5 RED-HOT quotes on the rider market for 2024 from the Aragon test

Thursday, 31 August 2023 07:50 GMT

Silly season rumours that might turn out to be not very silly at all, big names with their future uncertain and more, the rider market was one of the hottest topics during testing

Normally during testing, swingarms, seat positions and new suspension or brake items are some of the visual things you look out for. But in what is one of the craziest silly seasons ever in MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, it was what riders were saying that was perhaps even more interesting. It’s the time of season where riders are venturing over to rival manufacturers’ hospitalities to do more than check out how good the coffee is, but when the questions are asked, strong answers are given. We’ve put the five best ones below. Don’t forget, get an extensive look at the rumours, gossip and intrigue about 2024’s with our evolutionary silly season story, here!

Guim Roda (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK team principal): “It’s important to put energy on what we can control”

All eyes were on Kawasaki’s box on both days of the test at Aragon. Not only were the team in green testing new parts for 2024 with Alex Lowes on the second day, but test rider Florian Marino was also up to speed with those items on the opening day. However, likewise on the first day, WorldSSP star and 2021 WorldSSP300 Champion Adrian Huertas made his WorldSBK debut and impressed. Guim Roda, KRT team boss, stated that he was “curious” to see what Huertas could do on the ZX-10RR, whilst he when asked about the possibility of Jonathan Rea leaving Kawasaki, he added: “The rumours are there and we’re understanding how to continue with the Plan A and this is the main target. It’s important to put energy on what we can control and the bike performance for 2024. Once we secure our package, we can decide what to explain to the riders to be as competitive as possible.”

Serafino Foti ( Racing – Ducati team principal): “He’s like a son to us but racing is racing”

Michael Ruben Rinaldi ( Racing – Ducati) has had his future in the headlines just as much, with the rumours stating that Nicolo Bulega ( Racing WorldSSP Team) could be on his way to replace him. Team boss Serafino Foti confirmed that Bulega is one of many candidates, but when talking about Rinaldi’s 2024, he said: “We have a really good relationship with Rinaldi. He’s like a son but racing is racing. I hope he can continue with Ducati because we will try to find him a place. The final decision will be made in the next few days.”

Iker Lecuona (Team HRC): “I don’t have any contract right now”

Perhaps the busiest WorldSBK rider throughout summer, with two MotoGP™ races banked and a third one coming up this weekend, Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) didn’t have much of a holiday at all. Team HRC have been the quietest team when it comes to their 2024 line-up, although there’s no direct reason to think one of their riders – Lecuona or Vierge – would leave or be pushed out. Lecuona was linked to a possible move back to MotoGP™ after his replacement rides, but his latest answer was clear, concise and curious: “I don’t have any contract right now, so for now, I’m free.” Make of that what you will.

Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team): “We’re discussing and talking with Barni, probably I’ll stay here”

Having had a sparkling two-day test at Aragon, it was our first opportunity since Most to catch-up with Danilo Petrucci about his 2024 plans. The 32-year-old Italian has had a strong rookie season so far, with three podiums and admitted that he made the correct decision to return to World Championship action after a year in MotoAmerica in 2022. Speaking about his future, he confirmed his priority is to stay where he is: “We are discussing and talking with Barni, probably I will stay here.” When asked if he had other options in WorldSBK, he was as clear as possible: “No.”

Xavi Vierge (Team HRC): “I have news but I can’t say!”

Suzuka 8 Hours race winner, newly-engaged and fast throughout testing; without going into an overwhelming amount of detail, it seems Xavi Vierge’s form has been good enough that he’ll be around for another season. Honda’s line-up has been very coy with regards to news for 2024, and whilst Lecuona stated he “doesn’t have a contract right now”, Vierge – who had his manager Dani Devahive in attendance at the test – said “I have some news but I can’t say.”

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Photo credits: LZ Photos Media