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Navarra WorldSBK: Race weekend preview

WorldSBK heads to the second of its new challenges this weekend, with the arrival of Navarra on the calendar for round seven.

Fresh from the adventures of Most, Los Arcos in northern Spain plays host to the 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship as the second half of the season gets underway with the Pirelli Navarra Round at the Circuito de Navarra.

The Spanish facility was opened in 2010 and is the second consecutive new venue for WorldSBK whilst also being the fifth in a row not to have featured on the 2020 calendar. With its intricate sectors and one of the fastest turns on the calendar, Navarra is ready to welcome the intense Championship battle between Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea and Pata Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu.


The championship battle is the closest it has been at this point of the season since 2004 and there’s absolutely no shortage of vintage action in 2021. Razgatlioglu took 34 points out of Rea’s lead at the last round at Most, meaning he is just three behind. Heading to Navarra - where he was fast in testing - Razgatlioglu knows that he’s within striking distance of the championship lead, even though he is focused on the race in hand and not the standings.

He has a strong teammate for support too, with Andrea Locatelli scoring inside the top-five in the last six races – including two podiums, from Assen and Most. The level playing field of Navarra may bring Locatelli further into contention as he aims for his first win, whilst also shielding Toprak from his championship rivals.

Rea’s disastrous CzechWorldSBK is now behind him as he hit the reset button with a small break and then a return to testing duties at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Taking 23 points from three races in the Czech Republic - his second lowest weekend tally after Estoril’s 20 last year, the Northern Irishman has got to hit the ground running at Navarra if he is to retain his lead in the standings. Taking a triple win at Assen and then enduring Most’s difficulties, the WorldSBK pendulum swings wildly from round to round, adding to the excitement and unpredictability of 2021. Teammate Alex Lowes was racing with physical restrictions at Most and had three crashes in one day at Navarra during testing in June, so he’ll hope that those two aspects of his form aren’t indicative of the weekend ahead.

One of the main stories coming out of round six was that Ducati and Scott Redding are back, with the British star taking a long-awaited victory on his Aruba.it at Most. After getting his knee down in another way on the podium by proposing to his girlfriend, Redding’s mindset coming to Navarra is in a good place as he seeks to close the title gap down further, from its current 50 points, having reduced the deficit from 81 last time out. Teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi will also look to get back on the rostrum after his comebacks in at Most, with the Italian storming through from eighth and 11th in the two main races. Can Ducati utilise their recent form and get their Panigale V4 R in the perfect operating window in Los Arcos?

BMW had a mixed weekend at the last round, with Tom Sykes taking a sturdy fifth place in the opening race, whilst teammate Michael van der Mark’s 10-place comeback from 17th in Sunday’s final clash gave the German manufacturer something to shout about. Sykes has consistently hailed the progress that the team made with the bike at the Navarra test in June, citing that as one of the turning points of the 2021 season and the M 1000 RR project. Both he and new father, van der Mark - who welcomed son Mason into the world last Thursday - were quick and there’s a feeling that if both can have a clean run through free practice, they could be contenders come the races.

HRC’s Alvaro Bautista showed determination at the Autodrom Most last time out as the Honda rider recovered from a race one error to finish sixth, whilst also fighting back after a slow start in race two. In his second ‘home event’ of the season, the Spaniard will hope the recent test in Barcelona can propel him and his Fireblade forwards after electronic issues plagued them continuously throughout the first six rounds of the season. A strong Barcelona test for teammate Leon Haslam and the level playing field of a new circuit, finds the Brit hunting for a return to the leading positions.

The Independent battle is starting to see new names come to the fore. GRT Yamaha’s Garrett Gerloff enjoyed a calm Czech weekend and was on top of testing after day one at Navarra back in June. It was Motocorsa’s Axel Bassani, however, who took his best ever result at Most with a first top-five in Saturday’s race. Bassani’s potential is high, and he’s growing in stature with each race so could he be a surprise towards the front of the field this weekend? Making a return to action from injury will be Puccetti Kawasaki’s Lucas Mahias, whilst Tito Rabat will hope he can progress forward with the Barni Ducati at his second home round of the year.

GRT’s Kohta Nozane sits 16th in the championship as he returns to the track where he broke his finger during a testing crash. Orelac VerdNatura’s Isaac Viñales is aiming to continue knocking on the door of the top-10, whilst Eugene Laverty’s RC Squadra Corse attendance is still to be confirmed. MIE Honda’s Leandro Mercado returns to action after a positive COVID-19 test ruled him out of Most. Jonas Folger, Christophe Ponsson, and Pedercini’s Loris Cresson and Jayson Uribe complete the full-time entrants, whilst Suzuki return to the WorldSBK grid with Spanish Superbike rider Naomichi Uramoto wildcarding, bringing the total to six manufacturers on the grid.

Five top facts:



Thanks to the points earned in Most, Jonathan Rea became the first rider with more than 5000 points scored in his career, standing now at 5015.5. He is almost 1000 clear of his best competitor, Troy Corser at 4021.5.


The WorldSBK championship introduces two new tracks in a single season for the first time since 2008 (Miller, Algarve).



Jonathan Rea recorded six consecutive poles so far.


Four straight races on the podium for Scott Redding - his best streak since his sensational debut last year, which featured him on the podium in his first six races, taking his first win and leading the championship for the first time at the fourth one, Jerez Race 1.


Alvaro Bautista is on a four race points scoring streak, his best since running seven consecutive races in the points from San Juan 2019 Race 1 to Phillip Island 2020 Race 1.

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