2011 World Superbike PrepThe first of two official Infront Motorsports (IMS) test sessions for 2011 World Superbike are set to begin Wednesday through Friday (Jan. 26-28) at Portimao, Portugal.
The Portimao official winter pre-season test will be followed by another at Phillip Island on Feb. 21-22, just before the first World Superbike race takes place there on Feb. 27. The Portimao tests will host all seven manufacturers currently competing in the WSBK Championship – Aprilia, BMW, Ducati, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha. And every manufacturer has a potential champion for the 2011 Superbike season.The man who will likely garner the most attention is reigning champ Max Biaggi aboard the Alitalia Aprilia RSV4. The 39-year-old Italian will be looking to maintain the Number 1 plate, hoping to give Italy its second-ever World Superbike Championship.Biaggi’s Aprilia teammate will be Leon Camier. But there is also another Aprilia on the grid for 2011, Noriyuki Haga on the Team Pata Aprilia RSV4.One team that won’t be at the Portimao tests is BMW Motorrad Motorsport’s official team of Leon Haslam and Troy Corser; they will test in Australia. But BMW Motorrad Motorsport’s Italy team will be testing at Portimao. The team consists of two-time WSBK Champion James Toseland and Superstock Champion Ayrton Badovini.Although Ducati pulled all factory efforts from 2011 World Superbike, three teams will be using the Italian machine: Althea Racing with Carlos Checa; Liberty Racing with Jakub Smrz and Sylvain Guintoli; and Supersonic Racing with Maxime Berger. All three teams will be in Portugal testing.The big news for Honda is that Castrol came back as the title Sponsor, although the team will still be run by Ten Kate. The two riders, Jonathan Rea and Ruben Xaus, are coming off a cold test session at Aragon, and are looking to start 2011 WSBK strong aboard the CBR1000RR. Factory Kawasaki will field three riders on the newly-designed Kawasaki ZX-10R superbike: the returning Tom Sykes and Chris Vermeulen, and the rookie Joan Lascorz, who raced in World Supersport in 2010. Vermeulen continues to recover from knee surgery; he will miss the Portimao tests, but is expected to test at Phillip Island before the first race.There will also be one additional Kawasaki effort, the Pederecini team, but they have yet to announce who will ride for them; with Pederecini Kawasaki, the 2011 grid will feature 21 riders.Left without a ride after Ducati pulled all factory efforts, Michel Fabrizio was quickly picked up by Suzuki. For 2011, he’ll be the lone Suzuki rider aboard the GSX-R1000.Yamaha will be looking for another championship aboard the Yamaha R1. This year the factory squad will feature World Supersport sensation Eugene Laverty, and Marco Melandri, who arrives from MotoGP.The WSBK riders will be on track early Wednesday morning. Check back with UlimateMotorcycling.com for results.