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BSB: Rumour mill begins to turn ahead of Showdown

Published: 04 September 2017

The battle for the 2017 MCE British Superbike crown is only just getting started with this weekend’s Silverstone Showdown decider poised to select the six title fighters who will go on to fight to become champion over the final three rounds.

However, behind the scenes things are already starting to turn towards next year with both riders and teams looking to secure the best seats and line-ups for 2018.

It’s been known since earlier this year that the Puccetti Kawasaki World Superbike team have been keen to poach Leon Haslam from the British championship, but as the weeks go on it looks less and less likely that Haslam will move with the Brit unsure of the technical package on offer with the Italian squad. While it’s most likely Haslam will remain with Kawasaki in BSB, it would be silly to think he doesn’t have options elsewhere in the class. 

It’s understood Manuel Puccetti’s attention has now turned to acquiring 2014 World Superbike Champion Sylvain Guintoli, who has struggled upon his return to BSB this year with the new Suzuki GSX-R1000. While MCN sources claim Guintoli is perhaps surprisingly not averse to staying in Britain next year, a return to the world stage could be appealing to the Frenchman.

Whereas last year big rumours surrounded which big-named World Superbike stars would head to BSB, the fate of Guintoli and even more so Davide Giugliano, who left the series after competing in less than two rounds, has left both riders and team bosses are wary of such big-money moves. One name that has been doing the rounds is Leon Camier but with the 2009 British Champion thought to have some decent offers in WSB such a move would seem unlikely at this stage.

With the rise of a number of young riders this year, focus has instead turned to what moves these BSB young guns will make next. JG Speedfit Kawasaki boss Pete Extance told MCN at Cadwell that his ideal scenario is to keep both Leon Haslam and youngster Luke Mossey for next year, but admitted he had one or two riders in mind should either star opt to move on. A natural fit in the ‘factory’ Kawasaki outfit would be Jake Dixon, who stormed to his debut double at Knockhill earlier this year, but after a successful Moto2 debut at Silverstone questions surrounding whether he’ll be in BSB next year have already been raised. Another name linked to a Kawasaki switch is Aussie Jason O'Halloran. 

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Another young gun thought to be high on several team managers’ shopping lists is rookie Bradley Ray, who has impressed in his debut season with Buildbase Suzuki.

Despite enjoying some of the new Fireblade’s best results this year, Honda Racing are thought to be on the look-out for fresh blood in 2018 with team boss Havier Beltran understood to have his eye on several of the series’ big names as the Louth-squad look to make their return to the top. While neither Jason O’Halloran nor Dan Linfoot are certain to move from the team, it’s hard to see the same line-up remain for a fourth consecutive year. 

One line-up that does look likely to be retained is the Be Wiser PBM Ducati squad of Shane Byrne and Glenn Irwin. Byrne agreed a two-year deal with team boss Paul Bird at the start of the year and Bird has suggested to MCN he’s unlikely to replace Irwin after a strong year hampered by injury.

Peter Hickman looks set to remain with the Smiths BMW team and after a barnstorming ride last time out at Cadwell Park, youngster Lee Jackson will have done his chances of keeping his ride the world of good. 

Superstock 1000 leader Danny Buchan is keen to move back up to the Superbike class next year but says he’ll only do so with the right team, while his current championship rival Richard Cooper should also make a return to the Superbike class in 2018 with the Bennetts Suzuki team expected to repay his loyalty.

Of course, it’s very early days and these last four rounds will be important for riders jostling for seats. Whether in the Showdown or not, strong results are one of the best ways to secure the best possible ride for the next season. 

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