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Aragon: Cal Crutchlow: Toprak should ‘take the jump’ to MotoGP, even with a satellite team | MotoGP

Crutchlow, returning to MotoGP action at Aragon this weekend, was present alongside Razgatlioglu during his rain-shortened MotoGP debut in a private test at the same Spanish circuit in June.

And if the Turkish star does make a future switch from Yamaha WorldSBK to MotoGP he would be following a path taken by Crutchlow in 2011.

After setting the 19th fastest time but just 1.129s from Jorge Martin during Friday practice, Crutchlow spoke of his difficulties in getting comfortable on the M1 despite being in his second year as official test and replacement rider.

“I’ve been a lot faster in tests here. So maybe there’s a little bit in the pocket,” he said.

“But I honestly believe I could be a lot faster if I felt comfortable. Even when I test, I also feel the same.

“I cannot find the right position on the bike. And we’re like that at every test. I’m trying to move things and Dovi was exactly the same.

“Fabio [Quartararo] is in a great place with his position on the bike and the way he feels, he doesn’t really want to change anything

“But me and Dovi, I spoke to him and he changed his handlebars 15 times or something – forward, back, seat spacer. Dovi couldn’t get comfortable and I haven’t been comfortable at all, last year or this year.

“I don’t know if it’s because I rode the Honda for so long. But actually the position of my handlebars and everything is so different to what I had at Honda.

“I just don’t feel comfortable but I can ride the bike, no doubt about that.”

Crutchlow’s comments prompted the question of how Razgatlioglu had got on in terms of riding position and style when he tried the M1 at the same track.

“Yeah, I don’t think Toprak was in a prime position for him. He took the seat spacer off because he is massive, and the rest of it was quite a base Yamaha setting.

“But it was just a pleasure to have him on the track. And we had good fun.”

Asked if he felt Razgatlioglu should be on the Yamaha MotoGP bike in future, Crutchlow replied:

“I believe so… [But] he needs time. We were able to talk about things and he improved every run. Because it’s so different, and he was riding it exactly like a Superbike, which is the complete opposite.

“I tried to explain to him that during the first year I did in MotoGP, as most people will know, I just wanted to go back [to Superbike]. Because it was so easy to ride a Superbike compared to a MotoGP bike. And that’s also what you know.

“Toprak only knows a Superbike, so he’s going to ride like that [at the moment]. He only got 40 laps or whatever, and then it started raining. If you had a full winter testing plan, it is a completely different situation.

“He’s a clever rider. He understands… I believe that he could be competitive in MotoGP.

“It’s whether he wants to, whether he believes he can and whether the opportunity arises.”

Crutchlow: ‘Take the jump, even if it’s with a satellite team’

Razgatlioglu’s manager Kenan Sofuoglu is adamant that, to ensure the 25-year-old gets a fair shot at MotoGP, they would only consider joining the championship with a full factory team.

Crutchlow feels that shouldn’t be a make-or-break issue.

“At the end of the day, these satellite teams are not like Moto3 teams – they’re on factory bikes. That’s why you see so many satellite guys doing so well now. All the bikes are good,” said Crutchlow, who rode for the Tech3 Yamaha, factory Ducati and LCR Honda teams during his full-time MotoGP career, celebrating three wins and 19 podiums.

“Yes, you might not get the new footrest hanger, or you might not get the latest thing, but the bike is still competitive.

“So I believe, take the jump. I took the jump. I’m not comparing myself [to Toprak] but Ben Spies also came into MotoGP with Tech3. Colin [Edwards] was at Tech3. Nearly every factory owns the contract for the rider now anyway, so they can do what they want [in terms of factory support].”

However, in terms of Yamaha at least, the question of satellite or factory is irrelevant for the immediate future with RNF, the squad Crutchlow is completing the season for after Andrea Dovizioso’s retirement, switching to Aprilia.

“We’ve only got two Yamahas [anyway],” said Crutchlow.

‘Engine brake? The rear wheel was six feet off the floor!’

While Razgatlioglu, currently battling Alvaro Bautista and Jonathan Rea for a second successive world crown, is remaining in SBK next season, a factory Yamaha MotoGP seat is potentially available for 2024, when Franco Morbidelli will be out of contract.

But despite the Aragon test and Sofuoglu’s words that they are open to talks with any MotoGP manufacturer for 2024, Razgatlioglu’s own level of interest in making the move is unclear.

“Yeah, I’m not sure either,” said Crutchlow. “I never got a, ‘I’m definitely going to come’ or ‘I’m definitely not going to come’.

“He enjoyed himself but it was so different to what he knew that it’s going to feel so alien. Like it does for everybody.

“He didn’t like the engine brake… engine brake? The rear wheel was six feet off the floor!

“But I believe he would enjoy it [with more time] because he’d be battling.

“I believe that he could come to the front in MotoGP.”

No rider has yet won both World Superbike and premier-class MotoGP titles.

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