BMW enter the next stage of its plan to become a World Superbike 'superpower' in 2011 with its most enticing line-up yet.
Having built on a solid maiden campaign with podium and pole position milestones in 2010, wins are the target now for the four-strong rider line-up.
The ever-reliable Troy Corser
is staying on for a third season with the German manufacturer, but having commanded an unchallenged status as its top rider in 2009 and 2010, the Australian faces a pretender to his BMW throne in the form of new team-mate Leon Haslam.
A third new employer in three seasons for the 2010 runner-up, Haslam's objectives for 2011 are clear, though there remains some questions marks as to whether the S1000RR is a bike capable of posing a consistent challenge for the title.
Testing behind closed doors has heighted the mystery, though there is a general consensus of when, not if, BMW will be reaching for top honours, while many consider Haslam to be a crucial factor in achieving this objective. Wins will have to come this season, with perhaps that title challenge occurring in 2012.
After the brief existence of BMW's first satellite operation, Reitwagen Motorsport, the manufacturer's 2011 support comes in the form of a more concerted effort from its ultra-successful Superstock 1000 outfit BMW Italia.
Made of several members of the disbanded Xerox Ducati team, BMW Italia arrive in WSBK
eager to seamlessly translate its SSTK form into plaudits on the main stage.
Securing a coup in luring former WSBK
champion James Toseland, as well as promoting its dominant Superstock rider Ayrton Badovini, BMW Italia have a right to be ambitious.
Bruised by his three-year tenure at Yamaha, Toseland has some reputation rebuilding to do at BMW. It's a tactic that has worked for the likes of Noriyuki Haga
and Carlos Checa
in the past, but Toseland knows he has to match – if not beat – the factory riders this year if he is to retain his status as one of the WSBK
Still, if BMW Italia can be to BMW Motorrad what Althea Ducati was to Xerox Ducati in 2010, then it stands a good chance of being a reckoned force this season…