Several riders swapped their race bikes for bicycles to take in the surroundings of Misano ahead of track action in Italy

From one rider to another, heavy-hitting headlines were everywhere you looked on Thursday ahead of the Pirelli Emilia-Romagna Round

The Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli” is always a dramatic setting for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship and the 2023 season is no different, even on Thursday.

What is more or less a ‘media day’, quotes and headlines were in abundance as the paddock reacts to one of the biggest transfers of all-time, with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometon WorldSBK) set to leave Yamaha at the end of 2023 for a new challenge with BMW.

Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) “Very good memories with Yamaha… maybe in the future, we come back together. I needed a new challenge”

“It’s been a very long four seasons and also very good memories with Yamaha. It’s not easy to leave as I enjoyed working with this team. Sometimes, you need a new challenge and new motivation. I said if I stayed in WorldSBK, I needed a new challenge now. I’ve signed for a new team. I’m happy to stay in the WorldSBK paddock and now I go for a new challenge. It wasn’t easy. I was thinking about the MotoGP™ paddock and there weren’t many seats next year. The problem after four years is that it’s not easy to leave Yamaha. Maybe, in the future, we’ll come back together again. I’m feeling more motivation because I listen to some people say that ‘it’s not a winning bike, it’s not easy and no good results etc’. This is possibly a winning bike. This is a new dream for me and a big new challenge. It’s not easy. This is a big dream for Kenan and for me. Maybe next year and also 2025, we don’t know, we are fighting for the Championship. I hope we are winning it. This is the big dream.”

Paul Denning (Team principal, Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK): “The news was disappointing… the scary thing with Toprak is he still has margin to improve”

“I don’t want to talk about it. The news was disappointing because Yamaha and, of course, the team but mainly Yamaha, with the contract they offered Toprak, put in a huge effort to keep him. He wants to do something different for his future and that’s his choice. You can agree or disagree whether it’s the best choice for his career, that’s up to somebody else and I’m not going to say anything else. Maybe it’s harder because of the super close relationship with Toprak personally with all the members of the team, and all the success we’ve had together. He helped us to a World Championship but, equally, we’ve taken him to a World Championship. The scary thing with Toprak is he still has margin to improve in terms of some aspects of his work. I can tell you nothing about Andrea’s teammate next year.”

Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK): “Toprak’s an incredible talent… maybe he’s the missing link to put BMW at the front”

“It’s always very hard to know how positive a test is when you’re testing solo. Jerez’s never been a great track for us. It was a good time to go there when we were guaranteed some hot conditions in the south of Spain and put together a package that we thought would improve our weak areas, which is when we’re in hot conditions we’re overloading the front tyre. The team came with some ideas and the positive thing is we left the test doing race simulations with the softer front and some good sensations. Of course, we have to take that to another track and also keep in our mind that we need to compare to our reference which is our competitors. Toprak’s an incredible talent and super-fast so maybe he’s the missing link to put BMW at the front. I’m sure it’s going to be a very exciting challenge for him.”

Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati): “It’s always special to race at Misano…”

“It’s always very special to race here at Misano; it’s a special race for Ducati with it being a home race and it’s always nice to share the weekend with the Ducatisti and the Tifosi. I’m very confident for the weekend ahead. Our target is to try and find the feeling we have with the bike from the first rounds of the season. I’m looking forward to it and I’m quite motivated. You want to do well in front of all of the Ducati fans for their home race, but you also feel their support. It’s difficult to say something from the outside but what I say from the outside, but I don’t think it’s a crazy idea to switch team. Toprak knows the Yamaha very well and he knows his potential very well.”

Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team): “I don’t know what he can bring… it’s quite a mystery to me. I have until July 15th to make my decision”

“I don’t know, honestly. It was quite a surprise to me and everybody. I don’t know what he can bring. It’s quite a mystery to me especially when I look at the riding style he has, it’s quite interesting. Time will tell. Not too much I can really say. I have until July 15th to make my decision to stay with BMW or not. Of course, we’re working as hard as we can at BMW to make the bike as best as possible. We just need to see now the dust is settling with all the attention from Toprak because it was a shock to everybody. We are looking around, but our priority is stay with BMW. It’s been a hard two years for me. We’re working hard but it’s just not quite where I want to be.”

Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK): “Maybe now, I have more chance to work more on my side with Yamaha and have the focus only on me”

“I am super happy. Honestly, it is really interesting to continue with Yamaha for next year and also 2025. I’ll try to push hard in every race and try to get my first win in WorldSBK. To continue with Yamaha is a good approach to try and continue my progress this season and also from the beginning, when I try and work with Yamaha. It’s never easy to be at the side of Toprak as he’s a really fast rider and always tries to win the race and is fast in the weekend. Maybe now, I have more chance to work more on my side with Yamaha and have the focus only on me. I’m more relaxed now I have the contract. Misano before was a bit difficult for me but now, I have more experience and, in the test, we understood a lot, so I think it’ll be a good weekend and we have a lot of fans that come here and support us.”

Michael Ruben Rinaldi ( Racing – Ducati): “We are talking about 2024 and results speak better than words”

“This is a special track for me and the team as it is our home race. I’m really happy; after the test, we’re looking forward to the circuit tomorrow. For sure, it will be a tough weekend as it will be really hot but then also, maybe it’ll be raining on Sunday. It’ll be tricky but also fun. My family will come, the fans will come, so it’s special. It’s one of my favourite tracks and where we’re strong. It’ll be difficult to beat Alvaro all year but I am focused to ride well and have a good feeling with the bike and ride in a good way. If doing that allows me to be at the front until the finish line, I will be really happy. Ducati and Bautista together are a really strong weapon and I need to make a step to be there. Misano is the perfect track. We are talking about 2024 and results speak better than words. A positive weekend will help to be in a good seat for 2024.”

Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing): “Italy is always special… I hope for a podium”

“I’m really happy to be here at Misano for my home round. I feel really good and I want to have a good weekend and try, I hope, to have the first podium of the season! This year, it’s really difficult because the level is really high. The guys are really fast. It’s really special. Italy is always special and a good place, and also, I’m happy because the family is here with me. I hope for a podium but it’s difficult. We are really near to the podium but every time we are near, but something happens. I hope this weekend will go in a good way. I don’t know about my future. It’s difficult. For the moment, it’s all stopped. We will see. After this weekend, I’d like to know more about my future but only my manager knows the answer.”

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