After MotoGP went four stroke, there was never any doubt about which was the premier class of motorcycle racing. Coinciding with the flight of the Japanese manufacturers from World Superbikes, the combination of Valentino Rossi's charisma and roaring, smoking, sliding 990cc bikes solidified the series' position as the pinnacle of two-wheeled racing which would brook no competition. But as the Japanese manufacturers started to slowly creep back into World Superbikes, and MotoGP switched to an 800cc capacity, the balance of power has started to shift.
On a visit to Holland's biggest motorcycle exhibition, the Motorbeurs Utrecht, MotoGPMatters.com ran into Gerrit ten Kate, part-owner of the multiple championship winning World Superbike and World Supersport team. Seizing the opportunity with both hands, we grabbed a few quick words from the Dutchmen on the upcoming World Superbike series, set to kick off on Sunday at Phillip Island, Australia.
MGPM: Who's going to be your number one rider this year?
Gerrit ten Kate: All of them! They'll all be on equal equipment, so it's whoever finishes first. But I expect good things of all of them. Carlos (Checa) is obviously a title candidate, but they're all capable of winning. Carlos will win a couple of races, Johnny (Rea) will win a couple, (Ryuichi) Kiyonari will win a couple.
Apart from Checa, who else look like title candidates. Haga of course...
Of course, Haga. But Spies is looking very strong too. Fabrizio is difficult to tell. He's very much up one week, down the next. But he's still young. Things can suddenly click, and then he'll be something to worry about.
About Moto2, you've expressed an interest in it, how's that going?
We're in discussions about that, but I can't tell you anything more. It's too early to say anything on the record.
It'll be based on a Honda, though?
Of course. Anything we do will be with a Honda.
And you're not worried about the Flamminis (who hold a contract for racing with production-based motorcycles)?
Not at all. We work with them in a lot of areas, and we're active in a lot of series, so it won't be a problem.