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World Superbike Homologation Numbers Halved As Sports Bike Sales Fall

The continuing worldwide decline in sports bike sales has forced the Superbike Commission to reduce the minimum number of motorcycles to be produced for homologation, to be allowed to take part in the World Superbike series. As of now, manufacturers wishing to race a particular motorcycle must have sold 250 bikes by the end of their first year of racing in WSBK, and 1000 bikes by the end of the second year, half the requirements previously on the books. But manufacturers will still have to have produced 125 bikes before they can even embark on the homologation procedure.

The sales numbers have been reduced in response to the continuing decline in sales of large and middleweight sports bikes around the world, under pressure from increasing speed restrictions and monitoring on public roads. Even Honda is reportedly having problems selling the required numbers of the CBR1000RR SP, despite the popularity of the bike. The declining sports bike market is rumored to have persuaded Honda to shelve its V4 sports bike, which has already been postponed once. Smaller manufacturers have faced similar problems, with Aprilia struggling to sell the RSV4, despite the bike having won two world championships and consistently been a championship contender. 

The decrease in minimum homologation numbers reverses the previous trend. The last change to homologation numbers was to increase it, to prevent manufacturers from producing so-called homologation specials, high price-tag bikes aimed purely at racing. That move was said to have been aimed at reining in Ducati, in particular, which was producing ever more exotic versions of its superbike contender in very small quantities. As sports bike sales have stagnated, it is no longer commercially viable to produce such small-run specials, making it easier to reduce the minimum sales numbers. 

The minimum quantity of 1000 bikes is still thought to be too large for smaller, specialist builders to achieve. Italian builder Bimota has signed with the Francis Batta of Alstare to campaign the BMW-powered BB3 in World Superbikes, but even selling 1000 bikes in two years could be beyond their reach. Whether the Superbike Commission will find agreement on a solution for 'micro-manufacturers' like Bimota remains to be seen. This reduction was only passed by a majority vote, rather than unanimously. Which of the participants - teams, FIM, Dorna and the manufacturers - voted against the reduction is not known.

Below is the press release from the FIM announcing the new homologation numbers:


FIM Superbike World Championship

New homologation procedure

The FIM is pleased to announce that a new homologation procedure has been approved by a majority within the Superbike Commission.

It is a common intention to bring the homologation requirements in line with the current situation of the motorcycle industry and markets worldwide.

The major impact of the new regulation is related to the total required number of units to be produced:

  • The minimum number of units to start the homologation procedure will be 125.
  • At the end of the first year of participation, manufacturers will have to reach 250 units.
  • At the end of the second year of participation, manufacturers will have to reach 1000 units.

The Superbike Commission will follow closely the production plan of each manufacturer in order to control the minimum number of units produced as above and guarantee the fairness of competition.

The Superbike Commission are still considering further improvements to the new rules and discussions will be held in Phillip Island, Australia, during the first Round of the WSBK Championship (21-23 February).

A full description will be included inside the WSBK technical regulations 2014 that will be updated on the FIM website in the following days.

The continuing worldwide decline in sports bike sales has forced the Superbike Commission to reduce the minimum number of motorcycles to be produced for homologation, to be allowed to take part in the World Superbike series. As of now, manufacturers wishing to race a particular motorcycle must have sold 250 bikes by the end of their first year of racing in WSBK, and 1000 bikes by the end of the second year, half the requirements previously on the books. But manufacturers will still have to have produced 125 bikes before they can even embark on the homologation procedure.The sales numbers have been reduced in response to the continuing decline in sales of large and middleweight sports bikes around the world, under pressure from increasing speed restrictions and monitoring on public roads. Even Honda is reportedly having problems selling the required numbers of the CBR1000RR SP, despite the popularity of the bike. The declining sports bike market is rumored to have persuaded Honda to shelve its V4 sports bike, which has already been postponed once. Smaller manufacturers have faced similar problems, with Aprilia struggling to sell the RSV4, despite the bike having won two world championships and consistently been a championship contender. 

