The 2021 Champion was fourth after Friday’s action, four tenths down on pacesetter Rea’s best time after a ‘challenging’ Friday
With the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship returning to Australia and the iconic Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit for the first time since 2020, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) would have been looking to end the season on a high at the venue he claimed his first Yamaha win at two years ago. The 2021 Champion put in a best time of 1’31.603s to take fourth spot on Friday, almost half a second down on rival Jonathan Rea’s (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) time after Friday’s two practice sessions.
Razgatlioglu was the only rider on the grid not to improve his lap time between Free Practice 1 in the morning and Free Practice 2 in the afternoon. His best time, a 1’31.603s was set in FP1. While the other 21 riders on the grid found time between the sessions, Razgatlioglu lapped around a tenth slower in the afternoon as he went in search of a bike balance to help find time and performance for the three races coming up throughout the weekend.
The Turkish rider’s longest stint in FP2 was six laps towards the end of the session, which is where he posted his best lap time, with the lap times varying from a 1’31.670s to a 1’34.632s. Razgatlioglu came into the box at the end of his six-lap stint and only returned to complete a practice start at the end of the session. This stint was his longest of the day as he completed four shorter stints in Free Practice 1, while the start of FP2 was disrupted by a red flag.
Explaining his Friday, Razgatlioglu said: “After Mandalika, it was not the perfect day for me. We didn’t have a strong start. Anyway, after two years, we come back to Phillip Island and we are now trying to have a good setup for my bike. I hope tomorrow we find a good setup and we start to come back strongly. Kawasaki are very strong at this track, I remember 2020, and also Bautista is very strong. I think he will ride alone in the race. It looks like his pace is very fast. I will try to join this group. I am just searching for a good setup. I hope I find this and ride with Jonny and Alvaro. Maybe, in the race, we are fighting with Alvaro.”
During Free Practice 2, Pata Yamaha Team Manager, Paul Denning, discussed what Toprak and the team were working on. He said: “We’re struggling a little bit finding the balance of the bike so far today. Phillip Island is a circuit with different requirements to every other racetrack. It looks like Bautista in particular has hit the ground running, and the two KRT factory bikes. We’re just a little bit off finding a comfortable balance and the track seems quite green at the minute, so that’s a challenge as well. Couldn’t be a more different track layout as it was in Indonesia just a few days ago, so we’ve got a challenge to improve for tomorrow and catch the other guys.”
Will Razgatlioglu be able to turn things around on Saturday? Find out using the WorldSBK VideoPass!