October 09 2022
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu masterfully won the Superpole Race at the ninth round of the 2022 FIM Superbike World Championship at the Algarve International Circuit in Portugal today, but was denied a victory “triple” in Race 2 where he finished in a hard-fought second position.
Without strategic tyre conservation, races decided by just tenths of a second have become a mainstay of this year’s WorldSBK competition in the 10-lap Superpole Race, as demonstrated brilliantly by Razgatlıoğlu this morning as he fought tooth and nail against the Ducati of Alvaro Bautista – ultimately winning by just 0.123s at the line.
But, as track temperatures rose above 42 degrees Celsius this afternoon for the 20-lap feature race, retaining tyre life was needed once again. Starting from pole position, Razgatlıoğlu continued his tried and tested approach to the race, initially following Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) to conserve grip for the closing stages of Race 2.
Then, the “titanic trio” of Razgatlıoğlu, Rea and Bautista once again went head-to-head, each attacking for the lead throughout the middle part of the race. With absolutely nothing to separate Razgatlıoğlu and Bautista across Portimão’s 15 corners, ultimately it came down to Portimao’s main straight to determine the outcome of the race.
Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK teammate Andrea Locatelli had two somewhat lonely races where he finished in strong and consistent sixth positions, but with improved pace throughout the weekend, the Italian rider leaves Portugal with more confidence for the final races of the season.
The WorldSBK Championship fight continues overseas almost immediately as the teams travel to Argentina in just over one week for the first of three fly-away events – Circuito San Juan Villicum plays host to Round 10 from 21-23 October.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu – SPRC: P1 / Race 2: P2
“Speaking first about this morning, because I am really enjoying the Superpole Race! Bautista passed me in the straight and then I passed him again many times – but the afternoon, the second race Alvaro is improving and he came back very strong again, and I am not easily passing him. I keep fighting for the win and I understand last three laps the front tyre is locking so I say okay, second position is enough because every lap, I catch him, and the last corner exit he go again – you know – the straight is crazy because his bike is very fast. I am happy, we are second position and we take good points for the championship, also I say thanks to my team because incredible job this weekend. We start very strong with two wins and second position finish today, this is not good enough but anyway, we are happy. My strategy is working perfect for the Superpole Race but in second race it was not quite enough! Again podium, and we keep fighting for the win – now I am looking at Argentina. It will not be easy, we know Ducati is very strong there but I try my best.”
Andrea Locatelli – SPRC: P6 / Race 2: P6
“The Race 2 rhythm was really fast again and I think I lost the possibility to stay with Alex and the front group after the second or third lap when Bassani crashed. In the end though, it was another positive weekend overall, we have good confidence with the bike and we know what we need to do. We have more info now and here we were stronger. We bring home some more points, so now we look forward to prepare for next week. This year, the level of WorldSBK is becoming higher – we are riding really fast every race. For me, it is not easy to be honest, I want more and we need to keep working. For sure I don’t have as much experience with the superbike, it’s just my second year but we have a good base and the aim is to keep pushing to take the maximum results.”
Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK:
“Honestly a great weekend for the team at this fantastic Portimao circuit, with two victories and a fighting second place for Toprak – and a very good comeback for Loka with a big handful of points after such a disappointing Barcelona event. Toprak simply could not have done more, there was nothing left on the table in any of the races and his team did a brilliant job to give him probably the best R1 we’ve had all season. But, in the end, over 20 laps in Race 2 it wasn’t enough against the combination of Bautista and his machine. Full credit to him, he is riding beautifully, but for riders of the quality of Toprak and Jonathan Rea to see their competitor disappear only in a straight line is quite frustrating and means that there is a clear technical advantage in the overall package, which we believe needs to be considered within the championship’s balance of performance criteria. We’ll move on to the last three rounds in Argentina, Indonesia and Australia in very positive spirits after a great weekend and push for more victories.”