BMW rules out expanding to third factory WSBK bike for Sykes
BMW has ruled out expanding its factory World Superbike team to three bikes to accommodate Tom Sykes after signing Scott Redding for the 2022 season.
Ahead of this weekend’s Navarra round, BMW announced that Redding would be making the switch from Ducati next season, with the Briton slotting in alongside Michael van der Mark in the German marque’s main works team.
That would theoretically leave Tom Sykes, a BMW mainstay since 2019, out in the cold, but the manufacturer’s statement was ambiguous about the 2013 champion’s status, saying talks were ongoing to keep him in the fold.
BMW Motorrad motorsport director Marc Bongers has since added that the firm is “working hard to keep Tom onboard”, but clarified that any extension to their agreement would involve Sykes riding a satellite M1000RR.
“The format for Sykes would be a satellite team because a three-man team is logistically simply not doable and that’s what we’re working towards together with Tom,” said Bongers.
Asked what Redding’s signing means for his future, Sykes suggested in an interview with WSBK’s official site that he has options outside of BMW.
However, with Alvaro Bautista hotly tipped to join Michael Ruben Rinaldi at Ducati and Andrea Locatelli likely to remain at Yamaha, Honda appears to be the only works team that would be able to accommodate the Yorkshire rider.
“It has an impact on my future, for now I don’t know,” said Sykes. “We just have to understand the situation.
“There are also some very competitive rides remaining and some shuffling of seats and all we need to do now is react in a positive way and try and find the best possible situation.”
On whether a satellite BMW would be of any interest specifically, he replied: “You seem to know more about the potential of staying inside the BMW family than I do! There has clearly been a lack of information.
“[BMW Motorrad boss] Dr. [Markus] Schramm is the one at the top and I have a lot of time and respect for him, so it would be a lot easier to contact him to understand the situation more clearly.”
BMW currently runs two satellite bikes for Eugene Laverty - replaced at the works team this year by van der Mark - and Jonas Folger, but Laverty and his RC Squadra Corse outfit have been absent since last month's Assen round.
Bongers suggested the team's absence may continue for some time yet.
"We keep having discussions with both his team and Eugene to secure the future, which of course would be nice if we can get that into place," he said. "But we have a very clear mindset that we only will get them back into place when it’s feasible for the entire season."
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