216 days later, the Superbike World Championship resumes the competition with a delay of about three months compared to the usual opening in pre-pandemic times at the end of February. And it does so after several rewrites of the 2021 calendar this weekend with Round 1, at the MotorLand Aragón track. For the first time since 2004 the championship begins in Europe, and it does so with new figures, new bikes and renewed team line-ups that outline one of the most unpredictable seasons. But one of them, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) will focus the flashes as he continues to rewrite the history of the modality of motorcycles derived from the series looking for a record of seven titles in a row and this weekend he can cross the barrier of 100 partial victories .
23 drivers will be in contention for World Cup glory and 22 of them trying to avoid that seventh Johnny Rea crown and that unbeatable tandem that he forms with the Kawasaki Racing Team. And for this 2021 it will do so on a renewed Ninja ZX-10RR, which has a new fairing and a more powerful engine. Rea had three victories at Aragon in 2020 and has never stopped getting on the podium since joining Kawasaki in 2015, a record-breaking 17-box streak. And he is one win away from the 100th, which would make him the first rider in an FIM World Speed Championship to win 100 races in the same category.
Ducati looms as the main opposition to topple Kawasaki, but they also fight to be the best of Borgo Panigale, with 2020 runner-up Scott Redding (Aruba.it) and Michael Ruben Rinaldi as teammates. Rea’s long-distance adversary Chaz Davies has left the official Ducati team to defend the Team GoEleven colors. With a Panigale V4 R from the Barni Racing Team, Tito Rabat debuts in Superbikes, which has already made his debut in MotoGP competition, covering Jorge Martin’s loss in the Pramac Ducati in Jerez and Le Mans.
There will be another foreseeable battle to be the best rider of the brand in Yamaha and BMW. In Iwata, between Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha) and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) that has Andrea Locatelli coming up from SSP as a partner. Dutchman Michael van der Mark debuts at BMW alongside Tom Sykes and the all-new M 1000 RR, the first Superbike derived from his M-series department. Jonas Folger (Bonovo MGM Action), debuting at SBK, and Eugene Laverty (RC Squadra Corse) also target it from private squads.
Team HRC Nor will it be exempt from rivalry, since Álvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam continue in the Honda project for 2021, and the second year appears with news and incentives for the duo, which closed the 2020 campaign with the same number of points. Leon Camier is the new Team Manager after retiring from the competition last year. Another important change is the technical advance that has been achieved with the Fireblade CBR1000RR-R SP with an improved engine, a new exhaust system, modified seats and new swing arms.
Alvaro Bautista in the official HRC team and the debutants in the category Tito Rabat (Barni Racing Team) e Isaac viñales (ORELAC Racing VerdNatura) are the Spanish representatives in a modality where only one Spanish driver has been champion, Carlos Checa in 2011.
The SSP World Championship also starts this weekend in Aragon without the top two classified from last season, Andrea Locatelli and Lucas Mahias, who have made the leap to World Superbike, and Philipp Oettl (Kawasaki Puccetti) is the best rider classified 2020 that remains in the current one. Other outsiders are Steven Odendaal, former champion Randy Krummenacher, Federico Caricasulo or newcomer Dominique Aegerter. Marc Alcoba and Manu González are the Spanish representatives.
The 2021 Calendar
MotorLand Aragón (Spain), May 21-23
Estoril (Portugal), May 28-30
Misano (Italy), June 11-13
Donington Park (Great Britain), July 2-4
Assen (Netherlands), July 23-25
Most (Czech R.), August 6-8
Circuit of Navarra (Spain), from August 20 to 22
Magny-Cours (France), September 3-5
Barcelona-Catalunya (Catalunya), September 17 to 19
Jerez (Spain), September 24-26
Portimao (Portugal), October 1-3
San Juan Villicum (Argentina), October 15-17
Mandalika (Indonesia), November 12-14