With the factory Ducati Xerox team pulling out of WSB for 2011, Japanese star Noriyuki Haga was forced to find a new home. He will ride for the newly formed Pata Racing Aprilia Team next year.
Some of the last unsigned, big-name World Superbike riders have slotted into place for the 2011 season this week. With Michel Fabrizio officially announced as Alstare Suzuki’s lone rider yesterday, news of where his 2010 Ducati Xerox teammate will ride next year has now surfaced as well. Noriyuki Haga will join for the newly formed Pata Racing Aprilia Team in an agreement that is said to provide the team with not only factory bikes, but also parts updates throughout the season, as well as a factory technician flown to each race directly from the Italian manufacturer’s Noale headquarters.
The deal, which was only recently finalized, is the result of a merger between most of the existing DFX Corse Ducati team, and B&G Racing’s Marco Borciani as the team manager. Borciani was previously teamed up with Mirco Guandalini, running the B&G Racing squad on Ducatis for the past few seasons, then switching over to Aprilia halfway through 2010. The end result is a mesh of the two teams, which will now officially be called the Pata Racing Aprilia Team.
The full-factory support from Aprilia that “Nitro” Nori Haga’s past racing success, as well as his massive fan popularity, brings with it was something the team had previously been unable to secure without the Japanese rider onboard. But with Haga in place there are now top of the pile when it comes to Aprilia’s factory-supported teams. As for a second rider? While Aprilia is making a strong push for them to run a two-man team, word from inside the paddock at the final round of the series in France was that the team just plain doesn’t have the sponsorship money needed to run two bikes for an entire season at the
Haga struggled compared to his usual race-winning self in 2010 aboard the aging Ducati. With a factory-backed Aprilia under him, will he be able to run up front once again in 2011?
level needed to compete, so it looks set to be a one-man squad for 2011. This leaves current Pata Aprilia rider Jakub Smrz without a ride for next year despite some very promising results on the V-Four during the second half of 2010. We have heard his name hovering around several other teams recently, the most prominent being BMW, although that spot has now been scooped up by Leon Haslam.
The new Aprilia team tested after the final round in Magny-Cours, France, with Haga as the sole rider. No word on how the test went or what lap times were achieved, only that the deal with the Japanese rider is now officially signed and the possibility of a teammate gets less and less by the day.
In other World Superbike news, it was been confirmed by Eurosport that current Paul Bird Motorsports Kawasaki rider Tom Sykes has been re-signed to stay on the factory-backed green team in 2011, though in what exact capacity is unknown; he will race in Superbike and he will race a full-factory-backed Kawasaki ZX-10R, but that’s all details known at this point. With it previously being announced that multi-time World Supersport race winner Joan Lascorz will move up to the team, and current PBM rider Chris Vermeulen still having another year left in his two-year contract, where the likable British rider factors into the equation is yet to be seen.
More than likely the situation will be similar to that of the Repsol Honda MotoGP squad for next year, running three riders out of the same truck and for basically the same team, only with two different official team names. Due to WSB rules stating that no more than two
Sykes has re-signed with PBM Kawasaki for 2011. Whether or not he will compete under that team name next year remains to be seen, as the Brit is now the third rider signed to PBM for next season.
riders are allowed under any one team name, the PBM boys will need to at least create a slightly different second name under which Sykes will run. There has also been some talk of a legitimate, full second team, a kind of B-team, on which Sykes and another rider would compete, though it would be based out of the same UK shop as the PBM squad.
With Kawasaki releasing a totally new ZX-10R for 2011, one which was designed first and foremost for the racetrack, expect Team Green to be much closer to the pointed end of the field. Especially if former WSB race winner Vermeulen can rebound from his injury-shortened 2010 season healthy, strong, and in time to help develop the all-new bike, as the kid from Down Under no doubt posses the skill to win races and possibly even challenge for the championship if the right bike and team were behind him. Sykes and Kawasaki World Supersport rider Katsuaki Fujiwara both tested full-race versions of the 2011 ZX-10R the days following the final round of the series in Magny-Cours, France.
On an interesting side note, Fujiwara announced after the test that he will officially be retiring from professional road racing effective immediately. He did not announce any future plans, though it’s widely believed that the Japanese rider will be taking on a part-time roll as a development rider for Kawasaki to help with future new sportbikes from Team Green.