Locatelli laments Race 2 crash: “We were able to win the race!”

Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) was close to a maiden MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship victory at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, fighting for the win in all three races despite a crash in Race 2 on the final lap. It was a strong weekend for ‘Loka’ even if he narrowly missed out on a visit to the top step of the podium. Although the crash proved costly, it was still a strong Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round for the Yamaha rider.

Locatelli had been showing his pace throughout testing, including at the Official Test in Australia, and was challenging for pole position in Saturday’s Tissot Superpole session. However, he got caught up behind a rider preparing for their hot lap, which cost him time in the final sector, meaning he had to start from fifth place, potentially lower than his pace suggested he could’ve been on the grid but still putting him in a strong position.

There was a common theme in all three of Locatelli’s races. In the early stages, he dropped back before fighting his way through the field. In Race 1, he opted for a different strategy to his rivals as he pitted on Lap 11 of 20, the last available lap of the pit window, and used this to his advantage in the second half of the race to claim second. He repeated this result in the Tissot Superpole Race and looked good for second or potentially better in Race 2, before a last-lap crash at Turn 4 trying to pass Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) ended his hopes.

Looking back on the Race 2 crash, the #55 said: “I’m fine. The feeling was amazing in Race 2. I think, during this weekend, we did a really good job and never made mistakes. Unfortunately, we checked the data, and we don’t know why, but the bike was in neutral. I was wide and then I tried to put the gas on again, I made a mistake and lost the rear. The first problem was the entry to the corner, so this was a big shame because everything was working well. It was the last lap, and we were fighting for the win. Looks like we were living a dream but not a good one!”

Despite ending the weekend with a highside, a consequence of running wide trying to pass Lowes for P2 before potentially challenging Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) for P1, Locatelli was pleased with how the Australian Round played out as he fought at the front consistently. He’s now scored three podiums in races at Phillip Island and has only been outside the top five on one occasion Down Under – this year’s Race 2, when he didn’t finish.

Reflecting on the weekend, Locatelli said: “Sunday would’ve been an unbelievable day if we finished the race! We are stronger, we showed our potential. We were always at the front from testing, free practices, and all sessions. This is the best thing for us. I’d always like to forget when something happens, like last year at Aragon, and we need to forget Race 2. We were able to win the race, but this happened. We need to be positive, look forward and I can’t wait to get back on track because finishing four days of riding with a crash is not the best.”

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Source: WorldSBK.com

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