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P3 for Toprak Razgatlioglu: BMW Motorrad Motorsport kicks off the 2024 WorldSBK season with a podium.

Toprak Razgatlioglu (TUR), the new addition to the BMW Motorrad Motorsport WorldSBK factory rider lineup, achieved his first podium finish with the BMW M 1000 RR during his debut weekend on the bike. The ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team rider secured third position in the Superpole Race at the Phillip Island (AUS) season opener.

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Dominic Thoennes
BMW Group

Phillip Island. Toprak Razgatlioglu (TUR), the new addition to the BMW Motorrad Motorsport WorldSBK factory rider lineup, achieved his first podium finish with the BMW M 1000 RR during his debut weekend on the bike. The ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team rider 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) and Garrett Gerloff (USA) from the Bonovo action BMW Racing Team both 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. All four BMW M 1000 RRs finished within the top ten. Razgatlioglu started from fifth place and crossed the finish line in fourth. Van der Mark advanced from 16th on the grid to seventh, Gerloff climbed from 14th to ninth, and Scott Redding (GBR / Bonovo action BMW Racing Team), starting 19th, finished in tenth. However, both Razgatlioglu and Redding received time penalties 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, Razgatlioglu immediately joined the battle for the lead. After ten laps, he finished the sprint race in the celebrated third position. Gerloff finished 13th, van der Mark 16th, and Redding 17th.

 

The second main race late on Sunday afternoon had to be postponed by over an hour due to a dirty track. Starting from third, Razgatlioglu 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. Gerloff secured another solid result, finishing eighth, van der Mark was ninth, and Redding crossed the line in 17th.

 

The second round of the 2024 WorldSBK season will take place from 22nd to 24th March at Barcelona (ESP).

 

Reactions to the season opener at Phillip Island.

 

Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport 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, ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team (SP: 5 / R01: 5 / SP Race: 3 / R02: 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, ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team (SP: 16 / R01: 7 / SP Race: 16 / R02: 9): “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 is 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.”

 

Garrett Gerloff, Bonovo action BMW Racing Team (SP: 14 / R01: 9 / SP Race: 13 / R02: 8): “It was a sinking ship on Tuesday and Friday, but luckily we didn’t completely drown. It wasn’t the best weekend, but it could have been a lot worse for sure. Overall, to have two top-ten in the main races is quite a decent way to start the season. It’s definitely a better way than we started last year where we were barely inside the top 15. I feel good on the bike. The competition is so strong, I can’t believe how fast everybody’s going. That’s definitely not making it easy. But we are figuring ourselves out, making progress. I’m looking forward to my home race coming up in a couple of weeks; testing first and then Barcelona, let’s go.”

 

Scott Redding, Bonovo action BMW Racing Team (SP: 19 / R01: 11 / SP Race: 17 / R02: P17): “It was a difficult weekend. I think we went the wrong way setting up the bike, I couldn’t improve the lap time like the other guys and go fast. It was a strange week throughout the test here as well with the weather changing a lot, track grip changing a lot and I think we just got caught in the wrong way to go with the bike. We go to Barcelona. Hopefully we can improve, because the bike is showing potential. We’ll restart at Barcelona.”

 

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