Toprak Razgatlioglu emerged as the star performer from the opening World Superbike Championship race at Imola after powering up the field from 11th to beat his factory-backed rivals to the podium.

The Turkish rider, competing in his second season of WorldSBK, showed strongly on Friday with a run to fifth in free practice but couldn’t get the most from the Puccetti Kawasaski ZX-10RR – resplendent in a special ELF-livery this weekend – over a single lap to qualify down in 11th.

In race trim, however, Razgatlioglu was in more commanding form as he capitalised on a strong start to latch onto the battle for fourth, steadily picking his way up the order just as the tussle became one for the podium in the wake of Tom Sykes’ DNF ahead.

Going wheel-to-wheel with factory Kawasaki rider Leon Haslam and Yamaha’s Michael van der Mark – briefly making contact with the latter on the penultimate lap as they disputed the final rostrum spot – it was the less experienced rider that ultimately came out on top to secure a famous home soil result for the Puccetti team.

Only a third career podium in WorldSBK for Razgatlioglu, the 22-year-old was pleased to be back competing at the sharp end, even if he’d expected to be celebrating such a result earlier in the season.

“I am really happy because after finishing 11th in Superpole I did not expect a podium. This season I have been expecting to score more podiums but it has not been possible until now.

“The set-up from Friday has been the same and the bike was good, but with the Superpole tyres, the bike’s position changes. I had a big fight with Michael van der Mark at the end. I really pushed with hard braking and on good line and we got the podium.”

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