WorldSBK Assen: Locatelli ‘got a little bit lucky, we need more’

| | WorldSBK
Picture: GeeBee Images

Pata Yamaha’s Andrea Locatelli secured his first WorldSBK podium of 2022 at the TT Circuit Assen on Sunday afternoon.

After Rea and Razgatlioglu were out of the second Dutch race in now infamous style, nobody was going to take the win away from Alvaro Bautista, barring disasters for the small Spaniard with the big talent and the factory Ducati.

But the podium scrap between Andrea Locatelli and Iker Lecuona was eventually Locatelli’s, his first of the year on the site of his first ever in 2021. Officially his first, of course, because he had been third in an earlier Assen race in 2021, until demoted for touching the green of the trackside limits paint.

It would have taken a green paint incident in the final race of Assen 2022 for Bautista to promote ‘Loka’ to the win but he was still happy enough with his second place finish.

There was some lucky Loka going on, as the rider from Bergamo was first to admit. “We got a little bit lucky because Johnny and Toprak were out of the race,” said the 2020 WorldSSP Champion and last year’s Top Rookie. “So, for sure, it’s a podium but a bit different. In the end, I’m happy about the weekend because we finished yesterday, and this morning, P4. For sure, now we are strong.

“We need to learn a little bit more. We need to try to improve to try to stay with the front guys. We need to improve from the first lap until the last lap. We have a lot of work to do with my bike, with the electronics, with everything. Every weekend and every race for sure we try to improve and to learn something about Toprak and Johnny because they are world champion guys, so it’s important to learn.

“In the end, for me it’s a good result. Is another podium on the second weekend of the season. So, we need to continue to work in this way and to improve a little bit more and to start every Friday a little bit more fast to arrive ready for the race, and we will see.

“For sure, in the next race we can improve a lot. In the end, we conclude the weekend in a really good position. We get a lot of points for the championship. So in the end, I’m really happy about this.”

Locatelli is unsure about which tracks his bike works best at, saying, “For sure, depends on the track. It’s not easy for us here. I like this track, so maybe I can close something on the gap. To be honest, I don’t know which is our track.”

One aspect of circuit design is a less straightforward one for Locatelli and his mates in blue. “We have many races where we have a long straight, so for sure we don’t have a lot of power and we lose a little bit on this point. Especially in Aragon we see this point is a big point to work. For this year, I don’t know what we can do, but for sure we try to improve also the exit of the corner, to try to stay close to Ducati, Honda, and Kawasaki.

“But the year is already started, so we need to work with our bike. We need to try to improve, try to stay more in front as possible.”

Picture: GeeBee Images