Razgatlıoğlu and Locatelli Lock Out Third and Fourth in Assen Race 1
Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK riders Toprak Razgatlıoğlu and Andrea Locatelli recovered well after a difficult Friday to take a well-earned third-place podium and fourth place respectively in Race 1 in the Netherlands today, at the third round of the FIM Superbike World Championship.
Heavy rain overnight left little time for meaningful dry set-up confirmation during Free Practice 3 this morning, but another closely-fought Superpole session saw the team’s Turkish ace qualify on the front row for Race 1 – less than one-tenth from pole – as teammate Locatelli was not far behind, just two tenths from pole in P6.
After lights out this afternoon, WorldSBK’s “titanic trio” were back again, as Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) led Razgatlıoğlu from the beginning, followed by Alvaro Bautista after a three-place grid penalty relegated the Ducati rider to the second row of the grid. Razgatlıoğlu lost out to Bautista into the chicane at the end of Lap 5 and despite closing in on Rea for second, he was unable to retake the position and finished in third place at the chequered flag.
Behind them, Locatelli was caught in traffic as he tried to make his way through from seventh – but the Italian settled into a good race rhythm and made excellent overtakes on Alex Lowes (Kawasaki), Scott Redding (BMW) and finally Axel Bassani (Motocorsa) on the last lap to finish in a strong fourth place.
Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK and Yamaha’s engineers will work to find further steps in performance overnight to help both riders challenge for a first TT Circuit Assen WorldSBK win tomorrow, starting the final day of the weekend with a quick Warm Up at 09:00 local time (CEST) before the 10-lap Superpole Race at 11:00 and Race 2 at 14:00.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu – Superpole: P2 / Race 1: P3
“This weekend for me was not an easy start, but today we made big improvement for the race – my lap time improved a lot, but not enough for the win. It was difficult to manage rear grip, I am feeling a lot of spinning in Turns 10 and 11 but I think maybe everybody the same, but – I keep fighting and in the end of the race, I see Johnny’s tyre also start to drop. Maybe two more laps I am fighting him! I hope tomorrow we are improving rear grip and we can fight with these two guys, we will see. Sometimes you find a good set-up at the start, sometimes it is more difficult but always I just try for my best position. I need to fight for the win, because my dream – I have never won at Assen in WorldSBK, so I hope tomorrow it is possible. We will see – everybody tries their best and thank you to my team for their work and big improvement today.”
Andrea Locatelli – Superpole: P6 / Race 1: P4
“I am really happy about the last part of the race, because I recovered very well and I was strong. The big problem was in the beginning, we lost a lot of time with the rear grip especially under acceleration, so it was not easy to manage in the first part of the race – also I did a small mistake in the first corner so I lost a little bit there but then I tried to recover. It’s another P4! The target is to try and always stay in the top five so I think it’s not too bad, but my objective here in Assen is the podium. The feeling on the bike is good, but we need a bit more to be faster to stay with the first three riders. After Race 1 we understand more about what we need to be fast tomorrow, I believe we have a chance.”
Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK:
“We had a tough day yesterday, both in terms of ultimate performance, feeling and confidence of both riders. FP3 was wet this morning so it was difficult to evaluate what we hoped to improve overnight. But in the end, third and fourth positions in the race and a strong performance from both Toprak and Andrea means the team did a good job to improve the respective performance of their R1 WorldSBKs. Of course, we are here to win. Today, the winning package looked out of reach but we won’t give up. We know we have two strong riders, all the tools we need to take another step forward and we are looking forward to two highly-competitive races tomorrow.”