Turkish sensation and Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team with Rizla rider Toprak Razgatlıoğlu set the pace on the opening day of the third FIM Superbike World Championship round today with the fastest overall time of 1’42.103.
Both Razgatlıoğlu and teammate Michael van der Mark are determined to repeat and even improve on their podium performances from the previous round in Jerez, and challenge for victory at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve.
The Pata Yamaha pairing threw down the gauntlet during Free Practice 1 by delivering a team 1-2 at the top of the timesheets in the first 50-minute session of the day.
Just four competitors managed to improve on their times in the afternoon as track temperatures increased to over 44 degrees, but no one managed to unseat Razgatlıoğlu, whose fastest time remained a full 0.405 seconds clear of the pack. He also completed a near-race distance simulation in FP2, with consistent and encouraging results.
Van der Mark, whose quickest lap was a 1’42.722, focused solely on bike set-up with used tyres during the afternoon session to finish sixth overall. Both riders recorded among the highest top speeds of the field on the undulating start-finish straight – 312.3kph for the Dutchman (third) and 314.1kph for Razgatlıoğlu (second).
Tomorrow will reveal if the Pata Yamaha riders’ pace is enough to fight for victory with lights out at 14:00 local time (GMT+1) for Race 1, but not before a final third practice session of 20 minutes at 09:00 and the all-important WorldSBK Tissot Superpole qualifying at 11:00.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu: Combined P1 – 1’42.103
“Fastest time on Friday is always a good start! I know in Jerez, for me it was a really bad start on Friday, and today I am feeling happy because the bike is incredible to ride here. We tried a different set-up and now we are ready for the race. Tyre choice will be important, because again we have hot conditions with the tyres sliding and so we will see tomorrow. Now I am feeling much better on the bike, so I will continue to ride like this, for the qualifying tyre we will change the set-up a little but the work we did today is very important for the race distance, which is my focus.”
Michael van der Mark: Combined P6 – 1’42.722
“I’m quite happy with the bike now, and already from the start it felt quite good. We were struggling a little bit on corner entry and this morning we couldn’t really find the solution. In the afternoon, during the session we made a big change on the front of the bike and immediately I felt a lot better, I could stop the bike and this was what I was looking for from the R1. There are still some areas to improve, but to be honest my pace in the afternoon, after this morning, I was quite happy with it and the feeling of the bike means I can ride it easily and focus on the areas we have to improve.”
Paul Denning – Team Principal
“It’s been a really constructive Friday, probably the best one of this “strange” season so far! Given such a strong winter test performance for Toprak at this track, there was some doubt about going back to the winter test setting or continuing with some of the development settings we’ve used in Jerez. But finally, his R1 seems well balanced and he is able to produce good lap times on new tyres or old. We worked very hard to do a 14-lap race simulation in the heat of the afternoon. Certainly compared to last weekend in Jerez, Toprak and his crew are better prepared going into Saturday. Michael also had a very positive day with second position this morning. In the afternoon he chose not to use the softer tyre option and continued to work on bike balance, which allowed us to produce more rear grip and better corner entry with used tyres. We know here in Portimão that Michael is formidable and when he finds a consistent rhythm he can run with anybody! Let’s see what tomorrow brings, but right now, the Pata Yamaha team, the riders and the R1 are looking in good shape.”