With various new top bike/rider combinations, large entries and the return of a former race-winning manufacturer, the 2003 South African Superbike Championship could exceed last year’s in terms of spectacle and excitement. Since the Superbike brigade doubtlessly provided the country’s top circuit racing show in 2002, any improvement would seem like an impossible order. However, given the following, experts agree that great expectations for this year are entirely justified. -

- Topping the season’s entry list as reigning South African Champion will be Russell Wood. As the Yamaha works team’s top rider, Wood will carry the Number One plate and Autopage Cellular livery on a new R6 model. Joining him on an identical Autopage Cellular Yamaha will be 2001 South African Champion Greg Dreyer, wishing to put a legacy of 2002 crashes behind him. -

- Wood’s toughest title challenge should come from the Cell C Suzuki camp, which will field a formidable five-bike team this season. Leading the onslaught will be 2000 South African Champion Stewart MacLeod, alongside former Ducati team leader Trevor Crookes. Having finished respectively second and third in last year’s title chase, the two riders will wish to improve this time around - with their actual finishing order still to be decided. -

- Last year’s South African Superbike Privateer Champion Noel Haarhoff will join the Cell C Suzuki factory effort this season, while 2002 team racer Hudson Kennaugh and Development rider John Oliver will stay on in the equipe. Suzuki won last year’s South African Superbike Manufacturers’ title – an achievement that they could certainly repeat, given their team’s depth of talent and experience. -

- Also extremely competitive this year will be the three-man First Technology team. Having swapped their Hondas of last year for new Yamaha R6 models, Shaun Whyte, Arushen Moodley and Alex Lenearts will be hunting victories and podium placings this season. -

- Extremely exciting news for the Championship is the official return of the Kawasaki team. Riding the importers’ all-new race-homologated ZX-6RR machines will be last year’s Sasol Top Gun award winner Greame van Breda and talented youngster Garth Norris. Also on factory-assisted Mean Green Machines will be youngster Sheridan Morias and veteran Michael Dickenson, running their Kawasakis under the Comaro Power Sport banner. -

- Following the withdrawal of their works team, Ducati will be represented by staunch privateers Clynton Pienaar and Robert Portman, who could certainly surprise some of the more fancied teams in the colours of Edenvale Ducati. -

- The factory-assisted riders apart, a healthy influx of young riders is expected from the extremely popular and competitive Northern Regions Championship, which should boast more than 40 riders this season. -

- In general, this year’s South African Superbike Championship should continue where last year’s title chase left off - as the country’s top national circuit racing spectacle. -

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Original article from Car