All eyes are going to be glued to websites and social media the world over this weekend as a MASSIVE test debut awaits Toprak Razgatlioglu and the BMW M 1000 RR. Joining the ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team for 2024, the 2021 World Champion and flamboyant WorldSBK star will get his first taste of track action at the rollercoaster of Portimao. However, top BMW overall in 2023 was Garrett Gerloff and we briefly caught up with the American, who is already warning Toprak’s rivals of some fierce competition in 2024.
“IT’S REALLY COOL TO SEE BMW’S EFFORT INTO THE WHOLE PROGRAMME”
Starting with the wider changes within BMW for 2024, the Magny-Cours polesitter explained that it’s a good time to be part of an ‘exciting’ BMW group: “It’s really cool to see BMW’s effort into the whole programme; I know with Toprak coming and all the riders that are already here, we can move the programme forwards quite a bit. I think it’s going to be an exciting year for that.”
CHANGE IS HAPPENING ALREADY: WorldSBK success at the forefront of BMW’s thoughts
Within BMW’s 2024 WorldSBK commitment, there have been structural and operational changes. On the face of it, although Jurgen Roder and Michael Galinski’s Bonovo Action BMW were already closely tied to the factory team, they’ll now become a second factory team, receiving new material as the same time as the Shaun Muir-run squad and the same support. Within the teams already, a personnel change as Scott Redding moves to the Bonovo squad, taking with him electronics engineer Niklas Winkler. With Toprak, Phil Marron will follow as crew chief, having gone with the Turk when he originally joined Yamaha.
BEHIND THE SCENES: huge changes and commitment
In terms of wider personnel, Marc Bongers remains as BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director, although the roles of technical director and head of customer racing are created directly under him. The technical director will be Christian Gonschor whereas Uwe Geyer is the head of customer racing as well as head of marketing.
In terms of development, there will be a new test team too, with anticipation building as to who will be part of that team. The development facilities in both Munich and Berlin are likewise being expanded, with “synergies” between BMW Motorrad Motorsport and production development of the M 1000 RR enhanced, as BMW Motorrad Motorsport is on the same premises as the production development of the racing motorcycle.
Under Gonschor’s leadership, specialised teams have been created for the test team, chassis, engine, electronics and aerodynamics areas. These teams are primarily based in Munich, with specific workshops, test and development motorcycles, testbeds and wind tunnels at their disposal, ensuring optimal conditions for developing and testing the BMW M 1000 RR and new racing components. Engine development takes place at the BMW Motorrad plant in Berlin
“I SEE HIM BEING EXACTLY THE SAME, GOING JUST AS FAST OR MORE THAN LIKELY, FASTER!”
Specifically referring to what Razgatlioglu can expect to feel, the 28-year-old Texan doesn’t think ‘El Turco’ will have any qualms: “I think he’s going to like it! The steps that we’ve made with braking, I don’t think he’s going to feel too far away from where he was. Honestly, I don’t see him struggling at all; I see him being exactly the same, going just as fast or more than likely faster. I think he’ll gel with it really good and I’d be surprised if he wasn’t doing lap records in the second test.”
Get your essential, must-have tool for all things WorldSBK related with the WorldSBK VideoPass!