News 8 Feb 2010

WSBK: Large local contingent to battle at Island round

Australian bike fans are set for super two wheel showdown with the field for the 2010 Yamaha Phillip Island round of the Superbike World Championship on 26-28 February boasting 26 World Superbike riders and four Aussies – the largest local contingent since 2005.

On the grid for Australia will be Wollongong’s dual world champion Troy Corser (BMW), the Sunshine Coast’s Chris Vermeulen (Kawasaki), the Gold Coast’s Andrew Pitt (BMW) and Newcastle’s Broc Parkes (Honda).

In its 23rd year, the 2010 championship boasts 26 riders representing seven manufacturers (Yamaha, Suzuki, Honda, Ducati, BMW, Aprilia, Kawasaki) – with 11 of the 26 pilots already World Superbike race winners.

Great Britain has the largest contingent, with seven riders racing, followed by Italy and Australia at four a piece and riders from Japan, Germany, France, Austria, Spain, the Czech Republic and America ensuring the world’s leading production championship is truly global.

Australia kicks off the 13 round season before teams head to Europe and America for a jam packed season that closes 3 October in France.

The official countdown to the Phillip Island season opener commenced late January when the top teams hit Portugal for a three-day test, with the outing dominated by the Britannia brigade – Jonathan Rea (Honda) the pace-setter from Leon Haslam (Suzuki), Shane Byrne (Ducati) and World Supersport Champion Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha).

Next up, teams head to Phillip Island for the final official test on 21-22 February, just five days before round one is held at Victoria’s lightning fast 4.445 km circuit.

There is massive anticipation heading into the new decade after one of the busiest off-seasons in world superbike history, with only two of the seven official factory teams – Ducati and BMW – fronting up with the same riders as 2009.

Ducati will again pin its hopes on world title runner-up Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio, and BMW has retained the services of Corser and Ruben Xaus.

Meanwhile, MotoGP exile Vermeulen will spearhead Kawasaki’s revitalised factory-backed assault, while Pitt and Parkes will be on privateer machinery.

Like Vermeulen, James Toseland is also returning to world superbike after a barren stint in MotoGP, where his team-mate in the Yamaha factory World Superbike squad, which celebrated its first title in 2009 with American Ben Spies, will be Crutchlow.

Crutchlow is one of three rookies with impressive CVs lining up in 2010, with the others being Suzuki’s Sylvain Guintoli and Kawasaki’s Roger Lee Hayden, the 2007 American Supersport Champion.

Carlos Checa, Byrne and Jakub Smrz will also be seriously fast on their privateer Ducatis, but the biggest threat to the likes of Toseland, Haga, Fabrizio, Max Biaggi (Aprilia), Corser and Vermeulen in 2010 is likely to come from the hard-charging Rea.

The Northern Irishman will continue with Honda after a strong finish to 2009, and his team-mate will be the fast but injury-prone Max Neukirchner, who was previously riding for Suzuki.

Suzuki’s factory team will campaign Guintoli and Haslam, last year’s leading privateer.

The 2009 British Superbike Champion Leon Camier completes the factory roster after gaining the second seat at Aprilia alongside Biaggi, replacing the retired Shinya Nakano.

In World Superbike statistics, Great Britain, America and Australia have won 21 of the 22 world superbike titles since 1988, with Frenchman Raymond Roche managing to take one championship back to the Continent.

In World Supersport, Crutchlow’s departure makes it certain that another rider become world champion in 2010, with Turkey’s Kenan Sofuoglu (Honda), Irishman Eugene Laverty (Honda), Briton Chaz Davies, Frenchman Sebastien Charpentier (Triumph), veteran Fabien Foret (Kawasaki) and Spaniard Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki) likely to be the main protagonists.

Tickets are now on sale – visit or tel the Toll Free Superbike Hot Line on 1300 728 007.

Great value is to be had with an advance three day pass at $130* including the bonus Super Friday giving free access to the paddock on Friday morning until 1.00pm and the chance to meet the world’s best riders at an open meet and greet. Camping at the circuit is also available. If race day Sunday is for you, a one day ticket is just $70*, with family deals and concessions also available.

* general admission ticket purchased in advance, plus handling charge