Debrief as Yamaha Riders Enjoy the Spoils at Incredible Imola

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Round seven of the FIM Superbike World Championship took place at the legendary Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola and Yamaha riders shone across the classes, enjoying the spoils of victory despite incredibly hot temperatures and tough racing. Toprak Razgatlıoğlu made history multiple times over the weekend; racking up a milestone 100 podiums, and taking the brand’s first ever WorldSBK victories at the Italian circuit.

Italy and southern Europe had a high alert out for extreme weather across the race weekend, and conditions were exceptionally tough for whole paddock with searing hot temperatures and very little respite. The Italian fans also braved the conditions to witness the magic of the historical and beautiful Imola, cheering their heroes and enjoying plenty of drama along the way.

Andrea Dosoli, Yamaha Motor Europe Road Racing Manager, commented:
“We were so excited and happy to go back to Imola after four years away, and after the floods earlier this year which caused many problems in the region. It’s such an iconic track, and it’s one that really shows the skill of a rider due to its physicality and technicality. The weekend was dominated by the extreme heat, which brought an extra challenge for the riders, team members, paddock personnel and fans. We were pleased to see so many supporters come to the circuit despite the heat – a total of 53,000 in fact. It’s a weekend we won’t forget due to the excellent results we achieved, especially the clean sweep in all classes.”

Toprak Makes History
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu rode superbly throughout the Imola weekend, setting the fastest time in FP1 and backing it up with pole position on Saturday morning. The Turkish star gels well with the circuit and has fond memories of his first WorldSBK podium there. In Race 1 Razgatlıoğlu finished in second place, and reached the impressive milestone of 100 WorldSBK podiums. Then, in the hotly contested and thrilling Superpole Race he managed to battle until the chequered flag and achieve his third SPRC win of the season. And finally, in the second feature-length race of the weekend, Toprak took a vital and much sought-after victory which he celebrated with his exuberant squad.

Loka Celebrates Home Success
Although hailing from Bergamo, Andrea Locatelli still very much counts Imola as a home race thanks to the great number of supporters who turn up to cheer him on. “Loka” felt comfortable with his R1 around the technical track and he was able to perform well from the beginning. He set the second fastest time in Superpole for an important front row start and backed this up with a nice fourth place in Race 1. In the Superpole Race he finished in second place, his sixth podium of the season, after some great passes and determined battling. In Race 2 the Italian once again got fourth place, marking a decent points haul for the weekend.

“Toprak loves Imola, he got his first WorldSBK podium here and the track layout suits his style and the characteristics of his R1, he didn’t waste time and attacked from the first lap on FP1, this allowed him to secure pole position, his 100th WorldSBK podium finish, and two victories, reducing the gap to the leader to 70 points – which is still a big gap but an important sign for him and his crew. For Loka the event went very well too, even though the last time he rode in Imola was 10 years ago on a Moto3 bike, the second place on the grid and the third place in the Superpole Race – where he led the race for five laps – are confirmation of his speed and motivation. Achieving these results in his home race, strongly supported by his fan club, is the icing on the cake. Congratulations to Toprak and Andrea, and of course to the Pata Prometeon team.”

 

Ray Rises Through the Ranks

MotoxRacing’s Bradley Ray had a very impressive weekend at the tricky Italian track. The British rider hadn’t ridden there before but he took it all in his stride. Ray qualified sixth on the grid and although he only took 15th in Race 1 and 16th in the Superpole Race, with a bit more track time he was able to confirm his early pace with a remarkable sixth in the gruelling heat of Race 2.

The GYTR GRT riders struggled for various reasons over the weekend with Remy Gardner suffering with an illness and Dominique Aegerter having a few issues with set-up and a technical problem. Gardner fought his way to 11th in all three races, a notable performance considering he wasn’t feeling 100%. Aegerter had a DNF in Race 1, finished 14th in the Superpole Race, and took 12th in Race 2.

GMT94’s Lorenzo Baldassarri was unlucky in the first race of the weekend where he crashed out, and he felt uneasy on the unfamiliar track, taking 18th in the Superpole Race and 16th in Race 2.

