Silly season begins in WSBK

Posted: 07 Aug 2013

Silly season has started in World Superbike

As the World Superbike Championship heads into its summer break, the rumour mill has well and truly started turning and many riders and team managers alike have a lot of thinking, and perhaps negotiating to do over this four week rest period.

Two things have kicked off the infamous “Silly Season” and that’s Tom Sykes signing a new deal with Kawasaki for 2014 and BMW announcing they will be withdrawing from the series. What this means, is there could well be three bikes less for the other riders to scrap over, and there are certainly plenty of riders…

BMWs withdrawal means Marco Melandri – currently third in the championship - is left without a ride. The former GP race winner is hot property within the paddock and claimed the other week he was in talks with both Kawasaki and Aprilia. Further rumours emerging within the paddock suggest the thirty-one year old is close to a deal with Aprilia Racing, although it is unclear in what kind of set-up. It has been suggested that Aprilia could be withdrawing their factory team from the championship in 2014, leaving a similar factory-backed satellite set-up to the current Goldbet BMW outfit run by Feel Racing.

The other thing with Melandri going to Aprilia, is who would it be to replace? It looks like Guintoli could win the championship with his consistency and Laverty isn’t far off either and has taken a good few wins this season. However, the Irishman has an unfortunate tendency to end up in the kitty litter and perhaps it is this that will mean he loses out so the Italian team can bring in the Italian rider.

Chaz Davies, unlike Melandri, isn’t a former Grand Prix Race winner and doesn’t have three years’ worth of winning experience in World Superbikes. While the Welshman clearly has talent, having taken double victory at Aragon and coming very close to taking two more wins at Moscow and then Silverstone he could well find himself taking a step back into the same kind of satellite out he started his WSBK career in. Whether it’s on an Aprilia, BMW or anything else remains to be seen…

One of the other big stories in the World Superbike paddock is what Jonathan Rea is going to do. He’s reportedly decided that he’ll leave Honda if he can’t get a production RCV in a decent team within MotoGP. What Rea would be looking to leave Honda for is a winning Superbike and with BMW’s exit and Aprilia’s long queue of riders, the logical option would be for the Northern Irishman to replace Loris Baz at Kawasaki. Although, with Baz currently placed higher in the championship than Rea it could take some persuading…

Leon Haslam admitted to BikeSocial the other week that his options for 2014 are limited based on the fact he hasn’t set the world on fire in terms of results in the last couple of years. It’d seem while he has a desire to move to a more competitive bike, staying at Honda could be the best option for the thirty year old. If rumours are to be believed, he’ll be joined by a former Grand Prix World Champion in the shape of Nicky Hayden should he choose not to remain in MotoGP (and more importantly have the option).

Alstare Ducati could see an entire new line-up in 2013 after a somewhat miserable first half of the year with Carlos Checa and Ayrton Badovini. The Italian manufacturer could well make a play for Aprilia’s Davide Giugliano, after being unable to persuade the Althea outfit to release him from his contract early for 2013. Checa has made his intentions to stay in World Superbike clear, however he might not have many options should Ducati not wish to renew, although he is a World Champion…

Another loser in the BMW drop out is Sylvain Barrier. Already European Superstock 1000 Champion once, he looks set to make it twice by the end of this year. Turning 25 in October, Barrier will be over the age limit for the stock series in 2014 and had been promised a Superbike ride by BMW should he win the championship. One option for the Frenchman is to stay with the Feel Racing outfit, who could see a return to Ducati or a new deal with Aprilia.

Also stepping up to World Superbikes in 2013 could be Sam Lowes, whose Yahknich Yamaha WSS team are reportedly considering stepping up to the 1000cc class with Aprilia.

Wherever people end up going, one thing seems pretty certain this silly season: We’ve got a lot more riders than we’ve got bikes at this moment at time and even if a couple of new teams do step up, space will still be pretty tight…

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