If you'd like to have desktop-sized versions of Scott's fantastic photos, 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.A new hope #1 This is what an injured rider looks like while riding: Scott Redding goes flat out on the Production Honda
If you'd like to have desktop-sized versions of Scott's fantastic photos, 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.99 problems, but the pits ain't one Nicky's last Italian hurrah Journalist: 'It looks like you are always on the limit.' Marquez: 'Yes. Yes I am.'
Aleix Espargaro and Colin Edwards will race for the NGM Forward team in MotoGP next year, riding FTR-based Yamaha production machines. The announcement had been expected for a very long time, but confirmation only came on Saturday morning at Valencia, as haggling over buying out Espargaro's contract had continued over the past couple of months. Negotiations have finally been completed, and Espargaro has been cleared to join Forward.
The prolonged haggling over the contract had nearly jeopardized both the Forward and Aspar deals. Espargaro had a clause in his contract with Aspar that automatically extended his contract if he ended the season as top CRT rider, and Espargaro was forced to buy his way out of that. Forward had to pay 300,000 euros to Aspar for Espargaro's release, while Espargaro agreed to forgo the 100,000 euro bonus for winning the CRT championship. Rumors circulating in the paddock suggested that Aspar needed that money to be able to afford the Honda Production racers, and without it, he would not be able to make the first instalment on the Honda production racers which Nicky Hayden and an as yet unnamed second rider will race. Without the Honda production racers, American Honda would not be willing to offer the support promised to Hayden, and Aspar's budgets would have been badly compromised. The conclusion of the Forward deal with Espargaro means the financial complications have been smoothed out.
The team had also been expected to retain Colin Edwards for a third season, with the veteran American rider expressing his eagerness to get back on a Yamaha-powered machine. For a while, Edwards looked like being the victim of the negotiations between Forward and Aspar, with Forward asking him to take a pay cut to help pay for the package. That situation has now also been resolved.
Espargaro and Edwards will get their first taste of the Yamahas next week at Valencia. Initially, the bike will consist of a leased M1 engine, in a Yamaha frame and swingarm. All fittings and fixtures on the bike - from tank, seating unit, headstock, bodywork, etc - will come from FTR's workshop in Buckingham. Yamaha have provided extensive support to the engineering firm, with a special unit being set up inside the company's engineering department. As the year progresses, FTR will produce more of the bike, including a replacement swingarm and chassis.
Forward also confirmed their Moto2 plans. The team will cut back from four to two riders, retaining the services of both Simone Corsi and Mattia Pasini. The team will switch their Moto2 chassis from Speed Up to FTR as well. Below is the press release containing the announcement:
NGM Mobile Forward Racing Team presents its line-up for 2014
As the 2013 season comes to an end the NGM Mobile Forward Racing Team proudly presents its MotoGP and Moto2 line-up for the upcoming 2014 season.
Forward Racing will take part with two riders in the MotoGP category for the third consecutive year. In this third season the team will be count with the experience of Yamaha and FTR in entering the new “open” class within MotoGP. Colin Edwards will once again join the team in this new project and will be teaming up with Spanish rider Aleix Espargaro. Both riders will be doing a three-day test after the Valencia GP in which they will get to ride for the first time the Yamaha – FTR bike.
The team will strengthen the collaboration with FTR also in the Moto2 category with Simone Corsi and Mattia Pasini.
Colin Edwards – 5
“I am really excited for next year. The majority of my racing carrier has been with Yamaha, from the motocross days through road racing, so I am really excited to get back with Yamaha and obviously to enter into this new project with Forward and FTR. Theoretically on paper it looks like we can compete and right now, as soon as we are done with the season we need to get to work and that’s what I do best so I am really looking forward to it.”
Aleix Espargaro – 41
“After two years with a CRT bike, which have been very good for me, I think the time has come for me to make a change. Forward Racing approached me with an offer, a very exciting and ambitious project involving Yamaha and FTR. I believe it can be a competitive bike and the project itself with the team is something that I am excited about. I look forward to riding the bike, test, work hard and see how far we can go with it.”
Simone Corsi – 3
“I am really happy to have reached an agreement with NGM Mobile Forward Racing Team for 2014. Even if we have not been able to achieve the results that we would have hoped for this season we will try again in 2014. Thursday and Friday after Valencia the new adventure begins with FTR: I have ridden their bike in the past, they will follow us closely and we will aim to get good results.”
Mattia Pasini – 54
“I am very to be continuing with the team for a second year: the goal is to continue improving. At the beginning of the season we started off further behind then we expected but little by little and a lot of hard work we have improved. Unfortunately we have not been able to get where we wanted but continuing to work with the NGM Mobile Forward Racing is what seems best. It is important to provide continuity to this project, keep working very hard and not repeat past mistakes.”Aleix Espargaro and Colin Edwards will race for the NGM Forward team in MotoGP next year, riding FTR-based Yamaha production machines. The announcement had been expected for a very long time, but confirmation only came on Saturday morning at Valencia, as haggling over buying out Espargaro's contract had continued over the past couple of months. Negotiations have finally been completed, and Espargaro has been cleared to join Forward.
Valentino Rossi has decided to seek a new crew chief. After 14 seasons working together, in which the pair have amassed 7 world championships, Rossi and Jeremy Burgess are to part ways, and Yamaha are actively seeking a replacement for the Australian veteran. Rossi had taken the decision after a disappointing season with Yamaha, after being unable to match the pace of his teammate Jorge Lorenzo, and Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.
