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Title Battles Rage on at Portimão for Yamaha and Razgatlıoğlu

Title Battles Rage on at Portimão for Yamaha and Razgatlıoğlu

In the final European round of the 2021 FIM Superbike World Championship, Yamaha extended its lead in the riders’ championship with Toprak Razgatlıoğlu, despite the technical issue that took him out of victory contention in Race 2 at Portimão.

Yamaha also maintained its advantage out front in the manufactures’ standings, while the Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK team edged further ahead in the teams’ championship.

Andrea Dosoli, Yamaha Motor Europe Road Racing Manager, reflected on the Portuguese weekend, where Yamaha R6 riders also took a clean sweep of the podium positions in the FIM Supersport World Championship, after two thrilling races, while the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship came to a close.

“We arrived at Portimão knowing that our bike has performed well here in the past, but also fully aware of how strong Jonathan Rea has been here in recent seasons. We had some concerns with the tyre allocations, with us unable to use the softer option that has worked so well in the past few events. It has been a challenging event due to it being the third round in a row, but despite this we are happy to see the hard work done by everyone. We have left Portimão with an increased lead in the championship, but of course we know we could have left with more points if we hadn't had the issue with Toprak’s bike on Sunday. We are looking into the reason for what was an unusual issue that caused him to crash, but we are glad he is OK. The weekend once again confirmed, however, that the Yamaha R1 works in all conditions and at all tracks.”

Razgatlıoğlu headed into the Portimão round with a 20-point lead over Jonathan Rea and drew first blood with his second consecutive pole position. The Turkish rider was then locked in a gripping battle with Rea and Scott Redding in Race 1, coming out on top as the Kawasaki rider crashed out.
On Sunday, the 24-year-old was sixth in the wet Superpole Race but was able to recover to fight for the lead in the early stages of Race 2. However, while heading into the fast final corner on lap nine, his front mudguard detached from its mounting and caused him to crash at high speed. Although Razgatlıoğlu was denied a chance to further extend his championship lead, the Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK rider still leaves Portugal with a 24-point advantage over Rea in the standings.

“Of course, we apologise to Toprak for the issue that caused him to crash in Race 2 and we have to ensure that something like this won’t happen again. We are impressed by his rection after this, as it shows he is still mentally very strong as we get towards the sharp end of the championship battle. Toprak has also shown his mental strength in the way he's reacted to comments from his championship rivals, some of whom have recently taken to criticising his aggressive riding style in the media. He sees this criticism for exactly what it is; an attempt to put him under pressure as the title fight hots up. He remains unfazed by the comments; if anything, it has the opposite effect, making him even more motivated to win races. We are very grateful for having a rider like Toprak on board with us at Yamaha.”

On the other side of the garage, 2021 rookie Andrea Locatelli was back into the podium places in Race 2 at the Algarve International Circuit, having finished fourth in the wet SPRC. The Italian fell in Free Practice 3, leaving him carrying a foot injury for the rest of the weekend, and he was also involved in an incident in Race 1 while challenging for a top five finish.

“It has been a challenging weekend for Andrea, which ended in the right way with the podium result. He experienced two crashes on Saturday, and this means he was not 100 percent fit on Sunday. He showed great speed considering the situation, and also proved that he has learned from the wet race in Barcelona to make a good step in the Superpole Race last weekend. The crew found a good set-up for the wet and he was able to understand better how to ride the bike in these conditions. Another confirmation of his improvement.”

For the GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team, Garrett Gerloff returned to the top five in Race 2, having been sixth on Saturday. The American’s eight-place result in the SPRC ensured he scored points in all three races, but he was left somewhat disappointed having been one of the early front-runners during the free practice sessions.

His teammate, Kohta Nozane, was learning the tricky and undulating 4.653 km circuit for the first time but improved throughout the weekend. The Japanese rider was 14th in Race 1 and 13th in Race 2, while he fell in the treacherous conditions during the SPRC. GIL Motorsport Yamaha’s Christophe Ponsson was in the top 10 again in Race 1, as his strong run of form continued.

“A positive weekend for Garrett, who was very strong in the practice sessions. Despite a few mistakes and a bad start in the races, he was able to achieve good results, his first top five in the last few rounds, so this shows that he’s back on the way to recovering his full confidence. We expected this would be a difficult racetrack to learn for Kohta. We saw an improvement day-by-day and for sure it has been tough racing in Portimão for the first time. He was very committed to learn the track as quickly as possible, so we’re happy with his performance. It’s good to see Christophe back in the top 10 again, which confirms his progression and improvement on the Yamaha R1.”

In WorldSSP, GMT94 Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team’s Jules Cluzel won for the first time since Argentina 2019, after an action-packed opening race, with ParkinGO Yamaha’s Manuel Gonzalez and Ten Kate Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team’s Dominique Aegerter joining him on the podium.

In Race 2, another exciting contest saw Evan Bros Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team’s Steven Odendaal take his first victory since Most, while Cluzel was just 0.011s behind. Biblion Motoxracing Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team’s Federico Caricasulo was also back on the podium for the first time since his return, while the championship battle between Odendaal and Aegerter continues to Argentina.

“We saw two of the best races of the season in WorldSSP. On Saturday, Jules was back on top in the tight race, where a lot of riders had the chance to win. It was good to see him take the win especially after his injury in Magny-Cours. He was so close to the winner in Race 2, which was decided by a photo finish. It was nice to see Steven also take his first win after a difficult few rounds. With two rounds to go and 100 points to be scored, still anything can happen, so we are looking forward to the next one. Manuel also did a very good weekend; he had some issues in Race 1 but was still able to finish second. It was also great to see Federico back on the podium for the first time since 2019, he won’t be in Argentina or Indonesia so this is a nice way for him to end his season.”

In the final round of the 2021 WorldSSP300 Championship, Biblion Motoxracing Yamaha WorldSSP300 Supported Team’s Bahattin Sofuoğlu was fourth in Race 1, before a penalty dropped him from the podium on Sunday. The bLU cRU youngster can still be encouraged by his late season performances, which ensured he finished sixth in the riders’ standings.

“It has been a season where Bahattin has had some bad luck, and our R3 hasn’t been performing as good, which is something we will look to improve for the upcoming season. It was nice to see the confirmation of his improved performance during the year though, he had a fantastic second half of the season, which allowed him to finish sixth in the championship. It’s not the result we all expected, but considering the difficulties, it was nice to see his reaction.”

Next for the WorldSBK and WorldSSP championship will be the Argentina round at the Circuito San Juan Villicum on 15-17 October, while the FIM Endurance World Championship will be in action for the season-ending 6 Hours of Most this weekend.