WSB: Toprak Razgatlioglu to join BMW in 2024 following Yamaha departure

1 of 2

Toprak Razgatlioglu has signed a deal with the ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team and will race for the German manufacturer next season in the World Superbike Championship.

The announcement comes mere hours after it was revealed that the Turkish rider would be leaving Yamaha at the end of 2023. Toprak had previously been linked with a potential switch to MotoGP in 2024, but said in that statement that he “didn’t feel the same connection with the MotoGP bike that I have with the Superbike. But if I am to stay in WorldSBK, then I need a new target, a new ambition.”

The move will come as a shock to many given the current struggles facing BMW riders in WorldSBK. Michael van der Mark, also formally of Yamaha, is out of action injured following a big crash at Assen, whilst Scott Redding finds himself 15th in the championship with a best result of seventh in the opening 12 races.

The German manufacturer has only had one victory in the decade; Van der Mark’s 2021 Superpole Race success at Portimao in the wet. Prior to that, the last feature race victory for BMW came at the Nürburgring in 2013 with Chaz Davies.

“Toprak is undoubtedly one of the best riders in the field at the moment, which he not only proved by winning the 2021 World Championship title,” Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director, said. “But he’s not just a fast motorcycle racer, he’s also a great personality off the track. We are convinced that Toprak will settle into the BMW Motorrad Motorsport family very quickly. We are looking forward to our collaboration and to our future together.”

It’s not yet known who will leave the factory BMW team as a result of Razgatlioglu’s arrival. Van der Mark’s contract is up at the end of the season, and whilst Redding has a “multiple year” deal, it’s believed that he is becoming increasingly impatient with the German brand, especially after scoring no points in Barcelona.

The 2019 Bennetts British Superbike Champion was a consistent frontrunner, and a race winner, with Ducati before joining BMW last year, and will no doubt be high on manufacturers’ wish lists for 2024.

“Welcome to the BMW Motorrad Motorsport family, Toprak Razgatlioglu,” Dr. Markus Schramm, Head of BMW Motorrad, added. “We are delighted to welcome him to our WorldSBK factory squad from next season on. I am very proud that Toprak has opted to join BMW Motorrad. This is a forward-looking step for our project and a strong commitment of BMW Motorrad Motorsport in World Superbike.”

Toprak Razgatlioglu has announced that he will leave the factory Pata Yamaha Prometeon team at the end of the 2023 World Superbike season.

The Turkish rider is out of contract at the end of the year, but most thought he would remain within the Yamaha family, whether it be in WorldSBK or in MotoGP. Toprak tested the MotoGP bike for a second time at Jerez in April in front of Yamaha management.

Instead, Razgatliolgu’s future is now unknown as he seeks a new challenge after four seasons with the Yamaha team. Toprak became the first Turkish rider to finish to podium and win in the Superbike class whilst riding for Puccetti Kawasaki in 2019.

In 2021 he ended Jonathan Rea’s six-year hold on the championship, beating the Kawasaki man by 13 points at the end of an enthralling season-long battle. Last year, Toprak was unable to retain his title against Alvaro Bautista, however the pair, plus Rea, provided fans with one of the most entertaining seasons in recent memory.

However, Bautista has won 11 out of the 12 races held so far in 2023, and whilst Razgatlioglu is second in the standings, he’s already 69 points behind the Spaniard after four rounds. Neither Razgatlioglu or Rea are able to match the speed of the Ducati V4 R that’s in the hands of Bautista.

Toprak Razgatlioglu onboard the Yamaha R1 World Superbike

“I want to say to the whole Yamaha family a very big thank you for the love and respect they have shown me,” Razgatlioglu said. “To win the world championship was my dream when I signed with Yamaha, and we have reached that goal together.

“For next season I feel I need a new challenge and whilst there was an opportunity in MotoGP, I didn’t feel the same connection with the MotoGP bike that I have with the Superbike. But if I am to stay in WorldSBK, then I need a new target, a new ambition.

“I am sorry to leave Yamaha, both the brand and the people, as we have a very good relationship, but change is a part of any sport and normal for any professional.”

During the last four years, Razgatlioglu has amassed 31 victories – more than anybody else – and a further 47 podiums for Yamaha. His title win in 2021 was the first for Yamaha since Ben Spies’ championship-winning campaign in 2009.

Razgatlioglu’s destination is not yet known, but he has been linked with a potential switch to BMW in recent weeks. Ultimately, it’s likely that every manufacturer on the WorldSBK grid will be interested in signing one of the most talented riders in the paddock.

“We will be sorry to see Toprak leave Yamaha at the end of this season,” Andrea Dosoli, Road Racing Manager at Yamaha Motor Europe, added. “We wanted to continue what has been an incredibly successful partnership, with the obvious highlight being the triple crown of rider, manufacturer, and team world titles that we won together in 2021. 

“Although our paths will diverge at the end of the year, we are now fully focused on the battle for the 2023 WorldSBK title, which resumes shortly at Misano. Finally, I would like to thank Toprak on behalf of Yamaha but also personally, for his invaluable contribution to our WorldSBK project. 

“His first World Championship title in 2021 was a just reward for him but also for all the people who, since we returned to WorldSBK in 2016, have worked so hard to make this project a success. 

“It is a memory that everyone at Yamaha will cherish. We wish Toprak every success for the future but, for now, we have a job to finish.”