Signatures have been made and discussions are underway: yes, it’s silly season already!
The 2020 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship may only be three rounds old but already, with it being August, there’s talks underway regarding 2021. With the Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK of Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes staying the same, Michael van der Mark switching to BMW and German rider Jonas Folger’s desire to get into WorldSBK for next year – as well as the potential of an Independent BMW team – there’s already a lot of speculation. Let’s have a round-up of what the 2021 World Superbike grid looks like.
Chaz Davies has been one of the focal points ahead of 2021. The ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati star has made it no secret that there’s nothing set in stone for next season, saying: “There are no plans at the moment for 2021; discussions are happening, but nothing is done. Obviously, we will focus on racing and then turn the attention a little bit towards next season.”
Another hot seat is that of the PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Official Team, after Michael van der Mark confirmed his departure to the BMW team for 2021. Speaking during the Motul Portuguese Round, team manager Paul Denning said: “Right now, we are just open-minded and of course, we are disappointed in Michael van der Mark’s decision, but we have full respect for him after four fantastic years at Yamaha. We will part at the end of the year with quite a sorry heart but also, with a lot of respect for him and what he has done for us. We are looking for a rider who can replace him at the same level.”
The BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team have seen a duel to survive in the team for 2021, after van der Mark was signed. Team principal Shaun Muir clarified that their rider line-up should be completed with a second rider very soon: “It’s going to come in the next two weeks. That decision will be announced in or around Aragon.”
Muir continued, confirming that he has been in discussions about a potential Independent BMW team for 2021 with a WorldSSP team and an existing WorldSBK squad: “We’re talking to a number of teams but, like we are, they’re currently focusing on their racing. We believe nothing will happen probably until towards Magny-Cours when their financial situation comes a bit clearer. There’s a number of teams we’re talking to who have got an interest, who are already in the paddock, and there is some interest from us because that project is something we will benefit from. One is a WorldSSP team and one is a WorldSBK team.”
Elsewhere on the grid, Leon Haslam (Team HRC) said he was “very excited” about the future of the Honda project but remained tight-lipped on anything specific to 2021. Italian sensation Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team GOELEVEN) also stayed coy, preferring to turn his attention to each race as it comes in 2020. In the coming weeks and months, it will all be sorted out and the grid for next year will continue to take shape, making for an exciting season to unfold off-track as well as building up to another phenomenal season on-track.