In its heyday, WorldSBK featured Italians, Australians, Americans, the odd Frenchman, a couple of Brits, a Belgian, a German… Truly it was a cosmopolitan field and with a (pretty much) single set of regulations, wildcards from various domestic series got firmly in the mix on their own turf.
Today, you can’t swing a cat for fear of hitting a British or Irish passport and it is to the detriment of the series.
Currently, WorldSBK has four British/Irish riders in the top five and it looks likely to get worse as there are more looking for places to land. It seems 99 per cent certain that Leon Haslam will join old mate Jonathan Rea in the all-conquering Kawasaki team to make it at least seven Brits on the grid in 2019.
There are those who would think it strange a 36-year-old would get such a chance but Haslam is the perfect team-mate for Rea as they are indeed mates, Haslam is loved by Kawasaki Japan and Rea may not think the Derby rider is as much of a threat as, say, Michael van der Mark to his title chances.
Scott Redding is looking for a job next year and Danny Kent more than likely will be too.Young guns like Bradley Ray and Jake Dixon will want to get on to the world stage before it is too late.
Dixon, so far as we know, is looking at Moto2 options as well as Superbikes while Ray has been linked with a Hawk Racing wholesale move to WorldSBK as a tie-in with Yoshimura, although neither the Japanese or American arms of the firm seem to know anything about it.
Both Eugene Laverty and Chaz Davies were both angling for the spare Kawasaki seat but they will be disappointed. Davies hasn’t yet signed for Ducati as there is the stumbling block of having to develop a brand new bike next year which means he will probably miss out on a championship chance again.
Laverty, who is Davies’ brother-in-law, has finally got the Milwaukee Aprilia somewhere close to where he needs it by using ‘simple fix’ - shouting - but the likelihood is the team will change manufacturers again and the Toomebridge rider might be in the same position as Davies with bike development should he stay.
Good seats are few and far between. Kawasaki is tied up, Yamaha is tied up once some loose ends are fixed with Alex Lowes and Van der Mark. Marco Melandri will stay with Ducati one way or another. It doesn’t leave the likes of Laverty or Davies much wiggle room so the status quo will be maintained.
Like Leon Camier before him, Jordi Torres is wasted on the MV Agusta and you would think Dorna would intervene with pressure or money or both to get him a bike worthy of his talent. He is the only fast Spaniard in the series if Alvaro Bautista decides not to make an appearance.
America is in the doldrums with riders. Jake Gagne, bless him, has done a great job on a not so great bike at tracks he has never seen before but he is MotoAmerica bound in 2019. PJ Jacobsen is struggling with the TripleM Honda when he should be fighting for at least top tens. The likes of Cameron Baubier and Josh Herrin don’t get considered for a seat while Joe Roberts is at the wrong end of the Moto2 field.
Josh Brookes might be available next year as might Remy Gardner for the Phillip Island crowd to cheer on but aside from Jack Miller, the Antipodeans aren’t churning them out as they once were.
Dorna need to look at how the rides are carved up in future as it’s meant to be the World Superbike Championship. Britain has its own pretty good one.