Kawasaki - WSBK 2010 Preview

Crash.net looks ahead to the opening round of the 2010 World Superbike Championship this week by discussing the chances of each manufacturer - next, Kawasaki...
Sykes, Kawasaki ZX10R, Australian WSBK Test 2010
Sykes, Kawasaki ZX10R, Australian WSBK Test 2010
© Gold and Goose

'Team Green' head into the 2010 World Superbike Championship with a new sense of optimism as it vows to lift itself from the bottom of the constructor hierarchy for the first time in three years.

Having begun the initial stage of its plan to become a Superbike superpower once again by ditching PSG-1 Corse in favour of Paul Bird Motorsport last season, an increase in investment and the high-profile signing of Chris Vermeulen are expected to be more progressive factors this year.

Signing Vermeulen signals an important moment for Kawasaki, choosing talent over nationality as it reintroduces the former runner-up to the rigours of Superbike racing after four years in MotoGP.

While it isn't a move destined to transform Kawasaki into frontrunners again straight away, Vermeulen is a step in the right direction and, provided the Australian hasn't become too jaded during his tenure with Rizla Suzuki, he will bring knowledge and experience to the table.

At worst, Vermeulen needs to be posting regular top ten finishes - at best, he should be hovering around the top five. Well, on a rainy day maybe...

The emphasis may be on Vermeulen, but Tom Sykes has kept the Australian honest during pre-season testing and is just as capable of lifting the unloved ZX-10R into unfamiliar territory.

While his maiden season with Yamaha may have fizzled out just as Ben Spies' champagne corks were flying, it is easy to forget that Sykes finished his first year in the top flight inside the top ten and he deserves to have received another shot in 2010.

In some ways, joining Kawasaki is a perfect move for Sykes, the Briton now getting the chance to perform in an atmosphere of less pressure. He has a coveted team-mate too and while that fact effectively ruined his chances at Yamaha, Sykes has the opportunity to make amends at Kawasaki.

Last in the manufacturer standings or not, Team Pedercini remain faithful to Kawasaki for another season as they enter 2010 with another all-new rider line-up.

Matteo Baiocco returns for a second year of World Superbike racing following a maiden campaign with both PSG-1 Kawasaki and Guandalini Ducati, while Roger Lee Hayden ensures there will be at least one American riding this season after making the surprising decision to defect from his AMA comfort zone to experience the challenge of international racing.

Both will look to stay as close to the factory riders as possible in 2010, although the odd points and a Superpole entry are its more realistic season-long targets.

Kawasaki SRTChris VermeulenTom Sykes

Team PederciniMatteo BaioccoRoger Lee Hayden

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