Toprak Razgatlioglu is to remain in WorldSBK for two more seasons. The Turkish rider agreed a deal with Yamaha which will see him continue with the factory World Superbike squad through the 2023 season.
The deal was something of a surprise, as Razgatlioglu had been heavily linked with the empty seat (or more likely, seats) in Yamaha's MotoGP teams. At 24, and showing a lot of potential, Razgatlioglu seemed ripe for a switch to the MotoGP paddock. However, he has chosen to remain in WorldSBK and pursue the goal of becoming the first Turkish rider to win a World Superbike title.
Razgatlioglu's manager, former World Supersport champion Kenan Sofuoglu, is believed to have a hand in Razgatlioglu's decision. Sofuoglu is a strong supporter of the WorldSBK series, in part because of his own successes in the championship, and in part because of his own bad experiences when he switched to Moto2.
Whether Razgatlioglu can switch to MotoGP at the end of this two-year contract remains to be seen. MotoGP team managers are known to be both strongly prejudiced against riders from WorldSBK (rightly or wrongly), and to favor youth over experience. Razgatlioglu will be 26 at the end of his current WorldSBK contract, and will face competition from some of the top riders currently coming through from Moto3 and Moto2.
Surprisingly, 26 is relatively old in MotoGP: of the current grid, 13 riders are 26 or younger, and the 26-year-olds and those who turn 26 this year - Maverick Viñales, Brad Binder, Alex Rins, Jack Miller, Miguel Oliveira - are all in factory teams, with multiple seasons in MotoGP. Finding a place among the youngsters coming up and the current crop of experienced riders may prove to be very difficult.
The press release from Yamaha appears below:
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu Signs New Two-Year Contract with Yamaha in WorldSBK
Yamaha Motor Europe is delighted to announce a new two-year contract extension for FIM Superbike World Championship title contender and multiple race-winner Toprak Razgatlıoğlu.
After a strong first season aboard the Yamaha R1 in 2020, where Razgatlıoğlu won on his first outing at Phillip Island and scored two further victories on his way to fourth in the series standings, the Turkish rider has made another significant step forward so far this year and sits second in the championship, having already scored seven podiums including a sensational win at Misano.
Those performances have attracted the attention of teams in both WorldSBK and MotoGP, but ahead of the Donington Park WorldSBK round Yamaha Motor Europe and the 24-year-old agreed a new two-year contract extension, which will see Razgatlıoğlu spearhead Yamaha's assault on the FIM Superbike World Championship until the end of 2023.
“Yamaha has become like my family and I’m really happy to be signing for another two years. I think we’ve improved the bike a lot since I joined for the 2020 season, so it was an easy decision for me to make. We are fighting for the championship this year, we’re very close to the top and I have the best people around me in the Pata Yamaha with Brixx team pit box to help me achieve my goals. I like the WorldSBK paddock, and I’m happy racing here. Maybe MotoGP is something I will think about in the future, but for now I am focused completely on getting the job done here in WorldSBK. Thank you to everyone who has worked to make this happen and now I look forward to the future together with Yamaha.”
Road Racing Manager, Yamaha Motor Europe
“We started this journey together with Toprak in 2020, a strange year for everyone, but one where we developed a good relationship. That served as the basis for the current season which has been very positive so far, the best since Yamaha came back to WorldSBK. The Yamaha R1 keeps improving race-by-race, and this allows Toprak to express his great talent. The decision to extend the collaboration between Toprak and Yamaha Motor Europe for the next two seasons arrived earlier than expected, as we are really convinced that there is more to come, and together we'll be able to challenge for the WorldSBK title. I strongly appreciate the trust Toprak has put in Yamaha, for which I thank him, and I can guarantee that we'll do our best to meet our high expectations.”
Director, Marketing and Motorsport, Yamaha Motor Europe
“Since joining Yamaha in 2020, Toprak has consistently demonstrated his pace and race winning potential and we're extremely pleased to be continuing this journey together for another two seasons. He has proven that he’s capable of fighting for wins every weekend and in just his second year aboard the Yamaha R1 he’s already announced himself as a WorldSBK title contender. Equally important for us is that he is both an inspiration and a role model for our bLU cRU youngsters, with whom he spends a lot of time during WorldSBK race weekends. I would like to thank Toprak for his confidence in Yamaha, as well as his manager Kenan Sofuoğlu and everyone from our side who worked to make this possible. I think we have an exciting and successful time ahead together and we will work to make sure we give Toprak the best platform for success.”