After the lengthy stop due to spread of COVID-19 around the world, the World Superbike championship is finally returning to the track this weekend at Jerez.
After the 2020 championship got off to a very exciting and drama-filled start at the start of March in Australia with 3 different winners in three races, the world came to an abrupt stop due to COVID-19. A virus which threw a major spanner in the works to all plans. After a rough and long period of uncertainty, we can finally say that racing is well and truly back this weekend at Jerez.
Based on what we have seen from testing at both Misano and Barcelona, it promises to be a very interesting season. The first issue riders and teams will have is to tackle is the extreme heat, which has taken over Spain in the last few weeks, as temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius are expected at Jerez, providing a big mental and physical test of endurance. If there were any questions about how prepared the riders are, we will get the answers.
Another big question on our minds at the season restart is can current championship leader, factory Kawasaki rider Alex Lowes, keep the kind of form he showed at Australia and keep the championship lead? Or, will the duo of Jonathan Rea and Scott Redding stamp their authority in the championship?
Rea and Redding showed dominating form in testing and can potentially turn the multi rider title-battle into a two-way scrap for the title.
However the Yamaha duo of young Turkish rider Toprak Razgatlioglu and experienced Dutchman Michael van der Mark, will both be on the hunt to build on the previous five podium finishes that the Japanese manufacturer has around Jerez.
How will Honda fare with their new motorcycle on a track where their last podium finish came courtesy of Van Der Mark’s success in 2015? Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam are both out to make a statement with the new Honda CBR1000RR-R.
We must not forget about BMW, who are quietly optimistic about their speed in very hot conditions, they have made some big steps forward with the development of the motorcycle and their Bosch electronics. Can they manage to get on the podium after 7 fruitless years?
Speaking of BMW, another point of interest will be the team scrap between current rider Tom Sykes and Eugene Laverty for the second seat in the team for the 2021 season, with the decision of which rider will remain with the German manufacturer expected to be made over the next few weeks. Whoever comes out on top will be paired with Michael Van Der Mark for 2021 who moves from Yamaha.
Last, but not least, we must not forget about some new and returning names on the grid in the form of Motocorsa Ducati rider Leandro Mercado, Brixx Ducati rider Sylvain Barrier and new Barni Ducati rider Marco Melandri, who is returning until the end of this season as a replacement for the injured Leon Camier, who amicably split with the Barni Ducati team before the restart of the season, since his shoulder injuries proved too much for him to be able to ride normally.
For all of these questions and more, we will get answers over the next few days. One thing is certain: With the amount of uncertainty around us, don’t expect things to be boring.
Featured image – www.worldsbk.com