May 07 2023
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu and Andrea Locatelli took the fight together to their competition, and came away with three podium finishes in two more spectacular races at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya at the fourth round of the 2023 FIM Superbike World Championship today.
Target number one was to improve grid position for both riders in the 10-lap Superpole Race this morning, but as light rain fell across all sectors in the final laps, both Razgatlıoğlu and Locatelli displayed their mastery of the Yamaha R1 WorldSBK in slippery conditions to take a terrific Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK two-three podium finish. The team’s Italian young-gun’s pace and advancement in particular, after dropping down to 11th in the opening laps, was a spectacular show for the Catalan fans.
The pair earned themselves a front-row start in Race 2 with both riders making a clean getaway as the lights went out. Razgatlıoğlu only got a brief look at the lead before eventual race-winner Alvaro Bautista (Ducati) blew past the Turkish rider on the straight. It looked as though the second Ducati of Michael Ruben Rinaldi would do the same, until the Italian #21 rider lost time in the closing laps and allowed Razgatlıoğlu to ride the final lap of his life to catch and overtake him in the final corner.
Teammate Locatelli was on course for another top five finish, but a technical problem restricted his performance a bit and meant he was only able to return in seventh place. However, the overall consistent weekend once again consolidates “Loka’s” advantage over Jonathan Rea for third place in the Riders’ Championship standings, with Razgatlıoğlu in second, while Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK stays in touch with Aruba.it Racing – Ducati for the Teams’ Championship title, trailing by just eight points. Both teams and most of the WorldSBK field head to Misano for a two-day on 11-12 May this coming week.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu – SPRC: P2 / Race 2: P2
“In Race 2, I am waiting for Michael’s tyre to drop earlier, because he was pushing a lot! I see in the last laps, he has trouble and I push hard – finally last corner I pass him! But I also am on the limit, the front tyre and rear tyre, brakes also many time locking – but we are second position and finish the race. This weekend was really good for me – okay we are not winning, but three times second position and taking good points for the championship. In the Superpole Race, when Jonathan crashed I release the brake directly because I don’t understand what happened, like if the asphalt is wet or dry, and I ride more calm in the last lap. I checked after if I push him outside or not because this is not my style, but then I see he went wide and touched the white line. He tried his best, I understand him! He is a really strong rider and for me always good to fight with him. Thanks to my team, we tried our best – I hope we are fighting for the win in Misano, we will see.”
Andrea Locatelli – SPRC: P3 / Race 2: P7
“Race 2 was a bit tricky, I don’t know why, but we fight from the beginning with really high vibration in the front and I needed to continue to fight. But actually, until the middle of the race I was quite happy because I was at the back of Toprak and Alex (Lowes), and the rhythm was good, the feeling was good. I continue to fight even with this vibration, but then also with the last five laps I had a big, big drop in tyre grip. In every weekend, something is changing with the conditions, the track and the tyres! Today, after the Superpole Race, I was really positive to have a good Race 2 and we were close to fight for the podium again, but honestly it’s another great weekend. We want every time to try to fight for the podium and this morning, I saw the opportunity that especially in the last sector it was not raining a lot so I tried to push and to recover because to start from P10 was really difficult! To get P3 and start from the front row was really good – I am a bit disappointed then about Race 2, but I have to thank the team and Yamaha for the really good job over the weekend.”
Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK:
“Given the nature of the circuit and the challenges we’ve had here before, honestly, three second-place finishes for Toprak feels like three wins - topped up nicely by an awesome podium for Loka this morning in the Superpole Race. Unless you’ve got the outright performance advantage enjoyed by the winner’s package at this track, it’s always about conserving some tyre for the end – and Toprak did that masterfully in Race 2, retaining enough rear grip to mount an incredible chase to Rinaldi in the last couple of laps and securing his third second-place of the weekend. Loka had some technical difficulties in Race 2 which restricted his performance a little bit, but has none-the-less reaffirmed his massively improved level in 2023 and in general has had another great race weekend. On to Misano test next week – thanks to Yamaha, to everyone involved in the project and our extremely hard-working team. The second half of the year offers us more circuits at which we can challenge to win and that’s now very much the target.”