July 30 2023
Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK’s Toprak Razgatlıoğlu claimed his fourth pole position of the season and then followed it up by storming to second during a frantic Race 1 in mixed conditions at the Autodrom Most, Round 8 of the 2023 FIM Superbike World Championship, with his teammate Andrea Locatelli battling hard to secure a top-six finish.
Saturday in the Czech Republic had its fair share of drama during qualifying and Race 1, with changing conditions in the afternoon meaning that tyre strategy became key. Sunshine greeted the riders for the 20-minute Superpole session in the morning, with Razgatlıoğlu setting the bar as he showed sensational pace to secure his 12th WorldSBK career pole position, and the 50th for Yamaha in WorldSBK, by setting a new lap record with a 1’30.801.
Following some confusion due to yellow flag infringements and cancelled laps, Locatelli had his fastest time removed but still managed a 1’31.680, which meant the Italian rider would line up seventh on the grid.
Then rain before the start created a wet Race 1, but with the 4.212km track constantly drying tyre choice became vital, and both Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK riders opted for an intermediate setup which would turn out to be exactly the right selection.
When the lights went out for the 22-lap race, the riders who gambled on full wets broke away at the front, but as the track conditions improved, Razgatlıoğlu and Locatelli started to battle their way back through the pack as the conditions began to favour inters.
The Turkish ace scythed through the riders ahead of him as his confidence grew, and by lap 10 he was up to second, setting his sights on hunting down Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki), who had a 12-second advantage at the front. Maintaining his pace and closing constantly, Razgatlıoğlu just ran out of laps, bringing his R1 home in a superb second place, 4.007s behind Rea, with “Loka” fighting all the way to the line to finish in sixth.
In the process, Razgatlıoğlu secured his 19th consecutive podium to close the gap to Alvaro Bautista (Ducati) at the top of the championship standings to 54 points, with two more chances to reduce the deficit even further on Sunday. Locatelli is now fourth overall, eight points behind Rea and confident of being able to fight for the podium during the rest of the weekend.
The action at Most on Sunday starts with the 15-minute Warm-Up session at 9:00 CEST, followed by the 10-lap Superpole Race at 11:00 and Race 2 at 14:00.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu – Superpole: P1 / Race 1: P2
“The beginning of the race for me was very difficult because I don’t have much experience on the intermediate tyres. It was only the third time in my career that I have used them and I was a bit nervous. After five or six laps, I was able to start pushing and make up places. Then during the last six laps, I gave it everything to try and get the victory and closed the gap to just four seconds when we crossed the line, but I just ran out of time. We took a gamble, and it was tough at the start of the race, but in the end, we managed to close the gap to Bautista in the championship standings, so it proved to be a good choice. It was tricky for everyone with the changing conditions, but the team did a great job; we made the right choice and are ready to fight for victory tomorrow.”
Andrea Locatelli – Superpole: P7 / Race 1: P6
“It was a tricky race, as choosing and managing the tyres was difficult. We went for the right option with the intermediates, even though we lost some time initially, because we could make up places as the race continued. We made the most out of a difficult situation; although I would have preferred to have been on the podium, I suffered a bit during the last few laps. We will look at the data and try and understand where we can improve. I hope the conditions are dry tomorrow as I think we have a very good potential and can fight for the podium.”
Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK:
“It was a very positive but also complicated day here in Most. Qualifying saw Toprak produce incredible pace, which set us up for a potential victory this afternoon, and even if “Loka” was starting from seventh, we were confident he could fight for the podium. The rain before the race made everything much more complex, but the riders and team collectively made great tyre decisions. The first few laps were a little bit worrying on Toprak’s side, as clearly, he did not have the confidence to push as hard as some of the other riders on intermediates. Still, once he found his feeling, he again showed that both he and the R1 are a match for anybody, reducing a 15-second gap to Johnathan Rea on lap seven to just four seconds when they crossed the line. Of course, we would have rather won the race, but in such treacherous conditions, a very solid second place is more than welcome. Loka’s race to sixth was challenging, and with a little bit more feel in the last few laps, he could have possibly finished fourth, but as I said, it was complicated out there, and he did a solid job too. If it is dry tomorrow, we will look to go even better with both riders.”