The 25-year-old has had a strong start to his second season in WorldSBK, but knows a way to get nearer to the front…
The 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is seeing some of the hardest racing it has ever seen amongst the top three, and one rider in particular is keen to bridge the gap and make it a group of four at the front. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) had another strong weekend at the Circuito Estoril and is keen to close down the titanic trio ahead of him.
Locatelli was on the pace all weekend in what was one of his best since graduating to WorldSBK in 2021. Locatelli was inside the top six in every session (with the exception of the wet Sunday Warm Up) and thus came away with strong points for the Championship, with fourth in Race 1 and fifth in the Tissot Superpole Race and Race 2. Apart from when he crashed in Race 2 at Aragon, the 2020 World Supersport Champion has finished in the top five in every race in 2022, with a highlight coming at Assen when he took a podium in second, where he was also top Yamaha.
Speaking at the end of Sunday, Locatelli said: “The Superpole Race was a little bit strange for the weather and also for the condition of the track, but in the end, we closed on P5 and it was also to start in P5 in Race 2. I’m so proud about today, because we improved the bike a lot from Saturday to Sunday and the gap was a little bit closer to the front group. I made a small mistake in the first part of the race so I lost the opportunity to stay with Alex to fight for P4, but in the end, it’s another positive weekend for me and my team. I am so happy about it, and we have another opportunity at Misano to work on the bike. I can’t wait to be on the bike again because we need to work a lot to improve the bike and fight for the podium.”
Speaking during his Sunday media debrief, Locatelli shed light on the fact that more testing would be good for him to continue to improve: “If we can do more testing, I can ride the bike more and get more feeling and then improve. In WorldSBK, we can work with a lot of things; we can move the bike a lot, work on electronics etc, so we have a big package. For sure, it’s important to ride and I remember last year, we had a lot of time, we can rest, think to do something to improve the bike and then I improved a lot. Last year, for me it was interesting; we did the Navarra test and after that, we go to Assen and at Assen, I got my first podium and then we continued in a good way. In the test, we found something good for me so when went racing, we arrived ready, at this point. So probably, with some tests, we can improve.” Locatelli's wish has become reality as the factory Yamaha team stayed at Estoril for a one-day test on Tuesday.
On his rivalry with Iker Lecuona (Team HRC), Locatelli said: “Iker is a good rider, and I see a lot of improvement in Honda this year and also Iker has a lot of experience from MotoGP™. He is young but he is a good motivation to try and push and stay in front of him. We will continue in this way to get something good this year and also in the next race.”
Good morning from Estoril— Pata Yamaha with BRIXX WorldSBK (@PataYamahaBRIXX) May 24, 2022
We have a one day test today, as we focus on further improvements to our R1 WorldSBK package alongside Yamaha's engineers #YamahaRacing #WeR1 #TestingTesting pic.twitter.com/mYzCPnWerc
Continuing to talk about Lecuona in his media debrief, ‘Loka’ stated that whilst Lecuona is a rookie, it’s more in name than it is in nature: Iker is also a good rider but coming from MotoGP™, yes, he’s a rookie but he’s not a ‘rookie’. I arrived here from WorldSSP, he comes from MotoGP™.
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