Paul Denning, Team Principal at Pata Yamaha has compared the 2021 WorldSBK season finale battle between Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea to that of Troy Bayliss and Colin Edwards from Imola 2002. 

While we’ve seen many great WorldSBK title battles such as Carl Fogarty vs Aaron Slight, Troy Bayliss vs Colin Edwards, James Toseland vs Noriyuki Haga or Tom Sykes vs Sylvain Guintoli, Razgatlioglu vs Rea in 2021 was arguably the best. 

With the two riders fighting for wins from round one to 13, championship changes occurring at over six different rounds and the intensity of the battles being as fierce as any that’s taken place before, it meant a title decider was expected but also what the 2021 season deserved. 

Although Razgatlioglu had a 30 point lead over Rea heading into the final round, the Kawasaki rider won both races which meant Razgatlioglu had to be inside the top four on both occasions. 

It’s something Razgatlioglu managed to do as he claimed P2 in race one which was enough to secure the title and P4 in race two. However, the Pata Yamaha rider didn’t have things all his own way as he needed to recover from a near-crash in race one after several laps of intense battling with Rea. 

The first ever Turkish premier class world champion was able to regain second off Scott Redding before sustaining a late charge for the win. While a valiant effort, Rea held firm to take his 12th win of 13 for the year. 

The battle itself rivalled Most, Magny-Cours and San Juan as one of the best between the two, while Razgatlioglu’s team principal Paul Denning said it reminded him of the fierce fight between Bayliss and Edwards in 2002. 

"It reminded me very much of that fantastic battle between Troy and Colin at Imola in 2002, when everything came down to the last few laps: that was the same in Indonesia," Denning told the official World Superbike website.

"Toprak had to recover from a big mistake and a big near crash and fight his way back to take the title. Toprak is such an incredible talent and is just a genuinely lovely person, a team player in the truest sense of the word." 

Denning continued by praising the efforts of the entire Yamaha team and Razgatlioglu after the Japanese manufacturer won their first riders’ title since Ben Spies did so in 2009: "Yamaha and the team have done a brilliant job. The biggest step up in performance this year in terms of consistency and self-belief and maturity is Toprak. I mean statistics are dull but 13 wins and 29 podiums… the Championship shouldn't have been as close as it was. It just shows the level of Jonathan and his team, because of the relentless consistency and relentless performance."