Shockwaves are running through both MotoGP and World Superbike paddocks today, as news of further management shakeups in Ducati's World Superbike and MotoGP teams is leaking out. We reported yesterday that Livio Suppo would be leaving the MotoGP team at the end of the season, but now it has emerged that Davide Tardozzi, head of Ducati's World Superbike team is also to leave.
The reasons for each departure, though, are different. Suppo, according to GPOne.com and the Corriere dello Sport, has been lured away by Honda to run their racing program. Suppo's decision will have been made easier by the rumors of discord in the Italian factory. The appointment of Ducati test rider Vito Guareschi to the position of Ducati MotoGP Team Manager was widely seen as evidence of trouble, with Ducati and Phillip Morris unhappy at the handling of Casey Stoner's surprise absence from three races in the summer, and Suppo's departure is likely to be related to this to a greater or lesser extent.
Tardozzi, on the other hand, handed in his resignation without any alternative destination to go to. Tardozzi told GPOne.com that his reason for leaving was that he felt he had lost the drive he needed to keep him motivated at this level, at least with the Ducati team. He had not yet thought about alternatives, he told GPOne.com, but he was open to offers, if they were interesting enough. "Racing is still my world," Tardozzi said, "and if something interesting comes my way, I'm sure to stay."
The final times from testing at Portimao.
MotoMatters.com Andy Doggett is enjoying a few days in the Portuguese sun after attending the World Superbike race at Portimao on Sunday, and was kind enough to send us some of his excellent photos from the first day of testing. He's an amateur, with a consumer DSLR, but he also has an excellent eye. Here's his images:
After just a day's rest after the end of the 2009 World Superbike championship, the Superbike field - old and new - are back in action at Portimao. Johnny Rea was the fastest on the first day of the two-day test, finishing a couple of tenths ahead of Michel Fabrizio. Cal Crutchlow was 3rd fastest, confirming that his World Supersport title was no fluke by finishing ahead of Noriyuki Haga on Crutchlow's first time out on the Yamaha World Superbike machine.
A variety of sources are reporting that "Super" Shinya Nakano wiil announce his retirement from competition at a press conference in Japan tomorrow. Nakano, who raced for the Factory Aprilia team in WSBK this past season, had some good finishes but was plagued by injuries in the latter portion of the year. The highlight of Nakano's twelve year career on the world scene was probably his 2000 season on the Chesterfield Tech 3 Yamaha 250, where he narrowly lost the 250cc world championship to teammate Olivier Jacque in a near photo finish at the season-ending race at Phillip Island.
One of the big moves in the World Superbike paddock for next season is Max Neukirchner's move to the Ten Kate Honda team. Now that the first test of the 2010 World Superbike season is underway at Portimao, the Ten Kate team have released a video featuring the Ten Kate riders in action at the Portuguese track. Here's how Max Neukirchner's first day in his new team went.
Putting together the calendar for any motorcycle racing series is always a puzzle, depending on a huge number of factors such as circuit availability, travel distance, expense and a host of others. Alongside all of these more obvious factors, the MotoGP calendar also takes into account the scheduling of Formula One. An informal agreement exists between the bosses of Formula One and MotoGP to avoid direct calendar clashes wherever possible, in order to ensure the highest possible TV audiences for both series.
During the last round of changes to the Formula One calendar, the FIA appear to have forgotten about this gentlemen's agreement, as the revised dates have caused three clashes with the provisional 2010 MotoGP calendar announced earlier this summer. The three events that will fall on the same weekend are the Le Mans MotoGP round and the Monaco F1 Grand Prix; the Mugello MotoGP round and the Turkish F1 race; and perhaps most worrying of all, the Misano MotoGP race and the F1 race at Monza, just a few hundred kilometers up the A14 highway in Milan.
If you want to know what it's like to win your first World Superbike championship, you need wonder no more. Ben Spies spoke to Jonathan Green for the excellent OnTheThrottle TV website on Sunday evening about the season, the races at Portimao and how it feels to go to MotoGP as a champion.
Results of World Superbike race 2 at Portimao, in which the World Championship was decided:
Results and summary of race 1 for the World Superbike class at Portimao:
Ben Spies said that he that he had trouble getting focused enough to start "holding the thing wide open." That "thing" of course, is the trusty Yamaha YZF-R1 that carried him to his record-setting eleventh Superpole of the 2009 World Superbike season today at Portimao. Spies had been lagging about a half-second off the pace in practice and the first Superpole session and didn't find his groove until the second outing, where he topped the field, two-tenths of a second faster than Ten Kate Honda's Jonny Rea, who previously had been at the top of the time sheets all weekend. The Texas Terror went out in the third round with a used tire that didn't meet to his liking and subsequently returned to the pits without setting a lap time. Spies' Yamaha Italia crew then fitted a fresh qualifier on the back of the R1 and Spies ventured out with three minutes and change left in the session and merely set the fastest lap ever at the Portugese track, over a half-second faster than his nearest rival, Sterilgarda Ducati's Shane "Shakey" Byrne.
Results of the three Superpole sessions, as they happen.
Johnny Rea was the fastest rider in the final session of free practice ahead of this afternoon's Superpole. The Irishman was over a tenth quicker than Michel Fabrizio and Carlos Checa, with Shane Byrne another couple of tenths behind Checa. In the war for the championship, Ben Spies finished ahead of Noriyuki Haga, but only but just over a tenth of a second.