“We saw an impressive performance from the rookie Bradley Ray on his first visit to Imola. After a promising Superpole he got a fantastic P6 in Race 2, which meant he was beating riders with much wider WorldSBK experience. From the first lap of FP1 he clearly loved the layout, reminding him of the characteristics of some UK tracks. Congratulations to him and his team. The lack of experience on this track didn’t help the performance of Dominique Aegerter, who had one of the most difficult weekends so far, he and the team are working hard to understand what went wrong and be better prepared for the coming races. Remy Gardner struggled too, due to the unknown track but also to a stomach virus which was debilitating. When we consider these handicaps, the results can be seen as more positive. It was a tough weekend for Baldassarri too as he continues to adapt to the class.”

 

WorldSSP 600 – Manzi Proves Masterful

Stefano Manzi and his team enjoyed a superb weekend in Imola as the rider who lives less than an hour from the circuit put in a masterful display and won both WorldSSP races in front of a thrilled crowd. Manzi hasn’t ridden at the track for over 10 years, but he found his feet quickly and fiercely battled for the chance to stand on the top step at home. The two victories move him closer to the title leader and he now sits 41 points down.

“It was a clean sweep in WorldSSP for an impressive Stefano Manzi, who dominated both races on a track he hasn’t tried since 2013 when he was in Moto3. The way he approached the corners and changes of direction was a clear demonstration of his talent and commitment to fight for the title, even if the gap is still quite large. Well done to Stefano and the Ten Kate Racing team. We also saw great signs of improvement from Jorge Navarro in Race 2, where he got sixth, which is promising for the remainder of the season. It was a difficult weekend for some of the other Yamaha riders, like Valentin Debise who, despite an electrical issue, fought hard in Race 2.”

 

WorldSSP 300 – Vannucci Victorious

Matteo Vannucci rode incredibly well in the WorldSSP 300 class to ostensibly take two victories. In Race 1 he had an epic battle with his rivals to win by just +0.090 seconds, to the delight of his team. And in Race 2 it appeared he had done it again, crossing the line first after another close and exciting race, but he was later stripped of the top step finish and demoted to second place after a review showed a track limits infringement. Brazil’s Humberto Maier also demonstrated his constant improvement, finished fifth and third over the Imola weekend. While former title leader, Mirko Gennai had a weekend to forget, taking seventh in Race 1 and suffering a DNF in Race 2.

“There were great performances shown by our former bLU cRU boys, Vannucci and Maier, proving the value of the R3 Championship program at both a national and international level. Congratulations to Vannucci for having crossed the finish line in first position in both races, and it’s a pity he was demoted to second place due to a track limits infringement. He rode incredibly well on a very technical track and showed how much potential he has for the coming races. It was also a very promising performance from the R3 bLU cRU Championship promoted rider, Humberto Maier, he is getting more and more competitive in his second season in the championship. On the downside, it was an unlucky event for the former championship leader, Mirko Gennai, who was forced to stop in Race 2 due to a technical issue.”

R3 bLU cRU European Championship – Mahendra Stuns in Race 1

The R3 bLU cRU European Championship race are notoriously unpredictable, and Imola was no different. In Race 1, Indonesia’s Aldi Satya Mahendra took an astonishing victory, making bLU cRU history with a winning margin of over seven seconds. In Race 2 his rivals had found a rhythm around Imola and they challenged him much more closely, but Mahendra remained untouchable and took his first double win. Krittapat Keankum was the next most consistent rider with second in Race 1 and third in Race 2, while title leader Emiliano Ercolani knocked a chunk out of his lead when he crashed out of the first race.

“I want to say a big congratulations to Aldi Mahendra, for his first double win – especially with such a huge margin in Race 1. And also to Krittapat Keankum for his double podium. These good results in combination with the DNF from Ercolani in Race 1 lead to an exciting title fight in the last race of the championship at Magny-Cours where we’ll have six riders potentially capable of becoming champion.”

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