Double trouble: what happened to Razgatlioglu and Rea in FP2 in Australia?
The pair were 13th and 14th in Friday’s Free Practice 2 session although finished the combined classification inside the top ten
The first day of the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship campaign provided plenty of intrigue up and down the paddock at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) in 13th place and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 14th at the end of the 45-minute session. The pair, who were inside the top ten in the combined classification at the end of Friday’s running, have explained what happened in FP2 to leave them in a lowly position ahead of the first race day of the season on Saturday.
Razgatlioglu finished in 13th place in FP2 after posting a best time of 1’32.155s, with Rea and Razgatlioglu separated by just 0.029s in the afternoon session. However, the 2021 Champion’s best time was set in FP1 after he posted a 1’31.560s which put him tenth in the combined classification after lapping 0.937s than pacesetter Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). It left Razgatlioglu as the third-best Yamaha on Friday in the combined classification, but he was the slowest Yamaha rider in FP2.
Discussing Friday in Australia, the 2021 Champion said: “In the afternoon, it was unbelievably hot. The asphalt was 51, 52 degrees. We tried a race simulation. It looks like it wasn’t really fast but also it wasn’t bad. We tried some new setups for the race. Tomorrow looks like the weather will be cooler which will help for the grip. For me, today was not an easy day. I was just focused on my race simulation because this is really important. I need to understand the bike after ten laps and the feeling. We need to understand which tyres are better for the race and this is really important.”
During FP1, Andrea Dosoli, Road Racing Manager at Yamaha Motor Europe, also explained some of Razgatlioglu’s struggles on Friday with the Italian saying: “Toprak has not found the best feeling with the bike. He’s still testing things from the test. I’m sure from two days data the guys will be able to improve the bike.”
Rea’s best time of the day was a 1’31.304s, set in Free Practice 1, but could only set a best time eight tenths down on that in Free Practice 2. His FP1 time was good enough for fifth in the combined classification but the FP2 time left him languishing in 14th place at the end of the session, lapping 1.521s slower than Bautista as Rea posted a 1’32.144s. During the session, Rea lost some track time as the mechanics worked on the front of his ZX-10RR machine with the six-time Champion explaining this and his deficit to Bautista.
He said: “I felt very solid in the first session, our pace was good. As soon as the temperature crept up and I did my first out in FP2, I didn’t feel good with the bike at all. I had zero edge grip. We tried a small setup change to go back. We were trying something and we were curious to go back and check our base setup. Even with our base setup, I had zero grip. We weren’t pushing the tyre, the tyre wasn’t in range of temperature or pressure. It’s also true that our bike isn’t working great on the edge of the tyre. We need to make the bike turn more naturally. That’s going to be a priority tomorrow. When I launch the bike into the corner, I need it to track around the corner and not to use the rear or to slide and correct the line. This is wasting the rear tyre. We’re looking for edge grip tomorrow and some turning.”
Bautista weighed in on his rivals’ struggles after Friday, saying: “I’ve said this season there are more riders fighting for the top positions. It’s not easy when you don’t have a good day, you have other riders in front of you. For example, if we had some bad days, not many riders could stay in between. This season is different and, especially in this race after two days testing this week, there are more riders in good shape. I expect them, Jonathan and Toprak, to be in the mix but I think Locatelli is doing well and also my teammate, Michael Ruben Rinaldi, is doing well and I’m happy for him. I think we will see good races tomorrow and Sunday.”
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