While racing world-wide from Formula One down to your local stock car oval is suffering from the current economic fears, the signals are mixed in Canada. There are still some holes to be filled, but there’s an odd mix of growth and contraction happening in our road racing scene.
Kawasaki: multiple champ Jordan Szoke is back, with new partner Alex Welsh replacing Brett McCormick. No change in numbers.
Suzuki: Suzuki’s three riders from 2008 are toast, and the only signing announced so far is Brett McCormick, jumping from Kawasaki. Down by 2/3. Rumours are that Pascal Picotte still wants back in the saddle, but nothing confirmed either way yet.
Yamaha: Three riders announced, with Kevin Lacombe returning and Alberta’s Royce McLean (who just turned 14) and Minnesota teen Tony Kasper joining him. All three will ride the 600 class with Lacombe also doing superbike.
Honda: Rumours about Honda sponsoring one rider this year have been floating around, but given Honda Canada’s history and the general state of Honda’s racing involvement world-wide in 2009, don’t hold your breath.
Buell: five-time Canadian superbike champ Steve Crevier is scheduled to be back on a Buell 1125 for the ’09 season, joined by Darren James and Dave Estok. There’s a 300% increase there, then.
As already reported in the CMG News, it looks like Ducati and KTM will not be represented in the series in 2009, leaving original contestants BMW and Buell chasing the gold. While we haven’t gotten factory confirmation of the cancellations yet, KTM rider Eric Beausejour told us at the Toronto show that he and teammate Michael Leon had been informed that there’d be no team in 2009. Like Honda, KTM corporate back in Austria has announced big cutbacks for the year coming.
BMW has kept its 2009 team of Mike Ferreira and Paul Glenn, and has added a star in the person of superbike racer Francis Martin, former Canadian champion and last year a member of the ill-starred Blackfoot Suzuki team. Glenn will be running an F800S in the CST class this season.
Buell looks set to continue with Darren James and Dave Estok in the top class.
Rumours have Michael Taylor, multiple superbike champ and former BMW Thunder team member, trying to organize a ride in the class, but nothing’s firmed up yet.