Marc Marquez has been handed a penalty point for his role in the incident with Dani Pedrosa at Aragon. On lap 6 of the Aragon race, Marquez braked a little too late for Turn 12, found himself running into the back of his teammate Dani Pedrosa, the picked the bike up to run it wide. In doing so, he just touched the back of Pedrosa's bike, severing the rear wheel speed sensor and sending the Honda's traction control system into full power mode, causing Pedrosa to be thrown from the bike when he opened the throttle.
Despite initially dimissing the crash as a normal racing incident, Race Direction had held the incident under investigation after the Aragon race, while they waited for further technical data from Honda on the crash. That data was delivered to them at Sepang, and after examining it, Race Direction found both Marc Marquez and HRC culpable for the crash, Marquez for riding in an irresponsible manner (violating section 1.21.2 of the Disciplinary code, the catch-all for dangerous riding) and HRC for endangering their riders by using a vulnerable design for a vital part of a system which is so important to the safety and performance of the motorcycle.
Marc Marquez was given a single penalty point by Race Direction, bringing his current total to 3 points. The single point for the Aragon crash will have no immediate impact; once a rider has accumulated 4 points, they start from the back of the grid, and if they amass 7 points, they have to start from pit lane. Accumulating 10 points automatically incurs a race ban, although the penalty points are reset to zero for all riders at the start of each season.
Honda were stripped of the 25 points in the manufacturers championship which they gained from Marquez' win at Aragon. Instead, they received 13 points in the manufacturers' standings for Alvaro Bautista's 4th place in the race. Neither Marquez nor Honda have said they will appeal the sanction.
Race Director Mike Webb told the media, including Spanish magazine Motociclismo, that Marquez' punishment was meant to be a signal to the Spaniard that he has to be more aware of other riders when on track, especially in braking. Webb said that they had checked the braking data from both Marquez and Pedrosa, and both men had braked at almost exactly the same point as on previous laps, but that the greater proximity between the two riders and the difference in riding styles - one braking early and carrying corner speed, the other braking late and turning the bike - had caused the contact. Marquez, as the rider behind, should have taken account of his closeness to Pedrosa. It was the responsibility of the rider behind to ensure that he would not hit the rider in front entering a corner, Webb said.
Though contact was only minimal, Webb said, this was just one of a number of incidents which had happened throughout the year. Marquez' braking had left him uncomfortably close to riders several times during the season, and as Marquez had actually made contact with Pedrosa at Aragon, Race Direction had taken the opportunity to give him a single point as a warning. This was a message, Webb said, to let Marquez know that he needs to show more respect to his rivals when racing with them at close quarters on track.
The penalty against Honda was an acknowledgement of the design flaw of Honda's rear wheel speed sensor, Webb said. Most other manufacturers had dual rear wheel speed sensors just in case one failed, and Honda had been warned previously by some team engineers that the sensor was vulnerable. If the manufacturers designed their motorcycles to be so utterly dependent on electronic inputs to be ridden safely, then they had a duty to ensure that those systems would function safely and not endanger their riders if there was a malfunction, Race Direction felt.
Honda had already taken steps to prevent a reoccurrence of the Aragon incident. At Sepang, all Hondas now had a small carbon fiber plate protecting the sensor cable. Furthermore, HRC were looking at the software component of traction control, Takeo Yokoyama, Technical Director of the Repsol Honda Team told the MotoGP.com website. 'From the software point of view, we of course do have a backup mode; if something happens with the sensor signal, the bike is supposed to go into the safety mode immediately. However, the strategy was not perfect, so for this race we have modified it so that we can detect such failures earlier,' Yokoyama said.
That the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade is getting a little long in the tooth has been obvious for several years now. And that Honda is planning a very special V4 sportsbike to take the Fireblade's place on the World Superbike grid has also been broadly mooted for the past couple of years. The existence of the V4 1000 was first publicly acknowledged by Honda president Takanobu Ito, who spoke openly about the bike at the end of 2012.
Since then, there have been constant rumors that the new Honda superbike was to be introduced at EICMA in Milan this coming November. So persistent had the rumors become that Honda Italia last week was forced to issue a denial, sending out a press release to the Italian media insisting that the bike will not be introduced at the EICMA this November. Leading Italian site GPOne.com has the contents of the email in full (in Italian), but the summary of the email is simple. It is a request to members of the media to stop spreading the rumors that the Honda will be presented at EICMA, while acknowledging that the bike exists.
