September 18 2021
It was a race to forget for Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK riders Toprak Razgatlıoğlu and Andrea Locatelli as rain and misfortune played havoc this afternoon, at the ninth round of the 2021 FIM Superbike World Championship at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
After a promising Superpole qualifying session that saw Razgatlıoğlu start from second on the grid, and Locatelli sixth, the team’s Turkish ace made a phenomenal start as the lights went out to pull away from the pack before the first corner.
Fresh from announcing his new contract with Yamaha until the end of 2023, Locatelli also made a superb start to follow his teammate in second position. Despite his best efforts, the young Italian was swallowed up by the chasing pack as he found himself struggling for corner exit grip in the wet conditions, and was only able to salvage 12th at the end of 20 laps.
Back at the front, after main championship rival Jonathan Rea made an early pass to lead in the opening laps, Razgatlıoğlu enjoyed a fantastic fight with independent Ducati rider Axel Bassani and then was able to find a winning pace to reel Rea back in as his confidence grew. On Lap 12, Razgatlıoğlu sent his #54 Yamaha R1 WorldSBK up the inside of the Kawasaki rider into Turn 4 to take control of the lead.
With five laps to go, disaster struck as a yet undiagnosed electrical fault halted Razgatlıoğlu’s R1 and his valiant efforts, and forced him to retire from the race.
Tomorrow is a new day for the Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK squad and with a clear weather forecast it will be a chance to reset and “go again”. A short 15-minute Warm-Up at 9:00 (CEST) precedes the 10-lap Superpole Race at 11:00 and the main 20-lap Race 2 at the later time of 15:15.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu: DNF
“Today was the first time I’m very fast in the wet conditions, my team give me a great bike and I could take the lead for the last laps… until the electrical problem arrived. So, I am surprised and happy about this performance, because you know I am not normally so fast in wet conditions, and normally I try my best just for a good position. But, I see that I can go to the front after I pass Johnny – and I say, this race is my race, we can win in the rain! I think every rider had a problem with entry to the corner and also rear sliding. My feeling was much better after some laps, with Bassani a little bit fighting, but also after I pass Johnny we go together. Then feeling good and I ride better because I know which corners I am sliding and I try also different lines for better grip. I am still surprised because wet conditions I am not normally fast, so this is a big improvement for me. After electrical problem of course I am very angry, but this weekend is not finished and also many races left this year – also two races tomorrow. I try my best, I try again for the win.”
Andrea Locatelli: P12
“It was a very difficult race for me, because I try to start very well and also in the first corner I made the second position, but in the end during the race I spin a lot on the rear tyre – I don’t know what the reason is but I still try to get the maximum on the wet condition. When I tried to open the gas, I continued to play with the throttle but I can’t go forward in the exit of the corner and so I lose many seconds just spinning, spinning! But, now we need to forget a little bit! We just need to understand what happened today, then we need to forget and stay focused on the next race because tomorrow we have another two races. I feel positive and also today we will learn something, and then we will see tomorrow. For sure, if we have dry conditions we are ready to fight with the front group!”
Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK:
“It was not the best day at the office and an extremely disappointing Race 1 here in Catalunya. This is a mechanical sport, and to let Toprak down today when he was leading the race with five laps to go in conditions that he’s previously struggled in, was devastating for everybody involved. The fault is being carefully assessed now, and naturally we’ll be doing everything in our power to avoid the chance of a repeat. Loka had an uncharacteristically difficult race. Along with his team, they believed the conditions wouldn’t stay as wet as they did for the full race distance and the final choice of bike setting meant that he unfortunately didn’t have enough feedback or grip at the rear. This team knows how to win, we will stay positive and look to bounce back tomorrow.”