Classic Italian motorcycle marque Bimota will make a return to the Superbike World Championship in 2014, bringing the number of manufacturers on the rapidly expanding production-based grid to nine – a record.
Bimota joins fellow Italian MV Agusta and American brand Erik Buell Racing as new entrants to the championship, joining established makes BMW, Aprilia, Ducati, reigning champion Kawasaki, Honda and Suzuki.
Bimota has announced a global racing collaboration with Belgian tuning house Alstare to make its world superbike return, and the two riders will be Christian Iddon and Ayrton Badovini. Iddon already has a Bimota connection – his father Paul rode a YB3 in the opening years of the world superbike title. Alstare won the 2005 world superbike title with Australia’s Troy Corser aboard a Suzuki.
Subject to FIM homologation requirements, the 2014 Bimota campaign will see Iddon and Badovini on the BB3, which is powered by BMW’s S 1000 RR four-cylinder engine mounted inside Bimota’s ubiquitous steel trellis frame.
The team will add to the growing number of bikes contesting the all-new EVO sub class with its superbike-spec chassis, superstock-spec engine regulations. EVO will become the sole WSBK rules in 2015.
“I am very happy and excited about this long-term global project with Bimota – a famous and highly thought of brand,” said Alstare team manager Francis Batta. “It all started at EICMA (Milan) last November, when I met the new owners Marco Chiancianesi and Daniele Longoni and immediately got on well with them. After that first meeting, I had a really good feeling about our prospects together.
“We knew our companies would complement each other in every way and such a symbiosis would be of enormous benefit all round. We both have enjoyed success in racing and putting our expertise together will be like a marriage made in heaven.
“The BB3, designed by Engineer Acquaviva and his team in Rimini, is a fantastic bike and full of potential. We at Alstare are excited to help develop it, get it on the track and unleash the beast within.”
Bimota was a founding world superbike marque in 1988 with Davide Tardozzi and Stephane Mertens as its lead riders, and continued the following year with Giancarlo Falappa at the helm. In 2000, Australia’s Anthony Gobert piloted a factory Bimota in the WSBK title, and even won a race at Phillip Island in patchy conditions – a shrewd tyre choice getting him over the line.
Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes will begin his defence of the world superbike title at Phillip Island from February 21-23 against a mix of seasoned campaigners – 67 WSBK race wins — and exciting new blood, the latter including 2013 British superbike champion Alex Lowes (Suzuki) and former MotoGP rider Caludio Corti (MV Agusta). The old firm includes Marco Melandri and Sylvain Guintoli (both Aprilia), Eugene Laverty (Suzuki), Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam (both Honda), and Chaz Davies (Ducati).
Tickets for the 2014 Phillip Island world superbike opener are on sale now at www.worldsbk.com.au or call the hotline on 1300 728 007. Kids under 15 are free; while an adult can pick up a three-day general admission ticket today for $99, purchased in advance and a saving of $51 on the gate price.