A moving 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship ended with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) dethroning Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) to become the new Superbike World Champion. The 25-year-old Turkish rider dazzled as he jumped from victory to victory throughout the season, claiming the title of Race 1 in Indonesia on Sunday, ending Rea’s stranglehold on the championship and becoming the 18e SBK world champion in what was by chance the 18e final round title decider. Toprak didn’t have his own path in his career, and he worked hard to become a world champion.
BORN IN MOTORCYCLES: the history of off-piste Razgatlioglu
Born in Alanya, Turkey, in 1996, Toprak found his way into the motorcycle world, although it might not be the most well-known side of the sport. His father was the famous Arif Razgatlioglu, a stuntman. However, tragically the 17e from November in 2017, just months before Toprak’s move to WorldSBK, his father was killed in a traffic accident. A huge influence on Toprak’s life, Razgatlioglu said on social media ahead of the final round: “I’ll do my best for you this weekend daddy. TTA “TTA stands for Tek taker Arif, his father’s name, ie Wheelie Arif.
Although he has always been an avid biker and was bred around it, Razgatlioglu also has some gymnastic moves. He learned this on the shores of Alanya where he grew up, doing tricks like the pear tree and hand walking. Always seen in the paddock doing something extraordinary and often seen jumping easily over the barriers of the Parc Fermé, Razgatlioglu is not just a one-ride pony, but the clown prince of WorldSBK. The stops he became known for, the charismatic style on and off the bike; he’s a showman that people love.
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS: Razgatlioglu’s two-wheeled journey begins
In his early years and with his father by his side, Toprak’s journey saw him start on gravel, at the age of five, on a 50cc motocross bike. However, despite having won four national motocross championships, the shift to tarmac and road racing followed, and at age 11, with his father as the driving force, Toprak transitioned to the type of surface where he would become the world champion on some 14 years later. While this was happening in his native Turkey, the country also saw national hero Kenan Sofuoglu clinch his first title in 2007. The path to the World Championship was under construction.
His skills continued to be honed, becoming a force in competing in the IDM Yamaha R6 Cup category in 2011 and 2012, winning podiums and a seventh in 2012. Continuing his career, Razgatlioglu was etched in people’s minds when ‘he joined Red Bull. Rookies Cup schedule for 2013, starting off with a bang by scoring two podiums in his first two races, finishing tenth overall before in 2014 he claimed his first class victory at the Sachsenring.
IN THE WorldSBK PADDOCK: emphatic beginnings
Getting too big for KTM Moto3 ™ machines, Toprak tried out the European Superstock 600 Championship at Magny-Cours in late 2014, after Kenan Sofuoglu hired him and he really showed potential. In a combative race, he stunned to win in his debut; signs of things to come in terms of talent and love for Magny-Cours. This unique and mind-blowing performance unlocked a monster and Razgatlioglu easily won the 2015 STK600 title, including an iconic battle with Federico Caricasulo en route to Imola. Toprak dominated and won the first five races, with a third place giving him the crown at Misano. He joined the European Superstock 1000 Championship a year later, adapting to the bigger machines and once again it was Magny-Cours that proved to be a special place as he won his first podium. in the classroom on the French site. Also in 2016, he spent a brief time on the Grillini Kawasaki in WorldSBK at Phillip Island, but did not start due to an injury following a crash in free practice. With two podiums at the end of the STK1000 season, he was fifth and one to watch in the 2017 title battle, just eight points behind WorldSBK 2021 rival Michael Ruben Rinaldi despite three wins.
CALLS WorldSBK: Razgatlioglu graduated and dazzling
It was time for the big bang: WorldSBK called Razgatlioglu, and no one expected big things. As a rookie the pressure was released and he was part of the Puccetti Kawasaki team, who only had one year of WorldSBK experience. However, 2018 has started well, with points in his first ten races, including a top ten in Race 2 in the season opener at Phillip Island, while eighth place was his best result. Donington Park was next and although he did not score any points in Race 1, Razgatlioglu moved up from eighth place, beating Jonathan Rea in the last lap for second place for his first podium and that of Turkey. in WorldSBK. Once again on the podium in San Juan, Argentina, he finished ninth overall.
2019 would be the decisive year for Razgatlioglu. Staying in the Puccetti structure, he was on his way to stardom. A first podium of the year came to Imola when he was third, as he would go on to secure an additional eighth podium in subsequent heats, at least one on each track. But it would be the Tour de France at Magny-Cours where he would burst onto the scene like a real talent for the future; from 16e on the grid and 1.3 seconds behind with two laps to go, Razgatlioglu pushed hard, chasing Jonathan Rea for a first-ever WorldSBK victory under exciting circumstances. He backed him up with another victory in the Tissot Superpole Race before finishing the season fifth overall with 13 podiums and two wins.
Moving on to the Yamaha factory and the Pata Yamaha team, Toprak Razgatlioglu was a trending property in 2020, living up to all the hype by winning the season opener; one of 14 riders to win on their debut in the new team. Razgatlioglu took eight more podiums and two more victories, finishing fourth overall in the championship despite two missed races at Barcelona-Catalunya following a fall in the warm-up. Best Yamaha and with two wins and a second in the last round at Estoril, it was a solid end to 2020 and a good platform to build on 2021.
THE YEAR OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP: 2021 was something special
Then it was the big, big and perhaps one of the most important year of the Championship: Could the most dominant and successful WorldSBK rider, Jonathan Rea, be overthrown? The answer was yes; Rea may have won four of the first six races, but once Toprak claimed victory at Misano in Race 2, the floodgates opened. Thrilling victories at Donington Park were followed by a final lap showdown with Scott Redding at Most in Race 1. The gloves then fell with Jonathan Rea at Navarra in the Superpole Race, as well as in a phenomenal battle. on the last lap with his rival for the title at Magny-Cours in Superpole Race there too. However, that was to be decided off-track after a track boundary violation on the final lap saw Jonathan Rea take the win.
With the rivalry now at its height, more intense fights took place in the Superpole Race in Barcelona, the Emotional Race 1 in Jerez, the Eventful Race 1 in Portimao and the titanic race in San Juan 2. From Portimao , Toprak was able to slowly climb to the title and although he came within striking distance for Argentina, it was the return of the Championship in Indonesia where he was finally able to realize his lifelong dream of becoming Champion. of the World Superbike. He did it in style too; don’t hold back and play it safe; he put everything on the line and aimed for victory until the end.
AND THE NEXT? Enjoy, celebrate and get ready to start over …
So, now that he’s a Champion, what’s next for the 25-year-old Turk? Well, he will return home to Sakarya in Turkey, where he lives with his mother and will probably tell her all about it. Then, once all the celebrations have subsided, attention will turn to 2022 and make sure he can start all over again next year. Add in plenty of extreme sports throughout the winter, like snowboarding and probably a few races at Kenan Sofuoglu’s kart track on the Yamaha R3, and it will be busy. As well as being one of the most catchy and flamboyant on the track, Toprak is a quietly speaking and humiliating star. After all, he was just a kid who dreamed of being world champion.
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