The 2021 WorldSBK Championship grid (so far...) - Who is going where?

Another year another WorldSBK title for now six-time winner Jonathan Rea... can anyone stop him in 2021? Here is a look at how the grid shapes up today...

The 2020 WorldSBK Championship has come to a conclusion and it is that man Jonathan Rea once more leaving rivals green with envy after wrapping up a sixth title despite the best efforts of Scott Redding and co.

The end of one season means attention immediately turns to 2021 and who will be racing where when (hopefully) we get back to a full fat calendar of 12 or 13 events.

WorldSBK Comparison | Honda CBR1000RR-R v ZX-10R v R1M v Panigale V4S v S1000RR | Visordown.com

We are now starting to get a clearer idea of how things will look when they line up for the first next year, though there are still some high-profile seats available, plus a couple of high-profile riders who have nowhere to go right now.

Here is a round-up of where with the 2021 WorldSBK Championship as of writing...

Confirmed

Five-time WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea will be staying put for the foreseeable future after signing a multi-year agreement with Kawasaki Racing, ensuring he will stay in 'Team Green' alongside Alex Lowes in what will be an unchanged line-up for 2021.

However - and perhaps more excitingly - is what they will be riding. Kawasaki has now pulled the wraps off a leaner, greener ZX-10RR which may not boast as much power as expected but comes with a fairly significant re-style that is focused on improving aerodynamics, stability and braking.

Coming to within a tenth of breaking the Jerez lap record on its first day of testing, though we will hazard a guess this was a fresh rubber, fume-like fuel load to grab some publicity ahead of the road bike's reveal, rivals will no doubt still be shuffling their feet and getting a little anxious at the prospect of Rea having such a strong machine underneath him...

Mid-way through his existing contract, Scott Redding stays on the Aruba.it Ducati but he will get a new team-mate in Michael Ruben Rinaldi, was confirmed to be replacing Chaz Davies for 2021 ahead of the season finale in Estoril.

Davies, meanwhile, will go in the opposite direction after securing a spot on the grid aboard the satellite-but-factory affiliated Go Eleven Ducati, setting up a fascinating rivalry between the Welshman and the Italian after the manufacturer's controversial decision to swap them.

Similarly, Toprak Razgatlioglu is signed and sealed on the Pata Crescent Yamaha for 2021 and will be joined by Andrea Locatelli, who perhaps surprisingly beat a bevy of competition to be promoted right up onto the factory bike after his spectacular dominance of the WorldSSP series.

One of the stars from the most recent rounds, Garrett Gerloff - seen as having a shot at the Pata bike - will remain with the GRT Junior team but gets upgraded factory machinery as compensation. Less expected was the identity of his team-mate, with Kohta Nozane - a front runner on the Japanese superbike scene - picked to ride alongside him.

Like Kawasaki, BMW will have a new machine to play with following the launch of the uprated, tech-heavy BMW M 1000 RR, which will have Tom Sykes staying on board and being joined by soon-to-be-ex Yamaha rider Michael van der Mark.

With the Dutchman replacing Eugene Laverty in the works squad, the Irishman will nonetheless retain BMW machinery for 2021 with RC Squadra Corse, which has been running MV Agusta's works WorldSSP/SBK efforts in recent years. It is one of two new single-bike satellite efforts from the German firm, with ex-MotoGP rider Jonas Folger in the Benovo Action MGM squad.

Honda has confirmed it will retain the same line-up for 2021 with Alvaro Bautsista alongside Leon Haslam as it looks to extract more performance from the new Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade.

Meanwhile, Puccetti Kawasaki has announced its leading WorldSSP racer Lucas Mahias will step up to Superbike, replacing Xavi Fores, while Isaac Vinales - brother to MotoGP rider Maverick - is another WorldSSP graduate on the Orelac Kawasaki in place of Max Scheib.

Rumoured

With each factory ride now sourced, we're getting into satellite territory which is often a bit of an unknown right up to lights out at the first round.

Loris Baz seemed a shoo-in to stay with Ten Kate Yamaha following a few headline grabbing performances in 2020, but it is being reported it could be forced to pause its WorldSBK effort for the second time in two years if it cannot source significant backing. If it can't then it will focus on WorldSSP instead.

As for Baz, he has been linked increasingly with Barni Ducati, one of the most competitive seats still available on the 2021 WorldSBK grid.

Elsewhere, Pedercini Kawasaki has been conducting testing with Loris Cresson - who despite his seeming wealth was a backmarker in WorldSSP - but it will no doubt hope to have the services of 125GP and WorldSSP Champion Sandro Cortese, who is still recovering from back injuries sustained in an accident at Portimao

The 2021 WorldSBK Championship calendar

With Estoril back on the calendar unexpectedly for the first time since 1993, there is scope for next year's calendar to look very different to how it has in recent years.

One thing that is certain is that there will be no February opener (boo!) as Australia's strict and long-term view of COVID-19 means entry restrictions will remain in place for the foreseeable future, which has forced the postponement of the traditional curtain raiser to potentially the back end of the season. However, Qatar could step in with a March date to ensure we aren't waiting too long for our WorldSBK fix.

If not, then expect the first draft of the season to start in April and for it to complete the first three-quarters of the year on European soil - probably Spanish and Portuguese focused - before tagging the aforementioned overseas races to the end of the schedule in the hope COVID-19 has, for want of a better phrase, 'done one' by then... here's hoping!

2021 WorldSBK Rider Line-up (so far...)

2021 WorldSBK Championship Rider Line-up (so far)
TeamMotorcycleRider #1Rider #2Tipped
Kawasaki Racing TeamKawasaki ZX-10RRJonathan ReaAlex Lowes---
Pata Yamaha WorldSBKYamaha YZF-R1Toprak RazgatliogluAndrea Locatelli (R) 
Aruba.it DucatiDucati Panigale V4 RScott ReddingMichael Ruben Rinaldi 
BMW WorldSBK MotorradBMW M 1000 RRTom SykesMichael van der Mark 
Team HRCHonda CBR1000RR-RAlvaro BautistaLeon Haslam 
GRT Yamaha Junior TeamYamaha YZF-R1Garrett GerloffKohta Nozane (R) 
Kawasaki Puccetti RacingKawasaki ZX-10RRLucas Mahias (R)  
Orelac RacingKawasaki ZX-10RRIsaac Vinales (R)  
RC Squadra CorseBMW M 1000 RREugene Laverty  
Benovo Action MGMBMW M 1000 RRJonas Folger (R)  
Ten Kate RacingYamaha YZF-R1TBC Loris Baz, Chaz Davies
Barni RacingDucati Panigale V4 RTBC Loris Baz, Leandro Mercado
Team Go ElevenDucati Panigale V4 RTBC Chaz Davies, Leandro Mercado
Outdo Kawasaki TPRKawasaki ZX-10RRTBC Loris Cresson, Sandro Cortese
Motocorsa RacingDucati Panigale V4 RTBC Matteo Ferrari
MIE RacingHonda CBR1000RR-RTBC Eric Granado

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