The reigning Champion was second in Friday’s combined classification but was sandwiched between two Ducatis in the top three
The battle for victory for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship started taking shape on Friday after two Free Practice sessions at the Pertamina Mandalika International Street Circuit with reigning Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) finished in second place in the combined classification. Razgatlioglu, who trails Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) by 82 points in the Championship standings, was second only to Bautista on Friday with the pair separated by around four tenths of a second.
Razgatlioglu started the day with the fastest time in Free Practice 1, when he set a 1’36.938s and was the only rider inside the 1’36s bracket. He finished ahead of Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) and Bautista, two tenths clear of Lecuona and six tenths faster than Bautista. However, the times in that 45-minute session were vastly off the pace as the new surface became rubbered in with all 22 riders on the WorldSBK grid this weekend improving their time in FP2.
In the afternoon Free Practice 2 session, Razgatlioglu posted a 1’34.088s to take second spot in both the session and combined classification as he finished four tenths down on Bautista after the Championship leader put in a late lap of 1’33.626s to take Friday honours. Razgatlioglu was one of the busiest riders on track during the two sessions, clocking 38 laps with only Bautista and Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) recording more. This included a 17-lap run in Free Practice 2 where 12 laps were in the 1’34s bracket and two in the 1’35s, with three laps that could be considered unrepresentative when he lapped in the 1’38s and 1’39s.
Reacting to his Friday, Razgatlioglu said: “This morning, we started with a dirty track and in the afternoon, it felt much better. I’m feeling good and ready to race. We tried some different setups for the race and I’m very happy with the long run and the race simulation. I’m looking now to tomorrow because it will be an important day for me. Now, there is just one clean line but it’s not completely clean. In the races, it won’t be easy to pass because outside the line is very dirty. I hope it doesn’t start to rain because, otherwise, I think tomorrow will start like today.”
The Turkish star, who trails Bautista by 82 points in the Championship standings, also revealed his plan for Friday’s running given the new asphalt that has been laid at the circuit as well as detailing his goals for the weekend. It could be a crucial weekend in the title fight as Bautista can win the Championship during the Indonesian Round, while Razgatlioglu looks to keep open his chances of becoming a back-to-back title winner.
Explaining the potential fight against Ducati machinery, with Bautista, his teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi and Xavi Fores (BARNI Spark Racing Team) in the top six, Razgatlioglu said: “I think this is not important because the race will be difficult. I didn’t use today the last five minutes like Alvaro did. It will be important for the race and I was working today towards the race. We will see tomorrow.”
Who will come out on top in Indonesia? Find out as racing gets underway on Saturday using the WorldSBK VideoPass!