Japanese Superbike Champion Takumi Takahashi joins 2020 WorldSBK grid

Honda bolsters its 2020 WorldSBK Championship rider line-up with the promotion of Takumi Takahashi to the satellite Mie Racing Team

Takumi Takahashi - Honda

Another piece of the 2020 WorldSBK puzzle has been slotted into place with the confirmation that leading Japanese Superbike rider Takumi Takahashi will make a full-time switch to world championship competition with the Mie Racing Team riding the new Honda CBR1000RR-R.

The Honda protégé has been its leading contender on the domestic scene for some years, lifting the 2017 All-Japan Superbike Championship and finishing runner-up in 2019.

He also made a one-off appearance on the Moriwaki Althea Honda team this season as a deputy for the injured Leon Camier at Portimao, while he also started four races in 2017 for Ten Kate Honda, peaking with a best finish of tenth place.

He is the third Honda rider to be confirmed to the 2020 WorldSBK grid, with at least one more set to follow from the Mie Racing Team.

What more can we expect from the 2020 WorldSBK grid?

With the new Honda HRC team having officially confirmed its line-up of Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam, it remained to be seen where Althea Racing – which ran three bikes under the Moriwaki and Mie Racing banner in 2019 – fitted into the new equation.

The offshoot Althea Mie Racing satellite ran a single bike for Alessandro Delbianco this season and is expected to keep his spot in the line-up for 2019, presumably alongside Takahashi.

What’s not entirely clear is whether Moriwaki is still involved in this project, not least because it had a two-year deal with Ryuichi Kiyonari, though this isn’t necessarily to race in WorldSBK.

For now, the only 2019 team yet to announce its rider(s) for 2020 is the Orelac Racing squad but it is strongly expected to hold onto Leandro Mercado, with the Argentine revealing it is just a case of signing the contract.

It’s possible Ten Kate Yamaha could expand to a second bike, potentially for Sandro Cortese, who otherwise looks set to return to the Supersport class, while there has been talk BMW is keen to get a satellite outfit to back up its works effort and has reportedly held talks with ex-Moto2 champions Kiefer Racing about stepping into the series.