Vermeulen Likely To Return To World Superbikes

The influx of young talent into MotoGP may be an exciting prospect for the fans, but it is bad news for some of the current incumbents. With as many as five new riders due to enter the class next season, the older hands are having to find alternative destinations.

Fortunately for former World Superbike riders like James Toseland and Chris Vermeulen, the teams in the production-based series are ready to welcome them with open arms. As we reported yesterday, Toseland is in line for a role with either Yamaha or Honda in World Superbikes, and today, current Rizla Suzuki rider Chris Vermeulen revealed to the Australian newspaper the Courier Mail that he has offers from four major manufacturers in World Superbikes. Vermeulen is still in talks with Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Aprilia about a switch to World Superbikes, but the Australian is also examining his options for staying in MotoGP.

Vermeulen's decision will eventually revolve around where he has the best chance of scoring results. "I'm a racer and I like riding and winning, so I will go with a bike and a team that I think can win races and a championship, either World Superbikes or MotoGP," Vermeulen told the Courier Mail. At the same time, Vermeulen also pointed out that without factory equipment, it is all but impossible to win in MotoGP. "Until there are some rule changes the only way to win is on a factory Honda or Yamaha," Vermeulen said. "Even Casey has found that this season."

With the factory Hondas and Yamahas all spoken for, that leaves World Superbikes as Vermeulen's sole chance of a winning ride. Vermeulen praised the series large grid and extensive manufacturer base, pointing to the arrival of both BMW and Aprilia on the grid this season. And he also said that he did not view a return to World Superbikes as a step down. Vermeulen has unfinished business in World Superbikes, coming 2nd in the 2005 championship on a Ten Kate Honda.

Nothing has yet been finalized, but Vermeulen told the Courier Mail that he expected to make a decision soon. By the next race at Estoril in Portugal, he should know where he will be racing in 2010.

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Yes, I agree. The Ducati + Stoner package seems capable of competing for the title. As you point out, Stoner won 2 of the first 6 races, the same number as Rossi and Lorenzo to that point. The 6h race was at Catalunya, where Stoner was first ill, yet he still finished 3rd, and after that race Stoner, Rossi, and Lorenzo were all tied with 106 pts.

I'm looking forward to Stoner's return, hoping he'll be fit again and able to make the last races much more interesting.

Vermeulen will soon finish up his 5th full season in MotoGP, almost all of that time on what most people would agree has been the slowest factory bike on the grid. So to that extent his point is valid. Capirossi has only 13 more points than Vermeulen has so far this year, which is not a huge difference, and Vermeulen finished ahead of him in the championship the last two years (Capirossi on the Ducati in 2007). Still Vermeulen's results have overall not been great -- 6th in 2007 being the highlight -- and no one can really blame Suzuki for wanting to try their luck with another rider. Perhaps he'd be willing to concede that too. But at the same time, I won't blame him too much for feeling like the unlucky odd man out at Suzuki.

Interesting that Vermeulen is stating that you have to have a factory bike to win races...

Sete was on the Telefonica Movistar Honda Gresini team from 2003-2005 and was winning races. Marco Melandri was there from 2004-2006 and winning races. Elias even had a win in 2006! Remember that Sete finished 2nd in the championship in 2003, 2004 winning 4 races both seasons. Marco was 2nd in 2005 and 4th in 2006. These guys were beating the Repsol bikes...

So for Vermeulen to say that you have to have a factory bike isn't exactly true. Obviously right now as things stand with Vale, Jorge, Casey and Dani dominating (they're just plain better) you probably would need a factory bike to compete against those guys, but that's only speculating that the factory bike is what the rider needs. It could be that with the factory bike he still doesn't do that much better...

I think the idea he was talking about was for the 800cc era. While no doubt in the 990cc and 500cc Two-Stroke era, a satellite bike was capable of winning. For the 800s, unless race conditions were different (rain and a few of the Fab 4 crashing) it would seem impossible for a non-factory rider to win a race; such as Edwards who appeared able to win in Donington this year if it had gone on just a couple laps longer (he placed second to Dovi during a race that saw Lorenzo and Rossi crash).

You do bring up an interesting point though. If we were still in the era of the 990's, would it only be the Fantastic four that would be winning races? Would any of the privateers have a chance against these immensely talented riders? How about if one of the Fantastic Four were on Satellite bikes in the 800s? This would make for some great discussion. My personal feeling is that the closest 800cc satellite bikes to factory would be the Ducatis, followed by the Yamahas.

True that was all done in the 990 era, that really does bring up an interesting point. I think that these non-factory riders really have to hope that the "Fab Four" have issues or crash out/ rain, etc. to have a shot at the podium. On the flip side if one of them were on satellite bikes... interesting! From what I have read over the season and last season the Tech 3 team is practically a factory bike, just a few races behind on new parts, a result of Edwards and Toseland results at the beginning of last season.

I wonder if the factories will start to give the satellite teams better parts. I remember Rossi said that Honda always wanted to have as many bikes up at the top of the charts... Ducati is supposedly giving the Pramac team as close to factory spec so that they can try to diminish the image of the Ducati being hard to ride.

I know the factory teams are supposed to be ahead of the satellite teams... but what if they were only 2-4 races ahead (as far as parts are concerned)? Talk about leveling the field and truly making the show better!

vegasjon burbled:
Sete was on the Telefonica Movistar Honda Gresini team from 2003-2005 and was winning races. Marco Melandri was there from 2004-2006 and winning races. Elias even had a win in 2006!

Yes, but you're forgetting an important distinction here. Whilst they were satellite teams (such as Telefonica), Sete had a full factory bike. As did/does Toni Elias. Marco's was pretty close to one as well (if it wasn't).