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Three SA riders will be chasing their dreams when the 2012 World Superbike and World Supersport championships get underway at Phillip Island, Australia, this Sunday.
Sheridan Morais, Mathew Scholtz and Ronan Quarmby have secured full-time seats in the World Supersport championship for 600cc bikes, which runs alongside the World Superbikes and is a stepping stone to the big league.
Morais will be riding a Kawasaki ZX-6R run by the DeltaFin Lorenzini team. He secured the ride after impressing the Lorenzini team when he rode a Kawasaki for them in the 2011 Superstock 1000 series.
Quarmby, the 2010 SA Supersport champion who campaigned a Triumph Daytona in World Supersport last year, will this season move to a Honda CBR600 run by the front-running PTR team.
His team mate is compatriot Mathew Scholtz who made his mark on international racing in 2008 when he was selected to contest the Red Bull Rookies MotoGP Series.
The 2012 World Superbike championship, in turn, will have 24 permanent riders on the grid and the participation of six manufacturers (Aprilia, BMW, Ducati, Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki).
Reigning champ Carlos Checa returns on a Ducati to defend his title.
Max Biaggi, back in black again this year for the new liveried Aprilia factory team, will line up at the age of 40 for his 23rd season of racing with the aim of taking back the No.1 plate he conquered in 2010.
On a difficult track for the Italian bike, Aprilia have made up a lot of ground here in testing, even though “it will be almost impossible to beat Ducati on this track” as Biaggi himself admitted.
SYKES THE MAN OF THE MOMENT
It will also be a crucial season for BMW Motorrad, who enter their fourth year with new signing Marco Melandri and the confirmed Leon Haslam trying to score the German manufacturer’s first win in World Superbike.
But the man of the moment is Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes, who was quickest in testing at Phillip Island on Tuesday, lapping just two-hundredths quicker than Checa.
All eyes will also be on the talented Jonathan Rea from Northern Ireland, who lines up for another year on a Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade, flanked by Superbike rookie Hiroshi Aoyama from Japan.
This will be the 25th edition of the FIM Superbike championship, which last year achieved a worldwide TV audience of 462 million. - Star Motoring