Razgatlioglu storms to Mandalika pole ahead of Rea, title battle to be fought from front row
The WorldSBK heavyweights will start in Championship order for Race 1…
The final Tissot Superpole session of the 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship kicked off at the Pertamina Mandalika International Street Circuit in Indonesia, with it proving to be a vital session for the Championship contenders, needing to secure strong grid spots. Moments before the session got underway, spots of rain began falling in the paddock area, adding to the complexity of finding a fast lap time around the all-new track. Starting from a third pole of the year, Championship leader Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) heads title rival Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), both going from first and second on the grid respectively.
FAST START: all the contenders at the front
Blinking first, Toprak Razgatlioglu was right at the front on his first flying lap, whilst Championship rival Jonathan Rea took second place after his first attempt. Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was third whilst Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) was up in fourth ahead of Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing). The first run saw most riders head out on the Q tyre, eager to get a banker lap in with the spots of rain in the air. Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) and Leandro Mercado (MIE Racing Honda Team) were notable outliers as they used the SCX tyre but were both inside the top ten after their initial efforts.
FRONT ROW: a titanic fight awaits
With just over six minutes to go, everyone headed back out to try and go for a quick lap time, with Jonathan Rea leading the field around the 4.3km Pertamina Mandalika Circuit. The reigning six-time World Champion meant business as he put in a storming lap of a 1’33.201, the fastest lap we’d seen of the weekend. Scott Redding was next up, he took second provisionally but all eyes were on Razgatlioglu once again, with the Turkish rider storming to pole, with a 1’32.877 seeing him become the first and only rider to get into the 1’32 bracket. With Andrea Dosoli and Kenan Sofuoglu watching on and applauding accordingly, Razgatlioglu took pole ahead of Rea and Redding. The same three it has been all year at the forefront of the grid.
BACK-UP BEHIND: Yamahas on the second row
Having been third all the way through Free Practice, Garrett Gerloff took fourth, his joint-best Superpole result of 2021 as he looks revitalised and rejuvenated ahead of racing action in Indonesia, coming at the right time as he is in the battle for Best Independent. Fifth place honours went to Andrea Locatelli, with three Yamahas inside the top five. Locatelli has steadily improved over the course of the Pirelli Indonesian Round weekend and, along with Gerloff, will hope to see if they can help Razgatlioglu out in the title battle, should he need it. Completing the second row with a last lap pushing him up the order, Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) returned with a bang.
IMPRESSIVE SUPERPOLE: row three shows some big names with big gains
Heading up the third row, revelation Axel Bassani will look to get in the fight for Best Independent with Gerloff, as well as support the likes of Scott Redding in Ducati’s quest for the Manufacturers’ Championship. Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC) was eighth, his joint-best Superpole result of the season as he looks to close the Honda WorldSBK chapter of his career on a high. Ninth place went to Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), with both the BMWs inside the top ten. It was an impressive showing from Leandro Mercado, who consolidated his pace from the last few rounds by taking a season-best Superpole result of tenth, his first top ten on the grid after Superpole since Magny-Cours 2017, when he was second.
BEST OF THE REST: a disaster for one star
In his final round as a rider, Chaz Davies (Team GoEleven) was 11th, ahead of an impressive showing from Christophe Ponsson (Gil Motor Sport-Yamaha), who took a career-best Superpole result of 12th. Isaac Viñales (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) was 13th as he continued to show his potential, whilst it was a Superpole session to forget for Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), with the Italian, who is fourth in the Championship and just eight points ahead of rookie rival Andrea Locatelli, finishing 14th after setting just two laps, the fewest of anyone. There’ll be plenty of work to do from there.
Samuele Cavalieri (Barni Racing Team) was 15th, ahead of Kohta Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and Oliver König (OUTDO TPR Team Pedercini Racing). Leon Haslam (Team HRC) was declared unfit after a right shoulder functional impairment halted his weekend, whilst Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) suffered a crash in FP3 and was ruled out with a right acromioclavicular separation.