Reigning world superbikes champ, Ten Kate Honda rider James Toseland will be moving to MotoGP next year. Toseland, who looks all set to win his second WSBK title this year, will be riding for the Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3 MotoGP team in 2008. Honda wanted him to stay on in world superbikes and could not offer him a MotoGP ride, which is why Toseland had to decide to move to Yamaha.
Talking about his move to MotoGP, he says, 'The easy choice was to stay and be competitive in world superbikes. I could continue that, no problem. But I want to see where I line up against the best in the business.'
What about his lack of experience in riding GP bikes? At 26 years of age, can he now successfully move to MotoGP? Toseland says, 'The seven years I've had in superbikes, and hopefully being a two time world champion, will prove that I can be competitive there. I'm quietly confident that I can be.' And what about the bike that Tech 3 can provide him with? 'It's a 2008 Yamaha and it's not a million miles away from what Valentino Rossi will be riding,' says the WSBK champ.
Indeed, for 2008, the Tech 3 team is being upgraded from being a 'satellite outfit' and will have full factory support next year, so Toseland's decision to join them may be proved right. Says Tech 3 team boss Herve Poncharal, 'Procuring James is a major coup for Tech 3 Yamaha and for the MotoGP championship in extending our reach into Northern Europe. It's an exciting time for us all and I am certain that he will be an integral part of the team's future.'
Toseland, of course, is quite sure of what he wants to do. He says, 'I want to be the first British rider to be competitive in GPs since Barry Sheene. I never got to see any of his racing but you can't get away from the fact that he was the last true household name in British motorcycling. I've worked hard for the last ten years to be given this chance to emulate him.'
With so many talented and experienced riders baying for blood in MotoGP, we doubt if James Toseland will be the next Barry Sheene. At best, he might finish in the top five once in a while and get a few podium finishes. But winning the world championship? Being the next Barry Sheene? Er, we don't think so...
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