July 23 2021
Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK riders Toprak Razgatlıoğlu and Andrea Locatelli both finished within seven tenths of a second of the fastest lap time in Free Practice today, as the fifth round of the 2021 FIM Superbike World Championship began at Assen in the Netherlands.
The pair made up the sixth and 13th-place positions respectively as part of a densely packed main field of 14 top riders within less than a second of defending WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea’s time of 1’34.391.
Current 2021 championship leader Razgatlıoğlu and his crew found the combination of the new Assen surface and cooler conditions made it difficult to determine the optimal choice from Pirelli’s three rear tyre compounds available this weekend – a dilemma his Italian teammate Locatelli also shared, while finishing the day happily just 0.69s off the fastest time.
The race weather forecast is almost anyone’s guess as thunderstorms are due by early evening tomorrow and predicted to continue into Sunday. But the team is keeping its fingers crossed for dry conditions particularly for the 15-minute window of Superpole qualifying at 11:10 (CEST) and 21-lap Race 1 at 14:00, all after one final Free Practice session at 9:00 of 30 minutes.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu: Combined P6 1'34.755
“Every rider was very close today, and also all riders are trying to understand the rear tyre because the SCX tyre and soft tyre did not work so well in this conditions. We did not try a long run like normal, just focus to find a good tyre and good setting for the race. Tomorrow we will also try again a change to the setup in FP3 because I am not quite feeling ready. For me it is different from the last time in 2019 because it is the first time riding the Yamaha here, but it was not bad! Every rider was very fast and also we had a quite ok start, but I need a little more. I am focused on each race, to try to fight for the podium – but also tomorrow qualifying will be important for a good start position.”
Andrea Locatelli: Combined P13 1’35.081
“I’m really happy because today we worked a lot around the tyres and we are not so far from the front – for sure the condition is not so nice because the wind was cold and the temperature on the asphalt was not high, so it is difficult to understand which tyre to use. For tomorrow we have some idea and we will see, but I feel good with the bike because I can push – this is very important and I think we can make a fast lap for qualifying ready for Race 1. We worked really well together as a team today, I am very happy with how it went and we will continue tomorrow.”
Paul Denning, Team Principal – Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK:
“It’s nice to be back at another iconic circuit that was missing from the 2020 schedule, and also for it to be in July without the snow we saw in April 2019! The character of the Assen track – open, fast and flowing – sets a different challenge than the circuits we have visited recently and has also created very tightly-packed lap times at the end of day one. Toprak is pretty close to the top but at this stage is not happy with either the outright pace or consistency, so work will be done overnight to improve the rear grip and the overall bike balance – and time will be spent with Niccolò Canepa, our rider coach, to see where on the track Toprak can also improve himself. Andrea has had a strong day one, closer to the best lap time than we’ve been all year and also his rhythm and consistency has been impressive. His 17-lap long run this afternoon answered some questions and raised a few others, and we will be using that and all the other information we have to improve each Yamaha R1 package for the guys tomorrow.”