The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship enters the second half of the championship and there are plenty of reasons to watch, with the title race still wide open.
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 ahead of the start of the upcoming new 2022 season.
There’s plenty of gossip, from a potential move for a MotoGP GP winner to a take a position among the WSBK’s current crop of factory stars.
Does this mean that we could see a whole new look to the 2022 starting grid and even more unbelievable drama on the race tracks next season?
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 team-mate 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.
WHAT NEXT FOR SYKES?
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.”
HOW ABOUT DAVIES?
Chaz Davies has a belief in ‘turning things around’ if he goes to Honda …
Davies (Team GoEleven) has spoken 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.”
CAMIER CLARIFIES FROM THE OTHER SIDE
With Bautista on his way back to Ducati, it’s obvious that Honda will have at least one new rider for 2022.
Leon Camier made clear during the Tissot Czech Round that no signings have been made yet and that both seats are still very much vacant for 2022: “We haven’t confirmed any rider yet. Obviously, a lot of rumours, as usual, this time of year. It’s quite interesting some of the things I’ve heard, to be honest! Honestly, we’ve not had anything for next year at all yet.”
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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