James hopes 2011 will see podium glory

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DESPITE admitting he will take a step into the unknown when his 2011 World Superbike campaign kicks off this weekend James Toseland is adamant he can still cut it among the world’s best.

After two tough years in premier class, MotoGP, Toseland was expected to take the World Superbike class by storm last year as a two-time former champion.

But the fanfares heralding his arrival proved premature as Toseland broke his hand and dislocated a shoulder at the opening round and poor form saw him end the season a distant ninth. The close season has seen the Kiveton ace move on to pastures new - crossing the paddock to join the untried BMW Motorrad Italia outfit.

And the 30-year-old believes he can be a force to be reckoned with in Australia this weekend.

“It’s not going to be the easiest start because we have had a very limited amount of testing in the dry,” said Toseland.

“We only had one day testing in the dry in Portugal but despite that I’m optimistic because of the quality of the team I working with - it is the team that I used to work for when I was riding Ducati. I know that if there are any issues with the bike or the package they will do everything they can to sort it out.

“The guys have worked so hard on the package and I am looking forward to it. 2010 was one of those seasons for me. I came back from injury and had three or four podium finishes and was starting to get consistent and competitive.

“It was just a messy year with crashes and injuries but I am fully back fit and I think I can put that behind me this year.

“When you’re in something as competitive as the World Superbikes and racing on an injury it’s very difficult to be where you want to be.”

Toseland’s World Superbike campaign begins on Phillip Island this weekend as the paddock heads to the Australian coast for the season curtain-raiser.

Crashes – and resulting injuries - meant Toseland picked up just six points Down Under last year and despite being fully fit this time round, he is wary about making any bold predictions.

“I am fully fit now and I think the team is great,” added Doncaster-born Toseland. “I don’t think there are any expectations going into Phillip Island though with the lack of preparation.

“The team have won more paddocks than anyone else in the championship and I have two myself so hopefully we can do well.”

WSB races are shown on British Eurosport, with all Euro rounds in HD. British Eurosport – Sky channel 410 & Virgin Media 521. Eurosport HD is on Sky 412 & Virgin Media 522. Watch live online at www.eurosportplayer.co.uk