Jonathan Rea Unveiled in Yamaha Blue for the First Time

Yamaha has launched its 2024 WorldSBK programme, including the factory Pata Prometeon Yamaha team with six-time champion Jonathan Rea

Pata Prometeon Yamaha, 2024

A third manufacturer has launched its 2024 WorldSBK team, with Yamaha joining BMW and Ducati in presenting its line-up and livery for the upcoming season.

Pata Prometeon Yamaha

The 2024 Pata Prometeon Yamaha team presents one of the most exciting line-ups for the season to come. Jonathan Rea, you might have heard, joins Andrea Locatelli in the blue corner’s factory team for this year, as the six-time World Champion looks to make even more history with a seventh world title.

Whether Rea has the ability to do so with the Yamaha R1 that Toprak Razgatlioglu took to seven race wins and second in the 2023 World Superbike Championship will become clear in time, but the initial impression is positive, with Rea setting competitive long run pace in the most recent WorldSBK test in Jerez earlier this week. Certainly, compared to the Kawasaki team Rea left to join Yamaha, the prospects of the Pata Prometeon Yamaha team seem particularly positive.

As for Andrea Locatelli, a consolidation as the most consistent rider behind WorldSBK’s Three Kings (Rea, Razgatlioglu, Alvaro Bautista) has been enough to keep his ride for another year, but more flash might be appreciated by the Iwata marque this year. Although you can always count on Locatelli for a top 10, and almost always for a top six, Locatelli is still without a win in WorldSBK, and the 2020 World Supersport Champion could do with proving he is capable of visiting the top step if he is to remain a factory Yamaha rider much beyond 2024.

Last year, Yamaha launched all four of its WorldSBK teams together. The factory Pata Prometeon team was joined in the launch by Motoxracing, GMT94, and GRT, bu this year GRT is absent, although Motoxracing and GMT94 were still included.

Motoxracing Yamaha

Motoxracing maintains its one-rider line-up of 2023 in 2024, with 2022 British Superbike Champion Bradley Ray again Motoxracing’s only representation this year. Ray’s debut 2023 season was spent mostly outside the top 10, but a top six in Race 2 at Imola proved there is competitive speed in both Ray and the Motoxracing package - unlocking that on a more regular basis will be the key this year.

GMT94 Yamaha

GMT94 Yamaha’s debut WorldSBK season did not go particularly to plan last year, with the team and its rider Lorenzo Baldassarri proving uncompetitive at almost every circuit. In 2024, Baldassarri is gone (back to Supersport with Orelac Racing and its Ducati Panigale V2), and Philipp Oettl, who rode a Ducati Panigale V4 R in 2023 for Go Eleven, arrives to replace him. Oettl himself showed decent speed at times last year, and top 10 potential. It seems fair to say that swapping a Ducati for a Yamaha is a step down in terms of machinery performance, meaning it is up to Oettl this year to prove that his occasions of competitiveness in 2023 were not entirely down to the competitiveness of his technical package. Racing Ducati

Ducati’s WorldSBK fortunes have taken a significant upturn in the past two seasons. Unable to win a title since Carlos Checa took the 2011 championship, Ducati’s World Superbike project was transformed by the return of Alvaro Bautista to the factory team in 2022. He has dominated both of the past two seasons.

Certainly, changes for some of Bautista’s competition over the off-season, such as Toprak Razgatlioglu’s move to BMW and Jonathan Rea’s to Yamaha, offer some freshness to the championship, it is perhaps the rider who moves in alongside Bautista who could offer the biggest threat to his WorldSBK reign in 2024.

Much as Bautista dominated World Superbikes in 2023, Nicolo Bulega dominated World Supersport, winning 17 races from 26 as he took his first title since the 2015 Moto3 Junior World Championship. 

Although Bulega enters a new class in 2024, he does it with the same Racing squad he triumphed with last year, and so the Italian could be in line to benefit from familiar surroundings this year in combination with a premier class in flux, and a defending champion who might have lost a little hunger with his recent success, and who might - at 39-years-old - be sensing the end of the road approaching on the horizon. Racing’s bikes in 2024 look more or less the same as last year, with the continuation of the deeper red shade that appeared last year. One notable addition is that of Monster Energy, which became an official partner of Ducati’s factory MotoGP team in 2023, and makes its way onto the WorldSBK team this year, too.

