Greg interviews Turkey’s World Superbike superstar

In this week’s edition of Motorcycle News (Wednesday 21st July), Greg gets to know Toprak Razgatlioglu: Yamaha’s Turkish hotshot who threatens to dominate World Superbikes in coming years. Unless he heads off to MotoGP, that is…

Greg Haines writes from Warwickshire, England

I can honestly say that, in 13 years of interviewing drivers and riders from all across the board in motorsport, Toprak Razgatlioglu is one of the most honest, relaxed, outgoing and humorous competitors I’ve come across. Not only that, he’s also one of the most naturally talented riders ever to grace the World Superbike paddock.

You have to admire how Toprak hasn’t been sucked into the MotoGP bubble. He has nothing against the championship apart from the sometimes pompous attitude you get with certain people around the paddock – and that’s normally from individuals working in the sport who are not actually riders. It’s interesting how he picked up on that following his two seasons in Red Bull Rookies. Don’t get me wrong, the MotoGP paddock is a very pleasant place, but there are some who work there who look down on all other motorcycle racing – quite wrongly. Usually, it’s because they don’t understand superbike racing and so, instead of learning about it, they find the easier way out is to criticize it. Unfortunately, you get egos like that.

Toprak is fantastic. He’s backed by Kenan Sofuoglu who, whatever you may think about some of his aggressive tactics on-track, is nothing but a gentleman off it. Although they say ‘MotoGP is a train than only stops once’, who’s to say Toprak won’t get his chance if and when he’s wrapped up World Superbikes? That in itself will be a challenge and a half when you’ve got Jonathan Rea to overcome.

I know Razgatlioglu would love a shot at MotoGP but he’s by no means desperate. Is MotoGP the pinnacle of motorcycle racing? Yes. In the same way F1 is the pinnacle of car racing. But, in the same way some children have a dream to become a touring car or sports car driver, some have a dream to become a World Superbike Champion. During our 50-minute telephone conversation for the MCN interview, Toprak told me how people like to comment without actually knowing the full story; it’s a bit like how people gossip in an office, isn’t it?

I obviously would say this…but if you get a chance to pick up an MCN newspaper or read the digital version, try to have a glance over the Toprak feature because it’s a refreshingly honest take on his situation. He is a very emotionally-driven character and he wants to win World Superbikes in honour of his legendary stunt-riding father, Tek Teker Arif, who only ever purchased one model of bike: the Yamaha R1…