2021 WorldSBK manufacturer review: Kawasaki slip from first to third

A first season without winning the riders’ championship since 2015 and injuries to Alex Lowes and Lucas Mahias proved costly to Kawasaki’s attempt at winning the 2021 WorldSBK manufacturers’ title.
Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes, Czech WorldSBK race2, 8 August 2021
Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes, Czech WorldSBK race2, 8 August 2021
© Gold and Goose

After winning the 2020 WorldSBK manufacturers’ title by one point over Ducati, Kawasaki slipped from first to third in 2021 after injuries and on-track inconsistencies plagued their season.

Jonathan Rea was once again phenomenal for much of the season, however, the six-time World Superbike champion was beaten for the first time since joining Kawasaki in 2015.

Toprak Razgatlioglu was faultless throughout the year as he took a maiden world title and first for Yamaha since 2009, while also becoming Turkey’s first ever premier class champion.

Unlike Razgatlioglu, the same mistake-free campaign didn’t take place for Rea as he suffered five race crashes which all ended in non-scores for the Northern Irishman. 

But despite that, and being on a package that looked slightly worse than Yamaha and Ducati, Rea managed to finish just 13 points down on Razgatlioglu, showing he’s still at the top of his game.

While those crashes at Donington Park, Most and Portimao all had a significant effect on Kawasaki losing out to Yamaha and Ducati, it was injuries to Alex Lowes and Lucas Mahias that ultimately cost the Japanese manufacturer. 

Lowes looked on course for a comfortable fourth place in the championship following the opening few rounds, however, a stunning run of results from Yamaha rookie Andrea Locatelli during the middle part of the season and crashes at Magny-Cours and Catalunya led to the Brit starting to drop down the order. 

Lowes’ injury problems began after taking a knock to his right-hand and wrist, before a right acromioclavicular joint separation occurred during FP3 at the final round in Mandalika. Lowes eventually dropped from fourth to eighth in the standings as he missed a total of seven races 

With Kawasaki finishing 37 points down on Yamaha, it’s fair to say had Lowes not encountered those problems then it’s a points total he would be expected to cover relatively easily over seven races. 

Lowes wasn’t alone in suffering from injuries as Puccetti Kawasaki rider Mahais missed the last ten races after suffering a big accident with Chaz Davies in Catalunya - that came off the back of crashes at his home round in Magny-Cours too. 

Although the Frenchman was further down the championship compared to Lowes, Mahias would still have contributed a solid amount of points had he competed in those final few races.

Orelac VerdNatura rider Isaac Vinales had a solid first season in WorldSBK as he contributed 45 points to Kawasaki’s efforts.

Finally we have Pedercini Kawasaki who were unlikely to make much of a difference for the Japanese manufacturer when it came to improving their third position.

Loris Cresson scored points on just one occasion, while the second seat saw seven rider changes as the team failed to lock down a replacement for early-season rider Samuele Cavalieri.

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