Keith Huewen: A shame MotoGP missed out on Toprak, like Rea

Toprak Razgatlioglu’s WorldSBK switch from Yamaha to BMW was among the topics on this week’s packed MotoGP podcast featuring Keith Huewen.
Toprak Razgatlioglu and Scott Redding, Donington Park WorldSBK, 17 July
Toprak Razgatlioglu and Scott Redding, Donington Park WorldSBK, 17 July

The Turkish star, 26, had been in contention for the undecided factory Yamaha MotoGP seat alongside Fabio Quartararo for 2024.

But Razgatlioglu’s new deal looks to have effectively closed the door on MotoGP, with BMW - unlike the Yamaha, Ducati and Honda WorldSBK factory teams - having no presence in the premier class.

“The fact the Toprak didn't really get on that wonderfully in his recent MotoGP test would’ve disappointed Yamaha. It would have disappointed Toprak," said former British champion and grand prix rider Huewen.

“Add that to the fact that there doesn't seem to be much of a future at the moment at Yamaha, in competitive MotoGP terms, and therefore he's looked for a new challenge.

“A lot of the press are saying ‘bad move, he's topping his bank balance up, he's going for the cash’. But I think timing is everything and I have the feeling that BMW are just at that point now where this kind of motivation, through signing another top rider like Toprak, is going to make the difference.

“Josh Brooks couldn't do anything on the PBM Ducati in BSB last year. He came to FHO (BMW) and suddenly he's a leading rider again. The BMW is not that far away and you've got to reckon - spending the kind of cash that BMW is spending - they're surely not going to cock it up for much longer.

“Their way of thinking has not really brought them to the fore as quickly as it should have done, but BMW is not a small company. It is not a place that's lacking in engineering skills.

“Signing Toprak will motivate them and it will be more motivation for Toprak on a brand-new bike. He's sort of run out of momentum a bit with Yamaha. Toprak on the BMW is going to be something a little bit special, I think.

“It’s a shame that MotoGP is not going to get him. And I think that's it for me. Toprak is now going to be another Johnny Rea situation, where he'll be in World Superbike for as long as he wants to be. I don't think there'll be an opportunity for him [in MotoGP] now.

“BMW is not going to MotoGP. So I think that Toprak has basically signed his future into World Superbike.

“I think he's happy in World Superbike. He just seems to be right for that environment. I think the intensity of MotoGP politically, public relations wise and the like seems to be in conflict with his personality.

“He could go on for almost as long as he wants to in World Superbike barring injury whereas in MotoGP, I think your sell-by date comes up earlier.

“It's a shame for Scott Redding if he gets the push, assuming BMW hang on to Mickey Van der Mark. It’ll be interesting to see where everybody's going to go and what this move does for the rider market.”’s MotoGP editor Pete McLaren said: “The Jerez test was crucial to Toprak’s MotoGP future, wasn't it?  [Yamaha] would have basically said: ‘OK, see if you like the MotoGP bike, see if you're fast enough on it’.

“The problem with that is, as we’ve seen for even Fabio Quartararo, the Yamaha is a very tricky bike to ride. So who knows what might have happened if Toprak had got the chance to test a Ducati MotoGP bike, for example, for a few days instead.

“But Toprak’s made his decision. If he'd gone to say Ducati or Honda in WorldSBK, you'd say, ‘Oh well, there's still a route into MotoGP’. But there's no BMW interest in MotoGP, so this is Toprak really nailing down his future in Superbike.

“Some people will say it's about the money, but Toprak could have earned more if he had gone to MotoGP on a factory contract, even with a satellite team. Things like helmet and leather suppliers, and personal sponsors, also pay a lot more if you are in MotoGP.

“So I think this is Toprak choosing the championship he enjoys, but he’s definitely taking on a big challenge. There have been a lot of good riders at BMW over the years and they are still waiting for a title. So it’s a chance for Toprak to make some history.

“But quite a shock I think for Yamaha to lose him not only in MotoGP if you like, but also in World Superbike.”

Huewen added: “Every week that goes by, you think, when are Yamaha going to get ahead of the game? I've never known a time at Yamaha like this, where they seem to be running down a blocked alleyway. It’ll be interesting to see how they recover.”

This week’s podcast also included two special guests, with Amy Reynolds discussing the new FIM Women’s Road Racing World Championship and Scott Smart explaining some of the big technical issues facing MotoE, WorldSBK and MotoGP.

Download Episode 90 at the following links...

New podcasts available each week.

Read More