MotoGP’s current Game of Thrones will have a knock-on effect for both WorldSBK and British Superbikes as the talent percolates down from the premier class into the perceived lesser ranks.
The top six seats in WorldSBK are taken: Rea and Sykes at Kawasaki, Davies and Melandri at Ducati, Lowes and Van Der Mark at Yamaha. Eugene Laverty has also committed to another year with Milwaukee Aprilia and Jordi Torres is likely to remain with Althea.
The biggest question mark hangs over who will be on the Red Bull Hondas. Incumbent Stefan Bradl was in the frame to bag the second Marc VDS RC213V but was either beaten to it by Tom Luthi or persuaded out of it by Red Bull and personal manager Günther Weisinger who has close ties to the energy drink barons. The German will stay with Honda as it will be more lucrative than to find a berth with a Moto2 team.
Seat two will be decided by next year’s rules. If concessions are brought in so, for example, teams that haven’t won any races can test when they like, get an extra qualifying tyre for Superpole one and use it without getting sent to the back of the grid and an extra engine or two in their allocation it might persuade Leon Camier to move away from MV Agusta.
It would seem concessions for 2018 will be the only way to make the Fireblade competitive on current form as a spec-ECU is not going to happen until 2018. And all the bluster about bringing in Superstock technical regulations has disappeared in a puff of logic.
If the rules stay the same, then Camier has no reason to move from MV as he can stay ahead of the Yamahas at a lot of tracks and is being paid well by MV for his efforts. This will open the door for Davide Giugliano to stay should he buck the fuck up or for a MotoGP rider like Loris Baz or Hector Barbera to come in. If Camier departs, then PJ Jacobsen is shoo-in for the ride.
The future of Lorenzo Savadori is not certain. He is liked by Aprilia and was given a test on the MotoGP bike at Misano, which he was pleased with. Results on the RSV4 have been mixed and Milwaukee Aprilia team owner Shaun Muir will very much want two podium-level men next year on a bike that has a year’s development under its belt. Muir gambled and lost with BMW in 2016 and will definitely be looking to stack the deck in 2018. If Savadori doesn’t fit, then he may get shuffled to Ioda instead.
If, as expected, Barbera switches to Moto2 then Baz has options. Milwaukee is probably not one of them, but Althea will require a second rider and Barni Ducati want to run two bikes - however, with a €800,000 Ducati price tag whoever it is will need to bring some money.
Xavier Simeon is a man with Belgian TV money behind him, but that might only be for MotoGP and he is squarely in the frame for the second Avintia seat but a spot in WorldSBK might suit him and his cash if WorldSBK suits the cheque-signers.
Leon Haslam hasn’t yet announced his intentions for next season but will remain in the Kawasaki family whether it be with JG Speedfit in BSB or Puccetti Kawasaki in WorldSBK. Puccetti already have Toprak Razgatlıoğlu and his sponsorship money in the bag, so will either claim Haslam or go for another name, like former champion Sylvain Guintoli, who is not having any fun in British Superbikes at all.
Haslam is probably the BSB seat-swap lynchpin and everything will start moving when he makes his announcement. All chairs in the domestic series, aside from PBM’s Shane Byrne as he is on a two-year deal with the Cumbrian chicken botherer, are up for grabs.
It could be more lucrative for to go to a top BSB team from MotoGP than into WorldSBK. In some cases, help for rider salaries can be sought from MSVR so someone like Baz, who has been there before, might not have to bring with him a suitcase of cash. A rucksack might do it.
Wheeling in big-name riders doesn’t always work - as has been demonstrated this year by Giugliano and Guintoli - but performances aren’t always solely down to a team or rider. Usually, it’s the combination that fails.