Two of the world’s top Superbike riders, Sylvain Guintoli and Davide Giugliano, are in active talks to join MCE British Superbike teams for next year’s championship. Tomorrow, the starting gun will be fired with an announcement by PBM’s Paul Bird on his line-up for 2017 and it is likely to be followed in short order by Stuart Hicken’s Buildbase-backed Hawk Racing.
No details have yet been revealed but it is highly likely that Shane Byrne will be staying with the Be Wiser Ducati team in a two-year deal, as will Glenn Irwin. But in true Bird fashion mystery surrounds a strong rumour that PBM will be fielding a three-bike team and that third man will be Giugliano.
When asked by BSN’s Italian correspondent Maria Guidotti about joining the PBM team, the 28-year-old former Ducati works rider said he was unable to say anything about anything until the weekend. The PBM camp was equally, and untypically, tight-lipped.
But the relationship between the Bird team and Ducati is strong and there is little doubt that Superbike director Ernesto Marinelli was delighted with the championship win this season. Giugliano is leaving the Aruba team in WSBK after a disappointing season and his options in that series are limited. But there’s no doubt the Italian would be a great coup for Bird and the series.
How he will react to Cadwell Park, Knockhill and Oulton Park is another matter however. It might go something like: “Che cazzo…”
Guintoli, on the other hand, has had a number of offers, is very familiar with BSB and his performance at the last WSBK round in Qatar showed his recovery from the Imola crash is complete. It is likely that the Hawk team, with backing from a major manufacturer, will be one of his options but don’t count out Tyco BMW or even a third chair at Honda.
Manufacturer support for next year’s series looks strong with Leon Haslam staying in the series, new Fireblades from Honda, Suzuki likely to be with a big team and Yamaha showing renewed interest with TTC stepping up from Supersport with James Ellison rumoured to be in one seat.
Former champion Josh Brookes is also set for a return and is in contact with various teams and manufacturers.