Gary Pinchin's British Superbikes blog: Leon Haslam and Cal Crutchlow with HM Plant Honda – but who goes where now in British Superbikes?

Published: 31 October 2007

The rider market is now officially in full swing following the announcement earlier in the week that Leon Haslam and Cal Crutchlow have signed for HM Plant Honda.

Apart from that Atsushi Watanabe has been finally confirmed as a Rizla Suzuki rider for next year, although that had to be the worst kept secret in British Superbikes – ever.

Well, you would have thought it would be……. 

Surprisingly though, the HM Plant Honda news hasn’t exactly triggered the avalanche of signing news everyone expected. GSE Racing are still not in a position to confirm whether or not Airwaves are going to back them in BSB to run the new Ducati 1098Rs.

But, assuming everything does go ahead with GSE and they do race in British Superbikes for a fourth consecutive season with Airwaves backing, there’s still a lot of gossip about who might ride them.

Gregorio Lavilla has to be in the frame. Even though he wants to get back into World Superbikes surely he’ll take a potential title-winning ride here rather than a second-rate World Superbikes job?

Leon Camier has to be top of team boss, Colin Wright’s shopping list: He’s fast, has youth on his side, is acutely professional, a fitness fiend, very, very presentable and media savvy (though he needs to take his shades off for interview apparently if you believe the stuff some of the old-skool hacks write!).

If either of those two options fall out of bed? You have to say Shane Byrne. He’s really the only top rider capable of putting a title-winning season together. We spoke to Shakey only yesterday (Tuesday) and while he’s more than happy to stick with the Stobart Honda team for a second season, he admitted he’s had no conversations with team boss Paul Bird about the future.

But he hasn’t spoken to anyone else about the subject because he’s smart enough to know if his contract says no contact with other teams until November when his contract runs out, he’s not going to make the first move and risk upsetting Birdy.

Even if Shakey stays with Stobart – and that’s the most likely scenario – Birdy may well be looking for at least one new rider if rumours linking Tom Sykes with Rizla Suzuki have any substance.

Still no news on Hydrex Honda, MSS Kawasaki or Virgin Yamaha either. The silly season drags on……