“Razgatlioglu, Rea WorldSBK fight like mine and Colin Edwards” - Troy Bayliss

WorldSBK legend Troy Bayliss reckons his rivalry with Colin Edwards is echoed by the tense tussle unfolding between Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea 

Colin Edwards, Troy Bayliss - Ducati, Honda

Triple WorldSBK Champion Troy Bayliss has said he likens the fierce tussle between 2021 WorldSBK title contenders Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea to his legendary rivalry between himself and Colin Edwards during the early 2000s.

Bayliss won three WorldSBK titles - 2001, 2006 and 2008 - with the first of these coming with Ducati as part of a thrilling head-to-head with Honda’s Edwards that went down to the wire. 

However, Edwards struck back the following season in a topsy-turvy campaign that saw Edwards’ nine straight wins to the end of the season overhaul the Australian.

While this is the first time Razgatlioglu and Rea have measured up directly against one another following a significant step forward by the Turk this season, the occasionally boisterous racing between the pair has been hugely engrossing to watch.

It’s a head-to-head that reminds Bayliss of his own rivalry with Edwards, not least because the pair head into a title decider this weekend with all to play for. Of the two, Razgatlioglu is the better positioned armed with a 30 point lead over his six-time title-winning rival, though with 62 points up for grabs still, the merest mistake could have a significant impact.

“There are some similarities to me and Colin that is for sure. I’m sure there’s a rivalry, there has to be, but then that goes beyond them too and into the teams, because the manufacturers want to win the Championship too. “It comes down to business and the guys are there to win. I’m sure they’re not best mates!”

Praising the skills of Razgatlioglu to take the fight to the dominance Rea and Kawasaki has exerted over the last six years, Bayliss describes him as an ‘acrobat’ on the Yamaha R1.

“When you see the guys making so many passes like they have been, that’s pretty hard to do that. Even when I look back at when I was racing, the passing isn’t as hard as it is now. 

“Back then, it was just a normal pass, like a block pass or something like that, but now it is happening at places you don’t really expect; they must be right on the limit. Toprak’s style shows that he’s very determined and everybody loves to see what he does on the brakes, he’s basically like an acrobat.

“He’s got pretty of talent and he’s pretty skillful; he can obviously go round the track fast, but he can do plenty more than just that.”

While Razgatlioglu has been noted for his calmness under pressure and not getting flustered by three unlucky DNFs (two technical, one as a result of another rider coming off), Bayliss believes the he will tighten if the trophy comes into sight towards the end of a championship winning race.

“Toprak looks like a real confident guy, and he knows what he can do; he wants his first WorldSBK Championship and that will definitely bring added pressure. 

“There’s nothing better than when you start your year strong and then basically just try to continue it; there’s nothing worse than try to come back from behind. 

“It’s best to get on right from the start, although I’ve seen big leads before disappearing in front of my eyes, but I’m sure Toprak is looking forward to the next one, the last one, in Indonesia.

“When you’re at this stage in the title race, right on the edge of taking the title, you think about so much stuff that you can’t help but think about the title race. When it does happen, it is a relief! You understand that you can do it and then you get about two or three days of ‘yes, I’ve done it’ and then you’re just thinking about the next one. 

“Yamaha will be desperate to get one under their belt. There’s pressure coming from everywhere, especially for the team to get this done.”

The Bayliss name will return to the WorldSBK paddock in 2022 when his son Oli lines up with the Barni Ducati WorldSSP team on the new Ducati Panigale V2.