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.

Elsewhere, Garrett Gerloff will remain with GRT and Yamaha for what will be his third season in WorldSBK.

RUMOURS 2022 WorldSBK Riders

Honda looks set to go for a fresh rider line-up in an effort to boost its modest results since introducing the Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade.

It’s going to take a leftfield punt too by bringing on two GP seasoned but still relatively inexperienced Spanish riders in Iker Lecuona - joining from Tech 3 KTM in MotoGP - and Xavi Vierge, who races in Moto2.

This would leave Leon Haslam out of a ride, though the ultra-experienced Briton has been linked to the satellite MIE Honda squad with increased backing or a return to BSB.

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 has 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. 

With Jonas Folger reportedly leaving Bonovo MGM after a tough year, in his place could come Eugene Laverty if Sykes doesn’t accept.

Over at Ducati, 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 or switch to Barni Racing in order to come under Ducati’s wing.

Go Eleven Ducati may be losing the retiring Chaz Davies at the end of the year, but the impressive efforts of substitute Loris Baz in Jerez might just have earned the Frenchman a ticket back to the series full-time in 2022.

WorldSSP champion in waiting Dominique Aegerter is expected to get a WorldSBK chance next season, with GRT Yamaha or a returning Ten Kate Racing - with whom he is currently racing - appear most likely options.