May 06 2023
Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK riders Toprak Razgatlıoğlu and Andrea Locatelli turned their fortunes around with a superb second-place podium and fine fourth place respectively in Race 1 of the FIM Superbike World Championship in Spain today.
In a day disrupted by red flags, the Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK riders lost their potential chance to start on the front two rows when Alex Lowes’ low-side crash at Turn 14 caused his Kawasaki to catch fire and meant both Razgatlıoğlu and Locatelli were forced to abandon their fastest qualifying laps on the last remaining Pirelli Q tyre.
Never-the-less, when the lights went out for Race 1 this afternoon, it was Locatelli who made the biggest jump forward – from P10 on the grid, he went straight into the top four with Razgatlıoğlu not far behind. After just three laps, the race was red flagged following an accident involving Eric Granado (MIE Racing Honda) to restart with a reduced race distance of 17 laps.
Razgatlıoğlu made a good jump from P4, but it was Locatelli again who got the best start on the run down to Turn 1 from P6 to lead his teammate in the opening laps – as the pair worked to progress into the podium positions. Early drama occurred in front, with a Ducati-on-Ducati fight between Axel Bassani and Michael Ruben Rinaldi which saw the latter fall in a second clash at Turn 11. Bassani took a long-lap penalty which enabled Locatelli to capitalise on fourth position – a place he later earned in direct battle with Bassani.
Meanwhile, Razgatlıoğlu had progressed into the podium positions to run much of the race directly behind Jonathan Rea – stalking the Northern Irishman’s Kawasaki like a shadow. The Turkish ace made his move on the inside line into Turn 1 at the start of the final lap – fishtailing his R1 WorldSBK into position on the brakes. Rea tried to respond but Razgatlıoğlu was resplendent right to the chequered flag.
Scattered showers could change things up tomorrow – where they will fall could have an impact on the final day’s outcome starting with Warm Up at 09:00 local time (CEST), the 10-lap Superpole Race at 11:00 and Race 2 at 14:00.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu – SP: P8 / Race 1: P2
“In the race, I was not really enjoying until the end – we were just focused on keeping the rear tyre. But I am happy, we are fighting again with the legend Johnny – this is good because we just enjoy and forget a bit Alvaro, who is too strong at this track especially! I am waiting the last lap, but also I am fighting on the limit because front and rear tyre big drop in grip. I just try for the best position and I pass Johnny last lap, try to ride the best line on all corners and happy to finish P2. I did really hard braking, but really strong wind and bike not easy stopping! Superpole was a bit bad luck, but anyway always most important the race and I just try my best. We will see tomorrow, I need to improve my bike in some corners – I hope we are fast and we can fight again in the races.”
Andrea Locatelli – SP: P10 / Race 1: P4
“It was an interesting race for sure! Today was not easy, but we started very well in FP3 to regain some confidence and time to work around the bike after the small crash on Friday. Starting from P10 was also not easy, but I think we did very well in every start! So this was a good point to be in front, I am happy to finish P4 and now we need to look forward to tomorrow, I think we have a good opportunity to have another two chances for good results. We will see tomorrow what is possible! The target is always to get a podium, but first the focus is on the Superpole Race to make sure we can get a better grid position for Race 2.”
Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK:
“Qualifying was difficult for both riders today – the red flag came out when they were on their best laps. So, to start from eighth and tenth, and to see both guys ride intelligently and with such determination was very positive for the whole team. We know what a tough track this is – Alvaro and his package were in a different league despite the 250rpm Balance of Performance reduction – which of course made exactly the difference we knew it would, in other words nothing! But none-the-less, we are proud of the team, riders and their combined efforts, which have moved us into the lead of the Teams’ Championship. It is a reflection of how consistently well Toprak and Loka have been performing and what a good overall package the R1 WorldSBK is.”