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PBM Selling MotoGP Grid Slots, Focusing On BSB

The PBM Team is set to leave MotoGP at the end of the 2014 season, and return to the British Superbike championship. Owner of the eponymous team Paul Bird has decided to expand his presence in BSB to add a second team, and withdraw from MotoGP altogether.

Bird spoke to both the British publication MCN and the German-language website Speedweek about his reasons for switching to BSB. Most of the backing for the PBM team comes from British sponsors, such as Rapid Solicitors. Bird told MCN that their sponsors would rather see PBM in BSB, as a British team with British sponsors. But Bird also mentioned to Speedweek the difficulties of competing in MotoGP as a private team. Those problems had been there in 2012, when PBM first joined MotoGP, but the situation is worse now. Without factory backing, it was impossible to be competitive, he said.

There is also a financial motive for leaving. With both Suzuki and Aprilia joining MotoGP in 2015, grid slots are at a premium. Bird had tried to sell his grid slots for this season in 2013, without much success. At the time, he was rumored to be asking for 3 million euros for the two places, but the buyers, rumored to include Marc VDS Racing, were not forthcoming. Bird has more hope of finding a buyer this time around, though the asking price is now nearer to 2 million euros for the pair. PBM will not be selling them directly, but instead, will auction them off through IRTA, the teams association which handles all entries into MotoGP.

There were two reasons for Bird to sell his slots indirectly via IRTA, rather than dealing directly with Aprilia. The first was that he believed he would get more money for the slots by allowing IRTA to auction them, rather than trying to do it himself. The second was that he was not keen to deal with Aprilia directly, as felt the Italian factory had let his team down this year. "They [Aprilia] would rather talk to Dorna than to me," Bird told Speedweek. "Apart from that, they have given us zero help this year." Promises of assistances made over the winter and during the season had not been fulfilled.

The PBM Team is set to leave MotoGP at the end of the 2014 season, and return to the British Superbike championship. Owner of the eponymous team Paul Bird has decided to expand his presence in BSB to add a second team, and withdraw from MotoGP altogether.Bird spoke to both the British publication MCN and the German-language website Speedweek about his reasons for switching to BSB. Most of the backing for the PBM team comes from British sponsors, such as Rapid Solicitors. Bird told MCN that their sponsors would rather see PBM in BSB, as a British team with British sponsors. But Bird also mentioned to Speedweek the difficulties of competing in MotoGP as a private team. Those problems had been there in 2012, when PBM first joined MotoGP, but the situation is worse now. Without factory backing, it was impossible to be competitive, he said.

Alex De Angelis Announced As Colin Edwards' Replacement At Forward Racing For Rest Of 2014

After the news that Colin Edwards would be taking early retirement comes news of his successor. As had been widely trailed, Alex De Angelis is to take Edwards' spot in the NGM Forward Racing team for the remainder of 2014, while Edwards will return to do a wildcard at Silverstone at least. De Angelis has been racing for the Tasca Racing team in Moto2 this season, his place will be taken by the Italian rider Riccardo Russo.

De Angelis will concentrate on riding the Forward Racing chassis, rather than the Yamaha chassis, while Colin Edwards will continue to work in an advisory role. De Angelis has previous experience, both in MotoGP and with Bridgestone tires, having spent two full seasons in the class in 2008 and 2009 with Gresini Honda, as well as replacing the injured Hiroshi Aoyama in 2010, and Ben Spies at Pramac Ducati for the Laguna Seca round of MotoGP. No doubt his experience in the class and with the tires played a role in Forward's choice.

Below is the press release issued by Forward racing making the announcement:


NGM Forward Racing and Alex De Angelis together in the second part of the 2014 season

The NGM Forward Racing Team announces that Alex De Angelis will race alongside Aleix Espargaro starting from the GP of Czech Republic on board of a Forward Yamaha.

Alex will replace Colin Edwards who announced the retirement from racing competition but will continue to be a key figure in the NGM Forward Racing team.

Giovanni Cuzari

“I have always considered our team as a big family and Alex has already been part of our team. Moreover he has experience in MotoGP so I thought that he was the best rider to line up with our colours and I’m happy to give him this opportunity to return in the premiere class”.

Alex De Angelis

“It’s a dream come true for me to return in MotoGP. I was working on this project last year, when I was racing with this team. Racing the second part of the championship with the NGM Forward Racing Team on board of a Forward Yamaha it’s a great occasion and I’d like to thank Giovanni Cuzari for this opportunity as well as the Tasca Racing Team that released me. I know that it won’t be easy for me to be competitive from the beginning as we have no time test the bike before Brno, but we will give my best. I can count on a very good team and competitive package so I really look forward to it.”

