BMW: ‘When Toprak believes he can win the championship, we believe he can as well’

Riding the Toprak Razgatliglu hype train, BMW are convinced he can take them to the WorldSBK title.

Toprak Razgatlioglu, Dutch WorldSBK, 19 April
Toprak Razgatlioglu, Dutch WorldSBK, 19 April

After his stunning double victory in Catalunya, a circuit BMW nor Toprak Razgatlioglu had won at, it’s hard to argue against arguably the best rider in the class being a title favourite.

Razgatlioglu is seen by many as the number one rider in WorldSBK, despite Alvaro Bautista’s success over the last two years. 

Razgatlioglu is within touching distance of top spot in the standings, and with Assen expected to be another strong round for the Turkish star, another big points haul should come his and BMW’s way.

Speaking about the progression BMW have made with Razgatlioglu’s arrival, ROKIT BMW Motorrad team principal Shaun Muir told “Honestly speaking, we’ve got to the position where we were very close to making that step. I think over the winter period, we brought some revisions but not ground-breaking changes that people all anticipated to make that big change.

“It was simply consolidating a setup that we knew worked from our experience over the last years.

“Setting the base and then Toprak joining the team and starting on that base, and what that did was confirm to us that we were on the right path.

“It also started to deter us from taking what the riders were requesting, which is a different setup from the one we know is going to be best for long-race conditions. It just stabilised everything.

“Michael [Van Der Mark] is coming back from injuries and his fitness is now coming back, working with Toprak again which brought a new feeling in the team completely in terms of a real balance in the box.

“I’m not speaking derogatory of any other rider we’ve had in the past, it just seemed to be that things just clicked in a lot of areas where we were struggling a little bit before.

“Operationally, from my side and SMR, we’ve made some fine revisions, bringing Phil on board was great because he worked with me in the Aprilia days anyway, so I had some success with him and Eugene [Laverty].

“His character suited what we were looking for and just one or two changes in the group, but generally it’s the same group I’ve had for the last couple of years except we’re getting some results.

“I can’t put my finger on one thing that’s made the difference, everything’s just settled down.”

BMW’s success in WorldSBK has been far from extensive and it’s taken signing one of the top riders to put them over the edge.

Toprak Razgatlioglu, Dutch WorldSBK, 19 April
Toprak Razgatlioglu, Dutch WorldSBK, 19 April

But that wasn’t always the case in other championships such as British Superbike.

Despite their limited WorldSBK success, Muir feels as though the German brand is building something special, together with Razgatlioglu who has been nothing short of sensational since joining BMW.

“British superbike was a stepping stone,” began Muir. “We’ve done it, we’ve run our course. I think we did fantastic in that championship.

“We did what was right at that time and that was to step to WorldSBK. Moving on through the ranks here, the Aprilia years were really good for us.

“We’ve been here a long time now, we’ve done the hard miles again and I do feel that our experience of understanding the travel, the circuit, the environment, what you’ve got to deal with has come through all those years of experience.

“I feel, overall, in this championship, getting the combination and what I feel now is like the start of 2011 and 2015 when we were in our championship winning years, I have a similar feeling to this year now as well. Everything clicks.

“You know when things are right. You don’t have dramas, there’s an ambience in the team and there’s a spirit and the knowhow behind from the factory to think we’re on the right path and I do believe moving on with Toprak, we have two years of him, we’re only two rounds in and here we are talking about the world championship.

“But Toprak’s talking about it. If anyone knows he can win the world championship, it’s the man sitting on the bike. When he believes he can, we believe he can as well.”

It’s not just his results on the circuit that have left Muir impressed by Razgatlioglu, but also the work ethic he has shown.

Muis added: “Immediately, when Toprak joined, I didn't want to use the words in awe, but we were just super impressed with the calmness but at the same time, we’re trying to understand that character as well.

“We know Mickey inside out. We’ve sat by his bed in hospital at the worst times and we’ve been on the podium at Portimao and had good times. We understand what Michael’s like, but Toprak, no.

“He was a completely blank piece of paper to us. We only saw what the public saw and the paddock saw.

“We were just impressed by him being a straightforward good human being, feelings like everyone else, ambition like no one else.

“It just seems to mix really well. I’m sure Yamaha had that for years before and Manuel when he had him at Puccetti so we’re getting the benefits of that now. Long may it continue.”

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