First World Superbikes race weekend of 2017 is already this month so I think it’s the right time for the riders’ preview.
There are 21 riders from 11 different countries in the entry list. The most riders – 5 – are from the United Kingdom, then 4 riders come from Italy, 3 from Spain, 2 from Germany. Other countries (San Marino, Czech republic, Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, USA and Argentina) are represented by 1 racer.
This post may be called as the riders’ preview – and I am talking the most about the riders – but I divide it in the parts according to the teams.
Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK
In my opinion Kawasaki team is the biggest favourite of the championship again. Their line-up is same as in the last few years which means Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes stay there. Already in the reasons why to watch WSBK in 2017 I wrote the question if Rea would reach the hattrick or not. I personally guess that at least he will be fighting for it. And actually right now I can’t see who could stop him. Yeah there are a few riders who should chase him but in this case I think he will grab another one title. But of course, sport is unpredictable. That’s why we love it. If we knew the results in advance, it wouldn’t be that exciting.
One of the riders who should fight with Rea for the world title is his team mate Tom Sykes. So let’s see who will be more lucky.
So in Sykes and Rea the team has great and strong pair again and they will be on top, that’s what I don’t doubt about.
MV Agusta Reparto Corse
The MV Agusta team will race just with one rider again and it will be Leon Camier again. Last year there were some promising results and performances and it looks like that in the upcoming season it could be the upward tendency. Leon himself and also the team have some ambitions so let’s hope they will be able to reach them.
Honda World Superbike Team
What to expect from them, that’s the question. They have new Fireblade so we only have to wait for some more test days to see how all is going.
Their riders’ line-up is also very interesting and we have some expectations about them. Well, I personally have some expectations and I have to tell you that I am looking forward to Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl as team mates.
Hayden was my teenage idol in MotoGP and it was something mega for me when he won the World title back then in 2006. His move to World Superbikes last year was quite successful as he took some podium results and even won a race in Malaysia.
Bradl is my current idol so I am really curious about his move to World Superbikes. He had some great years in MotoGP and its lower categories but also recently there were some troubles for him. So now new challenge is ahead of him. I shouldn’t expect anything as he is a rookie there and everything is new for him but as he said in one interview “it is still bike” so maybe – and I hope – he will surprise us. Well, not me, as I believe in his racing skills.
Aruba.it Racing – Ducati
This is maybe the one who can chase Kawasaki’s pair Rea and Sykes. I really feel like this team and its riders will fight for top positions.
Well, with Chaz Davies there are no doubts about it. What he showed us in the last few race weekends of last season, that was really phenomenal. So if he continues in the way where he ended then it will be really something huge. Now I personally have to admit that I really would like to see him taking the title. He’s always so close but far at the same time. Maybe this will be his year.
Davies has new team mate and it is Marco Melandri. Maybe something little bit surprising, maybe not. But I really don’t know what to expect from him. He hasn’t raced for some years so I really don’t know in how good or bad shape he is. According to the testing it looks like he could do well, maybe even better than what we expect from him right now. This can be quite exciting to watch actually.
Barni Racing Team
Team Barni will race with Ducati bike and with Xavi Forés. So it is same as it was last season. In 2016 there were some good results for them and even one podium finish. We probably can’t count with them that they will fight for victories (but you never know though) but I guess if they are able to be in top 10 regularly it will be good season for them.
I personally have to say that I was quite surprised to hear that Alex de Angelis was going to race on Kawasaki. But why not. I am glad he is still there in this championship and hopefully he will be competitive.
Althea BMW Racing Team
All is same for the 2017 season. Team Althea will have the BMW bikes again and also their riders are same. Markus Reiterberger and Jordi Torres, both stay there. Markus had very hard season last year with the serious back injury so it is nice to hear that everything is going to be better and that step by step it all is improving. Fingers crossed for him to be all fine as much as possible for the beginning of the season 2017.
Jordi had cool season last year, it was without podium finish but there were some top 10 and sometimes even top 5 results. Hopefully he will be competitive also this year. Just right now there is small trouble for him as he got injured in the test a few days ago. I hope he will be fine soon.
