Conditions dried out in the Nièvre region on Saturday after two almost fully-wet Free Practice sessions hampered race preparations for the entire WorldSBK field yesterday. With just 30-minutes of dry running during Free Practice 3 this morning, every team including the Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK crew had their work cut out to confirm their race set-ups, as well as assess Pirelli tyre combinations, for the first points-paying race of the weekend.
Defending champion Razgatlıoğlu showed a clear advantage at one of his favourite race venues, setting the fastest lap time in FP3 by more than half a second from BMW’s Scott Redding before effectively taking “equal” pole position with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) in Superpole when both riders set the exact same qualifying time of 1’36.124. A count back of additional lap times handed the Kawasaki rider pole, with Razgatlıoğlu to start from P2, while teammate Locatelli found himself starting from P12 with less than two tenths separating him from the five riders in front.
The stage was set for another epic WorldSBK thriller as Turkish ace Razgatlıoğlu lead from the front and fought off a challenge from a resurgent Redding, as Rea made a mistake to crash out from the chicane at the end of Lap 2. Only moments later, after already amassing a 1.5-second lead, the Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK rider saved a potentially race-ending crash - as he struggled with some inconsistencies in front braking control - only to end up in the gravel trap at Turn 13. What followed was an epic fight-back from 23rd to score five potentially crucial championship points, demonstrating a relentless race pace to rival eventual race winner Alvaro Bautista (Ducati).
For the team’s #55 Italian rider Locatelli, seventh was not representative of the top five pace and consistency he has demonstrated time and time again since joining the WorldSBK class in 2021. He struggled with rear grip but the team hope to help him make a step for tomorrow to give him a chance to fight for front running results once again.
The dry weather looks set to continue tomorrow, giving both Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK riders a 15-minute Warm-Up session at 09:00 (CEST) to confirm improvements to the set-ups of their Yamaha R1 WorldSBKs made overnight, before the 10-lap Superpole Race at 11:00 and final feature-length Race 2 (21 laps) from 14:00.