The tall figure of Toprak Razgatlioglu is looming larger by the day in the WorldSBK paddock, as his two fully competitive podiums at Donington on Sunday showed. Added to podiums in Imola, Jerez, Misano and now a double deuce at Donington.
The tall Turkish Puccetti Kawasaki rider came within a whisker of beating the top KRT of Rea in the final race in the UK.
“Jonathan was very strong today,” said Toprak from his viewpoint both closely behind and in front of Rea, and more than once during a tense 23-lap race two. “I wanted to win and I tried but Johnny was very strong today. I followed him and on the last three laps I tried again to pass but it was not possible. I am happy with another podium after the Superpole race second place.”
For Toprak, it was clear where his advantages lay, and his disadvantages. “I like the braking sections, the Corner 11 section, it was incredible in that area, but in acceleration – zero - I am always sliding. In the final three laps I tried a different line but it did not change the result as I was always sliding. Always tried in braking but not enough. I took a second podium. Maybe next season, maybe next year – maybe next race – I will win? I do not know!”
He said it was not just a case of picking his bike up more, earlier, to get it on the fatter part of the tyre sooner.
“The problem is that it spins, not slides,” said the 22-year-old star. “If it spins the bike does not go. On Johnny’s bike, he had a very good last corner exit. I needed second gear there. In second gear the bike would grip but I had first gear. In corner seven Johnny was using third gear but I was in second gear, and on the exit I was sliding more and him not so much. But it was a good race, I passed him two times, and had some little fights. Not strong, easy fighting because he is a championship rider. I tried to pass him in the last laps and the front started sliding. My last lap was a good lap time, a 1’27.8 – but not enough! I tried to win this race.”
He nearly did, finishing just 0.365 seconds behind Rea, who had to put a penultimate lap spurt on to make the outcome certain.
Toprak say his suddenly repeating and more consistent podium rides are due to his latest bike balance more than anything. “It is the bike set-up. We tried a new chassis setting and the bike is completely different now. The bike turns now, and I have adapted to the feel. With my crew chief we have made good work together - we just need more power.”