WorldSBK Donington: Razgatlioglu secures the dream with perfect weekend

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Despite having the 2021 title under his belt, a hat-trick in WorldSBK had eluded Pata Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu until Sunday at Donington Park.

Three from three at one of his favourite tracks on the Superbike World Championship calendar was the icing on the cake for Razgatlioglu after the Turk converted a difficult Friday into a treble celebration at the UK venue, and his team’s home event. Aruba.it Ducati’s Alvaro Bautista put his Saturday disappointment firmly behind him with a determined fightback to second while Jonathan Rea completed his full set of podiums, in third.

McAMS Yamaha’s Tarran Mackenzie began his final wildcard race from 19th after a five-place grid penalty from his Superpole crash. Temperatures rising to 43℃ on track in the 30 degree sunshine as Razgatlioglu lined up on pole for the 23-lap race.

The reigning champion maintained his advantage as the lights went out with Bautista advancing on BMW’s Scott Redding for third before the second Aruba Ducati did likewise. Rinaldi with KRT’s Alex Lowes narrowly behind as the trio battled hard on the fringes of the podium.

Rea briefly hit the front before the Yamaha struck back, with Bautista half a second adrift of the action. Motocorsa’s Axel Bassani was up to eighth by lap three as he bettered Honda’s Iker Lecuona with Andrea Locatelli the next in his sights.

The lead switched and switched again as lap four fired up. The Ducati closing in on the traditional rivals with Redding seven-tenths back from Bautista and Lowes repeatedly taking a look at Rinaldi for fifth.

Further back, Leon Haslam held the final points scoring position from fellow wildcard Mackenzie. Loris Baz into the top ten on the Bonovo BMW with Philipp Oettl and Garett Gerloff just adrift.

The leading battle continued to rage with seven laps dispatched. Rea taking the lead in the closing stages before Razgatlioglu hit back once again, the bickering providing the opportunity for Redding to regroup on the back of the pack as he moved to within half a second of Bautista. Rinaldi and Lowes just a second adrift themselves at a third’s distance.

Haslam’s race was over as the Brit retired the Pedercini on lap eight. Mackenzie collecting the final point on offer in the process.

Rinaldi was up to fourth by lap 12 as Redding dropped into the path of Lowes. Baz repeatedly battling with Oettl for tenth with Lecuona the next in the Frenchman’s sights and Bassani comfortably ahead.

Bassani bettered Locatelli for seventh as the race counted down. Bautista reeling in Rea in the fight for second with five laps to go and tyre wear starting to make its presence felt. The Spaniard cutting through at Melbourne to claim the advantage and immediately breaking a half-second gap. Rea far from safe in third as Rinaldi closed in behind.

Baz was finally through on Lecuona on the fringes of the top ten. The Frenchman running ninth, but eight seconds adrift of the Italian’s ahead while Gerloff similarly dispatched the Go Eleven Ducati for 11th.

The last lap found Razgatlioglu with a 1.4 second advantage as his dream of a treble victory came into view. The Turk securing his debut perfect weekend at his favourite track from Bautista and Rea with Rinaldi settling for best of the rest.

Redding, Lowes and Bassani crossed the line in fifth to seventh with the victor’s teammate a disappointing eighth. Baz and Lecuona outpaced Gerloff and Oettl with Vierge, Lucas Mahias and Mackenzie picking up the final points. Peter Hickman’s wildcard coming to conclusion in 19th on the FHO BMW.

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