Monday, October 22, 2007

Say It Ain't So, Max!

Max Biaggi has announced that he has parted company with Alstare Suzuki in the World Superbike Championship. This seems to be for two reasons, firstly Max was demanding an enormous amount of money, and secondly Alstare have lost their Corona sponsorship after the Mexican brewery's parent company decided to stop all motorsport activities.

It looks awfully like Max will be leaving WSBK. There are only 4 teams worth riding for in the championship just now: Ducati, Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki. All of these marques put in excellent performances during the 2007 season. However, Xerox Ducati, Ten Kate Honda and Santander Yamaha are all fully stocked up with very, very quick riders (and Fabrizio). Turning his back on Suzuki means that Max has no race-winning options left open, apart from the long shot of a private team running full factory Ducati 1098's, and if Francis Batta couldn't find enough sponsorship to re-hire Max then I don't know who else could.

There has been talk of Max sneaking into a Gresini Honda ride in MotoGP, and the Italian squad have confirmed that they have held initial meetings with the Roman Emperor. The main problem with this is that Max had a bit of a falling out with Honda when he left the Repsol HRC team at the end of 2005 after decrying the Honda RC211V as a blanking piece of blank, or words to that effect. Max had enormous sacks of sponsorship dollars available from Camel, but Honda bosses were furious, and refused point-blank to supply machines to any team that said hello to Max, never mind hiring him. This resulted in Max sitting out 2006 and racing superbikes in 2007.

Of course, the pitiful, abysmal, embarrassing performance of the new 800cc Honda RC212V resulted in the head honchos of HRC (Honda Racing Corporation) being basically fired (i.e. shuffled to other parts of the colossal Honda empire.) This means that the new bosses might not share their predecessors' venomous hatred for Biaggi. So there is a teeny but real chance that Biaggi could return to MotoGP, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

The Joker in the pack is AMA Superbike. Although the AMA are notorious for having their own special way of making up rules and regulations to make sure that no damned foreigners win anything, the racing is poor and the tracks are mostly very dangerous, the top AMA Superbike riders are paid ludicrous amounts of money. (Seriously, it's said that if Ben Spies moves to MotoGP in 2009 he'll have to take a pay cut.) Max is a great lover of the United States, and has owned a house there for some time. If the planets align correctly, Biaggi might just end up racing superbikes in the USA. He has shown himself to be very quick on superbikes, and he is a megastar of the sport. Somebody might produce the cash to hire him. Max must have a decent relationship with Suzuki after his year in WSBK, and Suzuki are currently the best manufacturer under the AMA's convoluted Superbike rules.

Nothing has been announced about Max Biaggi's future in 2008. If nobody can find the money to satisfy his demands, The Roman Emperor will almost certainly retire. Here's hoping that somebody comes up with the cash to keep this star around for another year.

1 comment:

Rob said...

I think he is most likely to retire, next most likely is Gresini Honda but only if he really wants to keep on racing. Hadn't considered AMA and you're right, the money might tempt him. I can't see him racing in Hicksville though - there aren't many 5* hotels out there and nobody will give a toss who he is, so no ego massaging for him. I think it may be farewell to the beard.