With the 2015 British Superbike Championship now having reached its conclusion, the rumour mill is very much alive and kicking as to who goes where in 2016 but recent announcements have seen a few pieces of the jigsaw already fall into place.
It looks highly likely that the 2015 Champions, Milwaukee Yamaha, will be departing the series and heading to the world stage instead, most probably running the Aprilia effort. Team boss Shaun Muir was understandably unhappy with Yamaha’s decision to hand the WSB deal to Crescent, particularly having spent an awful lot of time and effort to get the R1 to where it is now, so moving elsewhere seems logical.
Brookes for worlds:
The move to World Superbikes would certainly suit BSB Champion Brookes who’s keen to move back into the world championship after seven years in Britain. He’s also been linked with a return to his old Tyco team who will continue with BMW machinery in 2016 although that now seems unlikely given his comments post Brands Hatch.
Buchan without a ride?
Michael Laverty made it through to the Showdown only because of his consistency but he ended the year strongly with a win at Brands and a number of podiums so he should remain with Hector and Philip Neill’s team. Tommy Bridewell is moving on though with Danny Buchan rumoured to have secured the second seat although he’s publicly stated he’s currently without a ride for next season.
Paul Bird Motorsport unhappy with Kawasaki:
Paul Bird Motorsport and the not so well kept secret about them switching to Ducati for 2016 was finally revealed at Brands Hatch. Since returning to BSB in 2012, the Cumbrian based team have run with Kawasaki but have been known to be unhappy with the level of support they’ve received from the Japanese manufacturer with their allegiance lying with the JG Speedfit team. That’s prompted Bird to look elsewhere and with factory support from Ducati, it looks like a perfect fit.
The Italian manufacturer has been keen to have a greater presence in the BSB paddock now that the Panigale is a proven race winner at WSB level and with both Byrne and the team having previous form on the Bologna Bullets, it’s a partnership that is sure to reap dividends. Stuart Easton has been replaced though with exciting British Supersport Championship front runner Glenn Irwin promoted to the Superbike ranks.
Another announcement at Brands was that John Hopkins will lead Tommy Hill’s new Yamaha team, which will now spearhead the Japanese manufacturer’s BSB challenge with SMR’s expected move to World Superbikes, as mentioned above.
Easton has been linked with the team as well whilst a possible team-mate could be James Rispoli. The Supersport front runner has strong ties with Yamaha and with both him and Hopkins enjoying backing from Monster Energy, they could form an all-American team at THM.
Hickman for JG Speedfit Kawasaki?
JG Speedfit GBmoto Kawasaki has already retained the services of James Ellison but a second rider is yet to be confirmed. Team boss Mark Smith-Halvorsen dipped his toe into the roads this year and will be keen to sign someone who can challenge at the front in both disciplines. Peter Hickman fits the bill nicely having excelled on the roads in 2015 and scored three podiums in BSB.
Front runners for Honda Racing:
It’s highly likely that Honda Racing will revert to a two-man team next year and will retain the services of Dan Linfoot and Jason O’Halloran. Both showed great form when fully fit with the former making the Showdown and the latter in prime place to do that until he was unceremoniously knocked off at Thruxton. With a year’s experience on the Fireblade, they should both be front runners in 2016.
As mentioned, Tommy Bridewell looks set to depart Tyco BMW after just one season and he could end up back at Halsall Racing alongside Christian Iddon, who’s enjoyed a strong year on the GSXR1000. Bridewell may prefer to stay on the BMW S1000R and head to a one man team like RAF Reserves should Hickman, as expected, move on to pastures new.
Who will join Mossey?
BSB Rider’s Cup winner Luke Mossey will remain with Quattro Plant Kawasaki squad for a second year after an excellent debut season with the second seat potentially going to someone like Superstock 1000cc Champion Josh Elliott or Rispoli.
What now for Kiyonari?
Meanwhile, Stuart and Steve Hicken’s Buildbase team will continue with BMW machinery but whether that’s with two or three riders remains to be seen. Richard Cooper joined the team mid-season and would probably have won the BSB Rider’s Cup had it not been for injury but Ryuichi Kiyonari’s season was a disaster and he was stood down by the team for the final round which must raise serious question marks about his return in 2016 although he has been linked with Halsall Racing and Suzuki.
Young Lee Jackson will remain with the team after a strong rookie season and another rider whose future is sorted is Jack Kennedy, the Dubliner already having agreed terms with Brent Gladwin’s WD40 Kawasaki team.
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Having started watching motorcycle races all over the world form childhood, Phil Wain has been a freelance motorcycle journalist for 15 years and is features writer for a number of publications including BikeSport News and Classic Racer, having also been a regular contributor to MCN and MCN Sport. He is PR officer for a number of teams and riders at both the British Superbike Championship and International road races, including Smiths Triumph, Quattro Plant Kawasaki, John McGuinness, Ryan Farquhar and Keith Amor. He is also heavily involved with the Isle of Man TT Races, writing official press releases and race reports as well as providing ITV4 with statistical information.