Pata Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu came away from 2023’s WorldSBK Championship opening round with a double podium celebration at Phillip Island.
Nobody gave Razgatlioglu a real chance against the might of Alvaro Bautista and his even better 2023 version of the V4R Ducati heading into the first round in Australia. Even Razgatlioglu was a little less than confident pre-race weekend. But as it tuned out the first prize of the new season, Superpole Qualifying, went to Razgatlioglu not Bautista.
Toprak was just over a tenth away from the very best qualifying time ever, but in the races, wet or dry, he could not lay a glove on the three times winner Bautista.
In Race Two, fighting in the chasing pack, he was taken out when Alex Lowes (basically blameless, said Razgatlioglu) fell entering T4 and Razgatlioglu got collected. Third, Third, no score for the 2021 champion, Razgatlioglu is currently sixth in the championship standings, a massive 39 points behind runaway triple PI winner Bautista.
A bad start in Race Two did not help. “Normally, I’m very good starting, but Race Two is very bad,” he admitted. “It was bad luck, maybe. The big problem for the second race was that everybody used more hard tyre because in the short race we used an SC0 tyre.
“The SC0 tyre on my bike is unbelievable and I had a very good feeling.
“Just a short race maybe we have one more lap, I could easily pass Michael Ruben Rinaldi, because he started a big drop. In Race Two we used the hard tyre, but my bike completely changed. Especially in first laps I was not feeling the grip and bike was not turning. I just tried to keep the rear tyre. I followed Johnny [Rea] and tried for best position. But we crashed with Alex. Not his fault, but I try just a different line. He crash and also I crash.”
Why not his fault? What happened?
“Because he crashed alone. He didn’t see me. I go wide a little bit, try to keep good line, but crash also.”
Very bad luck then?
“Exactly. Maybe I would have finished the race in P6, maybe P4. I don’t know. I tried to keep fighting, but it was also not easy for me because we had zero grip here.”
Razgatlioglu felt Bautista was just a bit too strong for anyone to beat, but he also praised his teammate Andrea Locatelli for his efforts, as he now sits second overall in the points. “He’s very strong also, especially at this circuit. Also, Ducati is always strong.
“Loka did a very good setup with the Yamaha. Also he was good starting the test. He used the new swing arm. He found a good setup.
“We are just trying to do a good setup but also especially at this track, it’s not my style,” he continued. “With the SC0 tyre everything is good, but when we use the hard tyre, my bike is not working. I can’t keep it turning. Also with Johnny, the same problem now. Johnny finished the race eighth. He has also a big problem with the rear grip because I am riding with him. I maybe follow Loka, but I think it was not possible fighting with him for third position because he’s also got good pace. He’s strong. But anyway, it’s very bad luck I crashed. If I don’t crash, also the points would be different. But anyway, this is just the first race.
When it was put to Razgatlioglu that this may be a very tough season in general he stated, “If Ducati is the same like this, every year is hard season.”