It's taken its fair share of knocks over the last year or so, but the World Superbike Championship heads into the winter period looking somewhat healthier than it did twelve months ago.
While the advent of the new EVO class seems to be doing its part for bolstering grid numbers that were dwindling to pre-CRT MotoGP levels in 2013, with as many as eight manufacturers set to be represented in 2014 and a grid of experienced race winners already lined up, there is much to be excited about.
As it stands, each of the big rides are sewn up with no change at Kawasaki, new champion Tom Sykes once again being joined by Loris Baz, while BMW's exit sees Marco Melandri head to Aprilia to join Sylvain Guintoli, and Pata Honda retains a status quo with Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam,
Following its divorce from Alstare after just once season, Ducati will entrust its challenge to Feel Racing under the 'Ducati Superbike Team' banner having lured the race-winning talents of Chaz Davies and Italian flag bearer Davide Giugliano to its line-up.
Somewhat unexpectedly, however, it's Suzuki that arguably represents the most intriguing line-up of the 'big manufacturers' with runner-up Eugene Laverty and new British Superbike Champion Alex Lowes (official confirmation notwithstanding) both landing at the Crescent Racing team after their much-anticipated MotoGP deals failed to materialise.
In addition, 2014 will be notable for the addition of two new manufacturers, with MV Agusta partnering with Supersport champions Yakhnich Motorsport and entering a single F4RR for Claudio Corti, while the iconic Erik Buell Racing brand will fly the American flag in 2014 with a welcomed Indian-financed effort.
Meanwhile, just three EVO entries have been confirmed – each of them Kawasaki – with Sheridan Morais, Michel Fabrizio
and Jeremy Guarnoni eyeing the inaugural sub-category prize in 2014, though the likes of Fabien Foret and David Salom – plus at least two more Pedercini entries – are expected soon. Furthermore, Sylvain Barrier's anticipated BMW EVO entry will bring the number of represented manufacturers to eight.
Notably, however, with exception of the EVO teams, there remains a lack of satellite entries, particularly with Alstare, Red Devils Roma and MR Racing unlikely to return in 2014. Althea Racing are, however, expected to announce its entry shortly, most likely a factory-assisted Ducati 1199R for Niccolo Canepa.
It means, as we head towards Christmas, 15 entries are officially confirmed, with at least seven – if not more – in the pipeline.Current 2014 World Superbike entry listTom Sykes GBR Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R
Loris Baz FRA Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R
Sylvain Guintoli FRA Aprilia Racing RSV4
Marco Melandri ITA Aprilia Racing RSV4
Leon Haslam GBR Pata Honda CBR1000RR
Jonathan Rea GBR Pata Honda CBR1000RR
Eugene Laverty IRL Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000
Claudio Corti ITA MV Agusta Reparto Corse F4RR
Chaz Davies GBR Ducati SBK 1199R
Davide Giugliano ITA Ducati SBK 1199R
Aaron Yates USA Team Hero EBR 1190RX
Geoff May USA Team Hero EBR 1190RX
Michel Fabrizio ITA Grillini Kawasaki ZX-10R (E)
Sheridan Morais RSA Grillini Kawasaki ZX-10R (E)
Jeremy Guarnoni FRA MRS Kawasaki ZX-10R (E)
Alex Lowes GBR Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000
Niccolo Canepa ITA Althea Ducati 1199R
Fabien Foret FRA MAHI Kawasaki ZX-10R (E)
David Salom ESP Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R (E)
Sylvain Barrier FRA BMW Italia S1000RR (E)
Christian Iddon GBR Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R (E)
Luca Scassa ITA Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R (E)