Marc Marquez Breaks Leg In Training Crash, To Miss Sepang 2 MotoGP Test

Catalunya Radio is reporting that Marc Marquez has broken his right leg in a training accident. According to well-informed radio journalist Damià Aguilar, Marquez suffered a crash while riding at his dirt track facility not far from his home in Cervera in Catalonia on Wednesday.

The accident – if confirmed, which seems likely – means that Marquez looks set to miss the second Sepang test at the end of this month. The 2013 world champion is reported to have broken his right fibula in the crash. That injury means he will be unable to train for at least 15 days. However, in most cases, a broken fibula can be fixed quickly and relatively well by inserting a titanium plate. With the start of the season still four weeks away, Marquez should be reasonably fit for Qatar.

Marquez has led something of a dirt track revival recently, building his own training track not far from his home. Dirt track is in favor with riders, as it teaches throttle control and allows them to keep race fit with relatively limited risk. Motocross, the other favored form of training, offers other risks due to the number of jumps and uneven terrain. However, Marquez' facility is said to be large enough for the riders to reach relatively high speeds, and crashing at such speeds can still result in serious injury, as Marquez has reportedly just found out.

We have contacted a Repsol Honda spokesperson, but have yet to receive an answer. We are expecting that a press release will be issued very shortly.

~~~ UPDATE ~~~

The press release has now been issued, and the report confirmed. The fracture is not dislocated, so surgery will not be necessary. Marquez will miss the Sepang test, and maybe the Phillip Island Bridgestone test as well, but should be fit for the start of the season at Qatar on 23rd March.

Catalunya Radio is reporting that Marc Marquez has broken his right leg in a training accident. According to well-informed radio journalist Damià Aguilar, Marquez suffered a crash while riding at his dirt track facility not far from his home in Cervera in Catalonia on Wednesday.The accident – if confirmed, which seems likely – means that Marquez looks set to miss the second Sepang test at the end of this month. The 2013 world champion is reported to have broken his right fibula in the crash. That injury means he will be unable to train for at least 15 days. However, in most cases, a broken fibula can be fixed quickly and relatively well by inserting a titanium plate. With the start of the season still four weeks away, Marquez should be reasonably fit for Qatar.Marquez has led something of a dirt track revival recently, building his own training track not far from his home. Dirt track is in favor with riders, as it teaches throttle control and allows them to keep race fit with relatively limited risk. Motocross, the other favored form of training, offers other risks due to the number of jumps and uneven terrain. However, Marquez' facility is said to be large enough for the riders to reach relatively high speeds, and crashing at such speeds can still result in serious injury, as Marquez has reportedly just found out.

Jerez Circuit Under Investigation For Tax Fraud

Cirjesa, the body which runs the Circuito de Jerez just north of the Spanish city, and GCJ, the company which organizes the events at the circuit, are under investigation by the Spanish tax authorities and the Spanish organized crime unit for tax evasion. According to reports in the regional Diario de Jerez newspaper, the investigations center around unpaid tax over undeclared income from ticket sales to general admission areas during races, including the MotoGP rounds in recent years.

Both the police and tax authorities have spent the last six months investigating the existence of a second, clandestine set of accounts which are alleged to include the missing income. The alleged fraud was made possible because the general admission areas (the so-called 'Pelousse') are accessible without having an assigned seat number, paying spectators sitting on the grass anywhere around the hillsides overlooking the circuit. Suspicions had been raised by the fact that the number of spectators in the general admission areas seemed to be larger than the numbers officially reported. But without numbered seating, it was impossible for anyone outside of the circuit organization to know the actual numbers of paying spectators.

The investigation was started after an employee reported the existence of a second, secret set of accounts for the Grand Prix at Jerez, the Diario de Jerez reports. That report eventually led to a warehouse owned by CGJ being searched at the circuit, where an archive of documents was seized, according to the Diario de Jerez. These documents are currently being reviewed by the tax authorities, who have also requested further information from the circuit, including information on all of the agreements signed between the circuit and GCJ in the period between 1996 and 2011, and between Cirjesa and GCJ between June 2012 and last December.

