Friday, February 22, 2008

And World Supersport doesn't look too bad either

A brief epilogue to my World Superbike preview earlier this week...

It's worth noting that World Supersport might once again be worth a look. I followed it religiously back in 2002 and 2003 but kind of lost interest as some of the more competitive teams either left for World Superbike, lost their edge or dropped out. What followed was Ten Kate domination, with Karl Muggeridge, Sebastien Charpentier and Kenan Sofuoglu. This year brings promise of a tighter championship and more exciting races.

So who are we watching?

Ten Kate Honda: Acknowledged WSS masters, Ten Kate are giving British Superbike star Johnny Rea a year of apprenticeship before moving him up to WSBK. Rea is the real deal: very fast with amazing bike control honed from years of racing motocross as teenager. I'd like to predict he'll be a challenger all year despite his unfamiliarity with the tracks. Alongside him will be a man whose career highlight thus far was a WSS title, Andrew Pitt. He struggled in MotoGP, did pretty well in WSBK but he's great on a small bike, especially one as well prepped as a Ten Kate Honda.

Yamaha World Supersport: Consistently Ten Kate's closest challengers, Yamaha once again field two guys who have shown to be WSS experts and WSBK also-rans, Broc Parkes and Fabian Foret. Their issue will be the bike - the current generation R6 has never quite had the handling to match the Hondas, although its engine is very strong.

Gil Motorsport: The top Kawasaki team will this year have former 125cc champ Arnaud Vincent, WSS frontrunner Katsuaki Fujiwara, and WSBK race winner and crowd-favourite Chris Walker. It's a slight step backward for the Stalker who had a terrible 2007 in British Superbike, but let's hope he can regain his form as he returns to the green machines. Fujiwara is always near the sharp end on a 600.

Honda Althea: Formerly Italia Megabike, Althea is definitely the next best Honda team. Tommy Hill moves up from British Superbike where he had the speed but not the equipment, and often pushed too hard as a result. Joining him is WSS staple and former Ducati man Gianluca Nannelli. They'll be looking for podiums and the occasional win.

Others that might figure include Parkalgar Honda's Craig Jones, Intermoto Czech's Mathieu Lagrive, Stiggy Motors' Josh Brookes and Robin Harms, and the exciting return of Garry McCoy who will be on a Triumph 675.

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