Yamaha Sterilgarda team manager Massimo Meregalli is refusing to mourn the defection of Ben Spies to MotoGP by stating that he thinks his new rider line-up of James Toseland and Cal Crutchlow is 'stronger overall'.
Despite winning its first-ever World Superbike title with Spies this season, Yamaha will return next year armed with two new riders, Toseland having made the step back from MotoGP, while Crutchlow graduates from the World Supersport category.
Replacing Spies and Kawasaki-bound Tom Sykes, Meregalli is excited about the line-up, with the Toseland targeting a third world title with a third different manufacturer, while the Crutchlow is tipped as a future champion.
Indeed, Meregalli was particularly pleased to have secured Crutchlow, who had previously hinted at a possible switch to Moto2 in 2010.
"Overall I think we're stronger, because both riders are capable of fighting for the title. Toseland has returned to Superbike, determined to prove that opinions about him are mistaken,” Meregalli told the official WSBK website. “He wants to win his third title and I'm sure he will be one of the key protagonists.
“As for Crutchlow, we wanted him badly because we believe he is a true talent. What strikes me the most when I speak to him is that he transmits incredible self-assurance. It'll be his first season in Superbike but I reckon he will be fighting up front with the top guys right from the start.”
Referring to Sykes, who failed to score a single podium in 2009, Meregalli admits a few crashes and Spies' success conspired to undermine his confidence.
"Our bike this year was very well balanced. We are not yet at the top for power, by that I mean acceleration and top speed, but without a shadow of doubt it's an excellent package. I have to say that maybe we suffered a bit on tracks with a rough surface but we're working on this as well.
“Obviously Spies is a champion and has always been able to get the best out of the bike's characteristics; Tom started off well then a few too many crashes undermined his confidence a bit. Having Spies as a team-mate however certainly doesn't help..."