The following is from Honda...The 22nd World Superbike Championship season gets underway at Philip Island in Australia on Sunday March 1, with rounds scheduled for both World Superbike and World Supersport Championship classes.This coming season is reckoned by many long-time observers to be the most open and competitive since the first year of WSB competition, way back in 1988. In WSS, fresh injections of talent and machinery have been a feature of the off-season, despite the dramatic resurgence of the World Superbike category itself.A classic year is in store for production derived racing, with full grids and strong wildcard interest expected at most rounds as well. There are no fewer than seven manufacturers involved in WSB, and five in WSS.Honda has achieved great success in both main classes in the near and distant past, with four Manufacturers' Championship wins being added to six individual Riders' World titles. Three different formats of Honda engines have powered champions to victory; 750cc vee-fours for Fred Merkel and John Kocinski, 1000cc twins for Colin Edwards, and a 1000cc in-line four for the most recent Honda champion, James Toseland in 2007.The same Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team that partnered Honda and Toseland to the biggest Superbike prize of all is back in action in 2009, fielding three riders on CBR1000RRs, two in full Hannspree colours and one in Honda red white and blue.Carlos Checa and Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) will compete in the Hannspree sponsored end of the WSB garage, with Ryuichi Kiyonari (Ten Kate Honda Racing CBR1000RR) on his own. All three of these riders won races for Honda in 2008; Checa twice in America, Kiyonari three times in the UK, while Rea did his winning in World Supersport, finishing second in the overall championship and taking a late season wildcard ride in WSB at Portimao as well. He makes the full-time switch to WSB this year, and has been impressively fast in testing.Checa fell in the recent test at PI, and suffered a head and shoulder knock, but he is expected to be fit for Sunday's two WSB races.Honda in general and Ten Kate Honda in particular have proved imperious in the WSS series recently with seven straight Riders'  Championships, one for the CBR600FS in 2002 and then the CBR600RR from then on.The 2007 WSS champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) and the 2001 and 2008 champion Andrew Pitt (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) are teamed up in the Hannspree Ten Kate garage this year, making a strong play case for this being the WSS dream team of all time.Honda machines are a popular choice for 2009 as usual, and as well as the Ten Kate riders there are several top level CBR600RR entries in with chances of podium finishes or more.Two WSS Honda teams from 2008 have made an expansion into WSB in 2009, with Stiggy Racing Honda adding Leon Haslam and Roby Rolfo and their CBR1000RRs to new signings Anthony West and Gianluca Vizziello in Supersport. Rolfo has elected to not have his injured shoulder operated on until the end of the season, instead embarking on a targeted course of physiotherapy.Hannspree Honda Althea returns once more in WSS, with Mark Aitchison and Matthieu Lagrive, but they have internally promoted Tommy Hill from WSS to WSB, in a lone rider CBR1000RR set-up.Gregorio Lavilla with race for the Pro Ride WSB squad on a CBR1000RR in 2009, but he will not be in Australia or round two in Qatar, due to sudden financial issues playing an unwanted part. Former Superstock 1000 European Champion Vittorio Iannuzzo (Squadra Corse Honda CBR1000RR) is another 2009 Honda WSB rider, for the team, based in Italy.Another potent pairing, this time in WSS, is new full-time rider Eugene Laverty and seasoned Parkalgar Honda competitor Miguel Praia. Unlike most other Honda teams, the Parkalgar riders did not get the chance to ride at Phillip Island in recent tests, but they will be running 2009 machinery, while some others in WSS, notably Ten Kate, will be on 2008 bikes at the start of the season.Jonathan Rea said: "Well, according to some websites, I crashed on the final day at the PI tests and was like seventh quickest. I'm happy to report, however, that I didn't crash and did a 1'31.8s lap which we think was the fastest today! What matters is that we were able to find a setting that allows some tyre life at the end of the race and that I'm getting to grips with the traction control. We did two full race simulations today and the bike felt great. We know what we have to do next weekend but I'm really excited at the potential we've shown here."Carlos Checa said: "My shoulder is still a little sore and my head, well, that's always had some problems! No, I am really OK and will be fit for next weekend's first round after some rest this week. I was able to complete a good number of laps to try some new things, but we were hoping to try a new rear tyre, which unfortunately we couldn't do. With the weather in Portimao and the crash here in Australia, it hasn't been the perfect winter testing, but I like Phillip Island and I'm looking forward to racing again next weekend."Ryuichi Kiyonari said: "I had some problems finding a good set-up on the first day of this test but we made some changes for the second day and definitely made some progress. It was not so much to make one fast lap, but we were happy with consistency of laps during a race simulation. I had a small crash today but it was not such a problem.

