Thursday, January 25, 2007

2-wheel job-seekers

The silly-season merry-go-round has nearly come to a stop, and in the world of motorcycle racing there's a few riders who find themselves still looking for a seat. So who's filling out their unemployment forms or lining up at the dole queue?

Neil Hodgson: How can it be that one of the top superbike riders in the world is unemployed? The simple answer is that Hodgson was determined to get the factory Ducati World Superbike seat alongside Troy Bayliss, and didn't consider other options until it was too late. There is no doubt that there are a number of Superbike teams who would rather have him on their roster, but deadlines had to be met, and riders had to be signed, and now it's too late. Hodgson's choices are now very limited. He's hoping that Carl Fogarty can put something together using Ducatis, but 'ole Foggy doesn't seem to have the same level of talent finding sponsorship as he had riding Superbikes. Other options for Neil include the second seat at Yamaha France, or a possible seat alongside Rubens Xaus at Sterilgarda-Berik Ducati.

Garry McCoy: The man whose riding style is so distinctive, no-one wants to work with him. For a young MotoGP team like Ilmor, in desperate need of test data, McCoy was not the man for the job. Fair enough I say. But Garry is still lightning fast, and after a year in FIM Supermoto his remarkable bike-handling skills must surely be even better. Any motorcycle racing team looking for press would be well-advised to contact the dimunitive Australian. People love the guy, he's quick, and very exciting to watch. It's PR gold baby!

Scott Smart: Scott had a terrific year in British Superbike in 2004 on a Kawasaki, enough to bag him a ride with top Suzuki outfit Rizla Suzuki. Things started to go bad almost immediately, and he left mid-season to join semi-works team Vivaldi. Despite picking up a win for them in 2006 he left the team, and is now scrambling to find enough cash to run his own team, on Yamahas for 2007. At this point, it doesn't look very good. Should he fail, his options in British Superbike are slim (perhaps a reason he has tried to go it alone). Hawk Kawasaki have signed Peter Hickman, but it's unclear whether they'll be looking for a second rider. If they are, it would nice to see Scott back in green.

Giovanni Bussei: American fans will remember Bussei's extroverted character from a few races on the Ducati team at the tail-end of 2003. The heavily-goateed, curly-haired madman from Italy made a lot of friends, but ended up back in Europe. Since then he's ridden with the Bertocchi Kawasaki team, as well as filled in for injured riders at Ten Kate Honda. Sadly, it doesn't seem like he has much lined up for 2007, which is a shame, since he's clearly a very talented rider.

Chris Burns: Remember him? He raced the woeful WCM bike in MotoGP in 2003 and 2004, and has floated aaround the British racing scene since then, mopst notably taking the place of John McGuinness when he left AIM Yamaha in 2005. Burns is probably the unluckiest man in bike racing, and sadly most people forget that he's a former Superstock champion. Alas, it seems as though he's without a ride again in 2007.

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