'It is true that next year Jerry won't be my chief mechanic,' Rossi told the press conference. The decision had not been taken lightly, he said. 'It was a very difficult decision for me because I have a great history with Jeremy. He is not just my chief mechanic. He is like part of my family. My father in racing.' Rossi felt he had been forced to make a decision to try to make a change, to regain his competitiveness. 'I've decided for next year I need to change something to try to find new motivation and to have a boost to improve my level, my speed. So this will be my last race together with Jeremy.'
Rossi had made the decision five days ago, he told reporters, but had waited until Valencia to tell Burgess, once he could tell him himself. 'We spoke today, face to face. Next year will be crucial and I need new motivation. In the last few races I've felt I wanted to work in a different way. It was a difficult choice to make. Yamaha had asked me some time ago, but I decided recently.' No decision had yet been made about a replacement, and it was unclear whether Burgess would be present at the test.
News that Rossi was seeking to have Burgess replaced first emerged from Tavullia, and was reported on the PU24 website, which reports on news around the Tavullia region. That report cited Rossi's dissatisfaction with a lack of results since his return to Yamaha, and anger at comments Burgess had made in which he questioned whether Rossi had lost his edge with age. At Valencia, Rossi denied any such reports: 'I know this only yesterday from the newspaper, but no, it's not for that,' he told Tammy Gorali, MotoGP commentator for the Israeli Sport 5 channel.
The decision had been extremely hard. 'For me is a very difficult decision, in fact I need a lot of time, but was for sure very not happy, but he said he could understand. But sincerely I don't know if he will do something next year or stay at home.' Burgess had taken the news calmly, Rossi said, but he was also clearly upset by the news. Asked how Burgess had responded, Rossi replied 'Very quiet. I wanted to say to him directly, because anyway I take the decision five days ago. But we spoke together alone, and I tried to explain that I need something different for next year, something new, some new boost, some new motivation, and he said he's very sorry, because he want to continue, but he understand. But very quiet.'
It had been important to tell Burgess face-to-face, Rossi said, and it had been a very sad moment for him as well. 'It's a sad day for me, very much. But very good that we speak anyway directly together, man-to-man, face-to-face.'
Rossi had not been considering the decision for very long, however. Some months ago, he said, Yamaha had asked him what his intentions were for 2014, and Rossi had told them at the time that he wanted to continue. However, as results failed to improve much, Rossi had started to have doubts, and felt he needed to make a change before making a decision on his own future in racing. 'For me next year is very important, to try to make a bit better in the tests and the first half of the season, because I have to decide whether to continue or not,' Rossi said.
Rossi hoped that the remainder of his tight-knit crew would remain, but he said he would understand if some felt they would prefer to leave. 'We have to speak, I don't know if somebody want to change job because Jerry is not with me, or go in some other part, but I am happy if all the crew remain.'
Rossi had first consulted Yamaha about the decision, before telling Burgess himself. Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing, told Tammy Gorali 'We discussed together, but basically Vale decided after much consideration, and then he shared it with the team management if we could accept his decision, and we said, OK, the relation between rider and crew chief is essential, is crucial, is most important, so if the rider decides he wants to change, you must listen to the rider.'
Jarvis told Gorali he would also be sad to see Burgess leave. 'I've known him for 10 years, closely. Jeremy's a good friend, I hope he will always remain a good friend, and I think he's a respected guy in the paddock and he's done a great deal for Vale and also for Yamaha, so I regret to see Jeremy not take that position any more. And I hope we will retain our friendship into the future.' There had not been a decision on who would replace Burgess, but Jarvis admitted he was already talking to a few people, although he declined to name any names.
Rossi's decision to drop Burgess appears to be a prelude to a decision on his own future in racing. Earlier this year, Rossi had said that he intended to sign up for another couple of years after the 2014, with an eye to retiring at the end of 2016. But as results have failed to come, Rossi must first determine whether the problem lies with him, or if it was down to the way the crew have worked.
Burgess has enjoyed great success in the premier class, winning titles with Rossi, Mick Doohan and Wayne Gardner as crew chief, and having worked with Erv Kanemoto when he was crew chief to Freddie Spencer. But Burgess is over 60, and after his wife fell ill last year, there were some thoughts he could retire when Rossi left Ducati. If Rossi is to continue racing, there are no guarantees that Burgess will not retire early.
If Rossi has doubts about Burgess, then now is the time to replace him. It is also the one major factor in the bike equation which will allow Rossi to tell if he is still capable of running with the front runners, or whether he is past his prime himself. If a change of crew chief brings Rossi success, then he knows that he can continue racing. If Rossi continues to circulate in the same position as this year, then he knows that the problem was not with the crew chief, but with himself. Burgess was the only variable Rossi had at his control, and switching Burgess out was his best bet of judging his own level again.
Yet there is also good reason to believe that the issue lies with Rossi himself. At 34 years of age, Rossi is past his peak and may just be losing his first touch of speed. That touch is the difference between winning races and missing out on podiums, a prospect Rossi clearly does not relish. If Rossi cannot be more competitive next year, then the chances of him deciding to call it a day seem very large.
