Now that it has the World Superbike series under its control, Dorna is turning its attention to the question of costs. It was an issue which, WSBK insiders claim, the Flammini brothers and Infront spent too little time on, preferring to focus on trying to compete with MotoGP instead. The series' critics charge that this obsession caused WSBK to allow bikes into the series which were more like MotoGP prototypes than production road bikes. The Aprilia RSV4 is one of the bikes most often named in this regard, though perhaps the most extreme example was the Foggy Petronas FP3 machine, of which the entire homologation run is rumored to be stored in a warehouse owned by the Malaysian oil company in Kuala Lumpur. As a result, grids have shrunk from around thirty starters in 2009 to just twenty in 2013.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams who stayed at Valencia and actually got some track time, and from Yamaha, who went to Aragon, and sat about watching the rain:
As the Grand Prix paddock heads to Valencia to assemble for the last race of the year, the rider line ups are starting to be finalized for the 2013 season. The MotoGP line up is drawing very close to completion, with just a few CRT seats remaining to be filled. Today it was confirmed that Hiroshi Aoyama has officially signed to race with the Avintia Blusens team in MotoGP, taking the place of Colombian rider Yonny Hernandez. The move had been anticipated for some time, but a press release was issued today formalizing the situation. Aoyama will line up alongside Hector Barbera in the BQR team, both men continuing to contest a Kawasaki-powered, FTR-built CRT machine in the MotoGP class.
Yonny Hernandez looks set to miss the final round of MotoGP at Valencia, as the Colombian continues his recovery from injury. Hernandez suffered a dislocated collarbone in a crash during the race at Motegi, an injury which forced him to miss both the Malaysian and the Australian rounds of MotoGP.
The place of Hernandez in the BQR Avintia team is to be taken at Valencia by Hiroshi Aoyama. The last ever 250 World Champion suffered a difficult 2012 season in World Superbikes with the Ten Kate Honda squad, Aoyama never getting comfortable with the Pirelli tires used in WSBK. Aoyama has been looking to return to MotoGP since the latter part of this season, the Japanese rider spotted in serious talks with a number of teams at the Aragon round of MotoGP at the end of September. Aoyama now looks set to take the place of Hernandez in the BQR Avintia team permanently in the 2013 season, according to Spanish website Motocuatro.com.
Loris Baz, second youngest rider to win a World Superbike race has been confirmed as Tom Sykes's partner at Kawasaki for 2013. Frenchman Baz has earned himself a lot of new fans this year after he replaced Joan Lascorz after the Spaniard's career-ending accident at Imola. What was to be a temporary promotion from Superstock 1000, Baz showed that he was ready for World Superbike.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after qualifying on Saturday at Mugello:
Starting next year, all bikes in World Superbikes will start to resemble road bikes just a little more. With the introduction of 17" wheels and headlight stickers, the class takes a step back closer to the "race on Sunday, sell on Monday" ethos of production racing. In a move popularised by US Stock Car racing (NASCAR), headlight stickers will be glued to the front of each bike to make them look like street legal bikes without mirrors. Kawasaki have already adopted these stickers and their bikes will be wearing them on TV later today.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after qualifying at Assen:
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the first day of practice at Assen:
Press releases from the MotoGP teams ahead of the Dutch TT at Assen on Saturday:
It seems ironic - ironic at best, downright insane at worst - that at the 7th Grand Prix of the first season after a major capacity change in MotoGP, the Grand Prix Commission will be deciding on another major change in MotoGP regulations. With just one third of the races run of one season after such a change, why are the GP Commission even contemplating more changes?
The reason is simple: money, or rather the lack of it. A raft of technical rule changes introduced at the behest of the manufacturers has left the series struggling to fill the grid with the prototypes being built by the few manufacturers still racing, the others forced out either by a lack of success or the high costs of racing, or more usually a combination of both. The technical regulations drawn up by the MSMA have prevented new manufacturers from entering: even BMW, probably the biggest spenders in the World Superbike series, are saying that they cannot afford to go racing in MotoGP under the current rules, with BMW's head of motorcycle racing Bernhard Gobmeier pointing the finger of blame at Honda and Yamaha for making the series unsustainably expensive.
With costs too high, Dorna, the FIM and IRTA are casting around for a set of rules to make the racing more financially sustainable. That was not achievable with the rules that MotoGP had prior to 2012, and this year's rule package is only a little better. The combination of high horsepower, high revs and limited fuel means that millions are being poured into the development of electronics to keep the bikes rideable and make the fuel last. MotoGP needs cheaper racing, but, as they say, you can't get there from here.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the race at Barcelona:
Press releases from the MotoGP teams ahead of this weekend's MotoGP round in Barcelona: