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WSB: ‘Who Goes Where’ for 2017
Whilst the British Superbike paddock has yet to have riders and teams confirmed for 2017, the same can’t be said for its World counterpart where many of the teams already have their line-ups in place. The series continues to endure various trials and tribulations but the factory seats are all taken and all that’s left is the seats lower down the field so let’s have a look at who’ll be riding what next year.
Kawasaki Racing Team
Unsurprisingly, the Kawasaki Racing team has retained the services of Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes with the duo currently lying in first and second in this year’s Championship with just two rounds remaining. Rea is odds on to retain his title whilst 2013 winner Sykes should, barring a disaster, end the year as runner-up once more. With wins and podiums coming at every round, it’s the strongest team in the WSB paddock and there’s no reason why 2017 won’t see a similar outcome.
Welshman Chaz Davies has again proven to be the ‘best of the rest’ in 2016 so it’s little wonder Ducati snapped him up for a fourth consecutive season. What is a surprise though is his choice of team-mate in the form of Marco Melandri.
The Italian obviously has a proven track record but he hasn’t competed anywhere since the Dutch MotoGP round in June 2015, a year when he was completely out of sorts at Aprilia, so the Italian manufacturer have taken a bit of a gamble with his signing. Davide Guigliano, fast but erratic, is the man to make way.
Honda World Superbike Team
The ageing Fireblade will finally be replaced in 2017 with a new model set to give current rider Nicky Hayden a much better shot at glory. His maiden WSB season has been strong so he should be better equipped to challenge next year whilst new team-mate Stefan Bradl is another ex-MotoGP rider to switch ranks. The former Moto 2 World Champion has the speed, without doubt, and his chances will hinge on how quickly he adapts to the vastly different Superbike machine.
PATA Crescent Yamaha
It’s been far from plain sailing for Yamaha since they made their return to WSB in 2015 and results have been solid but not spectacular. Alex Lowes and Sylvain Guintoli have shown flashes of speed but with only the odd podium and the former French World Champion finds himself searching for a new home in 2017. Lowes has been retained and with van der Mark moving over from Honda, the Dutchman could be the man to take the R1 to the stop step of the podium.
The return of a full-factory Aprilia team is the best thing to happen to WSB in a long time and in Eugene Laverty they certainly have a potential World Champion. The Irishman can consider himself unlucky to be without a MotoGP ride but race wins and podiums will certainly be heading his way in 2017. Team-mate Lorenzo Savadori has impressed greatly this season so should be even closer to the front next year with Shaun Muir Racing’s Milwaukee-backed squad.
With SMR switching to Aprilia, the Althea team will spearhead BMW’s attack, albeit unofficially, in 2017 with German Markus Reiterberger already signed up. Second rider, Jordi Torres, has yet to put pen to paper but the former race winner has given the team some fine results in 2016 so he should stay put and look to build upon what he’s achieved this year.
Leon Camier has ridden brilliantly on the MV Agusta F4 during 2016 and his talent certainly deserves a more competitive ride. Unfortunately, that doesn’t look forthcoming and whilst the MV isn’t a bad motorcycle, it’s not a match for the Kawasakis or Aprilias so it looks like the Kent man could be set for another challenging season in 2017.
Behind the aforementioned factory-backed teams comes the privateers and Barni Ducati’s Xavier Fores has been the most impressive in 2016 with Ioda Racing Aprilia looking to find a replacement for Savadori to go alongside current rider Alex de Angelis.
World Supersport champions Puccetti Kawasaki have already confirmed they’re moving up to WSB with Swiss rider Randy Krummenacher whilst GoEleven Kawasaki should retain the services of Roman Ramos, the Spaniard going about his business in a quietly impressive manner.
Class stalwarts Pedercini Kawasaki will no doubt be back with a one-rider team, at least, although current incumbent Anthony West will have to wait to see if he’s retained.
VFT Ducati started the season with Fabio Menghi but he got injured early on with the team using a number of deputies over the course of the year so whether or not they return remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, team owner and rider Imre Toth will continue with the R1 Yamaha and one of either Pawel Szkopek or Peter Sebastyen whilst Grillini Kawasaki have yet to confirm whether they’ll continue in the class and, if they do, whether or not they’ll re-sign veteran Gianluca Vizziello or 2016 WSB debutante Dominic Schmitter.
What do you think of the 2017 World Superbike line up? Leave your comments below.
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.