HOT HEADLINES FROM BARCELONA: “I knew Toprak was going to try, which ever line I took!”

Four winners from six races, three manufacturers winning and a Championship top five covered by just 36 points, the 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship was already in sixth gear but it went up a notch at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Two last lap showdowns, emotional first wins with a new team and more – this week’s hot headlines are ‘molt picant’ from Catalunya.

Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team): “It’s incredible to attack at the last corner like Valentino Rossi!”

In just his fourth race with BMW, Toprak Razgatlioglu spoke of his strategy to win in Race 1: “My plan was to ride calmer and after Bulega passed me, I was just going to follow him for some laps and check the tyre grip. I saw Nicolo pushing and then I pushed the limit more but I said ‘OK, I need to close the gas as the podium is good’ because I know Ducati are strong here and their tyres in the last five laps are always good. I’d never won here before, neither with BMW, so this is just a dream for me. Andrea Iannone passed me but after two laps, he dropped and I immediately got ahead of him. I was just riding to my pace, doing 1’42s and in the last five or six laps, Bulega started to drop and I pushed more because I needed to win! With two laps to go, I lost the front at Turn 10! I got ahead on the last lap at Turn 5 and I was just smiling! I got the chequered flag and I’ve always said we’re not far away and still, we’re not 100% but now everyone sees how good the BMW is. Everyone before was saying some bad words but now, everyone sees we’ve won in our second weekend.”

Talking about his Superpole Race final corner pass on Bautista, he was proud to emulate Valentino Rossi from MotoGP™ in 2009: “At Turn 13, I saw that I’m very close to him. I said, ‘now, it’s time to attack’ and at the last corner, I attacked. I used second gear for stopping and I stopped his good line. I had good acceleration in second gear. For me, it’s incredible to attack at the last corner like Valentino Rossi. I remember many years ago he fought with Jorge Lorenzo. It’s not similar, but the same attack.”

Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati): “If I go on the inside kerb, he’ll go over the kerb!”

Starting with the Superpole Race battle before moving onto his Race 2 return to winning ways, reigning Champion Alvaro Bautista said: “I enjoyed that battle with all the guys a lot. I just missed the win in the last corner. I knew Toprak was going to try, which ever line I took! I tried to close it a little bit but not too much because I thought, ‘if I go on the inside kerb, he’ll go over the kerb’. In the end, I tried to manage but he entered to pass me rather than taking the corner. In any case, I was happy with the performance. When everyone is pushing, starting from further back was hard. I could take the lead on the last lap at Turn 1. In Race 2, I changed tyre choice on the grid. I did the sighting lap with the X tyre and the feeling was much better. It worked. In the first laps, I was very slow, but no one passed me! When I saw Nico pass me, I thought it was normal. I kept calm. When I caught him again, I thought it was possible to keep that pace until the end, so I took the lead. I could be very precise with my riding, concentrated all race, so I’m happy with the win and the way we won. Step by step, my confidence and feeling with the bike is coming.”

Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team): “This is Toprak! He’ll try things where you think it’s not possible and makes it possible!”

A fine P4 from Michael van der Mark was his best finish in two and a half years but he praised teammate Toprak’s final lap corner Rossi-style pass in the Superpole Race: “I could see it, which is positive because it means I wasn’t that far away! I saw something happening and I was like, ‘nah nah nah’ and then he went and I thought he IS going to try it! Honestly, I almost missed the corner because I was enjoying it! Especially when I came out of the last corner, I saw what happened and it’s Toprak, you can never relax. He’s always trying, it’s the strongest point of his riding. He’ll try things where you think it’s not possible and makes it possible!”

Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven): “I saw nothing dirty”

Picking up the pieces from Turn 14’s last lap Superpole Race shuffle, Andrea Iannone spoke from his perspective: “The race is the race. Everyone wants to win and it’s normal when you have a chance, you try. In any case, I’m happy about today’s races. We fought and this is important. I know everything’s good but it’s not easy. We try to improve every race. I expected that Toprak would try, he was in the position to try, and he did. I saw nothing dirty; it was clean. On the TV, it’s like I’m closer to Toprak but I’m not close, I’m a bit far away. I tried to also overtake Toprak. When you are there at that point, you try to win but we need a little bit more in some areas.”

Nicolo Bulega ( Racing – Ducati): “Until the last lap, I was doing an incredible job!”

So close, yet so far for Nicolo Bulega, who nearly bagged a second win of his rookie season in Race 1: “In the straight, I was like a chopper because the rear tyre was finished! I’m happy but not happy; first until the last lap… I didn’t have a lot of experience because this was my first long race, where I had to manage tyres. Until the last lap, I was doing an incredible job. I chose the new 900 rear tyre; the track temperature was high so maybe the SCX was a better choice but if the race finished one lap less, my choice would be the best. I didn’t know it was Toprak, I just knew someone was coming. With two laps to go, I knew I had to do something because I was in a bad situation and was struggling a lot. Then, on the last lap, I heard Toprak from behind and when he overtook me, it was like me but seven or eight laps before. I have to be happy for second in my first full race… I learnt something.”

Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha): “We have to trust the process”

After five races in Yamaha without points, a P8 was Jonathan Rea’s first points haul of 2024. He outlined his struggles so far: “I really love the bike and the character and the engine is amazing but to be really fast on the bike is hard. The rate of progression and development has been very slow, much slower than expected and than necessary to make progress. We have to trust the process and trust that we can make it better. It’d be much worse if I came here and said that I’m doing everything, the bike is perfect etc, no; we have a lot of margin to improve, both my understanding of the bike but also the crew’s help and support of making it my bike. That’s why I’m not super disappointed about where we are; I have to be patient. We’ve had a lot of strange things happen this year; maybe the first test was the smoothest!”

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