After their recently announced separation at the end of the year, Toprak Razgatlioglu and Andrea Dosoli met side by side in the Misano paddock to talk about this decision. After 4 seasons and a world title won, the Turkish champion has decided to change course and Yamaha has thus lost its family jewel.
It is logical to think that Toprak made this choice because he was not satisfied with the latest evolutions of the R1 and some observers have gone even further, thinking that the Japanese manufacturer is calling it a day and toying with the idea of leaving racing.
An idea that Dosoli returned to the sender unceremoniously: "let's look at what we have achieved this season, I'll give you some numbers: after the first 4 rounds Toprak has 25 points more than last year, with him and Locatelli we have been 16 times on the podium and we are 2nd and 3rd in the championship. We certainly won't stop working; SBK right now, for investments and returns, is the right place to achieve two goals. The first is to help the riders grow and the other to develop technologies for the market. It's no secret that everything is going well and there's no reason to decrease our investments, on the contrary we want to increase them” said Dosoli.
However, not all that glitters is gold and while on the one hand Andrea spoke of Yamaha's intention to make even more commitment, on the other he also made the observation that SBK will have to change. The point is that Ducati seems to be one step ahead of everyone.
“There is a clear gap in terms of top speed, but if that was the only thing that counted then there would be other bikes ahead of us - observed Dosoli - I think we have the easiest bike and the best riders. Now everyone is talking about top speed, perhaps we need to have another approach because nobody, from the manufacturers to the organisers, wants a championship in which only one brand or one rider wins, at least if the latter is not of another level, but I don't think that’s the case. If the situation does not change, the stakeholders will be very worried about the future, so there should be an open discussion to reach a solution".
The issue has become more of a political one.
"We must consider that production bikes have made a big step forward in terms of performance in recent years, they're always faster, and the tracks can't adapt – was the first point touched upon by the Yamaha manager - We're facing the same problem regarding safety in both SBK and MotoGP, in some circuits the run-off areas are not wide enough for the speeds reached and this is a big concern. MotoGP runs on tracks with A approval from the FIM, SBK on tracks with A and B approval, endurance A, B and C, we have to understand how to make racing safer and lower performance, that's the first cornerstone" .
Then there is the second.
“A championship loses interest completely if there isn't a balance of performance - he warned - In recent years we've been lucky, the interest from the media and the public has grown because there were 3 riders on 3 different bikes fighting each other in every race. It's what everyone - the teams, the manufacturers, the FIM and Dorna - wants to see again. It's a duty to go back to seeing a fight on the track, otherwise it wouldn't make sense to invest in this championship".
From here we come to the economic question.
“The third point on the table is how to make this business sustainable, how teams and manufacturers can recoup their investments. From this perspective, also looking at the MotoGP, I believe that continuing to increase performance doesn't help us achieve our goals" was Dosoli's opinion.
Easily said, but hard to do.
“We must find a way by which, regardless of the commercial philosophies of the various manufacturers, the bikes can fight each other on the track. There might be, in the future, the case of a street bike with 300 hp which, however, cannot be used in racing for safety reasons. We don't know what we'll do yet, but we have 2 years to find a solution" was the goal.
Before leaving us, Andrea couldn't help but answer a question about Toprak's possible successor in the team.
“I want to maintain our strategy. This year we have 6 riders under contract because we want to make them grow and give them a chance. Right now we will be looking at our riders and if one of them has the potential to replace Toprak we will give him priority. If instead, in 3 or 4 races, we understand that none of them are ready yet, we'll look around” he answered
A middle ground could be to try to get Morbidelli, whose future in MotoGP is uncertain.
“At the moment I know that Franco is focused solely and exclusively on MotoGP - explained Dosoli - However, I am convinced that he would enjoy SBK, considering that he has already ridden the R1 at Sepang in an endurance race. In SBK Morbidelli could certainly fight for the top and this paddock would suit his character well".