After a tantalising close to the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship season, three-time World Champion, three-time MotoGP™ runner-up and MotoGP™ Legend Dani Pedrosa spoke about an array of things related to WorldSBK and the myriad of changes to come. From riders changing teams, new regulations, a familiar face returning and the overall spectacle of the World Superbike show, the 38-year-old Spaniard shared his views.
ON REA’S SWITCH TO YAMAHA: “It’s a change that will motivate him to restart and try and go head-to-head with Bautista”
Six-time World Champion Jonathan Rea moves to Yamaha in 2024 – for those of you that have been living under a rock for the last few months – and Pedrosa is keen to see how it will go: “It’s going to be a very interesting start of the year for WorldSBK next season, particularly after Jonny changed after so much winning with Kawasaki. I think now it’s a change that will motivate him to restart and try and go head-to-head with Bautista. So far, Toprak’s been very strong on that bike, so now, Jonny has a chance again to fight for the Championship. We’ll see how determined he is this winter to prepare for the fight.”
TOPRAK GOES TO BMW: “He’s spectacular… we’ll see if he can handle the BMW the same as the Yamaha”
With Rea replacing Razgatlioglu, the 2021 World Champion heads to BMW, although Pedrosa isn’t as optimistic with Turk’s switch as he is with regards to Rea’s move: “Toprak with BMW is going to be interesting too; at the beginning, it could be difficult for him as it’s not as good at the moment. I think he’ll struggle a bit at the beginning but he’ll have to find his way to see how he can make the difference up. Toprak is always very nice to watch! He’s spectacular and he has some really aggressive moves into the turns! We’ll see how he can handle the BMW the same as the Yamaha.”
BAUTISTA’S ADDED WEIGHT: “It’ll play a big part”
A hot topic coming into 2024 is the rider reference weight of 80kg, which will mean those under it will need to add weight to the combined package of rider and bike. This means Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) will have a heavier bike than before: “We must add to this that there’s the rule change. For Alvaro, he’ll need to ride with a heavier bike than usual. Let’s see how that plays out on track. I think the engine is strong but at the same time, when you change the rules so drastically with added weight, it’ll play a big part. Let’s see how the Ducati guys handle this, to try and make the bike work in the same way as before.”
IANNONE IS BACK IN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: “He has the capabilities and the speed to be up front, fighting for victory”
Pedrosa battled with Andrea Iannone from 2013 to 2018 in MotoGP™ and is a rival the Spaniard knows well, tipping him to be in victory contention in 2024 as ‘The Maniac’ gears up for a return with WorldSBK being his new home: “We’ll see how he goes! Racing with Ducati, he will have a good chance to race at the front and race for victories. However, long-term, I don’t know if can be ready to fight for the Championship because he’s been away for a long time. I think he has the capabilities and the speed to be up front, fighting for victory.”
OFF THE SCALE RACING: ““I hope to see more like the last round!”
The closing topic is the general spectacle of WorldSBK, which has enjoyed an 11% growth in fans in 2023 as well as some of the fiercest racing in the Championship’s 35-year history: “I hope to see more like the last round at Jerez! Bautista vs Razgatlioglu, fighting corner-by-corner for first position. I think this kind of racing creates to a lot of fans and it’s exactly what we want to see. I always love watching the racing and it’s always been a fantastic show.”
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