The end of the 2014 World Superbike championship, wrapped up last night at Qatar, has triggered a series of official rider announcements for 2015. Two of the most anticipated announcements were made on Monday, with official confirmation that Jonathan Rea would be leaving Pata Honda to join the Kawasaki Racing Team in World Superbikes, while the seat he is vacating at the Ten Kate Pata Honda team will be filled by newly-crowned 2014 World Superbike champion Sylvain Guintoli. Rea will line up alongside Tom Sykes, while Guintoli will be teammate to World Supersport champion Michael van der Mark.
The moves of both men were an open secret in the paddock, and had originally been expected to be announced after the previous round at Magny-Cours. That, however, was dependent on Sykes wrapping up the title at the French round, but an outstanding weekend by Guintoli and a poor weekend by Sykes took the title chase down to the final WSBK round at Qatar this Sunday. With the championship over, the news could finally be announced.
The partnership of Rea and Sykes is eagerly awaited, both inside and outside the paddock. Rea is very highly rated by industry insiders, who have praised what the Ulsterman has been able to achieve on what is widely regarded as an outdated and underperforming Honda CBR1000RR. Rea has finished ahead of his teammate and as first Honda rider, ever since moving to WSBK in 2009. Rea is expected to be a very strong teammate for Sykes, something which the rumored animosity between Sykes and Rea will only exacerbate. The pairing of Rea with Sykes will certainly make Kawasaki the strong favorites for the 2015 WSBK title.
Guintoli moves to the Pata Honda team, where he takes the place of the departing Rea. Guintoli's move has been made necessary after Aprilia's (unannounced) withdrawal of their factory team from World Superbikes. The Italian manufacturer is now set to focus their efforts on MotoGP, where they have joined forces with Gresini to run a factory squad. Whether Aprilia will continue to support private teams in WSBK has yet to be decided.
Rea and Guintoli are not the only recent announcements. Earlier, the Althea Ducati squad announced their line up for next season, with former Moto2 rider Nico Terol joining Matteo Baiocco on the Ducati Panigale 1199R. Terol has decided to switch to World Superbikes after a difficult season in Moto2, when he was sidelined with health issues, including food allergy issues and a hormonal imbalance, both of which badly affected his fitness. With Toni Elias also set to stay in WSBK next season, that makes two Spanish former world champions in the series for 2015.
Kawasaki is pleased to announce that Jonathan Rea will partner Tom Sykes in a two-pronged KRT attack on the 2015 FIM Superbike World Championship.
British rider Rea (27) is no stranger to the Superbike World Championship class having made 140 race starts and taken 15 victories since his first full season of participation in 2009.
Rea has scored four race wins in the recently competed 2014 championship season and his addition to the squad alongside 2013 champion Sykes demonstrates the strong commitment Kawasaki and the KRT squad have to regaining the championship in 2015. KRT now has two of the top three riders in the 2014 championship signed up for 2015.
KRT will start their drive to regain the title when they begin their heavy testing schedule this month in Spain.
Guim Roda - Team Manager of KRT commented:
“After three years working with Loris Baz to grow up a young talent, we will start in 2015 a new strategy, with an experienced and fully formed rider Johnny Rea. We are sure he can increase the whole team performance and he will be a very good team-mate with Tom Sykes. Both have a big respect for each other, and I’m sure both guys will increase their performance, searching the limits of the Ninja ZX-10R. We expect to put on track two very strong riders next year so it is our idea try to win back the title with our two British weapons.”
Pere Riba – Jonathan Rea’s Crew Chief commented:
“I am very happy that a rider with this kind of level of experience is coming to our Kawasaki team. For me, and all the team, this makes us feel very happy. I believe we have shown that we have a good base and we are working hard to have an even better bike. I believe we can give the tools to Jonathan so he will be fighting for the championship. We will start the winter tests very soon and I feel very positive that Kawasaki took the decision to have Jonathan in the team. As a crew chief we will try to give him the best not only technically but also helping him in general and I am sure we can have a good year.”