Although Rossi has worked with Burgess for 14 years, it is not unusual to make a change. As in all professional sports, when the results don't come, something has to change, in search of new success. Loyalty only stretches so far in any sporting environment, and results are the only thing that count. Neither Burgess nor Rossi enjoy not being able to win, but only Rossi has the power to make a change.Valentino Rossi has decided to seek a new crew chief. After 14 seasons working together, in which the pair have amassed 7 world championships, Rossi and Jeremy Burgess are to part ways, and Yamaha are actively seeking a replacement for the Australian veteran. Rossi had taken the decision after a disappointing season with Yamaha, after being unable to match the pace of his teammate Jorge Lorenzo, and Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.'It is true that next year Jerry won't be my chief mechanic,' Rossi told the press conference. The decision had not been taken lightly, he said. 'It was a very difficult decision for me because I have a great history with Jeremy. He is not just my chief mechanic. He is like part of my family. My father in racing.' Rossi felt he had been forced to make a decision to try to make a change, to regain his competitiveness. 'I've decided for next year I need to change something to try to find new motivation and to have a boost to improve my level, my speed. So this will be my last race together with Jeremy.'
Honda today officially unveiled one of the most eagerly anticipated motorcycles of recent years, and a key bike in the future of MotoGP. At the Valencia circuit, Honda unveiled the Honda RCV1000R, their production MotoGP racer, for entry in the Open class, which is to replace the CRT class for last year. The bike is a close sibling of the factory Honda RC213V raced by Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa, Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl, with a few modifications to make the bike cheaper to produce. This means that while the engine configuration is identical - a 90° V4 - the engine runs conventional metal valve springs rather than the pneumatic valves run by the factory bikes, and a conventional gearbox rather than a seamless transmission. The chassis geometry is also identical, though there are minor differences in chassis stiffness between the two bikes.
The RCV1000R will run the spec Magneti Marelli hardware and Dorna software, rather than Honda's custom and highly complex electronics package run on the factory bikes. One sign of that was the lack of torque sensor on the bike output shaft which is used on the factory Honda. The bike will have a 24 liter fuel allowance, though Honda do not expect to need that fuel. They will also have 12 engines to last a season, instead of the 5 allowed for factory entries.
Despite the limitations, Honda quotes the power output as being 'over 175kW', or over 235 horsepower. That is probably 15 to 20 hp down on the factory bike, but despite the lack of horsepower, the bike was still fast. HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto said the bike was 0.3 seconds slower than the factory bike when tested on the same day, by the same rider, and on the same tires. When the bike was fitted with the special soft Bridgestones the current CRT bikes are allowed to use, that bike dropped to 0.1 seconds. Asked whether that difference in times were set by Casey Stoner or a Honda test rider, Nakamoto quipped 'Both, Casey Stoner is a Honda test rider!'
Such a small gap between the two bikes was met with some scepticism, from some surprising quarters. Aspar team manager Gino Borsoi told MotoMatters.com that he expected the gap to be nearer 0.7 seconds than 0.3, citing the quoted price as a reason. 'Why would a satellite team spend 3 million euros, if the gap is only 0.3 seconds with a bike which costs just 1 million?'
That is a good question, and if the Honda is as good as HRC says, then there really is no reason for satellite teams to spend the extra money. The RCV1000R is set to cost 1.2 million euros for the first year, and 550,000 euros for the upgrade package in the second year of a two-year deal. With the total cost of ownership coming in at just under 900,000 euros a season, the extra performance of a satellite bike would cost around a million euros per tenth of a second. If the gap is larger, then that proposition would make more sense. The bike is not a pure purchase proposition either: the teams paying the money will only get to keep the bikes at the end of the two-year contract, after they become effectively obsolete. Before that time, all engine maintenance will still be done by HRC, and Honda will not allow the team to make modifications to the engine.
The bike will first hit the track on Monday, with Nicky Hayden, Scott Redding and Aspar's second rider - due to be announced after the race on Sunday - at the helm. They will have to share testing duties, as HRC only has two bikes present at the circuit. Nicky Hayden was already looking forward to riding the bike on Monday. 'When Honda they get serious about making bikes, they make really nice stuff, so for sure I expect a lot from it,' he told the press conference. Testing commences at Valencia on Monday at noon, and continues for two more days.
Below are the press releases issued by Honda, and after the press releases, a full selection of photos of the bike.
HRC UNVEIL NEW MotoGP PRODUCTION RACER
Honda unveiled its RCV1000R production racer at Valencia this afternoon, just four days before the machine makes its European track debut during Monday’s first offseason tests.
The objective of the RCV1000R – based closely on the RC213V that currently leads both the riders and constructors’ World Championships – is to give private riders and teams a fighting chance in MotoGP.
The RCV1000R will be made in limited quantity and sold to private teams for use in next year’s World Championship. Already down to ride the bike are Honda’s former MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden, Moto2 race winner Scott Redding and Czech privateer Karel Abraham.
The 999.5cc RCV1000R looks and sounds like the RC213V, using the same 90 degree V4 configuration and firing order as the factory bike, as well as the same chassis geometry. However, there are some crucial differences in technical specification, most significantly the bike uses conventional steel valve springs instead of the factory bike’s pneumatic valve springs and a conventional gearbox instead of the factory bike’s ‘seamless shift’ gearbox. Both these technologies were deemed inappropriate for private teams who go racing on tight budgets.