The investigation comes as a further blow to the troubled circuit, which has struggled with debt since restructuring works at the track were carried out back in 2001. The regional authorities and the city council have continually stepped up to support both the circuit and the MotoGP round, as it brings a large amount of visitors and money to the region. Andalucia, the autonomous community in which Jerez is located, is one of the hardest hit regions economically in Spain, with massive unemployment.

Cirjesa, the body which runs the Circuito de Jerez just north of the Spanish city, and GCJ, the company which organizes the events at the circuit, are under investigation by the Spanish tax authorities and the Spanish organized crime unit for tax evasion. According to reports in the regional Diario de Jerez newspaper, the investigations center around unpaid tax over undeclared income from ticket sales to general admission areas during races, including the MotoGP rounds in recent years.Both the police and tax authorities have spent the last six months investigating the existence of a second, clandestine set of accounts which are alleged to include the missing income. The alleged fraud was made possible because the general admission areas (the so-called 'Pelousse') are accessible without having an assigned seat number, paying spectators sitting on the grass anywhere around the hillsides overlooking the circuit. Suspicions had been raised by the fact that the number of spectators in the general admission areas seemed to be larger than the numbers officially reported. But without numbered seating, it was impossible for anyone outside of the circuit organization to know the actual numbers of paying spectators.

Andrew Gosling's World Superbike Phillip Island Testing Shots, Day 2


The only #1 you'll see this year. Tom Sykes showing he's a true champion


Eugene Laverty rolls out for a new challenge this year on the Suzuki


Fastest EVO man so far: Niccolo Canepa


Under the covers: the Kawasaki ZX-10R gets naked


Johnny Rea does like to be beside the seaside


As does teammate Leon Haslam


The face of experience: Aaron Yates will need all 20 years of his professional career to help get the EBR ready


The EBR 1190RX looks pretty sweet, though


Davide Giugliano has impressed so far on the Panigale


The EVO class has been a boon for the smaller teams. Alessandro Andreozzi is racing an EVO Kawasaki with Pedercini


Sylvain Barrier started well, but a big crash saw him fracture his pelvis


The boss


If you'd like to have desktop-sized versions of the fantastic photos you see on the site, you can become a site supporter and take out a subscription. If you'd like a print of one of the shots from the test, head on over to Andrew Gosling's website and he'll be happy to help.

The only #1 you'll see this year. Tom Sykes showing he's a true champion Eugene Laverty rolls out for a new challenge this year on the Suzuki Fastest EVO man so far: Niccolo Canepa

Andrew Gosling's World Superbike Phillip Island Testing Shots, Day 1


One Chaz takes over from another. Chaz Davies takes over the bike and race number of retired champion Carlos Checa


New boy on a new bike. Geoff May takes the EBR 1190 for a spin


Ready? Then we'll begin


Loris Baz, on fire at PI


Perhaps the prettiest paint job in WSS, the Pata Honda, this one featuring Lorenzo Zanetti


Innovation in WSBK. But will Erik Buell's rim brakes hold up to the rigours of World Superbike racing?


Pondering the future. Can Kenan Sofuoglu bag his fourth WSS title?


Johnny Rea. Will things get any easier for him this year?


Another new bike. This time, the MV Agusta, before the clutch is tucked away under its cover


Aaron Yates, still plenty of style despite his age


PJ Jacobsen impressed in BSB. Time to shake up World Supersport


First, though, he will have to beat this man


If you'd like to have desktop-sized versions of the fantastic photos on the sites, you can become a site supporter and take out a subscription. If you'd like a print of one of the shots from the test, head on over to Andrew Gosling's website and he'll be happy to help.

One Chaz takes over from another. Chaz Davies takes over the bike and race number of retired champion Carlos Checa New boy on a new bike. Geoff May takes the EBR 1190 for a spin Ready? Then we'll begin

BT Sport Announces Presenting and Commentary Team For MotoGP Coverage In UK

In what was one of the less well kept secrets in the motorcycling world, BT Sport today unveiled its presentation and commentary team for its MotoGP coverage of the 2014 season. As had been widely rumored, main commentators will be Keith Huewen and Julian Ryder, reunited after a spell commentating on the World Superbike series back in the 1990s. Former MotoGP.com commentator Gavin Emmett will be the series' MotoGP reporter, and the threesome will be joined by Motorcycle News GP correspondent Matt Birt for the Moto2 and Moto3 sessions.

