Title is over! | How Razgatlioglu boosted 2021 WorldSBK bid after Gerloff clash

Toprak Razgatlioglu says a change in mindset controversial collision with Yamaha stablemate Garrett Gerloff actually transformed his 2021 WorldSBK title bid

Toprak Razgatlioglu, Garrett Gerloff - Yamaha, 2021 WorldSBK

Toprak Razgatlioglu has revealed he believed his 2021 WorldSBK title bid would be scuppered by his failure to score in Race 2 at Assen after a controversial coming together with Yamaha stablemate Garrett Gerloff.

The Turk suffered his first DNF of the season at a critical juncture in the season during the fourth round at the Dutch venue when Gerloff - after getting a strong start from the third row - slithered for a gap on the apex of Turn 1.

Catching an unawares Razgatlioglu out, the pair clashed fairings and the Pata Yamaha rider skittled out into retirement, one of only three he’d suffer all year though it was his only crash of the entire 2021 season.

Furious at the time - branding it a ‘stupid’ mistake by a remorseful Gerloff - Razgatlioglu slipped 37 points behind Jonathan Rea in the title reckoning. However, thereafter Razgatlioglu got his head down and clawed back the margin, helped in part by crashes for Rea at Most and Portimao, putting him on course for a maiden WorldSBK title.

Even so, he says he was convinced his title battle had been ruined by his own Yamaha counterpart before mentor and manager Kenan Sofuoglu encouraged him to simply change his mindset to taking it ‘one race at a time’.

“The Assen crash, after I said my championship is finished,” he told WorldSBK.com. “Kenan said we are not talking about the championship, we are focused on the races, we try to win [each]. So after that I just focused on the race.

The following round at Most demonstrated this more singular tactic, with Razgatlioglu pulling off one of the passes of the year Race 1 to overtake Scott Redding for the win with two corners to go. It was an approach that he is particularly proud of.

“Last lap I say I need to try the pass because this is my character, maybe I am not trying to pass then I will finish the race and I will be angry for me. 

He also confirmed he will take on the #1 plate instead of his signature #54 because Yamaha’s only other WorldSBK Champion - Ben Spies - didn’t use it in 2010 when he switched to MotoGP.

“We have improved the bike, we have improved my style. I don’t see Yamaha use #1. I think it is time to be #1.”