The first race of the 2020 SBK world championship offered some surprises and many confirmations. The victory by Toprak Razgatlıoğlu was certainly not one that people expected on the eve of the race, because the Turkish rider, making his debut on the Yamaha R1, has never liked the Australian track very much and although there were few doubts about his speed, maybe his race pace was a bit unknown.
Razgatlıoğlu surprised everyone, giving Andrea Dosoli and Yamaha the first massive satisfaction of a season that promises to be very hard fought. The Yamaha man didn’t dominate though, and it should not be forgotten that Jonathan Rea, the rider who probably would have been the man to beat in the race, went missing. However, according to the Yamaha manager, the tests at Phillip Island had already shown the team that they could aim high.
"When we did our race simulations, we could see that we were at the same level as Rea - Dosoli said - it wasn’t a surprise. I can't say that if he had stayed in the race, we would have fought it out with him all the same, but I'm sure that we had prepared for this. Our guys worked only for the race on Monday and Tuesday. Not many riders did simulations like ours and this work paid off. "
Even your Achilles' heel, or top speed, didn’t seem to be a problem today.
"As long as the tyres lasted, we had a good acceleration out of the corners. In the last laps we suffered a lot, the bike was sliding a lot and it is something we’ll be working on tonight to improve for tomorrow. However, we are delighted with the great race of both our riders, it's a good way to start the championship. I’m sorry for Van der Mark who achieved less than what he deserved, but he is there. With a last lap like this, anything can happen. I think he will be more careful tomorrow."
Was the step forward also thanks to the new R1?
"There have been many small evolutions that help between the old and the new R1. I think the real leap forward has come because we have accumulated experience. I speak of the team and also of what Michael has learnt on the bike. We can make full use of these small advantages. The team is working better, and we have two riders who are both very fast and they stimulate each other. It must be said that we are only at the first race and as we have seen all the manufacturers present are capable of winning. It is a very interesting championship where many riders seem to be in a position to win. It will be really nice."
Did you expect Razgatlıoğlu to be so effective on this track?
"The thing that surprised me about Toprak (read the rider’s declarations HERE) is that he was able to adapt his riding style to the track conditions, which demand a lot from the tyre. Although Toprak was in difficulty because of the duration of the tyres during the tests, in the race he changed his attitude and saved the tyre. He was very good because he made an excellent strategy in the use of his tyre in the race. We managed to take a step forward compared to yesterday ".
Did you make any change in particular that turned out to be the right one?
"Often the riders are looking for certain sensations and sometimes a small change is enough to give them. They feel more comfortable on the bike and remember that in the end it’s always the riders that make the difference. The geometry of the bike, the settings, they only serve to put the riders at ease. They are not changes that give you half a second or even a few tenths. The job you have to do is put the rider in a position to push hard, and that's when you make the difference. The work the boys did probably helped him, but I repeat, today there was a group of riders in the race and every one of them could have won, so there is still a lot of work to be done ".
Now we go to Qatar. Can the Losail straights be a problem?
"There will be Qatar with its straights, but there will also be tracks where the characteristics of one bike will prevail over others. The championship will be long, there are a lot of different tracks and I think we can be competitive everywhere. Speed helps but It's not everything".
Interview by Riccardo Guglielmetti