Dorna, as organizers of the World Superbike series, and GAS Sports, the event organizers, issued the following press release on the World Superbike series' return to South Africa in 2014:
South Africa on WSBK provisional Calendar for 2014
Barcelona (Spain), Monday 2 December 2013 - South African motorcycle racing fans are in for a special treat next year when WSBK should return to South Africa after a break of three years.
South Africa appears on the provisional calendar for the 2014 eni FIM World Superbike Championship with a round scheduled to be held at Phakisa Freeway in the Free State, on October 19.
“We have signed a Terms of Contract short-form agreement with Dorna, the WSBK Promoters, and will enter into a long-form agreement subject to certain conditions being met - said Anthony Lauter of GAS Sports, who are organisers of this event. “We still need to secure the necessary financial guarantees required by Dorna and the Phakisa Freeway must first pass an FIM circuit inspection. We’re confident we will meet these conditions. The race weekend programme will also include World Supersport series and several top South African riders can be expected to be seen in action.”
At long last, the FIM and Dorna have released a calendar for the World Superbike and World Supersport classes for 2014. The calendar features fourteen World Superbike events, but it is still very much a provisional list, with three of the fourteen still subject to contract, and the final race still marked as to be confirmed, with neither the location nor the country known.
The season kicks off as always in Australia, the World Superbike and World Supersport classes headed to the Phillip Island circuit for the opener on 23rd of February. There follows another WSBK tradition: the interminable wait for round 2. In 2014, there are seven weeks between the first and second rounds, with the second event taking place at the Motorland Aragon circuit just outside of Alcañiz. The WSBK circus then takes off for a tour through Europe, heading to Assen, Imola and Donington Park, before heading overseas again to Sepang, and a Malaysian round. Two rounds in Europ follow, at Misano and Portimao, before the World Superbike class heads to Laguna Seca, taking the slot vacated by the MotoGP class.
Press releases from some of the World Superbike teams after the test at Jerez:
While the Moto2 and Moto3 riders are busy in Almeria, the World Superbike teams are busy at Jerez. As usual, Tom Sykes is dominating proceedings, the newly-crowned WSBK champion circulating well under pole record pace at the Spanish circuit. Sykes lapped six tenths quicker than his teammate Loris Baz, and nine tenths faster than Marco Melandri, the Italian now riding the factory Aprilia.
Alex Lowes made a very strong debut, lapping Jerez at the same pace as Melandri on his first run out on the Voltcom Suzuki machine, while Jonathan Rea was the fastest of the Honda men. The teammates of Rea and Lowes were less fortunate: Leon Haslam's test was interrupted when his Pata Honda CBR1000RR caught fire, while Eugene Laverty only managed a handful of laps as the Voltcom Suzuki team worked to set up the Suzuki GSX-R1000.
The Jerez test also saw a large contingent of EVO class entries testing, giving a chance to compare the new bikes - basically, Superstock engines in WSBK-spec chassis - against the existing WSBK machines. Salom was fastest of the lot, 2.3 seconds behind Sykes, but only four tenths off the pace of Haslam, and ahead of Eugene Laverty and Claudio Corti, both of whom did not spend much time on track.
On Wednesday, the World Superbike riders will be joined by some of the MotoGP riders racing as Open entries.
It's been a busy time for motorcycle racing in the south of Spain. With the winter test ban about to commence, and now in force for both MotoGP and World Superbikes, the teams are heading south to get some development work done while they still can. For the World Superbike and MotoGP Open class teams, their destination is Jerez, while Moto2 and Moto3 are at Almeria, in Spain's southeastern corner.
At Jerez, Suzuki has just wrapped up a test, and Yakhnich Motorsport are taking the MV Agusta F4RR out for its first spin. The Jerez test was Eugene Laverty's first opportunity to ride the GSX-R1000, after the Irishman had signed for the Crescent Suzuki team, who have swapped title sponsors from Fixi to Voltcom. The move is a step down from the full factory Aprilia team for Laverty, but it is a long-term investment for the Irishman. Speaking to German language website Speedweek.com, Laverty explained that he believed that it was easier to move development on a project forward with a smaller group of people than inside a large organization.
Loris Baz has topped the timesheets at the two-day test held at Aragon for some of the World Superbike teams. Baz had spent the test working on bike set up, on a track he has not run well on in the past. The Frenchman ended up three tenths quicker than Jonathan Rea, at his first full test after returning from a broken femur. Rea and Pata Honda teammate Leon Haslam spent most of their time working on electronics, making big steps with the HRC package they had struggled with for most of the season. Rea was two tenths quicker than Chaz Davies on the factory Ducati, the Welshman making his second test on the Italian machine, and ending up ahead of Marco Melandri on the factory Aprilia.
Major absentee at the test was reigning world champion Tom Sykes. The Yorkshireman had been scheduled to test, but his wife went into labor before the test started, and Sykes rushed back to be with his wife as she gave birth to their baby daughter.
Unofficial test times:
WSBK Rules Update: Testing Restricted, Superpole Scrapped, MotoGP Qualifying And Penalty Points Adopted
The World Superbike championship remains in a state of flux, despite the good news emerging today about the 2014 grid (Feelracing taking on the Ducati factory team, MV Agusta expanding into World Superbikes, and Michel Fabrizio joining Grillini). The Superbike Commission met at Valencia to agree further rule changes to the series for 2014, as part of the push to revitalize the series. Some of the rules are cost-cutting measures, others are aimed at making the series a more attractive TV package, while some are aimed at providing a more homogenous set of basic rules between the World Superbike and MotoGP series.
