Toprak Razgatlioglu vs Jonathan Rea: Who will win the 2021 WorldSBK title?

Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea head into the 2021 WorldSBK title showdown with 30 points splitting them but the same mentality to win at Mandalika 

Toprak Razgatlioglu - Pata Yamaha, Jonathan Rea - Kawasaki

There haven’t been many WorldSBK Championship title showdowns during Jonathan Rea’s reign as World Champion - just twice in six years - and even then he went into the last round as a champion-elect.

However, all good things must come to an end eventually and while Rea would rather that wasn’t this weekend, this time he heads into his third WorldSBK title showdown very much as the man on the back foot.

The Kawasaki rider has been playing catch up for some time, ever since he ceded his advantage to Razgatlioglu during Round 7 at Navarra. Since then the margin between the pair has ebbed and flowed, but Razgatlioglu - despite some rotten luck in Catalunya and Portimao - has eked the advantage out to 30 points coming to the final round in Indonesia.

The much discussed Mandalika Circuit is a pretty setting for a tense showdown, set just back from the beach on the island of Lombok, a short boat ride from Bali. It’s also a voyage into the unknown, the circuit being so new that riders have had to make do with aerial shots and CGI lap guides to get a feel for the flowing venue.

Razgatlioglu will still 'try to win'

It adds another dimension onto a thrilling and tense title battle, one that is in Razgatlioglu’s favour but one that can easily be decided by a single DNF for either.

With 62 points available, there is still plenty of wriggle room for Rea to haul himself ahead of Razgatlioglu, but even if he wins all three races, the Yamaha man also has plenty in hand without even needing to cross the line in second.

If the form book goes the way of recent rounds then Razgatlioglu has reason to be confident that just bringing it home will be sufficient, but the young Turk - chasing only Yamaha’s second WorldSBK riders’ title - insists he is still going all out for victory.

“I am happy to be in Indonesia now, it is always interesting to come to a new track. Already I see some photos and videos of the layout and it looks fun to ride. It has been a great season with many big fights, many victories. 

“Now we have three more chances to fight again for the win, and we will work in every session to find the best set-up for the races and always improve. This is my only idea, try to win and enjoy the races. 

“After we will see the final result, but my focus will stay the same – to fight race by race!”

"The pressure of WorldSBK title fight is off" - Rea

While this hasn’t been Rea’s most successful year, much can be attributed to him wringing every last drop from a Kawasaki ZX-10RR that has been exposed for some weaknesses in key areas when stacked up against Razgatlioglu, namely braking.

It has led to some gnarly uncharacteristic crashes from the Ulsterman, even if he has shown some impressive fighting spirit against Razgatlioglu in recent rounds, albeit with mixed results.

Despite this, Rea has big match experience on his side and says he has nothing to lose in the pursuit for what would be the sweetest seventh title.

“After a few weeks at home preparing, I’m very excited to go to Mandalika and get the last round of the championship underway. I’m curious to see the circuit for the first time. First impressions from images I’ve found of it are great. 

“It looks like a circuit that will suit the strengths of our ZX10-RR. We will work hard on Friday to learn the circuit and fine tune our settings. We will arrive there 30 points behind in the championship battle but we will fight to the end. 

“I feel all the pressure is off now; I can ride free with nothing to lose and the target is clear. With three points scoring opportunities lying ahead I will give 100% to get the maximum possible.”