3rd Mar 2023
RAZGATLIOGLU GOES FROM POLE TO WET-WEATHER PODIUM AS LOCATELLI SHINES BRIGHT IN PHILLIP ISLAND
Razgatlioglu goes from Pole to Wet-Weather Podium in Phillip Island Come-Back
Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK rider Toprak Razgatlıoğlu delivered a stunning pole position lap in Superpole followed by a third-place podium in the first FIM Superbike World Championship race of the season at Phillip Island in Australia today. Teammate Andrea Locatelli found himself on the back foot, qualifying on the third row for Race 1 in P9 but rode well to finish with a solid fourth place.
Turkish ace Razgatlıoğlu’s recovered spectacularly after struggling for confidence on the tricky 4.445km track layout during Friday Free Practice with some of the hottest local conditions ever seen in WorldSBK. Today’s weather was a completely different story though, as both temperatures and rain fell on the island.
A dry Superpole qualifying session saw Razgatlıoğlu set a scintillating lap time of 1'29.400 to start Race 1 from pole position. But inclement weather in Free Practice 3 meant limited running for all riders before the first points-paying race of the season this afternoon.
The playing field was levelled by the start of Race 1 as heavy rain fell across the circuit late this afternoon. Despite a low visibility start, the Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK riders settled into a clean race rhythm in the opening laps to run fourth and fifth with Razgatlıoğlu in front.
The Turkish rider found a way through on Kawasaki’s Alex Lowes for P3 at the end of Lap 4 to take his first podium of the season at the chequered flag, with “Loka” following his teammate across the line in P4 thanks to his own consistency across the race.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu – Race 1: P3
“I am very happy we are on the podium again for the first race of the season. I struggled with some rear grip, especially in the right corner, so I tried to do my best in the race and try a different line to find the grip. Anyway, we are third position and we are there! This is good and good for the motivation! I am happy for this because we are improving in wet condition and just I need a little bit more grip and I am fighting with Johnny and Alvaro. I hope tomorrow we are fighting a lot more with other riders, I don’t like to ride alone like today. Pole position was nice surprise for me also! In the testing and Friday, I was not in the top because I was working for race bike but finally this morning I am feeling much better and rear grip we are improving. First time I use SC0 in qualifying this week, there was unbelievable step in grip – like a qualifying tyre. We did a really good lap time, I was also surprised!”
Andrea Locatelli – Race 1: P4
“I am happy because we closed the race in the top five, finished fourth – it was a bit complicated this morning on the qualifying, unfortunately we just lost only like 0.2-0.3s to be on the front row because the gap was really close, but in the end I was fast and I was ready to be competitive in a dry race. But then… we raced in the wet and the feeling was not bad! It was the first time we used new parts and set-up that we tried during testing in the wet and in general, I am happy because everything was good and we got a really good result, no mistakes – now we are looking forward to being fast and ready for tomorrow. I think we can continue to do very well.”
Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK:
“The cliché about Phillip Island is that there are often four seasons in one day – and we didn’t really expect a full wet race after riding around in over 50 degrees of track temperature yesterday afternoon! It was the same for everyone, in that nobody had the opportunity to get the bikes set up for the conditions, but both sides of the garage did a good job and it looked like both Toprak and Loka had pretty competitive packages. Toprak reconfirmed his massive improvement in wet conditions over the last season and a half, and Loka, following his incredibly strong showing over the course of the test and yesterday, did well to put together a great race and finish P4. Toprak’s incredible pole position earlier in the day puts him in a good spot for the Superpole Race tomorrow and even though Loka starts P9, if he makes the same kind of start as he did today, he’ll be in with a shot too.”
Locatelli Shines Bright in Race 2 Podium Performance, as Razgatlıoğlu Removed from Top 5 Contention
Both Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK riders Andrea Locatelli and Toprak Razgatlıoğlu took third-place podiums during another exciting day of racing at the final day of the FIM Superbike World Championship season opener in Australia today.
Locatelli leaves Phillip Island second in the championship standings after a super consistent weekend, a culmination of a well-deserved third-place podium in Sunday’s feature Race 2 and strong fifth-place finish in the Superpole Race this morning.
For Razgatlıoğlu, his challenge for a top five finish ended abruptly on Lap 17, when the crashing Kawasaki of Alex Lowes collected the #54 rider after a mistake on entry of Turn 4 “Miller Hairpin”. The Turkish rider’s excellent podium in the Superpole Race this morning was of little consolation to a “non-fault” DNF so early in the season.
The team moves directly to Mandalika for the second round the season next week, a favourite venue for both riders where Razgatlıoğlu took a clean sweep of the races in 2022 and Locatelli shared the podium with his teammate as well as his first front-row start in WorldSBK.
Andrea Locatelli – SPRC: P5 / Race 2: P3
“It was an interesting race day for us! In Race 2 we were closer to the front in the first part, especially the first five laps – but we know it was a bit difficult to try to follow the Ducati at this track. We were competitive to also be on the podium this morning, but I could not make the passes needed to also be there in the Superpole Race. To finish the weekend with one podium in the long race, I am really happy – especially in Phillip Island, it is something special. I am really proud of my team because we are working well during the test and also in the race weekend. Unfortunately we crashed during FP2, and maybe we lost a little bit the feeling especially in the front but I think it is probably one of the best weekends in my WorldSBK career so far. Next week we have a new opportunity so we are looking forward to Mandalika and to see what happens there. Thank you to Yamaha and my team for giving me a great bike and such good support.”
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu – SPRC: P3 / Race 2: DNF
“Normally we make good starts but the Race 2 start was bad. The big problem for the second race was that we must use the harder tyre. In the short race we use SC0 tyre, and with SC0 tyre my bike is great! Really good feeling, and in the short race maybe one more lap and I am easily passing Rinaldi for P2 because he was starting to have a big drop in grip. Second race, we used the hard tyre but the feeling is completely different, and especially in the first laps I struggled with the grip and my bike not turning. I just try to keep the rear tyre in good condition, I follow Johnny and try for best position in top five but I crash with Alex – not his fault, I was at his side – he is unlucky and crashing and his bike hit me, so I am more unlucky! Maybe I could have finished the race sixth, maybe fourth – I don’t know but anyway we lose some points. Today, Loka did a good job and I am happy for him and his team. This is just the first race, I will try to do my best in Indonesia because again I want to win.”
Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK:
“Three races here at Phillip Island in completely different conditions and three podiums for the team including a thoroughly well-deserved third place finish for Loka in Race 2. He’s worked hard all winter with his crew to improve the bike and his own confidence, he is starting to believe in himself more and feel that he deserves to be running at the very sharp end of WorldSBK. His performance over the whole weekend and especially this afternoon showed that this growing confidence is certainly not misplaced. Well done to Andrea, to his Crew Chief Andrew Pitt and his whole crew on a very strong start to the season. Toprak was again very strong in the Superpole Race, closing right on the back of Rinaldi on the final lap and nearly taking second place for his second podium of the weekend – but unfortunately Alex’s easy-to-make mistake on the entry to Turn 4 took Toprak down in Race 2. Toprak wasn’t in the same shape as Loka in this race, so the podium would have been very difficult but we missed out on a potential top five finish and valuable points. Nonetheless, we move on to Mandalika where both riders were strong last year and Toprak won all three races. We aim to start chipping away to the gap at the front of the championship next weekend!”