September 07 2023
Keeping their eyes firmly on the 2023 FIM Superbike World Championship, Toprak Razgatlıoğlu and Andrea Locatelli return to action after the summer break with a Yamaha-favourite track: Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours.
The site of a fair few double podiums – and one almost-triple winning weekend in 2021 – France has been good to the Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK crew. With six wins in total, including his first two in the premier class, it’s no surprise that Magny-Cours has special meaning for Razgatlıoğlu. Teammate Locatelli too can find confidence in his own past results, with a terrific third place in 2021 during his rookie WorldSBK season.
The circuit itself is a contrasting one, with a history to match since it first made its appearance on the WorldSBK calendar in 1991 and became a regular favourite from 2003, as #55 Crew Chief Andrew Pitt explains.
“The first section of the track is really fast and flowing – a difficult part to get right but really nice when you do. Then you’ve got the really hard braking section, tight hairpin and some other hard braking areas – so you need a good compromise on the Yamaha R1 WorldSBK set-up because these areas are where the overtakes will happen. You need a bike that’s strong on the brakes but you also need to have confidence in the fast section, because you can make up a lot of time there if the bike is working well.”
Of course, inclement weather has played a massive part in throwing a cat amongst the pigeons almost every year in recent memory – but if this weekend’s weather forecast is correct, that could be very different this year.
“Generally you’ll get a day or at least two or three sessions in the wet – that’s just how the weather seems to be in the middle of France in September!” Pitt says. “Normally it’s very cool so tyre wear is not an issue, but the strange thing this year is that we will have all of Pirelli’s softer tyre options but the forecast is for hot, dry weather this weekend. Mid-30s is very strange for Magny-Cours! The plan is to start with a strong set-up base on Friday without any crazy changes and allow the riders to find a good feeling during Free Practice.”
The start of Free Practice 1 on Friday morning is at the usual time of 10:30 CEST to open the on-track schedule for WorldSBK, but fans should take note of the change in time for Race 2 on Sunday to 15:15.
“I’m very happy that we come back again to Magny-Cours! I have very good memories there, my first wins and winning a lot with Yamaha – almost three wins in 2021! After Most, the championship looks difficult now but I have just one target – I try to win all races. My dream for France this weekend is: every race keep fighting and try to win. This season is strange but every weekend together with my team we try our best, so we will see what is possible. I am waiting for all fans, this race has a nice atmosphere – I like it a lot, see you all there!”
“After a long break we return on track and I am excited! We didn’t do any summer test before this race and for sure, Most was not the best race for us, but I have been working a lot outside the track physically and mentally to be ready again in Magny-Cours to fight for good results. I have spoken with my Crew Chief Andrew to work on our plan for the weekends for my own focus at 100%, to try to get more performance and push really hard to be fast in every session. I’m excited to be back on track, Magny-Cours is a nice track – not easy, some parts with hard braking and some parts more flowing, especially Sector 2 and Sector 3 with the fast chicane. We will see, but I think if we start the weekend in a good way, we can get some good results and if I have a good feeling with the bike and everything comes together there is still an opportunity to fight for third position in the championship – this is a good target!”