Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team with Rizla rider Toprak Razgatlıoğlu was second-fastest overall in Friday’s Free Practice at the final round of the FIM Superbike World Championship at Circuito Estoril.
Birthday boy Razgatlıoğlu, who turned 24 today, felt immediately comfortable taking to the Portuguese circuit for the first time in his career. The technical nature of the circuit seemed to suit his aggressive, hard-braking style of riding, as he completed a total of 39 laps in search of the best race set-up during the two 50-minute Free Practice sessions.
With less than a second separating the top 10 riders in the premier WorldSBK field, Michael van der Mark found himself on the other end of the spectrum after 45 practice laps. The Dutchman, who is aiming to end his four-year tenure with the Pata Yamaha team on a high this weekend, wasn’t able to immediately find a comfortable set-up and ended the day in ninth position, despite being quickest of all riders in the fast fourth sector.
Van der Mark and Razgatlıoğlu will have one final Free Practice at 09:00 (UTC+1) to finalise their official Yamaha R1 set-ups before the all-important Tissot Superpole qualifying at 11:00. The first WorldSBK race at Estoril since 1993 will then get underway at 14:00.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu: P2 – 1’36.975
“Today was my birthday but also I am happy with how it has gone at this new track. I have always liked the look of the circuit, but I’ve never ridden it! I like it because of the very hard braking layout and the flowing corners. Today we finished in second position, and I am really pleased to start this last race weekend of 2020 like this because I want to finish the season well – and I also need to score a podium again! We will keep working on some small areas to improve the feeling and, with it, the lap time. It feels good now, but we need to find a little bit extra for better turning and grip to improve the final result.”
Michael van der Mark: P9 – 1’37.775
“It’s been a difficult day for us, obviously it’s a new track and this morning I had to try out some different gearing and find a good set-up, which isn’t that easy. We’re struggling quite a lot with the balance and the turning. I thought in the afternoon we could make a good step forward, but we are still not where we need it to be. We have quite a lot of work to do for tomorrow, the differences are really small but I feel like we have to make a big step in set-up so we can improve our potential result.”
Paul Denning – Team Principal
“I think everybody is happy to be here at the Estoril circuit – the track has a great layout, the sun is shining and for us, in general, the Yamaha R1 seems to be working well here. The times are very close, which is impressive when you consider the lack of experience that the whole field has at this circuit. For Toprak in particular, the day was very productive. He has been working well with his crew to improve feedback and confidence from the bike over the course of the day, resulting in really competitive lap times. Mikey feels less comfortable, and we have some work to do to get his bike to steer and respond in the way he needs, but even so, the gap to make up is not so big. Fingers crossed for more sunshine and some great racing tomorrow.”