1 January 1901
2009 Rookies - WSBK Season Preview.
Nakano's ability as a development rider has been refined over the years, following spells at Yamaha, Kawasaki and Honda, and while his move to Superbikes doesn't necessarily mean the transition will be seamless, Aprilia are still getting one of the most consistent MotoGP riders of recent years.
Although it has been difficult to predict how capable the RSV-4 is during testing, crucially for Nakano, he has been matching - and occasionally beating – WSBK race winning team-mate Max Biaggi.
If he can sustain, or even improve, that comparison against Biaggi, then Nakano should certainly prove a substantial force if the Aprilia allows him to be…
Brendan Roberts – Guandalini Ducati
He is the rider that Troy Bayliss patriotically hoped would be replacing him at Ducati Xerox, but Brendan Roberts will nonetheless have to settle for the more pressure-free surroundings Guandalini Ducati in 2009.
The reigning FIM Superstock 1000 winner comes to the top flight eager to impress where other previous champions, like Alex Polita and Vittorio Iannuzzo, have failed in the recent past.
This season would be a tough one for any rookie to be making their WSBK debut, but Roberts has plenty going for him.
Having already triumphed over a large and competitive Superstock field in 2008, Roberts has knowledge of most of the circuits on the calendar, while his relationship with Ducati means he should be comfortable at Guandalini.
Guandalini's effect shouldn't be underestimated either, having turned Jakub Smrz from an underwhelming grand prix rider into an occasional front runner at Superbike level. With an expanded line-up with which to collect data and the nous of Pierfrancesco Chili behind the scenes, Roberts has paired up with a privateer team that has plenty of potential to cause a few upsets.
The short-term goal for the 2009 season may see Roberts try and keep tabs on Smrz, but by the end of the season he should be attempting to break into the top ten on regular occasions.
Luca Scassa – Pedercini Kawasaki
Although his arrival on the World Superbike scene is unlikely to have caused too many second glances amongst those without an intimate knowledge of the motorcycle racing, Luca Scassa nonetheless arrives armed with a Superbike title under his belt.
While the Italian Superbike Championship doesn't have the same kudos as its British or American counterparts, Scassa is at least notable for having won it with the iconic MV Agusta brand.
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