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SBK, 2019 to kick off at Phillip Island, but with who?

In a month's time, the first winter tests will take place with little more than 10 riders confirmed, Sykes headed for BMW with SMR, while Laverty, Melandri, Savadori and Forés are still without a ride 

SBK: 2019 to kick off at Phillip Island, but with who?

The 2019 has not yet been confirmed but we do know that, for the tenth consecutive year, the season will kick off in Australia, with the Phillip Island round taking place over the weekend of 22 - 24 February. It is there that Johnny Rea will begin the fight for his fifth title and , alongside him, new entry Leon Haslam will take up the Kawasaki baton left by Tom Sykes.

As for #66, it looks almost certain that he will part of Shaun Muir's team, on track with the new BMW next year. As reported by Speedweek, Tom will share the garage with German rider Markus Reiterberger, the current Stock1000 who returns to the top class after a year and a half absence.

Marco Melandri's situation is still unclear, although it looks increasingly likely that he will head to MotoAmerica, his negotiations with BMW and Yamaha having come to nothing. Among those who risk having no ride for 2019 are Eugene Laverty and Lorenzo Savadori. Yes, because unless there is any dramatic last-minute change, Aprilia will not line up in the series next season, and the same goes for MV Agusta, currently on track with Chilean Maximilian Scheib.

The Schiranna manufacturer will bid farewell to Superbike and strengthen its efforts in Supersport, where it currently competes with the De Rosa-Badovini pairing. A blow for Italian manufacturers, in that their only representative in 2019 will be Ducati, with riders Davies-Bautista. Team Barni will also be there, most likely with young Michael Rinaldi. But the Italian rider's hiring means that Xavi Forés is left without a ride, despite having won the independent title just ten days ago. Incredible, but true.

As things stand, exactly four months before the 2019 championship begins, just thirteen riders are confirmed. While everything was already confirmed over in MotoGP a few months ago, it's a very different story here, where things continue to move very slowly. We also await news regarding team Althea, with Genesio Bevilacqua still to confirm whether he will stick with BMW or set out in a new direction? And what about Honda too, with no rider confirmed alongside Leon Camier as yet. There were rumours surrounding Tom Sykes, but this no longer looks likely.

The same applies to Yamaha GRT, ready to enter the top class with two R1 bikes. One possible name is Sandro Cortese, the current SuperSport leader. There are also clouds on the horizon for the Orelac and Guandalini teams, currently on track with Tati Mercato and Jakub Smrz. Time is ticking, because in just a month's time the first winter tests in preparation for the 2019 season will begin in Jerez.

Translated by Heather Watson

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