TOPRAK MAGICAL AT ASSEN: ‘Starting P9 is not a problem if you’re fast!’

The first rider to hit three wins in 2024, Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) has stormed into second place in the Championship standings with a mighty Assen win in Race 2. It’s his and BMW’s first at the famed Dutch venue, with a strong start to the season continuing for him and the German manufacturer.

Race 2 looked like it could be a challenge for Toprak on paper, with the 2021 World Champion having to go from P9 on the grid after cold tyre tearing halted his charge in the Superpole Race. However, with a solid start, Toprak was right inside the lead group from the start and on Lap 7, hit the front to give a huge travelling Turkish support what they wanted. However, a rain shower threw the cat amongst the pigeons and soon, Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati), Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) and Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) took turns at the front. However, when the rain went off, Toprak went back into P1 on Lap 16 and stayed their until the end, despite pressure from Bautista in the closing two laps.

IN HIS WORDS: “If you’re really fast, nine positions is not a problem!”

“I felt like in Barcelona but in general, I’m very happy,” began an elated Razgatlioglu. “We did a great job all weekend, especially in Race 2. In the Superpole Race, we used the SCQ tyre like everyone but normally, I thought about using a different tyre but that’s racing. We did a very good job with a Race 2 win; it wasn’t easy but every lap, I pushed really hard! This is my first win at Assen in WorldSBK, also for BMW, so I’m happy for that.”

Speaking about coming back from the third row, the #54 said that it wasn’t that much of an ordeal: “P9 on the grid isn’t really important because if you’re really fast, nine positions is not a problem! At Turn 1, Alex Lowes nearly crashed and I had to close the gas and after, I passed all riders step-by-step. In the race, I felt confident and the engine braking was working – a bit too much, so we need to find the setup. I did a very good pace.”

VICTORY NUMBER 3: “I needed a win this weekend!”

Dealing with the rain wasn’t easy either: “I just closed the gas because I didn’t want to take the risk and I saw Alvaro and just followed him; he has more experience than me. After that, the others came. I forgot about the tear off because I saw everything like it was still raining; after that, I took it off and everything was clean! I started pushing again but it was a very good win! Assen is a strange track and this weekend, the weather has been strange. I’m learning every day and getting experience. I needed a win this weekend!”

Looking to the Championship standings, he’s right in contention and just six points adrift of leader Bautista: “I’m not thinking in the Championship position, just in race-by-race like before. I just want to ride the bike like before, try to enjoy the race and then we’ll see again at Misano. I’m very happy that before Misano, we have a test there and I hope to find a good setup for the race and after, we’ll fight for the win.”

BONGERS IN AWE: “I’m absolutely speechless!”

It’s a home round for Marc Bongers, BMW’s Motorrad Motorsport Director, who is from the Netherlands, meaning the win was even sweeter:   “Being Dutch, it’s even more special but for the entire team, it’s absolutely great! Not just Toprak being fast but also Michael who had a magnificent performance here. It’s a shame he got a penalty so he was sent back to P9. What a weekend again; yesterday, we were in for a win, I’m pretty sure about that but we struggled in the Superpole Race with the tyre. Toprak started from P9 and got it perfect; it was an exciting race to watch in general. To come away from here with a win and to have such a start of the year, I’m absolutely speechless. We bought new stuff here and it was just magnificent. What a feeling, again I’m in tears! Most of the guys are travelling tonight so we have to have the celebration when we have the full success but for sure, I’ll have a couple of drinks with this success! Tomorrow, I’m taking Toprak to Munich to do work on some more details for the next one.”

Speaking about the fans trackside, Bongers was full of praise: “It’s amazing to see; the grandstands here were full with so many Turkish flags. This morning, I tried to concentrate on my laptop a little bit but they were singing, dancing and screaming for Toprak. This is magnificent for the Championship because these people really carry him and it’s a great atmosphere for us and for all the fans here.”

KEYS TO SUCCESS: “You have to have all the parts of the puzzle”

About the process to arriving to contend for wins and podiums, Bongers said: “To become successful in a World Championship, you have to have all the parts of the puzzle with the team and the bike, building it throughout last year, increasing our effort, creating a test team etc. We knew that when we had all these pieces in place, we’d organise the rider allocation, sign Toprak and then it all seems to have come together. We pay a lot of attention to detail; no manufacturer comes to this Championship and wins, it does take years. We’re not at the very top yet but we’re sniffing it, we can smell it, so we need to keep our heads down and move on to the next win.”

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