WSB Indonesia: Toprak Razgatlıoğlu crowned 2021 world champion
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu has ended Jonathan Rea's six-year reign in the World Superbike Championship after securing the points he needed to become world champion in Indonesia.
It was a tricky WorldSBK debut for Indonesia's all-new Mandalika International Street Circuit, with Saturday's opening race being cancelled due to monsoon-like weather. Race One was therefore moved to Sunday, with the Superpole Race being removed from the schedule. Suddenly, there were only 50 points remaining on the table instead of 62.
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This meant that Razgatlıoğlu could finish second to Rea in the opening race and be crowned champion with a race to spare....and that's exactly what happened. However, disaster almost struck before any racing had even begun, with the Pata Yamaha rider almost crashing on the sighting lap after running wide onto the slippery paintwork.
In the tricky opening stages, with some areas of the track still damp, it quickly became a four-rider fight at the front, with Rea and Razgatlıoğlu joined by Scott Redding and Axel Bassani. The latter led briefly but would soon fall back behind the title-chasing duo, who went on to exchange positions multiple times, just as they have done all season.
Redding then made his move on Rea for second, before Razgatlıoğlu had another huge moment when he ran in too deep at the penultimate corner. The Turkish rider did remarkably well to keep his Yamaha upright and re-joined in third - a long way behind Redding and Rea.
Rea retook the lead of the race on Lap 16, before Redding lost ground trying to respond to the Kawasaki rider's move - allowing Razgatlıoğlu to close the gap. The champion-elect was now a man on a mission and his disposed of Redding at turn one on lap 18. Razgatlıoğlu wanted to win the title by winning the race and he closed the gap to Rea to just over half-a-second, but wasn't able to catch him.
It didn't matter. Razgatlıoğlu had done enough, and he was crowned Turkey's first-ever WorldSBK champion. It's Yamaha’s first title since 2009, when American sensation Ben Spies took top spot, and only their second overall in WorldSBK.
"For me not an easy season, I think the same for all riders," the new champion said. "But we are champions. I don’t know what to say, but it’s a special day for me. Not easy races for me today, I tried my best and, in the end, we came out on top. It is not easy, because there were many races, many moments, but we tried our best and it’s good to be here.
"Johnny is a WorldSBK legend, a six-time champion and he’s good in the wet condition, the dry, every race. He helped me when I started, he is a good guy, and we are friends off the track. I never changed my mindset and I just focused on the win every weekend.
"This title is for my dad, it has been an incredible day, he always said that one day we will see you as world champion, so I say again this is for him. I want more next season; I want to fight again and I will try every race to win."
Toprak ends the year with 13 race wins, 29 podiums, three poles and nine fastest race laps to his name.
The Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK team has been crowned teams’ champions, while Yamaha claimed the manufactures’ title for the first time since 2007. Andrea Locatelli finished fourth and eighth on Sunday to become 2021 Rookie of the Year and seal fourth overall in the standings.
The final race of the year was cut to 12 laps after another huge rainstorm hit the area. The race was still run in full wet conditions, with Rea completing the double ahead of Redding, who ended his final campaign with Ducati third overall, and Michael van der Mark. Razgatlıoğlu finished fourth to end the year with a 13-point advantage over Rea.