MotoGP pilot Stefan Bradl is the latest high profile racer to join WSBK, triggering another round of rider musical chairs.
The former Moto2 champion will be joining Honda’s WSBK outfit for 2017, partnering another MotoGP exile, American Nicky Hayden.
Bradl, who has endured difficult time in MotoGP, struggling to tame the LCR Honda, before jumping ship to the Aprilia Factory tame, was without a ride after Aprilia failed to renew his contract, and with options in the premier class limited, it was increasingly likely he would jump ship to WSBK. And with current Honda WSBK rider Michael van der Mark failing to trigger a contract extension at Laguna Seca, the German seized his chance, especially with Honda rumoured to be competing with an all-new Fireblade next year.
The German said: “I’m really happy to join the Honda WSBK 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.”
The move is good for both parties. Bradl has strong ties with Honda, and enjoyed a factory contract while he was with LCR. He’s fast, if inconsistent, but if he gels with the new Fireblade he could well be the man to watch next season.
Mark van der Mark, the highly-rated Dutchman who started the season brightly, but has faded over recent rounds, is now expected to join the Yamaha WSBK squad, replacing former WSBK champion Sylvain Guintoli.