WSBK Portimao: Tamada In For Resch, Morais In For Parkes, Vermeulen Present

Despite it being nearly four weeks since the World Superbike paddock last convened at Phillip Island, the weekend - and the runup to that weekend - is having knock on effects on the rider lineup of the series. Before the weekend had even started, Australian rider Broc Parkes broke a tibia during training, and was replaced on the Echo CRS Honda by fellow Australian Josh Brookes. Parkes is still not fully fit to race, and so will be replaced by South African Sheridan Morais at Portimao.

Morais was a substitute rider last year, taking the place of Makoto Tamada in Paul Bird's Kawasaki World Superbike squad. The South African has switched manufacturers this winter, and is currently campaigning an Aprilia RSV4 in the South African Superbike series.

The man that Morais replaced last year will be a substitute rider himself at Portimao. Makoto Tamada has been drafted in to take the place of Roland Resch at Team Reitwagen BMW, after the Austrian shattered his collarbone in a nasty crash at Phillip Island. Tamada was heading for Portimao anyway, as the Japanese rider was due to start the 2010 World Superbike season with his new team, Pro Ride Honda. However, just as last year, the Pro Ride team have been forced to postpone the start of their season, after sponsor problems have left the team short of funding. In the end, the Pro Ride team were forced to pull out entirely of the 2009 World Superbike championship, and team manager Marco Nicotari is doing all he can to avoid a repeat of last year's debacle.

One rider who will probably not be replaced is Australian Chris Vermeulen. The PBM Kawasaki rider has flown to Portugal despite still suffering from a badly banged-up knee. Vermeulen tore ligaments and damaged muscle in a big crash at Phillip Island, and is undergoing therapy to get more motion into the knee. Though his participation is not 100% certain, Vermeulen has travelled to Portimao with every intention of competing.

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I was a bit surprised to hear that Vermeulen had such a large amount of knee injury. Makes sense... but the last I heard was that he got out of that big crash with only a badly bruised knee - guess it turned out to be more than bruised. Hope his physiotherapy goes well and he gets back on it.