For the last four years, World Superbike has been a one-brand series.
Kawasaki-factory-backed Provec Racing has taken four consecutive titles and five out of the last six.
But what had become a one-horse race (if 4-time champ Jonathan Rea doesn’t mind being called a horse!) may be about to change.
In the last month, BMW have announced they’ll jump back in with the new S 1000 RR, backing Shawn Muir Racing and former title-winner Tom Sykes.
Ducati have give the V4 R a 2019 upgrade.
And now Honda will give full factory support for the first time since 2002. They’ve selected Moriwaki Engineering and partner Althea Racing as their team.
If Honda’s less-than-stellar return to Formula 1 is any indication, jumping back into a top-flight series won’t be a turn-key deal, not even for a company with the massive resources — in the form of technology, development and money — that they have at their disposal.
It’s been speculated that Honda were driven to this decision by the dismal performance of their bike in the hands of independent teams, including Red Bull Honda.
Moriwaki has apparently been prepping for a return to WSBK since 2016, getting dialed-in on the Pirelli rubber-shod CBR1000RR, including an impressive performance at this years’s Suzuka 8 Hours.
It may take a while for the pecking order in WSBK to change. In preseason testing in Jerez at the end of November, Jonathan Rea and his 2019 Kawasaki were quickest on both days.
But at a minimum, the factory involvement of Honda and BMW is going to give World Superbike a dose of publicity that can do nothing but help the series.