WorldSBK

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

The 2020 WorldSBK Championship comes to a conclusion this weekend so as attention turns to next season, who goes where for 2021?

The 2020 WorldSBK Championship comes to a conclusion in Estoril this weekend with Jonathan Rea agonisingly close to securing the (three) points he needs to be crowned title winner for a sixth (!) season in succession

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 kept its lips pretty tight but KRT has been less secretive about having a brand-new ZX-10R/RR to play with.

A radical(ish) re-think was encouraged by Rea in order to keep him out of the reitrement slippers, so expect a power hike and wings to help the new Ninja go head-to-head with Ducati and Honda, as well as give a boost to the privateers that this year have been notably restricted by the bike's relative age.

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, who is now confirmed to be replacing Chaz Davies for 2021.

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.

Hot off the press, Honda has now confirmed it will retain the same line-up for 2021 with Alvaro Bautsista alongside Leon Haslam

Meanwhile, Puccetti Kawasaki has announced its leading WorldSSP racer Lucas Mahias will step up to Superbike, replacing Xavi Fores.

Rumoured

Chaz Davies’ inconsistent form on the Ducati Panigale V4 R since its introduction – relative to Alvaro Bautista and now Redding – has turfed him out of a ride following Rinaldi's confirmation and as it stands there aren't many obvious destinations for him to go to.

It is reported wages were a sticking point after Ducati wanted to slash them for 2021, which if true means Davies doesn't have any comparable options now in WorldSBK, short of a factory-funded satellite ride

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 seems a shoo-in to stay with Ten Kate Yamaha following a few headline grabbing performances in 2020, but if the team is able to source funding to expand to two bikes then the likes of Davies perhaps or someone like Jonas Folger would seem logical.

Barni Racing has had a tough year swapping between riders so will be on a look out for a rider that can give them the podiums they are capable of, similar to Go Eleven which has flourished into an attractive option in 2020 under Rinaldi's steer.

Riders with nowhere to go right now - beyond Davies - include Eugene Laverty and Federico Caricasulo, though each would be educated picks for a BMW satellite team if it completes a deal to bring WordSSP dominators BARDAHL Evan Bros. to WorldSBK, the former being a BMW rider right now, while latter raced with the outfit in Supersport.

Beyond WorldSBK, Cal Crutchlow's name has been mentioned a few times and it is known Honda has been chasing him for its WorldSBK seat - over Haslam or Davies - but given it's gone quiet on that front, it seems less and less likely to be happening now.

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 looks certain is that there will be no more February openers (boo!) as Australia's strict and long-term view of COVID-19 means entry restrictions would be difficult for overseas travellers. The same is true for places like Qatar and Argentina right now.

As such, 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!

Join the conversation!

Let us know what you think, just sign up for a free account, leave a comment and get involved!
Register Now

Latest Videos

Review
Feature
Feature