He won’t be done down and he’s not going to be shaken off easy – Toprak Razgatlioglu takes more points out of Alvaro Bautista’s title advantage as the reigning World Champion begins to falter
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) took a huge chunk out of Alvaro Bautista’s (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship standings lead in Race 1 at MotorLand Aragon. The #54 finished second at MotorLand Aragon whilst Bautista crashed twice in a dramatic opening race of the Tissot Aragon Round, allowing the 2021 Champion to close the gap further and add more pressure to his rival.
Razgatlioglu started the race from third on the grid and was there as Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) hustled the Championship leader before it looked like the #1 had broken away from the chasing pack. However, on Lap 6, Bautista went down at Turn 8 and dropped all the way down the field. Razgatlioglu then battled with old foe and his 2024 replacement Rea on Lap 7, before bursting through with a few laps to go. However, by then, it wasn’t for victory as Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) had got ahead of both to take a first win in over two years, but 20 points nonetheless for 2021 World Champion Razgatlioglu mean he’s now 37 adrift of Bautista.
“Firstly, I am very happy as we didn’t start very strong but we have improved,” said Razgatlioglu, who had previously said on Friday evening that it was worse than in 2022 before a breakthrough on Saturday morning. “Especially in the race, my plan was to pass Jonny and Alvaro but after the crash, my plan was to stay with Jonny and if I stay behind into the last two laps, then I’d try to attack and fight for the win.
“Michael was very strong and I was just thinking that maybe the rear tyre drops in the last two laps but he was still strong. I tried to do my best, I’ve never won at this circuit and finally, I’m pushing a lot to take P2. It’s good for the Championship as now the gap is 37 points and I’m very happy, especially today. The Championship is something I’m not thinking about; every weekend it’s changing and it looks like everything isn’t finished. We’re focussed race-by-race, on Sunday, I’ll take more risks, my target is to win.”
Razgatlioglu has been a consistent force in 2023 and whilst he’s finished second to Bautista 12 times, he’s whittled down Bautista’s at-one-point 98-point lead down to 37 and it could have been even less had it not been for misfortune out of Toprak’s hands. In Race 2 at Phillip Island, he was taken out by Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) in the battle for a top five, whilst at Most, after a flawless display of defensive riding against Bautista in Race 2, a rear tyre failure left him on the floor from the lead. In all other races, he’s been on the podium, with just five times being third.
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