Toprak Razgatlioglu clinches 2021 WorldSBK title to end Jonathan Rea’s reign

Toprak Razgatlioglu officially ends Jonathan Rea's reign by clinching the 2021 WorldSBK Championship title in a tense finale at a damp Mandalika

Toprak Razgatlioglu - Pata Yamaha

Toprak Razgatlioglu has clinched the 2021 WorldSBK Championship title with a nervy second place finish in race one at Mandalika, in so doing ending Jonathan Rea’s record-breaking six-year reign as champion.

He becomes the first rider from Turkey to win one of the biggest prizes in motorcycle racing, while Yamaha - one of WorldSBK’s founding manufacturers -  lands only its second WorldSBK title, 12 years after Ben Spies scored its first in 2009.

In a tense encounter already heightened by Race 1 being postponed to Sunday - which in turn forced the cancellation of the Superpole Race - the return of rain as the bikes fired up on the grid led to more delays before eventually getting underway.

What followed was a thrilling battle over the opening-half of the race as Rea and Razgatlioglu swapped the lead persistently, before a Scott Redding-shaped curve ball hit the front to complicate things just as the Turk ran off track on lap 12.

However, after Rea relieved Redding of the lead on lap 16, the Ducati’s loss of momentum would push him into the clutches of Razgatlioglu, who duly responded with a title-winning pass for second place with three laps remaining.

A stunning deciding race befitting of a season that will go down in history as one of the closest and most enthrallingon record, Razgatlioglu's magnificient title success will also be regarded as a veritable changing of the guard after such a long, almost uncontested period of WorldSBK dominance by Rea and Kawasaki.

Achieving the title in only his fourth season of WorldSBK racing, Razgatlioglu’s route to the top has nonetheless been several years in the making, so much so that he becomes the first rider with a junior category title (European SSTK 600) to go on to win the WorldSBK title.

Making his WorldSBK debut in 2018 as a protege of Kawasaki, Razgatlioglu cut his teeth during two seasons with the Puccetti Kawasaki outfit, a tenure that earned him 15 podiums, including two memorable wins from 16th on the grid.

Earning him a factory ride with Yamaha for 2020, despite an initially modest start to life with the Iwata marque as he adapted to the stiffer R1, three more wins by Razgatlioglu set him on a course for his crowning campaign in 2021.

Indeed, though it took until Round 3 at Misano for Razgatlioglu to taste the winners’ champagne for the first time, thereafter his stride was difficult to check with 13 victories coming his way in the run up to the Mandalika finale.

He could have wrapped things up early but for three unlucky DNFs, two of which were caused by technical issues and the other the result of being skittled out by Garrett Gerloff at Assen

Razgatlioglu’s title win sees Rea’s long reign as WorldSBK Champion come to an end. A record-breaking six-year stint at the summit of the series, in that time Rea firmly established himself as the most successful WorldSBK rider of all-time with a career total of 111 wins.