Sofuoglu reacts to Razgatlioglu’s title: hard decisions, making history and a "very difficult" Championship
Five-time WorldSSP Champion, Kenan Sofuoglu, has been mentoring and guiding Toprak Razgatlioglu throughout his career
The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship went to the final round of the 2021 season as Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) claimed his first title after an incredible campaign battling with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). After the action concluded at the Pertamina Mandalika International Street Circuit, Kenan Sofuoglu was on hand to give his immediate reaction to Razgatlioglu’s success, discussing some of the tough decisions that were made and the history Razgatlioglu created in Indonesia when he was crowned Champion.
Sofuoglu, a five-time WorldSSP Champion, has been mentoring and guiding Razgatlioglu throughout his career as he looked to add a WorldSBK title to Turkey’s five WorldSSP Championships, Razgatlioglu becoming Turkey’s first Champion in WorldSBK this season. There were difficult decisions for Sofuoglu to make on the road to this success, including some that Razgatlioglu, at the time, was not a fan of such as moving him into European Superstock 1000 for 2016.
Explaining the journey to this point, as well as what it means for Turkey, Sofuoglu said: “We invested more than ten years in Toprak to bring him to this level. When I put him in the STK600 Championship in 2015, he won everything, and everybody started to say I was going to put him in WorldSSP. No. Turkey has enough world titles in WorldSSP, but I knew Turkey needed a WorldSBK title! Immediately in 2016, I put him in the STK1000, and I told him ‘we have to build before World Superbike. I spent too many years in WorldSSP, and I can’t change anymore, but you are very young, very fresh, very talented. This is the reason you will take that route.’
“Toprak didn’t like it so much. He wanted to be like Kenan Sofuoglu, he wanted to be in World Supersport. I said ‘I will make you bigger than Kenan! Just respect and listen to my ideas’. He told me ‘that time you put me on the 1000cc, I was very broken. But today, I am so proud you took that decision’. We invested for our country to bring him to this level. Today the day has arrived. He made history for your country.”
Sofuoglu was also full of praise for Rea after the pair battled it out throughout the 2021 season, with ebbs and flows to each other throughout the campaign. Rea, who had won six titles in a row from 2015 to 2020, made sure Razgatlioglu secured his title “in the very hardest way” according to Sofuoglu.
Sofuoglu said: “To beat someone who is the best in WorldSBK history, Jonny is still a very strong rider. He won the double in Indonesia. To beat this man to the world title… it’s very difficult to be World Champion, you have to race in the hot, the cold, on rainy days. It’s not easy to arrive there and I think Toprak won a very difficult world title but I think that’s very good because to keep one time your title, or good career, you need to arrive in the hardest way and Toprak arrived in the very hardest way.”
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