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Razgatlioglu launches 2025 MotoGP seat bid - but is it viable?

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
5 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

World Superbike points leader Toprak Razgatlioglu will try to leverage his phenomenal current form in the production bike series into a move to MotoGP as early as 2025, according to his manager Kenan Sofuoglu.

A consistent peripheral presence in MotoGP rider market talk since he burst onto the scene as a Superbike frontrunner, Razgatlioglu looked to have thrown in the towel on his grand prix racing ambitions when he split with Yamaha last year, shortly after testing its MotoGP bike.

But BMW's open flirtation with a potential MotoGP entry for its new rules in 2027, combined with the 27-year-old Turk's instant impact as a BMW employee, charted a plausible if only medium-term path for Razgatlioglu to make the switch after all.

Kenan Sofuoglu and Toprak Razgatlioglu

Now, however, Sofuoglu - himself a five-time World Supersport champion - has told German-language outlet Speedweek.com that his protege is seeking a MotoGP future as early as possible.

Sofuoglu has remarkably claimed that he has "already informed" BMW of Razgatlioglu's desire to leave World Superbikes at the end of this year.

Razgatlioglu's arrival at BMW has been transformative for its WSBK programme. It had won all of one race between the start of 2014 and the end of last year, but Razgatlioglu already has six wins in 12 BMW starts, including a dominant clean sweep of the three races last time out at Misano.

Toprak Razgatlioglu

He is leading the title race one-third of the way into the calendar, although he remains within one full-distance race's worth of points for Ducati duo Nicolo Bulega and Alvaro Bautista, whose WSBK dominance from the years prior has been curbed by new weight rules.

"Toprak's performances are outstanding. This moment in his life, he wants to use it to make the change. That's what I told BMW," said Sofuoglu.

But he also acknowledged that Razgatlioglu is under contract with BMW and that it would take the agreement of all parties for the switch to happen.

Why would BMW agree?

Toprak Razgatlioglu BMW World Superbike 2024

BMW has already made its intentions clear to continue with Razgatlioglu and his current team-mate Michael van der Mark in 2025.

It faces its best chance at a WSBK crown this year, but there is no guarantee Razgatlioglu will romp to the championship - and for beyond this year, letting him walk would effectively mean setting the programme on fire.

That is a reflection of how well Razgatlioglu has done. His 179 points are 57 more than van der Mark and satellite team Bonovo's riders Garrett Gerloff and Scott Redding have come up with combined. It has been a genuine demolition job.

But it's also making Razgatlioglu irreplaceable, especially as BMW would have to commit to a plan of action well before it knows whether he will win it the title this year or not.

There are some good riders on the market, including those who will eye a change of paddocks after losing out in MotoGP's game of musical chairs, but there are none you would back to have anywhere near a Razgatlioglu-level impact.

Sofugolu's pitch there appears to be that it could also be a long-term play for BMW because "we all know BMW wants to enter MotoGP" - and thus, presumably, allowing Razgatlioglu to explore that category would prepare him to potentially spearhead BMW’s efforts in 2027.

But even if BMW does confirm a MotoGP foray, it would mean sacrificing more shots at WSBK glory for developing a premier-class candidate who will be 30 by the time the hypothetical BMW MotoGP bike makes its race debut.

Would a MotoGP team take him?

Mugello MotoGP 2024

To make a '25 move happen, Razgatlioglu will presumably have to agree to a satellite ride because there is virtually nothing available on the factory ride market.

The Race understands that Aprilia's Maverick Vinales-vacated seat is set to be filled officially any day now, barring any last-minute wrench in the plans. Honda has reportedly held on to Joan Mir. That only leaves Yamaha - the same Yamaha with which Razgatlioglu had that MotoGP test that seemed to leave a sour taste for everyone involved.

The Razgatlioglu camp's contention about that Aragon runout is that the bike was not adapted enough to Razgatlioglu, and thus that the laptimes it produced are not representative of his potential in the premier class.

But Yamaha itself took enough stock in those laptimes to effectively take Razgatlioglu out of the running to replace Franco Morbidelli last year (ultimately making a successful play for Alex Rins instead), with Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis going on record to say getting the most out of Razgatlioglu in MotoGP would be a medium-term project.

Sofuoglu claims there is a lot of interest in the MotoGP paddock in Razgatlioglu now, and that's eminently believable because he has been lights-out in WSBK, clearly a cut above, clearly something special.

But any team that makes him an offer now would have to reckon with a possibility of a lengthy adaptation process - there are many who aren't convinced MotoGP's Michelin rubber will work as well for him as WSBK's Pirellis do - and also the possibility that adaptation will never pay off.

Perhaps that could be made to work by a satellite team with factory blessing and a proven option on the other side of the garage. It is why the idea of Razgatlioglu to Tech3 KTM has made some sense in the past - and still would, except Tech3 is already extremely set with major new recruits Vinales and Enea Bastianini.

Why would Toprak do this?

Toprak Razgatlioglu

That one's the easiest - because it's clearly his dream.

A roll of the dice for Razgatlioglu would not be without its risks - in the short-term at least it would mean fewer trophies and lower earnings, at least in terms of rider salary.

But his stock has never been higher. And while waiting for BMW to decide one way or another on a MotoGP entry for 2027 might be the smart-money play, that would restrict him to an age-30 debut.

Whereas now, if he comes over and fails, there will always be someone interested on the WSBK grid for him to pick up where he left off. How could there not be, after the events of this year so far?

So, it's worth a try. But making it worth BMW's while, and selling a MotoGP partner on it, are two obstacles that feel, if not unassailable, then certainly close to it.

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