After the news that Colin Edwards would be taking early retirement comes news of his successor. As had been widely trailed, Alex De Angelis is to take Edwards' spot in the NGM Forward Racing team for the remainder of 2014, while Edwards will return to do a wildcard at Silverstone at least. De Angelis has been racing for the Tasca Racing team in Moto2 this season, his place will be taken by the Italian rider Riccardo Russo.De Angelis will concentrate on riding the Forward Racing chassis, rather than the Yamaha chassis, while Colin Edwards will continue to work in an advisory role. De Angelis has previous experience, both in MotoGP and with Bridgestone tires, having spent two full seasons in the class in 2008 and 2009 with Gresini Honda, as well as replacing the injured Hiroshi Aoyama in 2010, and Ben Spies at Pramac Ducati for the Laguna Seca round of MotoGP. No doubt his experience in the class and with the tires played a role in Forward's choice.Below is the press release issued by Forward racing making the announcement:NGM Forward Racing and Alex De Angelis together in the second part of the 2014 seasonThe NGM Forward Racing Team announces that Alex De Angelis will race alongside Aleix Espargaro starting from the GP of Czech Republic on board of a Forward Yamaha.

Colin Edwards To Enter Semi-Retirement Early: Will Race Indy, Silverstone And Valencia, And That's It?

Colin Edwards will contest only three more MotoGP rounds in the 2014 season. The Texan is to race at Indianapolis, Silverstone and Valencia, before hanging up his helmet. From Brno, Alex De Angelis will take Edwards' place, and Edwards will race as a third rider for the NGM Mobile Forward Racing team in the UK and at the last race of the year.

Edwards' final year in MotoGP has not gone according to plan. The Texas Tornado had hoped that the arrival of the Yamaha Open class bike at Forward, to replace the Kawasaki-powered CRT machine would spark a revival in his fortunes. When Edwards finally got to ride the Open class Yamaha, however, he found to his dismay that he could not get on with the Yamaha chassis, and was unable to get the bike to turn. He had pinned his hopes on the arrival of a chassis from FTR, but financial problems for the British chassis manufacturer meant he was left to struggle with the Yamaha frame until Mugello. When a new chassis did arrive, fresh from the drawing board of now ex-FTR designer Mark Taylor, it did not see Edwards drastically improve his pace.

Long before the new chassis arrived, Edwards had already made the decision to retire. At Austin, Edwards told the media that 2014 would be his last season in World Championship motorcycle racing. His plan, he said, was to see out the year, and then retire, possibly taking up some kind of testing role. That everything might not proceed to plan became apparent a few races later, when rumors emerged at Jerez that Forward boss Giovanni Cuzari was considering replacing Edwards early. Cuzari denied those rumors, but as the season proceeded, it was clear that the Texan was not scoring the results which he and the team had expected. Further rumors emerged over the summer break, that Colin Edwards would not finish all of the races left in 2014, with De Angelis taking his place. Edwards denied those rumors, but the situation remained very unclear.

It had confused even the two principal players involved. Over a series of meetings between Edwards and Forward boss Cuzari, the pair have been involved in thrashing out some form of resolution. The picture that emerges is that at the moment, Edwards will race at Indianapolis on Sunday, and be replaced for the remainder of the season by De Angelis. Edwards will race at Silverstone and Valencia, but on a third bike alongside Aleix Espargaro and De Angelis. Those two races are important to Edwards, as the Texan is massively popular with British fans, and regards the UK round as his third home race. 

In an interview with the MotoGP.com website, Edwards clarified what he could. "We're still figuring it out," Edwards said. "Honestly, I won't be in Brno, but for sure that I know of, [I will be at] Silverstone and Valencia, 100%. Other than that, we're just playing it by ear, we'll see what happens." He was still committed to the Forward Racing team, and was focused on developing the new chassis built by Forward. "[I'm] still working with the guys, still trying to get this new chassis to work," Edwards said.

Forward boss Giovanni Cuzari explained that the idea was to give Edwards a new role in the team. "We are looking to make a new kind of job with Colin," Cuzari told MotoGP.com. That meant replacing Edwards at the next round at Brno, but it did not mean the team was abandoning Edwards. "I am for sure not leaving the rider, because I can never forget what Colin do for me in these three seasons, and also I can never forget that Colin has a lot of experience that we need for our team and for our future."

In the future, Edwards could turn his hand to developing young American talent. With both Edwards and Hayden absent at Brno, the MotoGP grid will be without an American rider for the first time since the 1980s, the period when the US dominated Grand Prix racing. The US is currently desperately short of talent, and with the domestic series in disarray, it is not clear where fresh young blood is to come from. The situation is so dire that Dorna are in talks with the FIM and Wayne Rainey to set up a North American championship, and open up a new series to develop US talent. With Edwards already running his Texas Tornado Boot Camp dirt track school, there would be an obvious place for Edwards to play a role.

Colin Edwards will contest only three more MotoGP rounds in the 2014 season. The Texan is to race at Indianapolis, Silverstone and Valencia, before hanging up his helmet. From Brno, Alex De Angelis will take Edwards' place, and Edwards will race as a third rider for the NGM Mobile Forward Racing team in the UK and at the last race of the year.Edwards' final year in MotoGP has not gone according to plan. The Texas Tornado had hoped that the arrival of the Yamaha Open class bike at Forward, to replace the Kawasaki-powered CRT machine would spark a revival in his fortunes. When Edwards finally got to ride the Open class Yamaha, however, he found to his dismay that he could not get on with the Yamaha chassis, and was unable to get the bike to turn. He had pinned his hopes on the arrival of a chassis from FTR, but financial problems for the British chassis manufacturer meant he was left to struggle with the Yamaha frame until Mugello. When a new chassis did arrive, fresh from the drawing board of now ex-FTR designer Mark Taylor, it did not see Edwards drastically improve his pace.

