5 British riders that could take WorldSBK by storm

Following James Toseland's comments about there being too many Brits in WorldSBK, we pick out five more that could swell ranks further in the coming years

Jake Dixon - Moto2

James Toseland caused a stir last week by suggesting the dwindling popularity and status of the WorldSBK was in part down to the influx of British riders in the top seats… but does he have a point

Statistically at least it’s hard to ignore the facts. Between 2015 and 2018, every single win during that period (104 races) was split between five different British riders and just four non-British riders.

To put that into context, those four riders – Marco Melandri, Michael van der Mark, Jordi Torres and Nicky Hayden – won just seven of those races. That’s 97 times the Union Jack flew over #1 on the podium in four seasons.

Things changed somewhat in 2019 thanks mostly to Alvaro Bautista notching up 16 wins, with international success upped to 19 wins after Torak Razgatlioglu and Michael van der Mark’s victories are taken into account.

However, a glance at the 2020 WorldSBK Championship line-up sees seven Britons not only hold seats, but high-profile ones too with Kawasaki and Ducati going all-UK (Jonathan Rea, Alex Lowes, Scott Redding, Chaz Davies), while Honda (Leon Haslam) and BMW (Tom Sykes) have one each too.

It’s a validation of the work Stuart Higgs and MSV have done with the British Superbike Championship to make it a proving ground for the world championship, though it is also reflective of the decline of other national championships with the US (MotoAmerica), Australian, Italian (CIV), German (IDM), Spanish and Japanese series’ not as influential as they once were.

And it won’t necessarily stop there… as Redding joins the latest in a long line of BSB-to-WorldSBK converts, we look at 5 more riders from the British series that could potentially swell those ranks in the coming years.

Jake Dixon

While this wouldn’t be a direct BSB-to-WorldSBK switch, Jake Dixon certainly has the series to fall back on if his quest to reach MotoGP via Moto2 doesn’t quite work out.

It wasn’t an encouraging start for the Briton after a tough rookie season on inconsistent machinery, so 2020 – on the Petronas Sprinta package – will be a sure sign of Dixon’s future in the grand prix ranks.

However, it’s easy to forget he sustained a 2018 BSB title challenge against Leon Haslam aboard privateer Kawasaki machinery and pushed him all the way in only his second full season of Superbikes. At just 24-years-old, time is very much on Dixon’s side.

Tarran Mackenzie

The young Scotsman came of age in 2019 with a charge to the BSB Title Showdown aboard the factory backed McAMS Yamaha team and there is no doubt he is destined to take another step forward in 2020 armed with the new generation Yamaha R1.

Though it wasn’t a perfect season with injuries – caused by Mackenzie’s higher frequency of crashes – hampering him at various stages, he was one of the few, together with Buchan, really capable of showing pace to match the Ducatis at his peak.

He’s already on Yamaha Europe’s radar having been nominated as Michael van der Mark’s reserve at Donington Park last year (though he wasn’t used in the end) so another strong season in 2020 could be a leg up for a promotion in 2021.

Bradley Ray

Bradley Ray could have been on the WorldSBK grid in 2019 amid Dorna’s attempts to convince Hawk Racing (Buildbase) to enter its Suzukis on the back of a breakout 2018 BSB campaign that yielded two wins and a run to the Title Showdown.

In the end, Ray opted to stay in BSB but it was a sobering season on the inconsistent GSX-R1000, though there were flashes of form in the second-half of the year as the confidence returned. One wonder what would have happened had he gone ahead and moved into WorldSBK.

For now, Ray has cut ties with Suzuki in favour of leading the Tyco BMW effort in BSB for 2020, which will be a sure sign to see how he copes on new machinery after three seasons pedalling the Suzuki.

Devilishly fast at times and another with years ahead of him… one to watch for 2020.

Danny Buchan

A two-time National Superstock 1000 Champion, it’s taken a long time for Danny Buchan to hit his stride in Superbikes but he came on leaps and bounds in 2019.

With the privateer FS-3 Racing team, Buchan flew the flag for Kawasaki in what was otherwise a tough year for the title defending manufacturer. His maiden wins at Knockhill and Cadwell Park were notable for him taking the fight to Ducati – and succeeding – as one of just three non-Panigale riders to triumph in 2019.

The 2020 season will be a crucial one for Buchan to prove he can take FS-3 – now with Kawasaki UK support – to the next level and sustain a fuller attack on the title. After that, there certainly isn’t a shortage of Kawasaki machinery competing in WorldSBK to try his hand at.

Tommy Bridewell

At 31, Tommy Bridewell isn’t the youngest rider on this list but he certainly made himself more attractive to WorldSBK suitors with a solid guest run on the GoEleven Ducati last year.

Though his career has taken a fair few turns over the years, Bridewell has found a sweet spot on the Ducati Panigale V4 R and while the man himself admits it took time to get his head around the electronics in WorldSBK, points’ finishes with barely any running suggests what he could do with the right build up.

A rider that could take the fight to Scott Redding each weekend last year, Bridewell may not be an up-and-comer per se, but those qualifications make him a potential catch nonetheless.

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