Yamaha will lose Toprak Razgatlioglu to BMW next season, and while they’ll be losing the rider that took them to their first WorldSBK title in over a decade [2021], the top brass at Yamaha remain upbeat that Locatelli can fill his void.

Locatelli has so far been best of the rest in 2023 behind Alvaro Bautista and Razgatlioglu, however, the Italian has still never won a race in the Superbike class. 

But while Locatelli might be lacking the resume to suggest he can take Yamaha to a world title, Yamaha Motor Europe Road Racing Manager Andrea Dosoli believes in the former Supersport champion, who recently committed his future to the Japanese brand until the end of 2025.

Dosoli told WorldSBK.com: "We believe the results that we have seen in the last three years, and the way this season is going, I’m convinced that if he makes another small step and we make another small step, he can be, in the future, a title contender."

So far at Misano Locatelli has endured his worst round of the season, after finishing Race 1 in 12th place, before moving up the order to finish the Superpole Race in P7.

With Bautista and Jonathan Rea signed to their respective teams before anyone else, Razgatlioglu was the big fish on the market until signing for BMW.

However, Pata Yamaha Team Principal Paul Denning has confirmed that Locatelli was also receiving interest from other teams.

Denning began by saying: "One important thing, that I’m not sure was clearly communicated or not because there was no need for it, but it’s important to recognise that Andrea was absolutely our target to renew whether or not Toprak stayed with Yamaha. 

"The improvements he’s made this year are significant. He still has margin to do more to believe in himself more and the next step is for him to win a race and take it to the next level. 

"We’re really happy with everything Andrea is doing. It was always the target to keep him with us. 

"I believe he had a very good offer from a very strong competitor so we’re happy that he trusts in the group, Yamaha and the team and that he’s staying with us."