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Here it is! AMCN's 2024 WorldSBK Season Preview from our man on the ground, Gordon Ritchie…

A second convincing championship win for Alvaro Bautista was the spark that has lit a big banger inside the rider market. It has also set a shredder into motion around some pages of the previous technical rulebook. In this 2024 WorldSBK Season Preview, you’ll find everything you need to know ahead of the Aussie opener at Phillip Island this weekend! 

Team Racing Ducati

Riders Alvaro Bautista & Nicolo Bulega

Alvaro Bautista goes for a hat-trick of championships this year. He will get penalised by around 6.5kg under new combined weight rules but he and every Ducati rider will regain the 500rpm peak revs they all lost under the previous balancing protocols. Is it better to have max revs or to keep the same weight? Extra revs and a few extra kilos seems to be the go.

Testing has been steady for Bautista (especially compared to his rookie teammate) after suffering his end of season neck, back and arm injury. It has affected his winter training preparations, as he freely admits. Those injuries were real issues, but is he, even partially, sandbagging after the Christmas break? He set a series of consecutive 1m39s in Jerez testing after all. At Portimao, a little better he confessed, only for day two to get worse again. We’ll see in Australia when the first points are up for grabs.

Reigning WorldSSP champion Nicolo Bulega is Alvaro’s new teammate, and the one to beat all year if the 2024 tests at Jerez and the very different Portimao are anything to go by. He was fastest on each day in Jerez, under the all-time lap record and even the faster unofficial best records. He was well ahead of some all-time great riders. He was fastest on Day 1 at Portimao, and still there swinging at the end. 

Can he do the same in races? Well, he’s clearly riding high with quiet confidence after all those astounding WorldSSP performances in 2023, so reject his big-time, first-time chances at your peril.

Team Pata Prometeon Yamaha WorldSBK Team

Riders Jonathan Rea & Andrea Locatelli

In any other season Andrea Locatelli would inherit the mantle of lead rider in an official Yamaha squad that has suddenly lost the unique talents of a certain Toprak Razgatlioglu. 

‘Loka’ was the best of the rest in 2023. Pata Prometeon Yamaha has, however, lost Toprak but gained six-times champion Jonathan Rea after the Northern Irishman joined the semi-British-based Yamaha squad. Second in Jerez testing, Rea seems right at home already. Not quite so happy around Portimao, though, which is his joint favourite circuit. He has his friend and former teammate and rival Andrew Pitt as his crew chief this year, with Locatelli gaining the talents of quietly-spoken engineering super-brain, Tom O’Kane. That’s some starting line-up, long before we’ve started.


Team Kawasaki Racing Team

Riders Alex Lowes & Axel Bassani

With Rea finally exiting Kawasaki stage left, Alex Lowes is now the senior member of the reshuffled and refreshed official KRT squad. Amazingly, Alex is the sixth most present rider of all time in terms of the most starts in WorldSBK. Not the only Lowes in WorldSBK this season – brother Sam makes his switch to the series – Alex also has double Independent Riders’ champion Axel Bassani as his new teammate. 

There has been a background reshuffle in this high speed HR department too, with Lowes now under the care of former racer and Rea pitbox guru, Pere Riba. Lowes’ recent crew chief Marcel Duinker is now working with first time factory rider Bassani. The tech? A lot of internal changes allowed (or at least achievable) in the Kawasaki this year; under last year’s concessions, this year’s Superconcessions and regulatory crankshaft weight freedoms for all. Too early to say how this will help Kawasaki gain, but the Ninja should go better in races this year after winter testing. And Lowes finished the Portimao test third, after working on worn tyres for 90 percent of it, only slotting in a set of sticky rubber near the end.   


Team HRC Honda

Riders Iker Lecuona & Xavi Vierge

Honda has finally bitten the bullet and brought a new homologation of CBR1000RR-R SP, with some real changes to the base bike in the showrooms, not just special changes allowed in recent times via the Superconcession rules. 

HRC will get to test more than most this year, and they may still need it as the Jerez tests were not kind and Portimao was not much better. The bike still seems unstable in some aspects of cornering, which was the problem since day one. Lack of traction was also mentioned as an issue. 

They – whoever they are – say the new bike has finally been engineered with Pirelli tyres in mind, but so far it doesn’t really show. Early days, so we will watch the next few weeks with great anticipation. There will be an unchanged official rider pairing of Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge on the ’bars, but there will be a new team manager for both, and a new crew chief – Tom Jojic – for Lecuona.

