Ducati’s V4 R & BMW’s new S 1000 RR to feature in 2019
The 2019 WorldSBK season is shaping up to be one to remember with the year to kick off at Phillip Island’s season opener in Victoria, Australia, with a massive grid that will boast the return of the Honda Racing Corporation, as well as Ducati with the new V4 R, and BMW championing the new S 1000 RR.
World champion Jonathan Rea beware! That’s the message ahead of the 2019 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship opener at Victoria’s Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit from February 22-24 following a massive week of grid-strengthening announcements for the production-based series.
Ducati and BMW unveiled their new V4 R and S 1000 RR four-cylinder machines at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan on November 5 and 6 respectively.
In Ducati’s case it’s the most powerful motorcycle to ever leave its factory, and the company – which has the most amount of WorldSBK titles with 14 – has already announced that current MotoGP rider Alvaro Bautista will join Chaz Davies in its line-up for 2019. Bautista finished a superb fourth in the recent MotoGP round at Phillip Island filling in for the injured Jorge Lorenzo, which will give the Spaniard added confidence when he returns to Australia.
BMW also announced in Milan that it will be collaborating with Shaun Muir Racing (which ran the Milwaukee Aprilia squad in 2018) for a major tilt at the 2019 WorldSBK title. The riders will be Rea’s erstwhile Kawasaki teammate and 2013 world champion Tom Sykes, as well as German Marcus Reiterberger who is returning to the championship after a two-year break.
BMW Motorrad Motorsport will be responsible for the development of engine, electronics, chassis and aerodynamics on the new S 1000 RR.
Meanwhile, HRC will return to WorldSBK competition in 2019 alongside Althea Racing and Japanese high-performance firm Moriwaki Engineering, with Leon Camier and Ryuichi Kiyonari the two riders. Camier has already been campaigning the Honda CBR1000RR SP2 in 2018, while Kiyonari will be returning to the series for the first time since 2009.
HRC was once a regular on the WorldSBK trail and won three titles with John Kocinski in 1997 and Colin Edwards in 2000 and 2002.
The gifted Rea, who is based in Australia during the summer with his Phillip Island-raised wife Tatia and their two sons, will certainly be keeping a keen eye on recent proceedings as he prepares to campaign alongside a new teammate in 2019: current British superbike champion Leon Haslam.
Other confirmed riders for next year include factory Yamaha pair Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes, while the GRT Yamaha satellite team will field recently crowned world supersport champion Sandro Cortese and Italian Marco Melandri.
Italian Michael Ruben Rinaldi will also ride a Panigale V4 R for this year’s leading independent team, Barni Racing.
WorldSBK observers will be able to get an early feel for the 2019 form guide when pre-season testing begins in Spain in November, ahead of more official outings in Europe next January.
The WorldSBK teams will make their way to Australia for a final hitout at Phillip Island before round one commences – and the debut of the new ‘triple treat’ format where an extra sprint race will be held on Sunday morning in between the two longer hitouts on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
Grab your season opener tickets for Phillip Island now
A three-day general admission is $120 if secured in advance, or $230 when you add camping to your purchase.
If you feel like splashing out, step up to a Bar SBK ticket at $265 (with camping $375) and enjoy undercover facilities at Doohan Corner, Siberia and Lukey Heights. World Superbikes is free for kids 15 and under, and so is your bike.
As an extra bonus at WorldSBK, all three-day ticket holders are gifted free paddock access. For all ticket and racing information, visit www.worldsbk.com.au or Ticketek.