Of course, there is still some work to do but I am really looking forward to the start of the season next week."Leon Haslam said: "We have got a lot of things done over these days, we have been trying many different things on the bike, mainly focusing on set-up and suspension as well the grip and tyre life. I have been putting down many laps and made a race distance run at the end of the day. With the temperatures rising in the afternoon we were struggling a bit with the grip, but nothing major. We have found a good pace and I'm able to ride consistently. We definitely eliminated a lot of things over the days and I'm pretty confident for the race that we will be well prepared."Roby Rolfo said: "I have to say that I'm really happy with how this test worked out. I have been able to ride for many laps over the days and my shoulder is feeling so much better than last time in Portimao.

Yesterday I was able to do 90 laps and today around 95 and my shoulder doesn't affect my strength, even though this track has a lot of left corners. All the training and rehabilitation I have been doing for the past three weeks really paid off!"Tommy Hill said: "I can't wait to get racing, this is the best bit.

The Portimao test didn't go completely to plan, with some problems over the three-days of testing. My team worked hard to try and solve the problem, and we hope now we have cured this for Phillip Island.

This will be my first race in Australia; the circuit looks fantastic and after many laps on the X-Box SBK Game I have started to learn the circuit. I really want to finish with consistent results, and be ready to fight for strong top 10 finishes, and keep me and my team smiling."Ten Kate Team Manager - Ronald Ten Kate - said: "We've had quite a good test here, although it was disappointing for Carlos. He took a big knock to the head and his shoulder was sore but he has had a thorough check-up and will be good to go next week. It's a shame because he was one of the fastest riders at that point of the weekend, so I'm sure he will be on the pace when it matters. We've made some progress on the second day with Kiyo-san and he is definitely fast on race tyres. Jonathan also found things a little difficult on the first day, but some overnight changes put the bike in the right place and he put in some quick times. There are still some issues on race distances but, all in all, it's been a positive test and we're in good shape for next week and the season ahead.The following is from BMW...The 2009 Superbike World Championship promises to be more exciting than ever, with BMW Motorrad Motorsport making its debut in the ultra-competitive series and taking on no less than six other manufacturers, four Japanese

and two European. Although this is BMW's fi rst attempt in World Superbikes, their racing heritage goes back 86 years, starting with their R 32 motorcycle in 1923. Since then BMWs have raced successfully on the Isle of Man and at

other world-famous racetracks and have enjoyed many successes. The last success of the offi cial BMW factory team was Walter Zeller's runner-up place in the 1956 World Championship. BMW offi cially returned to roadracing in 2007 with the HP2 Sports Boxer taking part in the Endurance Championship 24 hour classics in 2007 and 2008.BMW's first ever 'Superbike' success took place at Daytona, USA, in 1976, when American Steve McLaughlin won the AMA Championship Superbike race in a thrilling photo-fi nish with team-mate Reg Pridmore. Both were riding R 90 S BMWs prepared by Butler & Smith, BMW's American importers. Back then the ‘Superbike' class was a support race to the main event, but nine years later the fi rst ideas for a Superbike World Championship (a world championship for production-based motorcycles) began to grow. The series was born in 1988 and since then has become the hallmark for close-fought,

competitive racing, without sacrificing any of its friendly paddock atmosphere.It may be all-out combat on the track, but off it, it has an atmosphere unmatched by any other world championship.

BMW Motorrad have a very long history, but they are the ‘new boys' of the Superbike World Championship. The company has decided to enter the series at, without a doubt, the hardest and most competitive time in its 21-year history. Any new manufacturer joining the series is going to face a tough time and BMW are under no illusions about the challenges ahead. BMW are entering World Superbike because it is a championship where fans and customers identify with the brand and the bikes. And fans will not have long to wait for the S 1000 RR roadbike from which the racebike is derived: it will make its public debut in early summer 2009.Troy Corser"The BMW S 1000 RR racebike has a good base and we are all working hard to be competitive as soon as we can. This is BMW's fi rst time in World Superbikes and none of us underestimate the challenge. But the challenge is part of the excitement and we are determined to do the very best we can. As the season progresses I'm sure we'll improve a lot, but we are at a bit of a disadvantage because every time we go to a track we will be starting from scratch, whereas the others will have info and data from previous years. Even so, as the year goes on, I'm sure we'll get better and better and maybe even surprise a few people along the way."Ruben Xaus"This is a great challenge and I am so happy to be riding for a factory team and working with a great bunch of guys. I think I always knew that I would probably have to modify my style (after years of riding a twin) but I am very pleased with

