April 10 2022
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu and Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK fought to maximise their potential, as the Turkish rider completed the opening round of the 2022 FIM Superbike World Championship with two further third-place podiums at MotorLand Aragon today, leaving Spain third in the overall standings.
Fans both at the track and worldwide were treated to a spectacular show on track for both Race 2 and in particular, the 10-lap Superpole Race, where Razgatlıoğlu and Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Ducati) touched through the final corner in a no-holds barred sprint to the finish. The two riders, along with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) traded places and rubber for the podium positions throughout.
Competition continued to heat up in Race 2, where Razgatlıoğlu strategically followed the front runners of Alvaro Bautista (Ducati), Rinaldi and Rea in order to save his tyres for the final laps. A mistake from Rea on Lap 4 gave Yamaha’s defending champion a chance of third position, but it wasn’t until Lap 16 that Razgatlıoğlu consolidated his third podium of the weekend with a signature overtake into Turn 1 on Rinaldi.
Razgatlıoğlu and Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK leave Aragon with their best results at this circuit, and with just an 18-point deficit to early series leader Bautista. As a comparison, in 2021, Razgatlıoğlu left the first round in fourth position in the Riders’ Championship, 27 points from the lead.
Locatelli made a step forward in the Superpole Race this morning to finish in a close fifth position, just 1.5s behind his teammate on the podium and in touch with the “top group” of riders. In Race 2, the young Italian pushed hard to join the battle at the front but unfortunately lost the front into the slow left-hander of Turn 9 coming down the hill. He was able to recover his R1 WorldSBK and finish the race in 19th, remaining positive about the potential to fight for the podium at the second round of the season, just around the corner at TT Circuit Assen in the Netherlands from 22-24 April.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu – SPRC: P3 / Race 2: P3
“I think last year we did not start so strong here, because normally this is a difficult track for Yamaha – but three podiums is better. For me this is a good weekend, I try in the race to improve and I’m fighting with Johnny sometimes, but in the last laps my tyres had a big drop in grip and I am not able to fight again. Third position is not bad and I am again on the podium, so this is good. In the Superpole Race I enjoy a lot the fight with Rinaldi and Jonathan, in the last corner I need to pass Michael because I need the podium and the points! This is racing and we race a lot like this together in Superstock 600 in 2015! In the second race I saw him in second position pushing the tyre and see it start to drop, I say okay now I start to push – I was trying to look after the tyre because in the final laps there is a big drop in grip. I passed Michael and tried to go for Johnny but it was not possible. But anyway, everybody tries their best and I try this weekend to fight for the podium – I am happy and also big thanks to my team because every session we are trying for a good set up for the race and finally we have improved.”
Andrea Locatelli – SPRC: P5 / Race 2: P19
“I wanted to try and go with the front group in Race 2, by pushing hard in the second lap, and I lost the front at Turn 9. I re-joined in case there was an opportunity for a restart, but I couldn’t do anything so instead I used the race to play a little bit with the settings and understand more as well as collect data for the guys. We lost the opportunity to close the weekend maybe in the top five, but it’s just the first round. I want to push and now is the time to take the risk to try and stay with the front group. I was happy with the Superpole Race because in the end I was close to Toprak and Jonathan – I took the motivation for Race 2 from this, but unfortunately I crashed. Now, we will put this behind us and continue to work for Assen to improve more.”
Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK:
“Honestly, it’s been a challenging first race weekend of the year as it often seems to be for us in Aragon. But, I’m satisfied with the massive efforts made by the team and the riders today. We took a good step in performance compared to yesterday and Toprak ran a lot closer to Jonathan which is encouraging. He made a massive effort today to maximise the results and showed exactly why he is a World Champion. Loka rode very well in the Superpole Race, finishing only 1.5s behind Jonathan and Toprak, and his ambition was clear in the second race to run with the front group. When you push that hard, sometimes mistakes happen but despite this, it’s been an encouraging start to the season for Andrea. Assen is a very different race track and we go there with a smaller points deficit to the lead of the championship than we did at last year’s second round – so let’s build from here and see what we can do.”