"WSBK legend at Sepang"...is it Biaggi?

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The Sepang International Circuit today announced that “a legendary rider will be competing in the World Superbike round” at the Malaysian track later this year. The decision to bring in a well known rider as a wildcard will have been made to try and entice fans to the WSBK race after the inagural event saw sparse crowds attend.

Circuit chief Dato’ Razlan Razali wouldn’t be drawn on the identity of the rider when made the announcement by saying:

“We are currently working on the finer details of the agreement. We are very excited with this collaboration and we are confident that motorcycling fans would be equally excited when the announcement is made very soon. The legendary rider will be competing in the World Superbike Championship. We had Zaqhwan Zaidi last year competing in the World Supersport Championship. We are continuing with the wildcard programme this year; but with an entirely different approach by sponsoring an international big name.

With Troy Bayliss having already shown the benefit of having a WSBK legend on the grid to a race organiser the rumour mill will quickly be in overdrive as to who will get the ride. Max Biaggi who retied in 2012 after claiming his second title would certainly fit the bill. The Roman Emperor is a Factory Aprilia test rider and has spent plenty of time on the bike this year developing it for Leon Haslam and Jordi Torres.

Biaggi has consistently dismissed speculation that he would be coming back for a wild card return but MCN has learned that his contract does have a stipulation that he has first option to refuse any WSBK wild cards that will be offered by Aprilia. Biaggi recently tested the bike in Italy and when MCN asked MotoGP team insiders about Biaggi’s development work it was clear that he is spending more and more time perfecting setups rather than developing parts.

With this shift in his focus, trying to get the bike as comfortable as possible for him, it is an indication that his mindset has shifted towards ensuring that he is competitive should he return. Unofficial times from his tests, and comments from the team, have indicated that Biaggi would prove quite competitive on the bike.

The Malaysian round of the WSBK championship will take place on August 2nd.

Steve English

By Steve English