April 24 2022
Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK rider Andrea Locatelli celebrated his first podium of the 2022 FIM Superbike World Championship at the TT Circuit Assen, with a WorldSBK career-best second-place finish in Race 2 today.
The 25-year-old Italian rider chipped away throughout the weekend, scoring a solid fourth-place in Race 1 yesterday and again in the Superpole Race this morning, before pushing forward to challenge at the front when he saw an opportunity to take his best-ever finish in the premier class.
Teammate Toprak Razgatlıoğlu was promoted to second place in a frantic Superpole Race this morning following a track limits infringement incurred by Alvaro Bautista on the final lap.
A lightning start to Race 2 then saw both Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK riders lead the pack in the opening lap. Disappointingly, though he was leading the race through the start of Lap 6, Razgatlıoğlu was taken out of contention in a collision with Jonathan Rea at Turn 2, which denied the team’s defending champion the opportunity to fight for the win.
Following the drama at the front, “Loka” consistently and clinically put in excellent mid-race lap times to catch and pass the Honda of Iker Lecuona with four laps to go, completing a fine performance to close the weekend “on the box”.
It is still early days for the 2022 WorldSBK Championship, as Razgatlıoğlu and Locatelli currently lie third and fourth respectively in the overall standings, with the third round due to take place at Circuito Estoril (Portugal) in four weeks’ time from 20-22 May.
Andrea Locatelli – SPRC: P4 / Race 2: P2
“It feels amazing to arrive on the podium, because before we started on Friday it was my objective to achieve this! In the end, we were a bit lucky and I am sorry for my teammate Toprak, because he was really fast, but this is racing – and when I see the opportunity to get a podium, I want to try and push. I lost a little bit of time in the middle of the race to Lecuona, but I pushed to close the gap and got in front. So, I am really happy! For sure we need to improve more to challenge for a win, but it’s an important result for us here in Assen. We will work to improve the performance on Friday and see if it is possible to get another podium in the next race.”
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu – SPRC: P2 / Race 2: DNF
“Superpole Race was not lucky for Bautista but I say okay P2 result, P3 on track is same as yesterday but close to the win, only 0.2s. You know, I need to win and this was close! Second race the bike was feeling good after the team make some set-up changes, I ride easy – not pushing but try to be smooth and keep the tyre. I tried hard braking in the first corner and I go a little bit wide, but I am not going outside the track – I touch the curb but I stay on the race line. I am surprised we crash like this, I do not expect this mistake from Jonathan. This year we improve at this track, every race we improve but okay, in the last laps in Superpole Race it is not possible for more fighting because the tyre drop. But I am feeling the bike is good, we go now to tracks I think we can be strong, and same as last year better not look at championship points – only focus on race wins and try for best position every time.”
Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK:
“A frustrating race day here in Assen given the accident in Race 2 between Toprak and Jonathan, but with some solid silver linings of Loka’s excellent run to P2 and Toprak’s superb performance in the Superpole Race. There will always be two differing views when riders collide in these situations but in the end, the FIM stewards decided that it was a racing incident. In terms of race results and competitiveness, this was our best ever Assen weekend – but, a little bit like Aragon, we didn’t quite have enough to reach the top step. Andrea made a really big improvement after a difficult Friday and he can be proud of his consistency and speed resulting in a well-deserved podium. There is now a bigger gap than we would like between Toprak and P1 in the championship, but there is a lot of racing still to do and we head towards Estoril next.”