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Eazi Grip

Toprak Razgatlioglu puts the M 1000 RR on the podium and Michael van der Mark carves up the field for top 10 finishes

Saturday

Race day at Phillip Island, and both riders looked to start their season off with a bang. So far this week, the ROKiT BMW Motorrad M 1000 RR World Superbike has looked in top form, netting a plethora of fast times from both Michael van der Mark and Toprak Razgatlioglu, who looked to impress in his first competitive showing on the bike. The announcement of a flag-to-flag race format featuring a mandatory pitstop was bound to shake up the races, due to extreme tyre wear at the Melbourne based circuit.

Toprak Razgatlioglu’s day got off to a promising start, only 0.003 seconds off the fastest time in FP3, before settling for P5 on the grid in the Superpole. The first race of the season showcased an incredible battle in the lead group, Toprak climbing as high as P2 before the pitstop, however an infraction during the mandatory pit stop, leaving the pit lane 0.2 seconds under the minimum time of 63 seconds, meant a time penalty for Razgatlioglu, demoting his P4 finish into P5 as he passed the chequered flag.

Michael van der Mark washed out in the slow speed turn 4 during Superpole, before picking his bike up and returning to pit lane. It was integral that Michael posted a good lap time on the board before the end of the session, and although his best qualifying lap was a personal best around the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, it was only good enough for P16. In Race 1, van der Mark showcased a masterful ride, gaining 10 positions after the pitstop, and flirting with the lead group in P6. A late battle led to Michael crossing the line in a magnificent P7, making the most progress through the field out of every rider in Race 1.

Shaun Muir Team Principal

“I’m very happy for both riders, Michael had a great race coming from P16 on the grid, working his way through the field patiently to get himself into a very strong position come the pit stops. A good slick pit stop by his team got him back out where he settled into a really good rhythm in P6. He was probably two to three seconds off a podium position at that point in time, which was easily the time he had lost moving from P17, so for Mickey to come home with the bike in P7 overall is a fantastic result for him, great for his confidence and he couldn’t have done any better so we’re super happy with that. Toprak is really frustrated, clearly we couldn’t give him a package with tyre durability to last the full 10 laps, which became apparent very early on in the week with the abrasive track conditions. But in his fighting spirit, in his first race on the BMW M 1000 RR he didn’t let us down, he battled at the front for as long as he could. The biggest point for him was that he couldn’t ride to his full potential, he couldn’t use the full power, he’s having to run on a softer map to get the tyre to last the race distance, where as i’m pretty sure most of the riders on the grid had much more use of their power. but the signs are there that it’s going to be a very strong season for him and he can move forward from this position. He’s got two more races this weekend and I think if he comes away in a similar position to where he was today, in third, fourth, fifth, then I think it’s going to really be a solid start from him for when we fly back to Europe.”

Toprak Razgatlioglu

“The start of the race was not bad. I stayed at the front and my feeling was good at the beginning of the race. In the last laps, I was pushing harder but kept trying to safe my rear tyre because this track is very difficult for the rear tyre. We did ten laps but on the last two laps I was feeling the vibration. We finished the race in fifth position, normally in P4 but I got a penalty. It was also strange because I saw ‘0’ on my dashboard and exited from the pit lane. Maybe there was some GPS problem, I don’t know. Also, Alex Lowes passed me at the pit lane exit and I did not take an advantage. But anyway, I started fifth and finished in the same position. Fourth would have been better and I hope that we will improve tomorrow. Now I have one race with BMW under my belt. I am not happy as my target was to get onto the podium in the first race but I know that this is not an easy race because the tyre is done after ten laps. Anyway, we have some data, we started to work on improvement and I hope we make another step tomorrow. My target is the first podium, especially here in Australia, because this track is not easy for me and I hope we will achieve that.”

Michael van der Mark

“In Superpole, I messed it up. I crashed on my first run and then, you know, you need to set a time. My time was okay but I didn’t improve as I wanted to. So P16 on the grid is far from ideal. We didn’t really know what to expect from the race with the pit stop. So on one hand it was quite nice because I could push really hard for the first ten laps. I had an okay start, not fantastic. You’re just busy when you are starting from P16. Step by step I managed to move forward. I had a good pace, I was able to pass a lot of people. I think I was one of the last to do a pit stop. After the stop, I pushed as hard as I can but I couldn’t close the gap to the group in front of me and I did not have the same feeling as I had before the stop. Anyway, to finish seventh after coming from P16 is a good start to the season, I think.”

Sunday

Toprak Razgatlıoğlu (TUR), the new addition to the ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team, achieved his first podium finish on the BMW M 1000 RR during his debut weekend with the bike. Toprak secured third position in the Superpole Race at the Phillip Island (AUS) season opener. However, a technical issue in the second main race prevented another success. His teammate Michael van der Mark (NED) secured top ten results in both main races.

In the first main race on Saturday afternoon, conducted as a flag-to-flag race with a mandatory pit stop, the BMW riders gave a strong performance. Both ROKiT BMW M 1000 RRs finished within the top ten. Razgatlıoğlu started from fifth place and crossed the finish line in fourth. Van der Mark advanced from 16th on the grid to seventh, However, Razgatlıoğlu received a time penalty for leaving the pit lane a fraction of a second too early after their pit stops, resulting in each being demoted by one position.

