Denning: "Toprak’s transition into the team has been super easy"

Thursday, 23 April 2020 08:03 GMT

Paul Denning discusses the current situation within PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Official Team as well as the team’s rider line-up

With racing on hold and riders and team members at home, Paul Denning (Team Manager – PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Official Team) talks to about the relationship between Yamaha teammates Michael van der Mark and Toprak Razgatlioglu, how Turkish sensation Razgatlioglu has settled into the team and how Yamaha have been working in the current situation.

As teams and riders adapt to the enforced break, the ways of working for everyone involved will have changed. For teams, this means limited work can be undertaken on the bike as Denning explains: “The crew chiefs and the engineers are always studying data and looking at anything we can do the settings and the performance of the bike. There’s only so much time you can spend looking at the data from the winter tests and Phillip Island to formulate any potential improvements.

In terms of physical work, we got the bikes back from Phillip Island delivered to the team workshop in the UK 10 days after the race and that was pretty much just after Qatar had been postponed. We got everything ready in the workshop and then shortly after that, the UK government announced its lockdown on non-essential business and retail business and since then the bikes have been sat, polished, all dressed up with nowhere to go.”

“Yamaha’s racing facility in Italy has just partially opened this week – they’ve just been able to start doing a few bits and preparing some material this week, but even so it’s still a very restricted opportunity. Everyone’s been working hard behind the scenes so that when we go back racing, we’re in the best position we can be but aside from that there’s been very little we can achieve.”

Riders are able to be in contact with the team during this team and Denning has been in contact with both van der Mark and Razgatlioglu, who made the switch to the manufacturer-supported Yamaha outfit for 2020. Discussing the arrival of Razgatlioglu, Denning said: “Honestly, from the first test onwards it was much easier and more relaxed. We’re trying to help him improve whether it’s physical preparation or to help him with his organisation, have the right equipment in the right place. That’s been fun working with him on that side of things but honestly speaking, his transition into the team has been super easy and I think he was very surprised at how open and how everybody was easy to get on with.”

Van der Mark is now entering his fourth year with the team having joined in 2017 and, with the arrival of Razgatlioglu, has been instrumental in welcoming the Turkish rider into the team. Denning explains: “Michael’s been with us since 2017 and shown incremental improvement every year but has really grown into this season as the de facto team leader with the experience on the bike. We’re really happy with how Mickey has made that transition but also the way he’s welcomed Toprak to the team.

The atmosphere is really very positive, very good sharing of information and opinion, where the bike needs to be in terms of making the next steps and small improvements. I didn’t really know Toprak before he joined the team but he’s got a very nice character about him, very respectful, very appreciative by the efforts made by everyone in the team and project but at the same time he’s got a quite quiet but at the same time wicked sense of humour. And it’s great that him and Mickey get on well.”

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