There have been a number of piecemeal announcements about who’s riding what in World Superbike next season – and still a couple of questions – but it’s probably a good time to sum up what’s known at present.
Most important to Canadian race fans, 2011 Parts Canada Superbike champ Brett McCormick has signed with the Effenbert Liberty team. Running out of Czechoslovakia on Ducatis, the team’s first season brought six podiums and 27 top 10 finishes – not bad for a first crack.
Riders Jakub Smrz and Sylvain Guintoli will be returning and the team plans the big investment of adding two more riders, McCormick and Maxime Berger of France, who has three top three finishes in the World Superstock series to his credit. McCormick and Berger got their rides as a result of their performances at the post-season tests/auditions held at Portugal’s Portimao circuit.
So, in alphabetical order by manufacturer, here’s what we know.
The factory team will return with 2010 champion Max Biaggi, who struggled with injuries in 2011, not to mention with keeping pace with eventual champ Carlos Checa.
He’ll be joined by Eugene Laverty, who was out of a job when Yamaha decided to fold its team for 2012. Laverty will replace Leon Camier.
The satellite PATA team, that had Noriyuki Haga in the saddle for 2011, has been reportedly testing this week with Supersport (600 cc) champion Chaz Davies and the ParkinGO team. The team was originally planning to use Ducatis for 2012. No word on Haga at this point.
The factory squad returns with Leon Haslam, who was so frustrated with developments during the season it seemed sure he’d be walking. There’s been a change in internal team management, however, and the Brit will be back. He’ll be joined by Marco Melandri, who like Laverty was left stranded when Yamaha folded.
The factory-supported BMW Italy squad will show up with Ayrton Badovini and Michel Fabrizio on board.
A literally last-minute deal, signed between the last two races in Portugal, will see Althea returning as the factory’s main effort with 2011 champion Carlos Checa behind the bars, Checa turning down a big-money offer from BMW to stay (rumour is that Ducati finally coughed up enough money to keep Checa at Althea and have the No. 1 plate on their bike for 2012).
Althea will run a second bike for Davide Giugliano, winner of the 1000cc WSB Supersport title in 2010.
We’ve already mentioned the Effenbert Liberty team above, with four Ducatis. In addition, a new team called Ducati Roma (born out of the defunct Supersonic Racing where Maxime Berger raced in 2011) plans to field a Ducati, and has just announced that Niccolò Canepa, a former Ducati test rider, will pilot the bike.
Honda will again be represented by one team, run by Ten Kate Racing out of the Netherlands, presumably again with Castrol sponsorship. Irishman Jonathon Rea returns, and will be joined by Hiroshi Aoyama, moving down from a seat on the Gresini San Carlo Moto GP team.
This one’s still not official. Kawasaki pulled the team away from Paul Bird Racing at the end of the season, and it looks as though the Spanish Provec Motocard.com group will be taking over the reins. Likely riders are Portuguese Joan Lascorz (who has been previously involved with the team as a 600 rider) and the impressive Brit Tom Sykes.
This one’s just a possibility, as KTM has been talking about joining the series. Most likely if they do, it’ll be as a limited number of wild card appearances and maybe a 2013 full entry. No rider named.
Crescent Suzuki – this team out of the British Superbike series that’s run by Paul Denning (who also runs the Suzuki Moto GP effort) is stepping up to WSB for the first time. Apparently long-time Suzuki supporter Alstare is out of the picture.
Denning has signed Leon Camier to one seat; persistent rumours say that American reformed bad boy John Hopkins will get a second ride after coming within a wheel’s width of taking the BSB title for Crescent in his first try at the British series.
Gone as a factory, and since there were no privateer entries recently there likely won’t be any.