“This project is very important to Honda,” said Shuhei Nakamoto, Executive Vice President of the Honda Racing Corporation. “The gap between the factory bikes and the current CRT machines [which use engines from street superbikes] was a little too big, so this is the way we like to help private teams – this is the main concept. The target was to produce a reasonably competitive machine for a reasonable price.”
Like other so-called Open machines (ie non-factory), the RCV1000R runs control electronics hardware and software – by Magneti Marelli – instead of factory-spec electronics.
The bike has already been tested by Honda’s 2011 MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner, who was pleasantly surprised by its impressive performance. At Motegi in Japan, the Australian was just 0.3 seconds slower on the RCV1000R than on an RC213V, using the same tyres. Once the machine had been fitted with a softer rear slick, only available to Open bike riders, the gap shrunk to just 0.17 seconds.
This is not the first time that Honda has supported the premier class with production machinery designed to help riders compete at the highest level in World Championship races.
Throughout the 1980s the factory’s three-cylinder RS500 production racer – based on the title-winning NS500 – was a mainstay of 500 GP grids. And in the late 1990s the company’s NSR500V twin once again gave private teams a chance to compete. One of these machines was the last privateer bike to score a premier-class podium, when Alex Barros finished third at the 1997 British GP. That year Barros bettered several factory machines in the final World Championship standings.
Honda has also enjoyed a close relationship with private riders and teams in the smaller Grand Prix classes, marketing four-stroke machinery during the 1960s and two-stroke 250s and 125s from the 1980s onwards. Honda’s current NS250F four-stroke – built specifically to the requirements of privateers – accounts for almost half the grid in the Moto3 World Championship.
Honda Racing Corporation unveils RCV1000R for 2014
Today in Valencia, Honda Racing Corporation introduced the Honda RCV1000R prototype machine to be used from 2014 in the MotoGP "Open" Class (prototype machines with Magneti Marelli hardware and software, 24 litre tank and 12 engines per season). The goal of this new machine, which will be sold and not leased to the teams, is to compete in MotoGP with a reasonable budget.
Together with HRC Executive Vice President, Shuhei Nakamoto, Project leader, Tomonori Sato, presented the final machine to the World’s media, in anticipation of it’s first outing with the customer teams next Monday at the post-race Valencia test. The RCV1000R chassis is based on the current RC213V prototype bike, as is the engine - a 90º V4 producing over 175KW of power at 16,000rpm, utilising spring valves and a traditional gear box. The bike will be delivered with Öhlins suspension and Nissin brakes.
Four riders will race on the RCV1000R in 2014, Nicky Hayden and TBC second rider (Aspar Team), Scott Redding (Honda Gresini Team) and Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Team). HRC test rider and two-time World Champion, Casey Stoner, has already tested the RCV1000R and provided positive f
Honda today officially unveiled one of the most eagerly anticipated motorcycles of recent years, and a key bike in the future of MotoGP. At the Valencia circuit, Honda unveiled the Honda RCV1000R, their production MotoGP racer, for entry in the Open class, which is to replace the CRT class for last year. The bike is a close sibling of the factory Honda RC213V raced by Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa, Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl, with a few modifications to make the bike cheaper to produce. This means that while the engine configuration is identical - a 90° V4 - the engine runs conventional metal valve springs rather than the pneumatic valves run by the factory bikes, and a conventional gearbox rather than a seamless transmission. The chassis geometry is also identical, though there are minor differences in chassis stiffness between the two bikes.The RCV1000R will run the spec Magneti Marelli hardware and Dorna software, rather than Honda's custom and highly complex electronics package run on the factory bikes. One sign of that was the lack of torque sensor on the bike output shaft which is used on the factory Honda. The bike will have a 24 liter fuel allowance, though Honda do not expect to need that fuel. They will also have 12 engines to last a season, instead of the 5 allowed for factory entries.
There is a lot of fascinating news coming out of this week's EICMA motorcycle show in Milan: the boom in smaller capacity motorcycles, an upgraded Fireblade, a massive push from MV Agusta, details of which can be found on our favorite general motorcycling website Asphalt & Rubber. But the show is also making headlines which will affect motorcycle racing as well.
Today at the EICMA, during a presentation on Aprilia's future plans, Piaggio CEO Roberto Colaninno announced that the Italian manufacturer is aiming to make a return to the MotoGP class as a factory entry in 2016. The goal, Colaninno told his audience, was 'to achieve the same success we have enjoyed in World Superbikes', while recognizing that the factory had two years of hard work ahead of them. The aim is for Aprilia to race in MotoGP from 2016 with a pure prototype machine, according to GPone.com, with the objective of winning races.
The task facing Aprilia is sizable. With the defection of Aspar to Honda, Aprilia lost its most important technical partner in MotoGP. Having two strong riders in Aspar helped move development rapidly. However, doubts over whether there was any internal support for Aprilia's ambitious development program for their ART machine came to a head with the defection of Aprilia Racing head Gigi Dall'Igna to Ducati, where he is set to shake up the Ducati Corse department. The loss of the Cardion AB team to Honda leaves only Paul Bird's PBM team still using Aprilia machinery in MotoGP, a team which has much less experience in MotoGP and much less budget for development.
