The Turkish star wasn’t completely happy despite going fastest on Friday, but is aiming to “fight like at Portimao” as he looks to end his Yamaha career with victory at Jerez
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) was the fastest rider on Friday at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto as he finished two tenths clear of his competitors, and three tenths clear of MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship title rival Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). After only taking to the track in one of Friday’s two sessions, the #54 was on top as the final Friday of 2023 concluded at the Prometeon Spanish Round.
With damp conditions greeting the WorldSBK field on Friday, with the track not fully dry or fully wet, only four riders set a time in Free Practice 1. The session was topped by late substitute rider Leandro Mercado (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team), with the 2021 Champion not venturing onto the circuit for as much as an out lap. It meant all his running was completed in the afternoon Free Practice 2 session, with the track much drier but still with wet patches following overnight rain.
In FP2, the double race winner at Jerez in 2021, WorldSBK’s last visit to the circuit, posted a 1’40.312s to top the standings ahead of Yamaha stablemate Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) in second. The 27-year-old was another tenth clear of title rival Bautista, with the Spaniard claiming third spot after a crash during FP2 disrupted his running. Despite his Turn 6 tumble, the #1 completed 20 laps in the second session compared to Razgatlioglu’s 19.
Reflecting on his Friday, the Turkish star said: “The Friday was difficult because nobody rides in FP1, because the track conditions were strange. In FP2, everybody’s riding and I’m feeling less grip. This is not just my problem; all riders are feeling the same. My bike is worse than the others because I’m feeling just spinning, no grip and no turning. We have some positives. I hope we are improving the bike tomorrow; I just need a little bit more grip for good pace. I did a good lap time, but I need good pace. Now, I’m not really strong.”
During his 19 timed laps, the longest stint for the #54 was six laps at the very end of the session when track conditions were at their best for the day and also after a red flag caused by Gabriele Ruiu’s (Bmax Racing) crash. His fastest time came on the second run of this stint, but all the other times were in the low 1’41s bracket, ranging from 1’41.388s to 1’41.015s.
During FP2, the Turk followed his rival on track. Discussing this and outlining his chances of victory, he said: “He’s very strong and this track and I just tried to follow him to understand which areas his bike is very strong. The exit of Turn 5, he’s unbelievably fast. And the last corner exit, there’s a big gap. I’m just trying to find which corner I can catch him. I see this and I understand. I just need a good setup because I feel a lot of spinning. I’m still fighting for the win. I hope tomorrow I feel the bike is much better and first I need a good Superpole, then a good race. I hope I’m fighting like at Portimao; then I’m feeling the bike better and starting to enjoy. I’m focused and hungry to win.”
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