WorldSBK: Mercado: Razgatlioglu ‘very strong and consistent, deserves everything’ | Superbikes of the world
Current MIE Honda WorldSBK rider Leandro Mercado believes former Stock 1000 competitor Toprak Razgatlioglu was the top rider in 2021.
Razgatlioglu won his first world title after overtaking six-time world champion Jonathan Rea.
Although the title fight went on until the last day of racing of the season, Razgatlioglu’s incredible consistency throughout the year saw him enter the first race with a 30-point lead.
Rea would go on to win both races at Mandalika, however, Razgatlioglu took the title in race one thanks to his second place finish.
Razgatlioglu’s overall performance and his ability to give his best under intense pressure was one of the main reasons other riders think he deserved the title.
This includes the former Stock 1000 Mercado competitor who called Razgatlioglu “very strong and consistent throughout the season”.
“I want to congratulate Toprak [Razgatlioglu] because he deserves this championship, having been very strong and consistent throughout the game, “added Mercado.
“We raced together in Stock 1000 and now he’s won the title. I’m happy for him because he’s a great rider and a good person, and he deserves everything.”
For the Argentinian rider, 2021 has been a relatively difficult season after missing several early-season rounds – four in total as the team were unable to attend due to internal issues.
However, when on the track, Mercado showed potential at various stages, including the final round in Indonesia, as he achieved his second best result of the season with a 9th place finish in the first race.
A fall in the second race ended his season disappointingly, but the 29-year-old was sixth before suffering the crash which would have been the best of the season.
Summarizing his two races, Mercado said: “I am very happy with the way the first race went, it was a good race and I am satisfied with both the end result, one of the best so far. ‘now, and the way we’ve done by getting a good start and then maintaining a good pace.
“The conditions weren’t easy at the start as half of the track was too wet for the slicks, but lap after lap it dried up and got a little easier. I’m happy because I was quite close to the leading group.
“I tried to close the gap with Bautista and even though I couldn’t manage it in the end. I kept my position and the gap so it was a very good race for us. eventually it was decided that the second race would go ahead, the conditions were really tough.
“Our start was even better than race 1 anyway, and it was great to fight at the front, but unfortunately I fell out of the race early on. really improved throughout the year in terms of where we started.
“We had some good races, with ups and downs, but we still continue our growth trend and we reach the top ten, which is very important in terms of the work we have done this year.
“It was not easy, but we have given ourselves 100% and will try to do better next year.”
Mercado, who has been MIE Honda’s sole rider for the past two seasons, will be joined by former MotoGP and Moto2 rider Hafizh Syahrin next season as the squad grows to two riders for the first time.