The email refers to it as 'one of the most sophisticated motorcycles ever produced by Honda', giving a glimpse of the intention of the bike. Like the Honda NR750 before it, the V4 Honda is to be a specially constructed motorcycle aimed at the very high end of the market. Pricing is likely to be around the 75,000 euro mark, indicative of what the bike's performance should be. For comparison, a Yamaha R7 homologation special was priced around half that sum, after compensating for price inflation from 1999.
This appears to be a new business model for Honda - or rather a return to an old business model. With the return of the homologation special, high performance motorcycles are being sold to a very wealthy clientele, a market so far dominated by European manufacturers such as Ducati. In fact, Ducati are rumored to be producing a 'Superleggera' version of the Panigale, retailing at around the same price as the Honda V4, and produced in a limited quantity for a selected group of customers. Like the Superleggera, do not expect to see one of Honda's V4 superbikes on a road near you any time soon: rumors from the WSBK paddock suggest that several teams already have them on pre-order, with the bike expected to dominate in most Superstock-based classes around the world.
The interesting thing is how other manufacturers will respond. Kawasaki, BMW and Ducati dominate Superstock championships, but until spec for Honda's V4 Superbike are released, we will have no idea whether the other manufacturers will be able to compete with their existing machinery. With global sportsbike sales in decline, turning from mass production to a high-end niche could save the sportsbike market. They won't be a common sight on the roads, but they could turn manufacturing sportsbikes into a profitable enterprise once again.
Honda's new V4 Superbike is now expected to debut at the end of next year, ready to race in 2015, under the new EVO rules. With the EVO rules restricting the amount of engine modification which can be done, having a bog standard bike capable of competing will be paramount. With Casey Stoner testing the RCV1000R MotoGP machine which the V4 Superbike is expected to be based on, that machine should be very competitive indeed. For a taste of the future, here is a short video released by Honda showing Stoner riding the Production Racer RCV1000R:That the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade is getting a little long in the tooth has been obvious for several years now. And that Honda is planning a very special V4 sportsbike to take the Fireblade's place on the World Superbike grid has also been broadly mooted for the past couple of years. The existence of the V4 1000 was first publicly acknowledged by Honda president Takanobu Ito, who spoke openly about the bike at the end of 2012.Since then, there have been constant rumors that the new Honda superbike was to be introduced at EICMA in Milan this coming November. So persistent had the rumors become that Honda Italia last week was forced to issue a denial, sending out a press release to the Italian media insisting that the bike will not be introduced at the EICMA this November. Leading Italian site GPOne.com has the contents of the email in full (in Italian), but the summary of the email is simple. It is a request to members of the media to stop spreading the rumors that the Honda will be presented at EICMA, while acknowledging that the bike exists.
After wrapping up the 2013 World Supersport title, Sam Lowes is heading for Moto2. In a brief statement on the Yakhnich Motorsport website, posted on Sunday night, Yaknich announced that they would be stepping up to compete in both the World Superbike and World Supersport classes in 2014, and that Lowes would not be joining them. Instead, Lowes has signed a two-year deal to race in Moto2, though the statement did not mention who Lowes had signed with.
The announcement comes after weeks of negotiation between the Yakhnich team and Lowes. Lowes had originally signed a deal with the team to race for another two years, stepping up to World Superbikes for 2014. But the decision by Yakhnich to switch to MV Agusta in both classes left Lowes worried that the bike would not be competitive, and that he would not be able to challenge for a WSBK title to go with this WSS championship. At first, Lowes looked like being stuck with Yakhnich unless he paid a hefty penalty, but an agreement has been reached which will release Lowes from his contract, while retaining a promotional role with the team.
Which team Lowes is headed to is as yet uncertain, but the generally well-informed German-language website Speedweek is suggesting that Lowes could end up at the NGM Forward team. This would make some sense, as NGM are to race FTR Moto2 chassis for next season, and having a proven rider - and one with English as his first language - on the bike should help speed up development. Other rumors, however, suggest that Lowes could end up with the returning Speed Up team.
No doubt Lowes will make his future clear after the final round of the 2013 World Supersport season at Jerez, in two weeks' time. Until then, speculation will be rife on where he is headed.
The future of the World Superbike series is about to undergo a radical change. The EVO class to be introduced from next year onwards is to be the standard for all World Superbike machines from the 2015 season onwards.
As the WSBK grids have dwindled over the past four years, World Superbikes have been looking around at ways to stop the decline of the series. Former owners Infront were unsuccessful at stopping the rot, and now that the series is in the hands of Dorna, the Spanish series organizer has sat down with the manufacturers - previously excluded - and tried to find a way to cut costs drastically and increase participation. In August, they agreed that a new subclass would be created, to be called EVO, which can be summarized as having Superbike chassis rules (which allows extensive modification) and Superstock engine rules (which does not allow much modification).