Aprilia's development program is still dependent on outside partners. In an interview with German language website Speedweek, Aprilia Racing's new boss, Romano Albesiano said that the factory was looking for partners to help develop technology for their MotoGP bike. At present, the ART bike - based on championship-winning Aprilia's RSV4 World Superbike machine - uses metal valve springs and a conventional gearbox, instead of the pneumatic (or Desmodromic) valves and seamless gearboxes which are now standard issue on the other factory prototypes. Getting those technologies right on their own will be difficult and time-consuming, as the development of Yamaha's seamless gearbox demonstrated. Even more difficult will be managing to compete with just the 20 liters of fuel allowed in 2014. That proved to be the stumbling point for expanded participation next year, and will remain a massive obstacle to any new factory seeking to join the series.
Aprilia already has experience of just how difficult competing in MotoGP can be. Their first attempt lasted just three seasons, Aprilia entering with the RS3 Cube in 2002, only to leave again at the end of 2004. The Cube was a fire breathing monster of a machine: the 990cc triple, built by Cosworth, made the most ferocious sound of all the MotoGP bikes, and the infamous photo of Colin Edwards riding a ball of flame moments before leaping off at the Sachsenring added to its mystique. But it was never competitive - its riders said it was barely rideable - and Aprilia was forced to abandon the project once it became apparent it would be impossible to make it competitive.
There is good reason to be sceptical of this announcement, however. 2016 is an odd deadline for joining the series, given that the current rule framework has been agreed until 2017. Dorna is known to be pushing hard to have the spec ECU software made compulsory for all MotoGP entries, as well as wanting a rev limit to be imposed and the fuel limits raised. Carmelo Ezpeleta has spoken in the past about more radical changes coming for 2017 and onwards, so for Aprilia to develop a MotoGP machine for just a single year ahead of a major rule shake up seems less than cost effective.
The announcement by Colaninno should perhaps also be seen in the light of the fact that none of the major motorcycle marques operated by the Piaggio Group had a new bike to present. The line up for Aprilia and Moto Guzzi remains unchanged for 2014, and there was little else to report, apart from officially presenting Marco Melandri as Aprilia's new World Superbike rider. A cynic might suggest that announcing Aprilia's MotoGP plans - vague, surrounded by uncertainty, aiming for a date several years in the future - was a classic piece of marketing misdirection. The media is now buzzing with the news of a possible return to MotoGP by Aprilia in the future, rather than the lack of new bikes for the new year. Time will tell whether Aprilia's MotoGP plans are a pipe dream, or a concrete program aimed squarely at the future.
With the uncertainty surrounding the World Superbike series easing up, the outlines of the 2014 season are starting to become clear. The test after the final round of the 2013 season at Jerez turned into an audition for some of the riders, with riders still searching for a team for next season.
In the days since that test, news has been emerging of rider signings and team plans for 2014. While both the Pata Honda and factory Kawasaki line ups were known, the future of the Aprilia and Ducati teams was still uncertain, with doubts over whether one or both of the Italian factories might pull out of World Superbikes. Ducati confrmed their intention to continue in 2014 earlier this week, while today, Aprilia have also stated their intention to keep racing next year. Aprilia have also confirmed the signing of Marco Melandri, something which had long been expected. Melandri will line up alongside Sylvain Guintoli for the 2014 season.
The signing of Melandri left Irishman Eugene Laverty out of a ride, but Laverty had already held extensive talks with other teams, both in World Superbikes and in MotoGP. After deciding to turn down the second Desmosedici at Pramac Ducati, to be run under the 'Open' rules with more fuel, Laverty now looks set to sign for FIXI Crescent Suzuki for 2014, according to Bikesportnews.com. To sweeten the prospect of a year on one of the less competitive bikes on the WSBK grid, Laverty has been promised a ride with Suzuki in MotoGP when they make their return in 2015. Laverty is an obvious choice for such a role, given that he has experience in the MotoGP paddock, and can help develop the project in 2014 and beyond. The second seat at Suzuki could be filled by Alex Lowes, after the 2013 BSB champion decided against a switch to MotoGP with Paul Bird's PBM team.
The table below shows all of the signings confirmed for the 2014 World Superbike series so far, as well as the two seats at Suzuki as they are expected to be filled. The are still more seats vacant, with talks going on among Althea, Alstare, and Toni Elias over who is to retain the services of the Spaniard. The Pedercini team is also likely to return, possibly racing undr the new EVO rules, a set of regulations which are proving attractive to new teams. PTR Honda's Simon Buckmaster has spoken out in favor of the rules, and expressed an interest in creating a team.
There is also interest from the US in the series. Erik Buell Racing has announced they will be competing in WSBK in 2014 with Geoff May, campaigning the EBR1190RX, Erik Buell's latest sports bike. Bigger news could come in the form of Michael Jordan Motorsports, who have abandoned the AMA series and are currently examining competing in an international series. Given the Jordan team's wildcard at the US round of World Superbikes at Laguna Seca, it looks almost certain that the team is aiming to race in WSBK. The only question mark is over whether they will be able to raise the funding in time.
Here are the signings so far:
|Sylvain Guintoli||Aprilia RSV4|
|Marc Melandri||Aprilia RSV4|
|Tom Sykes||Kawasaki ZX-10R|
|Loris Baz||Kawasaki ZX-10R|
|Jonathan Rea||Honda CBR1000RR|
|Leon Haslam||Honda CBR1000RR|
|FIXI Crescent Suzuki|
|Eugene Laverty?||Suzuki GSX-R1000|
|Alex Lowes?||Suzuki GSX-R1000|
|Chaz Davies||Ducati Panigale 1199R|
|Davide Giugliano||Ducati Panigale 1199R|
Below is the press release issued by Aprilia announcing the signing of Melandri:
MARCO MELANDRI WITH APRILIA IN WORLD SUPERBIKE 2014.
