Eazi Grip

Kenan Sofuoglu claims Toprak can win the 2024 WorldSBK Championship

Five-time WorldSSP Champion and Toprak Razgatlioglu’s manager, Kenan Sofuoglu, reacted after the #54 claimed his first two BMW wins in Barcelona.

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya was the scene of a historic MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship round as Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) secured his first two wins with BMW machinery. A strategic masterclass in Race 1 was followed up with an incredible last-lap, last-corner pass on Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) in the Tissot Superpole Race. Speaking after the two victories, Razgatlioglu’s manager, Kenan Sofuoglu, gave his thoughts as well as outlining why he believes the 2021 Champion can win this year’s title.

The first thoughts on victory: “Everything’s going well now.”

Giving his immediate thoughts on the Turkish superstar’s victories, five-time World Supersport Champion Sofuoglu said: “Last year, we made a big decision to BMW, and I gave a lot of support to Toprak to make this decision. So many people thought we made the wrong decision. As a rider, I believed the BMW was a very good bike. The first meeting I spoke to BMW, the team and the manager spoke about it, and I thought they had a very good bike. I thought, ‘You have one very nice puzzle, and one piece is missing’ which is Toprak. Everything’s going very well now, he’s winning in the second round.”

Emulating Rossi: “I asked him why he didn’t try at the place he’s strong!”

Razgatlioglu’s Superpole Race win came in spectacular fashion, replicating Valentino Rossi’s 2009 move on Jorge Lorenzo at Turn 14 to take victory at the final corner. Speaking about this, Sofuoglu revealed he asked the 27-year-old why he didn’t pass Bautista at Turn 10, a corner that usually suits his strengths: “I believe Toprak is one of the strongest riders for the last lap especially. In Barcelona, you need to make your last attack in the hairpin before the last part of the track. Toprak couldn’t do it and I asked myself why he didn’t try, because I know he normally does in that kind of corner. He releases the brake, manages to stop the bike and he couldn’t. I was thinking about second position. In the last corner, he found a place to enter, and he did it. I asked him why he didn’t try at the place he’s strong, he said, ‘There was a big gap, I couldn’t try but I didn’t give up, waited until the last corner’ and he managed it.”

The goals: “After testing, I thought, ‘Toprak can win the Championship this year.”

Despite a delayed start to his M 1000 RR testing programme, Razgatlioglu was immediately up to speed as he adapted to the new bike. Fast at every circuit he tested at was followed by a podium in Australia before the wins in Barcelona. Discussing whether these wins came sooner than expected, and the possibility of a title charge is on the cards for 2024, Sofuoglu explained he was thinking Assen or Donington for the first win, but his expectations changed after testing.

He said: “We believed a lot, but we weren’t sure when we can win. After winter testing, I started to believe more. But I was believing we can win at Assen or Donington, I didn’t expect it in Barcelona! Barcelona’s not Toprak’s favourite track but he’s so strong. Toprak’s in his sixth season in WorldSBK and if I look at all the winter testing times, Toprak is stronger this year with BMW, and I understand he’s going to be favourite for the title.”

When asked whether the goal for 2024 is the title, Sofuoglu replied: “Definitely. When we signed, it was for two years but we didn’t know when; first year or second year. We were believing more for the second season. After winter testing, I thought, ‘Toprak can win the Championship this year with this bike’. The bike is nicer than we expected.”

Bautista VS Bulega VS Razgatlioglu? “The main competition is Bautista… he’s got a hard time too!”

Four riders have already won in 2024, with Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) joining Razgatlioglu and Bautista on the top step in the six races so far. Discussing who he thinks the competition will be this season, Sofuoglu stated: “I think still the main, hard competition for us is Bautista. He gave us a very hard time on Sunday, we beat him in the last corner. He’s a hard rival. Bautista’s got a hard time too, because Bulega arrived from WorldSSP and is immediately making lap records everywhere and I can understand Bautista’s situation; you are the #1 in the garage and the newcomer, the new teammate makes you feel less confident in your garage. This is very normal in racing. It’s good for us, honestly!”

Posted on Wednesday, April 3rd, 2024 in News

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