The announcement that Ben Currie will join Glenn Irwin at Bournemouth Kawasaki sees another piece of the jigsaw fall into place for the 2019 Bennetts British Superbike season.
In what will be one of the series’ biggest rider shake-ups in recent times with the departure of champion Leon Haslam and runner-up Jake Dixon, most teams feature at least one different rider as we move into 2019.
Currently unable to ride through the neck and back injuries he sustained at Snetterton earlier this year, six-time champion Shane Byrne’s relationship with the Be Wiser Ducati squad has come to an end.
That left Paul Bird on the lookout for a new star for 2019 and he came up with one of the strongest line-ups in BSB history, signing MotoGP star Scott Redding and 2015 champion Josh Brookes.
Whether Byrne will ride next year remains to be seen, he’ll undergo a CT scan on November 6th to see whether the bone in his neck has continued to grow. If all goes well, there is a small chance he could return at some point in 2019.
While unable to commit to anything at this stage, Byrne has had a number of tentative conversations with teams including MotoRapido alongside Tommy Bridewell, Tyco BMW and is also understood to have another option up his sleeve.
Moving from the Be Wiser Ducati squad, Glenn Irwin replaces champion Haslam at Bournemouth Kawasaki, and will be joined by rookie Ben Currie. Departing the JG Speedfit squad, Luke Mossey heads to OMG Suzuki.
Another rookie on the grid for 2019 will be Superstock 600 champion Ryan Vickers, who joins the RAF Regular and Reserves Kawasaki squad as they look to develop another young rider just like they did with Moto2-bound Jake Dixon.
Bradley Ray is one of few riders set to stay put for 2019, returning with the Buildbase Suzuki for a third consecutive season while Danny Buchan will also remain with the FS-3 Kawasaki team after a strong 2018 campaign.
Jason O’Halloran is expected to move from Honda Racing to the McAMS Yamaha squad alongside Tarran Mackenzie, although the factory Yamaha effort are yet to officially confirm their line-up.
Peter Hickman is set to remain with Smiths BMW for another season and the latest rumours suggest he could be joined by James Ellison, who has opted to keep racing in the UK for another year.
The biggest questions still unanswered surround the Honda Racing and Tyco BMWs squads. Andrew Irwin has been linked to Honda, but nothing official has come from the Louth squad just yet.
Tyco BMW have kept their 2019 plans well under wraps. Michael Laverty is definitely departing the Northern Irish squad as he turns his attention to TV and the Endurance World Championship, but Christian Iddon could remain with the squad.
Superstock 1000 champion Keith Farmer has been touted as a potential option, but MCN understands team boss Philip Neill is holding out to see what happens with a number of big-name racers currently without rides in the World Superbike paddock, including Loris Baz and Eugene Laverty. American PJ Jacobsen is also in the mix for a BSB ride.
Confirmed 2019 riders:
Be Wiser PBM Ducati: Scott Redding & Josh Brookes
JG Speedfit Kawasaki: Glenn Irwin & Ben Currie
RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki: Ryan Vickers
Buildbase Suzuki: Bradley Ray
OMG Suzuki: Luke Mossey
FS-3 Kawasaki: Danny Buchan
PR Racing BMW: Joe Francis