The Turkish superstar was second in Race 2 after a race-long fight with teammate Andrea Locatelli until the Italian was forced to retire
The tenth round of the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is in the history books as MotorLand Aragon’s track action comes to an end. The Tissot Aragon Round wasn’t supposed to be a track where Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) could eat into Alvaro Bautista’s (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) Championship lead – on paper at least. However, races aren’t decided on paper; Razgatlioglu took P2 as Bautista crashed in Race 1, which saw him take 20 points out of Bautista, whilst he only gave up ten on Sunday in what was billed to be a damage limitation weekend for the Turk.
A thrilling battle in the Superpole Race saw Razgatlioglu in the fight for victory but he wasn’t able to overcome his rivals, as Bautista came through on the final lap at Turn 4, before he went on to win, defeating Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) on the last drag down the back straight. In Race 2, Razgatlioglu wasn’t able to stay with Bautista who broke clear and had trouble passing teammate Andrea Locatelli. However, with five laps to go, smoke started billowing out from the #55 Yamaha, with Toprak quick to disperse of his Italian colleague. Locatelli retired after being shown the ‘meatball’ flag, which gave Razgatlioglu breathing space over Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), meaning he only lost ten points to Bautista on Sunday, with a net gain of ten compared to the start of the weekend.
Speaking about his Race 2 P2, Razgatlioglu said: “In general, I’m really happy because Friday was a disaster, but we made big improvements, and I took three podiums this weekend. This is fantastic. In Race 2, Locatelli was very strong, and he was riding very calmly. I saw Alvaro was very strong and my teammate. I was waiting, following him and maybe in the last laps I could start to fight. After I saw Rinaldi coming, I said, ‘this time, I need to fight with Rinaldi because I need P2 because I need good points for the Championship’. I saw some smoke and immediately passed Locatelli. I got P2 and this is good, but I’m also really surprised at Locatelli. He made a big improvement for Race 2. Maybe in the last laps, we’d have fought. I’m very happy for him, but it’s bad luck for him to not finish the race.”
Razgatlioglu’s net gain of ten points means the gap is 47 up to Alvaro Bautista in the standings, down from a high of 98 after Race 1 at Imola. With six races to go, reigning World Champion Bautista remains the favourite for back-to-back crowns, although it’s now not as straightforward as it could have been back in July and before the August break.
With 13 races where he’s finished second to Bautista, if he does so again at Portimao – where he won twice last year – then the title race goes to the final round at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto. Bautista needs a points swing of 15 at the Pirelli Portuguese Round, whilst the form book suggests Razgatlioglu will keep taking profit of mistakes and dramas for the #1.
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