“Many people came to support me… I almost cried”

2024 was always going to be a season to remember but already, the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship has showcased a mega opening three rounds and nine races. At Assen, we had a second maiden winner of the season in extraordinary circumstances, a new Championship leader and huge passion from the fans, making this week’s hot headlines echt pittig from the Netherlands.

Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team): “I almost cried! Many people come to support me… I felt the power so I needed to win this race to give them a present”

A massive Turkish following came to Assen to support Toprak Razgatlioglu, who was nearly moved to tears when he gave them a win in Race 2: “Everyone started to sing ‘Toprak, Toprak’ and I almost cried; many people come to support me and not just from Turkey but from all of Europe. The Turkish guys come and it’s family but it’s really important because I feel the power, so I needed to win this race to give them a present. I was just fighting for this. After the race, I was almost crying because of people shouting ‘Toprak’. Germany is close to Assen and a lot of people came from there; I’m happy for this and I think it’ll be bigger in the future. It’s good for the Championship too with everyone enjoying it. It’s been a very special weekend for me to win here and with BMW.”

Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) “I think it’ll be a three-rider fight”

Talking about where Toprak is better compared to last year and where he’s weaker, Alvaro Bautista said: “Watching from the outside, Toprak was stronger on braking and entry to the corner last year, leaning with more confidence. This year, he brakes hard but on corner entry, it’s not the same; I don’t know if he hasn’t got the confidence or the bike doesn’t allow him to do it but for sure, on acceleration and top speed, he’s much better than last year. If he had the same top speed of last year with this bike, he’d be worse because in the flowing areas, he’s slower than last year. I think that Bulega, Toprak, myself – and other riders in some races – but I think the Championship will be between us. In all conditions, we’re strong so I think it’ll be a three-rider fight.”

Nicholas Spinelli (Barni Spark Racing Team): “The team made the decision… lucky with the red flag!”

Speaking after his epic race win on Saturday, Nicholas Spinelli was rather humble: “I’m very, very happy because on Friday, I tried the Superbike for the first time. It’s incredible with a lot of power! With my team, before the race, I asked them whether I should do slicks or intermediates. The team made the decision as I don’t have any experience but it was very good as in the first laps, it was raining in the first sector, so I could get a good gap. However, when the gap started coming down, I was thinking ‘when will the race finish?!’ but I was lucky with the red flag! Top ten would be a good result but this is better!”

Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) “What a f*****g idiot I am for leaving the door open to Alex…”

Despite a podium in the Tissot Superpole Race, Gardner was frustrated to wait a race extra for a maiden WorldSBK podium: “I said to my girlfriend before the weekend that if we’re going to get a podium, it’ll be here. I was a bit doubtful after yesterday and this morning… what a f*****g idiot I am for leaving the door open to Alex this morning! I as kicking myself big time… I managed to get it back on the box in the afternoon but I think the bike just works well here, I’ve been enjoying the track and the front end has felt good. Everything’s working, feeling good with the team and experience, putting it all together and that’s about it. Winning races in Moto2™ and the Championship, you expect yourself to be at the front anywhere you go. It’s not that easy to come from a completely different Championship with a completely different concept and go fast on a completely different bike. More than anything, what’s been hard has been understanding the tyres and what tyres work when. If I didn’t have the experience, I would have gone for the SC0 perhaps.”

Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati): “Every time I get a podium, it’s a surprise”

Nicolo Bulega maintained a bright mindset with P8: “Every time I get a podium, it’s a surprise. It’s difficult to get to a new track without testing, bad weather and be first for almost the full Superpole Race and stay in the front group in Race 2. We have to take the positives from this weekend; I know I won in Australia and in Barcelona, I did a good weekend with two podiums and here it seems it’s not very good. However, it’s been a difficult month with the operation and I wasn’t able to train like always. Assen is a difficult track physically too, so I take the positives and try again at Misano.”

Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven): “We received support from Ducati but I need more”

Without a prior test for the first time in his WorldSBK career, Assen’s tricky weather didn’t help Andrea Iannone’s title charge, whereas he also called for more support from Ducati: “With one practice in normal conditions, we’d have arrived on the podium because we learnt. It was a complete disaster in the Tissot Superpole Race, the tyres went immediately and I finished without rubber; I arrived on ice! In the end, we recovered and it’s a great point to start at the end of Race 2. I think we can win but we need to work; we need to test and work. I don’t have the bike at 100%, especially on the electronics side. For this, I think to win and always get the podium, we need to work and improve my feeling. At Misano and Cremona, we’ll try to work a little bit more. We received a bit of support from Ducati but I need more. Well go to the test to try and improve but I hope I can have a little bit more support. I spoke with Gigi, Marco and everybody and they all support me but it’s the last details, it’s different. I felt like we can win. I need that everything is perfect and I push for that. It’s possible, we have a chance to win and I want to achieve.”

Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK): “It was a mistake trying to pass”

Talking about the crash with ex-teammate Jonathan Rea, Alex Lowes held his hands up: “Jonny was doing the opposite to me in terms of he had a good start and was coming back whereas I struggled and went back at the beginning before coming back into it later on. Our bike’s been working great but it’s not the easiest to pass people on as we haven’t got the best acceleration. I got a really good run off the last corner compared to Jonny and broke later to try and pass him. Turn 1 was the best chance to pass but it’s easy for both to go wide or I go wide and then the other rider passes you back. So I tried to stop the bike a bit more at the apex so not allow him back through but as it got tighter, I crashed, all by myself but because I was passing him, where could he go? So, he hit me as he had nowhere to go; I didn’t smash into him or anything like that. It would’ve been another good chance for a solid performance but it was a mistake trying to pass.”

Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha): “I expected to be more competitive”

A weekend with a first Yamaha pole, Jonathan Rea wanted more in the races: “Certainly, I expected to be much more competitive but a sixth and a fifth, I got taken out in the last race but it’s racing. What really sucks is that we’ve got four days testing planned but due to the resting restrictions, I can’t use all the days and we have to be clever with how we budget that too. I need time on the bike, the crew and the crew needs time to understand. We need to make steps forward with the bike in all areas; a chassis point of view, electronics and step by step, understand each other more. At Assen, I understood the feeling but riding the R1 round here, it’s really nice but like a completely different track. Different gear patterns at different corners but as you could see with ‘Loka’ and Remy, they did a really good job, so I just need to find that last bit of being competitive. To be competitive and win, I think we need to make a step as a team, manufacturer and a rider myself, everyone has to take responsibility for that. When you see how serious manufacturers are taking World Superbike, I feel like we need to take that next step now.”

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Source: WorldSBK.com

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