|As the ink dried on Razgatlıoğlu’s new two-year contract with Yamaha Motor Europe, the team’s Turkish ace set about the business of preparing for the immediate challenge ahead: to fight for the podium – and race wins – again this weekend.
While today’s conditions were relatively warm and dry for the Derby region, heavy rain over the past fortnight meant the racing line on track was “dirty” in the first Free Practice session this morning. Thanks to a full roster of supporting classes from the FIM Sidecar World Championship through to the new Yamaha R3 bLU cRU European Cup for young riders running throughout the day, the WorldSBK field found a much cleaner surface available for Free Practice 2 this afternoon.
Both Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK riders completed long runs, simulating their potential race pace in the second practice in order to provide invaluable data for the team to evaluate and find improvements ahead of Race 1.
Razgatlıoğlu found a small improvement in outright pace, but still had difficulty in generating rear grip in the afternoon while Locatelli, in just his fourth WorldSBK round, took a big step forward improving his best lap time by nearly 1.2 seconds to record the 10th fastest time in Free Practice 2 and with race pace much closer to the front runners.
The first real test will come tomorrow morning with Superpole qualifying at 11:10 (BST) after one final Free Practice session at 09:00 of 30 minutes, with “lights out” for Race 1 at 14:00.
For Friday’s combined times, click here.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu: P3 – 1’28.048
“Today we started to try to find a good setup with the bike, because the track was very dirty, but now the track condition is much better. Also we are working for good grip with the rear tyre because I was finding this a problem today. We tried a small race simulation in the afternoon, 12 laps, it was not bad but not really fast and we need to improve the rear grip. Now we are working for tomorrow, I speak with my team because we need to improve a little bit for the race, we will see what is possible – tomorrow we try again. For the future, I’m really happy to stay with this team! Every year Yamaha and my team is working for a good bike. I think next year we can be stronger, because we keep moving forward. But for now, this weekend and this season is important; I like this track and we want to improve for the race.”
Andrea Locatelli: P11 – 1’28.594
“I’m really happy because we did a really good job, we understand more on the bike and also me on the track, because it’s completely new. We started with a base setup like Navarra and the feeling was immediately nice this morning. In the afternoon the conditions were a little bit different because the temperature of the asphalt got a little bit high. But I think we worked very well and I am happy. The feeling is good, I can push on the bike – maybe if we have some riders in front I can do more on the lap time. I’m very happy because it’s the first time that we started fast on the Friday and this is good for my confidence. Tomorrow we will make some small adjustments around the bike and we will see what the conditions are like, as maybe it will rain. I think I am ready!”
Paul Denning – Team Principal
“It’s good to be back at Donington after missing the race last year, and even if the government restrictions make the number of fans trackside very limited, it’s still great to see some people cheering on the riders here. We haven’t had a bad day – on Loka’s side it was our best Friday of the season so far, only 0.5 of a second from Toprak, which considering it’s a new circuit for him is a really good sign. He showed great consistency his long runs this afternoon, but more importantly his pace was a lot closer to the sharp end. Toprak, as always, was fast and in the top three all day, but finishes the day slightly frustrated in terms of what he was able to achieve and the amount of rear grip he was able to generate. If it stays dry tomorrow, there’s definitely some work to do to improve both his ultimate pace and consistency on the long run, and the team will be working hard to make a step.”