Ever since Leon Haslam got the factory Kawasaki seat next to Jonathan Rea, there has been speculation over the future of Turk Toprak Razgatlioglu and whether he would slide in to the chair at the beginning of 2020.
Razgatlioglu’s performances this year have been on the rise and the second full-length race at Misano saw him harry stablemate Rea right to the chequered flag and give the Puccetti Kawasaki team and mentor Kenan Sofuoglu something to smile about.
But there could be the rub. Sofuoglu is an integral part of both Razgatlioglu’s operation and Manuel Puccetti, so what happens should the former Supersport king’s charge try to leave?
“I don’t know,” said Razgatlioglu on Sunday afternoon. “Kenan is always coming to my races and not podium is not good results. But today there is a very good result and he is really happy. If he is happy I am really happy. We will see next season.”
For the third race in succession Razgatlioglu, on his nearly factory ZX-10RR, scored one podium at a WorldSBK meeting.
Haslam and he had a real dust-up in the Sprint race, with Haslam on top in that one. But even Rea had to use all his four-time championship winning powers to keep Kawasaki’s protégé behind him, if only by 0.381 seconds, in the final long race at Misano.
He can blow hot and cold still at times, but in the final clash at Misano, Razgatlioglu was on full afterburners.
“For me, the last race was my best race,” he told bikesportnews.com “In the short race I did not like the feel because yesterday I had a big crash and we tried the second bike.
I did not have a good feeling in the race because the rear was sliding too much. I knew Race Two was important because I started from fourth position and I needed to stay with the front group. In the race I followed Jonathan and Leon after Bautista crashed and I felt the bike was good, especially under had braking. I pushed in all laps and made a gap. In all the laps I pushed but I saw Jonathan was coming.”
The last lap was epic as the two lead Kawasaki riders tussled. “In the last lap I tried to get to the front again but it was not easy. I tried in corner four under hard braking but I had a problem in turn three with too much spinning, so it did not happen.
“I tried again in turn eight, but it was not easy to stop as the front was sliding. I tried but I am really happy. After my crash yesterday this podium was for my crew who did a good job, and we tried a small set-up change that worked. Imola, Jerez and here, all on the podium. This year my dream is one win. I will try in Donington because today is finished.”
With so much attention on him Toprak’s next test is a literal one, testing to the Suzuka Eight-Hours as a team-mate of KRT riders Rea and Haslam.
His Puccetti WorldSBK machine is very similar to the factory ones, it appears. “All suspension and chassis is now factory, but engine no. But not a big difference as the top speed is the same. Maybe a little corner exit, there is more torque, but they are similar bikes. With a good set-up our bike is always good.”