Toprak Razgatlioglu hints at earlier-than-planned 2023 MotoGP move

Toprak Razgatlioglu confirms he will test the Yamaha M1 MotoGP bike in 2022, which might lead to him chasing an earlier-than-anticipated move for 2023

Toprak Razgatlioglu

New WorldSBK Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu has revealed he could evaluate a move into the MotoGP World Championship in 2023, despite signing a two year deal to remain in Superbikes with Yamaha.

The Turkish rider raised eyebrows earlier in the year when he rejected an offer to move into MotoGP for 2022 with the then Petronas SRT Yamaha squad (now WithU RNF Racing), instead choosing to pen a new two-year WorldSBK contract with Yamaha that would take him to the end of the 2023 season.

At the time he said he wanted to focus on becoming Turkey’s first FIM WorldSBK Champion, an achievement he would go on to achieve perhaps earlier than anticipated in 2021 when he dethroned Jonathan Rea from the title-winners’ perch after six seasons.

Now it seems Razgatlioglu and his manager/mentor Kenan Sofuoglu could be having a change of heart, with the man himself confirming rumours that he will ride the Yamaha M1 in ‘a couple of private tests’ next year before hinting he might look at making the switch in 2023 rather than 2024.

“I will try the M1 in a couple of private tests in 2022,” GPOne reports. “In these days I will be with Cal Crutchlow and I hope to make my debut in MotoGP in 2023 even if now all my concentration if on WorldSBK for next season.”

Where does Toprak Razgatlioglu fit into Yamaha’s MotoGP future?

It’s no secret that Yamaha is very keen to get Razgatlioglu into MotoGP as soon as possible.

Not many MotoGP teams turn to WorldSBK for potential riders in the modern era since the two series’ were pushed further apart under Dorna’s stewardship, but Razgatlioglu is certainly a special talent that has succeeded and stood out in what is a more unconventional route to the top.

However, it is credit to Razgatlioglu to recognise his unique style of riding - which has been honed meticulously through the production ranks - may not be immediately suited to MotoGP were he to make the jump too quickly.

These private tests should confirm or otherwise that Razgatlioglu is capable of making the jump and it’s clear Yamaha certainly hopes he is.

As for where he could feature in the team should he become interested in a 2023 seat, right now only Franco Morbidelli is a certainty on the factory Yamaha M1, while the Iwata firm will be doing everything to ensure it holds onto its title-winner Fabio Quartararo.

Which leaves the satellite WithU RNF team. Rumour has it Razgatlioglu has agreed to be the team’s reserve - with Cal Crutchlow the factory reserve - a role that was certainly utilised in 2021 due to Morbidelli’s injury and Maverick Vinales’ ejection.

Beyond 2022, it’s likely Andrea Dovizioso will only have agreed to  1+1 contract (certain for 2022 with an option depending on performance for 2023), while the high-profile risk of promoting Darryn Binder from Moto3 means even if he has a 1+1 contract, there will be more get-out opportunities for 2023 from RNF Racing’s side.

Moreover, there are two other big reasons as to why Razgatlioglu would be a popular choice for the RNF team in 2023… firstly, he is likely to come with big backing from a Turkish nation getting behind its first MotoGP rider and secondly, he is - unlike Binder - likely to get a factory-spec M1 to fight with.