At the launch of the 2024 Racing Ducati WorldSBK team, Alvaro Bautista said: "It is a big satisfaction to be back in a beautiful place like Madonna di Campiglio to present the bikes with which we will face a 2024 championship that will be extremely challenging, with so many changes both in terms of technical regulations and in terms of competitors. 

“We will immediately have to work hard to adapt to the new rules, but I believe that in any case, it will be a very enjoyable season. The goal is to reach our maximum potential as soon as possible so that we can then have fun in every round. 

“There will also be changes in the garage with a new team-mate: Nicolò is young, strong, and has already proven to be fast. I would also like to welcome the new sponsors who will accompany me aboard a really beautiful bike. The hope is that we can all do a great job together and for that, I want to wish the guys in my team the best of luck."

Nicolò Bulega added: "I am very happy to have had the privilege of taking part in this ceremony. I remember very well when as a child I used to follow the Ducati team presentation in Madonna di Campiglio: being now among the protagonists of this event fills me with pride. 

“I thank the Racing - Ducati team for believing in me and giving me the chance to ride this Panigale V4R that I find beautiful. Let me make a joke: usually, when a bike is beautiful it must also go fast. That's why we have high expectations for this season. I'm sure we can do well. The package we have is excellent, I'm very excited and I'll try to give my best right from the start.”

ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK

The two official 2024 WorldSBK teams from BMW have been launched in Berlin, with the Bavarian brand unsurprisingly targeting race wins and championship titles.

It has certainly signed the rider to do that in 2024 in the form of Toprak Razgatlioglu, who was the only non-Ducati rider to win a dry race in the previous season of WorldSBK.

The 2021 World Superbike Champion feels BMW, which he joined from Yamaha over the winter, is “ready to fight for wins and the championship” in 2024.

“In general, I am very positive,” Razgatlioglu said at the team launch. “Especially today, there were a lot of people and I understand that a lot of people like me. A lot of people came here to see me, also many Turkish guys, and a lot of them came from very far away. Everyone can’t wait for the season, and that also goes for me. 

“My focus is now on the season. I realised that the people believe in me, but it is important that you believe in your bike. Many people say that the BMW is not ready to fight for the championship but I believe that my bike is ready to fight for wins and the championship.”

The M 1000 RR isn’t the finished article for Razgatlioglu quite yet, though. “We just need my setup, because my riding style is [completely] different. When we have this, we can easily fight for the win. 

“Now I am just focusing on the test next week. It is really important for me. I need to adapt to the bike and I believe that we can fight for the podium and the wins this season. I am excited. I signed with BMW but I am also a part of the family. This is something I saw today again and it is great. I will give more than 100 percent, I will try to win with BMW. Everyone is working hard and this is a great extra motivation also for me. If we keep doing this, we will win the World Championship.”

Although Razgatlioglu is perhaps attracting the most attention in the BMW corner of WorldSBK - and rightly so given his credentials - there is also reason to be enthused by the overall WorldSBK operation from BMW this year. Primarily, that is because the Bonovo Action team will not be classified as an Independent team in 2024, but as an Official team, the same status as the factory ROKiT-backed team run by Shaun Muir that Razgatlioglu has joined.

This should guarantee mechanical parity between the teams, and mean that the Bonovo team’s riders - Britain’s Scott Redding and the US’s Garrett Gerloff - should have an equal chance to fight for the wins and titles mentioned by Razgatlioglu as the #54 himself and the Turkish rider’s teammate, the Dutchman Michael van der Mark.

But Redding has been with BMW for two years already, and seen very little progress on the engineering side in that time. His expectations are therefore less lofty than those of Razgatlioglu. “Speaking about the coming season, for me it would be nice to have our bike to be more consistently competitive which I think we can do,” Redding said. 

Redding does find reason for optimism, though, particularly in the formation of an official BMW WorldSBK test team with riders Sylvain Guintoli (2014 World Superbike Champion, former Suzuki MotoGP test rider) and multiple-time Grand Prix winner Bradley Smith. 

“We’ve had some good changes made and obviously Toprak is coming over,” Redding said. “We also have a test team which makes a big difference. I think we are going in the right direction, which is important. It would be nice to stand on the podium again this year and more frequently, and to try to make our bad weekends not so bad and have a good, consistent year.”

The 2024 World Superbike Championship will begin next month on 23-25 January at the Phillip Island circuit in Australia.

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