July 25 2021
Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK rookie Andrea Locatelli celebrated a sensational FIM Superbike World Championship career-first podium of third place after leading Race 2 for more than 10 laps at the TT Circuit Assen today.
The podium came amid heartbreak for championship protagonist Toprak Razgatlıoğlu, who was robbed of the chance to fight for victory after a first corner incident with the GRT Yamaha of Garrett Gerloff. Further frustration caused by a track limits infringement at the final chicane in the 10-lap Superpole Race also denied the Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK team of a double podium this morning.
Locatelli, having not put a foot wrong all weekend in the Netherlands, missed the chance to enjoy his first podium earlier today as both the young Italian and his teammate Razgatlıoğlu were relegated to fourth and third respectively for crossing into the painted green section of the circuit by just millimetres.
However, “good things come to those who wait” and “Loka” was the star of the day, taking a big step forward in performance to lead the first half of Race 2, coming from fourth on the grid and following up his fifth place in Race 1 yesterday.
In terms of the 2021 WorldSBK Championship, Locatelli closes in on ninth place overall in the riders’ standings, while Razgatlıoğlu’s inability to score in Race 2 sees him relegated to second position, 37 points adrift of leader Jonathan Rea.
The team’s Turkish rider will not need to wait long for a chance to reel Rea back in, as the sixth round of the championship lies just around the corner at the Czech Republic’s oldest permanent circuit – Autodrom Most – from 6-8 August.
Andrea Locatelli – SPRC: P4 / Race 2: P3
“I immediately forgot the situation from this morning because I had another chance to race today, and you still focus to get the maximum when you can do it. I’m really happy because we got the first podium, also to do it in the long race, it’s really an amazing feeling. In the short race, you need to push hard but also it’s a shame to make the tiny mistake with the track limits, it was only a few millimetres! Then in Race 2, I got the lead immediately and was able to keep a good pace but in the end I fought a lot with the softer rear tyre. With the conditions like today and yesterday with some sun, we can push in all sessions and I learned and improved every time – now we are faster and I was in front! We have been close to the front all weekend and I am so happy also for my crew. We work so well together, they work hard and we make no mistakes, and also the R1 is working so well. It’s nice to ride here in Assen and we have another chance very soon to continue in this way and try to get some more podiums!”
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu – SPRC: P3 / Race 2: DNF
“In the second race, Garrett made a bad mistake, I am not sure why he tried to do hard braking like this in the first corner – I was surprised and I only feel angry because we lost so many points for the championship. At the start, I passed Rinaldi into the corner but it was not “easy”, it was difficult to stop my own bike so I cannot understand why Garrett arrived inside me. In Most I will only be looking to fight for the win, I am not looking at championship points any more. This weekend, maybe I just had some bad luck, but we fight hard again for the next race.”
Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK:
“What a day of mixed emotions, achievements and missed opportunities. This weekend has been a breakthrough for Andrea - a podium in the Superpole Race but for 20 millimetres of his tyre on the green run-off area and then finally, leading Race 2 handsomely for more than 10 laps and managing the soft tyre choice superbly to achieve his first podium in WorldSBK! A huge congratulations to Andrea and his crew!
It’s been a challenging weekend on Toprak’s side but we also have to take the positives. Assen has been Jonathan’s place for some years and to run him as close as we have all weekend, and to be in an undoubted position to fight to win the second race, shows that we can fight to win pretty much anywhere. Toprak had done his job off the start, made his customary, controlled late braking to take the lead into Turn 1, so it’s very difficult to know what Garrett either was or wasn’t thinking to come from that far back and cause the crash. A disappointing end to what turned out to be a very positive weekend, but we’re very much “chin up” and looking forward to redemption in Most.”