It happens each year. The Superbike World Championship winds down, crowning a new champion (in this case, Max Biaggi aboard the mighty Aprilia RSV-4) before going into the winter months leaving us with nothing to do but wait and speculate.
With this comes the new make-up of the paddock as the superbike teams fill their rosters and we armchair racers can start expounding our two cents worth.
Perhaps most surprising, as of this writing, newly crowned Max Biaggi hasn’t officially announced his plans for 2011. Personally, I want the man back in the paddock. That said, the Roman Emperor has been racing a very long time and now with one child and another on the way, it’s heavily rumored that the Italian is putting his own interests aside to be a devoted father.
For starters, what we do know is the schedule for WSBK. FIM has released the 2011 provisional WSBK calendar and it breaks down like this.
2011 World SBK Tentative Schedule:
February 27 – Australia – Phillip Island
March 27 – Europe – t.b.a
April 17 – The Netherlands – Assen
May 8 – Italy – Monza
May 30 (Monday) – United States – Miller Motorsport Park
June 12 – San Marino – Misano
June 19 – Spain – Motorland Aragon
July 10 – Czech Republic – Brno
July 31 – Great Britain – Silverstone
September 4 – Germany – Nurburgring
September 25 – Italy – t.b.a
October 2 – France – Magny Cours
October 16 – Portugal – Portimao
The tentative roster for superbike teams is as follows:
Max Biaggi (not confirmed)
Leon Camier (confirmed)
Michel Fabrizio (expected, not confirmed)
Sylvain Guintoli (expected, not confirmed)
Marco Melandri (confirmed)
Eugene Laverty (confirmed)
Ten Kate Honda
Jonathan Rea (confirmed – potentially one rider line-up)
Troy Corser (confirmed)
Leon Haslam (confirmed)
Chris Vermeulen (confirmed)
Tom Sykes (confirmed – but only two seats available)
Joan Lascorz (confirmed)
Carlos Checa (confirmed)
2nd bike TBC
Jakub Smrz (confirmed)
Tom Sykes (alternative pending Kawasaki SRT situation)
DFX Corse Aprilia
Noriyuki Haga (confirmed)
Max Neukirchner is strongly rumored to be going to Ducati Supersonic
Presently this leaves some big names without confirmed rides for 2011. One of those is Rueben Xaus. The biggest non-participant right now however is Ducati.
The Italian manufacturer has virtually owned the series since its inception and a virtual bomb was dropped when they announced after mid-season they were pulling out.
The factory will be supplying bikes and parts to satellite teams but the familiar Xerox racing livery will be absent.
The current global financial crisis has hit racing hard, resulting in a number of sponsors reducing their support or dropping out of the series all together. Several teams-such as powerhouse Ten Kate-may reshuffle into a single rider team in both Superbike and Supersport in an effort to cut costs.
As the remaining chips fall into place we will keep you posted. Despite the annual musical chairs that is silly season, rest assured the 2011 season is going to be another barn burner, with a grid full of talent all vying for that coveted title.