TOPRAK RAZGATLIOĞLU – REMEMBER THIS NAME
We love you Toprak Razgatlıoğlu. By ‘we’, I mean everyone except the MotoGP paddock, who in their shortsightedness (or ignorance, I’m not sure which yet) have failed to sign one of the most talented motorcycle racers in the world for 2022. Your loss, MotoGP.
I am not privy to the backroom workings of motorcycle contract negotiations, so I cannot comment on the forces at play that lead to Toprak’s two-year extension with Yamaha in WSBK. However, what I can say with certainty is that MotoGP’s loss is WSBK’s gain, for Toprak has demonstrated a rare ability to will a motorcycle around a racetrack at great speed by combining natural talent, practised skill, and steadfast determination.
Not convinced? The way Toprak ‘dances’ with the bike is reminiscent of Rossi in his early Yamaha days (Toprak even shares Rossi’s build). Watch Rossi’s first race on the YZF-M1 in his epic battle with Biaggi in South Africa. You will see the M1 moving, wriggling, and squirming under the deft touch of Rossi’s inputs. Now watch Toprak. I see a similar level of aggressive, yet elegant control in Toprak’s riding.
Toprak is also able to ride anything fast. The way he rode his satellite Pedercini Kawasaki to podiums and race wins before joining the factory Yamaha squad was reminiscent of Rea doing miracles on his inferior Honda race bikes before joining Kawasaki.
GREATNESS IN THE MAKING
Still not convinced? Watch the latest WSBK round at Donnington Park (2021 round 4) to witness greatness in the making. The way he dismantled the great Jonathan Rea in the two feature-length races was a sight to behold. To the casual observer, they may seem like just another two run-of-the-mill race wins. Not to me. That performance should put fear into his rivals. But, more importantly, MotoGP bosses should have their heads in their hands ruing the missed opportunity to sign him.
IS THERE A PLAN?
Does Dorna (the rights holders of both MotoGP and WSBK) have a plan for Toprak? Did they force a stop on the move to MotoGP to keep talent in WSBK? After all, Jonathan Rea needs some real competition, and he won’t be there forever. This could be a situation of planning for the future.
Or not. It could also be MotoGP snobbery not wanting to let some unknown Turk with only two ‘lowly’ 600cc championships into Grand Prix racing. Or maybe there’s nothing nefarious at all. You decide.
YOUR LOSS MOTOGP
They say one man‘s trash is another’s treasure. And so it is with Toprak not joining MotoGP next year. WSBK’s gain is MotoGP’s loss. But I will cut MotoGP some slack here. They haven’t yet realised just what a treasure Toprak really is. They will know soon enough. And he does the best stoppies.