After its long-awaited return, the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team with Rizla heads directly to Autódromo Internacional do Algarve for the third round in the restarted FIM Superbike World Championship, held back-to-back following round two at Jerez last weekend.
Despite a highly-competitive showing, with one of the team’s riders standing on the podium in all three races at the Spanish Round, both Toprak Razgatlıoğlu and Michael van der Mark encountered some frustrations that restricted them from achieving even better results.
Phillip Island race winner Razgatlıoğlu is very hungry to return to the top step of the podium as soon as possible. With cooler temperatures compared to Jerez but still around 30 degrees forecast in the Algarve, the young Turkish rider hopes to take advantage of potentially better grip levels to attack in the closing stages of the races – an area which all riders struggled in the unbelievable temperatures seen last weekend.
It is clear that Portimão has proven to be a happy hunting ground for Van der Mark and the team in the past, with the Dutchman celebrating four podiums in Pata Yamaha colours since 2017. Very focused on this event at one of his favourite circuits, the 28-year-old is looking to go one better than his career-best second at the venue to take his first victory of the season.
Track action will begin on Friday morning with Free Practice 1 and 2 taking place at 10:30 and 15:00 local time (GMT+1), where the team will be able to assess track conditions on the Official Yamaha R1 WorldSBK machines compared to their last visit during January’s pre-season testing when it was Razgatlıoğlu who ended the two-day sessions on top of the timesheet, with a lap time of 1’40.804.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu – Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team with Rizla
“I like Portimão because although it’s very tough, there’s a good flow to the circuit. We’re confident of a strong result, having set the fastest lap during the pre-season test here in January. I’m happy to be back and we’ll start with the same set-up that we had in the test, which we know works well. It wasn’t an easy weekend in Jerez with the hot conditions, but it’s a little bit cooler here and we will see where we are when we get going for Free Practice. The goal is to be fighting for victory again.”
Michael van der Mark – Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team with Rizla
“Very happy to have another race this weekend. Jerez wasn’t quite the race we expected so I’m looking forward to bouncing back and getting some good points in Portugal. Portimão is one of my favourite tracks on the calendar and we’ve always had really good results there and are always in contention for the podium, so I’m excited to go racing at this circuit again. It looks like it will be another hot one, but I’m ready and our goal is to be fighting for the top three at least.”
Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team with Rizla
“Despite the challenges faced in Jerez, namely the extreme heat and of course the Covid protocols in place to ensure that the event could proceed safely, it was great to be “back at it” and fighting for victory in the WorldSBK championship. To be completely transparent, the team faced a number of difficulties in addition to these challenges, it was not the smoothest race event we have ever experienced, so we are looking to put that right at Portimão. Both Michael and Toprak love this circuit, and the R1 certainly enjoys the flowing nature and elevation changes of the track. The competition is as strong as ever, but as we saw in Jerez even in a “tough weekend” both riders and the Pata Yamaha team were ready to battle at the front – and we intend to do just that again at Portimão this weekend.”