Toprak Razgatlioglu Signs On For Two More Years In WorldSBK With Yamaha

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.

Toprak Razgatlıoğlu

“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.”

Andrea Dosoli
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.”

Paolo Pavesio
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.”

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Comments

Toprak has got a pretty good chance of winning a title or two in WSBK and becoming the biggest name ever in the Turkish racing world. Difficult to see the same happening in MotoGP. It's not lack of talent or speed, more that the competition is that bit stiffer and there's a high chance he'd become just one more very fast mid-pack rider.

I don't know about the money side of things. But career-wise Toprak is at the perfect age and stage to move, and with two Yamaha seats up for grabs (and Garrett Gerloff from further back in WSB contending for them) there's not going to be a better chance to go than now. Compared with the past, there are no bad teams in MotoGP any more with many having a chance at the front.

It's a bit of a reflection of Kenan's career, happy to be a big fish in a smaller pond. No problem with that if it works for you - I doubt Jonathan Rea has many sleepless nights. But those like van der Mark who at one time seemed a shoe-in for a MotoGP seat and that moment has now passed are now regretting not sticking their neck out if they had a chance.

I guess the question would be better to race for championships in a "lesser" category, or run mid-pack in MotoGP.

he likes to be fighting for the win when he races. 

It does sound likely that Sofuoglu is a major influence, but I can understand Toprak's decision. And actually, as one of only two real roadracing world championships, WSBK is a medium-sized pond at worst.

And what about the money? I do wish that MotoMatters covered this aspect of racing in more detail. It's pretty easy to find Steph Curry's or Messi's salary. Is motorcycle racing really that much better than the NBA or FIFA at keeping salaries secret? Is Toprak's two year deal for $500K USD? $5M? Knowing these numbers might stop all speculation as to him not chasing his MotoGP dream.

Wondering if it isn't still possible for Yamaha to shift him over to MotoGP. He is within the family. Highly unlikely obviously. 

Guessing he has been high on the MotoGP list, but not top. Morbidelli looks a good guess for Blue. Aqua and Dovisioso? Could that be churning?! What a heck of a surprise. Gerloff passes the passport test. Unfortunately, zero disrespect to him, but entirely separately the being from Japan, USA etc skewing a resume always leaves a taste to spit. Might be him? 

Raul was my hope. MAN Orange has a long deep roster right now! Ok, my money is going on Marco Bezzecchi.

the being from Japan

My Motoshrink-to-English translator is not working properly.

… and follow the money and opportunity into MotoGP, rather than being held back to fulfil Sofu's ambitions. There's too much talent in the GP pipeline to be waiting another few years, when the door is being held open right now.

Wondering if Toprak has an option to go to MotoGp if/when he wins the world SBK title?

Having recently rewatched Troy Bayliss win at Valencia 2006. I imagine Razgatlıoğlu might get a wildcard in MotoGp. Then if the result was good & Yamaha were looking for a rider to replace Mav, Valentino or Franky, Toprak could be a good option?

Will Razgatlıoğlu definitely "remain in WorldSBK for two more seasons." If he wins the SBK chip this year? What if Toprak wins in 2021 and defends that title in 2022?

Kenan Sofuoglu never had much success in SBK despite an incredible 5 world championships in WSS600. Seems Sofuoglu might be ultra keen to be part of a SBK world title. But once that goal is conquered what next?

Good luck to Toprak wherever motorcycle racing takes him.

One simple way of looking at it is Yamaha signed him to keep him in the family. They can move whomever wherever in there. 

(Could still Aqua)

Cheers