TV presenter Melanie Sykes will front the coverage, together with former World Superbike champions and MotoGP riders Neil Hodgson and James Toseland. The presentation team will be present at all of the races around the world, with coverage coming from each circuit.

BT Sport will also be hosting an hour-long show each Tuesday evening, called MotoGP Tonight. That show will be presented from BT Sport's London studios, and hosted by Craig Doyle and Iwan Thomas. The show will be a mixture of review, talk show and feature guests from the world of motorcycling. BT Sport's coverage will kick off on 18th March with a special preview show, covering preseason testing and looking ahead to 2014.

The BT Sport coverage is part of Dorna's long-term gamble on pay-per-view channels covering MotoGP. The Spanish rights holders switched away from its previous strategy of pursuing free-to-air coverage as much as possible, in order to broaden the base of the sport. However, the global trend has been for the money involved in broadcast rights from free-to-air channels to drop, as pay-per-view channels have increased their spending on sports. Dorna has also followed this route, with MotoGP moving to pay-per-view channels in Spain, Italy and the UK. They have had little choice, as Movistar, Sky and BT Sport are the only channels capable of matching or increasing the amounts paid for broadcast rights.

Like the Movistar deal in Spain, BT Sports is only available to viewers in the UK who have signed up with BT as a broadband provider, or who have purchased a separate package with Sky. The goal of the sports coverage is to help sell broadband services, and tempt customers away from rival telecoms and TV suppliers. The downside to all of the pay-per-view deals is that audiences tend to drop drastically. It is harder to attract casual viewers when the audience is limited to paying customers. However, given the extremely broad range of sports being offered by BT Sports, the chance to capture casual sports fans - as opposed to casual TV viewers - is still very much present. How successful this will be in the long term remains to be seen.

Editor's note: David Emmett also has a column on the BT Sport MotoGP website. That fact does not influence our editorial independence.

 

In what was one of the less well kept secrets in the motorcycling world, BT Sport today unveiled its presentation and commentary team for its MotoGP coverage of the 2014 season. As had been widely rumored, main commentators will be Keith Huewen and Julian Ryder, reunited after a spell commentating on the World Superbike series back in the 1990s. Former MotoGP.com commentator Gavin Emmett will be the series' MotoGP reporter, and the threesome will be joined by Motorcycle News GP correspondent Matt Birt for the Moto2 and Moto3 sessions.TV presenter Melanie Sykes will front the coverage, together with former World Superbike champions and MotoGP riders Neil Hodgson and James Toseland. The presentation team will be present at all of the races around the world, with coverage coming from each circuit.BT Sport will also be hosting an hour-long show each Tuesday evening, called MotoGP Tonight. That show will be presented from BT Sport's London studios, and hosted by Craig Doyle and Iwan Thomas. The show will be a mixture of review, talk show and feature guests from the world of motorcycling. BT Sport's coverage will kick off on 18th March with a special preview show, covering preseason testing and looking ahead to 2014.

World Superbike Online Video Pass To Cost €69.90 For A Full Season

Dorna has revealed the pricing for its online video pass for the World Superbike championship. The price for a full season of coverage via the WorldSBK.com website is to cost €69.90, or around US $95. Included in the price is live access to all World Superbike races, as well as the ability to play them on demand after the race is over. There will also be access to a highlights package of each race, and rider interviews and exclusive features. There is also an archive of race and season reviews going back to 1993.

The online package is very similar to the one offered by Dorna for the MotoGP.com website, with suitably revised pricing. Since Dorna was handed the running of the World Superbike series by Bridgepoint, it was only a matter of time before WSBK would also be available via some form of online video streaming. Leveraging both the experience which they had gained in TV rights negotiations and in running the MotoGP.com video streaming platform, Dorna could put the World Superbike races online with relatively limited effort.

