2011 World Superbike
With the current year about to come to a close and the European winter already biting hard, thoughts naturally turn to 2011 World Superbike and the prospects for another potentially thrilling year of action in WSBK racing.
With 13 WSBK rounds now confirmed on the calendar, including flyaway events in Australia and America, there is already a strong and solid entry of top Superbike riders.In alphabetical order by manufacturer – all seven WSBK manufacturers of course – reigning World Superbike champions Aprilia lead the charge. As well as official duo Max Biaggi and Leon Camier, Noriyuki Haga joins the fray on an Aprilia RSV4 next year, as lone rider in the Pata Aprilia squad.As no regular World Superbike watcher could have failed to notice, BMW Motorrad Motorsport has swept up the talents of 2010 runner-up Leon Haslam to partner double champion Troy Corser, making another exciting duo to keep an eye on in 2011. BMW starts the season with four representatives, in fact, the two official machines and also the BMW Motorrad Italia S1000RR Superbikes of Ayrton Badovini and James Toseland.In the Ducati World Superbike camp, the Althea Racing team will field Carlos Checa, third in the overall championship in 2010, hoping and expecting he can carry on a winning streak. The Liberty Ducati team, recently launched in Prague, will field Jakub Smrz and Sylvain Guintoli on their top class machines, while impressive 2010 debutant Supersonic Ducati have opted for youth again as they have secured the services of former Superstock star, Maxime Berger.The Honda Ten Kate World Superbike team, champions in 2007 with Toseland, will once more field serial winner Jonathan Rea. They have already enjoyed a fruitful testing union with the WSBK legend that is Ruben Xaus.The superbike manufacturer with probably most public attention of all so far in the off season, Kawasaki, is fielding three official new ZX-10R machines via the Kawasaki Racing Team and PBM partnership, with Chris Vermeulen, Tom Sykes and Joan Lascorz making an impressive trio. Kawasaki Pedercini has one WSBK rider – so far – in the shape of returnee rider Roberto Rolfo.All change at Suzuki Alstare means Michel Fabrizio is their lone rider for 2011 WSBK, but one with the lustre of recent race wins still shining as he joins the Alstare team.Yamaha’s official Superbike teamsters, Eugene Laverty and Marco Melandri, could not come to the championship from more contrasting directions – Laverty from WSS and Melandri from MotoGP – but each has already been fast in testing and are sure to be in the mix from the very start.With more entries sure to be confirmed soon, and the usual clutch of fast wildcards at most major events in 2011 WSBK, the prospects for an exciting new season are already assured. World Superbike action gets underway for real at Phillip Island on Sunday, Feb. 27, but the official pre-season tests, first in Portimao in January and then Phillip Island in February, will be the first chance to see which of the top WSBK riders may be hitting peak form at just the right time.