the progress we made in this direction at the recent tests. For sure, it is not easy for any new manufacturer to enter this incredibly competitive series, but I believe that BMW can make a big impact on the championship and I am very happy to be a part of this big adventure."Berti Hauser - Director BMW Motorrad Motorsport

"This great adventure began not so long ago, but now we are about to take part in our very fi rst World Superbike Championship race and it is an exciting moment for us all. I fi rmly believe we have two great riders - Troy Corser and

Ruben Xaus - and a very committed and enthusiastic team. Troy is the most experienced rider in WSBK and brings a lot of knowledge and information to the team. Although Ruben is not as experienced as Troy, he has so much enthusiasm for this project and I feel that he and Troy are a perfect combination. I am very pleased with the amount of progress we have all

made in the past few months and now, like the whole team, I am really looking forward to this great challenge."The following is from Ducati...The Ducati Xerox Team flew half way around the world last week to land in Australia for Round 1 of the 2009 World Superbike Championship. The 14-round series recommences this weekend at Phillip Island, the historic track that has featured on the calendar every year since 1990, with more World Superbike events having been held here than anywhere else.New Ducati rider Noriyuki Haga will line up on the grid for the first time on board his Ducati 1198 and alongside team-mate Michel Fabrizio, now in his second season with the factory squad. Both riders are eager to make an impact on the championship standings right from the very first race and have trained hard all winter to be in the best possible shape for this, Round 1 of what is sure to be a challenging and exciting season.Last weekend the Ducati factory riders took part in a useful two-day test session here at the Island, using the time to work on bike settings with their teams. Both riders were satisfied with the progress they made and were able to clock up some fast laps in preparation for the upcoming race.Noriyuki Haga

Noriyuki's best result at this track was a third place finish in 2007. In his first race on board the factory Ducati 1198, he is ready to make an immediate impact on the 2009 championship."I have to say it's a track that I like but I have had very mixed results here over the years. In the last few years my best result was a third in 2007 but in 1998 I won Race 2. Since then I haven't had so much luck but I am hoping that I can change this this year! The tests last weekend went well and we'll continue to test various things on Friday in preparation for Sunday's races."Michel FabrizioMichel stepped on to the podium at Phillip Island last year and is keen to kick off the 2009 season in a similar fashion."Last year I felt that some teams weren't totally ready for the start of the season while this year we all seem to be more prepared which means that on Sunday I think we'll be seeing a real fight up at the front for those podium places. I'm happy with how we've been progressing in winter testing and the tests here this weekend were definitely beneficial too. I like this track and am ready to get this championship started."Country: Australia

