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It has been seven eternal months of hiatus, but the series derivatives world championship is here. The Superbikes will be launched this coming weekend at the MotorLand circuit in Aragón, where they have also been doing the pre-season tests. Much interest but a clear favorite: Jonathan Rea, who will debut the new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR.
In principle, his most direct rival should be Scott Redding, the leader of Ducati, although that is one of the unknowns that we have to solve, because Michael Ruben Rinaldi has arrived at the house of Borgo Panigale ready to stay with the throne. In addition, it will be necessary to be aware about the performance of the new BMW M 1000 RR and how Álvaro Bautista evolves with Honda.
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR
The current champions are once again the favorites, but now with more reasons. The Japanese are putting the update of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR on track how much Jonathan Rea had demanded, and that he has already been testing during the preseason. The results have been very good, so it would be a surprise if his seventh consecutive title did not fall.
Rea has been battling for two seasons against a visibly superior Ducati Panigale V4 R, but taking the titles. What we have been able to see in preseason is that the new version of the Kawasaki has at least cut the distances at top speed without losing cornering, so Rea is a very favorite.
At his side will repeat Alex Lowes, who last season had ups and downs but in the end ended up adding enough points for Kawasaki to take the brands title. In addition to the official ones, Those in green will put four more bikes on the track in three different teams: the Orelac, the Puccetti and the Pedercini.
We will have to be very attentive to the first one, because there it will run the Spanish Isaac Viñales, who will make his debut in the premier category of Superbikes. The Frenchman Lucas Mahias, one of the strongest Supersport riders in recent years, also makes the leap with Kawasaki, winning a title and being runner-up on two other occasions.
Ducati Panigale V4 R
They have the best motorcycle but it is not worth them to win. Neither in 2019 nor in 2020, even with experienced riders in the MotoGP World Championship, did they snatch the title from Rea. For this year Ducati redoubles its bet by putting Michael Ruben Rinaldi in the official team, the young Italian who already surprised in 2020 as a satellite.
Scott Redding is once again the big bet in Borgo Panigale. Last year he was not that far from taking the title, in fact he came with minimal options to the final round in Estoril, so with more filming in the category he could put the Kawasaki dynasty in trouble. But Ducati's commitment goes beyond the Aruba.it team.
There will be three more Ducati Panigale V4 Rs on the track, and two of them will be piloted by flashy racers. In Barni Racing will be Tito Rabat, Moto2 world champion and a former MotoGP rider who wants to be very competitive with the Ducati in the Superbike World Championship. He will be one of the pilots to follow, although in preseason it has cost him.
At the Go Eleven, a myth of the house has landed, Chaz Davies, a pilot as explosive as he is irregular who will continue to be able to hunt down his sporadic victories as a satellite and will also lend a hand in the development of Ducati. The third associated bike, that of Motocorsa Racing, will be driven by Italian Axel Bassani.
The brand that has changed the least since last season. The bike remains the same, the Yamaha YZF-R1 without major modifications, and the only important news is that they join the official team to Andrea Locatelli, the reigning Supersport world champion who swept last season.
In any case, It seems difficult for him to face Toprak Razgatlioglu, consolidated as the leader of Yamaha, although the Turkish has details to polish. The first of these is consistency, as it is easy to see Razgatlioglu intractable one weekend and lost the next in the middle zone. To be a true contender for the title the Turk must focus.
The Iwata thing will have three satellite bikes in two different teams. The GRT season is looking very good, especially with the presence of Garrett Gerloff, who was already a replacement for Valentino Rossi in MotoGP last season and had great performances in the final leg of the Superbike World Championship. In fact, he aspired to the position of Locatelli.
Gerloff's partner will be the Japanese Kohta Nozane, one of the Yamaha riders in Japan who does not have much experience in the world championships. In the Alstare there will be Christophe Ponsson, the French rider who last year made several 'wild cards' with the Aprilia, but that ran out of room when Noale's decided not to go on.
In HRC nothing changes but everything changes at the same time. The second year of the Honda CBR1000RR-R should be the one of its consolidation in the category. It will most likely be in 2021 when we get out of doubt about whether Honda's new WSBK project really has a chance of being a winner one day.
The bike left hopeful sparkles last season, but it was generally difficult for them to understand. Álvaro Bautista is once again the leader of a structure that has everything to win, but you need to get some results to finish this eternal preseason that you are living with the Honda CBR1000RR-R.
The fact is that Bautista has had a difficult season, more for himself than for the bike. He had physical problems that forced him to stop at some point, so if he does not recover well it could be a handicap for the start. He will remain as teammate of Leon Haslam, the former Kawasaki rider.
Honda will have only one affiliated team, the Moriwaki, although, in theory, it will have two motorcycles. We say this because it is still unknown who will be the second driver in the structure and in which races he will participate. What is certain is that Argentine Leandro Mercado will be one of Honda's satellite riders in 2021.
BMW M 1000 RR
And finally, the great unknown. If the Kawasaki has been a renewal, the BMW is a revolution. The first Superbikes M in its history comes to the world championship ready to be one more contender for the podiums, and, why not, to take the first victory. The preseason has not gone bad for the Germans.
In addition, they have incorporated Michael van der Mark, who comes from winning races with Yamaha. The Dutchman is going to form a very competitive pair with Tom Sykes, world champion of Superbikes and a brutally explosive rider on one lap. If you have already made pole positions with the BMW S 1000 RR, what will you not do now with the BMW M 1000 RR?
BMW's commitment to Superbikes, and its new bike, is so clear that they are going to put two more units on the track. They will have two satellite teams, the first, the RC Squadra Corse, which until now supported MV Agusta in Supersport, and the second will be Bonovo MGM Racing. The two will carry the brand's 'pata negra' motorcycle.
And to show what BMW's intentions are, they have piloted veterans of a thousand battles. In the RC will be Eugene Laverty, who until now had been an official of the brand, while in the Bonovo will ride Jonas Folger, with experience in MotoGP at Yamaha. The BMW M 1000 RR will have good developers.