SIGNING TO WINNING: the evolution of Toprak’s BMW journey so far

With a historic win at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in just his fourth race, Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) brought BMW back to the top in just his fourth race with the team. Not only is this earlier than any of his wins in the last three years with Yamaha, it was a sign that bigger things are coming. Crew chief Phil Marron stated that he and Toprak are “only just scratching the surface” with the package but how has the story been from the start?


MONDAY, MAY 22nd: out of the blue and going to BMW

With just one win so far in 2023, ‘El Turco’ had taken part in a MotoGP™ test for Yamaha but the comments were mixed, with Toprak’s style needing to adapt to the MotoGP™ needs. With a door seemingly shut – for the moment – Toprak stated that if he is to stay in WorldSBK, then he needs a new challenge. That challenge came in the form of BMW with one of the biggest transfers the Championship had ever seen.

THURSDAY, JUNE 1st: “I hope we win the Championship”

As round five at Misano beckoned, it was our first chance to talk with Toprak and key BMW people about the move. Toprak eluded to the reasons, saying: I say if I stay in WorldSBK, I need a new challenge. This is good motivation for me, I’m feeling more than 100% motivated. First, I am happy I have signed with a new team. I see people say, ‘this is not a winning bike, this is not easy’. This motivates me more because I listen to some people and I feel more motivated now because now my dream is that, after the first win, I can just ride. It’s possible this is a winning bike. It’s a big dream for me and a big new challenge.” BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director Marc Bongers also shared his view, saying that is was “very exciting” amongst other things.

HAVING THEIR SAY: “I don’t know what he can bring… maybe he’s the missing link”

Toprak’s move caused a stir and eventually, was the catalyst for one of the biggest silly seasons of all-time, with his rivals not shying away from what they thought of the transfer. Scott Redding, who would be the rider Toprak replaces at BMW stated he ‘didn’t know’ what Toprak would bring to the project whilst fellow titanic trio members Alvaro Bautista and Jonathan Rea were open-minded about it. Bautista hailed it as “not a crazy idea”, whereas Rea even spoke of the #54 perhaps being the “missing link” for the German manufacturer.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 3rd: the first laps with BMW – “On the first lap, I was just smiling”

After having to wait to see out his Yamaha contract, Toprak’s first taste of the BMW M 1000 RR came at Portimao in December, 2023. After a mechanical issue in his first run, Toprak was able to hit the track with his first words being that “on the first lap, I was just smiling”, something that clearly showed good signs from the start. For the likes of Shaun Muir, team principal, he said that with the positive first comments, “our time has to come” and how right he’d go on to be.

2024’S NEW ERA

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 17th: BMW’s team launch in Berlin – “The mission is clear”

Germany’s capital was the stage for the 2021 World Champion’s livery unveiling alongside good friend Michael van der Mark as well as the Bonovo Action BMW team of Scott Redding and Garrett Gerloff. However, those who were talking about Toprak, such as Muir, Bongers and BMW’s Technical Director Chris Gonschor, were all excited with what is a new era for the German manufacturer. Muir said that “Toprak brings a certain quality to the team that we’ve perhaps not had before”, whereas Marc Bongers stated that “the pressure is on but we don’t crack under pressure and we go for it.” However, it was Gonschor who set out the big claim from the start: “The mission is clear; we want to win the Championship title.” A stark warning for BMW’s competition…

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 25th: Razgatlioglu’s first podium in maiden weekend with BMW

A fine performance in the Tissot Superpole Race from Toprak saw him hold off Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) in a straight line on the last lap – the irony from the last races of 2023 – to take third in just his second race with the manufacturer. It was an impressive performance from Razgatlioglu but a Race 2 engine failure meant his maiden weekend was “50/50”.

SATURDAY, MARCH 23rd: THE FIRST WIN – “It’s been my dream”

In an absolute classic World Superbike race, one of the greatest we’d ever seen, Toprak stormed to victory in a mesmerising last lap. Coming from over four seconds adrift in the last six laps in what was a battle of tyre wear, the Turk pounced on Nicolo Bulega ( Racing – Ducati), after the rookie went too hard and too soon. Speaking of the win, Toprak hailed it a “dream” to win in Barcelona for the first time and to do it at what had historically been BMW’s worst track. Read all of BMW’s key personnel’s thoughts!

SUNDAY, MARCH 24th: A Superpole Race classic – “That was a Rossi job!”

In a final lap battle for the ages, Razgatlioglu left it until the final corner to pass Alvaro Bautista after the showdown to end all showdowns, emulating Valentino Rossi’s famous Grand Prix-winning pass against Jorge Lorenzo in the 2009 Catalan MotoGP™ event. The #54 was on top ahead of Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) who pounced, whereas Bautista could only manage third – again beaten by Razgatlioglu but this time in a last lap fight – something that hadn’t happened since San Juan’s Superpole Race in 2022.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT? Follow Razgatlioglu and BMW’s first year together with the WorldSBK VideoPass!


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