Toprak Razgatlioglu: This year, I fight for me! Jonathan Rea 'not many can win'

After becoming WorldSBK champion for the first time in his career, Toprak Razgatlioglu says 'this year, I fight for me!', while Motoxracing have confirmed Isaac Vinales' departure from the team after signing rookie Roberto Tamburini.
Toprak Razgatlioglu, Yamaha WorldSBK
Toprak Razgatlioglu, Yamaha WorldSBK

Razgatlioglu is arguably the WorldSBK championship’s biggest attraction at present, and one that could be lost to MotoGP in 2023. 

But before the rumour mill runs wild with speculation, although let’s face it, it might already be too late for that, Razgatlioglu will have one of the most talented rider line-ups we’ve ever seen in WorldSBK coming for his title. 

In last week’s Catalunya pre-season test, Ducati rider Alvaro Bautista, both factory Honda riders Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge and rookie Philipp Oettl (GoEleven Ducati) showed huge potential aboard their new machines, as did the likes of six-time world champion Jonathan Rea, Andrea Locatelli and Garrett Gerloff. 

However, Razgatlioglu will start the 2022 season as the favourite to repeat his exploits of 2021, a season in which he says ‘I fight for me’.

Razgatlioglu told “After the season, everybody sees your character, and this is very important for me. There’s been no change to my life. 

“We are working nonstop and also; we are fighting again and we are ready to fight this season. 

“We will see because I see everybody is working in 2022. Last year, I was fighting for the championship for my father… this year, I fight for me.”

Should we get similar battles between Razgatlioglu and Rea throughout the year, then fans will be in for a treat. 

2021 was a season that saw four different riders win races, the other two being Scott Redding and Michael Rinaldi, and although this year’s grid is even stronger, Rea isn’t convinced that number will change, or at least not dramatically. 

Rea added: “It’s exciting to have many rivals, so many guys in WorldSBK can be on the podium. 

Iker Lecuona Honda WorldSBK
Iker Lecuona Honda WorldSBK

“Not many can win but the ones who can win, if they can put it together every weekend, it’s going to be an incredible season. 

“The battles last year with Toprak and Scott were incredible… that tended to be the triangle of rivalry. I’m sure we can have a lot of good battles like that this season.”

Reverting back to his #65 after losing out on a first world title since 2015, Rea has stated the goal for him and Kawasaki remains the same in 2022, winning the title. 

Rea continued by saying: “The target’s the same, the way we worked in the off-season is the same and we’ll just try to learn from a difficult 2021 and learn from our mistakes… we made too many mistakes last year, myself as a rider and also on the team’s side.”

One rider who’s not expected to be much of a factor when it comes to winning the title is former Ducati rider Scott Redding. 

The new BMW man made an unlikely switch, leaving a perennial race winning team to join more of a ‘project’, and while pieces may fall into place further down the road, his replacement Alvaro Bautista is the rider making all the headlines. 

Quickest in the Misano test, underneath lap record pace at Portimao on what was his first official test, and again quick in all conditions at Catalunya, Bautista is clearly a rider to watch out for. 

Although it’s hard to look past Razgatlioglu, Rea and Bautista when talking about legitimate title contenders, several riders such as Andrea Locatelli, Garrett Gerloff and Axel Bassani are clear contenders to challenge for a maiden victory.

Garrett Gerloff WorldSBK Catalunya
Garrett Gerloff WorldSBK Catalunya

While maiden WorldSBK podiums could also be on the cards for Lecuona, Vierge and Oettl based on their impressive adaptation to Superbike machinery. 

In other WorldSBK news, Motoxracing Yamaha, who were rumoured to be ditching their plans to join the premier class before having even competing in a race due to financial reasons, have instead confirmed Italian rider Roberto Tamburini for the 2022 campaign. 

Tamburini will take over as the team’s lone rider following Motoxracing’s split from Isaac Vinales. 

Speaking about the decision to remain in WorldSBK, but without Vinales, who is believed to have left the team because of said financial reasons, Team Principal Sandro Carusi called the situation a complete ‘misunderstanding’. 

Carusi said: “I’m very pleased and excited to be able to debut in the Superbike World Championship, a goal I’ve had ever since founding the team. Unfortunately, some misunderstandings meant that we had to replace our rider and we’ve chosen Roberto Tamburini, with whom we’ve collaborated for a long time. 

“We’re all highly motivated and keen to do well, so I’m sure we’ll give it our all. I want to thank our sponsors for supporting us and allowing us to embark on this exciting project.”

Riders and teams will take part in one final pre-season test at MotorLand Aragon on April 4-5, before the season-opener which comes late that week (April 8-10).

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