“It was an incredibly important year for me, and all of the effort that I put in was for my father.”
When Toprak Razgatlioglu captured the Superbike World Championship (WSBK) last season, it was about more than just reaching the pinnacle of his sport.
Conquering the world of Superbikes was of course the Turkish speedster’s objective, however, throughout his career there has also been increasing motivation to honour the memory of his father, Arif.
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Razgatlioglu senior, known as Tek teker Arif - or ‘Wheelie Arif’ - was a famous stunt cyclist who was killed in a motorcycle accident in November 2017 – mere months before a 21-year-old Toprak’s WSBK debut.
After two years with Kawasaki, Razgatlioglu switched to Yamaha in 2020 and after storming to 13 race wins the following year, was crowned champion in the final round of the year in Mandalika, Indonesia.
Razgatlioglu dedicated his win to his late father, who he is forever grateful to for the support he received as a youngster.
“He believed in me more than I believed in myself,” he said. “I wish he was here so I could share the feeling with him.
“I’m sure he’s watching over me, if he was here with me still, alive and well, this whole thing would have been much more enjoyable.”
Razgatlioglu’s triumph also looked to signal something of a changing of the guard as he toppled the legendary Jonathan Rea who had won the previous six years in a row.
“Last year, there was a great rivalry between myself and Jonathan Rea,” Razgatlioglu told Power of Sport. “After dominating for six years, he was undoubtedly the biggest hurdle that I had to overcome.
“My dream was to get the better of him and become the world champion before he retired.”
Razgatlioglu is the first rider from Turkey to become a world champion in the sport, making him something of a trailblazer in the process, and increasing the diversity of the sport.
Nowhere was this more clear that when he would find himself on the podium.
“People might have seen me running from the champagne celebrations,” Razgatlioglu explained. “It's not appropriate in my religion so that's why I stay away from it.
“In Europe, celebrating with champagne has been a tradition for a long time, but in Turkey, the majority of people are Muslim and most Muslims don’t drink alcohol."
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