WorldSBK 2021 | Seventh heaven for Rea or Can Redding, …

We have been waiting a long time for the opening round of the 2021 WorldSBK World Championship this weekend. In fact, it has been six months since Chaz Davies took the flag in the last race of the weekend in November 2020 at Estoril.

Since then, we’ve kept our fingers crossed while engineers turned the settlements (and felt that way) in the longest off-season to date. As a result of an ongoing coronavirus pandemic, WorldSBK has hacked and changed its calendar so frequently that the schedule barely shows any of its original dates.

Because of this, the brief turnaround of winter test sessions between November and February has resulted in a spoiled introduction of excessive test mileage, leaving the Honda CBR1000RR-R likely to be close to the distance traveled throughout 2020.

Even so, six months is just a glance at a calendar Jonathan Reakicking off the 2021 WorldSBK season directly watching a seventh straight title as his rivals plan how to hit the porthole painted on his back.

Six months is a long time, but when you go up against Rea, time has a different meaning.

Can someone stop Jonathan Rea from winning the seventh WorldSBK title?

Well, it won’t be easier than it has been in years past, based on pre-season testing which, as always, went swimming for the Rock Solid “as a” Kawasaki Rea pair.

The rivals might have hoped that some hurdles might arise with the introduction of a new ZX-10RR, but an evolutionary approach – coupled with te and clearly a meticulous development process behind closed doors – saw it look just as fast – if not faster the box came its predecessor.

Developed with Rea’s input in mind, this is as bespoke a superbike as you will likely ever see. This alone is reason to believe that the Ulsterman might be even more of a favorite than anyone this year. If that were even possible.

That said, Rea and Kawasaki may be predictably consistent, but in six years he hasn’t had a real dog fight for the title. Chaz Davies Alvaro Bautista occasionally pushed him, either right up front or pulled himself out of the gravel, and Scott Redding had the confidence to get his elbows out, but sometimes not the finesse to lace it up.

For a first year in WorldSBK, however, it would be reasonable to assume that Redding – with the air of an impending world title – has walked away and worked harder than anyone to come up with a game plan that has the potential to ripple Rea’s feathers simply, because he hasn’t had to get the call out for a while.

Beyond Redding Earth Razgatlioglu tipped for a track slant if the Yamaha R1 can sustain a decent pace. Indeed, with BMW and Kawasaki bringing updates to the R1 – which is nimble but already out of power – there’s a question mark over whether the Yamaha is just good enough.

As for Razgatlioglu himself, the Turk didn’t always look particularly comfortable on the R1 in 2020, but a more precise style will serve him better in the long run.

Can BMW and Honda get involved?

Honda was noticeable in its decision to largely avoid group testing and drive behind closed doors, a method that creates a degree of intrigue. At least it would be if the muffled noises came from Alvaro Bautista weren’t that flat.

The Spaniard is facing a make-or-break year in 2021, a remarkable statement about someone who won the first eleven races of his WorldSBK career in 2019. There’s no doubt that Honda has the resources and based on the shape of the CBR1000RR-R suggests there’s a very fast bike out there.

Rent Leon Camier Being a team manager was a curveball that no one saw coming … as much as no one is sure how it will happen. Who knows, it could be Leon Camier, Honda HRC MotoGP team manager or Alvaro Bautista.

BMW will also cross everything that the M 1000 RR – an optimized, electronically loaded Brainier version of the S 1000 RR – meets expectations. After all, if it doesn’t turn out faster than what you already had, it’s one thing to realize that your acclaimed sportbike is limp in the performance range, which will result in a costly “exclusive” upgrade.

Michael van der Mark arrives to push Tom Sykes on a bike for which we have to reserve our judgment, as the testing in the run-up to the opener didn’t blow anyone away.

Larger, more international networks make the wait worthwhile

It was a difficult time for everyone and WorldSBK – which has grown in popularity in recent years – was perhaps the series we would have expected the most in the financial downturn.

Instead, all but two teams (Brixx and Ten Kate Racing) have returned for 2021, while BMW’s two new satellite entries come with an M1000RR each for Jonas Folger (MGM Bonovo) and Eugene Laverty (RC Squadra Corse) while a historic Alstare name is making a surprising return to WorldSBK Christophe Ponsson on a Yamaha.

With Pedercini having two motorcycles again, and with MIE Racing hoping to fill the second Honda CBR1000RR-R seat, it means a starting line-up of 24 motorcycles with competitors from as diverse as Japan, Turkey, Argentina and the USA proposed as permanent becomes.

WorldSBK 2021 | Dark horses to watch out for

Chaz Davies’The WorldSBK 2021 campaign is written like a fairytale. Davies, bumped into the Ducati factory team after years of loyalty, ends up on a tighter budget but less pressured GoEleven. It is the manufacturer’s second stringed satellite arm (after Barni), but was a race winner for the first time in 2020 Michael Ruben Rinaldi, who replaced Davies.

It may not be the path to that elusive WorldSBK title, but Davies versus Rinaldi (and therefore Ducati bosses) will be fascinating to watch.

Garret Gerloff Maybe it took a little while to make his move, but when he did the American quickly turned his season around. Suddenly it jumped from tenth place to battle for victories in the last three events. It was as if Gerloff had taken several big steps at once.

It’s no wonder Yamaha put their trust in him to ride the Factory R1 – under the GRT banner – not least because it makes him do it Andrea Locatelli, the WorldSSP-dominant force emerging as a surprise reward from the Pata Bike factory. Tests for the Italian didn’t go well, however, as teammate Razgatlioglu suffered a number of falls and pace

Others to see are Gerloff’s teammate About Nozane, who accepts Yamaha’s offer of a WorldSBK ride and fulfills an ambition that was rejected by Nozane’s legendary Yamaha colleague Katsyuki Nakasuga, who, despite his MotoGP podium and dominance in the Japanese racing scene, never competed in WorldSBK

The newest MotoGP star to switch to WorldSBK, Tito Rabat landed on the well-stocked Barni Ducati for its maiden campaign. After preparing for a Kawasaki seat next to Rea in 2020 before choosing MotoGP, Rabat hopes to rediscover the flair that got him the Moto2 title but left him for five years in MotoGP.

As well as Rabat, Jonas Folger brings MotoGP credentials to WorldSBK in its first international season since his burgeoning top division career was halted by Epstein-Barr syndrome. He’ll get a good slide to compare himself to Eugene Lavertyto ride the same motorcycle under a different name, but with the same quasi-factory support from BMW.

After WorldSSP was conquered on the increasingly outdated Kawasaki ZX-6R, Lucas Mahias He can stretch his legs on newer and very competitive ZX-10RR Puccetti Racing and has the potential to be the fastest of five WorldSSP graduates.