The World Superbike schedule underwent a serious shakeup at the start of the 2009 season. The introduction of the new Superpole format had already meant that part of Saturday had been changed, but further cuts, including the scrapping of all on-track activity on Friday morning, were introduced as part of the cost-cutting measures introduced to help WSBK face up to the financial crisis.
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With the announcement that the Pedercini team will be back on the grid for 2010, the World Superbike paddock is starting to fill out. The addition of Pedercini brings the total number of entries up to 20 which, while well down on the nearly 30 which started the season in 2009, is still a reasonable size given the current economic climate. One factor that is both heartening and vaguely worrying is that 14 of those riders have been entered by factory (or factory-backed) teams, with 7 manufacturers fielding two-man teams.
After a difficult 2009, the World Superbike paddock is slowly starting to fill up. Although generously endowed with factory-backed entries, with 7 manufacturers submitting 14 full-factory (or nearly full-factory, in the case of Ten Kate Honda) supported riders, beyond that the pickings are rather slim, with just the Althea Ducati team, Echo CRS and Guandalini Aprilia adding 4 more riders.
One name keeps cropping up amidst all the speculation about still open seats in the various race series. Alex de Angelis has been linked with a range of options since the late summer, all of them revolving around sponsorship by the tourism agency of San Marino, the tiny Italian republic from whence De Angelis hails. It started with the Scot Honda MotoGP program, and when that was abandoned, went on to a second Aprilia World Superbike team, as well as several options in Moto2, including the Hayate Moto2 team.
As has been widely supposed here on MotoMatters, and nearly everywhere else in the racing press, 2009 BSB champion Leon Camier has signed to race alongside Max Biaggi on the Factory Aprilia Racing Team in 2010. Aprilia's recent withdrawal with extreme prejudice from Moto2 to concentrate on WSBK and the proposed 1000cc 2012 MotoGP regulations, leaves open the possibility that the Noale based manufacturer will field a satellite team in W
Austalian Broc Parkes has reportedly signed with CRS Echo Team Honda Racing to contest the 2010 World Superbike championship. Parkes, the second place finisher in the 2007 WSS championship, had a season to forget in 2009, winding up in 18th place in WSBK racing a factory Kawasaki ZX10 for Paul Bird Motorsports. CRS Echo, who fielded Michael Laverty in WSS in 2009, has acquired Stiggy Racing's 2009 CBR1000RR superbikes.
When news broke a couple of days ago that Yoshimura Suzuki team was to abandon the All-Japan Superbikes championship to run in World Superbikes, speculation immediately turned to the fate of Yoshimura's US program, featuring the veteran Tommy Hayden and young challenger Blake Young. Would this decision mean that Yoshimura would also turn its back on the AMA Pro racing series in the USA and redouble its efforts in World Superbikes?
It has long been rumored, but now comes as close to something like confirmation as we are going to get, for the meantime. The very well-informed Italian site GPOne.com is reporting that Leon Camier has signed with Aprilia, to run alongside Max Biaggi in the Noale factory's World Superbike squad. The manner of the announcement is somewhat unusual, however.
Over the past couple of years, attention has been focused on the sparseness of the MotoGP grid, with just 17 permanent entries in 2009, and most likely the same number in 2010. The comparison was always made with the World Superbike grid, which had a bumper crop of 31 entries for the start of the 2009 season. Such a well-filled grid meant that the worryingly large number of teams and riders dropping out of World Superbikes throughout the season was largely ignored.
Donington Ventures Leisure Limited - the company that holds the lease to operate Donington Park - entered administration, it was announced on the Donington Park website today. The announcement came as the latest in the long saga of financial woes which started after DVLL was awarded a 17 year contract to host the British Formula One Grand Prix last year. That plan required raising a staggering 135 million pounds sterling, an ambitious prospect at the best of times, but nigh on impossible in the financial crisis which has engulfed the world since the contract was awarded. The failure of the debenture plan announced some three weeks ago, and the company's future has been in doubt since them.
The statement on the company website makes no mention of the events - such as the World Superbike round due to be held there on August 1st, 2010 - but yesterday, before the announcement was made, a company spokesperson told MotoMatters.com that the World Superbike event was still on the calendar and that it should go on as scheduled. Paolo Flammini, who runs the World Superbike series, also told GPOne.com that they were monitoring the situation and had no reason to believe the race would need to be moved or cancelled.
A variety of sources are reporting that 2009 British superbike champion Leon Camier has or will shortly sign a deal that will see him ride alongside Max Biaggi on the factory Aprilia team in the World Superbike championship.
Ever since the news started filtering out of the Grand Prix Commission that the MSMA was prepared to accept the use of production engines in prototype MotoGP bikes, all eyes have been on Infront Motor Sports, where the Flammini brothers run the production-based World Superbike series, awaiting their response.
At the end of every season, a few lucky souls get to ride the current year's crop of World Superbike machines.
Rumors filtering in indicate that Team Guandalini will switch from Ducatis and field a much-rumored Aprilia satellite team in the World Superbike series in 2010. Some reports indicate that the only thing left unattended in this alleged agreement is an official announcement. Reportedly, the team will be managed by current team majordomo Frankie Chili with invovement from Team Sterilgarda's Marco Borciani.