Current MIE Honda WorldSBK rider Leandro Mercado believes former Stock 1000 competitor Toprak Razgatlioglu was the best rider in 2021.

Razgatlioglu won his first world title after getting the better of six-time world champion Jonathan Rea.

Although the title fight went down to the final race day of the season, Razgatlioglu’s incredible consistency over the whole year allowed him to enter race one with a commanding 30 point lead. 

Rea would go on to win both races in Mandalika, however, Razgatlioglu took the title as early as race one courtesy of finishing second. 

Razgatlioglu’s overall performance and ability to perform at his best under intense pressure was a big reason why fellow riders believe he was deserving of the title. 

That includes former Stock 1000 competitor Mercado who called Razgatlioglu ‘very strong and consistent throughout’ the season. 

"I would like to congratulate Toprak [Razgatlioglu] because he deserves this championship, having been very strong and consistent throughout," added Mercado.

"We raced in Stock 1000 together and now he has won the title. I am happy for him because he is a great rider and a good person, and he deserves it all."

For the Argentine rider, 2021 was a relatively difficult season after missing several early season rounds - four in total as the team was unable to attend due to internal issues.

However, when on-track Mercado showed potential at different stages, including the final round in Indonesia as he secured his second best result of the season with P9 in race one. 

A race two crash brought his season to a disappointing end, but the 29 year-old was running in sixth before suffering the fall, which would have been a season best. 

When summing up his two races, Mercado said: "I'm very happy with how race one went, it was a good race and I'm pleased with both the final result, one of the best so far, and with how we achieved it, making a strong start and then maintaining a good pace. 

"Conditions were not easy early on because half the track was too wet for slicks, but lap by lap it dried out and became a bit easier. I'm pleased because I was close enough to the front group. 

"I tried to close the gap to Bautista and even though I couldn't ultimately manage it. I maintained my position and the gap, so it was a very good race for us. When it was finally decided that race two would go ahead, conditions were really challenging. 

"Our start was even better than race 1 anyway, and it was great to be fighting up at the front but unfortunately, I crashed out of the race in the early stages. Overall though, we’ve really improved throughout the year with respect to where we started. 

"We’ve run some good races, with some ups and downs, but always continuing our growth trend and reaching the top ten, which is very important in terms of the work we’ve done this year. 

"It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve given it 100% and will try to do better next year."

Mercado, who has been the lone rider at MIE Honda the last two seasons, will be joined by former MotoGP and Moto2 rider Hafizh Syahrin next season as the team expands to a two rider line-up for the first time.