THE ITALIAN RIDER, ALREADY WORLD CHAMPION WITH APRILIA IN 2002, WILL BE ASTRIDE THE OFFICIAL RSV4 NEXT SEASON.
Noale, 2 November 2013 – It's official: Marco Melandri will be racing in Aprilia colours for the 2014 World Superbike season. The rider from Ravenna signed a one year contract with an option for renewal that binds him to the team which just finished WSBK 2013 as Manufacturer World Champion with the RSV4. For Marco this is a "return home": in fact, it was astride an Aprilia that Melandri was crowned 250 World Champion in 2002 after taking a third place finish in 2001.
Born in 1982, Marco Melandri began his career at a very young age in minimoto, becoming Italian Champion in 1992 and 1994. Moving to 125 he became Italian Champion for the category in 1997, a title which allowed him to début in the "eighth litre" MotoGP class. Third in 1998 and second in 1999, Marco moved up a category into the powerful 250 2-strokes with Aprilia and this was the beginning of a path that saw him rank fifth in the rider standings in 2000, third in 2001 and World Champion (with 9 wins and 2 podiums out of 16 races) in 2002.
In the top MotoGP category Melandri immediately confirmed his competitiveness, finishing out the year in second place. In the various MotoGP categories Melandri has won 22 races and been on the podium 62 times.
In 2011 Marco Melandri moved over to World Superbike and was immediately a key player, so much that he was battling for the title from his rookie season, although he had to "settle" for second place at the end of the year. Finishing third in the 2012 season, the rider from Ravenna was also a contender for the title in 2013, finishing out the season in fourth place. In SBK he has taken 13 wins and 38 podiums.
The Aprilia title collection in World Superbike, where they have just taken the 2013 Manufacturer Title, includes five World Wreaths (2 Rider, 3 Manufacturer) with 38 wins and the impressive figure of 93 podiums, in addition to 16 pole positions.
Overall, in its brief history Aprilia boasts 52 World Titles (38 in MotoGP, 5 in Superbike and 9 in off-road disciplines) which make it one of the most victorious brands ever in motorcycle competitions.
Marco Melandri: “Coming back to ride the brand that brought me my first World Champion title is - first and foremost - very exciting. Speaking from a human and personal point of view, there are so many memories that tie me to Aprilia and they are memories of victories.
In all these years Aprilia has demonstrated its worthiness in racing, winning one world title after another, so I am sure that I will find an environment where we are always ready to compete for victory.
From a technical point of I am quite anxious to race on the RSV4, a bike that I have done battle with many times on the track. I think that she and I will... get along well, but the track, the first testing sessions and above all the races to come will give us the answer to that one. And then I think that riding an Italian bike into battle for the world title is amazing for an Italian rider. So follow along with us. It's going to be an exciting and fun season."
Romano Albesiano, Aprilia Racing Manager: “Marco is a rider that we know well. He has already been a part of the Aprilia family, winning a fantastic world championship with our brand. His qualities certainly need no confirmation. He has demonstrated that he is capable of fighting for the title from the first round even in a Championship that is new to him. I'm sure that he'll do well astride our RSV4, a bike that in my opinion is well suited for Marco's riding style. With the signing of Melandri and confirmation of Sylvain Guintoli after his excellent 2013 season, our commitment in World Superbike is confirmed, with the intention of increasing the Aprilia collection of titles. I would also like to thank Eugene Laverty who had a fantastic season astride our RSV4, and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors”.
Danny Kent is to return to the Red Bull KTM Ajo team in Moto3 for 2014. The move had been widely anticipated after Kent made the surprise announcement after the Aragon round that he was to leave the Tech 3 Moto2 team. Kent rejoins the Ajo Moto3 team aiming to compete for wins and the Moto3 title, and completes a very strong rider line up in the team. Kent will be teammates with Australian sensation Jack Miller, and the highly regarded Red Bull Rookies Cup winner Karel Hanika. Zulfahmi Khairuddin, currently inside the Red Bull KTM Ajo team, will be shifted out to the one-rider structure currently occupied by Niklas Ajo, with Air Asia backing.
The KTM Ajo team will be one of the favorites for the 2014 Moto3 title, with the Estrella Galicia 0,0 team being the other. That team, run by Emilio Alzamora, will field Alex Marquez and, if he doesn't win the Moto3 championship next Sunday at Valencia, Alex Rins, though they will be switching from KTM to Honda, with HRC building a brand new, far more powerful Moto3 machine to take on the mighty KTMs.
Other teams to watch in 2014 include the Gresini squad, who will be switching to KTM and fielding Isaac Vinales and Niccolo Antonelli, Team Sky (the VR46-backed team run by Vitto Guareschi) with Romano Fenati, and possibly Team Calvo, if they can secure the services of Miguel Oliveira.
Below is the Ajo team's press release:
Red Bull KTM Ajo rejoin forces with Danny Kent for 2014
British rider returns to team for whom he rode in 2011 and 2012, to compete for another year in the Moto3 World Championship.
