After the final World Superbike round of the 2010 season, news has inevitably started to filter out of Magny-Cours about the shape of 2011. There were official announcements, cryptic hints and barroom gossip concerning who will be doing what for next year in World Superbikes and World Supersport. A round up of the latest rumors is given below:
Nori has not been very "Nitro" at all this season, and his less-than-explosive form may have helped contribute to Ducati's decision to scrap the factory team, but despite that, Haga has found sanctuary with the newly assembled Pata Racing Team Aprilia. The team consists of the former DFX Corse squad, the CEO of Pata (the Italian snack company who funded Jakub Smrz this year), and Marco Borciani, who ran the Pata B&G team for Smrz. The team is to field a single Aprilia RSV4R for Haga, and many believe that a return to riding a four-cylinder bike is just what Haga needs. The Aprilia is clearly competitive, so Haga will be hoping for a better season in 2011.
Sykes - like every other Kawasaki rider this season - has struggled miserably with the ZX-10R, struggling to finish in the top 10. Until he wildcarded at the Brands Hatch round of the British Superbike championship, taking a double win for his trouble. Since then, Sykes has been on fire, and has been unlucky not to have got a much-deserved podium. His work has not gone unnoticed - especially after putting a lot of development work into the 2011 Kawasaki, while Chris Vermeulen has been recovering from an injured knee - and Sykes now looks like being rewarded with a ride as with Paul Bird's PBM team, alongside factory riders Vermeulen and Joan Lascorz, who has done so well on a Kawasaki in World Supersport. According to the WSBK insiders over at Bikesport News, Paul Bird has confirmed that Sykes will be staying with the team for 2011, though the exact details of the arrangement have not yet been announced. With the 2011 version of Kawasaki's ZX-10R looking to be light years ahead of the 2010 version, Sykes could be a contender again next year.
No official news has been announced about the future of James Toseland, but his name has been linked for a while with BMW, after a difficult year with the factory Yamaha WSBK squad. Doubts had arisen over the veracity of the BMW rumors after the factory team announced they had signed Leon Haslam to race alongside Troy Corser, but it is now becoming clear that Toseland will be racing on a satellite BMW squad. Toseland's manager Roger Burnett told one inquisitive fan that Toseland will be racing in the satellite BMW Italia squad alongside Ayrton Badovini, and that the team were waiting to make an official announcement. Toseland will have one more year to recover his confidence and regain the form which he showed in winning two World Superbike titles.
With Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo finally signed, Biaggi becomes The Last Of The Holdouts, the freshly-crowned 2010 World Superbike champion having still not signed the contract Aprilia have deposited in his in tray. The terms of the contract are generous, though vicious paddock rumor insists that Biaggi is holding out for a bumper payday of a million and a half euros for next year. Whatever the truth of the matter, Biaggi has still not signed, and his title may even be giving him pause for thought. "Now I must make a difficult decision, which I will do as soon as I am away from here, switched off from the racing world. To me, signing a contract means 100% dedication to a project," Biaggi was quoted as saying by GPOne.com. The Roman Emperor will be 40 in June of next year, and with one young child and a fifth title under his belt, Biaggi may feel he has little left to prove, and it may be time to retire. Or, as the paddock cynics like to suggest, it could just be a way of putting pressure on Aprilia to concede to his salary demands. After all, the sight of the Aprilia with the #1 plate on has to be a valuable commodity to the Noale factory.
While the racing in World Superbikes has won almost universal praise, the television coverage has been greeted with disappointment by many fans. Despite being shot in HD, the camera angles, shot selection and especially the lack of onboard camera action have all contributed to a lackluster TV package, failing to capitalize on the spectacular action the close racing has afforded. At Magny-Cours, Infront CEO Paolo Flammini addressed the most important of those points: from 2011, all factory bikes will be fitted with onboard cameras, capturing the best of the action from the bikes at the front, according to GPOne.com. The fans will be very grateful indeed.
With the two main players from the WSS series moving on to other things - Eugene Laverty to Yamaha's World Superbike program, and Kenan Sofuoglu to an as yet unnamed team in Moto2 - the 2011 World Supersport championship looks like being wide open. Replacing Eugene Laverty at Parkalgar Honda will be BSB Supersport champion Sam Lowes, who dominated the BSB class this year. Lowes will be racing on the world stage for the first time, however, and will be faced with a lot of tracks to learn, so aiming for a championship is rather too much to ask. A better candidate may be Broc Parkes, who subbed for the injured Joan Lascorz for the final three rounds of 2010, and whose results (a 3rd, a 4th and a DNF) were strong enough to secure him a contract with Kawasaki's World Supersport squad for 2011 and 2012. With the three best riders gone from the class (Lascorz is being kicked upstairs into the World Superbike team), the 28-year-old Australian must be in with a shout of the WSS crown for the next couple of years.