Whilst the championship pendulum swings at the front, it’s an all-out brawl for third place, with six riders covered by a mere 50 points!
The 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship has seen the titanic duel of Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) take place at the head of the championship. With a dramatic 142-point swing in the Ulsterman’s favour, it has been the biggest comeback in WorldSBK. However, the battle for third place is raging too, with six riders representing four manufacturers in the hunt for the bronze medal position.
The battle for third sees the Pata Yamaha World Team pairing of Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark leading the charge. Lowes sits on 220 points but just five points further behind, his Dutch teammate will look to retake that place after his injuries from Misano. However, whilst they may look like the dominant force in this bruising battle, the four riders behind them have all had podiums across the last two rounds, taking advantage when they’ve had the chance.
Returning to the WorldSBK paddock in 2019 full-time, Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) is firmly in the mix for third overall in the championship, with the five-time WorldSBK race winner sitting strong in fifth overall on 202 points. Just 18 adrift of Alex Lowes, the ‘Pocket Rocket’ will be eager to deliver a race win before the season is out, to really stamp his ground in the top three of the WorldSBK championship. However, whilst looking forwards, Haslam must also keep an eye on what is coming from behind.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) has been nothing short of remarkable in his form coming into the Summer break, with four podiums in the last six races, whilst leading in two of them. The 22-year-old Turkish star has been flying the flag for the Independent teams too, far and away the most prominent in the leading positions. Toprak finds himself on 191 points, just 29 behind Alex Lowes who occupies third. To put into perspective just how much Razgatlioglu has grown in stature in the 2019 WorldSBK campaign, he surpassed his tally of points from 2018 in Race 2 at Donington Park.
Making a massive leap forward in the championship standings, Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) has been in the doldrums in 2019, with only a few peaks to look at. However, the GEICO U.S. Round has proved to be Davies’ biggest turning point this year, as the Welshman took a glorious and emotional first victory in Race 2 at Laguna Seca. Sitting on 184 points, he is 36 points behind Alex Lowes in third; at Laguna Seca, Davies took 26 points from the Yamaha man. The fight really is on.
Just a tad further back, Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) has been going about his business and creeping back into the battle for third overall. Taking an elusive first podium of the year in a soaking wet Race 1 at Misano, Sykes has only improved since; the 33-year-old has taken two further podiums – one in the wet and one in the dry – whilst also putting his S 1000 RR on pole position in front of his home crowd – the biggest at Donington Park in the last seven seasons. Currently on 170 points, he is 50 adrift of Alex Lowes – although he has brought the gap down in the last three rounds.
And then, behind all those riders, there are plenty of improvements to be had, with race winners and reigning champions growing in stature as the season goes on. Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) will want his swansong year to be memorable as he is in ninth overall, whilst reigning WorldSSP champion and Melandri’s teammate Sandro Cortese will be eager to beat his veteran teammate. You can never discount Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) whilst - after his immense showing at Laguna Seca - Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) may spring a surprise and return to the top ten overall in the championship.
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