Laguna WorldSBK: Rider merry-go-round rumour and intrigue

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Rider merry-go-round rumours hit their stride in the Laguna Seca WorldSBK paddock with almost everyone who isn’t nailed down on someone’s list to go somewhere.

Most of the chat is surrounding the availability of Toprak Razgatlioglu and the trouble his energy drink sponsor could be causing him with potential teams.

The Turk and his mentor Kenan Sofuoglu have deep ties with Red Bull which, in itself, is not a bad thing. However, when you look at the two teams he is linked with joining, they have either direct sponsorship from the big, green Monster claw or association with it.

Although never confirmed by KRT, Razgatlioglu is meant to be in line to join Jonathan Rea if not next year then the year after but a clash of energy drinks could make that difficult. A rumoured solve is that Puccetti Kawasaki, where he currently resides, get the full works treatment with factory techncians, engines, parts, the whole banana. Which would also help Leon Haslam too.

But there is also a strong rumour that Sofuoglu has been approached by Yamaha who would also like to give him a job. Again, Yamaha has a strong association with Monster that title sponsors its MotoGP team.

Whether Razgatlioglu would slot into Marco Melandri’s recently-vacated spot or into the ‘works’ team is not known. Alex Lowes’ phone hasn’t been ringing off the hook with contract extension offers - odd given he is third in the championship - but he says he has a plan B: ‘Asda, Derby’ he quipped on a text message.

GRT were supposed to be the team that took up and coming riders for Yamaha and made them into Superbike winners. Except that didn’t quite happen as they employed Melandri and Sandro Cortese in 2019. Combined age: 65.

You would hope that at least Federico Caricasulo gets a job in that mob next season alongside a more experienced rider. Razgatlioglu would fit that bill but if he goes into the big team, what then for Lowes, as he won’t want to be shuffled down to a satellite operation.

Barni Ducati are said to want to move to a two-man team in 2020. Bautista and Davies are sorted in the works team, and Paolo Ciabatti is said to be very keen on hiring Scott Redding too. That could give Lowes a place on a Panigale V4R and another shot at the title with a fast team-mate.

The only other real place for him is on the new Honda, which is all new. More new than the current one which was eight-years-old new. Strong rumour has it the 2020 Fireblade will be absolutely new, not a V4, and be capable.

This season is data collection to work out what they need for a winning racebike in 2020 as there is no way Honda will be content to fuck about at the back for another season with HRC written on a bike. And Leon Camier will be desperate for a season not on a shed, which he hasn’t had since he rode the BMW Evo thing.

Camier and Lowes together in a team has excellent comedy potential, if nothing else, but Honda might want a ‘name’...

Potential entrants to the series from MotoGP are the soon-to-be-sacked Tito Rabat and Karel Abraham, and the already sacked Hafizh Syahrin.

The Reale Avintia riders have scored a whopping 17 points between them in 2019 - which admittedly is only two less than Jorge Lorenzo - and both come with decent personal sponsors and banks of mum and dad. But maybe only for MotoGP.

Also, for argument’s sake, let’s not forget the other Lowes. Sam is spending quite a lot of time in his twin’s garage this year and it’s not inconceivable he could be planning a switch away from Moto2 where he is currently having zero fun…