Lorenzo Confirmed At Movistar Yamaha Through 2016

Jorge Lorenzo has signed a new two-year deal with Yamaha. The 2010 and 2012 world champion will stay with the factory Movistar Yamaha team in MotoGP for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

The deal had been widely expected, as the two sides have been in serious negotiation since Assen. With both the Repsol Honda and factory Ducati full up, Lorenzo had few other options, and it was simply a matter of contract details between Yamaha and the Spaniard. It was widely rumored that Lorenzo was looking for a single-year deal, or an option to leave early, but the announcement makes no mention of that. However, Spanish media are reporting that a compromise was reached in the form of an option for both sides to terminate the contract a year early, at the end of 2015.

Lorenzo's signing completes the factory line ups of the three manufacturers already in MotoGP. Suzuki are expected to announce their line up for 2015 as well, consisting of Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales. Attention will then turn to Aprilia, and their return to MotoGP, which is mooted to have been brought forward a year to 2015.

Below is the press release from Yamaha announcing the deal with Jorge Lorenzo:


Yamaha and Jorge Lorenzo Confirm New Two-Year Agreement

Indianapolis (USA), 7th August 2014

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Jorge Lorenzo are delighted to announce that they have signed a new two-year agreement that sees the Mallorcan complete the Movistar Yamaha line up for the next two seasons.

The agreement realises Lorenzo’s wish to continue his premier class career with Yamaha, extending the relationship from seven to nine years. Both Yamaha and Lorenzo are confident that the partnership has the potential to deliver a third title and will continue to work towards this goal.

Lin Jarvis, Managing Director, Yamaha Motor Racing

“I am very happy we have reached an agreement for Jorge to continue as a Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider. The new agreement extends Jorge’s seven-year partnership with Yamaha. He started with us as a rookie back in 2008 and together we achieved many great results including 31 GP victories and two MotoGP Rider World Champion titles in 2010 and 2012. The 2014 season has been a tough one for Jorge so far but I am hoping that the confirmation of this new agreement will give him the peace of mind to be able to focus 100% of his energy on the remaining races. Last year we saw what he was able to do when the going was tough and he was fighting back from mid-season injuries so we know that the potential is there for a strong second half to the 2014 season. For 2015 and beyond we have no doubt that Jorge will be a strong title contender and we will do our very best to provide him with the materials and the support he needs to be able to realize our shared ambitions.”

99 Jorge Lorenzo

“I am very happy to finally be able to make this announcement. It is a relief to be able to now completely focus on the remainder of the 2014 season in the knowledge that our relationship will continue for the next two seasons. It has always been my wish to continue my career with Yamaha; I strongly believe we can fight for a third title together. This season has been very challenging after a difficult start, however we will continue to take it race by race, giving 100% until Valencia. I want to thank Yamaha for their continued belief in me and all the Yamaha fans around the world who continue to support me. After the summer break I’m excited to be back at Indy with my team and focused again on riding.”

Jorge Lorenzo has signed a new two-year deal with Yamaha. The 2010 and 2012 world champion will stay with the factory Movistar Yamaha team in MotoGP for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.The deal had been widely expected, as the two sides have been in serious negotiation since Assen. With both the Repsol Honda and factory Ducati full up, Lorenzo had few other options, and it was simply a matter of contract details between Yamaha and the Spaniard. It was widely rumored that Lorenzo was looking for a single-year deal, or an option to leave early, but the announcement makes no mention of that. However, Spanish media are reporting that a compromise was reached in the form of an option for both sides to terminate the contract a year early, at the end of 2015.Lorenzo's signing completes the factory line ups of the three manufacturers already in MotoGP. Suzuki are expected to announce their line up for 2015 as well, consisting of Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales. Attention will then turn to Aprilia, and their return to MotoGP, which is mooted to have been brought forward a year to 2015.Below is the press release from Yamaha announcing the deal with Jorge Lorenzo:Yamaha and Jorge Lorenzo Confirm New Two-Year Agreement

Stefan Bradl Confirmed At Forward Racing For 2015

As had been widely anticipated, Stefan Bradl has signed with the NGM Forward Racing team for the 2015 season. The German had been forced to look for a ride after losing his support from HRC, Honda providing a major part of the backing for Bradl at the LCR Honda team. Although LCR were keen to retain the German, without financial support from HRC, that would have been a costly business. With HRC backing Cal Crutchlow, Bradl was left to look elsewhere.

The 2011 Moto2 champion will switch to NGM Forward for 2015, where he will help lead development of the Forward Yamaha. That bike - a Yamaha M1 engine in a chassis built by Forward and designed by ex-FTR chassis guru Mark Taylor, running under the Open class rules - has shown promise in the hands of Aleix Espargaro at the Sachsenring, when the Spaniard tested it during practice. Having a rider of Bradl's caliber should help make the project more competitive. Bradl was keen to have a competitive ride for next season, after losing the LCR Honda seat, and the Forward Yamaha is one of the very best seats available.

