Home Sports World Superbikes: Rea’s reign ended as Razgatlioglu claims maiden title

World Superbikes: Rea’s reign ended as Razgatlioglu claims maiden title

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Rea
Rea’s double in Indonesia was not enough to deny Razgatlioglu

Jonathan Rea’s reign as World Superbike champion was ended despite victory in the season’s final two races as Toprak Razgatlioglu claimed his maiden title.

Rea secured a double at the rain-affected Mandalika International Street Circuit but Yamaha rider Razgatlioglu finished the year 13 points clear of the Northern Irishman.

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 his rival 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.”

Having surrendered his title, Rea finished the season on a high by holding off Ducati’s Scott Redding to win a thrilling 12-lap final race in wet conditions, with newly-crowned champion Razgatlioglu having to settle for fourth.

Toprak Razgatlioglu (Tur) Yamaha 564
Jonathan Rea (GB) Kawasaki 551
Scott Redding (GB) Ducati 501
Andrea Locatelli (Ita) Yamaha 291
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Ita) Ducati 282
Michael van der Mark (Ned) BMW 262

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