THE WORLD Superbike championship is starting to look very much like a one-horse race, with Toprak Razgatlioglu surging to the top of the rankings with a 20-point lead following two victories in Spain.

The Turkish rider overcame the challenge of his principal rival for the championship, Jonathan Rea, in race one at Jerez, before claiming the second race by beating another British challenger, Scott Redding, with Rea down in fifth place.

The 24-year-old is now in pole position to claim the world title which would have been a surprise to many back in May, the British bookmakers having Rea as short as evens at the start of the season as the Northern Irishman chased a seventh successive riders’ title.

With nine races still remaining in the championship, Kawasaki man Rea remains in no mood to relinquish his crown just yet – perhaps unsurprisingly since he’s held it since 2015. And the 34-year-old from Larne believes he will have a better chance of getting back to winning ways in Portugal and Argentina next month.

“We just have to maximise our potential and take advantage of all our opportunities,” said Rea, who appeared to struggle with his bike in race two after competing strongly in the opening clash with Razgatlioglu. “I want to win again because that feeling has been missing – it’s something I need, I want, and I’m looking forward to it.

“Portimao (Portugal) and Argentina are really good tracks for us and the new circuit in Mandalika (Indonesia) is really exciting, so I look forward to these last three rounds and it’s all on the line.

“In some ways I have to be happy with fifth in that race (second race in Jerez) because it’s never been the strongest track for us in race conditions but I just didn’t have it today in the long race, so congratulations to the podium guys because they were very strong.”

Razgatlioglu has gone from strength to strength since joining Pata Yamaha for the 2020 campaign, winning on his first outing and taking two further first places to finish last season in fourth place in the standings – 132 points behind Rea.

He was protégé in the sport with four Turkish Motocross Championship titles before competing in a first 600cc circuit race at 13, entering the world stage in 2015, winning the European Superstock 600 Championships at his first attempt.

After events in Jerez, he has moved to 449 points in the standings with Rea second on 429 and Gloucester racer Redding in third, spot 74 points off the pace. With 248 points still up for grabs, the series moves on to Portugal, with the final two rounds taking place in Argentina from 16-17 October and Indonesia from 20-21 November.

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