WorldSBK Donington: Razgatlioglu dreaming of three-win weekend

| | WorldSBK
Picture: GeeBee Images

After some tricky points in the early season, Pata Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu won the Superpole Race at Misano, and then followed that up with an unexpectedly clear WorldSBK race one win in the sunshine of an English summer’s day at Donington Park.

KRT’s Jonathan Rea had set a pole time so fast, and had such strong pre-race pace in general, that he was looked on as favourite. After Razgatlioglu and his tech crew made some real changes for the first race, however, it was the tall Turk that turned potential into pure gold.

A cheeky rolling stoppie over the finish line, looking back to find Rea almost seven seconds back, and no Alvaro Bautista (Aruba Ducati) at all after he had crashed. It was all classic 2021 champion trademark touches.

Hard to see how Razgatlioglu’s day could have been better, he explained why he had suddenly gone from fast to untouchable for the first 23-lap race, saying, “Yesterday we had a big problem with grip, but today we improved.

“We had very consistent lap times. I see that I was just focused on ’27 lows. After I saw the five seconds and maybe closed the gas. Maybe I pushed again. Maybe I see again 1’27.9, ’27.8, maybe ’28.0 but after the last three laps, I close the gas because this is first victory this year for me (in a full distance race). I did not take the risk.

“After the last lap, I was thinking, ‘I see seven seconds…’ OK, finish line - I need a stoppie again like Magny-Cours!

“I’m really happy today. Thanks to my team because a huge effort the last two days for a good bike. Also, we have not finished the weekend. We have two races. After I was world champion, I have a dream - one race weekend, three wins. This weekend we will try. We will see.”

Amazing as it sounds Razgatlioglu has never had a perfect race weekend, winning every race on offer. One down, two to go for him now.

“I think this year we are a little bit more fast, but this year every race we can be very fast,” said Razgatlioglu about his improved consistency. “I was just focused on my lap times. I saw 1’27, ’27, and I see also on my board the gap to the rest. I’m surprised, because yesterday in the race simulation I’m feeling I’m not strong because rear tyre really dropped. I’m not really strong, but in the race I felt like it was a different bike.

“I was feeling like last year. I ride very relaxed. Grip was much better. I’m feeling under control in the race. Also, I’m surprised.”

There were two main step changes in Toprak’s bike set-up at Donington, even some tweaks after FP3, but the question is, will these work anywhere now, and be permanent changes to his base set-up?

“Also in Misano we improved,” explained Toprak. “Yesterday I was feeling the bike difficult; not easy to ride. But in the afternoon I was feeling much better, and this morning a little bit better still. In the race, now the bike is ready to win. I say in the race, but I see the gap. I ride more relaxed. Last three laps, I don’t take risk because I said this year this is my first victory. I don’t need more gap, because six or seven seconds is enough. I’m really happy.”

Razgatlioglu said of Rea and Lowes’ double attempt to pass him into the chicane on the first lap, “Yeah, but I saw Jonny and he tried hard braking - so also I tried hard braking. I went a little bit wide, but the bike not stop because of the hard braking. I see he went little bit wide, but I don’t know what happened after because I’m pushing.”

Rea lost a few places and Toprak made his escape - gently. “The first lap, I didn’t kill the tyre. I just opened the gas slowly. All laps I was like this. I’m not killing tyre. After some laps I saw the gap go to one second and two seconds. I said, OK… I ride now more relaxed. For me it’s a good start also, the first lap was good.”

The gap between championship leader (but first race faller) Bautista is now 54 - both Toprak and his mentor Kenan Sofuoglu’s old race number, co-incidentally. “Nice points, 54. I like it!” he said of the synchronicity.

“I’m not looking at the championship. Was last year. I’m just focused race by race. For me, it is important more wins, more victories. We will see. We have many races. I’m just focused to race. I am focused now for tomorrow. We have two races. I will try and fight again for a win.

“I need three wins at this track because my favourite track here. I like it here. Finally, I’m feeling a good bike and we are very strong.”

Picture: GeeBee Images
Picture: GeeBee Images