Gordon Ritchie WorldSBK Blog: Tyred And Commotional

Gordon Ritchie has covered World Superbikes for over a quarter of a century, and is widely regarded as the world's leading journalist on the series. MotoMatters.com is delighted to be hosting a monthly blog by Ritchie. The full blog will be available each month for MotoMatters.com subscribers. You can find out more about subscribing to MotoMatters.com here.

As one more championship in WorldSBK has now run its enormously unexpected final course, the off-season gives us time for both reflection and plotting a path forward.

OK, that’s the reflection over, what about 2020 and beyond?

The WorldSBK series does not quite restart its new season preparations just two days after the old season, as it does in MotoGP. In those terms it took a bit over two weeks to get WorldSBK bedded in again, but most teams are already getting into 2020 mode after two days of tests at Motorland Aragon.

Being set high in the hills (the vast forests of nearby wind turbines are not there by accident) and this being November, the weather at Motorland was a tad blustery and chilly, to say the least. And for half of the available track time, wet as well.

It has been a long time since Spain or Portugal were reliable bets for testing in winter sunshine, so we can only hope the significantly more southerly Jerez will give everybody two fulsome days of testing come the end of November.

Some, but only a few, seem jaded by the prospect of November testing. There is so much new stuff to look forward to, and so many shuffles of bums on seats. Not so many completely new faces so far, but the beaming countenance of BSB Champion and near-lifelong MotoGP paddock figure Scott Redding is a more then welcome addition.

Some people were surprised he was quite so fast in Aragon testing, but why would he not show up at very good pace? Given his well-known abilities, Pirelli/V4R experience from BSB and vast experience of MotoGP bikes and attendant electronics – not forgetting a cunning first private test of his 2020 bike at Valencia before he got to another regular MotoGP circuit, Motorland Aragon, with the rest – he was every inch the instant hit.

Is there one thing that can be said about the inclusion of Redding in the WorldSBK scene in 2020 that makes him anything but an asset? Well, other than he fact that he is British, no. Too many Brits in WorldSBK? Well, we should have made room for Rea, or Sykes or Davies in MotoGP and shoved some more Bautistas over to Superbike from the bigger paddock.

Over to you to persuade any of the MotoGP runners to jump the mindset fence over to the ‘other’ World Championship without resorting to cattle prods. Most of them would rather eat their own teeth, with our without ketchup, than come to WorldSBK.

Given the final WorldSBK trophy hauls of Raymond Roche, John Kocinski, Max Biaggi, Carlos Checa, Sylvain Guintoli and – nearly – the 16-times race winner Alvaro Bautista, more of them should give this solid silver WorldSBK cage a bit of a rattle if a genuine path to golden GP glory is closed off to them. And if you’re not called Marquez, you’re not coming in, it seems…

You could even head to WorldSSP to restart your career. One-time GP paddock regulars Chaz Davies, Sandro Cortese and Randy Krummenacher have all come from over there and won the Moto2 equivalent championship over here.

And speaking of WorldSSP, as we apparently now are, a big philosophical and practical change has arrived in the WorldSBK paddock for 2020. WorldSSP and even WorldSSP300 machines will all run slick tyres, same as the WorldSBK blokes, albeit in their own class-appropriate sizes. Or bigger than usual for one category…

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I am looking forward to a genuine challenger to Jonathan Reas dominance in 2020. Chaz is gelling quite well with the new Duc now and Scott Redding is an exciting edition to the WSBK paddock.