February 24 2023
Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK rider Andrea Locatelli set a scintillating pace to finish second overall in combined Free Practice during the first official day “back at school” for the FIM Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island in Australia.
Astride his #55 Yamaha R1 WorldSBK, “Loka” continued to demonstrate both strong one-lap and race simulation pace, as he consolidated the same step in performance shown in winter testing last month. A clean lap of 1'31.069 (+0.037s) in FP1 put him in close contention with defending champion Alvaro Bautista (Ducati) for the top position – a time which he looked set to improve upon in FP2 but for a small crash at Turn 10 in Sector 3.
On the opposite side of the Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK pit box, teammate Toprak Razgatlıoğlu had an uncharacteristically challenging day, finishing in tenth position just under 0.5s from his teammate across an evenly matched WorldSBK field. The 26-year-old completed a crucial 16-lap long run in the hotter conditions of Free Practice 2 to give the team more data to analyse for the first race of the season.
One final Free Practice of 45 minutes will take place tomorrow morning from 10:50 local time (UTC+11) with the first Superpole qualifying session of the season at 13:10 and lights out on the island for Race 1 at 16:00.
Andrea Locatelli: P2 - 1'31.069
“It was a really good afternoon, because we were also fast on the old tyre – as well as the P2 time in the morning. I had just a small crash and we need to understand what happened, but I think it was normal after a lot of laps here on the track, probably, sometimes this happens! The track conditions were a bit different from this morning, and unfortunately when I had the crash it was on the fast lap and I think I was close to the 31.0 which was good for the hot conditions! But this is a really good point because the R1 is a really good bike even in these conditions. We still have some choice on the tyres so we will see what happens tomorrow. But the feeling is really good on the bike and we have a really good rhythm, so I think we can push more for the race. In general, I feel confident so I can’t wait to be on the track and start for the first race!”
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu: P10 - 1'31.560
“This afternoon, you know, unbelievably hot here! I see for the first time on the asphalt, 51-52 degrees. We just tried the race simulation with the other tyres, but looks not really fast but also not bad – we tried also some new set-up for the race. I am just focused on my race simulation, this is really important because I need to understand after 10 laps the bike for the feeling and also we need to understand which tyre is better for the race. For Superpole, I need a good lap time and I need to start on the front. But, tomorrow the weather looks more cold which will help for the grip. We will see, but today is not an easy day for me. For me, always important the race, but I am ready to fight – I will try to do everything I can.”
Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK:
“It’s great to be in Phillip Island in the sunshine and far nicer for everybody than it was in November! Our first day of the 2023 WorldSBK Championship was a similar outcome to the test, i.e. a very good day on Andrea’s side of the garage but more challenges to overcome for Toprak and his crew. Loka’s been super solid since the start of the official test on Monday morning, and this rolled into today’s performance with great pace on used tyres and excellent one-lap pace. A small crash at T10, pushing hard at the end of FP2, was unfortunate but it can happen – and far better to get it out of the way today. With Toprak, the positive point of the day was completing a 16-lap run in the heat of FP2. Honestly, it’s clear that we are struggling a bit to find his normal performance level and to make him comfortable – but this run, and the efforts he has made to give the best possible feedback, will help us take a step tomorrow.”