Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team with Rizla rider Toprak Razgatlioglu was beaten by the narrowest of margins to second place in the first Tissot-Superpole race of the 2020 season, to back up his debut R1 race win on Saturday. Michael van der Mark was in contention for both podiums today but ultimately secured fourth and fifth place finishes after one ten-lap and one 22-lap race at the 4.445km Phillip Island circuit.
Fully in contention for a second consecutive win of the weekend, Razgatlioglu was only 0.067 seconds from race winner Jonathan Rea in the sprint race after another photo finish, following a late inside pass at Turn 11 that Razgatlioglu could not quite respond to on the final few hundred metres. It was his second podium finish in two races for Pata Yamaha.
He was unfortunate to suffer a fuel problem in the second race today, retiring on lap 20 of 22, just as he was making progress toward another potential podium finish.
After coming so close to the podium on Saturday, van der Mark did not have the bike balance he needed to be in contention for a top-three finish in the sprint race, taking fifth position – but still only one second from the race winner.
In the final race of the weekend, van der Mark was engaged in a fight for the podium places that featured up to nine riders at times, with close passes and bold braking manoeuvres a regular occurrence. He was on course for third place and a well-deserved podium until the last lap, when he was passed by Scott Redding’s Ducati and could not find enough rear grip by that stage to re-challenge. The incredibly close nature of the 2020 Phillip Island races is demonstrated by the fact that, cumulatively over the 3 races, van der Mark finished less than 3 seconds from victory on the new 2020 R1.
Having led the championship after the Superpole race, Razgatlioglu’s Race 2 misfortune sees him slip to third overall, with Van der Mark not far behind in fifth.
Now the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team with Rizla relocates to the deserts of Qatar for a floodlit round two, with track action starting on Friday 13 March.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu: “We have made an incredible start to the season. At Phillip Island in the last two seasons I was not fast, but we were at the top this time on the R1. The sprint race today was not bad – quite good really – but there was just too much spinning on the last lap and Johnny passed me inside on the last corner. In the second race, the long race, I just waited patiently, and then with four laps to go I passed Loris Baz and started to go for a podium finish, but then my race was over. Overall, it has been a very nice, very good race weekend and we were just unlucky after the second race. Maybe I could not have won that one but I am sure I could have again been in the fight.”
Michael van der Mark: “It has been a bit of a weird raceday. This morning in the Superpole race I did not have the confidence or feeling with the bike that I had yesterday, so it was a real ten-lap struggle. I was really upset because yesterday everything went so well, and I was just a bit unlucky to miss out in the last corner. For the final race we found a set-up solution and I had a really good start. To be honest my plan worked out and again we planned not to take the lead and try to slow it down a bit, not stress the tyre. It went well until two laps before the end when the guys around me started to push. I pushed as well but I just did not have enough grip to attack again. It is a shame but I think we must be quite happy with the pace that we have had and how quick we have been from the first moment on this track.”
Paul Denning Team Principal: “After yesterday’s victory and Michael being so close to the win we were obviously hoping to replicate that, but with the full understanding that when the racing is this close it can go in the other direction! Unfortunately Michael was restricted in the Superpole race due to a settings imbalance, and this is something we have to improve upon. Toprak looked like he was going to double up on yesterday’s win but got very narrowly beaten to the flag by Jonathan Rea, after another outstanding performance on his new Yamaha.In Race two, Michael’s bike was much improved but it was a strange race. Unfortunately at the end when it was time to “go” we had just used a bit more of the tyre than the podium finishers. That was disappointing but again it was a really solid, fighting ride by Michael that has put us in a decent position after the first round of the championship. Unfortunately we have to apologise to Toprak and to Yamaha as the bike had a problem that could and should have been avoided, which is extremely disappointing. Despite that, if we reflect on this Phillip Island weekend, being so competitive, having won the first race and ran at the front all weekend, we have to be happy with the confirmation that the R1 has taken a good step forward into 2020. With a very strong bike and two incredibly talented riders, we can look forward positively to the rest of the season.”