Razgatlıoğlu in the Fight for Victory in Assen after another Record-Breaking Pole
Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK rider Toprak Razgatlıoğlu finished Race 1 in third position, just one second from the winner after a hard-fought battle for the win at the second round of the 2022 FIM Superbike World Championship held at TT Circuit Assen.
Razgatlıoğlu added his name to the history books once again in Tissot Superpole this morning, becoming the first WorldSBK rider to break the 1’33 barrier with an astonishing 1’32.934 lap time, breaking the previous track record held by Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea by more than half a second.
This enabled the 25-year-old Turkish ace to lead from the front in the opening laps – with Andrea Locatelli making a lightening start from fourth on the grid to directly follow his teammate in second place.
“Loka” kept in touch with the leading group in the battle for the podium positions until after Lap 10, when a drop in rear grip meant he was unable to defend from Alvaro Bautista (Ducati) and shifted focus to consolidating fourth place.
The battle at the very front was a tense affair, with Razgatlıoğlu relinquishing the lead to Rea at the end of Lap 3 and choosing to follow the Kawasaki rider for the middle part of the race. Despite mounting a victory challenge in the closing stages, the defending champion finished a fine third position just 1.014s off the win.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu - Race 1: P3
“Today I tried my best, but in the race I am feeling some tyre problem and I just try to keep fighting – also third position finish and we take good points for the championship. As you know, we try today for the best but I need now the win. I am always third position, for me not enough. But, tomorrow I am fighting for the win again. We will see, maybe tomorrow I take a different approach to the race – okay not easy because everybody is very fast. Johnny and Alvaro are very fast, but we will see, I think we can improve.”
Andrea Locatelli - Race 1: P4
“For us it was a good day because we closed in P4. It was not easy in the middle of the race to try to stay with the front group, but in the end I’m really happy because yesterday I didn’t have the best feeling with the bike. We improved a lot this morning and in the first 10 laps, I could stay with the front group – so for me it is a big improvement and now we have a lot of data to prepare the bike for tomorrow, because I want to stay with the front group to the end. Of course when we arrived here, my goal was to try and take some podiums but it is not easy! The big improvement during the race means tomorrow we can get something more and push harder to try to take a podium.”
Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK:
“After smashing the circuit record for pole position, of course the target for Toprak and the team was to win the race. We came close, but in the end didn’t quite have what was needed in the last few laps. One second from the winner means he did a great race, but Toprak is here to win and we’ll do everything we can to take a small step forward tomorrow and fight with the guys again. It’s great to see Loka at the front and fighting with the championship contenders. A really solid fourth place was deserved and this will give him confidence not only for tomorrow, but going forward for the rest of the season.”
Locatelli Celebrates Strong Second Place in Assen
Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK rider Andrea Locatelli celebrated his first podium of the 2022 FIM Superbike World Championship at the TT Circuit Assen, with a WorldSBK career-best second-place finish in Race 2.
The 25-year-old Italian rider chipped away throughout the weekend, scoring a solid fourth-place in Race 1 yesterday and again in the Superpole Race this morning, before pushing forward to challenge at the front when he saw an opportunity to take his best-ever finish in the premier class.
Teammate Toprak Razgatlıoğlu was promoted to second place in a frantic Superpole Race this morning following a track limits infringement incurred by Alvaro Bautista on the final lap.
A lightning start to Race 2 then saw both Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK riders lead the pack in the opening lap. Disappointingly, though he was leading the race through the start of Lap 6, Razgatlıoğlu was taken out of contention in a collision with Jonathan Rea at Turn 2, which denied the team’s defending champion the opportunity to fight for the win.
Following the drama at the front, “Loka” consistently and clinically put in excellent mid-race lap times to catch and pass the Honda of Iker Lecuona with four laps to go, completing a fine performance to close the weekend “on the box”.
It is still early days for the 2022 WorldSBK Championship, as Razgatlıoğlu and Locatelli currently lie third and fourth respectively in the overall standings, with the third round due to take place at Circuito Estoril (Portugal) from 20-22 May.
Andrea Locatelli – SPRC: P4 / Race 2: P2
“It feels amazing to arrive on the podium, because before we started on Friday it was my objective to achieve this! In the end, we were a bit lucky and I am sorry for my teammate Toprak, because he was really fast, but this is racing – and when I see the opportunity to get a podium, I want to try and push. I lost a little bit of time in the middle of the race to Lecuona, but I pushed to close the gap and got in front. So, I am really happy! For sure we need to improve more to challenge for a win, but it’s an important result for us here in Assen. We will work to improve the performance on Friday and see if it is possible to get another podium in the next race.”
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu – SPRC: P2 / Race 2: DNF
“Superpole Race was not lucky for Bautista but I say okay P2 result, P3 on track is same as yesterday but close to the win, only 0.2s. You know, I need to win and this was close! Second race the bike was feeling good after the team make some set-up changes, I ride easy – not pushing but try to be smooth and keep the tyre. I tried hard braking in the first corner and I go a little bit wide, but I am not going outside the track – I touch the curb but I stay on the race line. I am surprised we crash like this, I do not expect this mistake from Jonathan. This year we improve at this track, every race we improve but okay, in the last laps in Superpole Race it is not possible for more fighting because the tyre drop. But I am feeling the bike is good, we go now to tracks I think we can be strong, and same as last year better not look at championship points – only focus on race wins and try for best position every time.”
Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK:
“A frustrating race day here in Assen given the accident in Race 2 between Toprak and Jonathan, but with some solid silver linings of Loka’s excellent run to P2 and Toprak’s superb performance in the Superpole Race. There will always be two differing views when riders collide in these situations but in the end, the FIM stewards decided that it was a racing incident. In terms of race results and competitiveness, this was our best ever Assen weekend – but, a little bit like Aragon, we didn’t quite have enough to reach the top step. Andrea made a really big improvement after a difficult Friday and he can be proud of his consistency and speed resulting in a well-deserved podium. There is now a bigger gap than we would like between Toprak and P1 in the championship, but there is a lot of racing still to do and we head towards Estoril next.”