Two of the men who could well provide some of the stiffest opposition for James Toseland in the World Superbike Championship in 2010 have suggested that not only will the MotoGP refugee be more 'happy and relaxed' now that he is back in WSBK, but he will also be 'on the pace from the word go'.
Toseland's return to WSBK off the back of a brace of unsatisfactory seasons in the premier class with Tech 3 Yamaha has generated much debate, with some warning that the 2004 and 2007 world champion will find that he cannot rule the roost quite the way he used to prior to his ill-fated MotoGP graduation, and others countering that the step back down again will help the Yorkshireman to rediscover his confidence and re-establish his reputation.
Cal Crutchlow will be Toseland's team-mate in 2010 at the Yamaha works outfit, and the reigning World Supersport (WSS) Champion assures that his compatriot will have no trouble at all in getting back into the groove on a Superbike after two years on an 800cc.
“He'll be on the pace from the word 'go', trust me,” the Coventry-born star told Crash.net Radio
. “He's a motorbike racer, he knows how to ride and at the end of the day he'll jump back on the bike and do a good job. Everyone says he wasn't that good in the [Portimão] test, but he'd never seen the circuit whereas we'd been round there loads – he did a good job.
“Whether he's as good as Ben Spies or not is what everybody wants to know, and I can't answer that question. Ben is so good, very, very good – trust me – but coming out of MotoGP and into World Superbikes, James will be a big challenge for everybody, definitely.
“It's nice to have a team-mate I can relate to and speak to, as well. I never really got on that well with Fabien [Foret] this year, though towards the end of the year we started to speak again. That was just a clash of personalities; I'm really determined and have a never-give-up attitude, whereas Fabien is coming towards the end of his career a little bit.
“I'm looking forward to working with James; the last Brit I worked with was Leon [Haslam], and we had a really good year. I really respect James because of the determination he's got and [the fact] that he's had to work hard at what he does – he's not the most natural bike rider in the world, the same as me. That means you have to work at it, but hopefully we'll both do a good job.”
Toseland's fellow double champion Troy Corser agrees that the 16-time WSBK race-winner will not be found wanting on his return to the fray, arguing that the less stressful environment as opposed to MotoGP might just play to his strengths and enable him to remind fans of the talent that made him Britain's leading motorcycling star of the modern generation two times over.
“It's always good when riders who have been at the top of a championship go away and then come back,” mused the BMW ace, “because they just bring back that interest again from past supporters. Obviously 'JT' has got a lot of fans in the UK and everywhere now after he jumped over to the GP side, so that will be good.