KRT’s Jonathan Rea completed the 2021 WorldSBK season with a double victory at Lombok’s debut Mandalika Circuit weekend.
The Kawasaki rider battled to the end in another rain delayed outing, the Superbike class enjoying an unexpected sprint battle to round out a scintillating year. Scott Redding and Michael van der Mark denying the 2021 WorldSBK Champion his place in final podium celebrations.
Replicating Saturday afternoon, the rain arrived once again as the last WorldSBK grid prepared. The title already decided thanks to a thrilling race one battle between defender Rea and eventual new champion Toprak Razgatlioglu, the stress was off with the riders looking enjoy the final 21 laps of the season to the max, however with the weather coming in fast, the start was delayed and the heavens opened once more.
Checks half an hour after the original race start found the track waterlogged with the safety car aquaplaning its way around the new Mandalika layout as the rain continued. A further, and final, review of conditions scheduled for 4pm local time, 8am UK.
Brightening skies brought the call of a quick restart and 12-lap dash, albeit in full wet race mode. The sighting lap the field’s first experience of the Lombok track in rain conditions.
As the lights finally released the action, Razgatlioglu took the lead from his pole position, Andrea Locatelli getting a blistering start as he cut through to second before Redding and Rea hit back dropping the second Pata Yamaha to sixth.
Axel Bassani ran fourth as the first lap unfolded, van der Mark and Leandro Mercado bettering Locatelli with Tom Sykes, Kohta Nozane and Michael Ruben Rinaldi rounded out the top 10.
Rea was in charge on lap two as he looked to build a gap on the new world champion but Toprak recovered the lead in the final sector. The trio running three deep in the final corner as Rea headed Redding across the line, Razgatlioglu in hot pursuit.
The top five were covered by seven-tenths on lap three, Redding taking over at the front from the Kawasaki with van der Mark looking to find his way through on Bassani for fourth and Mercado crashed out at turn 14.
The Aruba Ducati set the fastest lap next time around before Rea was back in charge. The duo repeatedly swapping positions in the spray as the fight intensified.
Bassani was the next victim of Mandalika after contact first with Toprak then van der Mark in the final two corners, crashing out after an impressive showing across the weekend as the lap concluded.
Sykes was making moves on his way to fifth as the second BMW capitalised on Razgatlioglu for the final podium position.
Redding again setting the fastest lap as he looked to set his leading rhythm, Rea neatly behind with two seconds of clear air back to van der Mark and the battling Yamaha.
Rea bettered the Ducati at half race distance as the fight for third fired up between the ex-teammates. The Dutchman continuing to hold off the R1 until the new champ flew down the inside with five laps to go.
Turn one saw van der Mark recover strongly next time around to reclaim the position. Sykes circulating nine seconds adrift for fifth ahead of Top Independent Rider, Garett Gerloff, Nozane and Rinaldi.
The leading duo were equal on 1’42.835 pace as they crossed the line with three to go, Redding looking to end his Ducati career on a high while Rea rode for individual glory having lost out on the title fight.
The final lap found Redding ahead by a whisker and with another fastest lap, the fierce battle continuing around the full 17-corner layout with the pair inseparable and alongside as the lap wound down. Rea took the advantage in the closing stages to claim the flag for two in a row in the inaugural Indonesian round, Redding second and Van der Mark denying Razgatlioglu the podium at the flag.
Rinadi crashing out in the final stages gifting Locatelli fourth in the championship standings and 'Top Rookie' despite finishing the race in eighth, Yamaha securing the Manufactures title alongside the team and rider rewards.
Sykes completed his final race with BMW in fifth from Gerloff, Nozane and Locatelli with Isaac Viñales heading Alvaro Bautista as the Spaniard prepares his return to Ducati. Christophe Ponsson recovered from his race one fall to head Chaz Davies just outside the top 10. THe Welshman bowing out on an impressive World SBK career from 12th on the Go Eleven Ducati. Tito Rabat and Samuele Cavalieri completed the finishers after Leon Haslam and Alex Lowes’ withdrawal due to injury.