Name: Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit

Length of circuit: 4.445 km

Pole Position: left

Length of straight: 835 m

Race distance: 22 laps/97.790 km

LAP RECORDS: Best lap: Corser (Yamaha), 1m31.826s (2007). Superpole: Bayliss (Ducati), 1m31.493s (2008).The following is from SBK...The 22nd edition of the FIM Superbike World Championship gets underway this weekend at the Phillip Island circuit in Australia. Expectation is already at fever pitch over the start of this season, the first for many years without Troy Bayliss, one of the legendary names in Superbike history, who retired at the end of 2008 after winning his third world title in the production-based championship racing series. With Bayliss gone, the question is now who will write their name in the record books alongside the other legendary Superbike greats like Merkel, Roche, Polen, Russell, Fogarty, Corser, Kocinski, Edwards, Hodgson and Toseland.THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN: Superbike continues to show enormous potential and the 2009 edition of the championship organized by Infront Motor Sports will see a record seven manufacturers present on the grid (Aprilia, BMW, Ducati, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha). The result perfectly demonstrates the impressive growth of the category, which this year has also added quantity to quality, with a record number of 32 permanent riders in the 14 rounds that make up the 2009 calendar.A QUESTION OF BALANCE: It is difficult to find a clear favourite in this year's championship, both amongst men and machines, and in particular after the various pre-season test sessions. Almost every manufacturer has at least one candidate for the title within their ranks. Ducati Xerox go aces high with top signing Noriyuki Haga flanking talented youngster Michel Fabrizio, who is called upon to make a quantum leap in quality this season. Yamaha World Superbike have totally revamped their squad with the arrival of the Anglo-American pairing of three-times AMA Superbike champion Ben Spies and Britain's Tom Sykes. All eyes are focused on the Texan, one of the most interesting names to emerge in the last few years. Hannspree Ten Kate Honda again have a three-pronged attack, with Carlos Checa as the focal point and Ryuichi Kyonari and Jonathan Rea on the wings, both capable of extraordinary feats. Suzuki Alstare have decided to go with the German flow of Max Neukirchner, last year's revelation, together with the reconfirmed Yukio Kagayama. The Kawasaki World Superbike Racing Team pairing of MotoGP and SBK race winner Makoto Tamada and Australian Broc Parkes also looks an interesting one as the Japanese manufacturer has decided to boost its investment in SBK.THE CHALLENGERS: The 2009 season also marks the return of Aprilia and the entry of BMW, both global brands that add more prestige to Superbike. The Italian marque shows that it means business right from the start, with the signing of two top riders of the calibre of Max Biaggi and Shinya Nakano, while the same can also be said for the German company, who have snapped up double world champion Troy Corser and multiple race winner Ruben Xaus. Both teams are aiming for a place at the top, and quickly too.PRIVATE AFFAIR: SBK is not just a battle between the top teams and riders. The aim has always been to have balanced technical regulations aimed at keeping costs down, so that private teams can take part in the championship and have the chance to emerge. This year once again therefore a handful of quality private teams are in a position to sign up quality riders, because they have competitive machinery available; all eyes therefore will also be on Shane Byrne and Leon Haslam, Roberto Rolfo, Jakub Smrz, Brendan Roberts and Régis Laconi, riders who are all capable of cutting a decent figure in a championship that promises to be electrifying.NEW SUPERPOLE AND FLAG TO FLAG: The 22nd running of the championship will also see some important changes from a regulation point of view. Out goes the old ‘one-lap dash' Superpole, in comes a knock-out formula for the top 20 qualifiers, from 20 to 16, then 16 to 8, who will fight it out for the first two rows of the grid. The format promises to liven up Superpole and will also undoubtedly be a lot more exciting for TV viewers. Superbike has also decided to introduce a ‘flag to flag' procedure, with a change of bikes and full running in case of rain.SUPERSPORT: Phillip Island will see the opening round of the Supersport World Championship. The team to beat are Ten Kate Honda who have won the last seven editions of the series. Candidates for the win this year are reigning champion Andrew Pitt and team-mate Kenan Sofuoglu, who picked up the trophy in 2007. The championship promises to be hard-fought, with five manufacturers taking part: Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha. Honda's traditional rival Yamaha have a strong pairing in Cal Crutchlow and Fabien Foret, but major surprises could come from the young Spanish rider Joan Lascorz on the Kawasaki, Dutchman Barry Veneman with the Suzuki and the experienced Triumph pair of Garry McCoy and Gianluca Nannelli.About the Phillip Island Grand Prix CircuitThe Phillip Island circuit is one of the most spectacular tracks on the racing calendar. Situated on the picturesque Phillip Island, a couple of hours drive south of Melbourne, it offers a superb mix of fast and slow corners, which blend together to produce a very high average lap speed of almost 175 km/h. It measures 4.445 km and has a total of 12 corners, 7 left- and 5 right-handers. Turn 11 is one corner that makes all the difference, the long fast left-hander allowing riders to lay the bike in while still hard on the throttle and head for the line at over 300 km/h for a sprint finish.Lap records: Race - Troy Corser (Yamaha) 1'31.826 (2007); Best lap - Troy Bayliss (Ducati) 1'31.493 (2008).The Australian Round of the HANNspree FIM Superbike World Championship takes place from Friday 27 February to Sunday 1 March. The action starts with World Supersport and World Superbike free practice and qualifying the first two days, followed by Superpole on Saturday at 15.00. The two 22-lap Superbike races are scheduled to run on Sunday at 12.00 and 15.30, with the 21-lap Supersport race in between at 13.25 local time.

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