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James Toseland: There’s not a bad bike on the grid in MotoGP, Toprak will be earning more in WorldSBK than he would with any MotoGP team | MotoGP

While Honda and Suzuki have just three MotoGP podiums between them so far in 2022, both manufacturers have looked like potential race winners at different stages. 

At KTM there was an opening race podium for Brad Binder and victory for team-mate Miguel Oliveira in round two of the season at Mandalika, although such results have failed to materialise since then.

Still, Toseland believes all three brands have the equipment and riders to consistently fight for podiums and race wins.

That’s not to mention the likes of Aprilia, Ducati and Yamaha who have been the three dominant manufacturers of 2022 so far. 

And while having such competitive machines and arguably the best grid ever in terms of talent is a monumental benefit for MotoGP, any transition for the likes of reigning WorldSBK champion Toprak Razgatlioglu has been made harder in Toseland’s eyes.

“I think any of those top three riders in Superbikes could go to MotoGP and have got the skill set to be able to learn how to ride a MotoGP bike to its limit,” said Toseland. “The problem is there’s still a difference between satellite teams and factory teams. 

“When I used to race there were probably about six bikes on the grid that you had no chance of beating when on a satellite bike. The top six had zero problems with anyone else on the grid. 

“Maybe qualifying when people hold their breath including myself and could get close, but once the lights went out in a race situation those bikes with faster engines, better tech on them, it was impossible to compete. But in MotoGP now, there is not a bad bike on the grid. 

“I think this is the first time ever in the history of motorcycle racing where every single rider on the grid can go and possibly challenge for a podium. It’s never happened before. 

“Because of that situation it’s imperative that if you do go from a situation where you’re getting paid a lot of money, you’re winning races, you’re a hero in Turkey – let’s talk about Toprak here, and life is good; I mean, when I went to MotoGP there were two options – the Cecchinello LCR team and there was Tech 3 Yamaha. 

“The rookies couldn’t have a factory team first, that was the rule then. So they were my only two options and because I knew you couldn’t join a factory team as a rookie, I knew that I had to do that [to go to MotoGP]. 

“But with how MotoGP is now you just wouldn’t do that. Look at Darryn [Binder] and Dovizioso in the satellite Yamaha team. To say they’re not doing very well – they’re less than a second off pole position.”

Sofuoglu won’t allow ‘ego’ to affect any decision on Razgatlioglu’s future 

Managed by five-time WorldSSP champion Kenan Sofuoglu, Razgatlioglu’s future has been a big topic of 2022.

However, with Yamaha reducing their MotoGP participation from four bikes down to two after RNF announced its switch to Aprilia for next season, any potential move to MotoGP will now have to wait until after 2023 when his Yamaha contract in WorldSBK ends. 

Continuing to discuss a potential MotoGP move for Razgatlioglu and why finance, age, confidence, but also Sofuoglu himself could be a factor, Toseland added: “Kenan Sofuoglu… he’s had a bit of a dabble in that paddock with Moto2 and he’s obviously experienced in the world of motorcycling. He’s not going to allow his ego to think that [Toprak] would jump on that Yamaha and do better than Dovizioso. 

“Kenan knows very well the talents of Dovizioso. With no experience on Michelin tyres, or very little and with that technology, you are not going in there and doing a better job than Dovizioso straight away. And if you don’t do a better job than Dovizoso then where are you, your last. Your not 12th, your last! 

“For Toprak Razgatlioglu, being a world champion in Superbike, going into every race weekend with the chance of winning and going home with a smile on his face, to then put the world champion in a position where you’re last is too much of a bridge to cross and to get competitive. 

“You have to think about confidence, momentum, age – okay, it’s going to take you two years to get used to MotoGP but what are you then, you’re 30 years of age and you’ve got Moto3 riders coming up who are like three years old [laughs]. 

“You have to think of all these processes year after year. To keep the momentum going and to join a satellite Yamaha team at the minute with all the inexperience and to risk him being last is a waste of time.  

“Plus money as well – he’ll be earning more in Superbikes than jumping into MotoGP on a satellite team. In fact, more than any team in MotoGP.”

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