Razgatlioglu used old electronics at Aragon, complete return to 2021 bike for Assen?

Monday, 11 April 2022 11:43 GMT

The reigning World Champion’s title defence got underway with a hat-trick of podiums but the big news emerging is the reversion to the old electronics package for the season-opener

The 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship kicked off at MotorLand Aragon for the Pirelli Aragon Round and whilst it was a decent start to the title defence for Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK). Three third-places at a circuit that Yamaha have historically struggled at in the past, Razgatlioglu is third in the standings, 18 points from Championship leader Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati). However, emerging from his media debrief on Sunday afternoon, Razgatlioglu confirmed that he and his team and reverted back to the old electronics for the round, a huge switch given the “huge” steps that had been made with the new ones in preseason testing.

OLD ELECTRONICS AT ARAGON: Toprak’s changes tack

Speaking during his debrief, Razgatlioglu confirmed the switch back to the old electronics, coming as a surprise: “We went back to the old electronics this weekend as I feel much better with the old one, the new one is good but, in some areas, I am feeling better with the old one. Maybe we will come back to old set-ups for Assen, but we will see.”

Regarding the electronics switch, crew chief Phil Marron had previously discussed the new package saying: “The team made a huge step, the engineers made a massive step. Toprak seeing the step that they could make; he was actually blown away by it. He was very surprised that, when they get their heads together, just how big a step they can make, and he understands the potential now is quite big.

“Believe it or not, he still wants the bike to stop better, this is his main complaint every time, even though the guys that he rides with will tell you where he brakes is ridiculous, as well as how he stops and turns the bike. We want to, along with him, improve the turning of the bike and we would like to improve the electronics package in terms of traction control, power delivery and engine braking.

OLD BIKE FOR ASSEN? the idea has been floated

Razgatlioglu continued, making a bold statement by suggesting that he and Yamaha may well make a complete shift back to the 2021 bike for Assen: “We’ll see at the next race. Last year, Assen was not good for me. I think we can come back very strong and also, I think we will come back to the 2021 bike completely, as it will feel much better at Assen.”

Of the opening three circuits on the 2022 calendar, Razgatlioglu and Yamaha didn’t win at any of them in 2021. MotorLand Aragon yielded three podiums at the start of this year but no top two, whilst Razgatlioglu was able to take two second places at Estoril in 2021, whilst at Assen, he was twice third. The Turkish star did take two wins at Estoril in 2020, albeit on an older-spec Yamaha YZF-R1.

BRAKING POINTS: “I’m not really strong… the bike is with the rear in the air”

Razgatlioglu, who is renowned for his hard, last-on-the-brakes style of braking, complained about getting his bike stopped during Race 2 at MotorLand Aragon: “In the braking area, I’m not really strong in Race 2, because the bike is with the rear in the air, and I can’t stop. We are third place again, we take good points for the Championship and normally, we aren’t strong at this circuit, but after here, we start getting stronger.”

There was a change of wind direction in Race 2, with it previously being a tailwind but then, a headwind down the back straight, something which pushed riders into Turn 1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) said that this was a reason for him not able to get his bike stopped at points: “The race was quite aggressive again and I made a few mistakes; it was windy out there, and the wind changed direction, so I had a big tail wind on the backstraight on Sunday but today was more of a headwind, so that also pushed me a bit into Turn 1.”

SWITCH OR NO SWITCH? Time will tell…

Whether Razgatlioglu does make the switch to the old-spec bike or even return to the new electronics package remains to be seen. However, three third places at Aragon, a circuit that has featured only Kawasaki and Ducati inside the top two in every race since 2014, will be a positive to take from the opening round of the season, nonetheless. Just 18 points off the Championship lead compared to his 27-point deficit from 2021, progress looks to have been made regardless, although how will the season turn out as it evolves?

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