Toprak Razgatlioglu leads Yamaha's refreshed 2023 WorldSBK charge

Yamaha has launched its 2023 WorldSBK teams, with GMT94 moving up to join the factory Pata Yamaha team, GRT, and Motoxracing for the upcoming season.

2023 Yamaha WorldSBK launch

WorldSBK is less than one month away from the start of the 2023 season, and that means team launch season for the production derivative series is well underway. The four Yamaha teams has now joined the factory Ducati squad in launching its 2023 outfit.

Two manufacturers and five teams have now launched for 2023. Ducati kicked it all off on 23 January when it launched the factory Aruba.it Racing team alongside its factory team for the 2023 MotoGP season at Madonna di Campiglio; and now Yamaha has launched all four of its teams for the WorldSBK upcoming season. 

Overview

Aruba.it Racing Ducati - Alvaro Bautista unveils #1 plate ahead of WorldSBK title defence

Yamaha - Toprak Razgatlioglu heads Yamaha's 2023 challenge, seeks to regain world title

Yamaha

Yamaha goes about racing in WorldSBK quite differently to the other manufacturers. The opposite end of the spectrum to Yamaha would be Kawasaki, who give very little support to the teams outside of its factory squad, but Yamaha's launch of its 2023 WorldSBK programme is indicative of its own approach. 

Instead of launching only its factory team, Yamaha launched all four of the teams that will be running Yamaha machinery in 2023: Pata Yamaha Prometeon, GYRT GRT Yamaha, Motoxracing, and GMT94.

All are well-known in some way in circuit racing. The factory Pata Yamaha Prometeon team might have grabbed new sponsorship for 2023, but it is of course the same outfit which took Toprak Razgatlioglu to the world title in 2021.

GYRT GRT, on the other hand, has struggled in the last season-and-a-half or so since Garrett Gerloff's form dropped off after Assen 2021, but it also took Gerloff to what has so far been the peak of his WorldSBK career when he was a constant podium threat in the back-half of 2020 and into the beginning of 2021. A new line-up for the team in 2023 sees two-time reigning WorldSSP Champion Dominique Aegerter join 2021 Moto2 World Champion Remy Gardner in what will be a debut campaign in the top production derivative category for both. 

Motoxracing and GMT94 will be compared this year because they are both Yamaha teams running only one motorcycle. However, while GMT94 will run the whole series, Motoxracing will only compete in the European rounds - therefore, their season with 2022 British Superbike Champion Bradley Ray will begin in Assen in April. As for GMT, their experience at Endurance World Championship level is unquestionable, but in WorldSSP in the past couple of seasons it has not been a smooth transition into sprint racing. Moving up to the 1000cc class could be a struggle, but it would also be unjustified to count such an experienced team out of a good season before it has started, and with a rider like Lorenzo Baldassarri a good season is certainly on the cards for the French squad. 

Toprak Razgatlıoğlu said: “Everybody knows now, my goal is to win as many races as possible! It is not easy, because all riders are strong but I am happy with the work Yamaha and the team have done this winter. Good for me to be back on my bike, I am happy for this, and we have many improvements to try during the tests. In Jerez, I saw very good lap time, okay not the record but very close – now we continue working, because we cannot stop. It is nice to see the new Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK colour – looks good I think! We keep working now to continue make everything better, but very soon we are ready to race.”

Andrea Locatelli said: “It has been a really short winter, which for a rider is good! I am really happy to start the season again – for sure my objective is to continue to work step-by-step, but I think we can do very well this year. We finished the season in a good way in Indonesia and Australia, of course I want to close the gap to the front and fight for the podium, and to try to win! Last week in Jerez was just the first two days in the dry, so we still have some work to do these days in Portimão, but I am looking forward to the first round in Australia. The bike looks really nice, with the new colours and everything, and it is great to continue with Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK for our third season together.”

Remy Gardner said: "Finally, I can see myself in blue! I'm excited about this new chapter, new paddock, and new bike; I'm thrilled. The team and Yamaha have been great, and we have enjoyed a good chemistry since the very first test. I can’t wait to start the season in Phillip Island. I am looking forward to starting a new project, and the championship looks very exciting. We'll keep working during the test days, trying to extract as much potential as possible to be ready for the first round of the season."

