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"Rea is a Kawasaki hero, I’d have stayed" - Razgatlioglu on Rea’s Yamaha WorldSBK jump

Gold & Goose

Toprak Razgatlioglu has revealed he wouldn’t make the same decision as rival Jonathan Rea if faced with the choice of joining Yamaha for the 2024 WorldSBK season or sticking with Kawasaki after almost a decade of success together.

Six-time WorldSBK title-winner Rea will embark on a new era in Yamaha blue next season after accepting an offer to replace Razgatlioglu in the Crescent Racing-prepared factory Yamaha team for 2024.

The deal brings an end to Rea’s record-breaking tenure with the Japanese marque, a nine-year stint that yielded 104 race wins, 221 podiums and pride of place atop the vast majority of WorldSBK’s all-time stats rankings


The change of direction comes at a time when Rea has struggled increasingly to mount a challenge to the dominant Alvaro Bautista, a factor that stimulated Razgatlioglu’s own decision to depart Yamaha in favour of a bold step in heading up BMW’s factory WorldSBK effort.

However, while fresh challenges await both riders in 2024, Razgatlioglu admits he wouldn’t have exited Kawasaki after such a long period together, even if he understands why the Ulsterman is doing so.

“I am not surprised,” he told Bikesportnews in an exclusive interview. “Yamaha is a good bike. It is a good change, also Johnny is fast and riding well. 

“I have spoken with him, I understand a little bit. He wants to win again and he is still a winning rider. 

“OK, he is getting old, but I know him, I like him, he’s a great guy and he wants a new challenge but, after 9 years with Kawasaki, if I was him, no change. 

“After 9 years he is like a Kawasaki hero, so I’d stay with Kawasaki in my opinion but I understand why and I respect him - he is also thinking to win more, one more world championship.

“If he stayed, I think Kawasaki would work a lot to change things and he’d come back strong but we both go for a new challenge.”

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