The second seat at Forward remains unfilled for the moment. With Aleix Espargaro set to depart for Suzuki next year, the team could look to Moto2, where Dominique Aegerter or possibly Mika Kallio could move up, or possibly Alex De Angelis, who is due to substitute for Colin Edwards at Brno and the three flyaway rounds this season. 

Below is the press release from Forward Racing announcing the Bradl deal:


NGM Forward Racing signs with Stefan Bradl for the 2015 season

The NGM Forward Racing is pleased to officially announce an agreement has been reached with Stefan Bradl that will see the 24 year old German rider racing in the NGM Forward Racing Team on board of a Forward Yamaha for the 2015 season.

Giovanni Cuzari, team manager

“It’s with great pleasure that we welcome Stefan Bradl in our team. We believe that Stefan is a strong rider and our package suits his riding style very well and we look forward to start this new cooperation. Moreover, Germany represents an important market and it’s important to have a strong German rider in our line up”.

As had been widely anticipated, Stefan Bradl has signed with the NGM Forward Racing team for the 2015 season. The German had been forced to look for a ride after losing his support from HRC, Honda providing a major part of the backing for Bradl at the LCR Honda team. Although LCR were keen to retain the German, without financial support from HRC, that would have been a costly business. With HRC backing Cal Crutchlow, Bradl was left to look elsewhere.The 2011 Moto2 champion will switch to NGM Forward for 2015, where he will help lead development of the Forward Yamaha. That bike - a Yamaha M1 engine in a chassis built by Forward and designed by ex-FTR chassis guru Mark Taylor, running under the Open class rules - has shown promise in the hands of Aleix Espargaro at the Sachsenring, when the Spaniard tested it during practice. Having a rider of Bradl's caliber should help make the project more competitive. Bradl was keen to have a competitive ride for next season, after losing the LCR Honda seat, and the Forward Yamaha is one of the very best seats available.

The Next Piece In The MotoGP Puzzle: Cal Crutchlow To LCR Honda In 2015

It looks like Ducati will get their all-Italian line-up after all. Both GPOne.com and Speedweek are reporting independently that Cal Crutchlow will be leaving Ducati to join LCR Honda for the 2015 season. Officially, Crutchlow had until 31st July to exercise his option to leave Ducati, but it appears that Ducati management agreed to an extension, while negotiations continued with Honda. An agreement was reached late last night, Speedweek is reporting, with one of the main points of contention being the payoff Crutchlow would receive from Ducati for leaving.

A week ago, Crutchlow announced that he would be staying with the Italian factory at the World Ducati Week event. Since then, however, the situation changed, with Crutchlow's manager Bob Moore reaching agreement with Ducati management to explore further options. That led directly to the release of Crutchlow to join LCR.

Crutchlow is the latest in a long line of victims claimed by the Italian marque. Marco Melandri was the first to leave, departing early from a two-year contract of struggling miserably in 2008. Valentino Rossi sat patiently through his two seasons at Ducati, seizing the opportunity to return to Yamaha as soon as he could. And now Cal Crutchlow, courted by Ducati for a long time in the belief that he could solve their problems, has also departed. Crutchlow has struggled all season long, both with a string of mechanical failures, and with trying to adapt his riding style to the difficult Desmosedici.

The switch to Honda is hardly unexpected. Crutchlow came very close to signing for LCR Honda last year, but only last-minute intervention by Ducati swung the deal towards the Italian factory. HRC are known to view Crutchlow favorably, and with a large British sponsor on board - CWM World, a financial services company - having a British rider makes a lot of sense. Crutchlow will have to adapt his style once again, moving away from the smooth style he learned at Yamaha, and riding more aggressively. He should at least be able to carry some corner speed again, something he was renowned for on the Yamaha but was impossible on the Ducati.

Crutchlow's departure makes life significantly easier for Ducati. The relationship between the two parties became strained from quite early on, with Crutchlow's forthright manner not always fitting well inside the tightly-controlled corporate communications culture of Ducati. The factory had also signed Andrea Iannone for 2015 with a promise of factory support. Iannone, who has had some strong results this season, was unhappy with the arrangement, but the Ducati deal was his best option. Ducati can now offer Iannone what he wants, which is a seat in the Ducati factory team alongside Andrea Dovizioso.

With Crutchlow at LCR Honda, and Iannone and Dovizioso at factory Ducati, that opens up a seat at Pramac Ducati. Eugene Laverty has been in previous talks with the Pramac squad, though the Irishman is also believed to be in the frame for a slot at Aprilia, who will be buying out the PBM team for 2015. The Pramac team has also shown an interest in Stefan Bradl, who is making way for Crutchlow at LCR Honda. But Bradl's most likely destination is the Forward Yamaha team, where team manager Giovanni Cuzari has two slots to fill, with the retirement of Colin Edwards, and the almost certain departure to Suzuki of Aleix Espargaro. Alex De Angelis is to be drafted in to replace Edwards at certain select rounds this season - Brno, which comes a week after Indianapolis, and the three flyaway rounds of Motegi, Sepang and Phillip Island - and is a candidate to take the second seat at Forward. 

