May 03 2023
Next up on the 2023 FIM Superbike World Championship calendar is a return to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, which will see Toprak Razgatlıoğlu and Andrea Locatelli take on the fourth round of the series in the Catalonian sunshine.
A veritable “home away from home”, many teams including the championship’s two Barcelona-based outfits use the 4.657km Grand Prix circuit for testing since its inclusion in the WorldSBK calendar four years ago – the most recent test taking place last month.
Despite the combined test mileage, Locatelli has the edge on his teammate in terms of kilometres covered here due to his early career in Moto2 and Moto3, not to mention an emphatic FIM Supersport World Championship title celebration in 2020. For Razgatlıoğlu, three podiums from seven race starts are a silver lining in what has been a bit of an “unlucky” track for the Turk so far.
In typical “GP” circuit style, Barcelona’s long corners require a set-up that allows the Yamaha R1 WorldSBK to turn well – in particular for Turns 3, 4, 9, 13 and to allow a good run off Turn 14 onto the main straight. Razgatlıoğlu’s Crew Chief Phil Marron says they must prioritise electronics settings to control and minimise wheel spin in the same long corners to look after the rear tyre – on the predominantly stressed right-hand side. For the well-recognised “Toprak Style” of riding, the #54 crew also need efficient stopping power in the hard-braking zones of Turns 1 and 10.
First exits this week will start on Friday morning with Free Practice 1 at 10:30 local time (CEST) and the second, 45-minute Free Practice 2 at 15:00 before the race weekend kicks off in earnest on Saturday.
“For Barcelona, I am feeling a bit unlucky at this circuit in the past! The test here last month was not easy, but we made good improvements in Assen and the final setting was a good feeling, so I hope this can help us make a better race also in this track. The race will not be easy, we saw this last year, but I will do my best to see good results as always.”
“Barcelona is another interesting track and last year was not so bad for us, just a bit unlucky because I was pushed out during the Superpole Race and in Race 2 I crashed – Saturday was a bit tricky with the tyre but we started from P4 in qualifying and I had a good feeling on the bike. We will see what we can do during the weekend, but for sure we have another chance. If we can work on the bike set-up and find a solution to manage the tyre well especially in the beginning of the race, I hope we can fight for the podium again. This is the target. It is a good track for me and I am looking forward to being back on the bike so soon after Assen to keep the momentum going.”
Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK:
“After kicking off the European part of the season in Assen with four podiums over the three races, we move on to Barcelona – which is challenging track for us. But, we are ready to maximise our performance there and do everything possible to prepare to give both our riders the best package to fight hard for the best possible results. The season is long, anything can happen, so we remain focused on optimising the potential in every single race. Toprak and Loka are in strong second and third positions in the championship and they are both performing well, so we are hopeful of bringing positive momentum into the Catalunya event.”