That Suzuki is considering a return to MotoGP in 2014 is well-documented, with talks still ongoing about the terms on which the Japanese factory will make a return. More surprising is the news from Italy, reported on GPOne.com, that Davide Brivio, former team manager of Valentino Rossi, is in line to manage the team running Suzuki's return.
According to reports both on GPOne.com and Moto.it, in a story by Giovanni Zamagni, the news was broken in the Italian TV show Griglia di Partenza (Starting Grid), by Max Temporali. Suzuki, it is reported, will make a return to MotoGP in 2014, with a team to be based in Italy and run by Brivio.
The news is unexpected. At Ducati's launch at Wrooom in January, Carmelo Ezpeleta had already explained that factories wishing to enter MotoGP would not be allowed to run their own teams, but would have to link up with existing teams in the paddock. That decision, made to ensure factories commit to MotoGP for the long term, and not just for a single year, was widely interpreted to mean that Suzuki would make their return to MotoGP with the Aspar squad, who will be competing in 2013 as a CRT team with Aprilia once again. Aspar has a some history with Suzuki: when Juan 'Aspar' Martinez was considering entering MotoGP, alongside his already highly successful 250cc and 125cc teams, the Spaniard was in intensive negotiations with Suzuki to run at least one satellite bike in the Aspar team. Furthermore, Aspar rider Randy De Puniet has been secured as a test rider for Suzuki (sources in France suggest that De Puniet has multiple tests with Suzuki lined up this year), making Aspar taking on the Suzuki team a logical next step.
But Italian media believes otherwise. They have Brivio running the Suzuki operation from the Lombardy region of Northern Italy, which is also home to Yamaha's MotoGP team just outside Monza. According to GPOne.com, multiple sources inside the paddock have confirmed that Brivio has been approached for the job.
Brivio is an experienced team manager. Brivio was instrumental in bringing Valentino Rossi to Yamaha, and acted as the Italian's team manager throughout his period at the Japanese factory. Brivio left Yamaha along with Rossi, turning instead to working with Rossi's VR46 merchandise and clothing operation. Despite Brivio's close relationship with Rossi - he was present at every race during Rossi's period with Ducati, despite not having an official function inside Ducati Corse - Rossi is not thought to have any involvement with Brivio's decision to run the Suzuki team.
An announcement is not believed to be imminent, as testing is still well underway - Nobuatsu Aoki is testing Suzuki's new inline four cylinder machine, first spied in May last year - and Suzuki needs approval for their entry. Suzuki had been waiting for a stable set of rules to be announced for MotoGP, and with Dorna announcing that the rules already agreed for 2014 will remain unchanged for three years, 2014 is the first opportunity for them to make a return. Suzuki representatives had met with Dorna at the Brno round of MotoGP last year, where they had asked to be allowed to enter for just a single season. That request was denied, Suzuki being told that they had to sign a contract for three years if they wanted to make a comeback to the paddock. It now appears that Suzuki is ready to make that commitment.
If Suzuki do make a return to MotoGP, the seats will be much in demand among the riders. Ben Spies had already been linked with Suzuki, having raced for the manufacturer in the US for several years before heading to World Superbikes and then MotoGP. And Cal Crutchlow has also made no secret of his desire for a factory ride. That rules out both Honda and Yamaha, where the factory riders are locked in for at least two seasons, leaving Ducati and Suzuki as potential options for 2014. And with Randy De Puniet testing the new Suzuki, the Frenchman will have some claim to continue to develop and race the bike when it enters the series.
Leon Camier has undergone surgery to remove a screw from his wrist. The operation was carried out at the renowned Dexeus Institute at Barcelona, by Dr Xavier Mir, who is the preferred surgeon of many top-flight motorcycle racers. Dr Mir removed a screw which had been inserted in Camier's wrist after a crash at the Nurburgring in 2010, but which had been causing the Englishman an increasing amount of pain. Removing the screw should help reduce the risk of inflammation and give Camier an increased range of motion in his wrist. Camier is expected to be fully fit for the start of the World Superbike season at Phillip Island on February 24th.
