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Imola WorldSBK Superpole Race | Rampant Razgatlioglu delays Bautista record bid

Gold & Goose
Toprak Razgatlioglu, Pata Yamaha, Yamaha R1, 2023 WorldSBK, Imola, action [credit - Gold & Goose]

Toprak Razgatlioglu scored one of the finest victories of his WorldSBK Championship career after battling back against Alvaro Bautista to notch up his third win of the 2023 season at Imola

In a race that looked poised to see Bautista collect a record-breaking 19th win - exceeding the current benchmark of 18 victories in a season, an accolade he shares with Doug Polen and Jonathan Rea - Razgatlioglu dug deep to for the first time this year to come back at his rival in a thrilling finish.

Indeed, while Razgatlioglu has this season proven a closer match for Bautista over the ten lap Superpole Races, where the shorter distance ensures the Ducati Panigale V4 R's superior tyre preservation is less of an advantage, his route to victory at Imola was less conventional.


The same could be said for Bautista, who seemed on course for victory after wriggling through on Razgatlioglu for second place at the Variante Bassa come the end of lap four, one of the few times this season he has felt compelled to go hard on the brakes to pass rather than rely on his Ducati's straight-line grunt.

Swiftly then dispatching of leader Andrea Locatelli, who had valiantly held the lead for the opening few laps via some stiff defence-work over his Pata Yamaha team-mate, Bautista seemed destined to employ the usual trope of using the clear track ahead to disappear up the road.

>>> 2023 WorldSBK Championship Standings <<<

His cause was even aided by Razgatlioglu losing a fistful of time on lap four when his on the limit attempt at overtaking Locatelli at Tosa was met with a big shake of disapproval from his Yamaha R1.

Razgatlioglu soon got the better of his team-mate later round the lap, but his chances of reeling Bautista in - something he, or rather his bike, hasn't achieved successfully at any stage this season - seemed low with just three laps left to go.

Undeterred, Razgatlioglu got his head down and got to work, employing some flamboyant flair as he ragged the Yamaha in his efforts to beat the gap back down to his rival.

Back onto his tail come the penultimate lap, Razgatlioglu wouldn't allow Bautista to regroup from the surprise of being caught and promptly launched an instant attack, getting the move done in an unconventional place coming into Piratella.

With Bautista relegated to chaser again, he upped his game to stay close with his rival, but Razgatlioglu's aggressive flick through the Variante Alta - a corner where he has been noticeably quicker than anyone else this weekend - was enough to establish a crucial gap.


Though Bautista latched onto his tail again through the final lap, Razgatlioglu held his form to escape out of the last corner to complete a satisfying third win of the year.

While the victory won't have a huge effect on his title aspirations by nibbling Bautista's huge advantage from 98 points to 95 points, it will at least mark a psychological boost for the 2021 WorldSBK Champion.

Bautista, meanwhile, has this afternoon's more Ducati-favourable full-length Race 2 for the opportunity to secure that record-breaking 19th win.

Locatelli fell away from the lead fight soon after being overtaken, but had enough in hand to secure his sixth podium of the year, with Jonathan Rea following him home in fourth.


Michael Ruben Rinaldi won the battle of the Italian-piloted Ducatis in fifth, ahead of Motocross's Axel Bassani, with Alex Lowes, Danilo Petrucci and Scott Redding nabbing the final points and a guaranteed spot on the front three rows for Race 2.

Imola WorldSBK | Race 2 Results

2023 Italian WorldSBK | Imola | Superpole Race Results | Round 7 of 12
1Toprak RazgatliogluTURPata Crescent RacingYamaha R110 Laps
2Alvaro BautistaESPAruba DucatiDucati Panigale V4 R+0.244
3Andrea LocatelliITAPata Crescent RacingYamaha R1+1.720
4Jonathan ReaGBRKawasaki Racing TeamKawasaki ZX-10RR+1.969
5Michael Ruben RinaldiITAAruba DucatiDucati Panigale V4 R+3.341
6Axel BassaniITAMotocorsa RacingDucati Panigale V4 R+4.603
7Alex LowesGBRKawasaki Racing TeamKawasaki ZX-10RR+5.219
8Danilo PetrucciITABarni Spark RacingDucati Panigale V4 R+7.536
9Scott ReddingGBRBMW Motorrad WorldSBKBMW M 1000 RR+9.407
10Loris BazFRABonovo RacingBMW M 1000 RR+9.601
11Remy GardnerAUSGYTR GRTYamaha R1+13.464
12Philipp OettlGERGo ElevenDucati Panigale V4 R+15.879
13Iker LecuonaESPTeam HRCHonda CBR1000RR-R+16.173
14Dominique AegerterCHEGYTR GRTYamaha R1+16.337
15Leon HaslamGBRBMW Motorrad WorldSBKBMW M 1000 RR+20.127
16Bradley RayGBRMotoxracingYamaha R1+22.585
17Gabriele RuiuITAB-Max RacingBMW M 1000 RR+23.420
18Lorenzo BaldassarriITAGMT 94Yamaha R1+23.671
19Xavi ViergeESPTeam HRCHonda CBR1000RR-R+31.024
20Tito RabatESPPuccetti RacingKawasaki ZX-10RR+31.322
21Roberto TamburiniITAMIE RacingHonda CBR1000RR-R+37.676
22Isaac VinalesESPTPR by Vinales RacingKawasaki ZX-10RR+38.011
23Oliver KonigCZEOrelac RacingKawasaki ZX-10RR+38.359
24Eric GranadoBRAMIE RacingHonda CBR1000RR-R+43.253
DNFGarrett GerloffUSABonovo RacingBMW M 1000 RR

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