Newly sacked German rider Max Neukirchner has quickly found gainful employment, signing a deal that will see him partnering with Jonny Rea on a Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR in the World Superbike series in 2010. This year, Neukirchner has battled injuries incurred at Monza and Imola and his contract with Alstare Suzuki was terminated in late September by team owner Frankie Batta, allegedly over concerns about his level of fitness. Current Ten Kate rider Carlos Checa, despite a flurry of late season activity, will not return to the Ten Kate team, who are downsizing to two riders in 2010.
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In the wake of Sylvain Guintoli's move to the Alstare Suzuki team, The Worx Crescent Suzuki BSB team has announced that soon to be former Alstare rider Yukio Kagayama will return to the British Superbike series and ride for the British team in 2010.
Amid a recent raft of rumors that Max Neukirchner has left/been fired from the Alstare Suzuki team, owner Frankie Batta has acknowledged that Neukirchner will not be riding for the team in 2010.
Leon Haslam, speaking to Tony Carter on the Eurosport coverage of the first race of the Oulton BSB round, has confirmed one of the worst-held secrets of the World Superbike silly season, namely that he'll moving over to the factory Alstare Suzuki team in 2010. Haslam didn't speculate on who might be his teammate, claiming that he has no knowledge of who it would be. Recent rampant speculation has placed current Alstare rider Max Neukirchner at odds with team owner Frankie Batta, with the German touted to leave the team and sign with Ten Kate Honda.
British racing site Bike Sport News is reporting that soon-to-be ex-Yamaha rider Tom Sykes will partner with Chris Vermeulen at Paul Bird Kawasaki in 2010. Sykes, who currently lies 8th in the point standings, has had a creditable year but has had the misfortune of being paired with the best pure rookie in recent times, Ben Spies, and has perhaps unfairly suffered in comparison.
A variety of sources are reporting that Max Neukirchner will make a shocking jump to ride alongside Jonny Rea on the Ten Kate Honda team in 2010.
Astare Suzuki, on a post on the team's website, has expressed surprise that Max Neukirchner, who incurred grave injuries to his back at the mid-summer Imola WSBK test, would be available for the apres-season test at Portimao, Portugal. Citing a recent physical exam at Imola, the team claims that "...doctors Costa, Corbascio and neuro-surgeon Professor Bollini all declared that they would not take responsibility for allowing Max to ride a bike again this year. "
The usually well informed Italian site GPone.com is reporting that Stiggy Honda will release rising British star Leon Haslam from whatever contractual relationship they have with the Pocket Rocket immediately after the final round at Portimao. It has been widely rumored for weeks that Haslam will sign (if he hasn't already) with Frankie Batta's Alstare Suzuki team. This release would allow Haslam to test with the team immediately following the Portugese round.
Phillip Island will kick off the year with Portimao to follow in the former Qatar slot. Magny Cours will regain the season-ending race it had from 2003-2007.
Motorcycle racers, journalists and fans tend to talk about the sport in terms of a physical struggle. Riders and teams are always fighting or battling for the lead, championship or what have you. To be sure, there are parallells between the sweet science and racing; fighters and racers both spend endless hours training to be in top condition and both have to ply their trade hurting as often as not. Strategy is important too, as the combatants look to defend their position or deliver a knock-out blow that will defeat their opponent. The two men that are left in the ring in the 2009 World Superbike series championship, Ben Spies and Noriyuki Haga, came into the next to last round at Magny Cours, nearly too close to call on points, each looking for the advantage that would KO their rival or serve to let them live to fight another day.
Race 1: Don't Look Back, Something Might be Gaining on You
The tragic accident which came so close to crippling Regis Laconi at Kyalami generated a huge wave of sympathy. The Frenchman had a huge crash on his very first lap during World Superbike practice at the South African track, was knocked out and cracked his C3 and C5 vertebrae. Only surgery to insert a plate to fix the vertebrae in place prevented further injury to Laconi, and after a long and grueling rehabilitation period the Frenchman is almost back to full fitness.
It's been an awfully busy week for Ben Spies. If one admires anything about the young Texan other than his blinding speed, it's the the forthright, no worries way he goes about conducting his business. One imagines that he has a list of tasks to be accomplished and then checked off when done, rather like shopping for groceries or some such other mundane task. This week those tasks have included fielding enquiries from hundreds of journalists, finally being able to talk about his appointment to the Tech Trois Yamaha MotoGP team and making sure that his travel plans to Valencia are changed to a few days earlier than anticipated so that he can participate as a wild card in the season-ending MotoGP race. On top of that extracurricular stuff, Spies still has his day job to do, which this weekend involves qualifying well, winning two Superbike races in France and regaining his lead in the World Superbike championship.
A completely unfounded rumor on the French site Caradisiac indicates that Ben Spies may be given a wild-card ride at the season-ending round at Valencia. If true (or even if it isn't) this makes a lot of sense. The SBK season will be long over, it would give Spies a chance to ride the M1 in a race setting on a track he knows and, with testing time extremely limited in 2010, it would give him a jump-start on the apres-race test.
As reported here yesterday, Chris Vermeulen and Paul Bird Kawasaki were on the verge of inking a deal that would see the personable Australian race the Green Machines for the next two years. According to Colin Young, writing on the SpeedTV website, the deal is done, the contracts signed and will be announced later today.