Rubén Xaus has rubbished suggestions that his World Superbike Championship career was in jeopardy during 2010, insisting that there was never any doubt that he would be on the grid again this year and explaining that unlike some of his rivals, he does not indulge in provoking idle speculation.
The 2011 campaign – Xaus' eighth in WSBK – was not a vintage one for the former championship runner-up, with just a brace of top six finishes from 23 starts as BMW Motorrad team-mate Troy Corser
twice ascended the podium. The pair ended proceedings respectively 15th and eleventh in the standings, separated by 69 points, with the Spaniard palpably struggling to fully get a grip on the S1000RR's fearsome raw power.
With BMW casting its net around for a replacement and Leon Haslam putting pen to paper to join Corser at the team in late September, it looked for a while as though Xaus may be left out in the cold – but the man himself is adamant that he was never concerned he would end the seasonal game of musical chairs without a ride, and in November it was duly confirmed that he would partner Jonathan Rea at Ten Kate Honda in 2011.
“No, I was going to be on the grid this season, for sure, 100 per cent,” the 32-year-old told Crash.net
. “The matter was that I wanted to be with a good bike, good package, good team – and I don't like to speak. If you look around, I'm not the kind of rider that speaks sh*t. When I have everything closed, then I open my mouth. Many times you see during the winter some riders on four different bikes; I don't like to be like that.
“A lot of people asked me where I was going to, but I never answered. I just said 'I want to be on a good bike, otherwise I'd prefer to stay at home'. This year, I think in many teams the negotiations weren't that quick for anybody. All the riders had long discussions before finalising their contracts, because the [economic] crisis is affecting everybody and budgets are much lower or not increasing.
“We developed a good relationship with the Ten Kate Castrol Honda team, and we put all of our efforts into joining that package. We spoke with two races to go before the end of the season, and after Magny-Cours we had some more conversations to firm up the situation. At the end we closed the deal, and I'm really happy with it all and I think the team are happy too. Now I'm looking to have a good season in 2011 with a good team, a good team-mate and a good bike.”
Indeed, Ten Kate has metamorphosed over the intervening period into Castrol Honda, reviving one of motorcycling's most legendary and celebrated partnerships. It is, Xaus acknowledges, a momentous return – and one that will do World Superbikes in general the world of good.
“It looks fantastic, of course,” the former MotoGP star mused of the CBR1000RR's striking new livery. “I remember back in 2001 and 2002, I was fighting against them – Colin Edwards and [Tadayuki] Okada and all those riders – and now I'm on the bike. Hopefully it's the right time and the right moment to be part of this team.
“It's such an iconic partnership, and it makes the whole championship more important. It's like removing big sponsors from F1 or from other important championships; Castrol was a missing title sponsor. Of course, it was a minor sponsor of the Hannspree Castrol Honda team with Ten Kate in recent years and also a partner of BMW as well and some other teams, but being the principal sponsor for a team again makes everybody talk about it – the Castrol Honda team is back!
“A lot of people won't even know that Ten Kate is behind the situation, because from the outside, people recognise the big names, not the small names – but the small names make the sport important. Castrol is involved in the project because they believe that Ten Kate is the best small team in the paddock right now.”