Saturday in the Czech Republic had its fair share of drama during qualifying and Race 1, with changing conditions in the afternoon meaning that tyre strategy became key. Sunshine greeted the riders for the 20-minute Superpole session in the morning, with Razgatlıoğlu setting the bar as he showed sensational pace to secure his 12th WorldSBK career pole position, and the 50th for Yamaha in WorldSBK, by setting a new lap record with a 1’30.801.
Following some confusion due to yellow flag infringements and cancelled laps, Locatelli had his fastest time removed but still managed a 1’31.680, which meant the Italian rider would line up seventh on the grid.
Then rain before the start created a wet Race 1, but with the 4.212km track constantly drying tyre choice became vital, and both Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK riders opted for an intermediate setup which would turn out to be exactly the right selection.
When the lights went out for the 22-lap race, the riders who gambled on full wets broke away at the front, but as the track conditions improved, Razgatlıoğlu and Locatelli started to battle their way back through the pack as the conditions began to favour inters.
The Turkish ace scythed through the riders ahead of him as his confidence grew, and by lap 10 he was up to second, setting his sights on hunting down Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki), who had a 12-second advantage at the front. Maintaining his pace and closing constantly, Razgatlıoğlu just ran out of laps, bringing his R1 home in a superb second place, 4.007s behind Rea, with “Loka” fighting all the way to the line to finish in sixth.
In the process, Razgatlıoğlu secured his 19th consecutive podium to close the gap to Alvaro Bautista (Ducati) at the top of the championship standings to 54 points, with two more chances to reduce the deficit even further on Sunday. Locatelli is now fourth overall, eight points behind Rea and confident of being able to fight for the podium during the rest of the weekend.
The action at Most on Sunday starts with the 15-minute Warm-Up session at 9:00 CEST, followed by the 10-lap Superpole Race at 11:00 and Race 2 at 14:00.