Positive Race Pace in Portimão Free Practice for Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK
Andrea Locatelli and Toprak Razgatlıoğlu finished Friday Free Practice eighth and ninth overall in the combined timesheets at Autodromo do Algarve (Portimão) in Portugal today, at the penultimate round of the 2023 FIM Superbike World Championship.
Nicknamed “The Rollercoaster”, the 4.592km circuit in the southern Algarve region is a spectacular favourite on the calendar for teams and riders alike. Ever the stuntman, Razgatlıoğlu entertained everyone by taking flight at the end of Free Practice 1 and 2 on the cool-down lap over the infamous Turn 11 jump.
The rest of the day was business as usual, as the Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK crews got to work on race-pace simulation and Yamaha R1 WorldSBK set-ups for the points-paying races this weekend. Both riders finished the day less than four-tenths from the podium positions in outright lap pace – though neither pushed for a qualifying-style lap.
With just six nail-biting races to go this season, tomorrow offers one of those as a chance for Razgatlıoğlu to close in on championship-leader Alvaro Bautista – but not before one final 30-minute Free Practice 3 at 9:00 CEST and Superpole qualifying at 11:10 before Race 1 at 14:00.
Andrea Locatelli: P8 – 1’41.197
“The first day in Portimão was a bit different compared to testing at the beginning of this year – in winter conditions! I think we did a really good job for Friday and we understand where we need to improve – coming from Aragon I have a really good feeling and confidence, especially from Sunday. We started FP1 with the set-up from Aragon, but it’s a little bit different here so we just needed to understand which way to go. Also, we don’t have the Pirelli X tyre available, so there is less rear grip – but the feeling is good, we just need to work on some small details tonight, rebalance the bike a bit for this track and I think we can be strong in the races. I believe we can do very well here, so let’s see what is possible tomorrow!”
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu: P9 – 1’41.199
“Friday was not bad, I started a bit stronger than in Aragon! Still a little bit some problem and we are just trying to improve. Especially, today I check last year’s lap times – some corners we are better, some we are slow. Overall we are a little bit faster than last year, just my problem is the last sector, last long right corner. But in general, I am not focused on the fast lap time. My feeling is good and we made a 20-lap race simulation – the last lap was not so strong but to try 20 laps is good, because after 10 laps I understand the tyre and tomorrow we can improve with the data. I hope tomorrow we come to the front again! The jump today was a bit motocross-style, like a whip – I am not trying more than this, maybe only if we win the race tomorrow!”
Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK:
“It’s always positive to be back on track quickly, and a double-header after a successful event in Aragon provides an excellent opportunity to carry momentum from last weekend – where we achieved our best Aragon results since Yamaha’s return to WorldSBK in 2016. Portimão is quite different to Aragon – it requires an R1 set-up that allows the riders to change direction easily but also offers good turning in the long corners. The team got to work today on race simulation, with Toprak completing a very useful 20-lap long run in this afternoon’s Free Practice 2. We need to look closely at the last sector to improve as the differential to Alvaro Bautista in the average lap time is coming exclusively from this part of the track. It should be easier in the race tomorrow with a bit of slipstream, but the reality is that Toprak always has margin to “do more”! With Loka, we didn’t quite have the right bike balance to start the day – but after so much pace in Aragon, it made complete sense to see if that transferred here to Portimão. The #55 crew made adjustments for FP2, and are working to give our Italian rider the same confidence to fight at the front for tomorrow’s Race 1.”