Jonathan Rea has been drafted in to replace Casey Stoner during the Australian's absence due to the ankle injury he suffered at Indianapolis. The Ulsterman is to test the factory Honda RC213V at Brno during the official MotoGP test on Monday, and then again at Aragon in just over a week's time.
The decision to draft in Rea was made as a reward for his loyalty to Honda throughout the years. Rea has stuck with Honda in WSBK, and achieving strong results on a CBR1000RR that is starting to get a little long in the tooth. Rea winning the Suzuka 8 hours endurance race earlier this year was also greatly appreciated by HRC top management.
How many races Rea will get on the bike is still uncertain. Casey Stoner has now arrived in Australia, and is expected to have surgery on Wednesday. He is almost certain to be forced to miss Misano, and the following race at Aragon is also uncertain. None of the remaining rounds on the MotoGP calendar clash with World Superbikes, so though Rea would find himself with a full schedule, it would be possible for Rea to substitute for Stoner for the rest of the year, if necessary.
Below is the official press release from Honda, and a video statement from Rea courtesy of the Honda World Superbike team:
Jonathan Rea to test for Repsol Honda Team
The Honda World Superbike team has long led the way in taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by the internet in promoting their team and their sponsors, and they have just launched another innovative and interesting series of videos aimed at giving the fans a better understanding of what riding a WSBK machine entails. The Classic Corners series takes a look at five of the most spectacular corners that WSBK visits, with riders Jonathan Rea and Hiroshi Aoyama explaining what is required to get through the corner fast, and their crew talking about the demands they place on the bikes and the electronics.
The first video in the series takes a look at Turn 12 at Phillip Island, the last corner before the long straight. Below is the video from the Honda World Superbike team, and their press office's introduction to the video:
SBK Classic Corners - Episode 1
It's with great pleasure that the Honda World Superbike Team presents episode one of its exclusive, five-part SBK Classic Corners series.
This short film looks in detail at the demanding and challenging Turn 12 at Phillip Island in Australia - the long, long, LONG left-hander just before the downhill start-finish straight, which is so critical for a quick lap of the picturesque 4.448km circuit.
A press release issued by the Ten Kate Honda squad after their recent test at Assen ahead of the upcoming World Superbike round there:
If the opening round of the 2012 World Superbike Championship taught us anything, it's that this looks to be a two-horse race. Assuming no major wrenches are thrown in the works. Aprilia's Max Biaggi and Althea Ducati's Carlos Checa had the pace of everyone else in the field covered. Handily. And each of the early championship-protagonists cruised to victory without having to worry about the other after a couple of off-track excursions.
Saturday’s World Superbike Superpole and World Supersport final qualifying sessions from Philip Island were cancelled after a serious accident in the Australian Supersport race resulted in the death of Australian rider Oscar McIntyre. The 17-year-old collided with fellow racers Luke Burgess and Michael Lockhart on the second lap of the Australian support race and died despite receiving immediate medical treatment at the scene. Because of the seriousness of the accident, the event organizers decided to cancel Superpole.
The Honda Racing press office issued a press release and video after the Ten Kate World Superbike squad tested the 2012 CBR1000RR at Phillip Island. The video follows below, after the press release:
Press releases announcing that riders are going testing is the first sign of motorcycle racing's equivalent of spring. Today, Honda (no longer Castrol Honda, though Castrol remain as a "key secondary partner") announced that their World Superbike riders Johnny Rea and Hiroshi Aoyama are to go testing at Phillip Island this week, in the run up to the first WSBK round there at the end of February. The long wait is nearly over for race fans.
Below is the official press release from Honda:
Despite the loss of the factory Yamaha team, the World Superbike series is still in relatively good health, considering the financial crisis. Though the days of 30+ rider grids are gone, grid size has stabilized at around the 22 rider mark, 1 up from last year, while there are still 6 manufacturers present, Aprilia, BMW, Ducati and Kawasaki in an official capacity, Honda unofficially via Ten Kate, and Suzuki absent, with Crescent working with Yoshimura on their own bikes.
The field has seen some changes, though most of the title favorites are staying with the teams they were with in 2011. Carlos Checa remains with Althea Ducati, though the effort expands to include 2011 Superstock champ Davide Giugliano, while Max Biaggi is in the second year of his 2-year contract with Aprilia, and Johnny Rea is staying with the Ten Kate Honda squad. Championship runner up Marco Melandri has been forced to move, joining Leon Haslam at BMW, while his erstwhile teammate Eugene Laverty has been paired with Biaggi in the factory Aprilia squad. The factory Kawasaki rider contingent is cut from 3 to 2, Chris Vermeulen losing his slot, while Tom Sykes remains alongside Joan Lascorz.
Provisional rider entry list for the 2012 World Superbike series:
It has been clear for some time that 2012 would bring a major shake up in World Superbikes. With Yamaha announcing their withdrawal from the series and Althea looking doubtful of continuing, all the way up until Sunday afternoon at Portimao, it has been very difficult to sketch the outlines of a rider line up for next season. But after the hectic round of negoiating at the final round of the 2011 season in Portimao, at least part of the equation has become clear, and a relatively healthy-looking WSBK grid is starting to take shape.
It took some last-minute haggling - and the direct intervention of Ducati Corse CEO Claudio Domenicali - to get the situation straight, but on Sunday afternoon, between race 1 and race 2, the future of the Althea Ducati squad was assured. The situation was helped by the threat of losing the #1 plate of newly-crowned World Champion Carlos Checa to BMW, where he had been offered a seat in the BMW Italia team wth factory support, but Checa and Althea team boss Genesio Bevilacqua wanted to extend the partnership which has proven so successful this year. The Althea team will be expanded to two riders, with Superstock 1000 champion Davide Giugliano slotting alongside Checa.
2011 Motegi MotoGP Saturday Round Up - Bike Setup Makes Lorenzo And Rossi More Competitive, And Titles On The Line In France
What a difference a day makes. Or perhaps that should be, what a different an afternoon makes. That Casey Stoner took pole at Motegi in the MotoGP class should surprise no one: pole in Japan is Stoner's 10th of the year, a new record for a MotoGP season, and with it, he wrapped up the BMW M Award, getting to take home a shiny new BMW 1 Series M Coupe. And all that with three qualifying sessions left to go.
What was more of a surprise was the man who will start from next to him on the grid at Motegi. Yesterday, Jorge Lorenzo was the best-of-the-rest, capable only of following at a discreet distance, but a change after FP3 on Saturday morning turned the reigning World Champion's fortunes around. During qualifying, Lorenzo found he was matching the race pace of the Repsol Hondas, then as the pace was upped in the last 10 minutes, the factory Yamaha man found himself temporarily on pole, with a new pole record to boot. That would not stand - Stoner smashed both the old and the new pole record, bagging himself a BMW in the process - but the fact that Lorenzo was on the pace of the Hondas gave him heart. "I didn't expect to be on the front row," Lorenzo said, but the changes the team had made had worked. A front-row start puts him in touch with Stoner from the line, and going by the Spaniard's pace on race tires, capable of giving the Australian a run for his money.