The Superpole Race on Sunday morning brought the first podium of the season for the BMW M 1000 RR. Starting from fifth, Razgatlıoğlu immediately joined the battle for the lead. After ten laps, he finished the sprint race in the celebrated third position, with Michael van der Mark 16th.

The second main race late on Sunday afternoon had to be postponed by over an hour due to a dirty track. Starting from third, Razgatlıoğlu once again fought in the leading group, but an engine issue ended his race after a few laps. Shortly after, the race was red–flagged due to an accident in another turn. After the re-start, eleven laps were completed without mandatory pit stops. Michael van der Mark secured another solid result, finishing ninth up from sixteenth on the grid.

Shaun Muir

“As always with the first round of the World Superbike Championship, there’s generally two days of testing, which this year was delayed somewhat by the freight situation. So we lost one day of valuable time to test some parts that we really wanted to explore before the race weekend. Nevertheless we came out in a good position, one lap pace was strong, whereas our race simulation was not where we really needed it to be. Free Practice 1, 2 and 3 wasn’t bad, both Michael and Toprak got to grips with the track, however the tire situation was clearly going to be an issue for us, so when the pit stop scenario was introduced by the organisers, it made life easier for everybody. Overall Mickey had a solid weekend, he had a bit of an accident in qualifying that put him further down the grid but he fought his way through into the top 10 in both feature races and did a really good job. He’s consolidated his comeback really and he’s going to be looking forward to Europe. It’s bittersweet for Toprak, the level he’s arrived at on the BMW M 1000 RR is certainly where he was hoping to be, but equally the team’s expectations rise with that. Race 1 was very good, we’re happy with P5 and the sprint race was fantastic for his confidence. To put it on the podium and to finish in third position was great for Race 2. Unfortunately, it was quite clear for everyone to see that we had a technical issue which put him out of Race 2, but that’s a bitter part of racing. The team take full responsibility for that, but we’ve got to reflect on the positives and we’ll end up going into Barcelona in a few weeks time with some good momentum, we’ll put the negatives behind us and come out fighting.”

Marc Bongers – BMW Motorrad Motorsports Director

“It has been a very eventful week. It started with non-existent tyres, then the tyres didn’t last, and on top of that, we had changing weather conditions with rain on Friday. But the fact is, we were always competitive, in every session, especially with Toprak. In the first race, a small mistake occurred that dropped us from fourth to fifth. Mickey gave a strong performance, moving up from 16th to seventh, and he lost only a little to Toprak. Garrett and Scott also made it into the top ten. In the Superpole Race, Toprak rode an excellent race and finished in third place. For the other three, it was unfortunately challenging when starting from so far back in such a competitive field. Toprak’s engine failure in the second main race was very, very frustrating. We now need to analyse what the cause was. Mickey and Garrett were able to secure good results once again with eighth and ninth places, just a few seconds behind the winner. Overall, we were clearly performing better than in past years. Now, we need to wait for the first European races to truly assess where we stand but we haven’t been this strong on Phillip Island in a long time. Therefore, the conclusion is: satisfied.”

Toprak Razgatlioglu

Superpole: P5 | Race 1: P5 | Superpole Race: P3 | Race 2: DNF

“In general, I would say that I am 50 percent happy and 50 percent not. The goal was to make it to the podium which we did in the Superpole Race, but in the second main race, I was really ready to fight for the win because we also had improved the bike and I felt really good but then we had the engine problem. This is racing and it has been the first race weekend of the season. At Barcelona, we need to come back very strong. We have learned a lot in the races, we gathered a lot of data and this is important for our work. Next up is Barcelona, a hard circuit like here. We will see how it goes there and then we go to Assen and more circuits where we normally should be stronger then here. Overall, the start was not bad, especially the Superpole Race. I think that we will get there step by step. We will be testing at Barcelona before the race weekend and I think that we will focus on race pace because that is very important there. We need to find a good setup for the main races.”

Michael van der Mark

Superpole: P16 | Race 1: P7 | Superpole Race: P16 | Race 2: P9

“I think overall the weekend wasn’t too bad. I just messed it up in Superpole. Yesterday I had a good race with some good passes and a good result in the end. In this morning’s sprint race we tried something different with the bike which felt good in warm up but when the temperature went up in the Superpole Race I just did not have the same feeling. It was tough, I could not recover any places so I had to start race two from 16th again. In that race, I had a good start, strong first couple of laps, I stayed out of trouble and was riding in eighth when the red flag came out. I re-started from P8 but we had seen that I had some issue with the tyre after five laps before the red flag came. Then we had an 11-lap sprint and I just did not know how to manage the tyre. If I had pushed like in the first part of the race I was not sure if I would be going to make it. So mixed feelings but got some good points at the end. And I think the best thing for us is to see how big the improvement BMW has made. It’s fantastic to see Toprak on the podium this morning. I think that the start of the season gave the whole team a big confidence boost.”

Posted on Monday, February 26th, 2024 in News

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