The 2021 season may well be in full flow, but who will be left standing when the music stops for 2022 line-up?
The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship enters the second half of the Championship and there’s plenty of reasons to watch, with the title race totally inseparable. Whilst plenty of battles are happening on track, pens are being picked up throughout the paddock as riders and teams begin to ink deals and secure their future. There’s plenty of gossip, from a potential move for a MotoGP™ GP winner to a shuffle around WorldSBK’s current factory stars, meaning that we could see a whole new complexion on the 2022 grid.
SIGNED. SEALED. DELIVERED. WHO IS LOCKED IN FOR 2022?
The latest signings for 2022 include Michael Ruben Rinaldi staying at the factory Ducati team, the switch from Honda back to Ducati for Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC) and from Ducati to BMW for Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), who will join the official BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team for next year, replaced by Bautista. Putting MotoGP™ rumours to bed, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) hailed his “incredible opportunity” for 2022 with KRT alongside teammate Alex Lowes. At Yamaha, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) will remain in the factory team, whilst Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) is confirmed to stay within the Yamaha family. Loris Cresson (OUTDO TPR Team Pedercini Racing) is already on a two-year deal but apart from that, there are yet to be formal announcements about next year’s line-up, with plenty of riders still to be snapped up.
YOUNG RIDERS ON THE WAY TO HONDA?
Rumours about the vacant Team HRC seat have been swirling for a while with Iker Lecuona, currently starring in MotoGP™, one of the rumoured riders heading to Team HRC. Speaking recently about his future during the Aragon Grand Prix, Lecuona said: “For now I can’t say where I go; I can say that I know my future and that it is not only one year, so I am more relaxed. I’m happy with the opportunity and very happy with the new objective. For now, I can’t say anything!” Another potential rumour for Team HRC is another Spanish rider, this time Xavi Vierge. Currently in Moto2™, has been linked with the seat.
HASLAM COY ON HIS FUTURE
Ahead of the Catalunya Round, current Team HRC rider Leon Haslam said he was not ‘in a big panic’ about his future, saying: “From my side, it’s been a good two years so far. I’m fully supportive of this project and it will become a winning project. Got to wait and see what Honda decide to see if they want to bring in two young guys from GP, obviously as the rumours are. From my side of it, unless I can be on something I feel can win, I don’t want to be here just to make the numbers up in teams that aren’t necessarily going to be challenging for the top five. I’m not in a big panic. There’s either going to be an opportunity where I can win for the future, and if not, we can easily move on and do something different for the future.”
WHAT NEXT FOR SYKES? “Big interest” with a factory team
After being told that he is surplus to requirements within the factory BMW set-up, Tom Sykes will be looking for a new team for 2022. Speaking on the Friday of Navarra about his future, Sykes also stated: “There are some very competitive rides remaining and there’s been some shuffling of seats. All we need to do now is react in a positive way and to try and find the best situation.
Speaking about the prospect of being a factory-supported BMW rider but in an Independent team, Sykes said: “Of course it would be an interest if I have some people in my corner. If I could look at taking some people with me and it is a factory contract, factory support, then of course it is of interest.”
However, talking to Eurosport on Sunday at Navarra and when asked about being linked with the HRC project, Sykes stated: “It’s a very big name and a fantastic brand. Me and Leon Camier are good mates and old sparring partners, and he understands the game and the level of the riders, so yes, it is a big interest.” Despite interest in a factory team, there are rumours Sykes is looking for a ride elsewhere.
HOW ABOUT DAVIES: belief in ‘turning things around’ if he goes to Honda…
Sitting down with German website Speedweek in a one-to-one conversation, Chaz Davies (Team GoEleven) spoke openly about the prospect of joining HRC: “Honda just has to look at my resume. In this Championship I won races with three manufacturers and on four different motorcycles: Aprilia, BMW and with the V2 and V4 from Ducati. This proves my versatility and my ability to get good results. I haven't lost my enthusiasm for the sport either, although I've had some tough races. I am still ready to give everything. If something happens for me at Honda, I think I can turn things around. I would hope that I can contribute something to their project with my experience.”
Davies and HRC team manager Leon Camier are also close friends, but the formalities remain: “If I'm not the right man for this job, he'll tell Honda and me. Leon helped me and worked with me at three events last year. He knows how I work, knows my strengths and knows what I am doing in the box to be successful. Young and fast is good. Young and fast and inexperienced is something else in the Superbike World Championship. Honda has a growing project, so you need a balance between speed and experience.”
FACTORY SEATS TO FILL: which works rides remain?
The seats are filling up but there’s still plenty of good options on the table – both factory Hondas are up for grabs whilst the second Pata Yamaha is yet to be officially confirmed, even though it seems that Andrea Locatelli is in line to get that. However, both Kawasakis, Ducatis and BMWs are filled up, whilst there will be plenty of talk about who the factory-supported Independent teams are going to hire for next season.
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