Dominique Aegerter said: "I'm really looking forward to riding the new colours on track, I love the scheme, and I can't wait to show you on track the new livery. It's cool, and I hope you'll like it and we hope it will also be fast at every circuit, which is the most important thing. It's nice to be part of the Yamaha and GRT family, we already enjoyed good times in the first pre-season tests, and I believe we're working well together. We aim to improve consistently at each round, and I'm confident we can achieve this. l cannot wait for Phillip Island to begin a new, thrilling championship."

Aruba.it Racing Ducati

The Aruba.it Racing Ducati team has launched its 2023 WorldSBK campaign today (23 January), and has confirmed Alvaro Bautista will run the #1 plate this year.

WorldSBK has had a rider run #1 every year since 2014, with it passing from Tom Sykes to now Alvaro Bautista via Sylvain Guintoli, Jonathan Rea and Toprak Razgatlioglu. Additionally, the only reason there was no #1 plate in WorldSBK in 2013 was because Max Biaggi retired at the end of 2012. Therefore, the last rider to win the title and choose to stay with their regular number was Carlos Checa in 2012. That was also the last time Ducati defended the WorldSBK title, but Alvaro Bautista's defence will be carried out with his regular #19 replaced with the #1.

This was confirmed in the Aruba.it Racing Ducati 2023 team launch which took place today (23 January 2023) simultaneously with the Ducati Lenovo Team launch for the factory MotoGP squad of the Bologna brand. 

Bautista and Ducati were very much the dominant force in WorldSBK last year, winning the title with only two DNFs - only one the fault of Bautista himself - and with races to spare. 

Bautista's teammate will remain Michael Ruben Rinaldi for 2023. Although there was pressure from the likes of Axel Bassani at some points in 2023, Ducati has stuck with the #21 for 2023. Certainly, he has a good relationship with Bautista, one which certainly did not impede the Spaniard's run to the 2022 title. Will Rinaldi win in 2023? Races - possibly. Championship - no, but that's not why he's there, no matter how much he would no doubt like to be.

Alvaro Bautista said: "We have a new challenge ahead of us. After a fantastic season in which we won with Ducati in both Superbike and MotoGP, 2023 will inevitably be a difficult year. Racing with the number 1, in fact, means that our objective can only be one: to win. We'll have a lot of pressure but at the same time we'll have to keep calm, try to work with high concentration but also with serenity. We'll have a new bike and even if it won't be extremely different from the 2022 one, the work that we’ll be able to do before the first race is crucial: we have to fix all the details that will allow us to get the best performance.

"I'd also like to address a thought to all the Ducatisti: I'm very proud of all our fans who followed us last season, and I hope that with the result we've achieved, in 2023 there will be even more of them supporting us at circuits all over the world. I am a Ducatista and I feel lucky to be able to defend the colours of the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team."

 
Michael Rinaldi said: "I start this new adventure with great enthusiasm. Together with my team we have always made progress in the last two years, managing to improve our results. As a team we won the three titles last season and this means that the package is very strong. During the winter, we have analyzed the points we have to focus on, in order to improve and to be competitive for the title race.

"I have worked a lot over the last few weeks and I will continue to do so with great dedication as I want to  always be able to express my maximum potential. There will be a lot of new things, also on the bike, so I can't wait to get started. I want to thank Aruba and Ducati for the opportunity to ride this beautiful Panigale V4 R and be part of such an ambitious team". 

Whether you consider that Bautista won because of the Ducati Panigale V4 R; Ducati won because of Bautista; or that they both won because of each other and how they worked together, it is impossible to deny that the Spanish-Italian pairing will be the one with the target placed on its back for the upcoming WorldSBK season, which will begin on 24-26 February 2023 in Phillip Island, Australia.

Ducati Panigale V4S (2022) Full Review &Test Ride

Ducati Panigale V4S (2022) Full Review & Test Ride