Top 10 WorldSBK Accordion Riders of 2021 in Visordown

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the 2021 world championship season? What are you saying…? 11? We could agree with you.

Hyperbole perhaps but after six years of fairly metronomic (translation = impressive but predictable) domination from Jonathan Rea, he was finally knocked down in the seventh WorldSBK title attempt.

More than that though, it was a real one-to-one battle of a battle with champion Toprak Razgatlioglu confidently stepping up to the pitch and getting the best of Rea as he fought tooth and nail for the crown. .

Razgatlioglu was the winner, while Rea found out how everyone has been feeling since 2015.

But WorldSBK 2021 wasn’t just about the top two and the championship standings don’t tell the whole story… so we’ll try to say that instead. Here are the Top 10 riders of the 2021 WorldSBK Visordown …

10 – Garrett Gerloff [GRT Yamaha]

We feel a little bad about putting Garrett Gerloff in the bottom of the top ten, not least because you feel like he could have been somewhere near the top if a few moments had passed his way.

Surprisingly the short 2020 season, especially in the finals, Gerloff was rewarded with a factory spec Yamaha R1 for that season and duly picked up where he left off, scoring two podiums early on.

However, just as it looked like a first victory was imminent, things took a turn for the worse in Assen when he was responsible for an incident at Turn 1 that knocked out his teammate and title contender Razgatlioglu, drawing derision from all over the world. corners and the muffled disapproval of Yamaha itself. .

It was a misstep from which he never quite recovered afterwards, Gerloff confessing his unexpected reputation for being too aggressive on the track – after other clashes with Rea and Michael Ruben Rinaldi – making him doubt his limits. in the following races.

Clearly a contender for the podium when the stars align, it was a shame to see a more timid Gerloff scrambling around a dozen places for the rest of the year … a winter break will hopefully solve these problems of confidence.

9 – Allvaro Bautista [HRC Honda]

If you could use one word to describe Alvaro Bautista’s much anticipated but largely disappointing two-year foray at Honda, that would be “tough” (OK, it’s two but see the hyphen).

We could have used the word ‘qualifying’ as well and looking at the silver liner for a moment, Bautista was a ‘Sunday man’ (sort of, the first meeting is on Saturday) in that he often did big. gains in a race for much better results than his position on the grid should have allowed.

This led to some fine performances which were not quite reflected in the final results, although his charging antics led to more and more typed crashes, while the tenth place in the standings with two podiums did not did not meet expectations.

History will remember this as a failed getaway (a lot of money), but in 2021 Bautista showed he still has the skills, but not the machines and sometimes the mindset.

8 – Tom Sykes [BMW Motorrad WorldSBK]

Tom Sykes’ (likely) last season in WorldSBK played against his usual form and deserved to end on a high note rather than going through four events with injury.

While his time at BMW didn’t quite sparkle like it did when he was Kawasaki’s trusted hand, Sykes may have to delve into memory to pick moments from his World Championship victory. SBK world 2013, but he finished 2021 as a faster driver.

Compared to new team-mate Michael van der Mark, Sykes has been as quick – sometimes faster – than his new top-tier team-mate, with double podiums at Donington Park showing what he can do around his favorite circuit.

He even landed an extra pole position to extend this record, even though he was able to keep up with the race pace better than in previous years when he often fainted over a longer distance.

While you can argue with BMW for catching Scott Redding instead of Sykes, it’s a shame the amiable Yorkshireman isn’t on the grid in 2022.

7 – Michael van der Mark [BMW Motorrad WorldSBK]

While it could be argued that Michael van der Mark was wrong to leave Yamaha for BMW just as the Iwata brand won gold, in reality the team was starting to form around Razgatlioglu anyway.

In sparing this potential indignity, BMW presents a tall order for van der Mark and the Dutchman has duly done his part to hoist the German firm higher in the order in 2021.

Hindered by the slow development of the M 1000 RR, van der Mark often got the best out of it in races and – like Bautista – was another who often rose through the ranks in races.

The highlight was his performance in the big rain leveler in Portimao, with van der Mark scoring BMW’s first win since 2013, even though it was one of only two podiums of the year. Incoming Redding will provide an interesting metric in 2022.

6 – Michael Ruben Rinaldi [Aruba.it Ducati]

It was not easy to assess exactly how well Michael Ruben Rinaldi’s first season as a Ducati factory rider has unfolded. One weekend he was fighting at the front, the next barely noticeable.

Under some pressure after being picked against Chaz Davies for 2022, Rinaldi looked like a more complete rider this season, but not as consistent. Nerves at the start of the season gave way to a magical performance at Misano, in which he was almost untouchable, while another Barcelona win came as other doubts began to creep in.

That said, he was beaten in fourth place in the table. [champion of the second riders’, essentially) by rookie Andrea Locatelli, while he really should have been closer to Redding’s pace. 

The 2022 season will be key for him to break out of the ‘Italian second rider’ mould established by Michel Fabrizio and Davide Giugliano before him.

