Toseland weighs up Rea’s WorldSBK rivals, tips Redding for title tilt

James Toseland tips Scott Redding to push Jonathan Rea hard for the 2020 WorldSBK title if the revised calendar prioritises venues he has knows well

Scott Redding - Ducati [1200]

Double WorldSBK Champion James Toseland has tipped Scott Redding to push Jonathan Rea all the way to the 2020 WorldSBK title depending on whether he catches a break from what is expected to be a very new-look calendar.

Unlike most other motorsport series’ WorldSBK managed to a complete single round back in February at Phillip Island before lockdown was initiated around the world due to the COVID-19 crisis to put a halt to proceedings.

Dorna has since announced WorldSBK will restart on July 31-Aug 2 in Jerez before travelling on to Portimo and Motorland Aragon. However, the schedule looks less clear thereafter though it is expected European events – including potentially those used in MotoGP – could form the basis of a busy end to the year.

As such, this could throw a curve ball into proceedings and potentially play into the hands of any riders that have previously competed in MotoGP, such as Redding.

With this in mind, Toseland – champion in 2004 and 2007 – believes a calendar that weighted towards venues he knows could play him into title contention against Rea.

“The Ducatis, at the minute, I think Scott Redding has got a definite chance of pushing Jonny for the Championship this year,” he told the WorldSBK’s Instagram channel. “But there’s still a couple of tracks that Scott has not done much time on, but are we going to go to those? If we don’t go to those, the Scott and Jonny battle could be amazing.”

The Briton goes on to discuss the chances of other rivals, including Alex Lowes and Toprak Razgatlioglu, as giving Rea a hard time when racing resumes.

“Where’s Alex found that form from? All winter we never really saw anything from him, we didn’t hear much that he was pushing Jonny around. Then he leaves Phillip Island leading the Championship and it’s something like that that Alex needs to get a bit of extra confidence.

“To be Rea’s teammate is not an easy thing. It’s very difficult to go into a team that’s so established, so structured around that rider because he is the man, it doesn’t really matter who’s number two when you’ve got that 80% podium rate. Alex has gone in there and had a tough winter to get used to this bike, because he’s been on the other bike for so long and went to Phillip Island and got a win. He might have just sparked something off.

“The two Kawasakis, the two Ducatis, Yamaha with Toprak Razgatlioglu… what a rider he was after all the years on the Kawasaki and coming on to the Yamaha. I think, depending on which tracks we race it, this year could be really, really open.”

Despite the challenge though, Toseland thinks Rea – winner of each WorldSBK title between 2015 and 2019 – is still going to remain tough to best on the Kawasaki.

“He’s so difficult to beat. The one thing that has been incredible with Jonny since he switched from Ten Kate to Kawasaki has been the consistency. You can argue about the depth of the field in a couple of those years, but you can’t argue with the pace or consistency he’s shown to win all five of them. It’s outstanding. 

“Don’t underestimate how fit Jonny is to ride over 220mph for 45 minutes, with three races in a weekend now and not just two, and finish on the podium over 80% of the time… it’s unheard of in any championship.”

Can Scott Redding mount a title challenge?

Though his trio of podiums were perhaps overshadowed by the race-winning performances of Lowes and Razgatlioglu at Phillip Island, it was certainly an impressive start to WorldSBK life for Redding.

It’s worth noting the Briton dominated free practice and qualified second on the grid, losing out only to Superpole-specialist Tom Sykes on the BMW,

In racing conditions Redding admittedly looked more tentative than his rivals with the man himself saying he wasn’t aggressive enough into turn one to make the most of the Ducati’s strong top speed advantage. However, given how close the racing was – and always is – in Australia, one could forgive him for favouring a modicum of caution straight out of the box.

At venues with wider stretches and probably larger margins between the top riders, Redding will afford to work himself into contention and as we saw in British Superbikes, he isn’t afraid of playing the waiting game and being aggressive when it matters.

Either way, those rapid lap times straight away in Australia on a clear lap are an indication Redding has the speed to go with Rea on the Kawasaki – especially if MotoGP mixes it up with venues that he knows better than others - but it’s the Ulsterman’s bedrock of metronomic consistency that he will need to replicate to beat him.