One of the most hectic WorldSBK race starts in recent memory

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Challenging Catalan Race 1 for Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK

Championship contender Toprak Razgatlıoğlu and teammate Andrea Locatelli both battled with a lack of rear tyre grip and degradation to finish fifth and ninth position respectively in Race 1 at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya during the Catalan Round of the 2022 FIM Superbike World Championship today.

For Locatelli, it was a disappointing end to the first race of the weekend after a brilliant Superpole qualifying – the Italian rider started from P4 with a lap time that was just 0.008s shy of the front row.

In one of the most hectic WorldSBK race starts in recent memory, both Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK riders had their work cut out for them. After a difficult qualifying, Razgatlıoğlu charged through the field from eighth on the grid to follow eventual race winner Alvaro Bautista (Ducati) for 16 laps in second place. But, a big drop in rear grip in the final four laps of the race meant the Turkish rider lost out to the chasing pack, crossing the line in fifth position.

Meanwhile, “Loka” was embroiled in a race-defining battle between Jonathan Rea, Alex Lowes (Kawasaki), Iker Lecuona (Honda) and Yamaha compatriot Garrett Gerloff, all in the hunt for the remaining podium position, before he too was stymied by the same problem as his teammate.

Tomorrow sees a 15-minute Warm-Up at 09:00 (CEST) before potentially another thrilling all-out 10-lap Superpole Race battle at 11:00 and full-length Race 2 (20 laps) from 14:00.

Toprak Razgatlıoğlu – Race 1: P5
“In the race, just I am feeling the bike is much better after qualifying because in qualifying I think the big problem is rear grip. I had a really good start, and try to follow Bautista but the end was not fantastic because five position finish. Very good lap times at the start, 1’41.9 and 42 low and I think I use a little bit more the rear tyre. Last 10 laps I am feeling big drop in grip but I keep fighting for the good position. For me, P5 is not enough and tomorrow we try to improve. My plan is to start more calm because important to keep the rear tyre for last laps.”

Andrea Locatelli – Race 1: P9
“Superpole was a really good lap time and we start P4 which was really good position to start from. The start itself was not bad in the race, but Johnny pushed me out a little bit in the first corner so I lost some positions and was in behind. I tried to recover and tried to close the gap immediately – I was in the group with Garrett, Johnny, Lecuona and Alex, the main riders to fight for the podium. But, the feeling was strange in the exit of the right corners, I was feeling more spinning compared to yesterday and this morning. From Lap 10, it felt like a big disaster because I could not manage this, I tried everything but it was not possible. We need to understand what we need to do to improve, continue working on the bike and try again. I am a bit disappointed because I felt we could have fought for the podium today. We lost this opportunity but we have two more chances tomorrow.”

Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK:
“After an incredible start from the third row, and a very strong first half of the race, of course the final result for Toprak was disappointing. This track has always been about rear tyre life as much as outright performance and unfortunately we just didn’t get the balance right today. We improved the rear grip a lot after qualifying, but this forced the tyre more than it could accept over the 20 laps. Toprak fought like an animal for the best position right until the end, like he always does! We’ll regroup and he can hold his head high and aim for the podium tomorrow. Loka qualified brilliantly in P4 today, just a whisker off the front row. After a difficult first few laps with a lot of racing incidents to contend with, his rhythm looked great but unfortunately from half distance onwards he suffered the same problems as Toprak for the same reasons. We’ll try and keep the good performance for the Superpole Race tomorrow, but for the long race we need to drastically improve the rear tyre durability to do our best over the full race distance.”

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