Yamaha’s stunning recognition of Razgatlioglu for MotoGP is regrettable | Tech US News

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Yamaha MotoGP team boss Lin Jarvis has sensationally admitted he regrets not approaching the brand’s world superbike champion Toprak Razgatlioglu with the offer of a factory ride in 2021.

Razgatlioglu’s management made it clear that he would only accept a switch to MotoGP if he was slotted straight into the factory team, a request that raised eyebrows given the level of modern top-class satellite machines and the fact that no WSBK champion was attached directly to the factory MotoGP team since Troy Bayliss and Colin Edwards stepped up in 2003.

Still, against the backdrop of Franco Morbidelli’s brutal 2022 season, Jarvis admitted it may have been wise to accept Razgatlioglu’s request midway through last year – when the team sacked Maverick Vinales and Morbidelli was sidelined after knee surgery.

Toprak Razgatlioglu Yamaha World Superbike

“We had to offer Toprak a place in the factory MotoGP team already in July 2021,” said Jarvis in an interview with Guenther Wiesinger of the German publication Speedweek, which was conducted mainly before the Sepang MotoGP race.

“But his mission was to win the Superbike World Championship first before considering other options and alternatives. But the title fight [against Jonathan Rea] was decided only in November 2021.

“In the summer of last year, we had to make a decision about the line-up of MotoGP riders. And there is no guarantee that Toprak will come to MotoGP and surpass Franco Morbidelli or anyone else.

“Since Toprak could not commit in time until 2022, Morbidelli was a promising option for us.

“In 2020, he was the runner-up of our customer team with three GP wins. So we decided to go for it.

“But so far it hasn’t worked satisfactorily.”

Razgatlioglu’s hypothetical move confirms that Morbidelli was a no-brainer for Yamaha even then – as evidenced by KTM’s Miguel Oliveira, who claimed to have been approached by the factory.

Toprak Razgatlioglu Yamaha World Superbike

The satellite option, which Razgatlioglu’s camp has expressed disinterest in, is now off the table anyway, as Yamaha will only be represented in MotoGP next year by its factory team following the RNF team’s deal with Aprilia.

Jarvis’ hindsight-induced regret, however, suggests that Razgatlioglu’s first test on the M1 MotoGP bike in June was satisfactory enough.

“I am convinced that Toprak has tremendous potential. We have a lot of respect for him,” Jarvis said.

“He tested our MotoGP bike, but we couldn’t do it very extensively.”

‘Old Franco’

Franco Morbidelli Yamaha MotoGP

It is crucial to reiterate that Jarvis’ comments came ahead of a Sepang weekend that was recognized as by far Morbidelli’s best weekend of 2022.

This was despite only qualifying 11th – having overtaken Fabio Quartarara for the first time all season and would have been on course for a significant points haul had he not received a double penalty for a long lap before he was also penalized for the aggressive move of Aleix Espargaro in the last lap.

“I really hope Franco continues what he started in Sepang,” Yamaha team principal Maio Meregalli told the Last on the Brakes MotoGP podcast.

“He took a really big step in Sepang. He was quick in all conditions – wet FP1, even when it was half-baked [wet] and a half [dry] this is a circumstance that is usually not good for us, [also] in qualifying, when he usually struggled the most in the session. And he drove his best race. Although he had two long lap penalties.”

Franco Morbidelli Yamaha MotoGP Sepang

Meregalli described Morbidelli’s Malaysian GP as “important for him” amid a “very difficult” season in which “every time we saw ourselves getting better and better and better, then it went down again”.

“What he did in Sepang was huge for me. Compared to the little progress he made in Austria, Misano, Aragon. In Sepang he did what we know he is capable of. Showed old Franco.

“And I really hope he can still start the way he finished [in Sepang] – [except] not by punishment.”

As for Morbidelli, whose move from the Petronas team to the factory Yamaha team last year was not only in the context of knee surgery, but also a switch from the familiar 2019-spec Yamaha to a newer bike that only Quartararo has really done well with, the Italian hopes the final in Valencia at the weekend marked the end of a too long adaptation process.

Franco Morbidelli Yamaha MotoGP Sepang

“When I changed the wheels, I changed many, many things [in 2021] – I changed the crew, I changed [knee] ties, I changed the bike, I changed the team,” said Morbidelli.

“A lot of changes that slowed down the process. But I hope that finally at the end of the year, I hope to be at the end of the process. I hope I finally got to the samo [being] one with a bicycle.

“We have to see this weekend. Because last weekend was fantastic, I was fantastic, I was very fast and I could be me.”

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