Toprak Razgatlioglu set to exit Yamaha for BMW in 2024

Toprak Razgatlioglu set to exit Yamaha for BMW in 2024

Toprak Razgatlioglu’s shocking announcement that he would quit Yamaha and join BMW for 2024 stunned the motorcycle racing community and the Turkish rider has eventually shared more details about his choice.

Toprak Razgatlioglu has signed a deal with the ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team and will be racing for the German outfit in the World Superbike Championship starting 2024.

This announcement comes only a few hours earlier after it was confirmed that the Turkish rider will be departing Yamaha at the end of 2023.

Toprak had previously been mentioned in connection with a prospective transition to MotoGP in 2024, but he claimed on that clarification that he didn’t feel the same connection with the MotoGP bike in the same way that he does with the Superbike. He added that he needs a new objective if he wants to stay in WorldSBK.

Toprak Razgatlioglu bravely switched from Kawasaki to Yamaha four years ago and has remained a loyal Yamaha rider ever since. However, everyone was taken aback by the most recent switch from Yamaha to BMW. Razgatlioglu spoke about the reasons behind his switch in a recent interview with WorldSBK.com.

“I need a new challenge,” said Toprak Razgatlioglu. “Not everything is about money, Yamaha know this.

“I sign with BMW [for 2024] and everybody not believe that this bike is a winning bike. Now I am just thinking I show all people that this bike is possible of winning.

“Ducati have the best bike in the Superbike paddock. If I go to Ducati I am winning the Championship, this is not special for me, [this is why] I have gone to a different brand for this.

“Yamaha were not Champions for 12 years and we made them World Champion again. Now I jump to a different brand, and this brand have never been World Champion.

“This is my big dream, to become World Champion with this new brand, for me this is my big goal.”

Toprak broke Jonathan Rea’s six-year dominance of the title in 2021, beating the Kawasaki rider by 13 points at the end of a thrilling season-long battle. Toprak lost the title to Alvaro Bautista last year, but the two of them together with Rea gave fans one of the most exciting seasons in recent history.

Many will be surprised by the decision given the challenges that BMW riders currently face in WorldSBK. Given that Scott Redding, formerly at Yamaha is in 15th place in the championship with a highest finish of seventh after the first 12 races, Michael van der Mark also originally from Yamaha is out of action with an injury following a severe crash at Assen.

The single victory for the German manufacturer over the recent time period came in the wet 2021 Superpole Race at Portimao, thanks to Van der Mark. Prior to that, Chaz Davies won the BMW feature race at the Nürburgring in 2013.

“Toprak is undoubtedly one of the best riders in the field at the moment, which he not only proved by winning the 2021 World Championship title,” BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director Marc Bongers said. “But he’s not just a fast motorcycle racer, he’s also a great personality off the track.

“We are convinced that Toprak will settle into the BMW Motorrad Motorsport family very quickly. We are looking forward to our collaboration and to our future together.”

Who will be leaving the factory BMW team as a result of Razgatlioglu’s arrival is not yet known. Redding has a “multiple year” contract while Van der Mark’s contract expires at the end of the season, it’s said that Redding is growing frustrated with the German team, especially after missing out on a point in Barcelona.

Before joining BMW last year, the 2019 Bennetts British Superbike Champion was a regular front-runner and race winner for Ducati. He will undoubtedly be high on manufacturers’ wish lists for 2024.

Razgatlioglu still has 21 races on a Yamaha in WorldSBK with seven rounds of the 2023 World Superbike Championship remaining. The Turkish rider is now in second place after five rounds, although he is 86 points behind Alvaro Bautista, who is leading the Championship.

WorldSBK will be arriving at Donington Park this weekend for the British leg of the Championship. The British round was claimed by Razgatlioglu three times last year, and he finished the weekend with the most points possible.

“Now I am thinking UK and Donington Park, as this is my favourite track,” said Razgatlioglu ahead of this weekends WorldSBK action.

“I hope at Donington Park we win three races, if we start very strong and win the races then we can put the pressure on Alvaro [Bautista].”

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