Update: McConnell has now signed for OMG Suzuki. Click here
Bennetts British Superbike bosses revealed the provisional 2019 entry list yesterday and there was one big space left to fill alongside Bradley Ray at Buildbase Suzuki.
This year, that gap was filled by Richard Cooper but the Nottingham rider made it clear at Brands Hatch he wouldn’t be sitting in it come 2019 and hasn’t yet announced what he is doing, if anything.
The two most obvious choices for team boss Steve Hicken are WorldSBK exile Loris Baz and Gino Rea, who left the OMG Suzuki squad ten minutes after re-signing for 2019.
Baz had been in talks with Tyco and Honda but those deals fell through. There isn’t anything left in WorldSBK of any consequence for the likeable Frenchman so he can look to BSB or to MotoAmerica but there isn’t much there either - except for Honda which has left it late to confirm its plans - after Josh Herrin took the second Suzuki berth yesterday.
Rea has been very quiet since his OMG exit and despite many rumours, hasn’t announced a replacement ride as yet. The Londoner had a rollercoaster debut in 2018 but did plenty of learning about British tracks and their peculiarities.
Buildbase took second in the Superstock 1000 title chase with everyone’s favourite Aussie Billy McConnell in 2018 and he might be rewarded with another shot at the big class. There may be a left-field choice from Japan if Hicken and his Hawkmen continue their associations with Yoshimura and the Suzuki factory.
It has happened before when Atsushi Watanabe was brought into the Rizla Suzuki and then Relentless Suzuki camps back when all this was fields. Stranger things have happened.