Razgatlioglu took Yamaha to its first WSBK title in over a decade last year, coming on top in a season-long battle with Rea that concluded with a thrilling showdown in Indonesia.
Although the Turkish rider has a contract with Yamaha’s WSBK squad until the end of the 2023 campaign, he has consistently been linked to a MotoGP move with the Japanese marque next year.
Indeed, he is due to test the Yamaha M1 at a specially-organized test in June, which Yamaha MotoGP boss Lin Jarvis has clarified is being held with a view to evaluate him for a 2023 race seat, albeit most likely with a satellite team.
Six-time WSBK champion Rea has closely followed Razgatlioglu’s rise to stardom and the two were even part of the same Kawasaki squad that won the Suzuka 8 Hours title in 2019, before the Turkish rider joined the Yamaha fold in WSBK the following year.
Although the two fought bitterly for the 2021 title, and at times sparred verbally off-track, Rea told Motorsport.com’s German edition he would like to see Razgatlioglu get a chance to showcase his speed in MotoGP next year.
“I hope he can go to MotoGP because he’s one of the guys that can make that step and be competitive,” said Rea, who made two MotoGP appearances for Honda in 2012 but never landed a full-time seat. “I think it can show there’s a stepping stone from Superbike to MotoGP.”
“Unfortunately I never had that chance. There’s nothing wrong with [staying in WSBK]. I had a great career here.
“But personally speaking, I like Toprak, he’s one of my hardest rivals on-track but he’s a really good person. I said to him [last year]’if you get the chance, learn from my experience and go’.
“He would do a great job. A lot of riders in this paddock are talented and could do a great job. So I just told him, if you get the chance, go there, even if it’s a private team or whatever.
Toprak Razgatlioglu, Pata Yamaha WorldSBK, Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team WSBK
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
“If he has the right people around him, who believe in him and give him time, he can be really strong. I hope Toprak and his manager Kenan [Sofuoglu] have the right strategy.
“I’m one of his biggest rivals, but if he can go there and do a good job, it makes Superbike look very good as well.”
Rea doesn’t see Razgatlioglu as “underperforming”
Razgatlioglu and Yamaha have yet to win a race in the WSBK this year in the face of a resurgent challenge from Rea and Kawasaki as well as the returning combination of Alvaro Bautista and Ducati.
The Turkish rider sits 51 points behind championship leader Bautista, and sits 35 points down on second-placed Rea after the opening nine races of the year.
However, speaking prior to the third round of the season at Estoril, Rea suggested it would be wrong to discount Razgatlioglu from the title fight just yet, denying suggestions that he has been underperforming.
“From my experience, I understand the #1 [plate] is heavy,” said Rea. “I managed quite ok to forget it, to forget the background noise. But he’s one of the youngest guys, with a lot of hype around his future.
“I don’t see him as ‘weak’ [this year]. He hasn’t won yet, but I don’t think he’s underperforming. Bautista is doing well and of course we improved this year as well.
“I see him like normal. When I see him on track, he’s more on the limit than last year, but even last year when he was winning he was always on the limit.”