Toprak Razgatlioglu says the prospect of bringing BMW its first title in the WorldSBK Championship was the primary motivation for his shock decision to sign for the 2024 season.
The 2021 WorldSBK Championship joins the German manufacturer on a two-year deal after four years spent with the factory Pata Crescent Racing Yamaha team.
A deal that surprised many in the paddock upon its announcement, the Turkish rider is tasked with helming a return to prominence for BMW, which has struggled to get on terms with Ducati, Yamaha and Kawasaki since its return to the WorldSBK Championship in a factory capacity in 2019.
However, it is for this reason that Razgatlioglu - in an exclusive interview with BSN - opted against extending his stay with Yamaha or consider an approach from Kawasaki, which has won seven WorldSBK titles over the past decade, opining that he would gain greater satisfaction from the challenge of landing BMW’s first title.
“This is a new challenge for me, so we are looking to each other’s psyche,” Razgatlioglu, who will be paired with Michael van der Mark, told BSN. “I choose BMW, because the team has never won, never been WorldSBK.
“I think OK, they’re normally not fast but I see the potential - it is a strong bike but it is coming step-by-step.
“I am thinking, I can win with this bike and be WorldSBK with this bike. This will make me more happy, because if I go to Kawasaki and if I am World Champion with Kawasaki, it’s not very special for Kawasaki, if I am champion with BMW it is special.”
MotoGP still a possibility, says Toprak Razgatlioglu
The decision to join BMW comes after plans to make the step to MotoGP with Yamaha for 2024 were abandoned.
The 39-time WorldSBK race winner tested a Yamaha M1 earlier in the year but a lukewarm reception from the firm’s top brass and concerns over adapting his riding style to the rigours of a prototype machine triggered a re-think.
However, while there is no direct route to MotoGP via BMW itself, Razgatlioglu says he hasn’t turned his back on his MotoGP aspirations as yet.
“I am just focused on BMW, but in 2025, I am free again. If I am feeling very happy with BMW then maybe I think again about MotoGP. If I am happy with this team, then I continue. It’s not a closed door.”
BMW is yet to win a WorldSBK since making its debut in 2009, coming closest in 2012 with Marco Melandri.
This is its second stint contesting WorldSBK in a factory capacity, its best result coming with a victory in a wet Superpole Race during the 2021 Portimao WorldSBK round.