Steve Guttridge – Kawasaki Race Planning Manager commented:
“The opportunity to sign a rider of Johnny's calibre and experience to race alongside our established hero Tom Sykes was a dream we'd studied every season but this time it could come true! Johnny is super-motivated to make the next step in his career and thankfully it is with Kawasaki. We will give him all the tools necessary to make that next step in the Superbike World Championship with our great crew and bike. He himself as a character has a big potential to add to our team’s overall success, both on and off the track, and his personal enthusiasm to succeed alongside Tom can only lift the Kawasaki Racing Team and our brand to the next level in 2015.”
The 2014 World Superbike champion Sylvain Guintoli has signed an agreement to ride for the Pata Honda team alongside Michael van der Mark in the 2015 championship aboard Honda’s CBR1000RR Fireblade SP machine.
Guintoli is one of the most widely experienced riders in the World Superbike paddock and won the 2014 title in yesterday’s final round at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar. The French rider, who lives in the UK with his English wife Caroline and their four children, has also ridden at the highest level in MotoGP.
The 32-year-old has a total of nine World Superbike wins to his credit, five of which have come this season: at Phillip Island in Australia, Assen in the Netherlands, his home round of Magny-Cours in France last month, and a double race win in Qatar yesterday to end the season in some style. He boasts a total of 40 WSBK podium finishes.
Although the 2015 season will be Guintoli’s first ride for Honda, he has a strong historical relationship with the team’s title partner Pata, having ridden for a Pata-sponsored Ducati team in 2012, taking two race victories to finish seventh that season in the World Superbike standings.
The announcement of Guintoli’s appointment to the Pata Honda World Superbike team and his new partnership with 2014 World Supersport champion, Michael van der Mark, means that the team will bid farewell to both Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam. The entire Pata Honda team and Honda Motor Europe offer their very best wishes to both riders in the future careers.
Sylvain Guintoli - profile
|Date of birth||24 June 1982|
|Place of birth||Montélimar, France|
|Home town||Market Bosworth, UK|
|Race machine||Pata Honda CBR1000RR|
|World Superbike debut||2009 – Portimao, Portugal|
|World Superbike races||129|
|World Superbike pole positions||4|
|First World Superbike podium||2011 – Miller Motorsports Park, USA|
|Total World Superbike podiums||40|
|First World Superbike win||2012 – Assen, the Netherlands|
|Total World Superbike wins||9|
250cc French champion
3rd, 250cc European championship
|2001||14th, 250cc world championship|
|2002||Test rider – Yamaha GP|
|2003||10th, 250cc world championship - Aprilia|
|2004||14th, 250cc world championship - Aprilia|
|2005||10th, 250cc world championship - Aprilia|
|2006||9th, 250cc world championship - Aprilia|
|2007||16th, MotoGP world championship - Yamaha|
|2008||13th, MotoGP world championship - Ducati|
|2009||8th, British Superbike championship - Suzuki|
|2010||7th, World Superbike championship - Suzuki|
|2011||6th, World Superbike championship - Ducati|
|2012||7th, World Superbike championship - Ducati|
|2013||3rd, World Superbike championship - Aprilia|
|2014||World Superbike champion – Aprilia|
The events of this season and especially last night are still buzzing in my head, but I’m delighted to be joining the Honda family and to be reuniting with Pata. The last time we worked together was a very unexpected but successful partnership. I brought Pata their first victories and we have a strong relationship. I’m looking forward to tackling this new challenge and I can’t wait to get going. Johnny [Rea] has obviously been strong on the Honda all season, and sometimes he’s been very strong! So I think there is definitely a big potential with the bike and I think the new rules for next year will suit it. So for us this is good news and I can’t wait to understand how it works; but it looks like a really good package and I’m looking forward to getting the first impressions soon.
Ronald ten Kate - Pata Honda team manager
In many ways it’s the end of an era, but it’s the start of a new one, too, and I think 2015 is going to be a really exciting season for us. I’m really delighted that we are able to welcome Sylvain to the Pata Honda team for his first ride with Honda. He has a great record in the World Superbike championship and has performed really well this season to come back from a big deficit and win the title yesterday in style. With Mikey [van der Mark] on the other side of the garage I believe we have that perfect blend of youth and experience that all team managers aim for. We have an intensive winter testing schedule planned and I honestly can’t wait for next season to start.
