In the latest edition of his latest monthly column on Crash.net, newly signed Foggy Petronas rider Steve Martin takes a look at his main competition for the upcoming 2005 World Superbike championship – and updates us on his pre-season activities...
It's at this time of year when you start looking at who the competition might be for the new Superbike World Championship season, so here are my thoughts on who I think the major players will be - in no particular order:
Karl Muggeridge: I don't think he will find it as easy to win this year as he has done for the last couple of seasons in Supersport. Although people talk about how fast and cut-throat the 600 class is I really don't think that people realise how hard the top Superbike guys push.
Chris Vermeulen: This is his year to prove what he can do in the big class. Last year he was the only guy on the Honda which meant that at tracks where the Ducati 999 was very difficult to ride he had a definite advantage.
Troy Corser: In with a chance to win this year. It is no secret that the Suzuki is a top bike - I thought Lavilla should have won a race on it in 2003. In 2005, Troy has everything in place to win.
Regis Laconi: Mad French guy, so who knows what will happen!? I think he will win a few. His problem this year is that there are a lot more bikes with a similar competitiveness.
James Toseland: To win a second time James needs to ride like he rode at Magny-Cours and Imola last year. I hope he figures out how to do it.
Ben Bostrom: This will be Ben's first year with control tyres which means he won't have the advantage that he's been used to having in the past. But Renegade is a top team and they are in it to win it.
Noriyuki Haga: He did the best job last year and should have been the champion. Having said that, the Yamaha has yet to do anything spectacular in Superbike form.