May 21 2021
Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK rider Toprak Razgatlıoğlu drew first blood as the fastest man on track, as the 2021 FIM Superbike World Championship kicked off at MotorLand Aragón today.
The 24-year-old Turkish sensation was the only rider to break the 1’50 barrier with a blisteringly-quick lap time in the morning’s cooler Free Practice 1 session. A 1’49.952 put Razgatlıoğlu more than three-tenths clear of his nearest rival, Chaz Davies on the private Team GoEleven Ducati.
As track temperatures topped 48°C (air: 27°C) at 15:00 for Free Practice 2, across the field the focus shifted to used-tyre stints and race simulation work. Razgatlıoğlu demonstrated a mature approach in working to understand the Yamaha R1 WorldSBK’s performance under varying grip conditions, as he and his teammate were the only riders to complete full race distance runs in the heat.
On the opposite side of the pit box, Andrea Locatelli had a difficult start to his first race weekend in WorldSBK, struggling to match the faster pace set by the front runners in Free Practice 1. However, after taking the middle part of the day to reset and work with his crew, the 2020 FIM Supersport World Champion bounced back in the afternoon to enjoy improved confidence and a positive long run in preparation for Race 1 tomorrow.
Both riders will have one final Free Practice 3 session tomorrow morning with 30 minutes to make any final adjustments ahead of the all-important Superpole qualifying at 11:10 (CEST), where they will have just 15 minutes to set their fastest lap time to establish grid position for both Race 1 at 14:00 and Sunday’s 10-lap Superpole Race.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu: Combined P1 1'49.952
“Today was a very good start! I am happy because everything worked really well together. In the afternoon, we tried a full race simulation which was a good improvement compared to last year, and we understand a lot about how the bike and tyres behave after the first 10 laps. This is very important for the race to understand where and how I can be faster. We continue working because in Free Practice 3 we will try some small changes to see if we can improve more. We will see if we can fight with the top riders tomorrow, not easy at this track but I will try!”
Andrea Locatelli: Combined P17 1’51.781
“In the end, I think we did a much better job this afternoon because the feeling with the bike returned to how it was during the last test here in Aragón, which gives me more confidence. We made a proper long run during the afternoon also to understand the tyre and see if it is possible to race on the softer compound. I am happy because the feeling is now good, we just need to work on the exit of the corner. Now I can brake and stop the bike well, this area is very good and I hope we can improve in all areas tomorrow ahead of the first race. We will see! It is the first race for me and for sure, I need to enjoy it and also learn for the next races on Sunday.”
Paul Denning - Team Principal, Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK
“We’re used to being in Phillip Island from the middle of February to start the WorldSBK season, so it’s great to finally be able to begin here in Aragón. It’s been a very positive start and honestly a little bit better than expected! Toprak showed great outright pace in this morning’s FP1 and backed it up with a full-distance race simulation this afternoon in the heat – which was difficult, and we suffered with quite a drop in grip as the simulation went on, but the information gathered is absolutely invaluable and also shows Toprak’s improvement as a professional to do the hard work in preparation for the races. Andrea had a tough start to his career as an official Yamaha WorldSBK rider this morning – maybe a little bit too much tension and a little bit too much expectation. But he bounced back very well this afternoon, helped by his teammate allowing him to follow at the start of the long run, and Andrea did well to increase his pace compared to this morning in this afternoon’s hot temperatures. Tomorrow afternoon we race for the first time in 2021 and we’re looking forward to it!”