Silly Season and Jokers | Who goes where for the 2022 WorldSBK season?

The 2022 WorldSBK grid is beginning to take shape... so who goes where and which, which seats are free and which riders are looking for a ride?

Jonathan Rea, Toprak Razgatlioglu, Alvaro Bautista

Its been a while since we’ve been unable to make a call on who will walk away with the 2021 WorldSBK Championship, but the tight battle at the top doesn’t mean others aren’t casting a view towards the 2022 WorldSBK season.

Though WorldSBK generally moves a lot slower than MotoGP when it comes to signing contracts, a number of notable seats have now been confirmed, while rumours, speculation and (educated) guessing covers a number of others.

So how is the 2022 WorldSBK grid shaping up… and what can we expect from the remainder of the silly season?

CONFIRMED 2022 WorldSBK Riders

As ever, the factory teams have been left to arrange themselves before allowing the associated satellite teams to pick up any jilted pieces of unemployed rider that may be available to them.

Four of the five factory teams - Kawasaki, Yamaha, BMW and Ducati - have their riders signed and sealed for 2022.

Kawasaki will field an unchanged rider line-up for next season with Jonathan Rea’s multi-year contract firmly in place, despite the odd rumour that he might have been cautiously approached by Yamaha for MotoGP, while Alex Lowes’ steady pair of hands on the sister ZX-10RR has earned him a third season at the championship-winning team.

Having had the ‘audacity’ to turn down a MotoGP offer for 2022, Toprak Razgatlioglu will settle into a new two year contract with Yamaha in his bid to be crowned World Champion - something he may end up achieving in 2021. Alongside him for that period will be Andrea Locatelli, who has overcome a steady start to life in WorldSBK to emerge as one of the standouts of the year.

At Ducati, the Borgo Panigale firm will welcome back Alvaro Bautista into its midst following a successful - if flawed and abruptly ended - season together in 2019. Bidding to recover the form that saw him reel off 11 consecutive wins, Bautista will join the retained Michael Ruben Rinaldi.

Bautista’s arrival means Scott Redding will defer to BMW in a move he is approaching with confidence despite the manufacturer’s indifferent form of late. He will be paired with Michael van der Mark, who gets a second season with the German manufacturer.

Despite leaving later than everyone else, Honda has now confirmed it will entrust its 2022 WorldSBK hopes in an all-rookie rider line-up of Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge, who join from MotoGP and Moto2 respectively.

Elsewhere, Garrett Gerloff will remain with GRT and Yamaha for what will be his third season in WorldSBK, while Kohta Nozane will once again join him in what will be an unchanged rider line-up.

Though forced to end its season earlier after Jonas Folger jumped ship, Bonovo MGM Racing will be back with an expanded rider line-up as BMW's sole factory-assisted set-up, signing the experienced Eugene Laverty and landing the signature of Loris Baz following his eye-catching substitute turns for Go Eleven Ducati.

Barni Racing will look to put a difficult 2021 campaign behind it by hiring Sammarinese WorldSSP standout Luca Bernardi, while Loris Cresson is in the midst of a two-year deal with Pedercini Kawasaki

RUMOURS 2022 WorldSBK Riders

The confirmation of Honda's rider line-up formally confirms Leon Haslam is out of the team, while the firm's farewell message to the experienced Briton would appear to suggest he is not set to land the satellite MIE Honda ride either.

Puccetti Kawasaki appears likely to retain Lucas Mahias, despite the Frenchman receiving a rather damning assessment from his team manager over repeated accidents.

Redding’s arrival at BMW means Tom Sykes is out of a ride. The 2013 WorldSBK champion had been linked with the satellite Bonovo MGM BMW team, but it is understood he is considering an approach from Paul Bird Motorsport for a BSB tilt in 2022, though there are rumours of an approach by McAMS Yamaha too.

If Sykes was to choose Yamaha, he would replace new BSB champion Tarran Mackenzie, who is strongly rumoured to be joining Team GoEleven. However, his hopes could have taken a knock by the team's rumoured decision to stick with Ducati machinery, rather than switch to Yamaha as it had planned.

Ducati's involvement could have a bearing on the final rider choice, with Federico Caricasulo re-entering the fray, while the well-funded Philipp Oettl is also believed to be on the list of candidates.

Axel Bassani has emerged as one of the surprise standouts of the season with the small budget Motocorsa Racing team. Though interest from Honda didn’t materialise into a seat, he is expected to remain where he is.

WorldSSP Champion Dominique Aegerter has made no secret of his desire to get a WorldSBK chance next season but his hopes seem to rest with whether Ten Kate Racing - with whom he won the title with - return to the Superbike class.

2022 WorldSBK World Championship Rider Line-up [as of 26/10/21]

Kawasaki Racing Team

Jonathan ReaGBRKawasaki ZX-10RR
Alex LowesGBRKawasaki ZX-10RR

Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK

Toprak RazgatliogluTURYamaha R1
Andrea LocatelliITAYamaha R1

BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team

Scott ReddingGBRBMW M 1000 RR
Michael van der MarkNEDBMW M 1000 RR

Aruba Ducati

Michael Ruben RinaldiITADucati Panigale V4 R
Alvaro BautistaESPDucati Panigale V4 R

Team HRC

Xavi ViergeESPHonda CBR1000RR-R
Iker LecuonaESPHonda CBR1000RR-R

GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team

Garrett GerloffUSAYamaha R1
Kohta NozaneJAPYamaha R1

Bonovo Racing

Eugene LavertyIRLBMW M 1000 RR
Loris BazFRABMW M 1000 RR
Outdo TPR RacingLoris CressonBELKawasaki ZX-10RR
Barni RacingLuca BernardiRSMDucati Panigale V4 R
Motocorsa RacingAxel BassaniITADucati Panigale V4 R
MIE Racing HondaLeandro Mercado, Leon HaslamNAHonda CBR1000RR-R
Orelac VerdNatura RacingPhillip OettlGERKawasaki ZX-10RR
Team Go ElevenTarran Mackenzie, Phillip Oettl, Federico CaricasuloNATBA
Gil MotorsportChristophe PonssonFRAYamaha R1

Italics indicate rumoured/unconfirmed