July 15 2023
Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK riders Toprak Razgatlıoğlu and Andrea Locatelli took their second team 1-2 qualifying result of 2023, followed by a thrilling performance in Race 1 at the seventh round of the 2023 FIM Superbike World Championship in Italy.
After some confusion following Superpole this morning, where Locatelli initially had his fastest lap cancelled, the Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK squad lined up first and second on the grid for the first points-paying race at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari in WorldSBK since 2019.
It was “Loka” who got the hole-shot to lead the field into Turn 1, holding off attacks from Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) and his teammate Razgatlıoğlu until the Turkish ace hit the front on Lap 4. An opening set of laps that has audiences – and team management – equal parts thrilled and apprehensive!
The dream of a team 1-2 was shortly dispatched as main championship rivals Alvaro Bautista (Ducati) and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) made a charge for the podium as the race settled in. Razgatlıoğlu held off Bautista until Lap 12 this time out, taking a hard-fought second place podium position once again at the end of Lap 19. The silver lining was in the #54 rider achieving a special career milestone of 100 WorldSBK podiums with the result.
Locatelli also battled hard in the extreme Imola heat, crossing the line in fourth position with hopes of fine tuning his R1 WorldSBK set-up to battle for the podium for the full race distance.
Tomorrow is another chance to change the narrative, with a 15-minute Warm-Up at 9:00 CEST, the 10-lap Superpole Race at 11:00 and Race 2 at 14:00.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu – SP: P1 / Race 1: P2
“100 podiums, but now I am waiting for 100 wins! Today was not a bad race, just I am not 100% happy because I finish second position – my goal this weekend is to win the race, and in the beginning it feels good but when the tyres start to drop it is very difficult. I see also Bautista has very good acceleration on all straights – a really big advantage which gives him the gap. I try to keep fighting with him but not possible. Better than nothing, I finish the race second position and we will see tomorrow – normally we are really strong in the short race. We will work to improve rear grip and also Sector 1 and 2 – congratulations to all riders, very hot condition and not easy race, everyone did a really good job.”
Andrea Locatelli – SP: P2 / Race 1: P4
“It was really great to lead in the beginning of the race, I had great confidence and I could push really hard. But today, the choice we made for the front tyre was maybe wrong because I started to feel a lot sliding on the left side because the track was incredibly hot, especially in the last chicane. It was not easy, but in the end it was a quite good race – P4 and not too far from the podium. We just need to work a bit more and aim for the podium tomorrow. It’s my first time here in Imola with this bike, so I am happy to start like this!”
Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK:
“It’s fantastic to be back at the iconic Imola circuit, even if the May temperature we’ve been used to in the past are a lot more comfortable than the extreme heat we have been experiencing this weekend. The guys both had a very solid Friday, the R1 seems to be working a lot better at Imola than it did the last time we were here – and translating that performance into first and second on the grid was simply great to see. The race was tough for all the riders and in Loka’s case it potentially could have been a little bit better as he was a touch compromised by his choice of ultra-soft front tyre, but in the end he gave a very consistent and strong performance. Toprak was aggressive as he always is, led the race for many laps, used every tool he had at his disposal to try and win – but, like a stuck record, once again it wasn’t enough. The acceleration difference once the tyres have taken a drop is just a joke, and whilst Alvaro is riding beautifully, in the end the balance of performance is clearly not quite right.”