Jack Miller's name continues to do the rounds, though it now seems more likely he will head to Gresini, rather than LCR. Miller will take the production RCV1000R at Gresini, with Scott Redding moving up to the RC213V vacated by Alvaro Bautista, as Redding's contract decrees. Next year's production Honda will be a very different kettle of fish to this year's bike, however, with Honda supplying the engine from this year's satellite bikes, minus the seamless gearbox. 

Once the paddock reconvenes at Indianpolis this coming Thursday, even more will become clear. By then, Jorge Lorenzo should have renewed his deal with Yamaha, and several other of the open seats should be filled. The only satellite seat with a question mark hanging over it is the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha seat currently held by Bradley Smith. Who will fill that is very much up in the air.

It looks like Ducati will get their all-Italian line-up after all. Both GPOne.com and Speedweek are reporting independently that Cal Crutchlow will be leaving Ducati to join LCR Honda for the 2015 season. Officially, Crutchlow had until 31st July to exercise his option to leave Ducati, but it appears that Ducati management agreed to an extension, while negotiations continued with Honda. An agreement was reached late last night, Speedweek is reporting, with one of the main points of contention being the payoff Crutchlow would receive from Ducati for leaving.A week ago, Crutchlow announced that he would be staying with the Italian factory at the World Ducati Week event. Since then, however, the situation changed, with Crutchlow's manager Bob Moore reaching agreement with Ducati management to explore further options. That led directly to the release of Crutchlow to join LCR.Crutchlow is the latest in a long line of victims claimed by the Italian marque. Marco Melandri was the first to leave, departing early from a two-year contract of struggling miserably in 2008. Valentino Rossi sat patiently through his two seasons at Ducati, seizing the opportunity to return to Yamaha as soon as he could. And now Cal Crutchlow, courted by Ducati for a long time in the belief that he could solve their problems, has also departed. Crutchlow has struggled all season long, both with a string of mechanical failures, and with trying to adapt his riding style to the difficult Desmosedici.

KTM To Enter MotoGP In 2017 - And Is That Bad News For World Superbikes?

Yet another manufacturer is to enter MotoGP, it was announced yesterday. KTM is to join Honda, Yamaha, Ducati, Suzuki and, most probably, Aprilia in MotoGP, with KTM moving up to the premier class in 2017, a year after the new regulations take effect and Michelin takes over as single tire supplier.

The news was announced by KTM CEO Stefan Pierer, in an exclusive interview with the German-language website Speedweek. In that interview, Pierer set out the approach KTM will take to MotoGP, which will be a departure from the more traditional route of the other manufacturers in the class. The idea is not to enter as a factory team, but to build a bike and make it available to customer teams, much as they currently do in Moto3. 

That bike will be a 1000cc V4, housed in a tubular steel trellis frame. The bike will have suspension from KTM subsidiary WP, as supplied with the Moto3 machines. Design work has already started on the V4 engine, and it is due to be tested on the dyno for the first time in May 2015. The complete bike will take to the track at the end of 2015, with 2016 being used to complete development of the bike, ready for the 2017 season. Pierer told Speedweek that wildcard appearances in the second half of 2016 are a definite possibility. The bike will be available to interested teams at a price of around 1 million euros, Pierer said, as that is the price at which Dorna has been trying to get the manufacturers to supply MotoGP bikes.

This would be KTM's second foray into MotoGP. The first attempt was an unmitigated failure, when the Austrian company built a V4 machine for Kenny Roberts' Team KR in 2005. That engine was known for being too aggressive, and suffering badly with underdeveloped electronics. Since then, Pierer emphasized, KTM's engineers had learned a lot about rideability and smoother power delivery. Furthermore, with all MotoGP entries to use spec software from 2016, the issue of software development had also been removed from the equation. The engine for KTM's RC16 (as the MotoGP bike is to be known) is being designed by Kurt Trieb, the engineer who developed the Moto3 powerplant which is dominating that championship.

The interview with Stefan Pierer contains a few aspects which are worthy of note. The first is the refusal to enter as a full factory team, as the other manufacturers have done. This is reminiscent of BMW's strategy, of supporting private teams but not taking part directly. That strategy has been extremely successful for BMW, the German manufacturer able to send out press releases boasting of the success of BMW privateers, without having to take responsibility for their failures. By concentrating on motorcycle design and production, KTM can keep their costs down, while still receiving both the R&D and marketing benefits of participating in MotoGP.

The more interesting aspect of the announcement is the way in which development is to be subsidized. The KTM RC16 is not only to be sold to MotoGP teams, but a cheaper version is also to be sold as a glorified track bike to private individuals. 'Cheaper' is a relative term here: where the full MotoGP version will have a price tag of a million euros, the retail bike will cost in the region of 150,000 to 200,000 euros. It will not be available as a street legal version, as the restrictions imposed on street bikes make it impractical to produce such a high-performance machine. The combined problems of producing a bike which complies with Euro 4 emissions standards and in sufficient quantities to homologate the bike for World Superbikes make that an impractical project, Pierer told Speedweek. It was better to aim at wealthy, dedicated individuals looking for an exclusive high-performance bike. Pierer estimated they should be able to sell at least 100 units of such a machine, which would represent a large proportion of any MotoGP development budget.

