Five stories that will unfold during the 2022 WorldSBK season? | Superbikes of the world

With just over two months to go until the 2022 WorldSBK season kicks off, here’s a look at five key storylines that are set to play out.

The 2021 season delivered just about every aspect a World Championship should. Whether it’s exciting racing, new stars emerging, a title battle that went down the wire, you name it and it’s done.

So in that sense, the 2022 WorldSBK season has a lot to do, but with the current grid looking even stronger, we could be set for the best WorldSBK season ever.

Here are five scenarios that predicts will unfold and will likely define the path the Superbike Championship will take towards 2023.

5: How will WorldSBK rookies Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge get along at Honda?

Honda is arguably the biggest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, however, success in WorldSBK has been very hard to come by.

James Toseland is the last rider to win a WorldSBK title for them in 2007, and although Honda has not always been a full factory team, five world championship wins – Colin Edwards and Fred Merkel have the other four (two each) – is a disappointing comeback given that the Championship enters its 35th season.

Since returning as a full factory team in 2020, Honda has racked up just three podiums, which is the fewest of any manufacturer.

But that said, the HRC team has taken a whole new direction for 2022 as young Spaniards Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge leave MotoGP and Moto2 respectively.

It goes without saying that the team must provide both drivers with a better package than the one Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam had to work with.

While standout 2021 rookies Andrea Locatelli and Axel Bassani were on better machines with Yamaha and Ducati, young riders seem to be adapting to different classes at a much faster pace than we’ve ever seen before, which Honda would clearly like to see it happen. them.

Although highly unlikely to be in a championship battle, much like the race wins in their debut season, Lecuona and Virgo have a chance to lay the groundwork for where Honda could and should go. ahead for 2023, which is obviously developing a motorcycle that can compete for a title.

For that to happen, the main objective should be to consistently achieve top ten results, while improved qualifying performance and a more user-friendly CBR1000RR-R would go a long way to benefiting both riders.

4: Can Bautista and Redding challenge Razgatlioglu/Rea with their new teams.

Two riders who have been championship contenders without winning the title since 2019 are Bautista (2019) and Redding (2020/21).

Bautista looked set for one of the most dominant years a WorldSBK rider has ever had as he won 11 consecutive races to start his Superbike career with Ducati, and although he won 16 in total at the late in 2019, poor performances and injuries midway through the season began to derail his title aspirations. Jonathan Rea ultimately won title number five out of six.

As for Redding, the 2019 BSB champion was Rea’s main title challenger in 2020 – pushed the Kawasaki rider to the final round – before keeping Rea and 2021 champion Toprak Razgatlioglu in sight for much of the season. last.

However, early season mistakes and strategy errors caused the loss of Redding and Ducati, something he will not want to replicate with his new BMW team.

Looking at the two drivers, Bautista is perhaps the favorite to challenge Rea and Razgatlioglu given the package he is on, while Redding, who we have to say has made the surprising decision to join BMW, a team who isn’t ready to win consistently yet, will likely have him on the outside looking inside.

If Michael Van Der Mark, a proven race winner could only manage three podium finishes in 2021, then it’s fair to say that 2023 might be more realistic for Redding when it comes to winning a Superbike championship. On the other hand, Bautista certainly has the speed to challenge, but crashes and inconsistencies will have to be paramount.

3: Who could be the next young rider to join a big team?

Locatelli caused a stir in 2021 and proved that having a rookie in the factory team can generate brilliant results. Along with this, the Pata Yamaha rider’s relationship with Razgatlioglu was very strong, making them the strongest pair on the grid.

That says a lot considering Redding and Rea had riders such as Michael Rinaldi and Alex Lowes as teammates. But with Locatelli already in a full factory squad, that rules out the Italian for the sake of that argument.

Instead, Axel Bassani looks like the WorldSBK rider with the most to gain in 2022. If the 22-year-old continues his good form from last season and takes a second-year step, then replaces Bautista (37) or Rinaldi who has struggled for big parts of his first season with Team Ducati could be on the cards.

Philipp Oettl, who will also be riding a Ducati this season (GoEleven Team) could and may be the favorite to finish as the top rookie. If the former Moto2 rider shows the immediate pace he did joining WorldSSP and achieves various outstanding results, the German could also put his name in the hat for a promising race in 2023.

2: Can Rea win back the title or is 2021 a sign of things to come?

When saying a sign of things to come, let’s first acknowledge that 2021 has by no means been a bad year for Rea, in fact it has been brilliant for the most part.

But with the 34-year-old losing the title for the first time since 2015, making some unusual mistakes and generally being outclassed by Razgatlioglu, it will be a big year for Rea if he is to regain the No.1 plate.

With Yamaha and Ducati showing a bit more motorcycle potential in 2021, and BMW/Honda possibly joining the title fight from 2023, winning a WorldSBK championship with each passing year is likely to become increasingly difficult. given the improved quality of the drivers as well.

That’s why 2022 could be a great chance for Rea to reclaim his title, especially since the number one scenario on this list could also play a role. Stay tuned for that…

As noted above, Rea has been fantastic for most of 2021 equaling Razgatlioglu in win count (13), while securing more podiums and pole positions. However, the consistency wasn’t quite what we’re used to seeing from the six-time world champion.

If Kawasaki provides Rea with a slightly more forgiving ZX10-RR, even if significant changes won’t take place, then Rea will likely be back in the mix with Razgatlioglu.

1: Will Razgatlioglu leave WorldSBK for MotoGP / will uncertainty play a role in the title?

The number one scenario that should play out this season is whether Razgatlioglu stays in WorldSBK or goes to MotoGP.

The Turkish star has already confirmed he will be testing a Yamaha MotoGP motorcycle this year, while his team principal Paul Denning and personal manager Kenan Sofuoglu have admitted the same.

Whether Razgatlioglu does indeed join MotoGP remains to be seen with which Yamaha team as Sofuoglu has also said they won’t budge without a factory ride.

While speculation is already ripe despite the season not even starting, testing it on an M1 and with performance that should be high quality for Pata Yamaha will only increase talk of a potential change. is why it could also have a negative effect.

Razgatlioglu is likely to be in an intense battle with Rea for the title and will need to focus fully on retaining his championship crown, but with a big money move potentially on the table, how does that change the mindset of Razgatlioglu, if any, will be interesting to see.

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