Denning: "By every measure, we’ve improved compared to 2021… the competition has moved up as well!"

Tuesday, 28 June 2022 10:03 GMT

Pata Yamaha Team Manager Paul Denning reviews the season so far after four rounds of the 2022 campaign

The 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship campaign so far for Yamaha has yielded 11 podiums and one victory, with all of them coming from the factory Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK squad. Reigning Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu has taken 10 podiums while teammate Andrea Locatelli has one to his name in 12 races so far this season. After four rounds have been completed, Team Manager Paul Denning discussed how the 2022 season has gone so far for the factory Yamaha team.

There have been similar parallels to the start of the 2021 and 2022 seasons for Pata Yamaha. Last season, the first win for the team came in Race 2 at Misano through Razgatlioglu as it did this season; although in 2022, it was round four rather than three and 12 races in rather than nine. With two non-scores to his name, Razgatlioglu is 79 points down on Championship leader Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) but, with eight rounds left in 2022, there is still plenty to play for.

Giving an overview of the season so far, Denning said: “By every measure, we’ve improved compared to 2021. We’re going considerably faster everywhere. A big, big step in Superpole lap times and conditions and a good step in race pace. The races are a huge amount quicker than a year ago. But, of course, the competition has moved up as well. We’ve had an interesting start to the year. Very much at the front of the pace and fighting for victories at every event and it’s great that we secured the first win of the year at Misano. It could’ve easily been, for a bit of luck or races rolling in a slightly different direction, win number three of four. Whilst we’ve got a fair gap in the Championship to Bautista, it’s not unrecoverable and we’ll just focus on, as we did last year, our best every weekend and see where that leaves us.”

Although it was a long wait for Yamaha to claim victory in 2022, the first three rounds of the season were at circuits where the Japanese manufacturer did not win at in 2021: Aragon, Assen and Estoril. While such a long wait has the potential to cause anxiety and worry in the team, Pata Yamaha did come close to winning twice at Estoril after missing out in last-lap shootouts.

Discussing the 12-race wait for victory, Denning said: “Bottom line is we didn’t win in 2021 at Assen, Aragon or Estoril, it’s not as if we were suddenly at tracks whereby, we dominated the races and weren’t winning. And we were a lot, lot closer to the victories at Aragon and Assen than we were a year ago. Estoril, of course, was a really unfortunate one. For the sake of 100 metres or so we won that first race and then obviously that amazing save when Toprak, on the last lap of the Superpole Race, just lost the front. We were there or thereabouts. There might have been some anxiety, but you’ve got to just keep a level head and keep plugging away and doing your best and improving the bike and the package around the level that now presents us which is simply higher than it was last year.”

Now in his second season of WorldSBK, Locatelli once again joined Razgatlioglu in the factory Yamaha squad an impressive 11 top-six finishes out of 12 so far. In fact, prior to his hat-trick of sixth places on home soil at Misano, Locatelli had only finished outside the top five once, in Race 2 at Aragon after a crash, with his boss full of praise for the 25-year-old.

He said: “Locatelli’s had a really good start to the year compared to last year. At Misano, I think he felt the pressure of the home round a little bit, but still fought hard and brought the bike back in the top six in every race. In general, we’re happy. The riders are performing well, the team’s doing its best. We’ve had two unfortunate non-scores with Toprak, one with Locatelli that was an accident. You want to avoid zero points scores, but in general the team’s working hard, Yamaha’s working very, very hard to keep improving the bike. The level’s gone up this year and that’s what we have to accept and what we have to fight against.”

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