WorldSBK 2022 ​​| How the grid is shaping up for next season

The 2022 WorldSBK Championship grid is coming together the likes of Honda, Ducati and Yamaha yet to confirm their line-ups... and the potential for moves

Scott Redding - Ducati WorldSBK 2021

The 2021 WorldSBK Championship may only be getting juicy up top as Toprak Razgatlioglu takes the fight to Jonathan Rea for the title, but attentions are already turning towards getting those deals for the 2022 WorldSBK arranged.

Unlike MotoGP, where nearly all seats have been snapped up, there are still several positions up for grabs with the likes of Scott Redding and Alvaro Bautista still yet to firm up their plans. 

We take a look at which riders are signed and sealed and consider whether there will be any big  moves in the coming weeks.

Who is confirmed?

Multiple champions Kawasaki head into the 2022 WorldSBK season with an unchanged rider line-up having pinned Jonathan Rea to a long-term deal last year that will take him through to the end of the 2023 season.

The Ulsterman has intimated it could be the moment for him to hang up his helmet, or will the recent reported interest in him from Petronas SRT Yamaha have him considering that much-discussed graduation to MotoGP? The man himself claims it is ‘never say never’ - will the rise of Razgatlioglu this season, who is finely-poised with Rea in the overall standings after six events, push him into responding?

Alongside him will once more be Alex Lowes, the Briton getting another season after notching up four podiums on the ZX-10RR in 2021, even if he is yet to add to his sole victory, achieved at a thrilling 2020 opener in Australia.

Razgatlioglu, meanwhile, confounded expectations by turning down the offer to move into MotoGP next season with Petronas SRT Yamaha in favour of two seasons in the production-based series with Pata Yamaha, where he will instead attempt to secure the first-ever WorldSBK title for a Turkish rider… or, if he keeps up his current good form, maybe even try to defend it in 2022.

His team-mate is yet to be confirmed but Andrea Locatelli’s upturn in form on the sister R1 in recent rounds will have given his chances a huge boost, while team boss Andrea Dosoli told Visordown he wants to nurture the 2020 WorldSSP Champion’s potential.

Over at GRT Yamaha, Garrett Gerloff will get a third season with the privateer Italian outfit as the American looks to continue the progress made since his debut in 2020.

Which seats are up for grabs?

BMW, Honda and Ducati are yet to formally confirm their riders for the 2022 WorldSBK Championship season.

New-for-2021, Michael van der Mark is expected to stay on with the German marque having made solid progress with the firm’s new M 1000 RR, which in turn culminated in him and Tom Sykes scoring the bike’s first podiums at Donington Park.

Similarly, Sykes - who joined the manufacturer at the start of its most recent factory-backed endeavour - has been instrumental in the development of the project, while the riders perhaps best positioned to replace him in the team, Eugene Laverty and Jonas Folger, are yet to match the factory pair’s response.

At Ducati, Scott Redding has intimated he might be prepared to change teams but his options look slim from a factory-backed perspective with only Honda the only viable alternative offer.

However, that may not be such a stretch with Honda still deciding on its line-up for 2022. Big-money signing Alvaro Bautista has been unable to get back to the form he showcased during his superb record-breaking 2019-campaign with Ducati, raising some doubts as to whether he will be retained.

The length of his contract hasn’t been communicated but the Spaniard has shown flashes of his best, particularly come race day, and seems keen to continue developing the CBR1000RR-R into a winning machine. 

With Redding potentially making himself available, Honda may consider swooping in for the ex-MotoGP rider if the opportunity arises to get an alternative big name on board.

Leon Haslam, meanwhile, has matched Bautista for pace since his arrival but again hasn’t had his position with the team confirmed as yet.

As ever, the independent teams will filter into the entry list once the factory line-ups are concerned, though one name now on the lips of prospective teams is MotoGP rider Danilo Petrucci, who is considering returning to WorldSBK after being informed he won’t be competing with Tech 3 KTM next year.