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The referee-led accusation of John McEnroe “you can’t be serious” can often be applied to the rumour-plagued silly season, which was in full swing in the British Superbike paddock of Donington Bennetts.
And it is a certain James Whitham who poured gasoline on the fire with his Eurosport predictions about who would ride what in 2023. So BSN decided to copy McEnroe’s jokes and challenge the number one expert in Superbike racing to distinguish between reality and reality. fiction.
Leaving aside Brad Ray, Taz Mackenzie and Rory Skinner are desperate to get into a world series, the most intriguing thing is the exchange of seats within BSB.
And the story of Tommy Bridewell switching from the Oxford Racing Ducati team to arch-rival PBM, and his MCE Ducati team is surprising to say the least. Why would I have to do that?
Whitham replied, “Well, I don’t think he gets any more money than he has at Oxford Products. After all, he has been your championship contender.
“I think one of the things is that PBM, no matter how you look at it, has more direct ties to the factory, whether or not they developed the bike this year. Tommy might think, and I have no evidence for this, there’s more of a chance of getting on what would be more of a factory bike and rumor has it that if new parts came out, ie swingarms or whatever, he gets the second dibs after of the factory in your world
Superbikes. I think he’s made a pretty tight deal, but I think it will happen.”
BSN: And who will replace him? We have just told the story that Ducati MotoGP rider Danilo Petrucci, fresh from a successful stint at MotoAmerica, is a candidate.
Whit: Well, the other strong rumor is that Christian Iddon will replace him at Oxford Products. But he and the team keep quiet even when we question him on air. He has ridden the V4 Ducati before, for PBM and quite well. He is a good boy, he speaks well and when he retires he could be looking for a job.
BSN: And if your rumor is correct that Josh Brookes is leaving to team up with Peter Hickman at FHO, will Paul Bird want to run a two-bike team depending of course on what Tom Sykes wants to do after his double win? at Donington.
Whit: I don’t think the team has ever raced less than two riders and either way brings advantages and disadvantages. Two riders cost more money, but in my experience the team tends to work better in terms of developing and pushing each other.
Who else could they put if there was a vacancy? No idea. Birdy has been good over the years, in fact all the time, at going a little to the left with whomever he chooses. He has racked up some World Superbikes like he has this year, and it has worked and it hasn’t worked. You never know what Birdy is going to do.
Just to get back to Josh. It hasn’t been a year he wants to remember, and it’s rumored, and it’s a strong rumor, that he’s joining FHO. We have heard that he is even prepared to take a pay cut to be on a different bike for at least another year and put this year to sleep. And together with Peter Hickman and a team that loves both the track and the roads, like him, he will make a strong team even stronger.
I don’t know if it’s been announced yet, but it looks like 21-year-old Charlie Nesbitt will be staying at Buildbase; the only thing incomplete is what manufacturer? Suzuki is pulling out of all racing, and the team has yet to decide which bike is the best option and what endorsement can be obtained from the importer.
We have heard of a link with BMW which, to me, would not be a particularly good move. And with pretty much every other Japanese brand, but I think Yamaha probably has enough on their plate.
BSN: What about those who want to advance and move up?
Whit: It looks like Rory Skinner is going to get a little help from Dorna because they are desperate for another Brit to be in the MotoGP paddock heading into Moto 2.
That’s kind of a 70/30 chance. The bosses of the FS-3 team are almost certain to lose him, but they’ve already signed Lee Jackson, which is a good move.
It is not certain that he will win a championship, but he will always be there or there and who else is going to put it better than him. They are looking for someone else and are interested in Iddon, but I don’t think he likes her.
They’re also thinking about Andy Irwin and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Managing it mentally is the main thing. If you can get him to settle down and not go all out like a bull in a gate, he has potential.
Honda will stay with Glen. He wants to be there and they want him. And who are you going to get to do a better job. He is also a road man and he had a good TT and they put a lot of faith in his road campaign. A strong rumor is Davey Todd.
BSN: Well that’s sensible because he’s riding really well in both
roads and tracks which makes it a good combination.
Whit: The other team we didn’t talk about was the Yamaha team because not much has been said about Rich OMG signing and advertising Kyle Ryde. Once again, Kyle has tons of talent and he won’t be a very expensive driver after the season he’s had.
Possibly the team will lose Brad Ray, a big possibility I would say, because I think he will end up in World Superbikes. He will go to Portimão this weekend to chat with some teams that will include Yamaha and I think his coach likes him. I think he will end up in some kind of WorldSBK and it would be a shame if he didn’t. That would be perfect for him, and he deserves it.
BSN: Isn’t World Superbikes filling up with one or two Moto2 riders and very good ones?
Whit: “That’s the thing about riders like Remy Gardner. Yet another team is coming in with factory backing and maybe just doing the European rounds. Once you have your foot in the door and can excel there, he is in the right paddock.
So I think Brad will end up in World Superbikes. That means there’s a place to fill at OMG. Would they try to poach O’Halloran or Mackenzie because they know how to use a Yamaha? Maybe. But McCAMS would be foolish not to stick with what they have.
BSN: But why would anyone want to leave McAMS despite having such an unfortunate end to the season that began with Mackenzie and O’Halloran as heavy favorites and ended with both suffering from injuries?
Whit: I don’t think they did, but people do dumb things, don’t they? And you never know. I also don’t think anyone who was on a Yamaha didn’t want to be on a Yamaha.
The team we know the least about in terms of strong rumors is McAMS. And a lot of that depends on what happens to Brad because he’s got Shane Byrne in his corner to make deals for him because Shane is looking for a career for him, but he’s also looking for money.
He’s been to America to talk to the folks at Moto America about Brad and chats with PBM and linked up with a few teams where he could get a big salary. To me, that would be wrong at his age because he’s only 25, he’s got a career ahead of him and he doesn’t have a big house or a fancy car. It’s more important that he has the right bike and I’m sure Shane knows that.
BSN: And what about Taz Mackenzie? The horrific accident at Oulton resulting in a severely broken leg ended his bid to retain his BSB title but, according to his father, it has not diminished his ambition to be in the WSB next year.”
Whit: “That kind of thing happened to me once and to a few others. You almost get a chance to do something brilliant and you break your ankle at just the wrong time, or your performance drops for some unknown reason. It’s a very strange thing and I think Taz’s chance to get a good bike in World Superbike is possibly gone, at least for the time being.
In closing, what pleased me most at Donington was Tom Sykes’ surprising double win for the PBM team before Jason O’Halloran took him off the track in race three.
You don’t want to see a team trying as hard as it has, and team owner Paul Bird struggling. Regardless of what you think of his lifestyle, he puts a lot of his own money, time and effort into that paddock and making it look good.