Robert Watherston - head of motorsport, HME
First of all, congratulations to Sylvain on his title! This is a fantastic appointment for the team and I’m very happy that we have been able to secure the services of a rider who can bring so much top level experience to the team. Sylvain will be the perfect foil for Michael’s [van der Mark] aggression and raw speed so I see this as a great line-up for the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP’s ongoing development as we head into this new era of WSBK regulations. On behalf of the whole team, we wish Jonathan and Leon all the best for the future and thank them both enormously for their years of service with Honda.
Before the 2014 Superbike World Championship comes to a conclusion, Team Althea Racing is already hard at work as it starts to make preparations for next season. In 2015, the partnership between the Team and Ducati will continue. In 2011, the Team won Ducati’s most recent World Superbike title, with Carlos Checa on board the 1098R; Checa was the first Spaniard ever to win the Superbike title.
Next year the Team will line up with two very experienced riders and with the strong desire to unleash its full potential and be able to create a team with all of the characteristics needed to win.
Genesio Bevilacqua, Althea Racing Team Owner, has decided to focus on Spaniard Nicolas Terol and on Italian rider Matteo Baiocco. Both riders are able to bring results to the Team and it is for this reason that the Team has decided on these two men. Ambition, experience and a desire to stand out are the qualities that the Team was looking for and, in this case, all of the prerequisites with which to do well exist. A bike, the Ducati 1199 Panigale R, that has everything needed to be able to compete at the highest level against rival manufacturers, and two riders that can fight for podium finishes with the Ducati in every race.
Nicolas Terol was the last rider to win the former 125 championship title, in 2011, with the Aprilia of Team Bancaja Aspar. 2014 was not a very positive year for Nico, who did not achieve the results he’d hoped for due to a hip injury that resulted from the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez della Frontera and went on to condition his entire season. The 26-year old, from Alcoy in Spain, will come to Team Althea with a great deal of experience and the desire to demonstrate his true value.
Matteo Baiocco, born in 1984, knows the bike better than anyone, thanks to his work as Ducati test rider. It is also worth noting that Matteo has, until now, been the fastest rider ever to ride the 1199 Panigale R; he set a new Mugello track record of 1’49.7 which smashed all previous records. The rider, from Osimo in Italy, won the Italian Superbike championship (CIV) on two consecutive occasions, in 2011 and 2012, and also battled for the 2014 title right down to the last laps of the very last race at Mugello. All of these qualities have resulted in the Team selecting him for 2015.
Genesio Bevilacqua: “The 2015 season represents a relaunch for Team Althea and, having dominated with Ducati for three years in the reigning class, the Team has decided to focus on two experienced riders. Nico Terol is a rider with great talent and we believe that a Team like ours can help bring him the success that he deserves; his true value has not been appreciated. Matteo is a rider who I know well, he is extremely experienced and knows the bike better than anyone else so I am sure that this can be a fundamental year for his career. Thanks to collaboration with Ducati management, who we thank for the trust they have put in us, we have the privilege of taking top class bikes, with which we have always been able to perform at the highest level, back on the track.
Matteo Baiocco: “I’m really pleased to have reached an agreement with Genesio Bevilacqua and with Team Althea. Becoming part of such a successful Team is a very important opportunity for me to put all of my experience from recent years, in national championships and in the development of the Panigale SBK with Ducati, into practice. I feel ready for this new challenge and believe that this opportunity has come at the right time for me. I can’t wait to start working with my new team, in order to find the right harmony and arrive competitive at next season’s opening race.”
Nicolas Terol:”I’m very happy about this opportunity with Team Althea. I’m lucky to be coming to a championship such as Superbike that I have always followed closely, and with a very experienced Team that knows how to win. It’s great to be able to debut with a bike like the Ducati. This period has been very difficult for me, so I consider the move to Superbike as a chance to start over. I’ve never lost the desire to compete against others and fight for the win. I thank Genesio Bevilacqua and Team Althea for having chosen me for their Team. In the past I have worked with Gigi Dall’Igna who is now part of Ducati’s top management; he is a person who has always respected me. I can’t wait to get on my new bike and begin this new adventure.”