In the first of a two-part announcement, the Honda WorldSBK team, run by Ten Kate, have announced that they have signed Stefan Bradl for the 2017 season. He will join Nicky Hayden for next year on the Honda CBR1000RR.
Bradl had the choice to stay in MotoGP, but the best offer he had was with the Avintia Ducati team. Bradl elected to race for podiums in World Superbikes, rather than top 10s in MotoGP. Though Honda is expected to debut a new Fireblade later this year, it is unlikely that bike will be ready to race for the 2017 season. Leaked details about the bike also suggest that it is a rather small evolution, rather than a radically new bike.
The announcement had been widely expected, as we wrote in our WorldSBK silly season round up last week. Bradl will be replacing Michael van der Mark, who will be signing for the Pata Yamaha squad in World Superbikes. With the Bradl signing now public, Van der Mark's announcement is now imminent.
Below is the press release from the Honda WorldSBK team:
Honda WorldSBK Team signs Stefan Bradl for the 2017 WorldSBK season
The Honda WorldSBK Team is pleased to announce the signing of 26-year-old Stefan Bradl from Germany for the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship. Crowned Moto2 World Champion in 2011, Bradl will join former MotoGP™ Champion Nicky Hayden to complete a stellar line-up for Honda next season.
Despite his young age, Bradl has a wealth of experience at international level. Since his 125cc debut in 2005, he has collected nineteen podium finishes and seven wins across all Grand Prix classes. After winning the Moto2 World Championship in 2011, Stefan made his MotoGP debut with the LCR Honda Team in 2012 where his best result was a second-place finish at Laguna Seca in 2013.
The Honda WorldSBK Team would like to thank Michael van der Mark for his outstanding efforts and title-winning contribution during his tenure as a Honda rider. The team will maintain its unconditional support for Michael for the remainder of the season, with the goal of achieving the best possible results.
The Honda WorldSBK Team is pleased to confirm that its riders for the 2017 season will be Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl.
I’m really happy to join the Honda WorldSBK Team for the 2017 season. It’s a great opportunity for me and I’m really looking forward to this new challenge with a really competitive team and I’m sure we’ll do great things together. Of course, this is going to be a whole new experience for me but I will try to adapt as quickly as possible, in order to get some really good results. I can’t wait to try the Fireblade and, obviously, it’ll be fantastic to work together with Nicky: I think it’s a fantastic combination because we understand each other really well. We can all look forward to the future and I am super motivated for this new journey.
Honda's WorldSBK Operations Manager
We’re pleased to welcome Stefan Bradl to the Honda WorldSBK Team and are honoured that he accepted this new challenge with Honda, with the goal to compete at the highest level in WorldSBK. If we look at our line-up for 2017, with Ten Kate still as our official team within the series, we cannot hide the fact that we will be aiming for very good results next year. We cannot wait to take on this exciting new project however, for the moment we remain fully focused on the current season in order to put Nicky and Michael in the best possible position at the final four rounds of the year.
Ronald ten Kate
Honda WorldSBK team manager
We are very excited to welcome Stefan Bradl into our team and the WorldSBK paddock. Stefan has chosen to ride with Honda in World Superbike and we will be sure to repay his trust in us in the best possible way. In the meetings we’ve had so far, he gave us a clear view on his goals and the way to get there, and it is clear that we share the very same approach to racing. Like every other rider coming from MotoGP, he’ll need to get used to the different character of production-based motorcycles and tyres – as well as learn the new tracks on the calendar – but considering he is still very young, I’m sure he will learn fast!