Tuesday, November 27, 2007

World Superbike latest

Motorcycle racing always yields the silliest silly season, and World Superbike has already thrown up some surprising changes for 2008.

The plum job of being Troy Bayliss' team-mate at the factory Ducati team fell to Michel Fabrizio. Many question whether the young Italian has the raw talent necessary and fear another Lorenzo Lanzi situation. Jonathan Rea had been offered the seat but bizarrely opted for a role with Ten Kate's supersport squad. Strange.

PSG-1 Kawasaki are still looking for another rider to work alongside big-eared Frenchman Regis Laconi, but in the meantime they've entered into a technical agreement with Team Pedercini to supply Kawasakis to the former Ducati satellite team. Riders for that squad will be Vittorio Iannuzzo and probably superstock grad Ayrton Badovini.

Alstare Suzuki have lost both Max Biaggi and title sponsor Corona, but picked up Fonsi Nieto and Max Neukirchner instead, as they expand to three riders. Rumours of a Brazilian oil company coming on board persist.

Biaggi has ended up alongside Ruben Xaus at Sterilgarda Ducati, on theoretically factory-spec Ducati 1098Rs. I suspect a lack of technical skills in that team will hamper Biaggi's run for the title.

Another team expanding to three riders is Ten Kate Honda, who brought flying Turk Kenan Sofuoglu up from their supersport team, joining GP refugee Carlos Checa, and double British Superbike champ Ryuichi Kiyonari. I don't see any of them winning the championship (in 2008 at least) but Ten Kate are always a force to be reckoned with.

Yamaha continue with '07 riders Nori Haga and Troy Corser. Surely '08 will be Haga's year?

Two teams step up to World Superbike from elsewhere. Althea Honda (formerly Italia Megabike) will augment their supersport program by entering Roby Rolfo on a CBR1000 in superbike. Paul Bird Motorsport will move from British Superbike, seemingly as part of a world domination effort from Bird, who also runs one of the top World Rally teams. Riders are yet to be announced, but I'd keep my eyes peeled for Gregorio Lavilla, Steve Martin and/or Makoto Tamada.

Elsewhere, DFXtreme Honda, Alto Evolution Honda, Yamaha France and SC Caracchi have yet to announce their line-ups.

Down in supersport, Andrew Pitt is back, landing a plum job alongside Johnny Rea at Ten Kate. Althea Honda have Gianluca Nannelli and former Yamaha Brit Superbike rider Tommy Hill (who broke his leg in testing today). Speaking of Yamaha, their top WSS team, Yamaha Germany, brings in 600cc specialist Fabien Foret to replace the terminally injured Kevin Curtain, alongside Broc Parkes. The main Kawasaki team, GiL Motorsport, have another supersport star in Katsuaki Fujiwara, and have also signed the sadly under-performing Chris Walker, who will be running in his third different championship in as many years.

Notable riders still jobless and prospect-less include Sebastien Charpentier, Alex Hofmann and Lorenzo Lanzi.


Jimmy said...

I don't think Johnny Rea's choice of Ten Kate in WSS is all that strange, to be honest. He's had a lot of HRC backing in the last few years, and the Ten Kate deal is 1 year in WSS to learn the tracks then 2 years in WSBK.

I think the Ducati number 2 ride is a poisoned chalice, Bayliss is likely to destroy just about any youngster.

Nicebloke said...

Hmm, yes, you might be right. It just seems that being such a fast-rising star he shouldn't have to apprentice in World Supersport. It's proved to be such a graveyard for "promising" riders in the past few years. It almost seems like WSS is like a division 2 championship, for the riders who aren't good enough for WSBK. I'm thinking about riders like Broc Parkes, Fabien Foret and Katsuaki Fujiwara (and now Chris Walker).

I'd hate to see Rea get stuck in WSS, when he could have gone straight to a factory ride in WSBK.

STICKYBOI - said...
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