2024 WorldSBK silly season: rumour mill begins as next year’s grid forms
It’s musical chairs in World Superbike and with just a few riders signed up for 2024, could we be about see one of the biggest shake-ups?
The music has started and at the moment, there are plenty of seats ready and waiting, but that is guaranteed to change. As the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is four rounds out of 12 into the season, the European leg is well underway and with that comes plenty of market talks. From futures hanging in the balance and at a cross-roads to the majority of the field looking to strike a deal for next year, we summarise the situation with what we know so far.
SIGNED. SEALED. DONE DEAL: future secured for the Titanic Trio
Five riders on the current grid have a contract for 2024: the first is the most successful World Superbike rider of all-time, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). The six-time World Champion inked a two-year contract extension in 2022 which sees him through 2023 and until the close of 2024. However, his teammate is not decided for 2024 yet. The second, after a special press conference on Thursday in Barcelona at round four, is Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), who will race until at least the end of 2024.
The future of Toprak Razgatlioglu is now in place with the 2021 Champion joining the BMW family from 2024, and racing for the ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team, whilst his current teammate Andera Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) signed a two-year extension, staying with Yamaha until 2025. This means six of the ten factory seats are up for grabs – including who will be Razgatlioglu’s teammate at BMW, with Scott Redding and Michael van der Mark currently occupying the seats at the factory BMW team.
TOPRAK’S TEAMMATE: a battle for a BMW in 2024
Redding is in his second season of what is a “multiple year” deal, although the length hasn’t been confirmed. For current teammate Michael van der Mark, he stated that he’d like to continue with BMW but his injury at Assen definitely came at the wrong time. With van der Mark currently on the side-lines, the factory BMW team have drafted in Tom Sykes to temporarily replace him. Team Principal Shaun Muir admitted they couldn’t make a long-term commitment to the 2013 World Champion, but could a switch to BMW put Sykes in the shop window for somewhere in2024? Meanwhile, Scott Redding has dropped hints about his future saying he “has to consider his options”; comments which came after his first non-score weekend in WorldSBK. Since Toprak signed, van der Mark publicly welcomed him on his Instagram stories, perhaps stating that he’s there to stay. Therefore, is it Redding who will need to find a seat in 2024?
OTHER FACTORY SEATS: what’s the situation so far?
After a deal was reached in Barcelona, Alvaro Bautista is confirmed for 2024, but what about his current teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi? Rinaldi signed a one-year extension in 2022 for this year and was the final factory rider confirmed. Last year, Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) made it clear he wanted the ride and has stated again that he hopes his rides in 2023 have already caught the attention of factory teams, whilst in Barcelona, he was the clearest he’s ever been, declaring that a factory Ducati is his first goal, and if they can’t give that to him, then he’ll consider other manufacturers. He’s currently fourth in the standings, Rinaldi lies sixth. Besides that, Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) stated that he’d like to get on a factory bike in 2024 and Nicolo Bulega has been impressive in WorldSSP and has had two tests aboard the Panigale V4 R; could he be in-line to move up like those before him who have gone on to win the WorldSSP title?
In the other factories, Alex Lowes’ (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) has his contract finish at the end of the 2023 season with Kawasaki, so he is up for renewal. Both Team HRC riders, Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge, also have their contract up for renewal at the end of this season. Team boss Leon Camier has always spoke highly of both riders, especially Lecuona’s natural talent and ability to learn new track and ride in low-grip situations.
INDEPENDENTS: everyone up for renewal
Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) made the switch from Yamaha to BMW for the 2023 season and he discussed his future at the Catalunya Round where he took three top-ten finishes for his strongest weekend at BMW, saying he has a two-year deal and would be staying with Bonovo Action BMW, although the team did not specify this when they announced his signing last year.
Like the factory seats up for grabs (besides Jonathan Rea, Alvaro Bautista and Toprak Razgatlioglu), all Independent riders have a contract for 2023 only. Some are understood to have potential options to remain whilst for others, we await exactly what the situation is. Don’t forget, as the motorcycle racing season evolves, riders from various Championships will be linked to WorldSBK. In 2023, riders joined the grid from MotoGP™, British Superbikes, MotoAmerica, MotoE™ and of course, graduating from World Supersport.
MEDIA GOSSIPS: the rumours in the press…
This section is for the names that are being spoken about, not announcements or official One name that has been linked to a WorldSBK move is current MotoGP™ rider, Fabio Di Giannantonio. The Italian rider, a multiple Grand Prix winner in Moto3™ and Moto2™ has had a relatively quiet time aboard the Gresini Ducati and is being rumoured to be replaced by Tony Arbolino from Moto2™. For ‘Diggia’, he’s being linked to Kawasaki, Yamaha and Ducati.
Summarised 2024 rider line-up with confirmed riders. TBA = to be announced
Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK: Jonathan Rea and TBA
Aruba.it Racing – Ducati: Alvaro Bautista and TBA
ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: Toprak Razgatlioglu and TBA
Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK: Andrea Locatelli and TBA
Bonovo Action BMW: Garrett Gerloff and TBA
All remaining teams: TBA
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