Can Yamaha reclaim Mandalika on Sunday?

Saturday, 4 March 2023 06:48 GMT

Razgatlioglu claimed three wins in 2022 at Mandalika but was overhauled in Race 1 by reigning Champion Bautista…

In the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, the Pertamina Mandalika International Street Circuit has belonged to Yamaha and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) with the 2021 Champion taking three pole positions out of a possible three at Mandalika as well as a hat-trick of wins last year in November. However, in Race 1 in the Motul Indonesian Round, Yamaha found themselves behind Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) who claimed his and Ducati’s first victory at Mandalika.

Razgatlioglu continued his perfect pole position record at the Mandalika circuit having taken poles in 2021, 2022 and 2023 and he looked to make it four wins in a row at the Indonesian venue after he claimed a hat-trick in last year’s Indonesian Round. He led for the first few laps but was overtaken by Bautista on Lap 5 of 21 and he was unable to re-pass the reigning Champion to continue his win streak on Lombok.

Razgatlioglu came home in second place which means he has only been off the podium on one occasion at Mandalika with his worst result fourth in Race 2 in 2021 after he claimed the Championship title a race earlier. It means Razgatlioglu sits third in the 2023 Championship standings on 43 points, more than half of Bautista’s total after four races of the season. Teammate Andrea Locatelli separates them in the standings.

Looking back on Race 1, Razgatlioglu said: “For me, the race was very difficult. I tried for my best position because, after eight laps, the front tyres and dropped and I destroyed the right side. I’m fighting in all corners. I tried to enter but I lost the front. I understood Bautista was very strong every lap after that. I don’t understand, Bautista used the SC1 front tyre and it looks like new. I used the the SC2 hard tyre and it was strange to have a big drop. Last year, I didn’t feel this problem. This year, after eight or nine laps, it started to drop. We need to improve this tomorrow.”

Locatelli claimed third place in Race 1 as Yamaha continued to show strong form despite missing out on victory for his second podium of 2023, matching his tally from the 2022 season after just four races of this season. He also took second place in the Tissot Superpole session and was less than a tenth behind his teammate but lost ground at the start of Race 1 before fighting his way back up to a podium position.

On Race 1, Locatelli said: “It was a strong race. We just lost the first part of the race at the start. It was not so bad, but I lost a lot of positions at the start. In the end, I needed to recover the gap to the front. I think it was a little bit late, so we need to try to be faster when starting tomorrow. Sometimes we start well, sometimes it’s not easy. Today was not easy. In general, third is a good result. To be honest, we were working well but we didn’t know the rhythms of the other riders. I think we were faster, and we were on the podium. This is the first big result to start the weekend and tomorrow we will see. We try to improve the bike a little bit more and see what we can do.”

Both riders also discussed whether they could overhaul Ducati and Bautista on Sunday in either the Tissot Superpole Race or Race 2. Razgatlioglu said: “I hope tomorrow we get the first win of the season. I tried to do my best today and many times I almost crashed but I’m just trying to do my best. I hope we improve tomorrow and are fighting for the win. In the ten laps, everybody tries their best. We will see. Alvaro will be strong. It’s not possible for me to say because I hope, tomorrow morning, we improved the bike. If I am happy, we will be fighting in the Superpole Race.”

Locatelli added: “It’s not easy but I tried working myself and tried to do what I can do. I tried to believe in myself, I tried pushing with my bike, I tried the maximum with my feeling. Probably, we are not completely ready to fight with Alvaro, but we will try, for sure, to be faster in the next race. I think we will have more opportunities to fight in Europe and stay in front of him. Never say never. Keep pushing.”

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