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Bassani on pole position for Rea’s Kawasaki WSBK ride

The Kawasaki ride that will be vacated by Jonathan Rea next season appears poised to go to current satellite Ducati rider Axel Bassani, Motorsport.com understands.

Axel Bassani, Motocorsa Racing

Rea’s shock defection to Yamaha, announced at the start of the month, has left Kawasaki scrabbling to find an adequate replacement for the six-time champion ahead of the 2024 season.

With a shortage of other big names on the market, the Japanese manufacturer now appears to have settled on Bassani to partner incumbent Alex Lowes.

Bassani, 24, has forged a reputation as one of WSBK’s most exciting up-and-coming talents in his three seasons riding for the Motocorsa Ducati squad.

The Italian rider has scored six podiums with the team and established himself as a regular top-five presence, finishing seventh overall last year as the top independent rider.

Following last weekend’s Magny-Cours round, Bassani sits fifth in the standings - two places ahead of works Ducati rider Michael Ruben Rinaldi, who will lose his place at the factory squad to Nicolo Bulega for next season.

 

Bassani’s expected departure from Motocorsa opens up a vacancy that Rinaldi could fill for 2024, although there still may be a chance for him to ride for the works Honda team depending on what happens with Iker Lecuona.

It’s thought that Lecuona’s future hinges on whether Marc Marquez elects to stay with Honda in MotoGP or move to Gresini Ducati; in the latter case, it’s likely Lecuona would be moved across to the grand prix paddock from WSBK.

In the event that Lecuona does end up going to MotoGP and Rinaldi takes over the vacated slot in the Honda WSBK seat, it could offer Loris Baz a stay of execution in the series.

As things stand, Baz is the odd rider out at BMW, which has signed Toprak Razgatlioglu to join Michael van der Mark in its works squad for 2024. Scott Redding looks poised to remain with the brand with the satellite Bonovo team alongside Garrett Gerloff.

Redding had been mooted as a possible option to take Rea’s spot at Kawasaki, but the Japanese manufacturer has instead elected to bet on youth to revive its fortunes by signing Bassani, who in turn will have his long-awaited wish to become a factory rider fulfilled.

Elsewhere, Philipp Oettl has been linked with a potential move to the MIE Honda team, with the German rider looking certain to lose his seat at the Go Eleven Ducati outfit to Andrea Iannone.

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