The number of confirmed entries for the 2010 World Superbike Championship continues to grow with the announcement that Althea Racing will enter two bikes next season.

The Italian team, which first entered the Superbike class in 2008, ran a single Honda for Tommy Hill initially before he was replaced by Supersport graduate Matthieu Lagrive. For 2010, Althea will expand to two bikes and switch to Ducati machinery.

They have managed to lure two high-profile riders in Carlos Checa and Shane Byrne too, the former a two-time WSBK race winner and MotoGP front runner, while the latter is a two-time British Superbike Champion.

Additionally, Jakub Smrz will swell the number of privateer Ducatis on the grid by confirming he will enter into a third season with Guandalini Racing.

Currently, each of the top ten riders from the 2009 classification (excluding MotoGP bound Ben Spies) will return to World Superbikes next season.

The highest-placed finisher without a ride for 2010 is Ryuichi Kiyonari, while Regis Laconi, Broc Parkes, Lagrive and Leon Camier are also top twenty finishers with no signed deal. Laconi and Camier, however, have been tipped to ride for DFX Ducati and Aprilia next season respectively.

Including Aprilia's as-yet-unnamed second factory rider, there are 17 definite entries for next season, with DFX, Sterilgarda, Stiggy and Pedercini among those yet to confirm their plans.

2010 World Superbike Championship grid - confirmed signings:

1. Noriyuki Haga JPN Ducati Xerox
2. Michel Fabrizio ITA Ducati Xerox
3. James Toseland GBR Yamaha Sterilgarda
4. Cal Crutchlow GBR Yamaha Sterilgarda
5. Jonathan Rea GBR Ten Kate Honda
6. Max Neukirchner GER Ten Kate Honda
7. Leon Haslam GBR Suzuki Alstare
8. Sylvain Guintoli FRA Suzuki Alstare
9. Chris Vermeulen AUS Kawasaki SRT
10. Tom Sykes GBR Kawasaki SRT
11. Max Biaggi ITA Aprilia Racing
12. Troy Corser AUS BMW
13. Ruben Xaus ESP BMW
14. TBA Aprilia Racing

15. Carlos Checa ESP Althea Ducati
16. Shane Byrne GBR Althea Ducati
17. Jakub Smrz CZE Guandalini Ducati