The new subscription package should be a boon to fans around the world who cannot see the World Superbike series. WSBK has struggled to find TV broadcasters in some large markets, and having an online video package will make fans of the sport less reliant on the packages offered by their cable suppliers. It should also add a useful (if limited) income stream for the struggling series. 

Fans are warned that access to the coverage differs by country, as it remains limited by existing contracts with national broadcasters. Fans in some countries (Europe and the US, it would appear) have full access to live races, while fans in Australia appear to have a more limited range of options, though at a much reduced price. Read the fine print when signing up, and please read the comments below for experiences in different countries.

Dorna has revealed the pricing for its online video pass for the World Superbike championship. The price for a full season of coverage via the WorldSBK.com website is to cost €69.90, or around US $95. Included in the price is live access to all World Superbike races, as well as the ability to play them on demand after the race is over. There will also be access to a highlights package of each race, and rider interviews and exclusive features. There is also an archive of race and season reviews going back to 1993.The online package is very similar to the one offered by Dorna for the MotoGP.com website, with suitably revised pricing. Since Dorna was handed the running of the World Superbike series by Bridgepoint, it was only a matter of time before WSBK would also be available via some form of online video streaming. Leveraging both the experience which they had gained in TV rights negotiations and in running the MotoGP.com video streaming platform, Dorna could put the World Superbike races online with relatively limited effort.

Amateur Spy: David Emmett's Out-of-Focus Shots From The Sepang Test, Part 2


The fastest bike in the world around Sepang


This bike racked up the miles in Sepang, as Ducati test rider Michele Pirro had a lot of work to do


Big Data: racing's newest god


Ducati Desmosedici GP13: straight, three-piece radiator


Ducati Desmosedici GP14: curved, one-piece radiator


HRC test rider Kousuke Akiyoshi takes Dani Pedrosa's bike out for a spin


Nicky's ride, naked


This is what 23 liters of fuel looks like on a Honda production racer


The business end of Pol Espargaro's Monster Tech 3 Yamaha M1


The business end of his brother's Yamaha FTR. Swingarm is the same, fittings aren't


New tank, new seat, new handlebar position on the GP14


New exhaust layout, new chassis, and a cleaner, tidier look on the Ducati


Akrapovic exhausts and a less fussy frame


The tank mates nicely with the frame as well


The carbon fiber seat unit has a hole in it for the fuel


That's been a while. Colin Edwards' racing number on a Yamaha


All your base are belong to us. The Repsol Honda dashboard


RCV1000R uncovered. Relatively short front frame mounts, sturdily braced


04, ready for '14


If you'd like to have desktop-sized versions of the photos on the site, you can become a site supporter and take out a subscription. If you'd like a print of one of the shots you see on the site, then send Scott an email and he'll be happy to help.

The fastest bike in the world around Sepang This bike racked up the miles in Sepang, as Ducati test rider Michele Pirro had a lot of work to do Big Data: racing's newest god

Amateur Spy: David Emmett's Out-of-Focus Shots From The Sepang Test, Part 1


Big changes at Ducati. Andrea Dovizioso shows off the new tank cover housing a revised electronics position.


Here's another part: the rear seat unit is wider, and features larger air scoops


New frame, new tank, new seat, new fairing, new handlebar grip position... the list goes on


Carbon fiber fairings: favorite of fans, bane of photographers


The test Honda. The 60,000 euro torque strain sensor is the key to the RCV213V's electronics magic


Black is the new ... black


Not as fast as it looks


Honda's massive air scoop. If you've never seen a photo of a whale shark feeding, this is what it looks like


Fast, by Aleix. Espargaro's Yamaha FTR


On Thursday, the NGM Forward team tested an intake based on the Yamaha shape, rather than the FTR one


99 problems, but the front wheel ain't one


Yamaha's test machine


The Avintia Open bike. A cross between a ZX10-R and a Hayate


A blunter nose, a bigger air scoop. The 2014 Desmosedici, current version


A curved radiator is another change made this year


A touch of color at the test


Yamaha's Cylon tail light


A Honda RCV1000R, unclothed. About to open the gearbox, impossible with the factory bike


If you'd like to have desktop-sized versions of the photos on the site, you can become a site supporter and take out a subscription. If you'd like a print of one of the shots you see on the site, then send Scott an email and he'll be happy to help.

