With the 2010 season now long gone, the line up for the next World Superbike season is nearing completion. The biggest gap in the line up so far was the empty seat in the Ten Kate Honda garage, alongside Ulsterman Johnny Rea. There had been some speculation that Ten Kate would field only a single bike in the 2011 WSBK championship, after HANNSpree pulled out of the title sponsorship role, but that speculation appears to have been premature.
For Ten Kate announced yesterday that Ruben Xaus is to take the second ride for the Dutch Honda team, taking the place of Max Neukirchner, who departs to ride the MZ in Moto2. Xaus had been dropped from the BMW squad after a difficult year full - rather unsurprisingly, given Xaus' reputation - of crashes. Reading between the lines of the press release, it is clear that Xaus has been brought in to a development role, helping to bring on a Honda CBR1000RR that many observers believed had suffered a lack of development during the 2010 season.
Meanwhile, over at Supersonic Ducati, Frenchman Maxime Berger has been brought in to take the place of the departing Luca Scassa. The privateer Ducati squad will field an 1198R for 2011, with improved factory support after the withdrawal of the factory Xerox team. Berger has been very impressive in the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup, which runs as a support class to the World Superbike series, finishing the last three season in the top 3, behind Ayrton Badovini (who moves to the privateer BMW Italia squad in WSBK), Xavier Simeon (who is riding for Holiday Gym in Moto2) and Brendan Roberts (who had a dismal 2009 season in World Superbikes after a huge crash at Monza).
Below are the press releases announcing the moves:
Ruben Xaus joins Jonathan Rea at Ten Kate Honda
The Ten Kate Honda team has today confirmed that Ruben Xaus is to join its current rider Jonathan Rea as part of its assault on the 2011 World Superbike championship.
Xaus is one of the most experienced riders in the World Superbike paddock and the opening round of the 2011 season, scheduled for Phillip Island in Australia, will mark the Spaniard's 200th race start in the production-based series.
The 32-year-old Xaus has 11 World Superbike race wins to his name, the most recent on a privateer Ducati in 2008. He has visited the podium no fewer than 35 times in his 199 starts and was championship runner-up in 2003. He brings with him valuable experience to the Ten Kate Honda team and a desire to prove that he still has what it takes to be a race winner.
Now living in Andorra, Xaus is originally from Barcelona in Spain. A qualified mechanic, he speaks five languages and is married to Mariona, with whom he has two daughters.
"It's difficult for me describe how happy I am that I will ride with the Ten Kate Honda team next season. For many years I have admired the passion and dedication that they bring to World Superbikes and I believe that they capture the essence of the championship. They run a successful Honda dealership in Holland and with the support of Honda Europe they manage a team that has some of the most skilled tuners and engineers. They have shown with all their world titles that they have the right blend of skill and desire. I know that I am capable of more SBK wins and I will bring all my racing experience, gained on many different types of machine, to help achieve more success with the Ten Kate Honda team. I would like to thank Gerrit, Ronald and all the guys Honda for the faith that they have shown in me and in my potential. I
still have a lot of things I want to do in World Superbikes and I believe this team will allow me to achieve what we all aim for. It will begin with my first test with my new team at the end of this month and I cannot wait to start work."
Ronald ten Kate:
"We are delighted that Ruben Xaus will partner Jonathan Rea in the Ten Kate Honda team for 2011. Ruben will bring to the team a very high level of experience in World Superbikes – experience that he has translated into many podiums and 11 race victories. We have raced against him for many years now, and we have seen how competitive he can be. We believe that we can harness Ruben's experience and unleash the potential that he so clearly has for many more good performances. We are looking forward to working with him and to welcoming him to the Ten Kate family which, once you are in, you can never really leave! We have a busy winter schedule ahead of us during which we will develop further the Honda CBR1000RR with Jonathan and Ruben so that we are ready to go in Australia next year. We aim to show then that we have the potent machinery, a powerful commitment to success and the right rider combination that will achieve the results which we all desire so strongly."
Supersonic Team Announces Agreement with Maxime Berger!
The Supersonic Team is ready for next season. The team from Danilo Soncini will participate again in the World Superbike Championship and brings the young Frenchman Maxime Berger on track with the Ducati 1198. Maxime Berger was born in Dijon, 1989 on June 27th, and after winning the continental title in 2007 in Stock 600, he competed for three years in the Superstock 1000 FIM Cup.
Maxime always gets good results concluding in the first three positions of the drivers' standings. The Supersonic Team confirms today its strategy to focus on young people and is now ready to possible improve the good results from last year with Luca Scassa with more experience and the valuable assistance from sponsors and Ducati.
Danilo Soncini – Team Manager: "I am very happy to have signed a two years contract with Maxime Berger and my team. After working with Luca Scassa last season, once again I preferred to focus on a young rider with great prospects. A decision, perhaps in contrast with World Superbike, which usually prefers experienced riders. I know Maxime very well because I follow him a long time and I have seen the continuous improvements. I am sure that we have chosen a young rider with great potential, a choice shared with the engineers from my team. Ducati will be with us next year in giving support, and we are excited to continue the collaboration that includes the provision of improved materials and support during the races. The choice of Berger is of course also welcome for the house in Borgo Panigale, for which Maxime Berger is a young man with great future prospects. We are planning to do some tests later this year to be able to deal in the best way during the first round of the championship in Australia in late February."
Maxime Berger: "Today is an important day for me and my career. I'm really happy to join the Supersonic Team and start my adventure in World Superbike. Since the beginning of my career, Superbike was for me the premier class and the main goal. I will give the best I can and I'm flattered by the attention from Danilo Soncini, he has always shown interest, and believes in me.
This is a great stimulus for me. The contract binds me to the Supersonic Team for two years and it is a very important aspect for me that will allow me to work without too much pressure to be able to adapt to the team and to this demanding category. I want to keep my number 21 also for SBK. A number certainly challenging and I intend to ask permission to Troy Bayliss before using it. It will be a further incentive to do well".