World Superbike: Bimota out, Aprilia new RSV4 no factory team, race cancellations

Bimota in homologation issues, Aprilia to homologate new RSV4 with likely no factory team next year, race cancellations causing turmoil

world superbike bimota homologation issues

As the summer is coming to an end, the WSBK championship is ready to resume action after a month-and-a-half long break. While the engines stayed silent and the riders enjoyed a vacation, the wheels kept spinning below the surface with negotiations in the so-called "silly season." To this end, Tom Sykes' renewal with Kawasaki set in motion a domino effect that, despite being likely to last until next round in Jerez, makes the next moves in the riders' roster somewhat more predictable.

First, Sykes' teammate Loris Baz has reached an agreement with the Kawasaki Provec team as well, which should be made official shortly. With one of the most competitive team's lineup sorted out, other hot properties are basically left with few options. Among them, Jonathan Rea and Eugene Laverty have turned their attention toward MotoGP. Rea has been mentioned as a potential candidate for a Honda Open bike, which should be available both in the Gresini and Aspar squad: Alvaro Bautista is almost certainly moving to Aprilia, which is keen to accelerate development and field an official team next year, alongside Marco Melandri. Hiroshi Aoyama, on the other hand, seems to have exhausted his option after a few anonymous seasons with the Japanese factory. However, Rea's switch to MotoGP would imply a rather substantial pay cut without any real chance to run at the top of the pack, so the Ulsterman is likely to stay with Pata Honda, which sources say already decided to move WSS leader Michael Van der Mark to the top class alongside him.

Laverty, on the other hand, has been in contact with virtually every MotoGP team with an open seat. The Irishman and his manager focused their effort on Ducati, based on the long-standing relationship with Gigi Dall'Igna, but the factory bikes are already assigned to Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone, while the satellite Pramac team has other candidates at the top of its list, namely Frenchman Johann Zarco of the current AirAsia Moto2 squad. If Melandri accepts the MotoGP challenge with Aprilia, which seems the more probable option, Laverty could also stay in WSBK with the manufacturer that helped him clinch nine victories last season, but much is yet to be discovered about the competitiveness of the RSV4 in 2015. Romano Albesiano, who took the reigns of the racing department after Dall'Igna's departure, already said a new version of the bike, tailored to the new regulations, will be homologated. However, the company appears likely to move the factory team to MotoGP and simply rely on an external squad for WSBK.

To this end, many indicate Francis Batta's Alstare team as a strong option. The Belgian manager publicly declared to Italian TV that Bimota will not be able to produce the 125 bikes required for initial homologation, and therefore the team will shut down and not be present next round in Spain. The official inspection is scheduled for August 27, even though the deadline was—according the four months after the first official outing, as stated in the rulebook—August 11.

The political consequences of Bimota's fiasco are yet to be fully discerned. However, coupled with the calendar issues (both the Russian and South African rounds have been cancelled and not rescheduled or replacement events found), the proverbial hornet's nest is likely to be stirred up. This week, organizer Dorna proposed to partially recover the otherwise lost championship points by holding three races in the final round in Qatar, instead of the usual two. The idea was met favorably by most teams, but some sponsors and TV broadcasters have obviously raised questions. The turmoil in WSBK continues; stay tuned.