2022 AWAITS: six rookies looking to make an instant impact on WorldSBK in 2022!
The six riders who will make their debut this season in WorldSBK share a lot of ambition and talent, but each one of them has peculiarities that make them unique…
With the 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship getting underway shortly, it’s time to take a look at the rookies looking to make their mark on WorldSBK in 2022. No fewer than six riders will make their debut when they line up on the grid at MotorLand Aragon at the start of April, looking to battle for glory and gain a foothold in the fastest production-based Championship.
Spanish riders Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge, both at Team HRC, make up two of the rookies on the 2022 grid alongside Czech rider Oliver König, San Marino’s Luca Bernardi, German Philipp Oettl and Malaysian Hafizh Syahrin. A diverse set of countries being represented by the six rookies as they looked to add to the unpredictability of WorldSBK either at the fight at the front, in the hard-fought battle for the top ten or to round out the points.
2021 witnessed an incredible fight between Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) and Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) in the battle for top rookie, a fight that was only resolved at the penultimate Round of the season. The 2022 fight to be top rookie could be even more intense with this year’s rookies.
Not every rider gets the chance to debut in a World Championship as part of a factory team, but both Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge have in 2022 as they form Team HRC’s line-up. With both arriving from the MotoGP™ paddock at 22 and 24 years old respectively, they are tasked with leading Team HRC to their first victory in WorldSBK since the late Nicky Hayden claimed victory at Sepang in 2016. It is an exciting chance for the pair but one that comes with pressure as they lead the Japanese manufacturer and look to claim podiums and wins.
The youngest rider on the grid is Oliver König, with the Czech rider turning 20 on March 18th. He made his WorldSBK debut at the 2021 season-ending Indonesian Round and comes into his full rookie campaign with Orelac Racing VerdNatura as the first rider to make the step directly from WorldSSP300 to WorldSBK.
It’s a philosophy the Orelac Kawasaki squad uses, to act as a platform for young riders, and it is one shared by the Barni Spark Racing Team in 2022. Luca Bernardi joins Marco Barnabo’s team for 2022 after impressing in 2021 in WorldSSP before a back injury sustained at Mangy-Cours disrupted his season. Bernardi, like König, will make his own bit of history as he becomes the first rider to race in WorldSSP300, WorldSSP and WorldSBK.
20-year-old Bernardi will be joined by WorldSSP rival Philipp Oettl on the WorldSBK grid, with both riders competing on the Ducati Panigale V4 R bikes. Oettl links up with the Team Goeleven squad for his rookie campaign. In WorldSSP, Oettl was a consistent front runner as he claimed 11 podiums in his two seasons and, at 25, brings extensive experience that he has acquired in Moto3™, Moto2™ and WorldSSP.
Malaysian rider Hafizh Syahrin is the sixth rookie on the WorldSBK grid and, at 27, is the oldest of the six rookies. His career includes several seasons of Moto2™ action where he claimed several podiums and two MotoGP™ campaigns where he became a regular points scorer. Now the MIE Racing Honda Team rider has a new challenge, looking to regularly place inside the top ten, as he becomes Malaysia’s first full-time competitor in the Championship.
The Battle of the Rookies is here and in 2022 it could be a tense affair. Be part of history and watch all the action from WorldSBK in 2022 using the WorldSBK VideoPass!