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Is World Superbike's superstar Razgatlioglu a genuine solution for a MotoGP team?

OPINION: The 2021 World Superbike champion, Toprak Razgatlioglu has made no secret of his MotoGP desires. With the 2025 rider market in full swing, his manager has been banging the drum about potential offers. But should he really make the move?

Toprak Razgatlioglu, BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team

Toprak Razgatlioglu, BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Toprak Razgatlioglu’s manager Kenan Sofuoglu says “there are teams that want” the Turkish rider in MotoGP next year, despite holding a BMW World Superbike deal to the end of 2025.

The 2025 MotoGP rider market has kicked into life in recent weeks, following Ducati’s bombshell announcement that it would be bringing Marc Marquez into its factory team.

That begun a chain reaction of moves, starting with Jorge Martin signing for Aprilia, and has been followed with Maverick Vinales and Enea Bastianini penning KTM deals, while Marco Bezzecchi also moves to Aprilia.

Elsewhere, it looks likely 2020 world champion Joan Mir will stay with Honda for two more years – as per Autosport reports – and Pramac seems to be edging ever closer to a Yamaha move in 2025.

In the coming weeks, much of the 2025 grid will likely have fallen into place. So, where does Razgatlioglu fit into the equation?

He has easily been WSBK’s biggest draw in recent years, finally ending Jonathan Rea and Kawasaki’s stranglehold on the series in 2021 when he denied the Ulsterman a seventh successive title.

Aligned with Yamaha at the time, rumblings persisted of Razgatlioglu moving to MotoGP with the Japanese manufacturer.

Toprak Razgatlioglu, BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team

Toprak Razgatlioglu, BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Razgatlioglu tested the M1 at Jerez early last year and was around a second off the pace of Yamaha’s test rider Cal Crutchlow at the Spanish Grand Prix venue. It was a significant enough test for Yamaha's top brass to be in attendance, but the underwhelming lap times – albeit with little time to adapt to the bike – cast some doubts.

Hopes of a 2024 MotoGP move were all but ended when Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis told the media in Austin last April that, with the marque unlikely to have a satellite squad for the following season, it couldn’t replace an experienced hand in Franco Morbidelli with a rookie in Razgatlioglu.

In May of that year, Razgatlioglu signed a deal with BMW in WSBK, saying at the time: “While there was an opportunity in MotoGP, I didn’t feel the same connection with the MotoGP bike that I have with the Superbike.”

Now, in June of 2024, Razgatlioglu’s name has become attached to MotoGP again.

“We have a two-year deal with BMW and everything is going very well,” his manager Sofuoglu told Autosport's OTT platform Motorsport.tv. “It's going so well that Toprak has started to have serious dreams about MotoGP. Toprak's strong performance is attracting a lot of interest from the MotoGP teams.

“With these two factors combined, Toprak started to say 'I want MotoGP now'. The teams also want Toprak. So far everything is great.

“But we have to respect our agreement with BMW. In my meetings with BMW, I told them that Toprak wants to go to MotoGP after the work he has done.

“BMW has not yet given us a clear answer. If BMW comes to us and says 'we want to keep Toprak, we will honour our agreement', we will respect that. I don't want to explain the terms of the agreement too much, we have the possibility to leave.

Toprak Razgatlioglu, Pata Yamaha WorldSBK, Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team WSBK

Toprak Razgatlioglu, Pata Yamaha WorldSBK, Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team WSBK

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“However, we have never been in the mode of 'let's break the agreement, let's go somewhere else or do other things' in any agreement we have made. So if BMW says 'OK Toprak, we will not prevent you, if you want to go to MotoGP, you can go next year', then we can go to MotoGP.”

Sofuoglu went on to say that “there are teams that want Toprak. There have been negotiations”.

In recent weeks, Honda has been rumoured to have made an offer. That seems unlikely to come to pass now it has agreed a new two-year contract with Mir, while Luca Marini and Johann Zarco already have deals for 2025.

Honda could change course with the second LCR seat, specifically set up for a Japanese rider, though this has been unshakeably in place since 2018. And at this stage, swapping out Takaaki Nakagami for Razgatlioglu makes little sense for a marque in a rebuilding phase.

Razgatlioglu confirmed to Autosport that Yamaha is a manufacturer with which negotiations have been held with. It is yet to announce Fabio Quartararo’s team-mate for next year at the factory squad, though for much the same reasons as Honda, Yamaha replacing a proven grand prix winner in Alex Rins for a rider outside of the MotoGP ecosystem doesn’t seem logical.

Should Pramac indeed become a Yamaha satellite partner, having a big name like Razgatlioglu in its team colours would lessen the blow of losing championship leader Jorge Martin and the chance to fight for titles next year leaving Ducati will certainly bring in the short-term.

Razgatlioglu, understandably, is keen for a MotoGP move to happen sooner rather than later. At 27, while not old by any stretch of the imagination, the window is closing for him to make the step over.

With time, there’s little doubt that Razgatlioglu could develop into a strong grand prix racer. But the level is such in MotoGP now that time is not something any fresh rider has anymore, not least one with the weight of expectation on their shoulders.

Toprak Razgatlioglu, BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team

Toprak Razgatlioglu, BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Razgatlioglu’s skill on a Superbike has created many highlight reels during his time in WSBK, and he’s now doing something that will only be a good thing for that series in the long run.

The Rea/Kawasaki domination years, while having strong moments, did drag after a while. Ducati’s conquests of the title in the last two years (with Razgatlioglu runner-up on the Yamaha) have gone hand in hand with its domination in MotoGP, the Italian marque annexing trophies at the highest level. That deserves immense credit, but competition is something any racing fan craves.

And WSBK this year has had that in spades. Razgatlioglu currently leads the standings by 21 points after four rounds and six race wins, doing so on a BMW package that has struggled for a number of years in numerous top hands to be anywhere near as competitive as the Turkish rider is showing it to be.

MotoGP is enjoying its own purple patch in 2024. Looking beyond this, it’s hard to see a case where MotoGP needs Razgatlioglu more than he wants it.

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