In a surprising turn of events, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) will bid farewell to Yamaha at the conclusion of the 2023 WorldSBK Championship season.
After four successful seasons with the Japanese manufacturer, Razgatlioglu will embark on a new challenge, although his destination remains unconfirmed. The Turkish rider clinched the 2021 title, becoming Yamaha’s first SBK World Champion since Ben Spies in 2009.
So far, rumors say that at least two official teams may be interested in the Turk: BMW and Honda. Of course, these are just rumors and now, with the confirmation that he is not staying with Yamaha, negotiations will begin and, who knows, even Ducati and Kawasaki may want this exceptional rider.
In addition, the rider had possibilities of joining MotoGP, but apparently he discarded this adventure, since ‘he didn’t feel the prototype bike, what he feels in the superbike bike’ (you can read his statement below).
Razgatlioglu signed up with Yamaha for the 2020 season and immediately left a strong impression while riding the Yamaha YZF-R1. He triumphed in the inaugural race at Phillip Island, marking a remarkable debut with the team. Wrapping up his 2020 campaign, he secured two more wins at the Estoril Circuit, concluding the year on a positive note and paving the way for his championship-winning performance in 2021.
Maintaining his remarkable performance, he carried his impressive form into the 2022 season, concluding the year with a remarkable 14 victories, surpassing the number of wins he achieved during his championship-winning campaign. Nevertheless, despite his exceptional efforts, he came agonizingly close to the championship title, settling for second place just behind Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati).
At 26 years old, Razgatlioglu will depart from Yamaha at the end of the current season, seeking a fresh challenge after four seasons aboard the Yamaha YZF-R1. Both Yamaha and Razgatlioglu are still determined to compete for the championship in the 2023 season.
Commenting on the announcement, Razgatlioglu said, “I want to thank the entire Yamaha family for the love and respect they have shown me. Winning the World Championship was my dream when I signed with Yamaha, and we achieved that goal together. For the next season, I feel that I need a new challenge, and although there was an opportunity in MotoGP™, I didn’t feel the same connection with the MotoGP™ bike that I have with the superbike. But if I’m staying in WorldSBK, I need a new target, a new ambition. I regret leaving Yamaha, both the brand and the people, as we have a very good relationship, but change is part of any sport and is normal for any professional. So, a big thank you to Yamaha Motor Company, Yamaha Motor Europe, Yamaha Motor Turkiye, the Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK team, and especially my team.”
With Razgatlioglu’s contract expiring at the end of the 2023 season, his future was a subject of debate, having previously signed a two-year deal covering the 2022 and 2023 seasons. With his future now separate from Yamaha, Andrea Dosoli, Road Racing Manager of Yamaha Motor Europe, stated, “We regret to see Toprak leave Yamaha at the end of this season. We wanted to continue what has been an incredibly successful partnership, with the obvious highlight being the triple crown of rider, manufacturer, and team world championships we achieved together in 2021. We made what we felt was an offer that properly reflected Toprak’s value as a rider and ambassador for Yamaha, as well as the competitiveness of our racing package and our racing strategy within the WorldSBK platform.”
“However, as negotiations progressed, it became clear to both parties that Toprak is motivated to embrace a new challenge in 2024, and we respect his decision. While our paths diverge at the end of the year, we are now fully focused on the battle for the 2023 SBK world title, which resumes shortly at Misano. Lastly, I would like to thank Toprak on behalf of Yamaha, but also personally, for his invaluable contribution to our SBK project. His first World Championship title in 2021 was a deserving reward for him, but also for all the people who have worked hard to make this project a success since our return to SBK in 2016. It is a memory that everyone at Yamaha will cherish. We wish Toprak all the success in the future, but for now, we have a job to finish.”