Razgatlioglu, Rea jibe each other with track limit theatrics after WorldSBK offs

The margin between Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea ends up largely unchanged though it came via three hefty accidents between to the duo at Portimao

Jonathan Rea, Toprak Razgatlioglu

Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea’s increasingly gnarly personal rivalry for the 2021 WorldSBK Championship took on a new dynamic on a bruising weekend in Portimao as on-track scuffles, off-track barbs and track limits jibing ramped up the spectacle.

Round 11 of 13, the Portuguese event was always considered a pivotal moment in a pendulous title fight that, arriving in the Algarve, stood in Razgatlioglu’s favour by 20 points.

However, over three races the momentum swung wildly between the two riders in a series of remarkable circumstances that ensured it remains all to play for across the final two events in Indonesia and Argentina.

In what has been a fairly bruising season for six-time WorldSBK Champion Rea in his quest for an unprecedented seventh crown, the Ulsterman suffered his third and fourth crash-related DNF this season to join Donington Park and Most.

In Race 1 Rea was leading on Lap 5 when he lost the KawasakI ZX-10RR over the crest at the start of the long final corner right-hander, sending both rider and bike spiralling into the gravel trap.

Ceding 25 points to Razgatlioglu, Rea dropped a further four points to the Turk in the Superpole Race when the front-end folded beneath him in slippery wet conditions.

With 49 points now the margin between the pair, it appeared Razgatlioglu - whose DNF tally consisted of a crash caused by Garrett Gerloff and a technical DNF - now had one hand on the trophy.

However, fate intervened again as Razgatlioglu came down in almost an identical manner to that of his title rival. That said, while Rea’s was rider error, replays suggest a technical issue to blame for the Yamaha rider after bodywork splintered off the R1 moments beforehand, snapping the chain to leave Razgatlioglu with no opportunity to save the bike.

Despite the spectacular end to the weekend, Razgatlioglu remains 24 points clear of Rea with a return to Indonesia for the first time since 1997.  

WorldSBK pair take a dig at each other with celebrations

There was a time when ostentatious celebrations that traced the fine line between funny and arrogant were all the rage in MotoGP, with Valentino Rossi setting a trend the likes of Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez tried (with mixed success) to surpass.

For all of his WorldSBK wins - which total 110 now - Rea hasn’t been one for theatrics, save for the event in which he secures his six titles. Again, mixed success.

However, he couldn’t help but respond to a cheeky jibe from Razgatlioglu on Saturday in the wake of victory. In a direct nod towards the controversial decision to award Rea a win at Magny-Cours after Razgatlioglu was judged to have exceeded track limits on the final lap, the Turk stopped at a portion of painted green asphalt and proceeded to brush it.

Not a grandstand stunt but fairly skewering given Rea’s high-speed airborne exit from the race around 25mins earlier.

Indeed, having largely allowed their Kawasaki and Yamaha teams to clash horns in France, the rhetoric between the title contenders certainly stepped up in Portugal, fuelled by some panel bashing in Race 1 that prompted Rea to say he will step up his aggression in order to tackle his former protege.

Fittingly, Rea’s win in the final race of a difficult weekend would see him get the final word… by doing a burnout on the aforementioned asphalt.