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WSBK: Biaggi to Ride Factory Ducati with GSE in '08
Written by: Dennis Noyes
Borrego Springs, CA – 10/23/2007


SpeedTV.com has learned from reliable Italian sources that Max Biaggi, 36, will return to the World Superbike Championship in 2008 riding a works-supported Ducati for the British GSE Ducati team.

The GSE Airwaves team announced on October 15th that it was pulling out of the British Superbike Championship because the new BSB technical regulations will not allow Ducati to change the pistons of the 1098R (expected to displace 1198cc). GSE team owner Darrell Healey (who is also the personal manager of two times World SBK Champion Troy Bayliss) was told by the Ducati factory that the bike could only be raced with the replacement pistons as allowed under more permissive World Superbike regulations.

When Honda HRC told Fausto Gresini that they did not support his intention to sign Biaggi to ride for the Italian team on an RC212V in MotoGP, conversations between Ducati Corse, GSE, and Max Biaggi were initiated by World Superbike promoters FGSport.

No other details are available at this time, but Biaggi has agreed to ride for GSE. Ducati Corse will supply the British-based team with two factory machines with the same Magneti Marelli electronics supplied to the works Ducati Xerox team of Troy Bayliss and Michel Fabrizio.

Biaggi, a four times World 250 champion, has scored a total of 45 wins at the world championship level, 29 in 250, 13 in 500/MotoGP, and three in his first season of WSBK. The Roman has made 128 podium appearances, and, in addition to the four 250 titles, he has finished runner-up three times in 500/MotoGP, third three times in 500/MotoGP, and was third in his first year in SBK.

Biaggi made the adjustment from MotoGP to World Superbike in 2007, winning three races and making a championship-leading 17 podium appearances for the Alstare Corona Extra Suzuki team. Despite the successful series debut, Biaggi and team owner Francis Batta were unable to reach an agreement for 2008.

Biaggi left the HRC Repsol Honda team at the end of the 2005 season and HRC then refused to supply the Camel Honda Pons team with machines for Biaggi in 2006. As a result Camel moved their sponsorship to the Yamaha factory team and Team Pons, one of the most successful private teams in Grand Prix history, was forced to retire because without the Italian superstar the team was unable to find a major sponsor.

Biaggi had many offers from MotoGP teams for 2006, but for one reason or another (probably because the other Japanese factories joined Honda in boycotting the rider who was openly critical of HRC) none of the MotoGP teams were able to obtain bikes for the Italian.

Biaggi’s teammate may be Leon Camier, 21, who broke his femur and pelvis in a crash at Cadwell Park toward the end of the season. In spite of missing the final six races of the season, Camier finished eighth in his rookie BSB Superbike season.

The two riders who took the Airwaves Ducati team to third and fourth in this year’s BSB, Leon Haslam and Gregorio Lavilla, are currently without teams. Haslam is expected to join the HM Plant Honda team for the British series, while Lavilla is talking to the PSG-1 Kawasaki team in World Superbike and with undisclosed teams in the BSB.

At present the top seven World Superbike teams are complete:

Ten Kate Honda: Carlos Checa and Ryuichi Kiyonari
Santander Yamaha: Noriyuki Haga and Troy Corser
Alstare Suzuki: Yukio Kagayama, Fonsi Nieto and Max Neukirchner
Ducati Xerox: Troy Bayliss and Michel Fabrizio
GSE Ducati: Max Biaggi and, probably, Leon Camier
Sterilgarda Ducati: Rubén Xaus and, possibly, Lorenzo Lanzi
PSG-1 Kawasaki: Regis Laconi and a second rider to be confirmed, possibly Alex Barros, unless the Brazilian retires
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
UPDATE: WSBK: Last Minute Problems Halt Biaggi-GSE Deal
Written by: Dennis Noyes
Borrego Springs, CA – 10/24/2007

Word from Ducati Corse is that the plans to put Max Biaggi on a works-supported Ducati with the GSE squad have been abandoned. The Italian source of the original story linking Biaggi to the GSE team of Great Britain says that the problem is due to a conflict of interest that would make it impossible for Darrell Healey, owner of the GSE team, to field a team in opposition to the factory team of Troy Bayliss and Michel Fabrizio. Healey is the personal manager of Troy Bayliss.

Efforts are now being made to place Biaggi in the Sterilgarda Ducati team owned by Marco Borciani. At present the Borciani team has signed Spaniard Rubén Xaus who will have a factory supported Ducati 1098R.

Further developments are expected during the next 24 hours.
 
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