WorldSBK Argentina: Razgatlioglu dominates FP1

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Pata Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu claimed the spoils at San Juan Villicum Circuit as WorldSBK Friday practice fired up in Argentina.

The reigning champion set the pace from the outset with his final 1’37.511 effort over three tenths clear of his nearest rival. Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea denying the Yamaha squad a one-two in the final moments of FP1 as Andrea Locatelli completed the top three.

Superbike action around the stunning 4.3km Argentine track saw Xavi Fores back in the pack with Barni Ducati as he began the first of three rides to assist his hunt for a full-time 2023 seat. Maximilian Scheib making his own return as a stand-in for the injured and covid-hit Hafizh Syahrin with local rider Marco Solorza stepping back in with Pedercini Kawasaki for his second home race weekend in a row.

Razgatlioglu took charge of the initial times thanks to a 1’38.156 lap, half a second ahead of Motocorsa’s Axel Bassani with KRT duo Alex Lowes and Jonathan Rea neatly behind. Rea improving to second with his fourth attempt before his teammate bettered with a 1’38.4. Razgatlioglu continuing to refine the pace out front as he circulated on the bubble with a 1’38.009 after ten minutes on track.

Championship leader Alvaro Bautista kicked off his weekend in South America from fifth in the standings and in the middle of a Ducati trio. Bassani maintaining his dominance ahead with team-mate Michael Rinaldo closely behind. BMW’s Michael van der Mark heading Locatelli, GoEleven’s Philipp Oettl and Honda’s Iker Lecuona in the top ten with Bonovo’s Eugene Laverty still in the pits due to a technical issue with half an hour to go.

BMW’s Scott Redding was batting MIE Honda’s Tati Mercado on the edge of the top 15 with the local hero winning out at the halfway stage. Fores slotting in between the pair until Redding advanced to 11th at the expense of GRT’s Garrett Gerloff.

Redding continued his improvement with a jump to eighth on his seventh lap of the session. A trio of Italians now ahead as Bautista entered the top four. The Brit captured sixth with a 1’38.728 next time around.

Laverty was on track and quickly making waves as the Northern Irishman entered the top ten. Rea bettering Lowes for team honours out front with Razgatlioglu maintaining control overall.

The BMW’s were on a roll as Redding advanced to fourth with van der Mark battling Laverty for tenth. Razgatlioglu blitzing his own target as he set out on fresh rubber with a 1’37.879 before attempt to move the goalposts once again until the final sector denied his efforts.

Bautista improved to third with six minutes left on the clock. The top three in the championship split by half a second as the final runs fired up with Lowes heading Redding for best of the rest.

A late-session push saw Bautista rival Rea before Locatelli beat the pair for second. Razgatlioglu arriving with another dominant 1’37.540 lap, to take half a second off his teammate. Rea striking back as the chequered flag prepared with a return to second, three tenths adrift.

Closing efforts allowed Bassani and Lecuona to leapfrog Lowes as the Brit sat in the garage. Redding settling for eighth from Rinaldi and van der Mark with Baz and Gerloff heading Laverty as the session drew to a close.

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