Rea’s WSB reign ended by Razgatlioglu

Rea’s victory in race one was not enough to deny Razgatlioglu

Jonathan Rea’s reign as World Superbike champion was ended despite victory in the opening race in Indonesia as Toprak Razgatlioglu claimed his maiden title.

Rea claimed victory in the rescheduled opener at the Mandalika International Street Circuit but Yamaha rider Razgatlioglu finished second to confirm his place at the summit.

It is the first time since 2014 that a rider other than Rea has finished top.

Razgatlioglu becomes the first rider from Turkey to win the championship.

The 25-year-old dedicated his breakthrough success to his father, Arif, the famous Turkish stunt rider who died in a motorcycle accident in 2017.

“It is a special day today because this championship is for my dad, this has always been my dream,” said Razgatlioglu.

“He is not here, but I have a feeling he is watching. I’m really happy, it’s an incredible day.”

With Saturday’s opening race having been postponed due to heavy rain in Indonesia, Kawasaki’s Rea faced an uphill battle in the defence of his title with Razgatlioglu 30 points ahead of the Northern Irishman heading into the final weekend of the season.

The original schedule of three races meant 62 points were on offer for riders, but the new schedule of two full 21-lap races reduced the available points to 50, 25 from each race.

Razgatlioglu celebrates his victory
Razgatlioglu is the first Turkish rider to win the World Superbike title

With rain continuing to pour, Sunday’s opening contest was slightly delayed and cut from 21 laps to 20, but it did not stop the riders as Rea took control of the race early on.

Responding strongly to Rea’s assertive start, Razgatlioglu surged into the lead on the third lap before Scott Redding edged ahead of Rea into third on lap four.

However, Rea – who said he was relishing the challenge of overturning the points deficit in the season’s climactic weekend – reclaimed the lead by the end of the fifth and while he exchanged top position with the championship leader, Razgatlioglu made an error as he ran wide at Turn 16 to drop to third.

While Redding moved into second, the Turkish rider completed a title-clinching overtake on lap 18 as he finished second behind Rea to put the finishing touches on a memorable season and deny the County Antrim-based rider a seventh consecutive success.

At 25 years, one month and five days, Razgatlioglu becomes the third-youngest World Superbike champion behind James Toseland and Troy Corser.

Rea’s victory means the six-time champion has triumphed at a record 21 different circuits, but that will come as scant consolation as the 34-year-old relinquished his grasp on his crown.

“That was the target coming here, trying to win races, enjoy myself and go home with a good feeling” said Rea.

“We certainly did that today, but today is not about me, it’s about Toprak and his team, who did an incredible job this year – they deserve this championship so congratulations to them.

“I’m looking forward to race two and to going home to get ready for next season.”

Despite persistent rain, the final race of the season, reduced to 12 laps, is scheduled to begin shortly after 08:30 GMT after a final track conditions check.

Toprak Razgatlioglu (Tur) Yamaha 551
Jonathan Rea (GB) Kawasaki 526
Scott Redding (GB) Ducati 481
Andrea Locatelli (Ita) Yamaha 283
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Ita) Ducati 282
Michael van der Mark (Ned) BMW 246

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