Below is the press release issued by the FIXI Crescent Suzuki team after the operation:
CAMIER UNDERGOES SUCCESSFUL OPERATION
Team Suzuki Press Office - January 25.
FIXI Crescent Suzuki's Leon Camier has had minor surgery in Spain to successfully remove a screw from his wrist.
Camier broke his wrist during qualifying practice for the German World Superbike round at the Nurburgring in 2010. The Englishman had reconstructive surgery at the time to repair the injury to enable him to get back racing as soon as possible, but has been troubled with pain and discomfort when riding over the last six months.
Camier was examined by renowned Spanish surgeon Dr. Xavier Mir and it was confirmed that a screw from the previous operation would need to be removed to avoid inflammation and movement restriction. Dr. Mir - who is responsible for treating many MotoGP stars including World Champion Jorge Lorenzo - conducted the operation in Barcelona today with the assistance of his expert team.
Camier will back at home tomorrow recuperating and building up the strength in his wrist in readiness for the first round of the season at Phillip island in Australia on Sunday February 24th.Leon Camier has undergone surgery to remove a screw from his wrist. The operation was carried out at the renowned Dexeus Institute at Barcelona, by Dr Xavier Mir, who is the preferred surgeon of many top-flight motorcycle racers. Dr Mir removed a screw which had been inserted in Camier's wrist after a crash at the Nurburgring in 2010, but which had been causing the Englishman an increasing amount of pain. Removing the screw should help reduce the risk of inflammation and give Camier an increased range of motion in his wrist. Camier is expected to be fully fit for the start of the World Superbike season at Phillip Island on February 24th.Below is the press release issued by the FIXI Crescent Suzuki team after the operation:CAMIER UNDERGOES SUCCESSFUL OPERATIONTeam Suzuki Press Office - January 25.FIXI Crescent Suzuki's Leon Camier has had minor surgery in Spain to successfully remove a screw from his wrist.
Repsol Honda has unveiled the new livery they will be wearing for the 2013 MotoGP season. In a ceremony at Repsol's Madrid headquarters, Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez revealed the new color scheme the Repsol Honda team will be running. It is somewhat of a departure from recent years, the basic red, white, orange and black colors remaining, but with white playing a much more prominent role in the color scheme. The paint job also contains a few neat details, such as the black and white stripes under the seat, which form part of the Honda wing logo.
Both Marquez and Pedrosa were optimistic about their chances during the event. HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto was especially bullish, telling the meeting that the performance of Honda's RC213V during the latter half of the 2012 season gave him good hope for 2013, especially as the factory had had a much greater lead time to deal with the extra 3kg weight imposed for the 2013 season. The jump from 153kg to 157kg had caused HRC many problems during the first part of 2012, as they struggled to find a place to locate the weight.
One detail of interest in the structure of the team is the elevation of Livio Suppo to Team Director. Suppo had officially been head of marketing for the team for the past two years, but had had a major role in helping HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto run the Repsol Honda squad. Suppo's promotion formalizes a situation that already existed on the ground, and clarifies the power structure inside the team. Suppo held a similar position at Ducati, before leaving to join Honda. Alberto Puig and Emilio Alzamora will act as personal advisers to their respective riders, Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez.
Photos of the team presentation and the official press releases are shown below:
Below is the press release issued by HRC after the Repsol Honda team launch, as well as a statement from the Repsol CEO Antonio Brufau, released by the Repsol Media Service:
Pedrosa and Márquez unveil new 2013 livery for the Repsol Honda Team
Today in Repsol's Headquarters in Madrid, Dani Pedrosa and Marc Márquez revealed the new look Honda RC213V for the 2013 season during a crowded Team Launch to the international media.
