Yamaha’s Paul Denning: “Let’s try to take the title fight to Phillip Island…”
While Spaniard Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) may have one hand on the trophy, with a strong chance of wrapping up the Championship in Race 1 of Mandalika next weekend, Toprak Razgatlioglu is trailing fiercely behind by 82 points in the Championship standings with two rounds remaining in the 2022 season.
After a dramatic Motul Argentinean Round for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, Race 1 saw a major turning point for the 2022 Title, that fell into Bautista’s favour. But, with 124 points still up for grabs in the remaining two rounds, Pata Yamaha Team Manager, Paul Denning, discussed the title fight and Razgatlioglu’s hard-fought Tissot Superpole Race win in Argentina.
There is no denying that at just 26-years-old, Razgatlioglu is throwing his all to take back to back World Championship titles, but determination proved costly in Race 1 of Argentina, losing a substantial 24 points to Bautista, that saw major ramifications in his 2022 Title hopes.
Discussing the title fight, Denning said: “I think we came here thinking that the Championship was more or less finished, to be honest. Let’s at least try and take it to Phillip Island. Let’s try to be competitive in Mandalika, fight for wins there, try to beat Alvaro and at least put him under a little bit of pressure in Phillip Island. That’d be nice. There are 62 points to claim in one weekend, so never say never.”
Denning also described Razgatlioglu’s Superpole Race win in Argentina as “one of his best” wins, that saw Razgatlioglu and Bautista fight all race, but there was an incredible conclusion to the 10-lap shootout as Razgatlioglu looked to regain the race lead into Turn 9. With scenes looking nearly identical to 24 hours prior that of course amounted to his Race 1 crash, Razgatlioglu made it clear the incident did not affect his confidence.
Denning said: “I believe it was three times at Turn 9 he passed Alvaro. I said on the pit wall to Phil, his crew chief, that it shows the level of confidence he has to pass such a good competitor at the corner where he crashed was a positive sign. The race was one of the most exciting of the year. It was clear that Toprak’s tactic had to be to put himself in the front in the right sector on the last lap, with the knowledge that you are always going to be behind at the end of the straight with the performance deficit being so significant here. He rode more than the limit. It’s difficult to say, he’s ridden so many incredible, crazy, good races, but I think this was one of the best.”
Bautista’s Race 2 victory on Sunday at Argentina meant he gained five points, and now heads into Indonesia with 82 points up his sleeve, and a possibility to win the title in Race 1 at the Pertamina Mandalika International Street Circuit.