Could Toprak Razgatlioglu make the switch from WorldSBK to MotoGP?

Kenan Sofuoglu says MotoGP won't be ruled out for his protege Toprak Razgatlioglu in future potentially but insists he must succeed in WorldSBK first

Toprak Razgatlioglu - Yamaha WorldSBK 1200

Toprak Razgatlioglu could turn his attention towards a move into MotoGP  provided he achieves his ‘dream’ of clinching the WorldSBK Championship first, according to his manager and mentor Kenan Sofuoglu.

The Turkish rider has been one of the more exciting additions to the WorldSBK field in recent years, his aggressive and flamboyant riding style making him a firm favourite among fans and earning a wealth of respect from riders, including WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea.

A two-time race winner in 2019 on a privateer Kawasaki, Razgatlioglu switched to the factory Pata Yamaha squad in 2020, reeling off three more successes en route to fourth in the standings during a season in which the Yamaha wasn’t quite on par with its Kawasaki and Ducati rivals.

EVERY new motorcycle being launched in 2021 (Part 1)

For now, many tip Razgatlioglu as the rider - along with Scott Redding - most likely to dethrone Rea from the top of the WorldSBK order after six years of dominance from the Ulsterman. 

Indeed, while Yamaha hasn’t produced a WorldSBK Champion since Ben Spies in 2009, it has been suggested Razgatlioglu’s switch to the Iwata firm could act as a prelude to a potential move into MotoGP.

It’s a career path Sofuoglu - a five-time WorldSSP Champion himself - admits he has been foreseen and discussed, though he emphasises it will only ever happen provided the 24-year old succeeds at Superbike level first.

“There was already interest in Toprak from the MotoGP class,” Sofuoglu told Speedweek.de. “It was a good offer from a good team, but our goal for 2020 was the Superbike World Championship. When I took him to the Superstock 1000 EM at the time, I made it clear to him that a few years in the Superbike World Championship are important for him.

“If Toprak wins everything in the Superbike World Championship in 2021 and receives an offer from a works team, I will reschedule. Toprak would like to advance to the MotoGP World Championship. But our plan is for him to achieve something historic in the Superbike World Championship and become a legend."

Would Toprak Razgatlioglu succeed in a MotoGP move?

Whereas WorldSBK could be seen as a valuable alternative route into MotoGP a decade ago, today the traffic largely flows one way from MotoGP with numerous racers - such as Alvaro Bautista, Scott Redding (indirectly) and now Tito Rabat - making the switch recently.

Indeed, WorldSBK isn’t exactly a hotbed for fresh new talent at the moment but Razgatlioglu is an intriguing prospect, not least because he largely steals every scene he is in with his distinctive riding style that makes him a force of nature on race days particularly - let us not forget he won his first two races from 16th on the grid.

It is notable the move to the more corporate surroundings of Yamaha appears to have smoothed his style on and off the bike and while some will miss his erstwhile raw edge on the Kawasaki, areas such as qualifying and consistency have otherwise improved.

While the current hive of talent rising through the ranks suggests Yamaha may not take a punt on bringing Razgatlioglu into MotoGP directly from WorldSBK, he is an attractive proposition for Dorna to tap into a sizeable Turkish market after Sofuoglu’s brief sojourn to Moto2 failed to succeed.

EVERY new motorcycle being launched in 2021 (Part 2)