One of the reasons given by Pierer for going down the track-only route for the RC16 does not bode well at all for the World Superbike series. The discussions about safety have taken on ridiculous proportions in some EU countries, Pierer told Speedweek, especially after a streak of good weather had produced a string of motorcycle fatalities. There is a lot of pressure on bike manufacturers, and discussions are going on at the EU in Brussels about the possibility of imposing performance restrictions. There have even been calls from some quarters to ban so-called superbikes, Pierer said. KTM saw it as their responsibility to keep motorcycle performance within strict limits, he added. 'Anything with over 200 horsepower has no place on public roads,' Pierer told Speedweek.

Leaving aside the absurdity of the argument - it is virtually impossible to extract maximum performance from any sporting motorcycle on a public road; most fatal accidents occur at speeds a very long way below the maximum of the bike involved; the majority of motorcycle accidents are caused by other vehicles - Pierer's statements point to a significant threat to WSBK. Superbikes have become ever more extreme over the past twenty years, a factor which has played a major role in the decline of their popularity. The original Ducati 916 produced 114 bhp in 1994. This rose to 122 bhp with the 996, and 123bhp with the 998, which was sold until 2002. From 2003, the 999 produced 150bhp, which was then replaced by the 1098. The 2009 Ducati 1098R produced 180 bhp, and the current top-of-the-range Ducati Panigale 1199R is quoted as producing 195bhp. In the space of twenty years, power outputs have risen by over 70%. As power outputs have risen, sales have declined, the performance of such extreme bikes becoming less and less relevant on public roads which are more and more heavily policed, despite improvements in engine response and handling.

By dropping the RC8 and replacing it with a bike which will not be eligible for homologation, KTM has effectively abandoned the World Superbike championship. If the EU or another major motorcycle market imposes performance restrictions - or bans large capacity sportsbikes altogether - then the viability of WSBK in its current form is called into question. The current identity crisis facing WSBK could become a lot worse.

Yet another manufacturer is to enter MotoGP, it was announced yesterday. KTM is to join Honda, Yamaha, Ducati, Suzuki and, most probably, Aprilia in MotoGP, with KTM moving up to the premier class in 2017, a year after the new regulations take effect and Michelin takes over as single tire supplier.The news was announced by KTM CEO Stefan Pierer, in an exclusive interview with the German-language website Speedweek. In that interview, Pierer set out the approach KTM will take to MotoGP, which will be a departure from the more traditional route of the other manufacturers in the class. The idea is not to enter as a factory team, but to build a bike and make it available to customer teams, much as they currently do in Moto3. That bike will be a 1000cc V4, housed in a tubular steel trellis frame. The bike will have suspension from KTM subsidiary WP, as supplied with the Moto3 machines. Design work has already started on the V4 engine, and it is due to be tested on the dyno for the first time in May 2015. The complete bike will take to the track at the end of 2015, with 2016 being used to complete development of the bike, ready for the 2017 season. Pierer told Speedweek that wildcard appearances in the second half of 2016 are a definite possibility. The bike will be available to interested teams at a price of around 1 million euros, Pierer said, as that is the price at which Dorna has been trying to get the manufacturers to supply MotoGP bikes.

Phakisa Freeway Round Of World Superbikes Canceled, Qatar Confirmed

The 2014 World Superbike calendar has been updated once again. The South African round of WSBK has been canceled, after the Phakisa Freeway track failed homologation. Work was being carried out on the circuit to allow it to meet requirements, but the work will not be finished on time. Dorna and the FIM are looking at finding a replacement for the dropped South African round, but at such short notice, and with attendance at WSBK events being disappointing, that will be difficult.

While the South African round was canceled, the Qatar race was confirmed. The racing at Qatar is to be held at night under the floodlights, just as MotoGP is. As this is also the last round of the season, the traditional awards ceremony will also be held in Qatar, though it will be held on the Monday after the race, rather than very late at night.

The cancellation of the South African round does not have direct consequences for the World Superbike championship chase, but it could have an effect for World Supersport. With just three rounds to go now, Pata Honda rider Michael van der Mark has a 53-point lead. That means that the Dutchman needs to score just 2 more points than Jules Cluzel, the man in second place, to clinch the title.

Below is the official press release from the FIM and Dorna on the 2014 World Superbike calendar:


FIM Superbike & Supersport World Championships

FIM Superstock 1000 cc Cup 2014 calendar, updated 31 July

The FIM and Dorna WSBK Organization would like to announce the confirmation of the Qatar Round at Losail International Circuit, scheduled for 2 November 2014.

As the round will be held at night time, the final prize-giving ceremony for both WSBK and WSS classes will take place in Doha the following day, on the evening of Monday 3 November.

Regarding the Round in South Africa originally scheduled to take place on October 19, FIM and Dorna WSBK regret to announce that, despite the efforts of the local promoter (GAS Sport), the works carried out on the race track are not advanced enough to meet the conditions required to achieve FIM homologation.

Dorna WSBK Organization and the FIM are looking into the possibility of finding a replacement for this race. Depending on the replacement venue, the awards for the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup could be presented either at the French Round, scheduled on Sunday 5 October 2014 in Magny-Cours, or at the new venue.

