After a sensational hat-trick of wins at Donington Park, Toprak Razgatlioglu looks to be in formidable form once again after dominating the opening day of WorldSBK practice at Most.
Following an FP1 session where long-run pace was especially strong for the reigning WorldSBK champion, Razgatlioglu then proceeded to dominate over one lap as he set a new lap record, on race tyres no less.
While Razgatlioglu, like most of the front runners who weren’t aboard a Ducati, struggled to match Michael Ruben Rinaldi and Alvaro Bautista in the final sector, Razgatlioglu’s incredible first two sectors saw him go five tenths quicker than Rinaldi, before losing close to two tenths as the lap developed.
Still, Razgatlioglu ended up three tenths clear of Rinaldi before BMW’s Scott Redding split the former Superstock rivals.
Razgatlioglu, who completed his first WorldSBK treble at Donington Park last time out, was not only fast throughout both sessions, but seemingly able to place his Yamaha R1 wherever he wanted.
Despite a ‘small setting problem’ in FP1, Razgatlioglu now feels ‘ready to race’ after not only showing searing pace, but the consistency to match.
“This morning we started well after Donington Park and the bike feels good immediately,” said Razgatlioglu. “In the first session there was some small setting problem, but in the second session we improve the bike, now I am feeling much better and we are ready to race.
“The lap time is very positive, a very good lap time and also after 25 laps with the rear tyre, I see 32.3 – this is very good for so many laps on this tyre!
“I am very happy and I also see the lap record with the harder tyre! Anyway, we are just focused on the race setup. We use in the race [run] the SC0 tyre, everyone uses the SC0 tyre.
“We are just focused on working on the bike, and now we are happy, and we are ready. For Superpole, we can use the SCX tyre, but I think this is enough for a good lap time.”
Six-time WorldSBK champion Rea confident despite finishing fifth on combined times
Half a second slower than Razgatlioglu, Rea was unable to match his title rival from last season. In fact, Rea was the only rider inside the top ten not to improve his time from FP1.
But as we saw in Donington when it was Rea who had a half-second advantage over Razgatlioglu at the end of day-one, sizeable free practice margins don’t necessarily equal victory.
Rea said: “The track was much better than last year, especially that first sector, first chicane. So, I had much more feedback, you can ride closer to the limit.
“Just in the afternoon, we were trying to understand the tyre drop, how the tyre behaves when the tyre is old. I only put a new tyre in the end. But just with the big changes on the bike… [grip related] it wasn’t positive.
“We got a lot of information. I don’t think the position reflects our true potential. In an ideal world, if we didn’t have so many testing items, I would’ve tried the SCX tyre because that’s also important for us.
“It’s not an option for both long races but it is still an option for the 10-lap race. We focused on just the standard SC0 option and then the new prototype SC0, which is a different construction. We’re happy with how the day works.
“And looking forward to seeing what happens tomorrow, putting all the items together and hopefully we can be competitive.”
While it was a decent showing from Rea, Razgatlioglu’s main challenger with regards to race pace appeared to be Redding after the BMW rider set 12 laps consistently in the 1m 32s barrier, with most of them in the low 1m 32s.