It's turning out to be a hot summer! Not only in terms of the Mediterranean temperatures that don't let up for a minute, but also regarding the riders' market. In Superbike, Alvaro Bautista has caused negotiations to heat up, the Spaniard deciding to leave Ducati after just one season and start over in Honda.
There is no time to lose in Borgo Panigale then, the team needing to look to the future. With Chaz Davies already confirmed for next year, a rider is needed to replace the Spaniard. The first name on the list is that of Scott Redding who, having concluded his adventure in MotoGP with Aprilia, moved over to BSB this year.
The British rider is favourite then, also because he has competed with a Panigale V4 in the UK this season. So Scott knows the bike, although there are some key differences in the British series, starting with the single ECU with no electronic aids such as traction, launch control or anti-wheelie. No small thing, as Scott would have to adapt quickly to find the right confidence.
That aside, one needs to understand the rider's level, Scott currently leading the way in the British championship. Not something to be underestimated, but the jump from one series to the other is perhaps greater than one might think. Take Leon Haslam for example, who returned to WorldSBK this season. Aside from his performance at Phillip Island, Misano and Donington, the KRT rider has struggled to keep up, beaten on several occasions by the ZX10-RR of Razgatlioglu.
As was the case one year ago, when Bautista was announced, there are similar doubts about Redding's potential. Yes, he's almost ten years younger but if we look at MotoGP, Alvaro comes out on top. In four of the five years he spent in the reigning clas, the Spaniard did consistently better than his rival, particularly in Ducati and Aprilia. As if that weren't enough, the Superbike bar will raise once more come 2020.
As well as a Kawasaki that will have learned more lessons with Rea this season, there will also be a new Yamaha R1 ready to fight for the title. And what of Honda, that will line up with a latest generation Fireblade, ridden by Bautista. We're sure that HRC will want to succeed at its first attempt and won't sit idly by, particularly after having collated all the data it needs this season.
Basically, Redding is in for a very difficult test, one that will perhaps allow him to make that jump in quality that many have been waiting to see. The Brit is almost an obligatory choice, in that all the top riders are already sorted for next season and it doesn't look as if there will be any movers from MotoGP.
In all likelihood, Ducati will hire Scott, but let's not forget Chaz Davies. The Laguna Seca win finally gave the Welshman his smile back, after too long a fasting period. Perhaps 2020 could bring a two-pronged attack, rather than the single centre forward we've seen this year.