Alvaro Bautista travels to Portimao with a 47-point lead over Toprak Razgatlioglu for the penultimate stop: How the World Championship contenders are gearing up for the final spurt
Toprak Razgatlioglu narrowed the gap to World Championship leader Alvaro Bautista at the recent WSBK weekend in Aragon. With two race weekends to go, there are 47 points between the World Championship rivals. Bautista can already become world champion early in Portimao. But for that he is dependent on the bad luck of his challenger.
If you look at the yield of the complete weekends, Razgatlioglu travels to Portugal with a little more momentum than the defending champion. At the two events after the summer break, Razgatlioglu managed to get closer to the leader. If not for the puncture in Most, which was not his fault, Razgatlioglu would be within striking distance.
“He is very strong, I am very strong. I will just do my best and risk a lot,” Razgatlioglu announced ahead of the eleventh event of the current season. “Even if I win all the races, he is the world champion if he always finishes second,” Razgatlioglu is aware.
“Maybe he will make mistakes again and the championship will turn around,” muses Razgatlioglu, who has been showing flawless races lately and getting the maximum out of his package. Razgatlioglu’s plan is clear: Full concentration on wins.
“It won’t be easy because Alvaro is very fast, especially on the straights. Johnny is also very strong here. But also my teammate has been strong lately. Maybe we will have a nice battle with many riders. That would be an advantage for me,” the Yamaha rider is convinced.
Alvaro Bautista doesn’t want to be distracted by the World Championship standings
Alvaro Bautista is trying not to show any weakness ahead of the penultimate WSBK event of the 2023 season. “It’s the penultimate weekend of the season. It makes me a bit sad because I had so much fun with the bike and would have liked to race more,” commented the Spaniard.
“The approach is no different to the other race weekends. We want to create the best possible basis on Friday,” reports Bautista. He ignores the fact that he can already decide the world championship early on Sunday.
“It doesn’t depend entirely on me. I don’t think about it. Instead, I try to concentrate on my work,” the Ducati rider clarifies. Bautista also ignores the recent mishaps. At Magny-Cours, an electronics problem cost him many points and at Aragon he crashed twice in Saturday’s race.
“Crashes and technical faults are part of the game. Sure you would like to do without them, but there is always the risk of it happening for all riders,” Bautista is relaxed and at ease.
Can Jonathan Rea mingle with World Championship rivals?
Portimao has been one of Jonathan Rea’s absolute paradise tracks for years. The Briton celebrated a total of 13 victories at the demanding circuit in Portimao. Rea also made his debut in the World Superbike Championship here. At the 2008 season finale, he decided not to compete in the Supersport World Championship and rode a Honda Fireblade for Ten Kate. Already at his WSBK debut, the later record champion qualified for the first row of the grid.
Can Rea fight for the wins this weekend together with Razgatlioglu and Bautista? “This circuit should not emphasise our weaknesses so much. Sure, the straight is long, but we come out of the last corner with a lot of momentum in fourth gear,” he analyses.
And what does Rea say about the World Championship duel? “You can see how quickly a world championship can turn when you have a bad weekend or a good weekend. At the beginning of the season everything was going well for Alvaro and now he experienced some difficulties in the past races. It’s easier when you’re the one on a roll,” Rea knows from experience.
“But at the moment it’s going more against him because he’s making strange mistakes. Toprak is riding really well. You have to win races,” Rea explains and predicts: “The title is a formality for Alvaro, but Toprak won’t give up without a fight. “