After a dramatic fall in WorldSBK race two for Jonathan Rea on his Kawasaki, the rider who was right with him all through went on to win and take over the championship lead.
That rider is the man who Rea already knew would be trouble in 2021, Toprak Razgatlioglu on his Pata Yamaha R1. Both man and machine in Yamaha colours were already looking more than capable of winning even in a dogfight with Rea, in a well-matched contest in what were finally dry conditions after a scare with a light shower hitting the track just before the start fo the final 23-lap race.
The question for Razgatlioglu was simple, did he think he would have left Donington with a two point lead over Rea having entered it 20 points behind?
“No, but all the races I just try to win,” said Razgatlioglu. “But I’m very surprised Jonathan crashed. I followed and he rode very calm, but I don't know, a big mistake maybe. After, I rode more calm because I need the win for the championship. I am championship leader but I am not looking this side. I’m always focused on the race. But every race I focus on a good position. We are lucky this weekend to win.”
Razgatlioglu was said to have been on a - what would have been incorrect wet front and rear tyre choice before the morning’s Superpole race - but the news came through he had joined almost the whole field on intermediates.
He was unable to replicate his Race one miracle of 13th place to the win, but sixth was good after ten laps on an iffy surface.
“We changed and we put the intermediate tyre,” confirmed Razgatlioglu, “all the riders put this choice I think. I don't know this type of tyre, because I only rode this a second time. I don't know the grip, how is the grip, but after some laps I learned the tyre. I came towards the front group, but not enough was left in the tyre because I was pushing with also a good lap time. Sixth position was good enough I took points, but not big points. Just four points. Now I understand four points was enough because now I am championship leader.”
The second race determined his championship lead, and he was sure he had enough pace to be with Rea to the end, had his rival not fallen. “I try hard at first and I followed Johnny. I looked at my lap time and it was not really fast. About 1’28.4, but I always closed the gas. I said, ‘OK’ and I passed Jonathan.
"I tried to be faster than him. I tried for two or three laps, but it was not possible because today the track grip not like yesterday. Much less. Very strange - in the first corner, and also corner four, corner seven, and especially corner eight, there was very bad grip. I always lose the front tyre. One time I made a mistake in corner eight and I go wide because I feel the front sliding.
'I released the brake, and Jonny went ahead. I said, ‘OK, better I follow Johnny’. But it was his big mistake, his crash. After every lap, I came in corner eight and I tried braking early because I saw that Johnny had crashed. I finished the race and took the win, I needed.”
Rea seldom makes mistakes but he did under what seemed like pressure from a very real new championship challenge in Razgatlioglu and Yamaha. Razgatlioglu basically agreed. “Yes, but because I need to win. I pushed also every lap with a consistent lap time.”