WSBK: Baz to MotoGP, Rea to Kawasaki?

Dorna wants French rider, Rea not really happy at PATA Honda and wants competitive ride

world superbike loris baz to motogp
Graeme Brown

The “hot name” of the day is that of Loris Baz. The 21-year-old Frenchman, despite having signed a pre-contract agreement with his current Kawasaki team, appears likely to switch to MotoGP to take a seat on a Honda Open bike with the Aspar team. It is no secret that Dorna is keen to field another French rider in the top class, and current Moto2 rider Johann Zarco is rather skeptical about filling the position. Hence the contact between Baz and the Aspar team, which has not renewed Hiroshi Aoyama's contract.

Should the move by Baz take place, then the second Kawasaki fielded by Provec's team in WSBK would be up for grabs. Given the bike's competitiveness, it should not be difficult to find a top replacement. To this end, Jonathan Rea appears to be at the top of the list. The Ulsterman received an offer from Honda, with which he has ridden throughout his WSBK career, that basically matches the previous financial terms. However, the possibility of a pay-cut may not prevent him from switching to Kawasaki, which in turn would represent a more solid chance to fight for the elusive title. “I'll have a meeting this weekend with top management from Honda and the team,” Rea said. “We'll see, but in my situation, without a contract for next year, I think it only makes sense for me to speak with other teams, not just in World Superbike. The Gresini-Redding situation in MotoGP has slowed things down a bit, but I hope to make a decision in the next few weeks.”

The offer from Kawasaki, however, expires much sooner. Meanwhile, Suzuki rider Eugene Laverty is also looking for an opportunity to make the switch to prototypes. “If Rea goes to Kawasaki, which is what I heard, I'd prefer to switch to MotoGP,” the Irishman said. “It would be very difficult to compete against him on that bike and fight at the top, I think. I've spoken with the Aspar and Pramac teams and, if I had a choice, I'd prefer to ride a Honda Open bike. But, it's not just up to me.”

In other words, backing from organizers and sponsors also come into play.