July 24 2021
Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK racer Toprak Razgatlıoğlu stayed in the fight for the 2021 FIM Superbike World Championship title by finishing on the podium with third place in Race 1 at Assen today, while teammate Andrea Locatelli took an equal WorldSBK career-best fifth position.
Razgatlıoğlu’s podium was almost compromised before the race started, as a hectic Superpole session saw the Turkish gun uncharacteristically crash at Turn 16 without having banked a qualifying lap. With the clock ticking down, he recovered his #54 Yamaha R1 WorldSBK from the low-side slide and returned to the pit box. Following a monumental repair effort from the whole Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK crew, completed in less than six minutes, Razgatlıoğlu left pit-lane with three minutes to go in the 15-minute session – enough to set one flying lap time, and deliver an astonishing P2 time just 0.186s from pole.
The battle for Race 1 honours was ultimately a three-horse race, as championship protagonists Razgatlıoğlu, defending champion Jonathan Rea and Scott Redding broke away from the pack. While 24-year-old Razgatlıoğlu was able to fight with Rea for the lead in the opening stages, a faster-than-anticipated drop in front tyre grip meant he was left going toe-to-toe with the Ducati of Redding for the runner up position until the race was red-flagged on Lap 19.
Razgatlıoğlu less than satisfied with the result, but teammate Locatelli took great confidence from both his seventh position in Superpole and overall Race 1 performance – finishing only six seconds from the winner with a relative race pace faster than the leading riders in the closing laps.
Tomorrow will be a different day in many ways, with thunderstorms and rain forecast around the same time as both the 10-lap sprint Superpole Race at 11:00 (CEST) and the final full-length Race 2 scheduled at 14:00. There will be one chance to test different setups prior to “lights out” with a short 15-minute Warm Up session starting at 9:00.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu – Race 1: P3
“My plan was to follow Jonathan, but in the race I was feeling some problems because the front tyre was destroyed – and after I see that Scott is also not really fast, so I say, okay I wait until the last lap and try to pass him for second position. But then we saw the red flag… so I am not really happy today because I don’t want to settle for third position, but we are taking good points in a difficult race. Tomorrow we will try again for the best position and I will try a different front tyre for the next race. Thank you to everyone in my team today for the incredible work in Superpole, without this the podium would not have been possible and now we can fight again tomorrow.”
Andrea Locatelli – Race 1: P5
“I’m really, really happy – we had a really good race today because the gap to the front was close and the feeling with the bike from Friday is excellent. We worked well and I was able to make no mistakes, so maybe we can try to push a little bit more! Tonight, for sure, we will work a bit more to understand what we can do for tomorrow. I think this is my best race because the gap is really close, I was able to ride really fast although we lost a little bit of time at the start of the race with another rider. I tried to pass him to go with the front group but in the end we lost the time. It’s a really good place for me in Assen, I love the track and this is one of the key points! This was also the first “normal” qualifying that we start on the third row without penalties, which I am also really happy about. We look forward to tomorrow, and also the guys did a fantastic job today and we will continue to improve a little bit more.”
Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK:
“We’ve had a lot of success recently and therefore a podium for Toprak and a highly competitive fifth place for Andrea could be viewed as disappointing, but honestly, I’m really happy with the race today. It looks like team and rider didn’t choose the best front tyre in Toprak’s case, who was suffering along with Redding in the final third of the race, but apart from that we ran Jonathan closer than might have been expected here in Assen – not one of Toprak’s best circuits in the past. It’s quite possible second position might have been ours with two more laps, but with such a violent accident for Jonas Folger, the main priority always has to be safety.
Also super happy for Andrea! He was excited coming here to Assen, one of his favourite tracks, and he’s ridden superbly all weekend – zero mistakes, very consistent and increasingly fast speed with his best outright qualifying to start Race 1 from P7. Fifth place in the race, but more importantly only six seconds from the winner is another great step forward. A massive thanks to the crew, both Toprak’s and Locatelli’s, for the incredible work they did to get Toprak back out at the end of Superpole qualifying to complete that one flying lap and make the podium possible.”