Toprak Razgatlioglu ensured he’d bookend his 2020 WorldSBK Championship season – his first as a Yamaha rider – with victories after strolling to a dominant win in the first race of the final weekend in Estoril.
The Turkish rider led from pole position and proceeded to disappear into the distance to take a timely second win of the year = his first having come at the top of the year in Australia – even if much of the attention remained on what was happening behind him.
With Jonathan Rea on the cusp of the WorldSBK title – but starting down in 15th – and Scott Redding, as the only rider who could mathematically defeat him, plum last after they both crashed in qualifying, the stage was set to see whether one could pressure the other.
In the end it was elementary as Redding, having made modest progress from 22nd to 11th by lap seven, began slowing with technical issues on his Ducati. It meant no matter where Rea finished, he would still be crowned WorldSBK Champion for a sixth consecutive year.
Even so, it was fairly clear after lap one which way things would go after Rea produced a monster first lap to scythe his way up into seventh place already, while Redding could only ascend as far as 15th.
When a determined Rea speared down the inside of both his team-mate Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark for fifth at turn one on lap two, it was clear the Ulsterman wanted to wrap things up in style.
Indeed, Rea’s momentum had already carried him right up to third place when Redding began slowing, meaning the result mattered no more.
It was perhaps just as well because though Rea did nose into second place at the expense of Garrett Gerloff – doing a fantastic job from the front row – it became clear he’d used the best of his tyres in that early charge, allowing the American back into second before a charging Chaz Davies got them both with ten and nine laps to go.
Out front, Razgatlioglu was well clear, the Turk not having to employ his customary physical riding style as he controlled the pace from his maiden pole position to round off a three second winner.
Despite an awful start that negated his best grid position of the year, Davies yet again came on strong in the second-half of the race, picking off Rea and then Gerloff quickly en route to second, all-but-cementing his third in the overall standings.
The increasingly impressive Gerloff held firm to secure his second podium of the year in third place, with the renewed champion bringing it home safely in fourth positon. It marks his sixth straight title, as well as an eighth riders’ title for Kawasaki along with Tom Sykes in 2013 and Scott Russell in 1993.
Having started on the front row, Leon Haslam scored one of his best results of the year in fifth position though he was fortunate to pick up positions first from Michael van der Mark, who crashed out of fourth, and then Honda team-mate Alvaro Bautista who suffered another costly crash on his own while running fifth.
Alex Lowes brought his Kawasaki home for sixth, ahead of Michael Ruben Rinaldi, who was rather put in his place by Davies – the man he replaces at Ducati – after plummeting down the order from an initial second.
Xavi Fores scored an eighth place finish on his Puccetti Kawasaki swansong, from Loris Baz and top BMW rider Tom Sykes. Wild-card Jonas Folger scored digits for 11th, with Eugene Laverty, Leandro Mercado, Takumi Takahashi and WorldSBK debutant Eric Granado scoring the final points.