Toprak Razgatlioglu level with Jonathan Rea in title battle after Navarra triumph
Jonathan Rea’s slender lead in the World Superbike Championship has evaporated after main rival Toprak Razgatlioglu clinched a dominant victory in the final race of the weekend at Navarra in northern Spain.
Northern Ireland star Rea and Yamaha’s Razgatlioglu are now tied on 311 points after seven rounds of the series, with Scott Redding – a double winner at Navarra – closing the deficit to the leading duo to 38 points after winning three of the last four races.
Rea made a poor start by his standards from the front row and was lying fifth in the first corners before quickly scything his way through to third, ahead of his Kawasaki team-mate Alex Lowes.
It was Redding who seized the lead from the off, with Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) slotting into second place. Locatelli briefly led after passing Redding before running wide, allowing the Aruba.it Ducati rider to re-take the lead.
Razgatlioglu also capitalised on Italian Locatelli’s mistake to move into second position, while Rea forged through to third on a frantic opening lap.
By the end of the first lap, Razgatlioglu was now setting the pace at the front from Redding, who was under pressure from Rea.
On lap two, six-time champion Rea set off in pursuit of Razgatlioglu after making a pass on Redding.
Rea pressured Razgatlioglu without getting close enough to make a lunge for the lead, but as the race unfolded, the Yamaha rider began to assert his authority, while Rea slipped back and survived several front-end slides on his Kawasaki as he tried to keeps tabs on the race leader.
Redding remained in touch throughout in third place and in the final third of the 22-lap race, he closed up on Ulsterman Rea, eventually passing the Kawasaki to take second place after Rea had another moment on lap 19.
Razgatlioglu, second in the first two races of the weekend, went on to claim victory by 1.1s from Redding, with Rea 2.6s further back.
Reigning World Supersport champion Locatelli was almost 11 seconds down on race winner Redding as he finished fourth, with Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad) and Lowes the top six.