Alvaro Bautista’s entrance into the 2019 WorldSBK melee has been roundly applauded by everyone aside from Marco Melandri and Xavi Fores whose potential jobs in the Aruba Ducati team he has snaffled but reigning champ Jonathan Rea believes it won’t be a walk in the park for the Spaniard.
Rea acknowledges Bautista is fast but also says he is a little inconsistent. The Isle of Man resident believes that should that trend be reversed, he will be at the front. “He did not have the best equipment available, but now he is one of the best teams in the Superbike World Championship with one of the best motorcycles,” said Rea.
PJ Jacosen got a day riding the Red Bull Hondas of Leon Camier and Jake Gagne but it doesn’t look like he is a candidate to replace the American next season and is talking of a possible move to Moto2 or British Superbikes. Jacobsen admits he has had a bad year so far and the chances of a competitive bike in WorldSBK are slim, so thinks he could make a step backwards to move forwards.
Markus Reiterberger is a man in demand. His manager Werner Daemen is in talks with Honda Europe for a seat in either the Red Bull Honda team or to replace PJ Jacobsen at Triple M. The German is also favourite to occupy a chair should BMW decide to come back with a ‘works’ team.
Triple M boss Matthias Moser would like to run a two-bike team next year but says he is heavily-reliant on Honda funding a chunk of it. He says he could top up the Honda money to run two bikes as it will need double the staff he currently employs.
That takes a bit of pressure off the rider marker, which still currently has Tom Sykes, Eugene Laverty, Marco Melandri, Jordi Torres, Lorenzo Savadori, Loris Baz, Michael Rinaldi and Xavi Fores – plus possibly Scott Redding, Jake Dixon and Brad Ray – without current confirmed seats.
Melandri is still smarting from his Ducati exit and doesn’t quite know why it happened. The Italian took great pains to point out that he is basically a free rider while Chaz Davies is well-salaried – Melandri reckons €1.3m over two years – and their performances haven’t greatly differed. He also stated he learned about his dismissal from the media, not Ducati. However, team manager Serafino Foti denies this.
Just so as you know, Jakub Smrz is back in the championship with Guandalini Yamaha after Karel Hanika’s World Endurance team refused him permission to play.