The exciting new graphic introduces a fresh style to the factory Honda Team who celebrate their 19th year in partnership with title sponsors, Spanish Oil and Gas giants, Repsol. Team riders for 2013, MotoGP runner-up Dani Pedrosa and Moto2 Champion Marc Márquez, dressed in the new team uniform provided by GAS, have enjoyed a long winter break, but both are eager to start the new season.
Shuhei Nakamoto, HRC Executive Vice-President was present in Madrid to introduce the riders and explain a new team structure for the coming season which will see Mr. Livio Suppo as Team Principal, Mr. Takeo Yokoyama as Team Technical Director and Mr. Hideki Iwano as Team Director. Former Technical Director, Mr. Shinichi Kokubu, will be the new HRC General Manager of the Technology Development Division.
Pedrosa and Márquez will have their first outing of 2013 when the team arrives in Malaysia for the first test, scheduled for the 5-7 February.
The Repsol Honda Team 2013 Media Site is now 'live', where you can access news and images on the riders and team. Please visit www.repsolhondateam.com
“I am very happy to have been here at Campus Repsol today, and to have been the one unveiling the bike and its new livery. We had run with the old design for a long time and I think that now is a good moment for a change. This year's bike has a fresh touch to it, which can give us a boost at the races. I hope the fans like it too. I'm starting this preseason really keen, as at the Valencia test after the last race of 2012 we had so much rain that we couldn't do much. I can't wait to get to Malaysia and have a few days to put the bike through its paces, enjoy myself and see which parts we are going to use for the opening race"
“I have really been looking forward to this moment. I am very happy to have presented the new colour scheme for my move up from Moto2 to MotoGP. Seeing the bike painted with the Repsol and HRC logos makes you feel very satisfied with this new step forward —it makes you realise what a dream-come-true it is. I'm like a kid with new shoes! I enjoyed the atmosphere of the presentation a lot, and I was able to see that the press attention for MotoGP is light years ahead of that for Moto2. We'll adapt to this, little-by-little. In the end, the important thing is what happens on the track, so I can't wait for the Malaysia tests to start. I think that it was a very positive initiative to broadcast the presentation online, because I'm sure lots of fans would have liked to have attended t his event. I hope that they enjoyed it a lot"
Shuhei Nakamoto HRC Executive Vice-President
"In 2013 we will again have a very strong team - Dani comes into this season after a fantastic 2012 and with new motivation, Marc is a great talent and I'm sure it won't be long before we see him on the podium. I am excited about the new structure and everyone at HRC will continue to work hard in the bike's development to give both our riders the best chance of victory"
Livio Suppo Team Principal
"I'd like to thank HRC for their trust in me. I will do my best to merit my new role and hope to assist in the Team's success. I know that we can count on two very strong riders, a formidable machine, a great international crew and the great support of Repsol and all our sponsors. Together we will all do our best to keep the Repsol Honda Team at the top of MotoGP"
Hideki Iwano Team Director
"I am very happy to be working with the Repsol Honda Team again this year. I am confident that Dani will maintain his good momentum from 2012 and will fight hard for the title once again this season. Marc is a rookie in the MotoGP class but I am sure he will demonstrate his remarkable talent to us this season. As Team Director of the Repsol Honda Team, it is my job to provide an environment in which everyone can maximise their ability".
Takeo Yokoyama Technical Director
"I've been in the Honda family since 1996 and have learned a great deal. I have spent a lot of time working closely with Dani in the past few years and also with Shinichi Kokubu, who taught me a lot. I am very grateful to Honda Racing Corporation for giving me this opportunity, I am excited for what the future holds and hope that in 2013 we can recapture the Rider's Championship!"
Repsol Chairman and CEO
"The Repsol Honda Team and the MotoGP World Championship are great ambassadors of our brand, and a great showcase for Repsol's values: Teamwork, technological innovation and the spirit of taking on a challenge. These values fit perfectly with the philosophy of Campus Repsol, and make our headquarters the ideal location for this presentation. Honda are a perfect partner at the highest level of competition —a world which allows us to develop our fuels and offer a better service to our clients. We face the 2013 season with two exceptional riders and the same excitement as on day one."
