Ex-British 500cc Champion Steve Parrish has tipped Jonathan Rea to do the business in the World Superbike Championship (WSBK) in 2010, and former two-time champion James Toseland to swiftly re-adapt to his old surroundings and mount a challenge for glory – whilst confessing that he hopes some of the seven-strong British contingent in the field will prove good enough to graduate to MotoGP in 2011.
Toseland, of course, has already had his fingers burnt in the premier class, following a brace of bruising and inconsistent campaigns with satellite Yamaha outfit Tech 3 that saw him repeatedly come off second-best in relation to American team-mate Colin Edwards, and register no finish better than sixth place.
Parrish, however, is confident that the Yorkshireman will prove more than capable of stepping back up to the plate again and re-establishing his battered reputation on his 'demotion' of sorts – and having the added spur and incentive of highly-rated young team-mate and reigning World Supersport Champion Cal Crutchlow alongside him at Yamaha, the 55-year-old opines, will only serve to further fuel his competitive fire.
“I think he'll adapt,” Parrish told Crash.net Radio
. “James is a very intelligent young man, who has a huge amount of experience and is very determined. He had a nightmare season last year in MotoGP, and the nightmare was made because he had such a good season in 2008 and it didn't work in 2009.
“He's got big shoes to fill on that package, because Ben Spies came over and won the World Superbike Championship on that bike – but I think Cal and James will be good for each other and will certainly push each other. In testing, James has been around fifth or sixth-fastest, working through it methodically because there are no prizes for winning testing. I think he'll drop back into it, because he's an unbelievably fast rider, very bright and very able to sort out a motorcycle – so I'm sure he'll get it sorted.”
One rider who already has it 'sorted', Parrish goes on, is Rea, the man who followed Toseland up the Hannspree Ten Kate ladder. After winding up as best-placed Honda in fifth in the final WSBK title standings in 2009 – ahead, incredibly, of infinitely more experienced team-mate Carlos Checa, despite being in his maiden season in the series after graduating from World Supersport – the Ulsterman now has to be considered as one of the all-out favourites to lift the ultimate laurels twelve months on, he insists.
Indeed, with Rea, Toseland, Crutchlow, Leon Haslam, Leon Camier, Shane 'Shakey' Byrne and Tom Sykes all looking to be in fine fettle as the Phillip Island curtain-raiser approaches apace in less than two weeks' time now, Parrish suggests British fans could have plenty to cheer about over the coming months.
“I think Jonathan Rea is the person who's got the right attitude, determination and ability to make it right to the top,” the Manxman reflected, “and I'd like to hope that he can get into MotoGP. I was rather disappointed that he signed for so long for Ten Kate. Being selfish, I was hoping that he'd come into Moto2, as I was hoping Cal Crutchlow would have done – but I fully understand where they're coming from, and that they want to get out there on packages that they know can win races. I think Rea will be the man this year in World Superbikes.
“I'm quite disappointed that I'm not involved in World Superbikes, actually; I used to work for Eurosport covering World Superbikes, then the BBC took it on. I'm very happy that we're covering the premier class – which is MotoGP – but I'm also rather envious of the fact that there are seven really good British riders in World Superbikes, and we don't have a single one in MotoGP.
“Let's hope that changes in the next couple of years. I'll be watching World Superbikes the same as anyone else. I can't wait for the first race to see who's going to be doing their stuff, and I'd like to hope that some of the guys that do that will come into MotoGP as soon as possible.”TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE