While the World Superbike grid may be struggling somewhat for numbers as it currently stands, by contrast the World Supersport support class is heading for one of its most anticipated seasons after a raft of interesting developments over the winter.
Having contended with just four regular manufacturers in 2012, the WSS class will swell to six manufacturers in 2013 following the confirmation that MV Agusta will return in a factory capacity with returning 2011 champions ParkinGO at the helm, while Team Suriano brings Suzuki back into the mix with its domestically successful GSX-R600.
Indeed, several changes have been forthcoming since the end of the 2012 season, including reigning champions Kawasaki entrusting its factory backing to the Indian-funded MAHI Racing team and re-signing Kenan Sofuoglu and Fabien Foret, while its close challenger in PTR Honda will have Sheridan Morais heading a formidable line-up of Luca Marconi, David Linortner, Imre Toth, Nacho Calero and Matt Davies.
Following a slimmed one-bike effort in 2012, Ten Kate returns to full strength this year with ex-WSBK racer Lorenzo Zanetti and Superstock 600 champion Michael van der Mark riding a pair of PATA-backed CBR600RRs.
Yamaha, meanwhile, will be represented by Russian outfit Yakhnich Motorsport, which grows to a two-man effort in 2013 with race winner Sam Lowes joining Vladimir Leonov in a team that is expected to receive greater backing from the Japanese firm.
Other notable deals include 2011 runner-up David Salom returning to the fray aboard an Intermoto Kawasaki, Christian Iddon and Roberto Rolfo getting the available MV Agusta rides, British Supersport stand out Jack Kennedy taking the Rivamoto Honda seat and Australian champion Mitchell Carr making it six brands with the AARK Triumph – the best manufacturer representation since 1999.
2013 World Supersport grid (as of 2/1/2013)
Michael van der Mark
ParkinGO MV Agusta
Go Eleven Kawasaki
Pro Race Honda
Toth PTR Honda