RAZGATLIOGLU RELISHES BMW SPEED: "I feel like the bike is my bike; motivation is very high now"

Tuesday, 30 January 2024 17:20 GMT

It was two days of testing to remember for Toprak Razgatlioglu who, for the first time, topped the timesheets and laid down the gauntlet, leaving his rivals a lot to digest

The 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is readying for what could be one of the most enthralling seasons of racing yet; with a myriad of changes in the rider line-up, there’s no shortage of stories. After two days of testing at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, that’s exactly the case for Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), who goes to Australia – somewhat incredibly – as the rider to beat after testing.

It was a busy day for the Turkish star, who set 74 laps and a best of a 1’39.189, closing right in on the 1’38s but unable to be the first Superbike to get into that bracket. However, besides the sub-lap record pace, it was Toprak’s consistency over race pace that impressed many: 15 laps on the SC0 tyre, a tyre of favour at Portimao, saw him in the 1’39s, astonishing considering this is only his second fully-dry test with the BMW M 1000 RR.

“WE ARE 99% READY TO RACE” – Toprak talks tough

“It was a fantastic day as we did a very good job,” began an elated 2021 World Champion. “I wasn’t focussed on the lap time but also on the race pace. After this test, we go to race and we need a good setup for the race. We are 99% ready to race. The feeling is good and every day, we are getting better as we keep improving the bike. Today, I did a 1’39.8 with the SC0 and did it three or four times. With the SCX, I did a 1’39.2 which is an unbelievable lap time and I am really surprised. At the end of today, thanks to Bonovo, who we asked for a Q tyre from, we got one but only improved by 0.1s. We used a different swingarm for a short bike and put the SCQ but the bike was jumping around and there was a lot of wheelie. I couldn’t make a 1’38 but do next time we can!

“I did a race simulation of 15 laps and did two lap times with the SC0 in the 1’39s. It looks like we’re ready to race but we’re still learning and we need time. Every day, we improve but in general, I am happy. We’ll see at Phillip Island because it’s completely different, as is the grip. After Jerez, we still improved the bike and tried different parts, finally finding the setup. Finally, I feel like the bike is my bike. It’s my style, sliding and with the grip improving too. The turning is not 100% but we are close. The team is very happy and the motivation is very high now; I’m happy with Michael, who did a very good job today. In the season, we’ll work together and make a very good race result. We need some time to adapt the bike.”

BONGERS ON TOPRAK AND BMW PAIRING: “The bike seems to give him confidence”

Adding to Toprak Razgatlioglu’s comments, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director Marc Bongers said: “Australia and Barcelona are, in terms of results and grip and position, the odd ones out but as we carried our Jerez setup from there to Portimao and it immediately worked, we’re convinced that we have a good base package. I go there with a lot of optimism. The bike seems to give him confidence and Portimao is a track where the rider needs confidence on the bike, there’s a lot of rider dependency here. We’ve been able to give him the confidence to get him close to the lap record, so it’s pleasing. I think the main steps we’ve made have been on engine braking, especially for Toprak’s extreme style and for us to adapt to that. The chassis has been the normal tweaking.”

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