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Yamaha WorldSBK Teams Break Cover in Portimao Ahead of 2023 Season
The covers have come off Yamaha’s six R1 WorldSBK machines that will contest the 2023 FIM Superbike World Championship at the last European preseason test before the season gets underway in Philip Island, Australia from 24-26 February.
The Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK, GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK and GMT94 Yamaha WorldSBK teams will be joined at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve test in Portimão, Portugal by Motoxracing Yamaha, who will contest the European rounds of the 2023 WorldSBK calendar with reigning British Superbike Champion Bradley Ray.
Leading the title chase for Yamaha once again in 2023, Toprak Razgatlıoğlu returns with the #54 plate after finishing runner-up during one of the most exciting seasons on record. Last year, the 26-year-old secured 14 victories and a further 15 podiums, and following a positive winter test in Jerez remains confident that he can take the fight to his rivals and thrill fans around the world with his spectacular riding style once again this season.
Razgatlıoğlu will be back looking for revenge as he teams up once more at Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK with 2020 FIM Supersport World Champion, Andrea Locatelli. After finishing fourth and fifth overall during his last two campaigns, the 26-year-old Italian wants to add to his total of six WorldSBK podiums and secure his first victory in 2023.
While consistency is the watchword at Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK, it is all change next door at GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK. There are two new riders for the team: the first in the shape of 2021 Moto2 World Champion, Australian Remy Gardener, who is looking to establish himself as a front-runner in WorldSBK immediately off the back of an impressive rookie MotoGP season.
He will be joined on the grid by reigning MotoE and two-time FIM Supersport World Champion Dominique Aegerter. In his move up to WorldSBK, the Swiss rider hopes to bring the form that saw him claim a record-breaking 17 wins on the Yamaha R6 during his successful title defence last season.
Aegerter’s main rival from a scintillating 2022 WorldSSP season, Lorenzo Baldassari, has also made the step up to WorldSBK with the GMT94 Yamaha WorldSBK team. Baldassari, who won four races and secured 12 more podiums on his way to second place in his rookie WorldSSP season, is looking to make a successful transition to the WorldSBK class along with his GMT94 team, who will also continue to compete with Yamaha machinery in the WorldSSP category.
2022 British Superbike Champion Bradley Ray will also get the opportunity to showcase his talents by participating in the European rounds of WorldSBK with the Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team. The 25-year-old Briton dominated BSB last season on a similar R1 to that run in WorldSBK, securing nine victories and 14 podiums on his way to the title. Ray’s aim is to adapt quickly to the WorldSBK specification R1 before his race debut at Assen in April.
All six riders will campaign Yamaha’s proven, race-winning R1 WorldSBK machine, which has undergone considerable development over the very short winter break. Engineers at Yamaha Motor Research and Development Europe have focused their efforts on improving specific areas without compromising the strengths of the R1, with improved corner exit acceleration a major goal. This direction was confirmed during a two-day test in Jerez last week, with both the two Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK riders and the two GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK newcomers finishing promisingly within the top 10. Both days were topped by Razgatlıoğlu, who was tantalisingly close to breaking the WorldSBK lap record on day two.
All the teams will now complete two days of testing at Portimão, before the Pata Yamaha Prometeon, GYTR GRT Yamaha and GMT94 Yamaha teams head “Down Under” for the final preseason test and the first round of the FIM Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island in Australia. Ray and the Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team will remain in Europe before ahead of their Assen debut.
Yamaha Motor Europe Road Racing Manager
“For the first time, we will have six riders contracted directly by Yamaha representing our brand in the FIM Superbike World Championship, four of them World Champions and one national champion. It’s a strong rider lineup, the strongest we’ve fielded since returning to the championship in 2016, and our expectations are high going into the new season. In Toprak and Andrea, we have two experienced championship campaigners, while Remy brings with him a wealth of experience from MotoGP. Dominique, Lorenzo, and Bradley are all proof that our unique step-up program, where Yamaha riders who excel at both an international and national level, are given the opportunity to step up to WorldSBK. The investment in our riders has also been matched by the investment in development, with the R1 improving in key areas, which was illustrated by the performance of all our riders at the recent Jerez test. We are in a good position to fight once again for the World Championship title, but we know that we need to eliminate the mistakes that robbed us of important points last year and put together a perfect season. Thanks to our riders, and I wish them the best of luck for the coming campaign.”