Reigning Moto3 Team World Champions, Red Bull KTM Ajo, will reunite with Danny Kent next season. The 19 year-old Briton, born in Chippenham in 1993, will return to the team run by Aki Ajo in Moto3 after a year in the Moto2 class. Kent competed for the team in 2011 and 2012, making his debut in the World Championship and claiming his first Grand Prix victories.
A runner-up finish in the 2010 Red Bull Rookies Cup series led to Danny Kent undertaking his first full World Championship season in 2011. He did so in the 125cc class, as a Red Bull KTM Ajo rider. Kent finished the year in eleventh place overall, with fourth place at Jerez –in only the second round of the season– his best result. This experience was further built upon in the first year of Moto3 competition, in which he took two wins –at Motegi and Valencia– plus an additional podium at Assen. Fourth placed overall in the season’s final standings, the Brit moved up to Moto2 this season. His best results in the intermediate class were twelfth place finishes at Brno and Sepang.
The addition of Danny Kent to the team, alongside Jack Miller and Karel Hanika, completes the Red Bull KTM Ajo lineup for 2014.
Aki Ajo -Team Manager
"I am very enthusiastic to have Danny Kent onboard for next season, forming an excellent trio with Jack [Miller] and Karel [Hanika]. In 2011 and 2012 I had the chance to work with him, and I am very happy with that experience. With an extra year of racing under his belt, this second opportunity to work with him will be very fruitful for both parties. I am sure that we will understand one another easily from day one and be stronger, so I can’t wait for the first tests in November.
I’m sure that this past year will be very useful for Danny’s performances next year. He has taken good results and has learnt a lot. Moto2 is a different category; I am convinced that he will be even stronger in Moto3."
Danny Kent - Rider
"I am very happy to be returning to the Red Bull KTM Ajo team. I think that this is the best opportunity possible. This is a very hard-working group, very professional and always in the fight for wins and titles. I want to make the most of this second spell with the team and finish as high up the order as possible at every race. I can't wait to get started and begin working hard. My collarbone injury is getting better every day, I have more movement, so I think that I will be ready for the first test in November.
Red Bull KTM Ajo are a group of professionals who work very hard, and that is why they have won so much. Their way of working and that of Aki [Ajo] are different to other teams, and I like it. Aki is strict and methodical. I want to make the most of his experience, listening and learning from all the advice that he gives me."Danny Kent is to return to the Red Bull KTM Ajo team in Moto3 for 2014. The move had been widely anticipated after Kent made the surprise announcement after the Aragon round that he was to leave the Tech 3 Moto2 team. Kent rejoins the Ajo Moto3 team aiming to compete for wins and the Moto3 title, and completes a very strong rider line up in the team. Kent will be teammates with Australian sensation Jack Miller, and the highly regarded Red Bull Rookies Cup winner Karel Hanika. Zulfahmi Khairuddin, currently inside the Red Bull KTM Ajo team, will be shifted out to the one-rider structure currently occupied by Niklas Ajo, with Air Asia backing.The KTM Ajo team will be one of the favorites for the 2014 Moto3 title, with the Estrella Galicia 0,0 team being the other. That team, run by Emilio Alzamora, will field Alex Marquez and, if he doesn't win the Moto3 championship next Sunday at Valencia, Alex Rins, though they will be switching from KTM to Honda, with HRC building a brand new, far more powerful Moto3 machine to take on the mighty KTMs.Other teams to watch in 2014 include the Gresini squad, who will be switching to KTM and fielding Isaac Vinales and Niccolo Antonelli, Team Sky (the VR46-backed team run by Vitto Guareschi) with Romano Fenati, and possibly Team Calvo, if they can secure the services of Miguel Oliveira.
Ducati has announced their World Superbike line up for the next two seasons. For 2014 and 2015, Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano will race the Ducati 1199 Panigale for the Italian factory, though details of the team structure are still pending. Testing is due to start for Davies and Giugliano at the end of October, initially with the Ducati test team.
After Alstare split from Ducati after the final round of 2013, there has been much speculation on who would take over the running of Ducati's World Superbike squad. It is believed that it will come down to a choice between Feel Racing, who ran BMW's WSBK entry in 2013 and have a long association with Ducati, or an internal Ducati team. The internal team is rumored to be the preferred option at the moment.
Below is the Ducati press release announcing Giugliano and Davies as riders:
Ducati announce 2014 World Superbike riders
- Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano destined to race in Ducati colours for 2014 World Superbike season
- Riders and technicians to immediately start pre-season testing 30-31 October at Jerez
Borgo Panigale (Bologna, Italy), 28 October 2013 – Following the announcement of the mutual decision to conclude early the partnership with Team Alstare, Ducati today confirm its participation in the 2014 World Superbike Championship and its agreement with the riders who will compete aboard the Ducati 1199 Panigale motorcycles.
Welsh rider, Chaz Davies, and the Italian, Davide Giugliano, are both now officially confirmed to compete for the Italian manufacturer during the 2014 and 2015 World Superbike seasons. This is an important decision for Ducati, determined to bounce back after a year of disappointing results for the 1199 Panigale, which failed to deliver the results expected in World Superbike despite its considerable success in many national championships and the highly-competitive FIM Superstock Cup.
