In 2014, Toprak Razgatlioglu was simply an 18-year-old no one knew, with an unpronounceable name. He landed at Magny-Cours, got on a Kawasaki for his first race in the European Superstock 600 championship, and won it. Five years later, on the same track, and still on a Kawasaki - but this time with the Puccetti team colors - the Turkish rider won his first SBK race. However, his name still remains unpronounceable.
"When I passed under the checkered flag, that victory came to my mind. I experienced the same feeling again," he said. "What can I say? I’m happy. I needed this victory. It was my dream."
The instinct of his mentor, Sofuoglu, was right, and the pupil outstripped the master today because Kenan had never managed to win a race in the SBK.
"I'm sure he'll be happy anyway," Toprak laughed. "I haven't talked to him yet. In fact, I haven't really talked to anyone. The first thing I'm doing as soon as I finish the interviews, is calling my mother. Then I'll go to my brother, who's here in the garage. This is the first time he's come to see me in an SBK race."
He brought him luck, and many are betting that Razgatlioglu is just beginning. He keeps his feet on the ground.
"All the guys on the team cried. It's a first victory for them too," he continued. "How will I celebrate? No party. We're going to go eat. I'll start with some good ice cream."
Then he'll be back on the track tomorrow.
"And I'll try to win, if it's dry, why not? He smiled. "I'm not fast on wet asphalt. In fact, I started 16th, but as soon as I saw that the race was going to be dry, I thought I'd have had a chance for the podium."
It went better than expected.
"Two laps from the end, I realized that I could have won," Toprak explained. "Rea was very fast in the first sector, but then I managed to get closer. I passed him, then I only thought about pushing."
An overtake where the Turkish rider showed no reverential awe towards Jonathan.
"Actually, I wanted to be cleaner, but then the bike started to slip," he said, apologetically. "But following Rea helped me. I figured out how to be faster in the first sector of the track. I'll have to do it tomorrow if I want to try to win again."
Audio recorded by Riccardo Guglielmetti