VENTNOR, Australia – Pata Yamaha rider Toprak Razgatlioglu nipped Alex Lowes at the finish to win Saturday’s World Superbike opener at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.
The top-four riders in Saturday’s race were separated by .137 seconds.
Tom Sykes started from the pole, but lost the lead immediately to Rea, with the pair making contact. Sykes was able to continue without going off course, but Rea was sent for a trip through the gravel that dropped him down the order to 18th. Rea would later retire after crashing in turn eight on the fifth circuit.
Scott Redding moved into second on lap two, overtaking Michael van der Mark in turn one as Sykes continued to lead. Redding soon made the move to take the lead, slipping past Sykes in turn one.
Van der Mark soon followed suit, taking second from Sykes as Razgatlioglu began to close in. Razgatlioglu soon dispatched Sykes as well, meaning the polesitter had gone from the lead to fourth in four corners.
On lap 12 Lowes also moved by Sykes, who continued to fall down the order. Meanwhile, at the front, Redding lost the lead to Razgatlioglu as van der Mark also moved past Redding to take over second.
Razgatlioglu held the lead for four laps before trading the position with van der Mark, though Razgatlioglu never lost touch with his Yamaha teammate. They were joined at the front by Redding and Lowes as the four leaders pulled away from the rest of the field.
Razgatlioglu got the lead back from van der Mark on the 21st circuit, but the battle wasn’t over as Lowes made a last-lap attempt to snatch the victory away. He came up short, finishing second by the scant margin of .007 seconds.
“Today in FP3 I felt much better with the bike. It was turning well and the rear grip was much better. I said to myself that I was ready to race, but before the race I was incredibly stressed because this is my first time racing the R1 and as an official rider,” said Razgatlioglu. “I knew I needed a good early track position and after the start I focused on the race conditions because I knew I had to save the tires. The bike was sliding at the end and on the final lap I was worried because when I opened the gas it started spinning, not going forward. It was very close – but I won on the new R1. Tomorrow we will try for a good set-up on the rear tire. Maybe the ten laps race will be no problem but it is important for the long race.”
Redding took third to complete the podium, with van der Mark falling to fourth in the final two laps. Leon Haslam was fifth for Team HRC, which was making its debut as a factory team in World Superbike competition.