Now, the Superbike Commission have agreed that from 2015 on, all bikes must be EVO. The problem with EVO regulations is that without extensive modification, some manufacturers' bikes are simply not competitive. The current Superstock 1000 series is dominated by Kawasakis, BMWs and Ducatis, with the first Honda to be found in 13th place, the first Suzuki to be found in 25th place, and not a single Aprilia RSV4 - the bike 2nd and 3rd in the WSBK standings - having scored a point this year.
To address this, rules will be modified to create some kind of technical balance between the various manufacturers bikes. In a recent interview with the German Speedweek site, Dorna's WSBK supremo Javier Alonso suggests allowing modifications to camshafts, while imposing stricter limits on electronics. His reasoning is that there is a limit to how much you can spend on camshafts, while electronics have proven time and time again to be a bottomless pit for spending.
The introduction of the EVO rules will see the end of the firebreathing World Superbike machines as we know them. But they could also see the return of the homologation special, the specialist race bike produced in very small quantities at a very high price. With the sports bike market in severe decline in almost every market in the world, providing much higher spec machines at a much higher cost to enthusiasts could be a better business model than selling large quantities of generic sports bikes to the disinterested masses. Whether this is a viable business model will soon be seen, when Honda introduces its V4 Fireblade replacement. When that bike actually makes it to the showrooms is still up in the air.
Below is the official press release from the FIM announcing the new rules for WSBK and WSS:
FIM Superbike & Supersport World Championship and FIM Superstock 1000cc Cup
Changes to the Regulations
The Superbike Commission, composed of Messrs Javier Alonso (WSBK Managing Director), Ignacio Verneda (FIM Executive Director, Sport) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA Representative), met at the Dorna Headquarters on 1 October in the presence of Messrs Daniel Carrera and Gregorio Lavilla (Dorna WSBK Organisation). A unanimous decision was taken to introduce the following main modifications to the Regulations of the FIM Road Racing Superbike & Supersport World Championship and FIM Superstock 1000cc Cup:
Application for 2014
Superbike & Supersport
- Winter test ban starts on 1 December each year and finishes on 15 January as per current rules.
- Overseas testing is forbidden for contracted teams and riders. Dorna will organise Official Tests in Phillip Island before the race. Dates will be communicated as soon as confirmed.
- No testing will be allowed from the first race of the calendar until the last race of the calendar for contracted teams and riders. Dorna will organise three Official Tests on the Mondays following three races, for the World Superbike class only. Dates will be communicated as soon as confirmed.
- No testing will be allowed for Supersport after the first race until the last race of the season.
Application for 2014
- 6 engines per season only;
- 1 gearbox option only.
Application for 2015
- All Superbikes will have to comply with the EVO technical regulations, in order to maintain the ongoing cost reduction process. The Superbike Commission is studying some modifications to those technical rules that will be announced by the end of 2013.
- The new changes should allow all Manufacturers entering the Championship to be competitive, as well as providing an easier route into the World Championship for National Championship Riders and Teams, either as a wildcard or as a permanent entry.
While the 2013 MotoGP season has been favored with fair weather, Casey Stoner's testing duties for Honda have been severely hindered by rain. The previous test was a washout, and most of the last two days at Motegi were also badly affected by rain. However, the Australian managed to cram the best part of two days' work into a single day on Thursday, riding both the 2014 RC213V and Honda's production racer, to be called the RCV1000R.
Stoner was impressed with the progress made on the factory machine, speaking of 'big modifications and improvement' in the press release issued by Honda. It was also the first opportunity Stoner had to ride Honda's RCV1000R, a moment which had been highly anticipated by followers of the sport. Stoner's impression of the bike was very positive, saying in the press release that it felt like a factory Honda with less power and a slightly different feel in engine braking. Though no lap times were revealed for Stoner - all Honda personnel sworn to secrecy, and no other factories present at Motegi to leak times - the press release said that he circulated at 'high average speeds worthy of the RC213V.' When put next to reports that test rider Takumi Takahashi lapped half a second slower on the RCV1000R than on the RC213V, that would put Stoner's time within a few tenths of his time on the factory bike. That would make Honda's production racer a very competitive package.
That could be one reason why Aspar is considering a switch from Aprilia to Honda's production racer. According to reports on GPOne.com, the Aspar squad have spoken to HRC principal Livio Suppo about purchasing two of Honda's production racers. Aspar's main concern are the rumors that Ducati is trying to tempt Aprilia technical chief Gigi dall'Igna to the Bologna factory. Dall'Igna has been the driving force behind development of both Aprilia's RSV4 WSBK machine, and the ART bike raced in MotoGP. So far, