Yamaha boss reveals No1 hope for 2024 line-up - and it's not Toprak Razgatlioglu

Toprak Razgatlioglu is not Yamaha's No 1 choice for their line-up next season, says managing director Lin Jarvis, who would rather Franco Morbidelli continues to show the speed needed to stay alongside Fabio Quartararo.
Toprak Razgatlioglu , Indonesian WorldSBK, 4 March
Toprak Razgatlioglu , Indonesian WorldSBK, 4 March

World Superbikes star Razgatlioglu completed a private test with Yamaha at Jerez earlier this week, and - with rival manufacturers also present - lap times soon leaked out suggesting a best by Razgatlioglu of 1m 38.860s after 116 laps over the two days.

It has been confirmed to Crash.net that Razgatlioglu’s best time was, as reported, 1.4s behind KTM’s Dani Pedrosa - the fastest rider on track - but closer to 1.0s from official Yamaha test rider Cal Crutchlow.

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Razgatlioglu (and Pramac Racing's Jorge Martin) have been linked with becoming Fabio Quartararo's teammate in the 2024 MotoGP rider line-up, taking the spot of the under-pressure Morbidelli. But unexpectedly heading into the MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas, Morbidelli has outscored his esteemed teammate Quartararo.

Yamaha boss Jarvis explained to MotoGP.com:  "The ideal scenario for us, to be honest, is that Franky continues to show the speed he displayed in [Argentina]. If Franky can continue to perform very well that's better for us right now and [would] automatically guarantee him continuity in the future.

"So really our number one choice would be to continue with Franky [in 2024].

"If not, we will be obliged to find another candidate and that's also why we were interested to look at Toprak, because in our Yamaha road racing world, he's obviously one of the prime candidates. But I hope Franky is able to continue this newly found speed and confidence."

In terms of Razgatlioglu's latest test, Jarvis said: "I think any rider eventually has an interest to try and see how they would do in MotoGP, so it was a chance for Toprak to start to understand better the needs for MotoGP and for us to see his speed.

"We can't say very much from two days of testing. I think the conclusion he would probably give you and from our side as well, is that it's very different riding an R1 on Pirelli tyres and riding a MotoGP M1 on Michelins. And you need more time to adapt.

"If I would sum it up, probably it was not easy for him to really get the feeling on the bike.

"If you watch Toprak riding a superbike he is able to do miracles, he has an incredibly good feeling on the front end in particular. We've seen that from his stoppies and incredible corner entry and braking.

"That was not so easy to find on the M1. The bike is much more rigid than the superbike, so really I think to gain the speed on a MotoGP bike he would need to adapt his style quite significantly."

Franco Morbidelli , Sprint Race, Argentina MotoGP, 1 April
Franco Morbidelli , Sprint Race, Argentina MotoGP, 1 April

As at Razgatlioglu's debut MotoGP test in Aragon last year, Crutchlow (who recently underwent knee surgery) was present to help Razgatlioglu adapt to a MotoGP bike at Jerez this week, having successfully made the transition from WorldSBK himself in 2011.

But as ever with testing, Razgatlioglu's one-off best lap time of 1m 38.860s only tells part of the story.

For example, how many time attacks did Razgatlioglu conduct? What was his average pace like? How much does he still need to adapt his spectacular riding style?

Crash.net understands that Razgatlioglu fitted several new tyres, in the final hour, to set his fastest lap time.

But perhaps more concerning in terms of a MotoGP move was that, during the middle of the day, he was said to be running 1m 40s while the fastest MotoGP test riders were setting ‘38s. The official Jerez race lap record is 1m 37.669s and pole record 1m 36.170s.

Of course, it was only Razgatlioglu’s second MotoGP outing, on a bike very different to his WorldSBK-spec R1. Razgatlioglu’s talent is also beyond question, having won 33 WorldSBK races and holding second to Ducati's Alvaro Bautista in the early 2023 standings.

But as things presently stand, it appears Razgatlioglu still has a clear gap to bridge to match the best MotoGP test riders - widely regarded as a 'first step' towards being ready for a factory MotoGP race seat. In turn, more changes are needed to his famous riding style to suit the unique nature of a GP machine.

Razgatlioglu’s manager Kenan Sofuoglu has made clear he will only consider a factory MotoGP place for the 26-year-old. Yamaha is the only MotoGP manufacturer that could offer such an opportunity for 2024, with Morbidelli’s current contract expiring at the end of this season.

It is not known when Razgatlioglu might test the M1 again, but he will be back in WorldSBK action at Assen next weekend.

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