Ronald ten Kate predicts the 2010 World Superbike Championship will be one of the closest fought yet after stating there are a number of riders capable of winning races this season, including his own two entries.
ten Kate's eponymous team will feature a trimmed rider line-up in 2010 following the re-signing of Jonathan Rea and the acquisition of ex-Suzuki rider Max Neukirchner.
As a two-time race winner in his rookie season, Rea is being tipped for a title tilt in 2010, but while ten Kate is confident the Northern Irishman will begin the year as a favourite, he is conscious of the strong competition he faces.
Indeed, while only five riders reached the top step of the podium in 2009, ten Kate suggests there are around ten riders capable of tasting the winner's champagne this season beyond Rea and Neukirchner.
"In Superbike I think, realistically, that Jonathan should be fast off the line and hopefully challenging for the title. Max will probably need a little bit of time in the season to come back to his full strength, as we knew it in the past. But Max is also another guy who will reach podiums and will also have race wins under his belt.
“Looking at the line up for 2010 it is an impressive bunch of people. Not hard to pick potential race winners. There are maybe around ten race winners you could pick for this coming season."
ten Kate is also looking for a return to superiority in the Supersport category in 2010 having seen its unbroken run of six titles halted by Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow. With former champion Kenan Sofuoglu returning for another season alongside newcomer Michele Pirro, ten Kate is confident it will be back on top by the end of the year.
"In World Supersport there is no doubt at all that Kenan Sofuoglu (injured in a training accident at home in Turkey recently) will be fit for the first race at Phillip Island, even if he might be in some discomfort for the Portimao tests.
“Luckily for us we made a massive step forward in our Supersport set-up recently, also in our tests at Valencia in December, which gives us some confidence. Not overconfidence at all, but we have some confidence that 2010 will be a much better year for us."