"One of the best races of my life!" – Locatelli ecstatic despite Race 2 retirement

Monday, 25 September 2023 06:23 GMT

The #55 was running in second place before smoke started pouring from his Yamaha YZF-R1 machine which forced him to retire

Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) had been enjoyed one of his strongest performances of the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship campaign in Race 2 at MotorLand Aragon before a technical issue put him out of contention. The Italian was running in second and directly ahead of teammate Toprak Razgatlioglu when smoke started billowing out of his machine, with the Italian retiring which potentially cost him a first Tissot Aragon Round podium.

Locatelli started from fourth on the grid for Race 2 and immediately jumped into second place behind Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). The six-time Champion led until Turn 1 on Lap 2 when ‘Loka’ overtook him under braking on the inside at Turn 1. Locatelli’s lead only lasted a few corners as reigning Champion Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) came flying past and pulled clear of the chasing pack.

This left the #55 battling with teammate Razgatlioglu for second place, after he got by Rea, with the Italian able to hold off the 2021 Champion’s attacks despite Razgatlioglu aiming to limit the damage to Bautista in the Championship fight. With just a few laps remaining, smoke started coming out of Locatelli’s Yamaha YZF-R1 machine and he was shown the ‘meatball’ flag towards the start of Lap 14 after he suffered a broken oil radiator, an issue Yamaha stated was ‘almost unheard of which is being investigated fully’. However, the Yamaha star kept riding his bike back to the pits and the FIM Stewards sanctioned him with a back of the grid penalty for his next race for not respecting the flag.

Despite his race ending prematurely, Locatelli was delighted with how it was going until the tech issue. He stated: “Honestly, it was fun. It’s probably one of the best races of my life! Just a bit unlucky. We had a broken oil radiator and lost something. When I saw the oil was a bit on my leg, it was unfortunately only with three laps to go. I could do nothing. We have always been lucky without problems and sometimes this happens. It’s a strong weekend in the end. We showed our potential and I think this is the best thing to do. We will see what we can do in Portugal at Portimao but I’m feeling really confident.”

Expanding on his battle with the #54, Locatelli added: “I understood a lot during the race, and I tried to find a bit more grip on the rear. We worked a lot on the setup of the bike, especially after the Superpole Race. We found a good solution. We had a bit of an advantage on the exit of corners, and it was also great under braking. When Toprak overtook at Turn 7, I felt something at Turn 5, and it was probably because the radiator started to break. I lost the rear grip a bit many times and, in the end, I needed to stop the bike.”

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