Redding on 2024 start and Toprak wins: "He proved me wrong"

Wednesday, 10 April 2024 08:44 GMT

Despite not yet having a top ten finish, Scott Redding states he’s made progress with the feeling of his M 1000 RR, whilst admitting that Toprak Razgatlioglu’s wins at BMW were ‘unthinkable’

Whilst results may not have come for Scott Redding (Bonovo Action BMW) in the first two rounds of the 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, pace, potential and a step forward in feeling have. We caught up with the 2020 runner-up as he evaluates his opening six races, whilst also talking about Toprak Razgatlioglu’s (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) sensational Barcelona victories that propelled BMW back to the top step of the podium.

TWO ROUNDS IN: “From the outside, Toprak winning races is making it look worse for me, but…”

Talking about Phillip Island and Barcelona, the #45 said: “It’s been a little bit difficult with ups and downs; I see a bit more potential in terms of the bike and myself but it’s just not been shown. Phillip Island and Barcelona are my worst circuits in general, even though I love Phillip Island, I just struggle to get results there since I changed manufacturer. I know that so I don’t get too stressed about it anymore, whereas last year, we actually worked on trying to improve the performance of the bike in the long corners which has been my issues. Then, moving to Barcelona, those things we worked on improved. My weak points has always been sector two but this year, we were able to be better there for the first time ever in my life. The stuff we worked on at Phillip Island worked; I felt like it went OK, in Race 2 especially with the tyre consumption and with me being the heaviest guy out there. I felt like I rode really well and that I managed the situation the best that I could. From outside Toprak winning races is making it look worse for me but I feel that I made another step, it’s just not showing as the first two circuits aren’t my style. The team has helped me to not stress when it’s not gone well and instead to work on the bike in a calm manner.”

TOPRAK’S BMW VICTORY: “I could have bet my life that he wouldn’t win a race in Barcelona!”

A praising – but somewhat humbled – Scott Redding then spoke about just how impressive Toprak’s wins were: “From the outside, Toprak’s doing a phenomenal job by performing the way he is. I have to congratulate Toprak because he did something that I thought would never happen: I could have bet my life that he wouldn’t have won a race in Barcelona and he proved me wrong. I think there’s a lot of people in the same boat as me and I think it’s amazing! It’s hard to see someone else beating you on the same bike but at the same time, you have to give respect where it’s due and it gives me motivation too. There’s good and bad but in the end, I’m actually happy for him. I can’t take anything away! The tyre life conservation was huge and he nailed it on the head but with his riding style, he can save a rear tyre more which is helping him more. He brakes so late so he has lap time in the pocket in a race but that’s him and what he has in his toolbox of racing and he perfected it.”

PRESSURE AFTER TOPRAK WINS? “As much as I am happy for him, it’s hard to watch it happen as I feel like I should be the guy winning…”

“There’s always pressure in this game,” began Redding. “As much as I am happy for him, it’s hard to watch it happen as I feel like I should be the guy winning. That’s the sport we’re in: every rider on the grid feels they should win the race. I’ve been fighting a lot in the past years to make the package good and then I feel the package is good but I didn’t get my time to shine. I’m not bitter about it. I want to beat everyone on the track, those on the same bike and my teammate, all the same. That’s why it motivates me, as sometimes, you need to take a loss to find fire and move forwards. I work a little bit like that; I need to be hit about a little bit and get p****d off and then I’ll start racing better!

BMW’S BIG POTENTIAL: “The ball will get really rolling and we’ll be competitive at circuits where we’ve been less competitive at in the past”

With a raft of upgrades, Redding has felt the improvements with the M 1000 RR: “There’s definitely more potential in the bike and you can see that in the results too; the numbers and the papers at the end of the race don’t lie. However, for me, the new fairing helps the bike handle better but then I suffer in a straight line on top speed, which is hindering me a bit. The times are so close now that you can’t afford to lose anytime. There is some give and take but in general, I feel that the package is better; you can see that Mikey has been consistently a bit better. I think there’s more to come in results and BMW have done a good job in growing the package. The people BMW have brought in have helped to get the package moving forward at a faster rate. It’s moving on faster these days so we have to be on the ball.

“When we go to the circuits where we’ve been historically strong, I don’t think it will just be one of them at the front, it will be all of us. Then, we’ll build momentum with the team and the whole project and the ball will get really rolling and be competitive at circuits where we’ve been less competitive at in the past. We want to be in the top five and fighting for podiums and I think we’ll be seeing more of that; the bike has top speed and the handling is there too. It’s just about trying to bring it all together. We worked on the bike to get to stop and turn and we achieved that so I think if we move onto Assen and they work there – which they should – we can start to finish in the top six. That’s where the potential of myself and the machine can be and I’m excited to get to these races.

BMW’S TEST TEAM: “The best move BMW have made”

BMW’s test team have been a vital part of the development and improvement for the M 1000 RR, something Redding had been wanting for a while: “I think the test team have been amazing and it’s something we’ve pushed for since the first year, it just didn’t materialise for a long time. I don’t think the test team is in full swing, they’re just arriving to the point of understanding direction before working on material and testing it. They started from zero which in my opinion, is a great move as over the years with different riders and crew, you can get lost on the way. Chris Gonschor really wanted to build it up and said that it’d take time.

“Toprak coming over to the team means he doesn’t need to worry about that, whereas I was trying to develop a bike that can win and race it, so you get lost in testing and racing. We don’t have to think about testing or how to make it better; we race the bike to see if we can make it faster with the small details which has helped all of the riders. For me, with Michael being out and me being one of the faster BMW riders in previous years, it was always me and what I need and I was kind of captaining the boat, whereas now, there’s someone more in control which is saying what we need as a team, a manufacturer and that’s better. It’s the best move BMW have made.”

BULEGA AND IANNONE: “Great for the WorldSBK paddock”

“Bulega is a good rider and it’s like a sink or swim and he swims,” emphasised the 31-year-old. “He’s been really good from day one and with a lot of confidence. He’s riding the bike stress-free. Perhaps the racing he’s struggling a little bit still – some are fast in testing and others racing – but we have to remember he is in a rookie and he’s doing really well. About Iannone, lots of people doubted him but I believed he would be fighting for the podium or on it in Australia. I’ve raced him all my life, you don’t have that calibre of rider and take a few years away and then lose it. He’s aggressive, he’s battling and he’s great for the WorldSBK paddock.”

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