Pata Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu arrived with a small lead over Jonathan Rea at Barcelona and left with an even smaller one - just a single point.
All in all, for a rider who lost 25 almost sure points in a wet Race One when his bike broke down, that was a good swing back his way, especially after Rea won the Superpole race on Sunday morning.
There was nothing Razgatlioglu could do on Sunday afternoon as Michael Ruben Rinaldi and his Ducati ploughed their way to a win after some set-to moments between the old Stock 600 competitors - Rinaldi and Razgatlioglu - back in the day.
When asked why that was, Razgatlioglu stated, “On lap four the front started sliding. Just right hand corners, and after started on the left side too. But I fought. I followed Michael and after, I said ‘OK. Now I pass him’, and after I tried to make a gap. I passed him after one lap - then from the rear the tyre had a big drop and he passed me back. He went alone, and I was fighting for second position.
“I’m lucky today because we have one more lap and maybe five positions, six positions. I don't know. But, difficult race also for all riders because no grip and very hot conditions. We were still fighting for good positions. Also, I’m happy because my team did a great job this weekend.”
And Saturday’s issue with his bike stopping because of electronics?
“Yesterday an electronic problem, but also for me very good race in the wet conditions. I go to win, but we had the electronic problem. Today, two second positions. It’s OK. Not bad… Also in the short race, maybe with one more lap I win, but this is racing.”
Razgatlioglu was also well aware that it was a good weekend for the Ducatis. “Normally in hot conditions Ducati is very fast. Also, Michael today did a very good ride. My front tyre was finished. Not possible to try hard braking. Also, after rear tyre drop, I see on the last three laps, I try just to finish. Also, Scott was very close. But, this is not a bad weekend for me.”
After much media speculation and social media meltdown after the infamous green paint problem in France, Toprak was fine with fighting elbow to elbow - and more - with Rea two weeks after. They touched on the run down to turn one in one race, but for Razgatlioglu, this is all OK by him.
“No problem, because we start and he’s coming left side, but he doesn’t see me. This is normal,” he explained. "We have touched. Also I tried to go left, but my bike wheelied. It was not possible to turn properly. Not easy turning, but is okay. Also is normal. I like it!”
The action does appear to get more crowd-pleasingly close through 2021, and the gap between the riders is getting narrower every week. But Razgatlioglu knows it is a spectacle he is involved in, usually with Rea.
“Outside watching, very, very good,” said Razgatlioglu, “But, for here, I don't know but sometimes he’s fast, sometimes I’m fast. Also second race, Michael is very fast. But I think we are fighting always with Johnny. Every race we are fighting, and also touching. But no problem. Also he is trying for his best position. This is normal. Every rider tries for his best position! But this weekend, yesterday’s race, very bad luck. We don’t take points. Normally we take points and we are at the front. But, I say again, I smile because I’m not looking at championship. I’m just trying every race to win because I need 10, 12 wins this year.”
There were some new or resurgent names in and around the podiums at Barcelona, and Razgatlioglu was very aware.
“Very different race in Barcelona because it’s not the same riders at the front this weekend. Every rider came to the front and they were difficult races. Also, yesterday Bassani was very fast. I’m happy for him. Also yesterday Ducati had everybody on the podium. This weekend is very good for Ducati. Just now I’m very happy for every race we improve with my team. Also, thanks to my team because incredible job every race weekend and we improve.”
Razgatlioglu seems genuine in his assertion that it is one race at a time, take wins and the rest will take care of itself. He did not get any special signals about Rea’s position, in races for example. “I’m always looking who is behind me. I don't need Johny, because I just ride the bike. Only I need, which rider is behind me? This is important, also in the race. Also for Johnny the same, I think.”