There were also some standout performances by Yamaha riders in the FIM Supersport World Championship class, namely with Luca Bernardi, Manuel Gonzalez, and Dominique Aegerter, as well as superb showings from bLU cRU youngsters Andy Verdoia and Unai Orradre.
Andrea Dosoli, Yamaha Motor Europe’s Road Racing Manager, looked back on this special Magny-Cours weekend, giving his thoughts on the WorldSBK, WorldSSP, FIM Supersport 300 World Championship and Yamaha R3 bLU cRU European Cup races.
“It was a dry and sunny Magny-Cours, which has been unusual over the last few years. The weekend confirmed that this is one of the best seasons in a long time, with a lot of close battles between the championship protagonists. For sure it has been an important event for Yamaha in the WorldSBK class, and we will leave Magny-Cours with the riders’, manufacturers’ and teams’ championship leads.”
After moving level on points at the top of the standings in Navarra, Razgatlıoğlu was in scintillating form at Magny-Cours. From second on the grid, the Turkish rider stormed to a dominant victory in Race 1, beating Jonathan Rea by 4.467s.
In the Superpole Race, the pair scrapped for victory until the final moments, with Razgatlıoğlu making it stick at Complex du Lycée on the last lap to take another on-track win, although he was later penalised a position for track limits. In Race 2, another epic battle for victory ensued, and it was the Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK rider who would come out on top once again.
“The fantastic weekend was highlighted by Toprak’s performances. He was clearly the quickest rider and got three on-track wins. I must say that the team and the rider really wanted to leave Magny-Cours with the three victories, they prepared very well knowing that Toprak has been competitive on this circuit. They’ve done a great job and already on Friday we could see that Toprak had the best race pace. This led to the results seen on Saturday and Sunday. Of course, no one is happy about the penalty that we got in the SPRC, but this won’t affect us and we leave confident in our competitiveness.”
For Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK’s 2021 rookie, Andrea Locatelli, Magny-Cours brought yet more silverware, with the Italian finishing third in Race 1. The 24-year-old backed that result up with two fourth-place finishes on Sunday, which saw him rise to fourth in the riders’ standings.
At the GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team camp, Garrett Gerloff had a quieter weekend, with overtaking at the French circuit proving tricky. Starting from the fourth row, the American was 11th on Saturday, 13th in the SPRC, improving to ninth in Race 2. Rookie teammate Kohta Nozane endured a difficult Race 1, but made a substantial step forward on Sunday, finishing in the points in 14th in Race 2.
It was also a strong weekend for Christophe Ponsson, the GIL Motorsport Yamaha rider enjoying another step forward in performance at his home round. He was 13th in Race 1 and 12th in Race 2, representing his biggest points haul of the season.
“It was another great weekend for Locatelli; a different track again, but he proved to be the quickest rider outside of the top three. Another podium and two fourth places shows that he’s able to take on board what he’s learned and keep improving. We’re really happy to see these results in his rookie season.
“For Gerloff, he found it difficult to get through the midfield traffic, as many other riders also did. He took some solid points, but we know that he has the potential to do more. Next up is Barcelona, a track where he made that step-up in performance last year with his first podium, so we believe he can be back to fighting at the front where he deserves to be.
“It was another new race track for Kohta, a difficult circuit to learn. As a consequence, the result on Saturday wasn’t aligned with his potential, but we clearly saw an improvement in Sunday’s race. It’s a tough challenge for him, especially when you have so much to adapt to, but we are confident that he is improving and learning in the right way.
“Ponsson enjoyed the best performance of the year so far, we could clearly see a step. It was nice to see him fighting with the riders for 12th and it was a pleasure to see him enjoy these battles and smiling after the race. A good starting point for the remainder of the season.”
In WorldSSP, bLU cRU graduate Luca Bernardi flew to his maiden pole position, while Ten Kate Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team’s Dominique Aegerter won the opening race. ParkinGO Yamaha’s Manuel Gonzalez and Aegerter had a titanic battle for victory in Race 2, with Gonzalez coming out on top for his first win in the championship.
Bernardi and Race 1 podium finisher GMT94 Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team’s Jules Cluzel were injured in an incident on Sunday and both are recovering after being treated at Nevers Hospital.
“Again, some exciting races in WorldSSP, where Aegerter has done another step in his bid for the title. We also saw another fantastic performance from Gonzalez, who showed experience beyond his years in his battle with Aegerter to win Race 2. We’d like to congratulate him and the team on this achievement. Bernardi also confirmed his potential with his first pole position, a great accomplishment for him. Unfortunately, he and Cluzel were injured in the first lap incident of Race 2, and we wish them both a speedy recovery. I’d also like to mention that it was a very promising weekend for our young bLU cRU riders, Andy Verdoia and Unai Orradre, who have been impressing this year in their respective championships and we are sure that they have a great future ahead of them.”
The bad luck continued for Biblion Motoxracing Yamaha WorldSSP300 Supported Team’s Bahattin Sofuoğlu at Magny-Cours, who fell twice after being in victory contention once again.
“Unfortunately, the unlucky period of Bahattin continued at Magny-Cours. He showed some really good results in the Italian Championship before this weekend, and his pace was clear once again, as he battled for a podium finish, before crashing in both races. He’s for sure very competitive and we hope he can achieve the result he deserves in the next races.”
In the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU European Cup, Britain’s Fenton Harrison Seabright rode through his collarbone injury to take a pair of emotional victories, while the title battle was thrown wide open, as Spain’s Iker Garcia Abella endured two DNFs, seeing Julian Giral move to the top of the standings by four points. Slovakia’s Maxim Repak’s Race 2 podium puts him 10 points adrift in third, while Seabright moves 22 points behind the championship leader in fourth.
“I really have to congratulate Fenton on his two R3 Cup victories in France. This was very important for him in the championship, but also he was able to manage the pain and show a really fantastic performance. There were a few unfortunate incidents that have reopened the championship, and now we have four riders who can realistically fight for the title at the final in Barcelona. We’re sure that these riders will do whatever is possible to try to achieve their dream, so good luck to them all.”
Next up for the WorldSBK paddock will be round nine at Barcelona (17-19 September) for the first of three back-to-back race weekends, with WorldSSP, WorldSSP300 and the finale of the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU European Cup all featuring once more.