Photo: World Superbike
With the long World Superbike summer break — they aren’t racing again until September 18 in Germany — there’s not much to talk about except rumours for the 2017 season.
The latest? Don’t forget these are just rumours at this point: Sylvain Guintoli is out at Yamaha, Davide Giugliano is out at Ducati, and Michael van der Mark is out at Ten Kate Honda. The first two would be the team’s choices, the last the rider’s decision. Who will replace them?
Talk is that Marco Melandri will be returning to the field, taking Giugliano’s spot at Ducati and bringing lots of personal sponsorship money with him. Giugliano’s spotty record might be reason enough to let him go, but the money matters more than usual with Ducati’s Moto GP arm hiring Jorge Lorenzo for a no-doubt astronomical sum, pinching the entire racing operation.
At Yamaha, the rumour is that Van der Mark will take Guintoli’s spot. It’s no secret that the current Honda is at the short end of the technology stick, and the new bike due for 2017 is bound to require a lot of development work to match the current competition. “Mikie” makes no secret that he’s keen for a Moto GP ride, but moving to the Yamaha WSB team would put him on a new and competitive bike that’s already had a year of development and shown good promise.
Over at Honda, the word is that German Stefan Bradl is giving up on Moto GP, being dumped by Aprilia and apparently not interested in second-rate Ducati rides, and will join Nicky Hayden. The series organizers would love to have a German in the field, and no doubt Honda would be glad to have him as a representative for the German motorcycle market.
On the team front, it looks as though Aprilia plans to up its game, albeit via a satellite arrangement given their time-consuming and expensive foray into Moto GP. The rumoured candidate is the Milwaukee BMW team, who have been unhappy with the support from the German factory. Riders are likely to be Lorenzo Savadori, who’s impressed in his first year in the WSB paddock, perhaps teamed with either Eugene Laverty or Leon Camier. Laverty is still mulling his Moto GP options — he wants a current, or nearly-current Ducati if he’s to continue — while Camier might be keen to skip from the promising but perpetually underfunded MV brand.