Rain prevailed as Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team with Rizla riders Toprak Razgatlıoğlu and Michael van der Mark finished sixth and ninth respectively in Race 1 at Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours today.
The team’s young Turkish rider discovered improved confidence in the wet as he stormed through the field from 13th on the grid to fifth place by lap 15 of 21. After making up five positions in the first lap alone, he became embroiled in a battle with Honda rider Leon Haslam. It looked like Razgatlıoğlu would come out on top until Haslam suffered a violent high-side at Turn 11 on the last lap, forcing the #54 Yamaha R1 rider to avoid Haslam’s wayward bike and allowing Ducati’s Scott Redding to pass for fifth position.
Van der Mark had an equally impressive start in the opening lap, coming from P6 on the grid to second behind eventual race winner Jonathan Rea. But, missing some confidence compared to the podium finishers, the Dutchman settled into a somewhat lonely race, with strong and consistent pace, in fourth position until a small mistake at Turn 13 on lap 14 saw him fall down the order. Quickly remounting his relatively unscathed R1, Van der Mark was able to salvage seven championship points with ninth position.
With similar rain forecast for tomorrow, there won’t be long to dry out between Warm-Up at 09:00 (GMT+2), the Tissot Superpole Race at 11:00 and the main Race 2 at 14:00.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu: P6
“Today I didn’t have a good start to the qualifying session, but I came back in the box and we made a small set-up change and I felt a lot better. But with time for just one lap, I could only manage 13th on the grid – I needed one more lap to improve! In the race, I felt much better on the bike in these conditions, and also for me it is the best race I have ever had in the rain. The feedback from the Yamaha R1 was very good and I know where we can take more steps forward. Today, as a team we are quite happy – I saw it was possible to finish in P5 but on the last lap, Haslam had a big crash and it was not possible to avoid him without braking as his bike came across my race line. So, sixth in the end but the pace was not bad, and tomorrow we will try for a much better position.”
Michael van der Mark: P9
“Superpole was alright, to be honest. The track was starting to dry a bit so again the conditions were different to yesterday. I felt okay, improved my last lap time – the tyres were starting to get really warm and moving around so it was difficult, but P6 on the grid is a good place to start – and I did make a good getaway! I was a bit lucky at Turn 1, the BMW riders crashed in front of me and I managed to get up to second but I just didn’t have the confidence like the guys who passed me. At a certain point, I was riding alone in P4 and I had a good pace, but I just didn’t feel very good with the bike. The feedback and grip wasn’t what I needed, and then I made a mistake and crashed in Turn 13. I picked it up quickly and finished ninth, so we scored some points but I threw away a lot of important places for the fight for P3 in the championship. So, really disappointed, but tomorrow we have two more chances. I’m fast with a bike that I’m not really comfortable with, so hopefully tomorrow with an improved set-up on my R1 I can do well.”
Paul Denning, Team Principal
“We said yesterday that we were happy that Toprak could be here competing after the huge Barcelona crash, but today, even if P6 is not an exciting result on paper, we are happy with this wet weather performance given that riding in these conditions has been an acknowledged weak point for him in the past. Despite a poor qualifying in 13th position, Toprak showed a lot of aggression to be in the top eight by the end of lap one and to progress his pace really positively as the race went on. For Mikey, the result was obviously disappointing. He picked his R1 up incredibly quickly after the crash and recovering to ninth place was a small consolation but he was disappointed not to have the feeling he needed to be able to go with the front group. With his crew, he’ll be looking to make some improvements overnight and to come out fighting tomorrow.”