In one of the most extraordinary weeks in WorldSBK history, there’s no drought in hot topics coming into Round 9 in France.

It’s been a bombshell week in 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship; in what has turned into one of the most sensational silly seasons ever seen, this week’s hottest quotes ahead of our return to racing for the final third of 2023 need to introduction. With a seismic switch for next year, continuous speculation and talking about who the favourite to do the business this weekend at Magny-Cours will be, we’re certainly not a sandwich short of a picnic.

Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK): “One of the hardest decisions of my career… I need something new”

In what was arguably one of the most emotional Thursdays, Jonathan Rea spoke for the first time about his decision to leave KRT: “As you can imagine, after six World Championships, nine years working together and so many memories, it’s been one of the hardest decisions in my career. In the end, it all boils down to the fact that I need something new, a new challenge and I had the opportunity somewhere else to find that. The time is right to make the next chapter in my career and we’ll deal with that later, but it was a very hard decision. I’ll never forget my first World Championship or the first feelings with the team, pleading my team manager Guim to give me a chance on this bike. I’ll always remember my time with Kawasaki as the people who gave me the chance to fulfil a childhood dream. I’ll try not to be sad. This chapter might come to a close but I’ll be so happy with what we’ve achieved. I love this team. We’re going to try to create some amazing stories until the end of the season and try to enjoy my bike. When I can find that magic, I can make it happen on the track.” 

Guim Roda (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK team principal): “It’s a reality we need to accept; we need to understand the market and which riders can fit”

Team boss for KRT’s effort Guim Roda admitted it is a heavy loss and looked ahead to potential replacements: “We feel a little bit sad. It’s been a long journey that we’ve been on together. It’s a reality we need to accept, keep working and we will continue our way and try our best. It’s difficult to find one moment because we have so many, but I’d like to mark those moments especially people cannot see because it happened between races. Those chats, meetings and all this time where he’s been working and talking about how to improve the team, the package, and the bike. All these things happen between races that people don’t see is maybe one of the key points we’ll keep apart from the success, winning and Championships. We need to understand the market and which riders can fit in Kawasaki’s wishes to have a rider represent them. We are on this now.”

Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK): “We have many new parts”

With updates on his #54 Yamaha, Toprak Razgatlioglu is relishing a return to ‘Toprak territory’ this weekend: “We have many new parts and we’ll try them on Friday to check which are better and which aren’t. I think we should improve a little bit, enough to win. For the top speed, it will be similar, we just need better stopping and turning. The first and second sector have the long straights but after that, there are many corners. I will fight there! In general, I feel very positive.”

Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati): “Nicolo’s a nice guy, he’s so fast and young… Jonathan is a very fast rider and a big Champion”

“It’s not an easy track, it’s very challenging because you have all sorts of corners: slow corners, fast corners, long straights and a lot of changes of direction. It’s not easy. I have a good memory from last year. We did a test at Aragon and found small things that can maybe help us, and we will re-try them maybe during the weekend. Nicolo’s a nice guy, he’s so fast and young and he’s doing really well in WorldSSP. It will be a big challenge, he’s very strong and welcome to him to the other side of the box. I don’t know, Kawasaki and Yamaha are very different bikes, so it depends how Rea adapts to the bike and how he gets a good setup. Everything will be new, so I don’t except anything because Jonathan is a very fast rider and a big Champion. I’m sure that sooner or later he’ll be competitive with that bike.”

Michael Ruben Rinaldi ( Racing – Ducati): “We split in a friendly way… 99.9% I’ll be in WorldSBK”

With his future not lying with the factory Ducati team, Michael Ruben Rinaldi confirmed he’ll be back on the grid next year, but not where: “It’s been a good time and there’s been a lot of beautiful moments with the team and I can be happy about the great people I’ve met during these years. Even if our ways will split, I’ll continue having friends that I didn’t have before. It’s life; things start and things end. We’re in motorsport and I’m not that old, so never say never. It could be a goodbye but not farewell. For three years, they gave me the opportunity to ride the factory bike and I always gave my best and tried every year to improve. From my point of view, after many efforts, it’s time for new challenges. At the moment, I’m still talking and I have a few options which will not take too much time to understand where I’ll be. For sure, I can say that 99.9% I will be in WorldSBK, but we have to understand the details better, to know which will be my best choice.”

Serafino Foti ( Racing – Ducati team principal): “Our relationship with Michael doesn’t change; Bulega deserves this opportunity”

Welcoming new talent into WorldSBK, Serafino Foti readies for Nicolo Bulega’s arrival: “I think Bulega deserves this opportunity because he did a really good job in the last two years in WorldSSP. He’s still young but he has a lot of experience from Moto2™ and Moto3™ so I think this is the best choice regarding our line-up. On one side of the garage, we have a Champion, and we can give the opportunity to a young rider, and I think he can do a good job. It’s never easy to take a decision but racing is racing. The journey is over but our relationship with Michael doesn’t change. I wish him all the best and I hope he can find a really good opportunity, he’s so fast and an unbelievable talent. He deserves another opportunity. The wildcard is exciting for Aruba, and we decided after the second test. Our engineers analysed the data and they said ‘Alvaro could do a good job, it could be a good choice’ because he was impressive and quite fast.”

Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team): “My future is something you’ll know in the coming weeks”

After a two-day test at Aragon where communication was limited to the media, Scott Redding revealed some he’s excited after it and looked to 2024 too: “The Aragon test was quite good; it was good to get back there and get back riding without the pressure of a race weekend. We tested a few items with the setup and bigger things I can’t test in a race weekend. I’m quite excited; I’m making a few steps with the bike, and I hope we can show that again here. It’s a track that I like. My future is something you’ll know in the coming weeks. There’s nothing I can say on what’s happening. That’s where we’re at really; you can ask me the question all the time but I’m not in a position to say anything at the moment.”

Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW): “The cards aren’t in my hands… we’ll see where I’ll end up”

Once more stating that his future isn’t clear, home-hero Loris Baz said: “I’m looking forward to it and it’s always nice to race at home; it’s once a year and I enjoy it a lot. WorldSBK is really popular in France so it’s good to see all the fans that come around. We had a good end to the first part and now I’m looking forward to ending the season as well as possible. The test was about getting ready for Aragon but also here, a base setup that works well at both. We were trying to get some confidence in our pocket for the rest of the season. For 2024, the cards aren’t in my hands and it will get sorted sooner or later. We’ll see where I’ll end up.”

Xavi Vierge (Team HRC): “The idea is to continue with Honda; we have a big goal”

With his future still unknown at round nine, Xavi Vierge provided an update on his 2024 situation: “I hope we will know something soon, but we can’t say anything right now. The idea is to continue with Honda. We have a big goal together and we haven’t achieved it yet. We had a good test at MotorLand. It’s always good to have a test in the summer break. You arrive more ready for the last part of the season. The test was good. We focused on the bike setup and made some big changes to make a step forward. We understood some things and we’ll try to take this to make a step. After the break, I’m looking forward to resuming the season. We started the season really strong but the last three rounds have been a bit lower than we expected. I think the final four rounds are tracks that are good for us.”

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