It should be an interesting start to the season if 2020 was anything to go by, when a spectacular sprint to the finish in Phillip Island, Australia, saw Turkish sensation Toprak Razgatlıoğlu storm through to win on his debut in Yamaha blue. That first year on the R1 WorldSBK netted fourth in the overall standings with three wins, a total of nine outstanding podiums and a career-first pole position at the final round of Estoril, Portugal. Now, in his fourth year in the premier superbike class, fans both from Toprak’s native country and around the world are looking forward to watching the upward trajectory of the talented 24-year-old translate into a run at the championship title.
Warmly welcomed to the opposite side of the Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK pit box is 2020 FIM World Supersport Champion Andrea Locatelli, set for his debutant campaign on the 998cc R1 WorldSBK. The 24-year-old (who shares exactly the same date of birth as his new teammate!) comes fresh from a year of dominance on the Yamaha R6, having spent 2020 breaking almost every record in the book and wrapping up the WorldSSP title with four rounds to spare – in the end winning 12 of the 15 races available, with seven pole positions. That performance not only turned heads, it earned Locatelli a place in the Official Yamaha WorldSBK squad for 2021.
Both riders start the new season with their eyes firmly fixed on their targets, whether it’s that of “Loka” in chasing continuous improvement and the ability to fight with WorldSBK’s seasoned regulars, or Toprak’s goals of turning regular podiums and race wins into a title fight. Each approach comes one race at a time – with the first three chances at silverware coming this weekend.
At the riders’ disposal will be the 2021 version of the Yamaha R1 WorldSBK, further developed by Yamaha’s team of dedicated superbike engineers in Milan, Italy, with additional support from Yamaha Motor Japan. The bike has received updates to every area of its performance and is the most potent version of the famous R1 since its original inception in 1998.
MotorLand Aragón circuit normally hosts the start of the European leg of the racing season in the cool air of late March or early April rather than 2021’s late May date. Its 17 corners across 5.077km, steeped in the hills of the Teruel province, feature a challenging mix of technical and flowing sections and a back straight more than a kilometre long.
With ambient temperatures forecast to potentially reach up to 30°C on the all-important race days of Saturday and Sunday, conditions for the championship’s 2021 visit could be far closer to last year’s summer double-header held in August. Tyre choice and management of changing grip levels played a big part in the team’s fortunes then, and could play a part in the two full-length feature races to come.
Free Practice 1 and 2 of #AragonWorldSBK begin at 10:30 and 15:00 local time (GMT+1), providing Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK two crucial 45-minute sessions to make any final set-up adjustments for Razgatlıoğlu and Locatelli ahead of the first Superpole qualifying and race of the season.