Big changes at Ducati. Andrea Dovizioso shows off the new tank cover housing a revised electronics position. Here's another part: the rear seat unit is wider, and features larger air scoops New frame, new tank, new seat, new fairing, new handlebar grip position... the list goes on

MotoGP To Go Partially Pay-Per-View In Spain - Agreement Signed With Telefonica

MotoGP series organizer Dorna appears to be pursuing a new strategy in its agreements with TV broadcasters. Where previously, Dorna had been fixed on securing deals with free-to-air broadcasters, recent deals have seen them agree terms with pay-per-view channels, in pursuit of higher revenues.

Spain is the latest market to see this development. The existing deal with Telecinco has been blown open, with Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica taking over some of the broadcasting from Telecinco. Telecinco will show 9 races live, and a further 10 on a delayed schedule. Meanwhile, Telefonica's special digital channel Movistar TV will show all races live, complete with six extra camera angles which users can select, along similar lines to MotoGP.com's online video streaming package.

The new deal has been reached as a result of Telecinco's desire to reduce the amount it was spending on MotoGP, according to Spain's leading daily newspaper El Pais. The joint deal means that the contract sum of just over 20 million euros will be shared between Telecinco and Telefonica in the final year of Telecinco's TV contract. Telefonica is expanding its broadcasting, with a focus on motorsports, having picked up rights to both the Formula One and MotoGP. 

It is reminiscent of the deal struck in the UK with BT Sport. Both BT Sport and Movistar TV are broadcasting arms of large telecommunications companies, expanding their traditional services into the area of television. The telecoms giants can afford to pay much larger sums for TV rights for sports, as the sports are used to sell their broadband services and expand their customer base. Though the switch to pay-per-view platforms means losing a wider audience for MotoGP, the increased money on offer means that Dorna can invest more heavily in the championship, paying teams and riders more and improving TV coverage.

With MotoGP now on pay-per-view channels in Spain, Italy, and the UK, three major TV markets, this strategy is likely to be expanded. All forms of sport are increasingly disappearing behind decoders, with broadcasters regarding sport as a premium entertainment product, which audiences are willing to pay for.

Below is the press release from Dorna on the deal:


Mediaset España, Telefonica and Dorna Sports make initial agreement on 2014 MotoGP™ season broadcast

  • Telecinco will show every World Championship race this year: 9 live Grands Prix and 10 delayed broadcasts
  • Movistar TV will broadcast the entire MotoGP™ World Championship live in an innovative, unique and never-previously-seen format in Spain. Up to six additional camera angles will be available during Grands Prix
  • This joint sports broadcast rights agreement combines the strategies of delivering mass interest events to audiences on a free-to-air platform with the broadcast of specific exclusive events on subscription based channels, as is commonplace throughout Europe

Mediaset España, Dorna Sports, the commercial rights holders of the MotoGP™ World Championship and Telefonica, on their subscription based audiovisual platform Movistar TV, have made an initial agreement on shared broadcast rights for MotoGP™ in Spain in 2014.

Both media companies will offer full MotoGP™ Grand Prix coverage: Telecinco will show races live from nine Grands Prix and will show 10 events via delayed broadcast. Meanwhile Movistar TV viewers can view every Grand Prix live, including practice and qualifying sessions, via a new dedicated channel which will bring viewers all the latest on and off track news and action. The new Movistar TV channel will include multiscreen broadcast, historic Grand Prix action, documentaries, films and additional World Championship programming.

MotoGP series organizer Dorna appears to be pursuing a new strategy in its agreements with TV broadcasters. Where previously, Dorna had been fixed on securing deals with free-to-air broadcasters, recent deals have seen them agree terms with pay-per-view channels, in pursuit of higher revenues.Spain is the latest market to see this development. The existing deal with Telecinco has been blown open, with Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica taking over some of the broadcasting from Telecinco. Telecinco will show 9 races live, and a further 10 on a delayed schedule. Meanwhile, Telefonica's special digital channel Movistar TV will show all races live, complete with six extra camera angles which users can select, along similar lines to MotoGP.com's online video streaming package.

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