The new Ducati Superbike riders will immediately join technicians of the Ducati development team to start work 30-31 October at Jerez de la Frontera (Spain), carrying out the first of three test sessions planned for the winter break.
More detailed information concerning the organisation and management of the team will be available in the coming weeks.
Chaz Davies was born 10 February, 1987 in Knighton, Wales (UK) and first started racing in minimoto in 1995, winning the championship title in this rookie category the following year and retaining it until 1998. From 2002-2006 he competed at World Championship level in the 125GP category, moving up to 250GP soon after. After additional experience in the AMA championship he was selected to take part in the World Supersport Championship and in 2011 became World Supersport Champion. The following year he moved up to World Superbike, a category in which he scored his first victory in 2012 and three more in 2013.
Davide Giugliano was born in Rome on 28 October, 1989 and started his racing career in 2005 by competing in the European Superstock 600 championship, finishing third in the championship the following year. After a year in the World Supersport Championship he switched to FIM Superstock 1000 Cup and in 2011 rode the Ducati 1098 R to championship victory competing for the Althea Racing team. Giugliano made his Superbike debut in 2011, riding as a wildcard at Portimão immediately after clinching the Superstock Cup title. In 2012 he became an official rider for the Genesio Bevilacqua team alongside Carlos Checa, taking two podiums and closing the season 10th overall. In 2013, he achieved one pole position and two more podiums in the World Superbike series, finishing the championship in 6th position.Ducati has announced their World Superbike line up for the next two seasons. For 2014 and 2015, Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano will race the Ducati 1199 Panigale for the Italian factory, though details of the team structure are still pending. Testing is due to start for Davies and Giugliano at the end of October, initially with the Ducati test team.After Alstare split from Ducati after the final round of 2013, there has been much speculation on who would take over the running of Ducati's World Superbike squad. It is believed that it will come down to a choice between Feel Racing, who ran BMW's WSBK entry in 2013 and have a long association with Ducati, or an internal Ducati team. The internal team is rumored to be the preferred option at the moment.Below is the Ducati press release announcing Giugliano and Davies as riders:Ducati announce 2014 World Superbike riders
Ducati team boss Vitto Guareschi is to leave Ducati at the end of this season and to manage the new Sky Moto3 team being run with the backing of Valentino Rossi's VR46 merchandising franchise. Guareschi is to assume the role of team manager in the project, which has been set up with the express aim of developing new young Italian talent. The team will field two riders, with Romano Fenati already having been signed for 2014, and a second rider yet to be announced. That rider will not be Rossi's half-brother Luca Marini, as Marini has already signed a contract to race in the Spanish championship in 2014.
Guareschi's departure is part of the ongoing large-scale organizational shake up at Ducati. Guareschi had been with the team from the start, first as test rider helping to develop the bike, and then later as a team manager, but his role had been diminished at the start of the year, when Paolo Ciabatti was brought in as MotoGP Project Manager. There have been persistent rumors that Ducati are trying to persuade Davide Tardozzi to take over the role of team manager for Ducati's MotoGP team, but so far, no official announcement has been made.
Ducati's new owners Audi appear to be hoping that Davide Tardozzi could form part of a triumvirate capable of reshaping their MotoGP project. Along with Ciabatti and new Ducati Corse manager Gigi Dall'Igna, Ducati appear to be gambling that the influx of three forceful Italians will help put the project back on the road, and make it competitive again.
Below is the official press release from Team Sky:
VITTORIANO GUARESCHI JOINS TEAM SKY
STARTING NEXT SEASON, THE ITALIAN WILL BE THE TEAM MANAGER FOR TEAM SKY, CREATED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH VR46, VALENTINO ROSSI’S TEAM
Milan, 26 October 2013: It was announced today that Vittoriano Guareschi will join the Sky project, whose aim is to help identify and develop young riders on the international stage. Beginning in 2014, Vitto will be with Team Sky, a new Moto3 effort that was created in partnership with 9 time World Champion Valentino Rossi’s VR46.
Vitto Guareschi will assume the role of Team Manager for the Sky squad, which next season will begin racing KTM motorcycles in the Moto3 World Championship, organized by Dorna.
After thirteen years with Ducati, the last four of which were in the role of Team Manager, the ex-World Supersport and World Superbike racer joins Sky, where he will coordinate the team. Guareschi will be tasked with guiding a group of top young Italian riders including Romano Fenati who, in his World Championship debut last year at the age of 16, was the top Italian in Moto3.Ducati team boss Vitto Guareschi is to leave Ducati at the end of this season and to manage the new Sky Moto3 team being run with the backing of Valentino Rossi's VR46 merchandising franchise. Guareschi is to assume the role of team manager in the project, which has been set up with the express aim of developing new young Italian talent. The team will field two riders, with Romano Fenati already having been signed for 2014, and a second rider yet to be announced. That rider will not be Rossi's half-brother Luca Marini, as Marini has already signed a contract to race in the Spanish championship in 2014.Guareschi's departure is part of the ongoing large-scale organizational shake up at Ducati. Guareschi had been with the team from the start, first as test rider helping to develop the bike, and then later as a team manager, but his role had been diminished at the start of the year, when Paolo Ciabatti was brought in as MotoGP Project Manager. There have been persistent rumors that Ducati are trying to persuade Davide Tardozzi to take over the role of team manager for Ducati's MotoGP team, but so far, no official announcement has been made.