Gloves off in WorldSBK title fight as Rea labels Razgatlioglu ‘on his limit’

Jonathan Rea believes it will take an 'on the limit' Toprak Razgatlioglu style of riding to beat the man himself as he stares down a 45-point margin to top

Toprak Razgatlioglu - Pata Yamaha, Jonathan Rea - Kawasaki

Jonathan Rea has given the first indications he is not satisfied with the conduct of his 2021 WorldSBK Championship title rival Toprak Razgatlioglu after a physical exchange during the initial laps of the first race at Portimao, prior to a high-speed crash.

With the intensity of their title fight rising steadily as the season enters its final stages, there have been a dozen or so moments in which contact between the pair has been made, albeit to date only minor.

However, the frequency rose again during the Portimao opener as Rea and Razgatlioglu collided at low speed more than once, enough to scupper each other’s momentum and allow Scott Redding through into the lead.

This all became elementary on lap five when Rea, having just assumed the lead back from Redding lost the front of the Kawasaki ZX-10RR on the crest of the long final right-hand corner and crashed in spectacular fashion.

With Razgatlioglu going on to more than double his advantage at the head of the standings with his 11th win of the year, Rea says he will adopt an ‘on the limit’ style of riding that he believes is akin to his Turkish rival, even though he believes it can be aggressive.

“I don’t want to put shit on Toprak about how he rides, because he’s clearly doing a good job,” he told Bikesportnews. “He’s not in his limit. Sometimes he arrives on his limit, but the guy he is passing is also on their limit, with the bike, combination, everything. He’s there. I don’t want to complain too much because I’m ready to fight like that.

“I’m going to fight like that, because I can shake his hand after that and not complain, but I’m happy to let the brakes off and use him as a berm. That’s what he did to me in T13, pretty much. He committed with the pass and I was on the apex. 

But I’m not going to grumble. It’s racing. Rubbing’s racing. I grew up motocross. He can train on his kart track in Turkey, but I grew up motocrossing and that’s also hard.

“Of course, there’s a line. These are big bikes. You can’t just come from miles away to make a pass because you feel brave in yourself that you can stop at the apex. 

"I don’t know if Scott was complaining a lot. I don’t want to cry about it, because I get labelled a cry-baby, but I’m ready to roll my sleeves up, too.”