Toprak Razgatlioglu headed the times on Friday at Magny-Cours but title rivals Jonathan Rea and Scott Redding weren’t far behind…
Two weeks on from the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship’s last outing where the Championship points ended up level between Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), the paddock descended on the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours for the Motul French Round with Razgatlioglu leading the way after Friday’s action.
The opening practice session was disrupted by wet track conditions that soon dried up, while Free Practice 2 was completely dry, and the first time each rider’s true potential was shown. Razgatlioglu went to the top of the timesheets with a 1’37.138s while Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) claimed second place, two tenths back from the Championship leader while Rea was a further tenth place in third.
Redding has been in scintillating form in recent races with his last seven results being either first or second and will hope he can add to that impressive run going in France. Discussing whether he could overhaul Razgatlioglu when racing gets underway on Saturday afternoon, Redding said: “I always want to win; this is the goal. I’ll be honest, and I feel relaxed like it is possible. You know, considering the tack time that I’ve lacked compared to these guys, you know, Toprak, Jonathan, Van der Mark’s looking very good around here. Not being around here on the dry. If I’m already mixing it with those boys is a good start. It’s still only going to get easier for me, so I just need to stay calm. Let it come to me. Get a good qualifying and in the race, I’m always coming stronger anyway.”
Rea admitted he had work to do after feeling “consistent but consistently slow” after Friday’s action, but outlined his ambition for the three races, saying: “My ambition is to fight for the win, but expectation now is going to be difficult when we need to make some changes to make me feel more comfortable on the bike. But I have the best crew in the world in the box. I feel motivated and ready, but we probably need to find something to allow me to fight, and hopefully we can find that inside the box.”
With the 2021 campaign developing into a titanic three-way battle between Razgatlioglu, Rea and Redding, the French Round could prove pivotal in terms of points and momentum as the second half of the season gets underway. It is a track all three riders have had success at during their time in WorldSBK and will only be looking to add to that this weekend.