Team Pedercini announced today that Australian Mark Aitchison would partner Roberto Rolfo for the 2011 season, in what may finally be an end to the drama regarding their second rider. It was thought that former MotoGP/Moto2 rider Gabor Talmacsi would contest the 2011 World Superbike championship on a Pedercini Kawasaki, a move reinforced by Talmasci testing with the team at Sepang.
However then came the news that after Sepang he was still thinking about the team’s offer, then that Bryan Staring would be entered as a wild card for the team at the season-opener at Phillip Island. That decision presumably came because Talmacsi was either still considering, or had rejected, the offer from Pedercini. Now, it seems Aitchison is in, Staring is out, and Talmacsi has nowhere to go.
However, team owner Lucio Pedercini has also previously alluded to the idea of a three-rider Superbike team. Staring is already under contract for Pedercini’s Supersport team, and since Supersport does not compete at Phillip Island, Staring may still be a wild card for that event. With the first official WSBK test over last week, one might assume that most of the rider-swapping drama might have died down by now. That would obviously be incorrect, as Talmacsi is still presumably searching for a ride, and Pedercini keeps looking to Australia to fill what would have been his seat.
Aitchison will be participating in the official WSBK test at Phillip Island days before the season opener, as well as contesting the entire season for Team Pedercini. He was the 2007 World Superstock rookie of the year, moving up to Supersport in 2008 with Triumph, then to Ten Kate for the 2009 WSS season. In that competitive 2009 season, Aitchison finished once on the podium and multiple times in the top five, finishing the season eighth in the championship. For the 2010 season, Aitchison competed in only the final four races, all for the Kuja Racing Team.
“I’m very satisfied with the agreement reached with Mark Aitchison and I’m delighted to welcome him on board with our team,” said Donato Pedercini, Team Pedercini Owner. “He’s an excellent addition to the team, I appreciated his riding qualities and his determination. Mark is full of enthusiasm and with a passion for racing.
“Together we will take on this new challenge and we firmly believe he will quickly grow,” continued Pedercini. “Mark is strongly motivated and he’s on the same wavelength as we are in terms of projects and targets. He’ll test the new Kawasaki ZX 10R during the next Phillip Island test and of course the first two races will not be easy for him, but I’m sure that all our technicians will help him to be competitive very soon”
Commenting on his addition to Team Pedercini Mark Aitchison said, “To say I am excited now about my season ahead is a major understatement. To race in the World SBK class has always been a dream of mine and to be given this opportunity with a team that has such long history in World Superbike racing is something I am very proud of. I would like to thank all the Pedercini family for giving me such a wonderful chance to be a part of their team and I look forward to repaying their faith in me by giving all my motivation and dedication toward this project.”
Though it could be simply the standard language of team announcements, there might be some hidden barbs directed at Talmacsi in Pedercini’s statement. For a rider with seemingly no prospects other that sitting out the 201 season, Talmacsi took his time in responding to the offer and working with the team. He appeared both frustrated and resigned to his lack of time on the bike at Sepang, leaving no indication that he got on well with the team. Though Pedercini now seems to have their 2011 line-up sorted, Talmacsi seems to have no other options.