September 23 2023
Having treated fans to another thrilling Race 1 today, Toprak Razgatlıoğlu chalked up his 26th podium of the 2023 FIM Superbike World Championship with second place at MotorLand Aragon, as teammate Andrea Locatelli crossed the line in a strong fourth.
The results came after a “job well-done” in Superpole qualifying which saw the Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK riders line up third and fourth on the grid respectively, where they were in the perfect position to capitalise as Race 1 started.
At lights out, Razgatlıoğlu made a clean getaway and after a small collision with his teammate in Turn 2 ran third in the opening laps behind Alvaro Bautista (Ducati) and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki), conserving tyre life as much as possible for the final laps. But a shock mistake from Bautista on Lap 6 slid the current championship leader out of contention – opening the gates to a classic TR versus JR battle for the win.
The two looked set to joust right to the chequered flag until the second Ducati of Michael Ruben Rinaldi entered the fray on Lap 13 to reignite a three-way, three-marque battle. Despite a valiant effort from both Razgatlıoğlu and Rea, Rinaldi slipped through to claim victory. On Lap 16, Razgatlıoğlu made the move that sealed second position from Rea, hard on the brakes into Turn 1.
Locatelli had a more lonely race, but his consistency and pace put him well ahead of the chasing pack for a fine fourth place – both the Italian and Turkish riders’ results a testament to the work completed overnight by Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK and Yamaha’s engineers to take a big step forward from a frustrating Friday.
While tomorrow is the final day in Aragon, there is still plenty of racing left in 2023 – with no waiting ahead of next week for Round 11 of the WorldSBK Championship at Portimão. Before the trip south, there are two more races in the premier class on Sunday and a maximum of 37 points on offer – the same as Razgatlioglu’s current points deficit to championship leader Bautista – from the Superpole Race and Race 2.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu – SP: P3 / Race 1: P2
“First I say, I am really happy! This weekend I am not starting really strong and now we improve my R1 a lot – especially for the race. My plan normally is to follow Johnny and Alvaro to save the tyre, and after Alvaro crashed, I just changed the plan to follow Johnny – thinking if I stay just behind in the last two laps then try to fight for the win. But also Michael was very strong and he came back! I was just thinking his rear tyre start to drop in grip, maybe last two laps – but he was still strong. I just try my best, I am never winning at this circuit. I push a lot and finally I did second position, this is good for the championship because now the gap is just 37 points. I am really happy, especially after it was so difficult yesterday. Today I was feeling more grip, just need to improve corner entry and I hope we are fighting for the win tomorrow.”
Andrea Locatelli – SP: P4 / Race 1: P4
“We improved a lot from yesterday! It was a really frustrating day, we tried to work well from the beginning but it was difficult to find grip – but this morning we tried a new solution and we found a really good step forward that could help us to manage the bike and push hard. The qualifying was great and we started from P4, so in the end it was a really good race! We just need a little bit more especially at the start because I lost time in the first laps, but in general it was a really big improvement today so we need to be happy! Now we are looking forward to prepare for tomorrow, but I think we can have two more strong races, to be fast and try to get a podium.”
Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK:
“We didn’t win today, but after yesterday, today’s result feels like a one-two! I’m very proud of the team and Yamaha’s engineers for working as a close-knit group and finding the solutions necessary to take such a big step forward today. The riders of course have to perform with what they have been given and they didn’t allow yesterday’s challenges to phase them – both came out swinging today with fantastic performances. Let’s see what happens tomorrow – but for Aragon, one of the most difficult circuits on the calendar for us in the past, today was definitely a good day.”