July 16 2023
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu took Yamaha’s first ever Imola WorldSBK victory at this historical circuit, at the seventh round of the 2023 FIM Superbike World Championship in Italy today.
This morning’s thrilling Superpole Race win was backed up by a sensational third place from teammate Andrea Locatelli, to bring two Yamaha R1 WorldSBKs to the podium in Parc Ferme, after Razgatlıoğlu made the race-deciding pass on main rival Alvaro Bautista (Ducati) on the penultimate lap.
But it was his masterful handling of the hottest ever track temperatures seen in WorldSBK (more than 60 degrees Celsius) in the reduced 15-lap Race 2 that had Turkish ace Razgatlıoğlu smiling the most. Bautista crashed out of contention at Turn 3 on the opening lap, and Yamaha’s #54 rider controlled the race despite pressure from a charging Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) and six-time WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki).
In a return to top form which has seen “Loka” fast all weekend in Imola, the #55 rider battled hard to stay with the podium trio in Race 2 in an attempt to repeat or improve his result from the Superpole Race – where he had also led for half the race distance – but struggled more with rear grip in the afternoon.
Razgatlıoğlu and Locatelli remain second and third place respectively in the Riders’ Championship, as Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK takes over the lead of the Teams’ Championship standings from main rival Aruba.it Racing Ducati.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu – SPRC: P1 / Race 2: P1
“I’m very happy, finally to win the long race! I am waiting this year for this moment – I am very happy and thanks to my team for the incredible job this weekend, every session we improve my R1. I am sorry for Alvaro’s crash but you know, this is racing– and after this I had a plan to ride easy, not take the risk and follow Axel to keep a really good pace and look after the tyre. Anyway, we arrived to the win and I am very happy! First time winning for Yamaha in Imola, we did a very good job here. It was a very good weekend, everybody could watch “real” racing today!”
Andrea Locatelli – SPRC: P3 / Race 2: P4
“I think we did a really good job this morning in the Superpole Race, the choice with the tyre and the set-up was perfect! I am a little bit disappointed about Race 2, because we changed the rear tyre choice and I’m not sure it was the best one for me – I was fighting yesterday with the front grip and today with the rear. I think we lost the opportunity to fight for the podium in the long race, but it was a strong and positive weekend. We need to be happy! It’s also my first time here with the R1 WorldSBK, I am proud of myself and proud of the job the team and Yamaha are doing with me. We need to be looking forward now, coming back stronger and pushing hard!”
Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK:
“What a day! Yamaha’s first ever WorldSBK victory in Imola in the Superpole Race this morning – one of the most enthralling encounters we’ve ever seen – backed up by a brilliant podium for Loka. Toprak’s continued pressure possibly contributed to Alvaro’s mistake this afternoon, but anyway Toprak capitalised in full and controlled the race to bring home double victory. Loka didn’t quite have the rear grip in Race 2 that he had yesterday afternoon and struggled a little bit to more to fight with the front group – but still maintained a brilliant pace on his first ever big bike race here in Imola to cap off a really positive weekend for him and the team. We leave here in high spirits heading to Most, another good track for both of our riders and the R1 WorldSBK. Retaking the lead in the Teams’ Championship is just reward for all the efforts and commitment shown by everybody here in the garage.”