Is BSB champion-elect Bradley Ray lining up a 2023 WorldSBK move?

BSB champion elect Bradley Ray is reportedly in talks with Motoxracing over a possible 2023 WorldSBK ride, while Rory Skinner is also courting attention

Bradley Ray - RICH Energy OMG Yamaha

British Superbike Championship title favourite Bradley Ray could be on his way to the international stage next season amid speculation he is closing on a privateer Yamaha deal for the 2023 WorldSBK Championship.

The 25-year old, who stands on the cusp of his first BSB title with the independent RICH Energy OMG Racing riding the year-old Yamaha R1 that took Tarran Mackenzie to the 2021 BSB title, is reportedly in discussions with Motoxracing to assume its seat for next season.

The Italian team has been a mainstay of the WorldSBK paddock for a number of years, though 2022 marked its first foray into the big bike class with an entry for Roberto Tamburini, who sits 15th in the standings.

According to GPOne and Moto, Motoxracing had reportedly been in contact with Mackenzie for a 2023 WorldSBK seat after the Scotsman - once considered a strong favourite for one of the two factory-assisted Yamahas at GYTR GRT - was frozen out by the manufacturer’s decision to hire MotoGP exile Remy Gardner and WorldSSP Champion Dominique Aegerter.

With a potential berth at another factory-friendly team in GMT94 expected to go the way of Lorenzo Baldassarri, Mackenzie’s talks with Motoxracing stalled on his reluctance to join a team committing to only contesting European events, which in 2022 sees it skip Argentina, Indonesia and Australia.

With Ray looking to demonstrate himself on the world stage, while retaining a relationship with Yamaha, it is understood he is prepared to sacrifice those events for the chance with Motoxracing. Beyond WorldSBK, Ray is also reportedly being considered for a switch to MotoAmerica.

The speculation comes as Ray prepares to assume the throne as the 2022 BSB Champion in a season that has seen the youngster - who burst onto the BSB scene in 2017 - blossom into a formidable and consistent contender with nine wins, no finish outside the top five and just a single DNF.

With only a round to spare, Ray needs to score just five points across the final three races at the Brands Hatch finale to put the championship out of Glenn Irwin and Tommy Bridewell’s reach.

Rory Skinner choosing between Moto2 and WorldSBK?

Ray isn’t the only member of BSB’s burgeoning ‘next generation’ of riders catching the eye on the world stage with FS-3 Kawasaki’s Rory Skinner also understood to be of interest to teams.

The Scot has established himself as one of the UK’s brightest prospects following his race-winning turn in the CEV Moto3 Junior Championship and a rocketing rise through the domestic ranks, which included a dominant run to the British Supersport title aged only 19.

Currently in his second season of BSB with Kawasaki UK’s factory nominated team, Skinner achieved five podiums to reach the Title Showdown and also participated in two wildcard Moto2 outings with American Racing.

While Moto2 is understood to be Skinner’s first choice as he looks to follow in the footsteps of 2018 BSB runner-up Jake Dixon, he potentially has an outside chance of securing the Puccetti Kawasaki ride in WorldSBK.

Indeed, while 2013 WorldSBK Champion Tom Sykes has been firmly tipped for the satellite Kawasaki ZX-10RR for some weeks and remains the favourite to get the seat, Puccetti - potentially with backing from Kawasaki itself - has shown an interest in Skinner. 

Indeed, Sykes could find himself more in demand in BSB after turning a disappointing return season around with two dominant wins at Donington Park on the PBM Ducati.