5 – Axel Bassani [Motocorsa Ducati]

Definitely the surprise 2021 WorldSBK season package, even we had to do some research beforehand when Axel Bassani was announced with Motocorsa Ducati for 2021.

A star on hold a few years ago when he scored the top five results on his WorldSSP debut, Bassani disappeared from the spotlight ahead of his WorldSBK shot, in which he reminded the paddock why he was so well regarded at the time.

Ignoring his inexperience – both on the bike and on the racetrack – at the end of the season, Bassani was by far the fastest private rider and increasingly mixed him up with the podium contenders.

He narrowly missed out on a shock victory at Barcelona, ​​while four top five in the last five races should have seen him overtake Gerloff for indy honors, but for a brutal impact from van der Mark to drag him out of the race to the podium in Indonesia.

So far, Bassani has not set his race in WorldSBK 2022, but factories could blame themselves for not watching him sooner.

4 – Scott Redding [Aruba.it Ducati]

It was by no means a bad season for Scott Redding, although he hasn’t really been able to maintain an incredible level of racing maintained by Razgatlioglu and Rea this season.

Indeed, Redding was still catching up when a string of rotten results at Misano and Donington Park put him on the back foot. Despite this, Redding was always up for a fight and on that day exploited the strengths of the Ducati Panigale V4 R to appear as capable of fighting for the title with the Big Two.

The regularity arrived in the second half of the year, while Redding was the star of Most and Navarra. However, he found himself missing in neck-and-neck situations, when he sometimes didn’t help himself on days off with compelling mistakes and tactics.

Still, seven wins was a healthy comeback that deserved an extended stay at Ducati rather than a move to the more questionable BMW environment.

3 – Andrea Locatelli [Pata Yamaha]

There was a point in Round 4 of the 2021 WorldSBK season where Yamaha may have questioned their judgment by hiring Andrea Locatelli directly into the WorldSSP Pata Factory Team.

Indeed, after Federico Caricasulo failed in that transition in 2020, Yamaha was probably concerned that Locatelli – despite his record WorldSSP dominance – would suffer the same fate as he battled on the cusp of the top ten, well to the drift of the satellite man Gerloff.

And then, for no apparent reason, it was reversed by Assen, Locatelli emerging on the track as a different driver with two top five results, before clinching a first podium in Race 2 after leading much of that. -this.

Subsequently – just as Gerloff’s form crumbled – Locatelli was barely outside the top five (he managed 12 in a row) with more podiums in Most, Magny-Cours and Portimao.

While still adrift of the “big three”, Locatelli comfortably had the measure of his “second” comrades Rinaldi (Ducati) and Alex Lowes (Kawasaki), while he appreciated an unusual regularity in a rookie in a also high pressure environment.

Better yet, he justified Yamaha’s trust, which earned him a two-year contract extension. Expect wins in 2022.

2 – Jonathan Réa [Kawasaki Racing Team]

The No.1 plaque may no longer be in his name, but once the disappointment of not winning a seventh consecutive WorldSBK title wears off, Jonathan Rea can look back on this season with great encouragement.

If one person on the grid was most likely to beat Rea, it would have been Razgatlioglu, the Turk possessing magic on the bike that no one can match. This meant that Rea’s fluid tactical style would have a hard time fending off his rival if he didn’t flee up front, as he had for much of the past six years.

It’s incredibly difficult to change that mindset after six years, but Rea dug deep and brought out a more aggressive side that – while unrefined – showed he can get his hands dirty when he needs to.

While it clearly didn’t come naturally to him and he asked questions about the Kawasaki ZX-10RR that he hasn’t always been able to answer, Rea has proven that not only is he ready to fight. , but that he could also win them.

We savor the chance to see a tough new ‘outsider’ approach from Rea in 2022.

1 – Toprak Razgatlioglu [Pata Yamaha]

What more can you say…? We have become lyrical enough to complete a Madame Tussauds on Razgatlioglu in 2021, with the Turk intensifying his weaknesses in strengths and honing the flair that made him such a thrilling prospect in the first place.

Being one with the Yamaha R1 this season, Razgatlioglu’s form over the second half of the year has been spectacular and not just for the results but for the way he has continued to level up with each passing year. time Rea bit her heels.

Unfazed in any given situation – Razgatlioglu hasn’t fallen on his own all year – it’s easy to forget that the start of his season was quite modest, a streak of podiums frustrating him to the point that he swore to himself for Race 2 at Misano that he HAD to win it.

That’s what he did and from there he was convinced he would win anywhere. His outstanding performance might not be obvious, but his victory in slippery conditions at Donington Park – dropping from 13th to 1st Senna style in all five corners – his victory in Race 2 at Navarre having been far third in both. races before that and his performance in the wet (a known weakness before 2021) at Barcelona when he would have won without a technical glitch have shown the progress made this year.

He faced the best at their best and won on a bike with no noticeable advantage over the opposition.

11/10 looks like …

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