Could Toprak Razgatlioglu answer Yamaha MotoGP call if Valentino Rossi retires?

Could WorldSBK title contender Toprak Razgatlioglu be moving himself into a candidacy for a MotoGP ride in 2022 if Valentino Rossi retires? 

Toprak Razgatlioglu - Pata Yamaha WorldSBK

Toprak Razgatlioglu returned to winning ways in the WorldSBK Championship this weekend with an accomplished victory at Misano in what is a timely bounce back to the headlines amid possible MotoGP openings at Yamaha.

His seventh podium of the season from nine races but the first time he has made it to the top step, coupled with a pair of second place results from Race 1 and the Superpole Race, Razgatlioglu now leads the chase to Jonathan Rea with 20 points separating the former stablemates.

Razgatlioglu’s success brings an end to a particularly frustrating victory drought that has seen him lead several races this year, only to end up second or third.

However, in race two Razgatlioglu was able to regroup from an early misstep before grabbing the lead from double race winner Michael Ruben Rinaldi on lap eight before getting the hammer down to home. A first win of the year for Yamaha too, Razgatlioglu is relieved to get it out of the way.

“I am really happy, because this weekend we worked really hard to make a good bike. Two races, second position in both – I say, ok, last race, now I need to win! Because too much second, second, second, second, I need the first win! I’m so happy because I just ride without stress, I enjoyed it 

Could Toprak Razgatlioglu replace Valentino Rossi for 2022 MotoGP?

Razgatlioglu’s return to the winners’ circle comes at a potentially crucial time for his career amid growing speculation he could be one of the riders in the running for a Yamaha MotoGP ride for 2022.

Much is dependent on whether Rossi follows through on the anticipation of him retiring at the end of the season, though a decision is unlikely to be made public until August or September. 

However, Rossi’s ride isn’t the only potential seat up for grabs after factory Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales sounded the klaxon for alternative arrangements from 2023 onwards based on comments from the Catalunya MotoGP round, a move that may lead to a change in his current deal.

Either way, if a seat in the Yamaha fold does open up then there is no obvious Moto2/3 target that Yamaha has an interest in, though Petronas SRT would no doubt be keen to bring on either Xavi Vierge and Jake Dixon, even if neither are enjoying particularly sparkling seasons.

By contrast, Razgatlioglu has firmly established himself as Yamaha’s WorldSBK talisman on an R1 many suspect isn’t ultimately as competitive as the Kawasaki and Ducati contingent he is mixing with, as demonstrated by the struggles of new team-mate Andrea Locatelli.

With his active riding style and dedicated training programme overseen by WorldSSP legend Kenan Sofuoglu often earmarking him as a rider capable of making the increasingly rare bridge from WorldSBK to MotoGP, talk of a shot at the premier class has followed Razgatlioglu around since he penned a deal with Yamaha in 2019.

However, he has always batted the question away, with that mantra emerging again this weekend when he told “WIll I replace him at Petronas? I don’t know, I’m happy here in Superbike”, while Sofuoglu has said before he would only consider MotoGP if he won the WorldSBK first.

However, if an offer comes it will be before the end of the 2021 WorldSBK season and with MotoGP increasingly difficult to find a position, more so when you haven’t ascended through Moto3 and Moto2, the can Razgatlioglu afford to wait for such an opportunity again.