Repsol Honda has unveiled the new livery they will be wearing for the 2013 MotoGP season. In a ceremony at Repsol's Madrid headquarters, Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez revealed the new color scheme the Repsol Honda team will be running. It is somewhat of a departure from recent years, the basic red, white, orange and black colors remaining, but with white playing a much more prominent role in the color scheme. The paint job also contains a few neat details, such as the black and white stripes under the seat, which form part of the Honda wing logo.Both Marquez and Pedrosa were optimistic about their chances during the event. HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto was especially bullish, telling the meeting that the performance of Honda's RC213V during the latter half of the 2012 season gave him good hope for 2013, especially as the factory had had a much greater lead time to deal with the extra 3kg weight imposed for the 2013 season. The jump from 153kg to 157kg had caused HRC many problems during the first part of 2012, as they struggled to find a place to locate the weight.
The MotoGP off-season training regime has taken its usual toll. On Friday, Blusens Avintia rider Hiroshi Aoyama crashed while training at a motocross track, fracturing a bone in his wrist in the processs. Aoyama was examined by Dr Xavier Mir at the Dexeus Institute in Barcelona, which treats many of the Europe-based motorcycle racers, where a minor fracture in Aoyama's left wrist was found.
Though painful, the injury should not prevent Aoyama from taking part in the first MotoGP test due to start at Sepang on February 5th. Injuries to the left wrist are easier to manage than those to the right, for the obvious reason that the right hand is needed for braking and controlling the throttle. Aoyama has been instructed to rest the wrist for a full week, to allow the wrist to recover.
Motocross continues to claim victims in the off season, and does so every year, yet it remains vital for training basic motorcycle riding skills. But motocross is gradually falling out of favor, as many riders start to switch their attention to riding dirt track, on specially prepared circuits. Valentino Rossi has had a number of tracks laid out on his own land near Tavullia in Italy; Colin Edwards runs his famous Boot Camp in Texas; and former Moto2 rider Kenny Noyes has had a flat track built at the Motorland Aragon circuit, where he runs a school under the Noyes Camp banner. With fewer jumps, and smoother terrain, the risks of injury are much lower riding dirt track.
The 2013 season has gotten off to a very damp start for Ducati. The Bologna factory had booked the Jerez circuit for a three-day test, for both the Alstare Ducati World Superbike team and the Ducati MotoGP test team with Michele Pirro and Franco Battaini, but the rain meant that they only got a few hours of testing done, and all of that was on Monday.
Despite only managing a few laps, the test counts as successful for the Alstare Ducati team. Carlos Checa and Ayrton Badovini both managed some forty laps, with Checa quickly up to speed and bettering his time from the last visit to Jerez at the end of November last year by over a second, according to times posted by the respected Italian site GPOne.com. Badovini's progress was much more limited: the Italian was just a couple of tenths quicker than his time from November, and over a second and a half slower than Checa's lap time, the Spaniard having set his fastest time on a set of soft tires.
More encouraging for Francis Batta's Ducati squad was the fact that Checa was also faster than Marco Melandri on the BMW, the BMW Italia team having turned up for an extra day of testing ahead of the joint test planned with Suzuki, Kawasaki and Honda at the track in Andalucia. Melandri was keen to get back on the bike after an extended layoff with a shoulder injury picked up at Portimao. The shoulder was fully recovered, and a delighted Melandri wrote on his Twitter page "Feeling the shoulder work properly gave me the same feeling as winning a race!" Now, Melandri has to focus on building up strength again, vital with the first race just a month away.
