way fights are hard to come by but when they feature some of the biggest names and personalities, you’re guaranteed drama

As far as rivalries go in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, the one consisting of the ‘titanic trio’ – Toprak Razgatlioglu, Alvaro Bautista and Jonathan Rea has been something quite remarkable. Some of the hardest racing ever seen, the purest of emotions and great respect, we look back at some of the best races where all three of them took their gloves off, got their elbows out and got stuck in.

ASSEN RACE 2, 2022: The ‘titanic trio’ are born

The race where after their head-to-head gloves off battle for the 2021 title, a certain Alvaro Bautista said: “One day, it had to happen.” Battling for victory on the limit once more and then clad in Yamaha and Kawasaki respectively, Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea clashed and crashed at Assen’s Turn 1, leaving Alvaro Bautista to sweep through for victory and the Championship lead. Having knocked spots off each other all through 2021, both had finally come to blows and after battling with Bautista prior, the term ‘titanic trio’ was born.

ESTORIL RACE 1, 2022: a new rivalry emerges

So, next up in 2022 was Estoril; all three races were classics but starting with Race 1, it looked like it was going to be between Toprak and Jonny once again. Just a few weeks after their Assen misdemeanour, both collided again during Race 1 in Portugal too, at Turn 6. This constant battling saw Alvaro Bautista whittle away at their advantage, coming from more than two seconds back to be right in the mix and eventually overhaul Razgatlioglu on the run to the line on the last lap. Heartbreak for Toprak but elation for Bautista as his redemption in red continued.

ESTORIL SUPERPOLE RACE, 2022: Toprak’s first win of the year goes begging

Bautista couldn’t feature for the victory in the Superpole Race, leaving it to Razgatlioglu and Rea once more; Toprak was still chasing a first race win of the season and looked set to get the monkey off his back until a huge front-end Marc Marquez-style save at the chicane on the final lap cost him. He stayed upright but Rea had zipped on by and held on until the flag. Toprak denied again as Rea took honours.

ESTORIL RACE 2, 2022: Rea doubles up against the other titanic trio member

Race 2 and more of the same incredible battling with a third race going down to the line; on the last lap, they swapped places three times from Turn 7 until Turn 9, with Rea having the advantage as they exited the chicane. However, an enormous rear-end slide on the exit of the last corner for the six-time World Champion saw a glimmer of hope for Bautista to repeat his Race 1 antics and draft through by the line, although it wasn’t to be. Rea held on for a magnificent victory, with Bautista denied a double at Estoril.

MOST SUPERPOLE RACE, 2022: another last lap showdown

Continuing the drama throughout the 2022 season, the Czech round at Most called and offered a true head-to-head between Razgatlioglu and Rea and despite Bautista’s best efforts to have a say, he just ran out of time. On the last lap, Rea hit the front at the first chicane, only for Toprak to retaliate at the fast Turn 3; rethinking his strategy, Rea got a run out of Turn 13 and made a bold lunge at Turn 15 on the run into the big esses. He couldn’t pull it down, ran through the gravel but managed to rejoin in P2, whereas Toprak went on to take victory.

MOST RACE 2, 2023: the greatest late-braking ever seen?

Whilst it was a duel of Razgatlioglu and Rea in 2022, 12 months later, it was all about the Turkish rider and Bautista. Lap after lap, Bautista would try to outbrake Toprak into Turn 1, only for the #54 to let them off and somehow make the apex. The most impressive was when the Ducati rider went to the inside and this time, Toprak answered by sweeping around the outside. At that point, it looked like it was all done but then disaster struck when a rear tyre failure took the 2021 World Champion out, allowing Bautista to come on through for victory and extend his Championship lead to over 70 points.

PORTIMAO RACE 2, 2023: beyond the limits once again

Portimao’s Race 2 from 2023 went down in history as one of the greatest of all-time; more than 30 passes for the lead between Toprak and Bautista, who had now elevated themselves as the shining members of the titanic trio. Lap after lap, the Spaniard blasted through on the straight, only for Toprak to retaliate at Turn 1, Turn 5 or Turn 13, to try and resist the onslaught. Even on the last lap, he put it all on the line, only for the Ducati to drive under him on the exit of the last corner – repeating the heroics of the Superpole Race. A race that is instantly one of the best in motorcycle racing. Just in case that wasn’t enough, the final race of 2023 at Jerez – with Toprak in his last race for Yamaha and Rea in his last for Kawasaki – was a corker, with 38 passes for victory in the last 10 laps alone.

BARCELONA SUPERPOLE RACE, 2024: the new era’s first last-corner, last lap pass

Whilst Rea struggled with his Yamaha adaptation, Toprak’s move to BMW was going swimmingly after a first win on Saturday. For the Superpole Race in Barcelona, he closed in on Bautista during the last lap – who in-turn was going for a first win of the year – and having missed the last real overtaking opportunity at Turn 10, went all-out at Turn 14 to win. Letting the brakes off at the final corner, the #54 slung the BMW up the inside of Bautista and pushed the home-hero wide, making it a double in Montmelo, whilst Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) came to finish P2. A true Valentino Rossi-inspired pass for one of the best races of this year… so far.

2024 IS UNMISSABLE: enjoy all the stories, drama, emotion and racing with the WorldSBK VideoPass!