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Toprak Razgatlioglu’s WorldSBK future | Genuine talk or call my bluff?


While another major piece of the 2024 WorldSBK Championship puzzle was filled this weekend with the news that Alvaro Bautista will remain with Ducati for the foreseeable future, another was very obviously lifted out in the form of Toprak Razgatlioglu.

Indeed, while this time last month it seemed Razgatlioglu was very clearly a corner piece, nestled comfortably in the Yamaha fold, as of today he is looking rather more jagged edged as his manager Kenan Sofuoglu revealed to Speedweek that not only is he entertaining approaches from rival teams, he has also dismissed Yamaha’s latest offer.

But how much of this is merely bluff and bluster from the five-time WorldSSP Champion and how much is genuine entertainment that one of motorcycle racing’s biggest stars is very much up for grabs?

2023 FIM Superbike World Championship, Round 01, Phillip Island, Australia, February 24-26, 2023, Toprak Razgatlioglu (TUR), Pata Yamaha

Power plays?

Let’s get one thing clear - Kenan Sofuoglu looks after his own.

What began as taking Razgatlioglu under his wing has grown into a formidable business that also includes the likes of Can Oncu, Deniz Oncu and his own - now WorldSSP race-winning cousin - Bahattin Sofuoglu.

Sofuoglu is also a shrewd negotiator and there is a strong chance that his words are a deliberate ploy to make Yamaha top brass sit up and take notice. It’s up to Yamaha to decide whether the threats are genuine from what is - arguably - an advantageous position based on the Turkish rider’s publicly expressed aspirations. 

However, one line above all - that Razgatlioglu is ‘not completely satisfied’ - arguably stands out more than the others, though short of linking up with Ducati, it’s hard to see how this can be rectified.

That’s not to say the supposed approaches from BMW and Kawasaki aren’t to be taken seriously though.

It is plausible BMW would be willing to make a (financially) very attractive offer to Razgatlioglu, while the Turk is probably its biggest roll of the dice to get the underwhelming M 1000 RR package working more competitively.

Indeed, the lacklustre performance of Scott Redding - not to mention the fallout from his ‘honest’ appraisal of the bike in the media - hasn’t enamoured him to bosses, so while he has generally out-performed the (albeit injury-stricken) Michael van der Mark, he is the rider most likely under threat.

While Razgatlioglu’s unusual riding style would require some input and commitment from BMW, it could be the catalyst to revive its flagging fortunes.

As for Kawasaki, such a deal would mark a full circle for Razgatlioglu having cultivated his early career with the manufacturer.

Toprak Razgatlioglu, Alvaro Bautista, Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team, Aruba.it Ducati, Pata Yamaha, Yamaha R1, Kawasaki ZX-10RR, Ducati Panigale V4 R, Assen, 2023 WorldSBK, action, pack, group, start [credit: 2Snap/Geebee]

A message to the 'uninterested' WorldSBK party?

However, there is precedence here for Sofuoglu having turned Yamaha down in the first place for not having a MotoGP schedule in place for Razgatlioglu in 2025, something the Iwata firm is perhaps unwilling to do with no confirmed satellite team in place yet.

With this in mind, neither BMW nor Kawasaki can offer the same. But if Yamaha can’t write a MotoGP clause into Razgatlioglu’s contract, then it’s a level playing field among manufacturers for his services in WorldSBK.

In Yamaha’s armoury, however, is the expectation that a new Yamaha R1 is on the way with the next generation model expected to land in the next 12-18 months or so. Whether that is enough to convince Razgatlioglu to play the long game and wait around remains to be seen though.

Amid all this, however, there is one other very notable comment made by Sofuoglu - the mention that Honda hasn’t made an offer. 


A manufacturer that could benefit from a superstar signing, has a MotoGP framework and isn’t exactly teeming with youthful options in its rider programme, while the firm isn’t firing on all cylinders right now, perhaps this is all a message to Honda specifically to get its offer in because Razgatlioglu (well, Sofuoglu…) might well be particularly interested.

CLICK HERE to view the latest 2023 WorldSBK Championship standings after Round 4 of 12 [Catalunya WorldSBK]

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