The calendar has been updated as follows:

DATE COUNTRY CIRCUIT WSBK WSS STK
23 February Australia Phillip Island GP Circuit X X  
13 April Spain MotorLand Aragón X X X
27 April The Netherlands TT Assen X X X
11 May Italy Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola X X X
25 May UK Donington Park X X  
08 June Malaysia Sepang International Circuit  X X  
22 June Italy Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli X X X
06 July Portugal Autódromo Internacional do Algarve X X X
13 July USA Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca  X    
07 September Spain Circuito de Jerez X X X
05 October France Circuit de Magny-Cours X X X
02 November Qatar Losail International Circuit X X  

 

The 2014 World Superbike calendar has been updated once again. The South African round of WSBK has been canceled, after the Phakisa Freeway track failed homologation. Work was being carried out on the circuit to allow it to meet requirements, but the work will not be finished on time. Dorna and the FIM are looking at finding a replacement for the dropped South African round, but at such short notice, and with attendance at WSBK events being disappointing, that will be difficult.While the South African round was canceled, the Qatar race was confirmed. The racing at Qatar is to be held at night under the floodlights, just as MotoGP is. As this is also the last round of the season, the traditional awards ceremony will also be held in Qatar, though it will be held on the Monday after the race, rather than very late at night.The cancellation of the South African round does not have direct consequences for the World Superbike championship chase, but it could have an effect for World Supersport. With just three rounds to go now, Pata Honda rider Michael van der Mark has a 53-point lead. That means that the Dutchman needs to score just 2 more points than Jules Cluzel, the man in second place, to clinch the title.Below is the official press release from the FIM and Dorna on the 2014 World Superbike calendar:

Red Bull To Back Repsol Honda Team From 2015

Red Bull is to make its long awaited return to sponsoring a team in the MotoGP class. The Austrian energy drink giant has announced that they will expand their sponsorship of the Repsol Honda team for 2015 and 2016, with the Red Bull logo appearing on the team's Honda RC213V machines for the first time.

The move is a major step forward for Red Bull. The energy drink firm withdrew from the premier class in 2002, at the start of the MotoGP era, after having sponsored the WCM team, then racing Yamaha YZR-500s as the Red Bull Yamaha team. Since then, Red Bull's strategy has been focused on individual riders rather than teams, with its focus switched to Honda. Red Bull backed Dani Pedrosa, Marc Marquez, Stefan Bradl, and when they were at HRC, Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden. The Austrian energy drink logo had appeared on the LCR Honda machine at some of the US rounds of MotoGP, but so far, they had held off on backing a team full time.

That is set to change, with the stickers set to appear on the Repsol Honda machines. The move had been presaged by the increasing role Red Bull have played in helping promote the Repsol Honda team. The most prominent example was last year, when the company covered the costs of the Repsol Honda team's test at Austin early in the season, using that test as an opportunity to produce large amounts of promotional material, including online videos. Normally, teams have to purchase such material from Dorna for a sizeable fee, which then comes with severe restrictions on usage. With both Pedrosa and Marquez long-time Red Bull sponsored riders, the move to backing the team was a logical one. It was a move which HRC Team Principal Livio Suppo had been pushing for for a very long time.

The move also allows Red Bull to take on their competitors more directly. Monster has backed both the factory Yamaha team and the Tech 3 satellite Yamaha team, as well as supporting the French Grand Prix at Le Mans. Malaysian brand Drive M7 has also stepped up to back the Aspar team this season. Putting the Red Bull logo on the Repsol Honda bikes gives the brand more prominence, and also fits with the company's strategy of getting behind winners.

Below is the press release issued by HRC announcing the deal:


Honda Racing Corporation increase partnership with Red Bull

HRC are pleased to announce an evolution in their partnership with Austrian-based energy drink manufacturer, Red Bull.

After nine years of cooperation with the Repsol Honda Team and its riders – starting with Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa in 2006 – from next season the Red Bull logo will also feature for the first time on the Honda RC213V machines of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, and Red Bull will become the Official Energy Drink partner of the Repsol Honda Team, for the next 2 years, until the end of 2016.

Since the collaboration began the Repsol Honda Team and Red Bull have celebrated a total of 58 wins, 172 podiums, 63 pole positions, 73 fastest laps, three rider’s World Championships and four Constructor’s Championships.

Shuhei Nakamoto

HRC Executive Vice President

"We are delighted to have the opportunity to grow our partnership with Red Bull. It is an iconic global brand with whom we've worked alongside for nine years, so this was the logical next step. I'm sure that this new partnership will increase our visibility, not only as Honda, but also MotoGP on a whole to a wider global audience, which can only be good for the sport"

Red Bull is to make its long awaited return to sponsoring a team in the MotoGP class. The Austrian energy drink giant has announced that they will expand their sponsorship of the Repsol Honda team for 2015 and 2016, with the Red Bull logo appearing on the team's Honda RC213V machines for the first time.The move is a major step forward for Red Bull. The energy drink firm withdrew from the premier class in 2002, at the start of the MotoGP era, after having sponsored the WCM team, then racing Yamaha YZR-500s as the Red Bull Yamaha team. Since then, Red Bull's strategy has been focused on individual riders rather than teams, with its focus switched to Honda. Red Bull backed Dani Pedrosa, Marc Marquez, Stefan Bradl, and when they were at HRC, Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden. The Austrian energy drink logo had appeared on the LCR Honda machine at some of the US rounds of MotoGP, but so far, they had held off on backing a team full time.

