#ARGWorldSBK Argentina, Friday roundup: World Superbike, World Supersport
The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship’s penultimate round saw an action-packed first day of the Motul Argentinean Round from the Circuito San Juan Villicum. The venue, which returns to the calendar after a year out in 2020, saw Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) dominate day one ahead of Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), whilst title rival Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) crashed hard at Turn 6 with around 30 minutes to go, missing the remainder of the session.
It was a good afternoon for Toprak Razgatlioglu, who picked up where he left off in FP1 with the Turkish rider coming out on top once again. Razgatlioglu was almost immediately quicker than he’d gone in the morning and was right on the pace. The Turkish rider set an electric pace throughout his final race run, improving on almost every lap before dipped into the 1’37s bracket in the closing five minutes. A 1’37.872 saw Razgatlioglu maintain his advantage and is definitely the rider to beat ahead of the rest of the weekend. Teammate Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) continued to adapt to San Juan and the Yamaha YZF-R1. On the fringes of the top ten for the majority of the afternoon, Locatelli eventually finished in eighth as he improved in the closing stages, having been tenth in the morning session.
As the temperature came up, it was a strong showing from Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) who was inside the top four for most of FP2 whilst teammate Scott Redding was also in the mix in fifth. Both Ducatis were right in pursuit as they took to the track and continued to improve their lap times, heading out in the final ten minutes of the session where Redding improved, as did Rinaldi. Redding went second with less than a minute to go whilst Rinaldi maintain his fourth position. Top Independent honours also went to Ducati with Chaz Davies (Team GoEleven) was up in sixth, ahead of Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing), who was mightily impressive in seventh on his first visit to San Juan.
Over at Kawasaki, it was a Friday afternoon disaster for Jonathan Rea as he crashed hard at Turn 6. He and the bike tumbled through the gravel, with the ZX-10RR badly damaged, whilst thankfully the defending six-time World Champion was able to walk away and get a ride back to the paddock on a scooter. Teammate Alex Lowes was having a strong return to action and was second for the majority of the session having been fourth in FP1. Come the end of the session, with Rea unable to improve due the damaged bike, he finished in fifth whilst Lowes was third. Both will look to take the challenge to Razgatlioglu and Redding across the weekend.
As the FIM Supersport World Championship paddock descended on Argentina and the Circuito San Juan Villicum for the first time since 2019, Jules Cluzel (GMT94 Yamaha) smashed the all-time lap record at the circuit as he looks to maintain his 100 per cent winning record at the Argentinean venue during the Motul Argentinean Round.
French rider Cluzel has won both WorldSSP races held at the San Juan Villicum venue and set the pace on Friday with a 1’41.926s, some seventh tenths under the previous lap record held by compatriot Lucas Mahias. Cluzel missed out on a lot of running in Free Practice 1 but responded in the perfect fashion during the second 45-minute practice session with a new all-time lap record, finishing eight tenths clear of Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha ParkinGo Team) and nine tenths clear of Championship leader Dominique Aegerter (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha); both riders making their debuts at the Argentinean venue.
Between Gonzalez in second and Philipp Oettl (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in 15th, 14 different riders were separated by around one second a close battle for the podium appears to be brewing throughout the WorldSSP field. Hungary’s Peter Sebestyen (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) was fourth fastest after a strong day, finishing as the lead Evan Bros. Yamaha outfit with teammate Steven Odendaal in eighth place.
Niki Tuuli (MV Agusta Corse Clienti) was fifth as the sole MV Agusta rider in the field, and the first non-Yamaha rider. The Finnish rider had suffered from technical issues in Free Practice 1, late on in the session, but was able to get back out on track for Free Practice 2 to post a 1’42.996s for the fifth-best time, with Dutch rider Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) completing the top six after a late lap.