New BMW boy Chaz Davies was supposed to join Melandri for the extra day of testing, but the Welshman was caught up in the weather chaos caused by snow at UK airports, with subsequent massive flight delays. Tom Sykes suffered similar problems, as did key members of staff for the Pata Honda WSBK team. The situation should be resoved by tomorrow, but there could be a slow start on Tuesday if the weather causes more delays.
Unofficial times, courtesy of GPOne.com:
Below is the press release issued by Ducati's MotoGP team on the test:
Weather affects Ducati development test at Jerez
Jerez de la Frontera (Spain), 21 January 2013 – Just a few days after the Ducati Desmosedici GP13’s official unveiling at Madonna di Campiglio, the Ducati Development Team was already busy at Jerez for the first of a number of tests planned for the coming weeks in preparation for the new season.
The three-day test, which started on Saturday at the Andalusian circuit, concluded today. The team, with new test rider Michele Pirro and regular Franco Battaini, worked on the development of the GP13, which will return to the track in two weeks in Sepang at the hands of Ducati Team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden.
Unfortunately, the bad weather that has hit Southern Spain in recent days prevented the team from completing its scheduled work program, as track time was limited for both riders.
Bernhard Gobmeier was present at the track for the first time in his new role as Ducati Corse General Manager. “Unfortunately we had some bad luck with the weather, and for two days we were able to do almost nothing,” Gobmeier said. “It rained almost the whole time. Today we squeezed three days of work into about five hours, which obviously required skipping some of the steps we had planned. Anyway, some interesting and positive results emerged, in terms of both the chassis and electronic strategies that we tried. If nothing else, we established a clear line to follow in our next test at Jerez. Anyway, I was very pleased to see how concentrated the guys on the test team worked. Everybody was very motivated.”
Michele Pirro, the 26-year-old Italian from San Giovanni Rotondo, added, “The big problem was the weather. That’s always a risk with Jerez in January. Fortunately, we were able to do some laps this afternoon and gather some important data for developing the bike. It was nice to get back on the track after two months.”
The next test, which will be attended by the Ducati Team riders, will take place at Sepang (Malaysia) 5-7 February, and will be the first of three pre-season tests organized by IRTA, with the season-opening MotoGP race scheduled for the first weekend of April in Qatar.
With Casey Stoner preparing to take the next step in his sporting career - the long-expected switch to racing in the Australian V8 Supercars series - the two-time MotoGP champion is facing increasing scrutiny over the exact timing of his future plans. An announcement is expected soon confirming that Stoner will be racing in the Dunlop V8 Supercar Series, the support class to the main series, with Triple Eight racing and full Red Bull backing. On Sunday, the Australian newspaper the Sunday Mail reported that Stoner had already signed to race in the series, a report which Stoner immediately denied on his Twitter feed.
The Sunday Mail story draws at length from an interview to be published in the official program for the Clipsal 500 Adelaide race to be held in March. In the cited interview, Stoner also repeated that he had no intention to return to motorcycle racing at any point, despite the extremely generous offers he had received to keep him there. "I've got no thoughts whatsoever at this time of ever even thinking of coming back to grand prix racing,'' the Sunday Mail quotes Stoner as saying.
Since his retirement, there has been consistent rumblings that Stoner may one day return to MotoGP, rumblings that are based almost entirely on hope, rather than expectation. Such talk has been fueled in part by comments made by HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto, who said in a press release interview issued earlier this month "if [Casey] ever decides to come back he will find a warm welcome waiting. I told him that’s always on offer."
Despite that, and despite the rumored $15 million offered to him to stay on for another season, Stoner has been clear right from the start that he would not be making a return. After announcing his decision to retire at Le Mans, he was asked time and time again whether he would consider a return to MotoGP, and he consistently answered that he would not, "unless they start racing 750cc two-strokes" Stoner joked. In the interview with the Sunday Mail, Stoner repeated once more that he stood by his decision. "I'm not changing my mind every couple of minutes. The money doesn't interest me," Stoner said.
For a little more background on how the story came about, see this piece on the Australian website Speedcafe.com.
