The 2017 MCE British Superbike grid is starting to take shape and it looks set to be star-studded year.
Reigning champion Shane Byrne will be out to defend his title after signing a two-year deal with the Be Wiser Ducati team, while Leon Haslam will once again be out to stop him after signing an agreement with Kawasaki UK to race for the newly JG Speedfit-backed Bournemouth Kawasaki team.
However, it might not be a two man show in 2017 after today’s news that 2014 World Superbike Champion will make a return to the series aboard Suzuki’s new GSX-R1000.
The Frenchman isn’t the only face returning from the world stage either, with Italian Davide Giugliano making the move after losing his ride in the factory Ducati team to the out-of-retirement Marco Melandri. Unable to secure a ride on the world stage, Giugliano opted to move to Britain in an attempt to reignite his racing career. He’ll join Christian Iddon in the Tyco BMW team.
Haslam will be joined at JG Speedfit Kawasaki by young gun Luke Mossey, while Glenn Irwin will get another shot alongside Byrne in the PBM Ducati team.
Hawk Racing are yet to announce who’ll partner Guintoli at Bennetts Suzuki, but smart money is on 2016 Superstock 1000 Champion Taylor Mackenzie who has already signed a deal with the team with Richard Cooper potentially taking his place in a re-vamped Superstock 1000 Championship. It’s expected the team will also continue their involvement with Lincolnshire youngster Lee Jackson in some way.
Tommy Bridewell, who was initially linked to one of the seats at Bennetts Suzuki, is rumoured to be in line for a move to the WD40 squad, but paddock gossip has also placed him at Smiths Racing in recent weeks.
Twice a race winner in 2016, MCN understands Peter Hickman has now secured his place on the grid next year in a deal that will see him continue to take on BSB as well as the three international road races. However, at this stage there are still a number of things to be finalised, including the team’s manufacturer, therefore an announcement will be made in due course.
James Ellison and Michael Laverty will head up the new McAMS Yamaha squad, which is Keith Flint’s Traction Ctrl outfit with backing from the big wigs at Yamaha Europe while Dan Linfoot and Jason O’Halloran will remain with the Honda Racing team.
2015 BSB champ Josh Brookes was super keen to return to the series next year after a tough season with Milwaukee BMW on the world stage, however after a number of deals fell through, including an attractive prospect to ride for the recently departed Halsall Racing team, the Aussie could be left without a ride in Britain next year.
John Hopkins has now been confirmed as returning to MotoRapido Ducati, while Jakub Smrz will remain with BMW power as he moves to the PR Racing team.
Be Wiser PBM Ducati: Shane Byrne & Glenn Irwin
JG Speedfit Kawasaki: Leon Haslam & Luke Mossey
Honda Racing: Jason O’Halloran & Dan Linfoot
Tyco BMW: Davide Giugliano & Christian Iddon
McAMS Yamaha: James Ellison & Michael Laverty
Bennetts Suzuki: Sylvain Guintoli
Quattro Plant FS3 Kawasaki: Billy McConnell
RAF Reserves/Briggs BMW: Jake Dixon
MotoRapido Ducati: John Hopkins
Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha: Shaun Winfield
Platform Hire Yamaha: Aaron Zanotti
PR Racing: Jakub Smrz
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