February 25 2023
Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK rider Toprak Razgatlıoğlu delivered a stunning pole position lap in Superpole followed by a third-place podium in the first FIM Superbike World Championship race of the season at Phillip Island in Australia today. Teammate Andrea Locatelli found himself on the back foot, qualifying on the third row for Race 1 in P9 but rode well to finish with a solid fourth place.
Turkish ace Razgatlıoğlu’s recovered spectacularly after struggling for confidence on the tricky 4.445km track layout during Friday Free Practice with some of the hottest local conditions ever seen in WorldSBK. Today’s weather was a completely different story though, as both temperatures and rain fell on the island.
A dry Superpole qualifying session saw Razgatlıoğlu set a scintillating lap time of 1'29.400 to start Race 1 from pole position. But inclement weather in Free Practice 3 meant limited running for all riders before the first points-paying race of the season this afternoon.
The playing field was levelled by the start of Race 1 as heavy rain fell across the circuit late this afternoon. Despite a low visibility start, the Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK riders settled into a clean race rhythm in the opening laps to run fourth and fifth with Razgatlıoğlu in front.
The Turkish rider found a way through on Kawasaki’s Alex Lowes for P3 at the end of Lap 4 to take his first podium of the season at the chequered flag, with “Loka” following his teammate across the line in P4 thanks to his own consistency across the race.
Tomorrow is the final day of action at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit with a short Warm-Up session at 10:30 local time (UTC+11) and two more chances at podiums, points and race wins: Superpole Race at 13:00 and 22-lap Race 2 at 16:00.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu – Race 1: P3
“I am very happy we are on the podium again for the first race of the season. I struggled with some rear grip, especially in the right corner, so I tried to do my best in the race and try a different line to find the grip. Anyway, we are third position and we are there! This is good and good for the motivation! I am happy for this because we are improving in wet condition and just I need a little bit more grip and I am fighting with Johnny and Alvaro. I hope tomorrow we are fighting a lot more with other riders, I don’t like to ride alone like today. Pole position was nice surprise for me also! In the testing and Friday, I was not in the top because I was working for race bike but finally this morning I am feeling much better and rear grip we are improving. First time I use SC0 in qualifying this week, there was unbelievable step in grip – like a qualifying tyre. We did a really good lap time, I was also surprised!”
Andrea Locatelli – Race 1: P4
“I am happy because we closed the race in the top five, finished fourth – it was a bit complicated this morning on the qualifying, unfortunately we just lost only like 0.2-0.3s to be on the front row because the gap was really close, but in the end I was fast and I was ready to be competitive in a dry race. But then… we raced in the wet and the feeling was not bad! It was the first time we used new parts and set-up that we tried during testing in the wet and in general, I am happy because everything was good and we got a really good result, no mistakes – now we are looking forward to being fast and ready for tomorrow. I think we can continue to do very well.”
Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK:
“The cliché about Phillip Island is that there are often four seasons in one day – and we didn’t really expect a full wet race after riding around in over 50 degrees of track temperature yesterday afternoon! It was the same for everyone, in that nobody had the opportunity to get the bikes set up for the conditions, but both sides of the garage did a good job and it looked like both Toprak and Loka had pretty competitive packages. Toprak reconfirmed his massive improvement in wet conditions over the last season and a half, and Loka, following his incredibly strong showing over the course of the test and yesterday, did well to put together a great race and finish P4. Toprak’s incredible pole position earlier in the day puts him in a good spot for the Superpole Race tomorrow and even though Loka starts P9, if he makes the same kind of start as he did today, he’ll be in with a shot too.”