Lucio Cecchinello is looking to expand his LCR Honda team from a one- to a two-man team, according to reports over on GPOne.com. The Italian team manager is considering adding a second rider to race alongside Stefan Bradl for the 2014 season onwards.
While Bradl will remain on the team's factory-supported Honda RC213V, LCR's second rider would ride the production version to be sold by Honda from 2014 at a cost of 1 million euros. According GPOne, Cecchinello has calculated that it would cost him between 1.6 and 1.8 million euros to run the second bike, a total which includes the production RC213V, and the seven people required to run it (one crew chief, one data engineer, four mechanics and a tire engineer).
The question of who would ride it is more complex. Cecchinello has been highly successful in raising sponsorship for his LCR Honda team, in part due to his ability to innovate, as with the LCR Inspire e-magazine. The Italian team manager has some very strong interest from Asia, according to GPOne.com, but that sponsorship interest would demand an Asian rider to race the bike. While the Asian presence is growing in MotoGP, the riders currently in the series are not yet ready for MotoGP. The most promising of the current bunch is Zulfahmi Khairuddin, but the Malaysian will be spending another season in Moto3 for 2013, aboard the Red Bull KTM, and needs another couple of seasons before he is ready to step up to the premier class. The two Indonesian riders in Moto2, Rafid Topan Sucipto is in his rookie year, while Doni Tata Pradita has been out of the world championship paddock for a number of years now. Japanese rider Takaaki Nakagami could be an option - he is likely to be acceptable to Honda - but whether a Japanese rider would be acceptable to a South-East Asian sponsor remains to be seen.
AMA Superbike runner-up Blake Young will ride the Attack Performance CRT machine at all three US MotoGP rounds this year. The former Yoshimura Suzuki rider has signed with Attack Performance owner Richard Stanboli to race at the Austin, Laguna Seca and Indianapolis rounds of MotoGP, aboard the Kawasaki-powered CRT machine designed and built by Stanboli and his team.
The Attack CRT bike has been undergoing some major changes since making its debut at Laguna Seca in 2012, where it was ridden by US veteran racer Steve Rapp. According to Roadracing World, Attack owner Stanboli has modified the chassis to work better with the Bridgestone tires, and has altered the firing order of Kawasaki ZX-10R engine to more closely resemble a Yamaha R1 engine. Rapp failed to qualify at Laguna Seca, at what was virtually a shakedown test for the Attack machine, and finished 14th at Indianapolis, ahead of James Ellison on the PBM machine, and Aaron Yates on the GPTech CRT machine, scoring two valuable championship points.
Young is currently without a ride for the 2013 season, Yoshimura Suzuki not having extended his contract when it expired at the end of 2012. Young has previously raced at the world championship level, taking the place of the injured Max Neukirchner at Donington in 2009, aboard the Alstare Suzuki. At a track he had never ridden before, he failed to score any points.AMA Superbike runner-up Blake Young will ride the Attack Performance CRT machine at all three US MotoGP rounds this year. The former Yoshimura Suzuki rider has signed with Attack Performance owner Richard Stanboli to race at the Austin, Laguna Seca and Indianapolis rounds of MotoGP, aboard the Kawasaki-powered CRT machine designed and built by Stanboli and his team.The Attack CRT bike has been undergoing some major changes since making its debut at Laguna Seca in 2012, where it was ridden by US veteran racer Steve Rapp. According to Roadracing World, Attack owner Stanboli has modified the chassis to work better with the Bridgestone tires, and has altered the firing order of Kawasaki ZX-10R engine to more closely resemble a Yamaha R1 engine. Rapp failed to qualify at Laguna Seca, at what was virtually a shakedown test for the Attack machine, and finished 14th at Indianapolis, ahead of James Ellison on the PBM machine, and Aaron Yates on the GPTech CRT machine, scoring two valuable championship points.
