WSB: Toprak Razgatlioglu tops Phillip Island Test with new lap record

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Toprak Razgatlioglu ended the final WorldSBK pre-season test at the top of the timesheets at Phillip Island after smashing the lap record.

The BMW rider spent most of the day prioritising the M1000 RR chassis, engine strategy, electronics and the swingarm, but went on the time attack towards the end of the day. Toprak recorded a best of 1:28.511 to knock Nicolo Bulega off top spot.

“I was scared a lot because normally, I’m not really strong at this track,” Razgatlioglu said. “I started very strong, and the race pace is very, very strong. However, the problem is the rear tyre. After ten laps, it’s done.

“There’s a new surface with too much grip. I did a very good lap with the new lap record but for me, the race weekend is more important. I am only focused on this. The feeling is very good but in general, I am very happy.”

Nicolo Bulega in action at the Phillip Island WorldSBK Test

As for Bulega, the reigning Supersport champion became the first-ever WorldSBK rider to drop into the 1:28s earlier in the day with a 1:28.890. After recovering from a crash at turn four, Bulega went faster still with a 1:28.585. Meanwhile, Andrea Locatelli was the leading Yamaha rider in fourth after working on tyre life and race simulations.

Andrea Iannone put the paddock on high alert in fourth spot. The former MotoGP racer was inside the top five for the majority of the day, and used the test to become more accustomed to the track surface and the Pirelli tyres.

Alex Lowes completed the top five for Kawasaki, ending his day just 0.002s faster than Michael Ruben Rinaldi. Reigning champion Alvaro Bautista was next in seventh and suffered a fast crash at turn six as he continues to recover from his shoulder injury.

Alvaro Bautista in action at the Phillip Island WorldSBK Test

“Since the start of pre-season, this is the first day I’ve been able to focus on working to improve my feeling with the bike without having to worry about my physical condition,” Bautista said.

“This makes me very happy even though there is still a lot to do to be in the best condition. Anyway, I am looking forward to getting on track from Friday to work on the details that need to be fixed to be competitive during the weekend.”

Scott Redding was eighth on the Bonovo Action BMW after working on tyre management and race simulations. Remy Gardner and Axel Bassani completed the top 10.

Sam Lowes narrowly missed out on a top inside the top 10 on his Marc VDS Racing Ducati. The former Moto2 rider focused on his base setting, as well as grip and tyre performance on the circuit’s new surface. Lowes completed 96 laps at the one-day test.

Sam Lowes in action at the Phillip Island WorldSBK Test

“This final test has been a good one for me and the team and that was important going into our first race this weekend,” Lowes said. “It was a busy day, I did a lot of laps and we made some improvements with the bike which are going to help me during the race weekend.

“We’ve got some more ideas on how to improve when we are back on track on Friday, and I also need to improve my riding in some points because riding a WorldSBK machine here at Phillip Island is very different to Moto2.

“It’s great to ride this track though on the Ducati and I’ve had a lot of fun. The final position could be better but a time attack wasn’t really the priority today because we wanted to get as much data as we could in race trim. My race pace is positive and strong, and I think we can be in the mix for good results this weekend and I can’t wait to make my debut in WorldSBK.”

Andrea Locatelli in action at the Phillip Island WorldSBK Test

Danilo Petrucci and Dominique Aegerter were 12th and 13th respectively, with Michael van der Mark and Jonathan Rea completing the top 15. Rea suffered a big lowside at turn 11 and reportedly looked to be in some discomfort as he left the medial centre afterwards.

“It’s been a difficult day – I feel comfortable on the R1, but really pushing on the limit and understanding how to push the bike to the maximum is still coming,” Rea said. “The outright pace at the front is incredibly fast, so when you go chasing that ultimate lap time it can feel a million miles away but to be honest, the rhythm for me is not actually too far when we put everything together.

“Step-by-step, the plan is to just work with the guys over the next couple of days to understand how to ride the R1 in the best way possible around here and also get the set-up a bit closer to what I need, and I believe we will be more competitive come the weekend. I have a lot of bruising from the crash early this afternoon, but we have a few days rest now before Friday and I expect by the weekend I will be 100%.”

It was yet another difficult day for Honda, with Xavi Vierge ending his test down in 16th. Meanwhile, teammate Iker Lecuona was 19th after missing the entire afternoon session. The Spaniard suffered a highside at turn 11 and was seen with his arm in a sling as a result.

Philip Oettl and Garret Gerloff were 18th and 19th, whilst Bradley Ray completed the top 20 onboard the Motoxracing Yamaha R1. Tito Rabat, Tarran Mackenzie and Adam Norrodin were the final classified riders, with Mackenzie crashing at turn three.

Practice for the opening round of the 2024 season at Phillip Island gets underway this Friday (February 22).