Team Rokit BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team

Riders Toprak Razgatlioglu & Michael Van der Mark

Toprak Razgatlioglu made arguably the biggest, gutsiest and least predictable move of all when he joined the official BMW set-up this winter. Having won the title in 2021, then been beaten twice in a row by a more powerful Ducati, ridden by an aerodynamic and all-up weight ‘extremist’ in Alvaro Bautista, Toprak cried enough and went across town to find an extreme horsepower engine to fight Bautista with. And he may have found what he was looking for, according to his early comments. He has also found a chassis that is still improving, and good enough for top-five pace in early tests. He’s already been fast in Jerez and fastest of all at Portimao. One qualifying tyre was all that was needed needed and, more ominously, he was just a fraction off that using a race tyre.

Teammate Michael van der Mark says he’s
fully fit and was fast on day one at the Jerez
tests. He reckons he is fully healed after too many recent horrible leg injuries. Injury free, he’s a challenger again.

Team MotoCorsa Racing Ducati 

Rider Michael Ruben Rinaldi

Michael Ruben Rinaldi should thrive now without the uniquely Italian pressure of being a local man inside the official factory team. Having been ushered out of the golden innermost desmo temple, he now worships the gods of speed on a bike that should only be a fraction less potent and detail laden than the one he had taken off him by the arrival of Nicolo Bulega in the Aruba set-up.

Team GYTR GRT Yamaha

Riders Remy Gardner & Dominique Aegerter

After a good-to-middling first WorldSBK season, Remy Gardner should be another few steps higher. He will have to, as WorldSBK has expanded its talent pool even more in 2024. All that said, he was fastest Yamaha at the Portimao tests, even with Rea and Locatelli going well. He didn’t shirk the hard work either, managing an incredible 324 laps across the two tests. Dominique Aegerter missed the Jerez
tests – and then the Portimao ones – due to illness but in the final round last year he was an absolute menace to even Bautista and Razgatlioglu. Yamaha, as ever, provide their satellite teams with top material, so expect good things from the GYTR GRT boys this year.

Team Bonovo Action BMW

Riders Garret Gerloff & Scott Redding

It’s amazing to think this is Garrett Gerloff’s fifth year in WorldSBK and his second inside the BMW tent. The 2024 season should be his best yet in terms of preparation. With Toprak breaking new BMW ground with the demands of his wild riding style, maybe Gerloff can finally find a smoother furrow to take him to his first win, after recording six career podiums. 

Scott Redding is clearly still motivated after being dropped from the official Rokit team to the Bonovo outfit, part owned by Eugene Laverty. There is a good argument that all BMW riders have been on truly factory bikes for some time. Redding was a late firing rocket at Jerez testing, but he looks aggressive and sharp in what will be a really important season for him.  

Team Elf Marc VDS Racing Ducati 

Rider Sam Lowes

Former WorldSSP champion, Aprilia MotoGP rider and serial Moto2 race winner, Sam Lowes is back in a paddock he has not ridden in for a decade. This time he is a vastly experienced rider, on a trick Ducati, still with his Moto2 team colours. No reason he cannot be right in there most weekends from his early testing pace and all that experience of other bikes.

Team Team GoEleven Ducati 

Rider Andrea Iannone

Andrea Iannone, the bad boy of MotoGP, is back into global competition after his long ban. This time he’s in the WorldSBK paddock with the same GoEleven Ducati squad that made Rinaldi a race winner as an Independent Rider a few years ago. Iannone has also been fast in that Jerez test, to the point that there seems to be little ‘ring-rust’ to blast off. He’s a former MotoGP race winner – why not in WorldSBK too?

Team Barni Spark Racing Ducati 

Rider Danilo Petrucci

Danilo Petrucci, a human Swiss army knife on any kind of two wheels with an engine, took podiums in his first year of WorldSBK. So will it be wins in year two? Again, why not, especially in a year when two of the usual top three giants have swapped manufacturers and teams, and thus may have some sticky patches along the way, however fast they were in testing…

Team Kawasaki Puccetti Racing

Rider Tito Rabat

Tito Rabat will have official KRT machines and the odd mechanic direct from the works team, so he should be able to score points each weekend, and the team should certainly score more strongly than in 2023.

Team GMT 94 Yamaha

Rider Philipp Ottl

Philipp Ottl has been on a Ducati of late, but he is already happy with the sweet turning French Yamaha. A real ‘litmus test rider’ regarding just how good a Ducati is compared to the rest, now he is one of the rest. 

Team Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team

Rider Bradley Ray

An assured rookie year for Bradley Ray saw him finish in the top six in one race at Imola in 2023, so the proven BSB champion has shown he has enough speed. He wasn’t in Australia last year, so we may not see his full potential until the series heads back to Europe. 

Team MIE Racing Honda Team

Rider Tarran Mackenzie

Tarran Mackenzie won BSB in 2021 and then even won a bizarre (but brilliantly ridden) Autodrom Most WorldSSP race. Otherwise, it was a pretty tough rookie WorldSSP season for the Brit. He and his 2023 teammate Adam Norrodin got their promised promotions to WorldSBK this year, however, and are now blasting off on the new Fireblades.