The Philip Morris-sponsored Wrooom event is not just the event at which Ducati launches its MotoGP season, it has become the de facto kick off to the MotoGP season as a whole. With an important section of the international media present, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta inevitably seizes the opportunity to talk to the press about his view of the season ahead, and where necessary, of the future beyond that.
This year was little different. Ezpeleta spoke to the media ahead of the presentation by Ducati Corse boss Bernhard Gobmeier, and answered questions from a number of media outlets separately, answering questions on the future of both MotoGP and World Superbikes. From his statements, a picture of Dorna's vision for the two series starts to emerge: the future of world championship motorcycle racing is to be price-limited, with more support for the current teams, and factories holding a stake in both series, in exchange for keeping a lid on costs. The calendars of both series would come under scrutiny, with MotoGP heading to South America in 2014, and both series only racing at circuits willing to pay a sanctioning fee which would cover the cost of the logistics to get there.
Ezpeleta gave his clearest indication of the level of pricing he expected to see in both series, though the Dorna boss made no direct mention of price caps being set out by regulation. The factories will be free to spend as they wish - beyond the price caps proposed on parts such as brakes and suspension - for both the factory and the satellite teams. Those teams - now designated "MSMA manufacturers", rather than "prototypes" - will effectively be running fuel-limited racing, with the fuel allowance now at 20 liters per race, and using the standard electronics package with their own software. Those bikes will be virtually identical to the current crop of 1000cc MotoGP machines, though engine development will be frozen throughout the season, the only permitted alterations being in software, inlet and exhaust tracts. As most in-season development involves chassis parts and software, the engine freeze is not as significant as it would have been in years past.
Non-MSMA entries - private teams, currently running the CRT bikes - will have the choice of racing either a production Honda RC213V clone, a Yamaha M1 engine in a chassis to be designed by a third party, or can continue to use the production-based equipment being fielded under the CRT banner. The most important concession by the factories is that both Yamaha and Honda have agreed to limit their prices: a production RC213V will cost a maximum of 1 million euros for an entire season, while a season's supply of Yamaha M1 engines will cost 800,000 euros, both numbers excluding crash damage, of course. The privateers will have to use both the spec electronics hardware and software, supplied by Magneti Marelli through Dorna, but to compensate, they will have 4 extra liters of fuel. That is 20% more, an amount that should allow them to compete with the factory bikes.
The good news for the series is that these rules will be fixed for the three years from 2014 through 2016, and Ezpeleta said that exploratory talks are already underway for the 2017 season and beyond. One of the most important factors in controlling costs is rule stability, and having a predictable set of rules for the next four seasons, and plenty of time to prepare for any changes which may come after that, will be key to the success of the series.
Prices will also be limited in World Superbikes, though here, too, Ezpeleta did not want to speak of an official cap on prices. Competing in World Superbikes should cost no more than 250,000 euros a season, with each manufacturer obliged to be prepared to supply at least six riders, Ezpeleta said. This had been discussed with the teams, the FIM and the manufacturers at a special meeting convened in Geneva back in December, and had met with general acceptance. "The general idea was to make everybody happy, while also controlling the cost, and to give similar equipment for all the riders who use the same manufacturer," Ezpeleta explained. The price for a season of World Supersport should be no more than 100,000 euros. Price caps might be a good idea, but in World Superbikes, this could be hard to monitor, Ezpeleta said. "It will be up to the manufacturers to ensure this," he told GPOne.com.
In exchange, Dorna would be allowing the MSMA back into the Superbike Commission, the series' rule-making body, Ezpeleta said. The MSMA had lost representation in the Superbike Commission with the set of rule changes that saw 1000cc four-cylinders allowed into the series, subject to severe restrictions on modification. In return for controlling costs in WSBK, the MSMA would once again have a clearer voice in the future of the series.
