Here are our top three WorldSBK battles from the 2021 season, along with which one’s narrowly missed the cut. 

If the 2022 WorldSBK season can come anywhere close to matching 2021 for intensity, adrenaline and a championship battle until the final round, then it’s sure to be another stellar season.

Toprak Razgatlioglu’s maiden world championship win was the first time since 2014 that the top two were separated by less than 50 points, as six-time world champion Jonathan Rea was only 13 behind the Turkish rider.

In the process of winning the title, Razgatlioglu became the first Yamaha rider since Ben Spies to win a championship for the Japanese manufacturer, while it was also the first time a rider beat Rea since he joined Kawasaki in 2015. 

Making the championship a three-way fight - the first time that’s happened since Tom Sykes, Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli managed to do so in 2013 - also the first occasion since that year that the top three were within 65 points of each other, was Scott Redding.

Although Redding got eliminated from title contention with a round to go, Razgatlioglu and Rea were consistently pressured by the former Ducati rider who claimed seven wins - 6 less than the top two. 

So with that said, here are our top three on-track battles from the course of last season

3: Rea vs Redding showdown in the season finale at Mandalika

Race two at the all-new Mandalika International Circuit was one of the showdown’s of the year as Rea and Redding did battle throughout a reduced 12 lap sprint. 

With heavy rain delaying both race one and race two, so much so that the Superpole race was cancelled altogether, Dorna officials took the decision to reduce the lap count in order to get racing complete.

And it didn’t disappoint as Redding, who led during the early stages had to fend off Rea who was looking to do the double. 

Razgatlioglu and wet-weather specialist Michael Van Der Mark were also in contention for the win early on, however, the pair’s intense battle for P3 saw them eventually lose ground on the leading duo. 

In an ever-changing fight for the lead, Rea got through on Redding at mid-race distance, while Razgatlioglu used his impressive braking at turn one to get back ahead of Van Der Mark as the two were changing positions just as frequently as the leaders.

After several passes and re-passes by Redding, Rea managed to get through on the penultimate lap. However, Rea then made a small error allowing Redding to stay close heading into the final lap. 

Redding attempted to go down the inside of Rea at turn 15 - the penultimate corner - but ran wide in doing so. The gap between both riders ended up being just two tenths of a second. 

2: Razgatlioglu and Rea battle fiercely at Magny-Cours

While the margin at the chequered flag was a much larger +2.908s, it’s a gap that fails to tell the entire story of race two. 

With the championship gap just seven points heading into the French round and both Razgatlioglu and Rea looking to put a marker down, the battle was as fierce as any we witnessed throughout the season.

In fact, it’s a race where constant contact was being made, while overtakes between the two were lasting just a corner or two before the other responded. 

It wasn’t until three laps to go that Razgatlioglu finally broke the one second margin between the two, as Rea had put enormous pressure on the Yamaha rider for over ten laps. 

Rea was quicker during sectors two and three which gave him opportunities at turns 12 and 14. However, Razgatlioglu was incredible under braking, a theme of the 2021 season, which was something he utilized to perfection in this race. 

Razgatlioglu beats Redding by just +0.040s in race one at Most

In what was one of the closest WorldSBK finishes in recent years, Razgatlioglu got the better of Redding during the first ever race at Most. 

Initially a three-rider battle, it became two when Rea crashed out of third place. The Kawasaki rider’s error handed Razgatlioglu a big advantage and one where if he took a comfortable second place he would lead the championship. 

However, the 25 year-old pushed on and began to close Redding down despite the Ducati looking like the better package to be on. 

After several overtakes in turn one Razgatlioglu finally led for a few laps. But just like Magny-Cours when he battled with Rea, Redding remained close and actually regained the lead by out-braking Razgatlioglu at turn one.

The ex-MotoGP rider seemed to be favourite for victory from that point onwards, but an incredible last two laps from Razgatlioglu saw him claw his way back to within a couple of tenths - had previously lost a second due to a mistake. 

Razgatlioglu’s first attempt at taking the lead on the final lap came at turn 15, but the Yamaha rider went wide which gave Redding the lead back. It looked like a considerable gap was opened between the two, but once again Razgatlioglu closed down the Ducati rider in turns 17, 18 and 19, before making a spectacular move at turn 20. 

Razgatlioglu lunged to the inside with Redding already committed to the corner, and while Redding had to pick up his Panigale V4 R in order for the two not to come together, it was brilliant racing between both men. 

Redding then used the Ducati’s better straight-line speed to close in on Razgatlioglu, but it wasn’t enough by the line. 

Other great battles which narrowly missed the cut were race one in Catalunya as Razgatlioglu, Rea, Redding, Axel Bassani and Michael Rinaldi all led the race, race two at Misano where Razgatlioglu got the better of Michael Rinaldi for his first win of 2021 and race two at San Juan as Redding battled hard against Rea and Razgatlioglu before going on to take a comfortable win.