Leon Camier To Replace Nicky Hayden For Indianapolis And Brno MotoGP Rounds

After his seat in the IODA Racing team fell through due to a lack of funds, Leon Camier is to race in MotoGP in 2014 after all. The Englishman is to replace Nicky Hayden on the Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R for both the Indianapolis and Brno rounds of MotoGP. 

Hayden had surgery last week to remove a row of bones in his right hand, including the scaphoid he injured in a crash in 2011. On Tuesday, Hayden was examined for the first time after surgery, and although his recovery is going well, he will require an extended period of rehabilitation before he is ready to return to race. As a result, Hayden will be forced to skip both the Indianapolis and Brno rounds of MotoGP, in the hope of returning to action at Silverstone at the end of August.

In the meantime, Camier is to ride his production RCV1000R for the two rounds, making his debut in the premier class at last. The Englishman will face an uphill task at Indianapolis, acclimatizing to the Bridgestone tires at a notoriously difficult circuit, and one which he has never ridden. A week later, Camier will face a slightly easier challenge, racing at Brno which he knows from his time in World Superbikes.

Since learning that the IODA Racing team did not have the funds to field a second Aprilia RSV4 for Camier, the Englishman has been filling in as a replacement rider in World Superbikes. He took the seat of Sylvain Barrier on the BMW S1000RR EVO bike, and replaced the injured Claudio Corti on the MV Agusta F4RR. He was also on standby to replace Nicky Hayden earlier in the year, after Hayden suffered a flare up of the wrist injury, but Hayden continued to race. Camier will now get his chance to ride Hayden's bike, since the American decided to opt for surgery to fix the problem.

Below is the press release from the Drive M7 Aspar team:


Nicky Hayden recovery process from wrist operation is favourable

Nearly a week after surgery, Drive M7 Aspar rider underwent his first examination on Tuesday and received positive news

After undergoing surgery on his right wrist at the Oasis Center of San Diego last Wednesday, and after resting for several days, DRIVE M7 Aspar rider Nicky Hayden was examined on Tuesday for the first time since the operation. According to Dr. James Chao, the physician in charge of the surgery, the procedure was a success and his recovery is on track. The American rider will gradually regain movement in his wrist.

Hayden has had his wrist immobilised and has been resting since Wednesday of last week, but this Tuesday he underwent his first review. During the examination he was injected with platelet-rich plasma to help regenerate bone structure and also received magnetic therapy to accelerate the healing of the operated area. The need for adequate recovery time requires Hayden to miss the MotoGP rounds at Indianapolis and the Czech Republic.

A fitness plan has been devised for Hayden to keep in shape during his layoff, so that when he returns to action he will be at 100%. The DRIVE M7 Aspar team will field Superbike rider Leon Camier for the Indianapolis and Czech Republic rounds that follow the summer break, standing in for Hayden.

Nicky Hayden: "Although undergoing surgery is not usually a positive thing -not least because you lose a lot of time- I'm happy with how the operation went last week. Sometimes it is difficult, but we know that injuries are part of our sport and we must learn to manage them. Everyone knows that my wrist has been causing me problems, especially at recent races. I underwent an operation in June, which helped me to complete the first half of the season, but the truth is I've been riding with a lot of discomfort, and have been unable to perform at my best. So, together with the team, we decided to make an important decision and undergo a larger operation to treat an injury that comes from three years ago -when I broke my scaphoid and did not heal well. According to Dr. Chao the operation was a success and I am very happy, and focusing on my recovery. My right wrist still needs to be immobilised for another week. Then I will begin rehabilitation therapy, and I'll slowly recover mobility. I want to thank the team, sponsors and fans for all the support they are giving me at this time. In the first examination, a week after surgery, I received an injection of platelet-rich plasma to help heal bones. According to the doctor my recovery is on course, which is very positive. It takes patience, but if I have made the decision to have surgery it is to get back to my best. I made the decision thinking about being healthy for the end of the season and already thinking about next year."

After his seat in the IODA Racing team fell through due to a lack of funds, Leon Camier is to race in MotoGP in 2014 after all. The Englishman is to replace Nicky Hayden on the Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R for both the Indianapolis and Brno rounds of MotoGP. Hayden had surgery last week to remove a row of bones in his right hand, including the scaphoid he injured in a crash in 2011. On Tuesday, Hayden was examined for the first time after surgery, and although his recovery is going well, he will require an extended period of rehabilitation before he is ready to return to race. As a result, Hayden will be forced to skip both the Indianapolis and Brno rounds of MotoGP, in the hope of returning to action at Silverstone at the end of August.In the meantime, Camier is to ride his production RCV1000R for the two rounds, making his debut in the premier class at last. The Englishman will face an uphill task at Indianapolis, acclimatizing to the Bridgestone tires at a notoriously difficult circuit, and one which he has never ridden. A week later, Camier will face a slightly easier challenge, racing at Brno which he knows from his time in World Superbikes.

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