Randy De Puniet is to make a return to racing full time. As had been rumored for some weeks now, the Frenchman is to make the switch to the World Superbike series, where he will join the Crescent Suzuki team for 2015. De Puniet will race alongside Alex Lowes next year, aboard the Suzuki GSX-R1000.
After losing his ride with the Aspar team at the end of 2013, De Puniet has spent 2014 as Suzuki's official test rider, helping to develop the bike now dubbed the GSX-RR. The only racing action he had seen was with the Yoshimura team during the Suzuka 8 Hour race, where he finished in second place with teammates Josh Waters and Takuya Tsuda. But De Puniet was keen to return to racing full time, and with no vacancies in MotoGP, the World Superbike series was the obvious choice. Racing with the Crescent team allows him to stay with Suzuki as a test rider, and retain his strong ties with the Japanese factories.
Alongside his duties in WSBK, De Puniet will continue development work on the Suzuki GSX-RR MotoGP machine, with a particular focus on 2016. De Puniet will mainly be working on getting the GSX-RR to work with the Michelin tires, due to replace Bridgestone at the start of the 2016 season. He will also be helping to make the bike work with the so-called unified software which is to be introduced at the same time.
With new technical regulations set to come into effect for the 2015 season in World Superbikes, the Superbike Commission has decided to lift its customary testing ban. Instead of testing being prohibited for the months of December and January, the World Superbike and World Supersport teams will be allowed to continue testing, with only a short break over the holiday period. Testing will no be banned from 21st December 2014 to 4th January 2015.
The change was made at the request of the teams. With the technical regulations undergoing a radical overhaul for the 2015 season, the teams felt they needed a lot more testing time to identify and fix problems with the new bikes. Extracting sufficient horsepower while maintaining reliability, to comply with the limited engine allocation, had been a major concern. The extended period gives the teams a little more time to prepare for the 2015 season.
The current change has only been made for the 2015 season. With the rules set to stabilize for the future, a test ban is likely to be reinstated for the winter of 2015/2016.
You can read the text of the press release announcing the change on the FIM website (PDF document).
The rain made for a challenging set of races today, with attrition and setup playing a large part in today's races, but mostly, they'll be remembered for one symbol:
Press releases from the series organizers and World Superbike and World Supersport teams after Sunday's drama-filled races at Magny-Cours:
As the weather didn't get any better, the second World Superbike race was also reduced to nineteen laps.
It rained this morning but the rain had stopped by the time the race started, but the conditions meant that the race was reduced from twenty-one to nineteen laps.
Press releases from the series organizers and the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after qualifying at Magny-Cours:
Qualifying for World Superbike's penultimate pair of races for 2014 took place today, and the French circuit of Magny-Cours, designed by the ubiquitous Hermann Tilke, had been resurfaced in places since last year, making the track a little bit quicker. Rain has been predicted as possible tomorrow, which would mean qualifying is merely an indicator of where everyone starts the race and not a prediction of pace.
Tom Sykes continues his title defence with the fastest lap in the untimed session ahead of Superpole with Marco Melandri very close behind. The session was red-flagged with twenty-one minutes remaining due to Sykes crashing at the final chicane after setting the fastest lap. The session resumed shortly after, but Sykes missed out on over ten minutes of tracktime.
With five manufacturers in the top six, Sylvain Guintoli is quickest in France.
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the first day of practice at Magny-Cours:
Davide Giugliano sets the first 1'37 of the meeting, ahead of Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli.
Sylvain Guintoli pips Tom Sykes in front of his home crowd.
Press release previews from the World Superbike organizers and teams ahead of this weekend's penultimate round at Magny-Cours: