Wednesday, September 24, 2008

WSBK Silly Season Update

World Superbike usually has a silly season deserving of the name, and this year is no different. Let's have a look at some of the more recent developments.

Max Biaggi has signed for Aprilia to race their new RSV4 superbike. The Roman Emperor won the 250GP title 4 times for Aprilia and now has a 2-year contract in his pocket. The RSV4 is brand new, but the V4 engine looks like turning the bike into a missile (especially with the monkey-sized Biaggi on board). The only question is whether Max can develop the thing to go around corners.

Alex Hofmann is reckoned to be in pole position to grab the second Aprilia seat, having carried out a lot of testing for the team, but this isn't nailed down.

Shane Byrne is being hotly tipped to replace Biaggi at the Sterilgarda Ducati team, having proven his speed on a Ducati 1098 in BSB this year. His team mate should be the current Sterilgarda Superstock rider Alex Polita.

Of course, current Sterilgarda rider Ruben Xaus has already signed for the new BMW team.

Overpaid Texan Ben Spies is the new favourite to move to Yamaha Italia, with his MotoGP dreams shattered by his hilariously high wage demands. (Nobody gives a rat's rear end about AMA Superbike, so winning it impresses nobody. Get a grip, man!) The thinking is that Yamaha USA are prepared to pony up the required cash. Of course, it is not yet clear that Troy Corser is moving to BMW. There are still rumours that the veteran Aussie will stay at Yamaha to develop the new big bang R1.

Just to throw in another rumour, it has been said that French MotoGP reject Sylvain Guintoli has been testing "Haga's Yamaha". This is a bit of a laugh, as any hardcore WSBK fan knows that Haga's Yamaha is utterly unrideable by anyone else due to his outlandish setup. Even the marvellously deranged James Whitham thought the Haga setup was terrifying when he tried it a couple of years ago. Nitro Nori basically jacks up the rear suspension so high that the bike is standing on its nose at all times, meaning that it will turn inside any other bike, provided that you are insanely talented enough to stay on the thing (and only Haga has the right mix of talent and insanity). Anyway Sylvain has been riding a Yamaha Italia bike (almost certainly on a Corser setup), but most rumours link Guintoli with the Frog's leg chomping Yamaha France squad alongside David "Much less talented than his brother" Checa.

Perennial BSB bridesmaid Leon Haslam is said to be moving to the Stiggy Honda team, which will apparently be moving up to WSBK from WSS. Haslam the Younger has raced in WSBK before, for Renegade Ducati a few years back. A lot of BSB fans will rue the move, considering the number of people who reach this blog by googling "Leon Haslam girlfriend" (searching for pictures of his delightful lady friend Oli, I presume.)

The Ten Kate squad seems to be running Ryuichi Kiyonari, Carlos Checa and Johnny Rea, who has impressed mightily in WSS and will be gagging to be back on a Superbike, having won races in BSB and in one of the Japanese endurance races alongside Kiyo. Squeaky voiced assassin Kenan Sofuoglu will seemingly return to WSS after a nightmare year on the big bikes.

Max Neukirchner is staying at Alstare Suzuki, having starred for them this year. There are rumours that Yukio Kagayama will stay with the team despite constantly crashing and hurting himself this year, but that Fonsi Nieto will get the boot.

Kawasaki will need to replace Regis Laconi, who has had enough of highsiding the green machine in every single race (well, it seems that way!) and may have Ant West fobbed off on them from the MotoGP squad (out of the frying pan into the fire, eh, Westy?).

So there are the current Silly Season rumours. Some of them confirmed, some of them probable, some of them nonsense. Silly Season rolls on.

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