RAZGATLIOGLU UNSTOPPABLE: biggest pole margin in 5 years as Toprak dominates Mandalika

Saturday, 12 November 2022 03:24 GMT

In one of his most dominant displays in a Superpole session, Toprak Razgatlioglu was in a league of his own

The 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship’s Tissot Superpole session at the Pertamina Mandalika International Street Circuit was a belter. The Pirelli Indonesian Round welcomed the field out onto the track as times tumbled throughout the 15-minute session, setting the grid for Race 1 – the 900th WorldSBK race in the Championship’s history. Without the SCQ tyre, the softest rubber available was the SCX compound, and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) was the rider who made the difference, setting pole by over a second to give the biggest pole margin in 5 years, whilst also setting another new lap record.

STORY OF SUPERPOLE: Razgatlioglu unleashed, untouchable, unbelievable

Riders hit the circuit straight away under blue skies, with the threat of rain minimal, allowing for a perfect attack at pole position. Laps were quick and competitive from the start and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) set a new lap record for the second time on Saturday after FP3, with the first ever WorldSBK lap in the 1’31s. Teammate Andrea Locatelli was initially second before both riders returned to the pits, whilst Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was third but nearly a second off after the first run. Championship leader Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) was provisionally fourth ahead of teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi. With eight minutes to go, most of the field were back in the pits.

However, opting for a different strategy, Razgatlioglu and Locatelli returned to the circuit. In the first run, Razgatlioglu was ahead of Locatelli on track whilst for the second run, they’d been reversed. Also on track and doing a longer run than the other riders, Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was in P14. Latching onto the Yamahas ahead – which had now seen Razgatlioglu pass Locatelli – was Xavi Vierge (Team HRC). The sole factory Honda after teammate Iker Lecuona crashed in FP3 and was declared unfit for the rest of the round, Vierge went fifth. However, Razgatlioglu set a 1’31.371, another new lap record. Behind, Bautista was now onto the front in third, whilst Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) went fifth, demoting Vierge.

FRONT ROW: Toprak clear pole, Bautista not in the top three

With less than 90 seconds on the clock, there were plenty of personal best laps building but nobody was getting near Razgatlioglu’s astonishing lap time. The reigning World Championship is going to fight all the way until the maths say that he can’t take the title for a second season and will start from pole position for a second consecutive season in Indonesia; it’s the biggest gap after Superpole since 2017 at Magny-Cours. It was looking like a first Yamaha 1-2 of the season, but Jonathan Rea dug deep to put himself in the middle of the front row, whilst Locatelli completes the top three and starts from a career-first front row.

SECOND ROW: Lowes fourth with Bautista 1.5s behind

The second row of the grid sees Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) lead the charge and go into WorldSBK’s 900th race with a good spot on the grid. Fourth for Lowes with a lap time set by chasing teammate Rea ahead of him also demotes Championship leader Bautista to fifth. Bautista finished the session nearly 1.5s down on Razgatlioglu, with the Spaniard giving up most of his time in the second sector. In sixth position, top Independent rider Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) looks to add to his podium tally.

ROW THREE: Vierge matches personal best, Rinaldi struggles again

The third row is headed by the only factory Honda in action for the weekend, with Xavi Vierge missing out on a second row start by just under two tenths, matching his best ever Superpole result from Misano. Top BMW honours went to Scott Redding (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) with the British rider 0.002s behind Vierge, whilst Michael Ruben Rinaldi could only manage ninth come the chequered flag. Completing the top ten was Garrett Gerloff (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), making it three Yamahas inside the top ten.

REST OF THE FIELD: a dark horse charge from further down?

Michael van der Mark is in the middle of the fourth row in 11th, one place ahead of Philipp Oettl (Team Goeleven), who was 12th but at one time, sitting pretty on the second row in sixth. Xavi Fores (BARNI Spark Racing Team) took a respectable P13 on his Mandalika debut, ahead of Kohta Nozane (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) and Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW), with the Frenchman’s miserable weekend continuing with a row five start for Race 1. Hafizh Syahrin (MIE Racing Honda Team) took 16th place to head the sixth row with his best Superpole result of the year. It was the same stat for Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing VerdNatura), who starts 17th, ahead of Leandro Mercado (MIE Racing Honda Team). Kyle Smith (TPR Team Pedercini Racing) was 19th, ahead of Eugene Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW), with the Irishman completing the field. Unfit for Saturday after an FP3 crash, Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) will hope to return to action on Sunday.

Top six after WorldSBK Superpole at Mandalika, full results here:

1. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) 1’31.371s

2. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +1.052s

3. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) +1.092s

4. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +1.143s

5. Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) +1.452s

6. Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) +1.565s

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