The first official tests of the new SBK season get underway at Portimao between January 22 to 24 and the entry includes both riders and teams of the highest quality and quantity.
With some privateer teams still to confirm their final plans for 2010 there are already well over 20 top level riders in SBK this year, on machinery from seven different manufacturers, all of whom will be going all out to fight for wins during the 13-round season.
The Aprilia Racing squad of Max Biaggi and Leon Camier will be in Portugal for the January tests, while the Ducati Xerox squad of Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio are now both seasoned campaigners, few more so than last year’s runner-up Haga.
Carlos Checa and Shane Byrne are a very high class Althea Ducati duo, with more Ducati runners set to be confirmed soon. It will be the first chance for each of these two proven WSBK race winners to test after their recent team launch in Italy.
Yamaha has two world champions in its line-up, former double Superbike winner James Toseland and last year’s Supersport champion Cal Crutchlow, Both James and Cal will test in Portugal – the same track where each had their first taste of Yamaha Superbike power at the end of last year.
Hannspree Ten Kate Honda riders Jonathan Rea and Max Neukirchner have been confirmed in the entry for some time, and like many of their rivals they will be returning to the scene of one of their recent tests. Broc Parkes is another top-level rider back for more SBK action, this time with Echo CRS Honda.
BMW, so welcome in their rookie year of 2009, will field no less than four machines in 2010, with two official BMW Motorrad bikes in Portugal this weekend, ridden by Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus.
Suzuki has two full-time riders confirmed for 2010, both in the Alstare set-up, with Leon Haslam and Sylvain Guintoli returning to Portimao on the very latest development of the GSX-R1000.
Kawasaki, having redoubled its efforts in the winter months, now has Chris Vermeulen and Tom Sykes on its books, and each will run at the forthcoming tests. The Pedercini Kawasaki team has recently confirmed America’s Roger Lee Hayden as one of its planned two riders for the new season.
In the Supersport World Championship most of the top riders will also be testing in Portugal. Crutchlow’s promotion to the top category and Yamaha’s scaling down of its Supersport effort – the chief protagonists of last season – mean that the title chase is sure to be wide-open once again, as has always been the tradition of the championship.
The main men to watch in this early test session will be multiple champions Hannspree Ten Kate Honda with Kenan Sofuoglu and Michele Pirro, Parkalgar Honda with Eugene Laverty, Kawasaki Motocard.com with Joan Lascorz and the Triumph ‘super-team’ of Chaz Davies, Jason DiSalvo and the returning Sebastien Charpentier.