Jules Cluzel has signed to race with the FIXI Crescent Suzuki squad in World Superbikes for 2013. The deal, announced two days' ago, sees the young Frenchman move up from the World Supersport class in which he made an impressive debut in 2012. Cluzel had switched to the WSBK paddock after losing his ride in Moto2, despite a similarly impressive year with the NGM Forward team in 2011.
Cluzel takes the place of another Frenchman, Sylvain Guintoli having backed out of a deal he had already agreed to to ride with the team. Guintoli now looks likely to race for a semi-factory Ducati team to be run by Francis Batta. After Althea announced they were breaking their ties with Ducati earlier this week, Ducati has been in talks to put a structure in place to allow them to contest the 2013 World Superbike season. According to GPOne.com, those talks could be concluded as early as Thursday, with former Alstare Suzuki - and before that, Alstare Ducati - boss Francis Batta once again taking over the reins and running the team. Batta has been in talks with Guintoli about joining a team, and is very positive about the Frenchman, praising his talent, his experience with the Ducati and his language skills.
The signing of Cluzel and the addition of Guintoli brings the provisional World Superbike grid up to around 19 riders, though several of the teams and riders are still provisional. If Alstare were to get more direct factory support from Ducati, that would mean there would be two factory-backed teams in World Superbikes, Aprilia and Kawasaki, three ostensibly private teams with very strong factory support, in Ten Kate Honda, BMW Italia and Alstare Ducati, and Suzuki as the fifth manufacturer represented, though the Crescent team receives virtually no support from Suzuki.
Below is the rider line up as we believe it will be so far:
|BMW Italia||BMW||BMW Italia is running the factory BMW effort as a private team. BMW Italia fielded Ayrton Badovini and Michel Fabrizio in 2012.|
|Pata Ten Kate Honda||Honda||The Ten Kate squad pick up sponsorship from snack manufacturer Pata for 2013, but more importantly, they also get much more involvement from HRC, with Honda providing extensive electronics support for next year.|
|Fixi Crescent Suzuki||Suzuki|
|Alstare Ducati?||Ducati||Alstare is yet to be confirmed as the team to run Ducati's WSBK effort, but given the history of Francis Batta, he is the firm favorite to take over from Althea. Ducati will have a strong involvement, which is necessary because of the switch to the Panigale 1199R, a bike that is still at the early stages of development.|
|Althea||?||Althea still have Davide Giugliano under contract, but do not at the moment have any bikes to race. With Ducati gone, Aprilia would appear to be the obvious choice for Genesio Belvilacqua's men.|
|Max Biaggi?||Max Biaggi has still not officially signed a contract with Aprilia for next season, but it is now almost inconceivable he will not race on for another season and defend his 2012 WSBK title|
|Red Devils Roma||Aprilia|
Below is the press release from FIXI Crescent Suzuki announcing Cluzel's signing:
CLUZEL SIGNS FOR FIXI CRESCENT SUZUKI
Team Suzuki Press Office - October 29.
Frenchman Jules Cluzel will be joining the FIXI Crescent Suzuki World Superbike Championship team to race a Suzuki GSX-R1000 in 2013
Cluzel has signed for the team fresh from success in the World Supersport Championship, where he took a total of eight podiums, including four victories, on his way to runner-up in the title race. Cluzel showed consistency throughout the 2012 season and ended the year by taking victory in his home race at Magny-Cours in France.
The 24-year-old hails from Montlucon in Central France and competed in his first motorcycle championship in 2004, before moving up to the National series the following year, where he secured second in the championship in his rookie season. Cluzel then made the move to the 250cc World Championship and in 2009 he scored his first GP podium at Qatar and was also awarded the Michel Metraux Trophy as best privateer that season. Cluzel recorded his first Grand Prix victory in 2010 when he won at Silverstone in England, on his way to seventh overall in the Moto2™ Championship. For this season he made the step into the Supersport paddock, where the experience he had gained from the 600cc machines in Moto2 stood him in very good stead and he was able to adapt to the series quickly and successfully, something that FIXI Crescent Suzuki will be hoping he emulates in the move up to Superbikes.
FIXI Crescent Suzuki is excited at the chance of working with one of the brightest young stars to move up from World Supersport and the signing of Cluzel completes the team's rider line-up, after Leon Camier was recently confirmed with the squad for next year. The team had strongly considered Josh Waters for the ride, following a positive test in Spain recently. FIXI Crescent Suzuki is disappointed that two-into-one doesn't go and greatly appreciates the support from Waters, and also Suzuki Australia, at the test and hopes that the opportunity to work together again arises in the near future.
Cluzel will get his first taste of the Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R at a test in Spain in January, with the first race of the season scheduled for Sunday February 24th at Phillip Island in Australia.
"I am really excited to be joining the FIXI Crescent Suzuki team. It is a big step in my career, but one that I am very happy to take. When I was given the option to work with Suzuki in World Superbikes, I did not need to think about it twice and I just said a big "Yes!" straight away. I am really motivated by the whole project and I know that this is what I want. I will make sure I'm totally ready for the first race and plan to learn not only quickly, but also intelligently. I cannot wait to start work and I am also really pleased to be working with an English team. I now just want to get on the bike and see how it goes, do my best and challenge for some good results."
Paul Denning - Team Principal:
"Securing Leon's team-mate for 2013 hasn't exactly been the smoothest process, but in the end we couldn't be happier with the result! Jules is young, fast and aggressive and has shown that he can adapt to new bikes and new championships very quickly. His 250GP and Moto2 experience provides an understanding and feeling for stiffer, less forgiving 'race-bikes' which the WSBK machines have developed into, and we anticipate a quick transition to the GSX-R. Any rider who has won a Moto2 race - and finished ahead of riders like Stefan Bradl and Scott Redding in the Championship standings - and then come to such a competitive series as World Supersport and just missed out on becoming Champion in his first year, clearly has a great talent - we are excited to have Jules with us!
"Importantly, Jules has shown his commitment and is very excited to be with FIXI Crescent Suzuki in WSBK for 2013 - it's nice to create a partnership where both sides are equally committed and share the same targets. The team is doing absolutely everything it can to make sure that the competitive base of the GSX-R, which we found towards the end of 2012, is taken forward so that we can provide Leon and Jules with machinery worthy of their talent."