Pata Yamaha Official Team SBK with Rizla
Wow, what a long name they have :-D I had to look at it twice to be sure I’ve written it correctly.
Well, this is team of youngsters. I hope I haven’t insulted Alex and Michael by calling them youngsters. But they are young boys, that’s true. They are the future of World Superbikes. They still haven’t showed their real potential. They still have something to tell us in the racing world. I have to say that the pair of Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark sounds pretty interesting to me. I can imagine they will be great, competitive and fast team mates. I am looking forward to them and their cooperation.
When it comes to some chances for title fight I have to say that I am not sure about it. They both have talent, they both are fast, we all know it. But I really don’t know if they will be able to chase Rea, Sykes and Davies. Of course, with the new grid format for race 2 everything is possible. Well, everything would be possible also if there wasn’t any new grid format, as I’ve already said, you never know what could happen. It also depends on how reliable and competitive the bike will be.
Team Milwaukee is changing the brand of the bikes again. It’s time for Aprilia now. Lorenzo Savadori – as the Aprilia rider – is in the team and he will race alongside the World SBK returnee Eugene Laverty.
I like these two as team mates, to me it seems that their cooperation and just all in the team could work good. We have to wait and see how good their bikes will be but I am sure that both are good racers and they will be fighting bravely for top 10 positions and maybe even higher.
IodaRacing with one rider again but this time it will be Leandro Mercado, the FIM European Superstock 1000 champion from 2014. The Argentinian already tried the World SBK category in 2015 (he finished 8th overall in that year which was pretty good) and 2012. So with some experiences from the biggest class he can have some kind of an advantage and I guess these experiences will be useful for him.
Team IodaRacing Project stays with Aprilia so we will see how the whole package –bike, rider, the team itself – will work.
Grillini Racing Team
Team Grillini stays with Kawasaki but they’ve changed their riders’s line-up completely. In 2017 they will put their trust in Ondřej Ježek and Ayrton Badovini. Both of them were racing in World Supersports last year.
Ayrton has already experience with World Superbikes as he was racing there for a few years. So we will see how he will get used to Kawasaki bike and how his comeback will look like.
Ondřej (or as we Czechs says “Ondra”) is rookie there. He didn’t have very good season last year in WSS and he himself admitted that the 600cc bike doesn’t suit him as well as 1000cc bike. When he was racing in Superstock 1000 category he took some good results and podium finishes. So that’s why he feels pretty optimistic about the World SBK future. And I, as a Czech, really hope he will do well. He’s cool guy, one of my favourite Czech riders (and I really don’t support our riders much, just some of them) and I wish him to be successful.
Team Go Eleven
Team Go Eleven will race just with one rider this year and it’s Román Ramos who was already racing there last year. With his Kawasaki he was 15th in the final standing last season (but he didn’t start to some races) and his results were quite stable. It all was about 10th to 15th place and probably something similar we could expect in 2017 too.
Guandalini Racing is coming to this category. The team will race with Yamaha and they will have one rider. His name is Riccardo Russo. Maybe a bit of surprise. But he isn’t new there in the biggest class. He already tried it in 2014. Last year he was racing in the FIM European Superstock 1000 category, he scored one podium finish and overall he was 9th. As (almost) rookie it will be hard for him – I guess – and actually I don’t know much what to expect from him and from the team. So let’s wait for the start of the season to see how it will be.
Kawasaki Puccetti Racing
I am really curious about that! I am curious about this team in the biggest category and also about how Randy Krummenacher will do. He has some big ambitions so let’s keep our fingers crossed for everything going well. I am really looking forward to this. Last year he came to World Supersport class like a hurricane so I am curious if he is able to repeat it. Of course, in this class all will be (probably) a little bit harder but I believe in him.
I feel like some big things are going to happen this season. I am really very curious about all teams and all riders. Just 22 days until the FP1 at Phillip Island!
Photo: World Superbikes