While the World Superbike Championship grid looks set to stall at a fairly slim 19 riders ahead of the opening round in Australia, the World Supersport Championship by contrast is flourishing with a 31-strong confirmed list of entries.
Three years after the WSS grid dwindled to a low of less than twenty riders at the start of the year, the series has gone from strength-to-strength ever since, with 2013 predicted to be one of the most competitive years in its history.
Though the official entry list is yet to be published, 31 riders have confirmed their intentions to be riding full-time in 2013, while the six manufacturers – Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Triumph, Suzuki and MV Agusta – represents the highest number of firms competing since 1999.
Better still, there are some exciting developments to look forward to ahead of this year's championship, including reigning champion Kenan Sofuoglu, who will aim for a record-breaking fourth WSS title with Kawasaki, albeit under the new Indian-funded Mahi Racing banner.
Indeed, Kawasaki will have a strong presence in 2013, with Sofuoglu being joined by former champion Fabien Foret at Mahi, while his former team Intermoto have acquired Kawasaki Europe backing to run former series front runners David Salom and Luca Scassa. Lorenzini – the team that spearheaded Sofuoglu's title win in 2012 – will also return in collaboration with Russian outfit DMC to enter Kev Coghlan, Alexey Ivanov and Vladimir Ivanov.
Over at Honda, PTR – runners-up in three of the last four seasons - will once again command a significant presence on the grid, with Sheridan Morais entrusted as team leader amongst a five-strong line-up of relative novices. After a couple of years in the doldrums, multiple champions Ten Kate will refocus with an expanded two-man entry in 2013 having secured backing from Pata and signed its Superstock 600 champion Michael van der Mark and ex-Superbike rider Lorenzo Zanetti. In all, 14 bikes on the WSS are set to come from the Honda camp, with other standouts including Gabor Talmacsi (ProRace), Jack Kennedy (Rivamoto) and Alex Baldolini (Lorini).
Champions in 2009 and 2011, Yamaha's presence will grow again in 2013 courtesy of the well-backed Yakhnich Motorsport outfit. After a promising one-man turn with Vladimir Leonov in 2012, Yakhnich will grow to two bikes in 2013 having lured Sam Lowes from Honda and apparently secured some manufacturer support, a bold statement of intention that could make them a regular front runner this year. Pata by Martini, meanwhile, will also enter a trio of R6s, bringing the Yamaha offensive up to five.
For many, however, the most intriguing development of 2013 will be how MV Agusta fare, the iconic Italian manufacturer returning to competition in a full factory-capacity. With its WSS assault rumoured to be a prelude to a possible Superbike switch in 2014, MV Agusta has proven its commitment by enlisting former champions ParkinGO to prepare its effort, though it remains to be seen how competitive the three-cylinder F3
675 is against a remarkably competitive field of bikes.
Elsewhere, Suzuki will also be represented for the first time since 2009, Team Suriano having decided to ditch its Triumph machinery in favour of privateer GSX-R600s, a potentially shrewd move given the bike's success on the domestic scene over the past couple of years.
Meanwhile, for fans of the Triumph Daytona
675, there remains just a single entry to root for in Mitchell Carr, who steps up to the World Supersport stage after securing the Australian title with AARK Racing.2013 World Supersport confirmed entry listKenan Sofuoglu TUR
Mahi India Kawasaki ZX-6R Fabien Foret FRA
Mahi India Kawasaki ZX-6R David Salom ESP
Intermoto Step Kawasaki ZX-6R Luca Scassa ITA
Intermoto Step Kawasaki ZX-6R Kev Coghlan GBR
DMC Lorenzini Kawasaki ZX-6R Vladimir Ivanov RUS
DMC Lorenzini Kawasaki ZX-6R Alexey Ivanov RUS
DMC Lorenzini Kawasaki ZX-6R Andrea Antonelli ITA
GoEleven Kawasaki ZX-6R Luca Marconi ITA
PTR Honda CBR600RR Nacho Calero ESP
PTR Honda CBR600RR David Linortner AUT
PTR Honda CBR600RR Sheridan Morais RSA
PTR Honda CBR600RR Matt Davies AUS
PTR Honda CBR600RR Lorenzo Zanetti ITA
PATA Honda CBR600RR Michael van der Mark NED
PATA Honda CBR600RR Gabor Talmacsi HUN
Prorace Honda CBR600RR Imre Toth HUN
Team Toth Honda CBR600RR Alex Schacht DEN
Team Toth Honda CBR600RR Jack Kennedy IRL
RivaMoto Honda CBR600RR Eduard Blokhin RUS
RivaMoto Honda CBR600RR Fabio Menghi ITA
VFT Honda CBR600RR Balazs Nemeth HUN
SMS Honda CBR600RR Alex Baldolini ITA
Lorini Honda CBR600RR Sam Lowes GBR
Yakhnich Yamaha YZF-R6 Vladimir Leonov RUS
Yakhnich Yamaha YZF-R6 Massimo Roccoli ITA
Pata by Martini Yamaha YZF-R6 Dino Lombardi ITA
Pata by Martini Yamaha YZF-R6 Luca Salvadori ITA
Pata by Martini Yamaha YZF-R6 Mathew Scholtz RSA
Suriano Suzuki GSX-R600 Mitchell Carr AUS
AARK Triumph Daytona
675 Christian Iddon GBR
ParkinGO MV Agusta F3 Roberto Rolfo ITA
ParkinGO MV Agusta F3