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Toprak Razgatlioglu joins Pata Yamaha for 2020 WorldSBK season

Toprak Razgatlioglu exits Kawasaki and is officially confirmed alongside Michael van der Mark at Pata Yamaha for the 2020 WorldSBK season 

Toprak Razgatlioglu has been officially confirmed as joining the Pata Yamaha team alongside Michael van der Mark for the 2020 WorldSBK season.

The Turkish rider has long been rumoured to be joining the factory Yamaha outfit – which is run by Crescent Racing – after Alex Lowes revealed in August he had been dropped by the manufacturer. The Briton’s exit was officially confirmed on Sunday, paving the way for Razgatlioglu.

Razgatlioglu’s Pata Yamaha move comes days after he notched up the first WorldSBK wins of his young career at Magny-Cours with the privateer Puccetti Kawasaki team.

van der Mark – who in fourth overall is just ahead of Ragatlioglu in the overall standings – will head into his third season with the Pata Yamaha team, with both riders set to race the all-new 2020 Yamaha R1.

“Toprak Razgatlioglu is the most exciting young rider in WorldSBK and I'm both happy and proud that he will race for Yamaha in 2020,” said Eric de Seynes, Yamaha Motor Europe President. “When you consider Toprak's progression this year, only his second in WorldSBK, his prodigious talent is obvious, but so is his warrior spirit. 

“Like his teammate for next season, Michael van der Mark, he's a rider who always finds that little bit extra on race day and is prepared to push to the limit to overcome any obstacle. We saw that clearly in Magny-Cours, where he came from the sixth row of the grid to claim his first WorldSBK race win. 

“We have also seen this season that Yamaha has closed the gap to our rivals on track and I'm excited to see what Toprak can do on our Yamaha YZF-R1 in 2020. With Michael and Toprak I think we will have one of the strongest and most dynamic rider line ups on the WorldSBK grid next year."

Yamaha wins the race to sign Toprak Razgatlioglu

Though this announcement has been anticipated for some weeks, Yamaha’s successful move to get the signature every manufacturer wanted is still a significant one.

In a series that has struggled to bring on a fresh new generation to take on seasoned winners like Jonathan Rea, Chaz Davies and – to a certain extent when based on his experience – Alvaro Bautista, Razgatlioglu has been a veritable breath of fresh air and not just because it’s a different name.

Indeed, watching Razgatlioglu on track is a thrill; his raw, aggressive and expressive riding style making him a big hit with fans and commentators as he moves the Kawasaki ZX-10RR around like it doesn’t have electronics. 

Matched up with the super-smooth Rea, it’s fun to see both get very different responses from their Kawasaki machines whilst being almost undistinguishable on the timesheets.

Though it has taken him almost two years to get those elusive win(s), his 10 podiums in the run up to two perfectly executed wins from 16th on the grid were indicative of the potential that is clearly on the cusp of bursting into success.

There are clearly rough edges – he’s not economical on the tyres and he has struggled for single lap pace in qualifying – but of all the riders on the WorldSBK grid, Razgatlioglu is seen as the one with the most potential still to show.

The big question mark will be the new Yamaha R1 and, more specifically, if he can adapt that riding style to the new package. Is this a case of one step back for two steps forward?

Is Yamaha’s gain, Kawasaki’s loss?

Yes and no. It was hard to see where Razgatlioglu fitted into Kawasaki’s vision. 

Of course, a move into the factory Kawasaki Racing Team would seem a no-brainer – not least because he is ahead of Leon Haslam in the standings - but there would be opposition to him being paired with Rea to unsettle what is currently a harmonious environment that is popular with bosses.

Kawasaki would have wanted to keep Razgatlioglu at Puccetti on a de facto third Kawasaki entry, but that would have been a difficult sell given his form versus KRT and the fact he has no achieved everything he could with the Italian outfit. 

Ironically, Razgatlioglu’s move to Yamaha could be seen as detrimental to Haslam, as it frees up Alex Lowes – also well-liked amongst top brass in Japan – to potentially pinch his KRT seat. Then again, if he goes to Puccetti then Haslam will have a bike underneath him that can seemingly win races.

There is also the matter of backing. Razgtalioglu is sponsored by Red Bull, which is directly at odds with Kawasaki's major sponsor Monster Energy.

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