Watch: The Best Final Lap You’ll See All Year

The WorldSBK field put on an incredible display in the Superpole Race of the Catalan Round, a race decided in the final corner

Toprak Razgatlioglu wins 2024 Catalan WorldSBK Superpole Race. - Gold and Goose

Almost 15 years have passed since Valentino Rossi created the most memorable moment in the history of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya (sorry, Max), so it was about time someone did something similar.

Strictly speaking, Rossi’s move on Jorge Lorenzo at the final corner on the final lap of the 2009 MotoGP Catalan Grand Prix wasn’t unique. Go back to 2007 and Rossi put the same move on Casey Stoner mid-race, but the context was different. Similarly, Celestino Vietti (a pupil of Rossi’s VR46 Riders Academy) reduced Alonso Lopez to tears in the 2020 Moto3 Catalan Grand Prix by passing him in the final corner of the final lap to deny the Spaniard a podium. 

There are many reasons for the iconicity of Rossi’s move on Lorenzo. In part, it was because it was made on the last lap, partly it was because of the animosity that existed at the time between Rossi and Lorenzo, and partly it was because of the championship battle that was developing at the time between the two then-Yamaha riders. 

But, mostly it was because it was unexpected. Gavin Emmett, commentating for the world feed, even spoke during the final sector of the final lap of how Lorenzo had told him before the weekend that if you get through turn 10 in the lead you have the race won, because passing in the final three right-handers is impossible. Emmett, of course, recalled that interaction with Lorenzo only for the Spaniard to be proved wrong seconds later.

Rossi’s move took away some of the lustre around passing in the corner at Barcelona - we know it’s possible now. So, when Toprak Razgatlioglu made his move on Alvaro Bautista to win the WorldSBK Superpole Race at last weekend’s Catalan Round, there was less shock that it had happened. The UK commentary, from Greg Haines and James Toseland for Eurosport, covered the final two corners with Toseland shouting "Rossi" at increasingly high intensities anticipating Razgatlioglu's move.

Yet, the move was celebrated, because the race context, championship context, and animosity (not to the same extent) are all shared in that race between Razgatlioglu and Bautista with the GP from 15 years ago. 

What is especially different between Rossi versus Lorenzo in 2009 and Razgatlioglu versus Bautista in 2024 is machinery. While Rossi and Lorenzo were contracted to race for the same team, Razgatlioglu races for BMW and Bautista for Ducati. Their motorcycles work in completely different ways, and both racers have very different riding characteristics. Butter-smooth Bautista coaxes all the mid-corner momentum he can find from his Panigale V4 R to minimise the stop-go effect that is so damaging to the tyres, whereas Razgatlioglu and the M1000 RR are a pretty hopeless pairing in the mid-corner, only to be devastating in braking.

Because Bautista and Ducati dominated in 2023 and won also in commanding fashion in 2022, the perception is that, even with the minimum rider weight rule that has been introduced for this year, Bautista has a machinery advantage over Razgatlioglu, whose BMW had not won a dry WorldSBK race before he triumphed in Race 1 last Saturday. The ‘underdog’ perception of Razgatlioglu no doubt helps, too, like it probably did with Rossi in 2009 - he was the reigning and six-time MotoGP World Champion but had been considered past his prime since the middle of 2007, whereas Lorenzo was the young rider coming into his peak.

Aside from machinery, there is another noticeable difference between last weekend’s WorldSBK Superpole Race and the 2009 Grand Prix. Whereas Lorenzo and Rossi were eight seconds clear of third-placed Casey Stoner, Razgatlioglu’s move on Bautista pushed the Spaniard wide enough for Andrea Iannone to come through and take second place. In fact, Saturday’s Superpole Race saw the top four finish with only 0.411 seconds separating them.

That is the other key about the WorldSBK race compared to the MotoGP race. The 2009 Catalan Grand Prix took place bang in the middle of the single-file, processional 800cc era of MotoGP, and the Barcelona race was the first time there had been a final lap pass for the lead since the 800s were introduced in 2007. With 2024 WorldSBK, on the other hand, there is the sense that this kind of racing can be produced every week. So, maybe it's not the best final lap you'll see all year after all.

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