Jorge Martin vs Toprak Razgatlioglu - Who should Yamaha choose?

Yamaha holds the only factory MotoGP seat that could become available following the 2023 season, and should Franco Morbidelli not be retained, two contenders in Jorge Martin and Toprak Razgatlioglu are leading the way when it comes to potentially replacing him - but which rider should Yamaha choose?
Toprak Razgatlioglu, Yamaha World Superbike Portimao
Toprak Razgatlioglu, Yamaha World Superbike Portimao

While Morbidelli is not out of the running to remain at Yamaha beyond the 2023 MotoGP season, it’s unlikely that the Italian will be retained if drastic improvements are not made.

Just three seasons ago Morbidelli was the runner-up to Joan Mir, however, 2022 saw the former Honda rider finish 19th while team-mate Fabio Quartararo was second.

Just as worrying for Morbidelli was the points difference between both riders as Quartararo ended the year on 248 points, a total that was 206 clear of Morbidelli.

With Yamaha keen to explore different options going forward, it means two riders are currently leading the way to become Quartararo’s future team-mate.

Yamaha have made it no secret that they would like to bring Razgatlioglu to MotoGP, after the WorldSBK rider has been phenomenal since joining Yamaha in 2020.

A world title win in 2021 was backed up by another stunning performance last season, even though the championship went the way of Alvaro Bautista

Lin Jarvis even confirmed midway through last season that they should have signed Razgatlioglu to partner Quartararo for the 2023 season - the Turkish star has already gathered MotoGP experience thanks to a test alongside Cal Crutchlow.

Razgatlioglu, who is now 26 years of age, is unlikely to have many more opportunities to make the switch to MotoGP given the talent already in the premier class, but also Moto2 and Moto3, which is why the 2024 season appears to be his best bet. 

Toprak Razgatlioglu , Superpole Race, Australian WorldSBK, 20 November
Toprak Razgatlioglu , Superpole Race, Australian WorldSBK, 20 November

Another factor to consider is WorldSBK riders rarely move to MotoGP, in fact, moves going in the opposite direction have been much more frequent over the last few seasons.

However, Yamaha have not been shy to make such a move as they brought Ben Spies across following the American’s triumph in 2009. 

Although switching from WorldSBK to MotoGP has been rare, as has riders moving directly into a factory team, Razgatlioglu has proven time and time again that he’s a unique talent and one Yamaha can’t let get away.

But Razgatlioglu is not the only rider who has a chance of replacing Morbidelli as Martin has emerged as a serious contender.

The Ducati rider missed out on the opportunity to partner Francesco Bagnaia at the factory Lenovo Ducati team, after Enea Bastianini was picked ahead of the Spaniard. 

While Bastianini’s results were undisputed and made him the clear choice, Martin was disappointed to lose out to the Italian. The former Moto3 champion has also admitted that leaving Ducati for a factory seat is something he would consider.

Martin reportedly has a clause in his contract that means he can leave the Bologna-based manufacturer after the 2023 season, which is why negotiations have already begun between Yamaha and Martin, according to Men On Wheels.

But who should Yamaha choose if it comes down to Martin and Razgatlioglu?

Starting with the MotoGP rider, Martin has repeatedly shown that he is one of the fastest riders in the premier class.


Over one lap there is little dispute that Martin is among the top three riders, if not the outright quickest. The Pramac rider, who has been tagged with the nickname ‘Pole Hound’, also claimed a victory in his rookie season, showing just how strong he can be.

It’s obvious that Martin is one of the most talented riders on the grid, but is that enough?

Staying fit has been a problem for Martin so far in his career, while consistency during his two seasons in MotoGP has also been an issue at times.

That can’t be said about Razgatlioglu, as the Pata Yamaha rider has been incredible over the last two WorldSBK seasons in particular.

Razgatlioglu has claimed 58 podiums from his last 73 races, which includes 27 wins over the last two years. 

Martin has the greater MotoGP experience and the talent to make him a championship contender, however, the latter could also be said about Razgatlioglu, who has delivered in big moments for Yamaha.

Should Yamaha choose to go with Martin then they could also risk losing Razgatlioglu, whether that be to another manufacturer in WorldSBK such as Ducati, or in MotoGP.

If we were in Yamaha shoes, then the nod would be given to Razgatlioglu at this stage.

Contenders to join Yamaha should they secure a new MotoGP Satellite team

Another key storyline to follow in 2023 is whether Yamaha will secure a satellite team for 2024.

Rumours linking Valentino Rossi’s Mooney VR46 Ducati team with a switch to Yamaha were confirmed by FIM president, Jorge Viegas, last month, although no official confirmation has been made by Yamaha to suggest this will happen.

What we do know is that Yamaha would like to switch back to having two teams/four bikes.

So which riders could be in contention for a satellite seat should the Japanese manufacturer secure a deal?

Like Razgatlioglu, another WorldSBK rider could find himself in contention to make the switch - that rider is Remy Gardner who will contest the 2023 season with GRT Yamaha.

Gardner endured a tough rookie season with Tech 3 KTM in 2022, however, the former Moto2 champion has admitted he would like a return to Grand Prix racing at some stage.

Remy Gardner, MotoGP race, Valencia MotoGP, 6 November
Remy Gardner, MotoGP race, Valencia MotoGP, 6 November

And although Gardner is yet to take part in a WorldSBK race, expectations are high for the Australian. A strong rookie season would do wonders for his attempts to either secure a Pata Yamaha seat or switch back to MotoGP. 

As we saw with Garrett Gerloff during the 2020 season, impressive speed and results were enough to attract the interest of Yamaha’s MotoGP hierarchy.

So much so that Gerloff was drafted in to replace Rossi during Friday practice at the season-finale in Valencia, following a positive Covid-19 test for the nine-time world champion. 

Gerloff was then brought in to replace Morbidelli for the Dutch Grand Prix at Assen in 2021. 

Another name to watch out for is Gardner’s former team-mate Raul Fernandez. The Spaniard, who like Gardner struggled in 2022, was then signed by the new Aprilia RNF team.

A very promising opportunity given Aprilia’s improved RS-GP22 machine last year, Fernandez could become the rider many expected after his stunning rookie season in Moto2 (2021).

Should Fernandez start to churn out impressive results then a move to Yamaha appears unlikely. But with that said, Yamaha holds a long-standing interest in Fernandez and a switch could be something to consider if things don’t work out with Aprilia. 

There could also be a raft of options when it comes to Moto2 riders as Tony Arbolino, Celestino Vietti, Aron Canet, Jake Dixon and Izan Guevara could emerge as potential contenders for a satellite seat.  

There is of course the possibility that Yamaha could move Morbidelli into a satellite seat should he deliver good results in 2023.

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