After ticking off Race 1 with ease, Toprak’s taken real charge of the title with a five-point lead, and he’s not finished there
The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship saw Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) storm to a seventh victory of the season after dominant Race 1 victory at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours in France. The Motul French Round’s opening encounter saw Razgatlioglu grab the lead on Lap 4 before setting an incredible pace at the front, eventually winning by more than four seconds to take a slender five-point lead into Sunday action at the French venue.
Getting off to a good start and grabbing the holeshot, Razgatlioglu was the meat in a Kawasaki sandwich down into the hard braking area of Turn 5, where he was briefly shuffled back to third, behind title rival Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and his teammate, Alex Lowes. However, Razgatlioglu wouldn’t take it lying down and by the end of the first lap, was back to second, albeit seventh tenths adrift of Rea, who was off to a flying start. On Lap 4 though, Toprak was right with Rea and got ahead with a bold move under braking at Turn 5, before going off into the distance.
Speaking after his seventh win of the 2021 season, Razgatlioglu hailed the hard work from his team to give him the bike he needed to take a third WorldSBK win at Magny-Cours: “For me, a very good race. I want to thank my team for an incredible job this weekend, we improve the bike a lot. I like this track and on Friday, we did a race simulation and I focused on consistent lap times. When I passed Jonny today, I tried to do consistent lap times, and I won the race.”
Toprak’s win is not a complete surprise, with the race pace he demonstrated on Friday afternoon with a race simulation. A 13-lap run with the 11 mid-1’37s, Toprak laid down the benchmark from the start. In the 21-lap race on Saturday afternoon, the Turkish rider lived up to expectation, putting in sensational consistency with a 17-lap string that consisted of one 1’36.937 – the fastest lap of the race – and then 16 low-to-mid 1’37s, before dialling back his pace for the final three laps. He was the only rider into the 1’36s at any stage of the race and his main title rival, Jonathan Rea, could only manage mid-to-high 1’37s once Toprak had got through.
Looking at the Championship gap and stating his targets for the 2021 season, Championship leader Toprak was unequivocal in his ambitions: “Five points isn’t a big gap because every weekend, there’s a lot of big changes this year. I am focused on the next race because I want 10 or 12 race wins. I will try to fight again for the win on Sunday, but I think in the Superpole Race, it won’t be easy as Jonny is very fast. Everyone is very fast, but my dream this weekend is for three wins. It’s not easy, but we will try!”
Toprak’s win also sees him hit some milestones at Yamaha. He becomes the first Yamaha rider in WorldSBK history with 18 podiums, whilst also putting them in a position to take a 90th WorldSBK win on Sunday. Razgatlioglu and Locatelli together have helped Yamaha to a 340th podium placement, whilst it was the first Yamaha win at Magny-Cours since Cal Crutchlow in 2010’s Race 1.