WorldSBK Team Launches: A first look at the ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team
With dates locked in for official team launches across the entire World Superbike grid, the first factory team on the list to unveil their 2024 season livery was the ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team.
The star-studded BMW lineup consists of recently signed 2021 World Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu, following his departure from Yamaha at the conclusion of the 2023 season following their four years in partnership.
The teams launch in Berlin was the Turkish riders first public event in BMW colours, with high spirits across the board and an optimistic team behind him, it was clear that Razgatlioglu is ready for the Championship fight ahead of him.
While Toprak has already completed a test on the M 1000 RR in December, he said the three days of testing didn’t consist of any fully dry sessions, saying “Now I’m just waiting for next week, I miss my new bike.”
Testing resumes at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto on the 24th January, and after his December testing completed in Portimao, Jerez and Valencia, the 27-year-old is fully focused on what will be his seventh year in the class.
“In Portimao, the first time I rode the bike, I was smiling on the straight because the bike very fast. We need to just improve some things, but we are not far. We need more laps; we need more kilometres.” Toprak said.
When prompted on where he can improve, he said; “The electronics, exactly. In general, the bike is very good. Especially the engine brake is unbelievable, the bike is stopping. We just need to improve in some areas, for my syle.”
With testing starting tomorrow in Jerez, this will paint a much bigger picture for the Turkish rider, with hopes to complete his first outing in optimal track conditions.
“The test will be very important, because I’ll see all the riders there. I only rode alone, I didn’t see other Superbike riders, I need some riders, some fighting, to see the lap times.”
With anticipations rising with the season opening Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round at Phillip Island Circuit only weeks away, Razgatlioglu is cautious of his predicting his possibilities.
“The first race is a little bit difficult. Phillip Island is always a hard race because you need to keep your rear tyre. We’ll see. BMW are working every day. This is good. When I see BMW working, I work even more. And if we work like this, I think we can be World Champions. I don’t know if this year or next year, but I believe this, we are not far.”
Toprak’s teammate in 2024, Michael van der Mark – reuniting the partnership that brought much success to the Pata Yamaha team in 2020 – is equally excited by the steps the project can make, particularly after two consecutive seasons derailed by several injuries: “I’m fit, I’m ready to race. We all have one goal in BMW, and that’s to win. In Phillip Island we’ll see where we are, but I have a lot of confidence in the project. Signing Toprak, changing a lot of things… It’ll push the bike a lot better.”
Over on the Bonovo Action BMW side of things, the outlook is just as, if not more positive, with both riders commenting positively on the potential of the project.
“The team is great, very welcoming, very family orientated”, admits newcomer Scott Redding. “I feel like it’s old-school style, and that’s something that I really cherish. I will be more relaxed, happier. I would like to be top 5, top 6 in the Championship, minimum. And to be on the podium more regularly, that’s what I’d be happy with. If I get a race win, I’ll be ecstatic, but we need a couple of podiums, that’s the goal”.
Garrett Gerloff, who finished the 2023 season with several impressive results and as the top BMW rider, also sees room for progress: “I have high hopes for this year. I really think that with the same team going into everything, the same awesome guys I’ve been working with, we can really make another step forward. With Toprak here, Michael and Scott, we have a really strong line-up, a lot of data to pool from to improve these M 1000 RRs.”