The MSMA gain in World Superbikes was offset by a minor loss in MotoGP, however. Factories wishing to enter the series would not be able to roll up with their own team, Ezpeleta told the media. Instead, they would have to ally themselves with an existing team, and use that team's infrastructure and, to an extent, personnel if they wanted to race in MotoGP. The new arrangement strengthens the position of the existing teams, giving IRTA a stronger hand in the series, but it also gives the series more stability. The rule is a response to the fickleness of previous factories, especially of Kawasaki and Suzuki. Suzuki is keen to make a return to the series, but after the Japanese factory first reduced its involvement from two bikes to one in 2011, then pulled out entirely in 2012, Dorna will only allow the factory back if it is prepared to make a long-term commitment to the series. Suzuki had already obtained a series of concessions from Dorna before they left - their refusal to supply a satellite team, asking for and being granted concessions over extra engines, and an exemption from the now-defunct rookie rule - and so Dorna is loath to show them much leniency. By forcing Suzuki to come in via an existing team, Ezpeleta hopes to ensure a more stable field. That should not be a problem for Suzuki: prior to his entry into MotoGP, Jorge Martinez was in talks with Suzuki to supply bikes to his Aspar team, but that deal never materialized. Aspar would be the prime candidate to run a Suzuki effort, should they decide to return with the inline four MotoGP prototype they have been developing.
The other subject Ezpeleta touched upon was the number and location of the races for both series. He assured Giovanni Zamagni of Moto.it that the race in Argentina, canceled for 2013, would go ahead, and hoped that a second South American could be held in Brazil. Ezpeleta said that the ideal size of the calendar is still 18 rounds, though 19 would be the maxiumum. Reducing the number of races was not an option; each MotoGP race meant income for the teams, which is not the case in World Superbikes. Races would only be held at circuits prepared to cover the costs of racing there, the Dorna chief said, in response to questions about the Brno round of World Superbikes.
The good news for race fans was that Ezpeleta once again reiterated that the two series would continue to exist, and remain separate. "This is to confirm that we will maintain the two separate championships. One will be for motorcycles derived from production bikes [World Superbikes] and the other one will be prototypes [MotoGP]". Moving World Superbikes to a winter championship was an interesting idea, Ezpeleta said, but not feasible. Both MotoGP and WSBK were centered around Europe, and racing in Europe in the winter was not a viable option.
With both MotoGP and World Superbikes under his control, Carmelo Ezpeleta has a very firm grip on both series. He has had to grant a number of concessions to the factories to keep them in racing, but so far, they have shown that they are willing to play ball. The first test of the agreement will come in the middle of the year, when Honda and Yamaha have to start producing bikes and engines for the 2014 MotoGP season. At the same time, the seven manufacturers in World Superbikes will have to come up with ways of keeping costs down in that series, to keep the price of equipment under the maximum proposed by Dorna. There are signs of peace breaking out in the world of motorcycle racing, but it is still just a little too early to be hanging out the bunting.
Ducati unveiled the 2013 Desmosedici GP13 MotoGP machines this evening. Here are the photos of the new livery, for the factory Ducatis of Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso, and the Team Pramac junior team of Ben Spies and Andrea Iannone. Photos courtesy of Ducati Corse.
More white for the 2013 bike
Dovizioso's number is a nice contrast with the red and white
The swingarm of the GP13 is virtually unchanged, so far
Exhaust routing is much the same as well
Placing of the side numbers is distinctive
Front end is also almost identical
Dovi's bike, left-hand side
More white on Hayden's #69
Chassis also remains virtually identical
#69, by the left
The nose of the GP13 is looking much more bare, without Generali and AMG
The devil is in the detail
White and black
Black and white
Ducati unveiled the 2013 Desmosedici GP13 MotoGP machines this evening. Here are the photos of the new livery, for the factory Ducatis of Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso, and the Team Pramac junior team of Ben Spies and Andrea Iannone. Photos courtesy of Ducati Corse. The factory Ducati Team - Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden Team Pramac, the factory-supported junior team - Andrea Iannone and Ben Spies Taking the wraps off