22 February 2012
2012 WSBK Preview - Ducati
Also growing for 2012, Effenbert Liberty Racing expands to three bikes, with Maxime Berger joining Sylavin Guntoli and Jakub Smrz for the season. Guintoli enjoyed a stealthy rise to a fine sixth in the 2011 standings following a series of strong finishes in the second-half of the year, the Frenchman heading into the new season as something of a dark horse having shown his hand with a particularly impressive effort at the Portimao finale.
Guintoli heads up Smrz, who showed flashes of pace in 2011, but also woeful inconsistency, and Berger, who has a chance to show his mettle on more accomplished twin-cylinder machinery following a noteworthy debut with WSBK minnows Supersonic Racing.
On the subject of Supersonic Racing, who will compete as a BMW customer team in the British Superbike Championship this year, their entry has been assumed by Red Devils Roma (formerly SS Lazio, before a couple of months as Ducati Team Roma), which steps up from the Superstock 1000 series with ex-MotoGP rider Niccolo Canepa.
Once heralded as one of Italy's rising two-wheeled stars, Canepa's fast-track to MotoGP in 2009 actually pushed him off the rails, Ducati subsequently dropping him after an anonymous year at premier level and forcing a fairly substantial step back to Superstock 1000 within less than two years. Nonetheless, a mid-season change to SS Lazio in 2011 put him in the right place to secure a passage to WSBK, where he now has the chance to rebuild his career. Bold name aside, Red Devils Roma may have a tough task with their one-man entry to crack the front, but Ducati machinery has been known to bring out the best in some teams in the past and testing has been positive.
The sizeable Ducati contingent is completed by PATA Racing, who switches from Aprilia machinery in 2012 as it realigns itself as a breeding ground for new talent. Indeed, the desire to promote young Italians has been touted as the reason why PATA didn't retain Noriyuki Haga for 2012 (a move that has drawn horror from Nori-san's dedicated band of followers) and instead signed Lorenzo Zanetti.
Zanetti comes to WSBK after an eye-catching turn at Superstock 1000 level, the Italian proving a fast and formidable contender in just one and a half season's racing. Even so, as one of the least experienced riders on the grid, PATA – who were podium winners in 2011 – may not see quite the same return on their investment straight away.
Tagged as: Ducati , Althea , Niccolo Canepa , Carlos Checa , Jakub Smrz , Pata , maxime berger , effenbert liberty , Davide Giugliano , Lorenzo Zanetti , Red Devils Roma
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