Since 2018 seven riders with MotoGP experience have joined WorldSBK, four of which made a direct swap, leaving us to wonder who could be next to leave the grand prix paddock for Superbikes. 

The seven riders alluded to include Loris Baz (returned to WorldSBK), Alvaro Bautista, Jonas Folger, Scott Redding, Tito Rabat, and both Iker Lecuona and Hafizh Syahrin who will make their WorldSBK debut this upcoming season. 

While MotoGP could be set to poach arguably the best WorldSBK rider in Toprak Razgatlioglu for 2023, there are various riders who could move the other way should based on a variety of reasons. 

On this list are three riders who out of the current MotoGP line-up, one that’s getting younger and younger with each passing season, are the most likely even though they could seem a surprise at first. 

3: Johann Zarco

The first rider on this list is Johann Zarco who is perhaps the most unlikely to switch MotoGP for WorldSBK if we base this off results in 2021.

But saying that, Zarco is now part of an eight-rider-strong Ducati set-up and one where he is the oldest of all the riders. The 31 year-old Frenchman is out of contract after the 2022 season ends, and with Francesco Bagnaia, Jorge Martin and possibly even Fabio Quartararo should he leave Yamaha for the Italian manufacturer leading the team going forward, it could make retaining Zarco less likely. 

Zarco, who started the 2021 season as one of the main title contenders, lost form as the season went on and was regularly outperformed by Bagnaia, Jack Miller, Martin and Enea Bastianini. 

With Zarco unlikely to be the team’s first, second or third championship choice going forward, it means the former two-time Moto2 champion is the most expendable of all Ducati’s riders. 

Should Zarco leave then KTM is automatically a manufacturer out of the running given how their relationship ended in 2019, while chances of a return to Yamaha would also be very slim. If Suzuki and Aprilia make changes for next year then they would likely want to pair a young rider with one of their experienced riders, meaning Honda is probably Zarco’s best bet.

The LCR team could have not one but two seats available, which given Zarco’s impressive performances for the team when he stood-in for the final three rounds of 2019, could be a move that makes sense.

But with that said, Zarco would have to consider whether Honda gives him the chance of competing for wins and a title that he desires, especially as Joan Mir could join Marc Marquez at Repsol Honda, whereas a switch to WorldSBK would provide Zarco a certain chance of winning. 

Zarco’s on-track training already consists of riding a Ducati Paniglae V4 R Superbike, a machine not too dissimilar to what he would ride in the WorldSBK championship. 

Given his relationship with Ducati and the Bologna-based team looking for their first title since 2011 - that of course would change if they won the title this year - a move across with Ducati could be a very successful one for both sides. 

2: Alex Rins 

Alex Rins is a rider that until the 2021 season began was a sure thing to remain in MotoGP for several years. 

Rins, who took victories in 2019 and 2020, also finished as Suzuki’s top rider in the championship during 2018 and 19. 

However, with Mir claiming the world title in 2020 and asserting himself as Suzuki’s top rider, Rins could be in danger of losing his ride for 2023. The Barcelona-born rider is heading into the final year of his latest two-year deal, and with several young Moto2 riders potentially in the running for a MotoGP ride next year, it could make staying with the Japanese manufacturer a difficult proposition. 

In terms of other options in MotoGP should he leave Suzuki, Ducati and KTM would probably be the least likely due to them having several riders tied into their future. 

On top of that both manufacturers have a good balance of experience and youth which could go against Rins. There is the possibility that Miller could be under pressure in the factory Lenovo Ducati team, however, a switch from Miller to Rins would most likely be considered a sideways move, not one that improves their team. 

Honda are unlikely to be an option especially as Mir is rumoured to be their top choice when it comes to having a new rider. If Mir was to leave Suzuki then obviously that would leave Rins with a much better chance of staying.

Yamaha and Aprilia could both be options especially if Fabio Quartararo and Aleix Espargaro leave their respective teams, as could be said about Andrea Dovizioso at RNF Yamaha, however, both manufacturer’s would likely be looking at a Moto2 rider to fill that void or in Yamaha’s case Razgatlioglu to fill one of those seats. 

Rins is still only 26 years of age and with a good 2022 season would be in-line to remain in the premier class, but should it be another tough season where crashes and a lack of podiums take centre stage, then a switch to Superbike racing where a factory ride and one where challenging for the title is pretty much guaranteed. 

With Alex Lowes (Kawasaki), Alvaro Bautista and Michael Rinaldi (Ducati), all out of contract for 2023 and the potential of Razgatlioglu leaving Yamaha, that’s the series’ top three rides that could be available for Rins should such a switch be on the cards. 

1: Takaaki Nakagami

Perhaps the most likely MotoGP rider to join WorldSBK is LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami. 

The Japanese rider has shown incredible potential on more than one occasion, but the former Moto2 rider is still yet to claim a podium, let alone a win. 

Nakagami, who has big ties to Honda due to his nationality and sponsorship, would be in a similar situation as Rins with most manufacturers showing interest. Honda would of course be the first place to look, but with the team signing Lecuona and Xavi Vierge for this year, then a move to Kawasaki or Yamaha could be more likely. 

If Nakagami does leave MotoGP he could take the route of someone like Thomas Luthi, Sam Lowes or Hafizh Syahrin who went back to Moto2, but in terms of competing for wins and a world title, Superbike would still be his best opportunity.