WorldSBK summer break gossip, intrigue and rumour

Picture: Bonnie Lane

MotoGP star Scott Redding has fanned the rumour flames surrounding a move to WorldSBK in 2018 by complimenting on Twitter Suzuki and Yamaha about how their bikes look. Although Redding merely said that Suzukis look nice and Yamahas look comfortable, social media keyboard warriors went into meltdown, predicting a switch to the ‘production’ based championship.

What it could mean, however, is he is about to switch places with Jack Miller and go back to his old Marc VDS team - still run by personal manager Michael Bartholemy - who are looking at options outside Honda should the deal for 2018 and forwards not be what they want. Suzuki could be wheeling out a satellite GSX-RR. Redding, of course, will be in talks with Aprilia and Avintia but don’t rule out a WorldSBK switch - Ducati could bring in another works Panigale in the Barni team for him - or put together a new team entirely…

It would appear that Dorna big cheese Carmelo Ezpeleta may have been a little premature - amazing for a man of his age - in his assertions that WorldSBK would go to a Superstock 1000 engine rule and control ECU in 2018 as Daniel Carrera, the man that is in day-to-day charge, thinks it is a bridge too far in such a short time and that should be the longer goal.

Reigning champion Jonathan Rea is ambivalent about such a rule change as he is so confident in the Kawasaki team around him but does think it is a little unfair to drop such a bombshell with only about seven months to the start of the 2018 season. He believes the best riders on the best bikes in the best teams shouldn’t be punished, but added that it’s not his job to make the rules…

Red Bull Honda will make two important decisions in the coming weeks. The first will be whether they switch to Magneti Marelli electronics for 2018 and the second is what engine spec to use. Stefan Bradl has been using those electronics on the Suzuka bike during testing and is apparently keen, so Honda will take a bike and rider Michele Magnoni to the Lausitzring test to make some judgements.

Honda boss Marco Chini - who looks like someone you wouldn’t want to meet down a dark alley - says the summer break will be non-existent for the team as they have what looks like a year’s worth of development to do in a month. We must remember that if we decide to switch to Magneti Marelli, we have to have the material at our disposal. And then the system has to be adapted to our engines,” he said.

“This can not be achieved by switching the light on or off. It’s complicated. The first step will be to build a test motorcycle and bring the system with a test driver so far that the World Championship pilots can work with it. It’s only when everything is working properly.”

Former MotoGP star Toni Elias has declared the new GSX-R1000 is ready to compete in WorldSBK after claiming eight race wins for Yoshimura Suzuki so far this year. The little Spaniard, who rode for Red Devils Aprilia in WorldSBK, reckons that now a lot of the donkey work has been done, it is ready to race at the front, presumably with him at the helm.

Problems is Suzuki don’t seem that keen to run even a factory-backed project in the championship, so it might be left to Yoshimura USA to enter with backing from Japan. This could see Elias back in the series next season and could mark a return for Australian Josh Brookes, who is loved by the Yoshimura family in Japan…

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