The 2011 Superbike World Championship season build-up reached another milestone today, with the official pre-season press conference taking place at the Portimao circuit in Portugal.
Paolo Flammini (CEO) and Paolo Ciabatti (Superbike Director) represented the series organisers Infront Motor Sports.
Many of the top stars of WSBK racing were in attendance to represent the seven major motorcycle manufacturers of WSBK, including reigning champion Max Biaggi, James Toseland, Carlos Checa, Jonathan Rea, Tom Sykes, Michel Fabrizio and Marco Melandri.
Also on hand were Fabien Foret, Broc Parkes, Luca Scassa and Miguel Praia from the Supersport category.
“Many strong entries are evident on the WSBK and Supersport World Championship grids this year with 21 and 29 Permanent riders respectively, and one key focus of late has been to get younger riders involved in all classes,” said Paolo Flammini.
“Career progression for young riders has been a characteristic of the last seven years of the Superstock-Supersport-Superbike format, with riders like James Toseland, Chris Vermeulen and Michel Fabrizio being the early benefactors of what has become a nursery of talent developed from within the WSBK paddock itself.
“Kenan Sofuoglu, Jonathan Rea, Ayrton Badovini, Lorenzo Lanzi, Florian Marino, Gino Rea, Maxime Berger and Joan Lascorz are all at some level within this talent-spotting system.
“The Superstock and Superbike areas have two different functions. Stock is a category for youngsters who are beginning to race, while Superbike and Supersport are categories where the manufacturer-based teams can race.
“The new Ninja Cup, which will take place in six of the European rounds, highlights this ladder of progression even more to bring youngsters into the system and we can now go and take talent from even ‘lower’ down the career ladder, so to speak.”
Flammini also spoke about the subject of age limits for the Superstock classes.
“The age limits present in 600 and 1000 STK classes have been made more generous for two main reasons,” he said. “The first is that 40-year-olds can now become world champions, so why stop a 24-year-old from racing?
“The second is that many European countries have made it impossible for youngsters to have a license to ride a 600cc Supersport bike on the road.”
On the TV front, Mr Flammini also underlined that some of the series’ main initiatives for 2011, on-board cameras, 3D graphics and enhanced HD TV coverage, will help to bring the all-action WSBK champion even closer to the worldwide TV audience.
The 24th season of World Superbike action gets underway at Phillip Island from 25-27 February, with the final official testing session being held at the same circuit on 21-22 February.