Ducati today announced that Feelracing is to run its World Superbike program for the 2014 season. Feel Racing has a long and successful history with the Italian factory, and after a couple of seasons away with Althea and Alstare, Ducati is has returned to the team which brought them success in previous years.
The press release issued by Ducati appears below:
Ducati announces its World Superbike program 2014
- Official factory team to compete in 2014 World Superbike Championship
- “Ducati Superbike Team” structured in collaboration with Feelracing
- Ernesto Marinelli confirmed as Superbike Project Director. Serafino Foti to be Team Manager
Borgo Panigale (Bologna, Italy), 15 November 2013 – Following the announcement of the official 2014 Ducati World Superbike riders, Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano, Ducati now defines its team structure in preparation to contest the 2014 World Superbike Championship series with the Ducati 1199 Panigale.
The Fixi Crescent Suzuki team today issued the following press release, confirming Eugene Laverty as their second rider for the 2014 World Superbike campaign:
Laverty to spearhead Crescent Suzuki attack in 2014
Crescent Suzuki is delighted to announce the signing of this season’s eni FIM Superbike World Championship runner-up Eugene Laverty to lead the team’s assault on next year’s title fight.
The 27-year-old Irishman will join the team with immediate effect and will participate in the team’s final test of the season at Jerez on the 25th and 26th November, where he will get his first taste of the Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R. Prior to the test, Laverty will be at the ‘Motorcycle Live’ show on Saturday 23rd November at the NEC in Birmingham as a guest of Suzuki UK, where he will make his first official appearance as a Suzuki rider.
Laverty won a staggering nine races in 2013 and headed to the final round of the season with a chance of the championship, where - despite winning both races – he narrowly missed out on the title. The Irishman brings with him a wealth of experience gained throughout many different championships in his career including British 125cc Championship, MotoGP™ 250cc division and twice runner-up in the World Supersport class.
With the uncertainty surrounding the World Superbike series easing up, the outlines of the 2014 season are starting to become clear. The test after the final round of the 2013 season at Jerez turned into an audition for some of the riders, with riders still searching for a team for next season.
In the days since that test, news has been emerging of rider signings and team plans for 2014. While both the Pata Honda and factory Kawasaki line ups were known, the future of the Aprilia and Ducati teams was still uncertain, with doubts over whether one or both of the Italian factories might pull out of World Superbikes. Ducati confrmed their intention to continue in 2014 earlier this week, while today, Aprilia have also stated their intention to keep racing next year. Aprilia have also confirmed the signing of Marco Melandri, something which had long been expected. Melandri will line up alongside Sylvain Guintoli for the 2014 season.
The Pata Honda team today issued the following press release, containing an interview with Jonathan Rea. In it, Rea discusses the leg injury he suffered in Germany, watching races at home, why he chose to remain with Honda, and his hopes for 2014:
Rea raring to go for 2014
Q&A with Pata Honda World Superbike rider Jonathan Rea
By his own admission, Jonathan Rea’s 2013 World Superbike season was not all that he would have wanted and, in spite of maintaining his record of scoring at least one race win in each of his five SBK seasons to date, it ended prematurely.
The 26-year-old was well-placed in race one at the Nürburgring in Germany on 1 September when he crashed at high speed on an expired machine’s oil. Rea broke his left femur in the crash and his season was over.
It was the second serious rider injury that the Pata Honda team suffered this season after Rea’s team-mate Leon Haslam broke his left tibia and fibula at Assen in The Netherlands in April.
Haslam returned to riding just four weeks later but his injury and its after-affects influenced the rest of his season and his own contribution to the development of the 2013 CBR1000RR.
Ducati has announced their World Superbike line up for the next two seasons. For 2014 and 2015, Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano will race the Ducati 1199 Panigale for the Italian factory, though details of the team structure are still pending. Testing is due to start for Davies and Giugliano at the end of October, initially with the Ducati test team.
After Alstare split from Ducati after the final round of 2013, there has been much speculation on who would take over the running of Ducati's World Superbike squad. It is believed that it will come down to a choice between Feel Racing, who ran BMW's WSBK entry in 2013 and have a long association with Ducati, or an internal Ducati team. The internal team is rumored to be the preferred option at the moment.
Below is the Ducati press release announcing Giugliano and Davies as riders:
Ducati announce 2014 World Superbike riders
After just one year of a two-year deal, Alstare and Ducati have agreed to terminated the contract the Belgian team has to run Ducati's factory World Superbike effort. Today, the two parties made it known that they would not be continuing their collaboration, citing financial problems for Alstare and the loss of a major sponsor.
The split had long been expected. Alstare team boss Francis Batta had made no secret of his unhappiness with both the collaboration with Ducati, and the performance of the Ducati 1199 Panigale. Alstare had former WSBK champion Carlos Checa and highly rated Italian Ayrton Badovini in their ranks, yet after a solitary pole at Phillip Island, results have been very poor. Ducati ended the season without a win in World Superbikes for the first time in the history of the series. Batta had asked Ducati many times throughout the year to be allowed to do more development work, but Ducati had rejected his requests. Motorcycle technology had advanced to such a point that it had become almost impossible for a private team to have the resources to be successful, Ducati had told Alstare, and it was now the task of the manufacturer to do the development of a racing motorcycle.
2013’s World Superbike season is done and dusted. All the appeals are settled and the points are final. The racing at Jerez was nearly touched by the weather, but luckily for the series, it stayed dry for the world championship races.
World Superbike race two at Jerez would end in the traditional Spanish fireworks being lit by the world champion, but would they be lit on the track? With Marco Melandri sitting it out due to an injured foot, hurt at home, not on the track, a major catalyst for action would be missing.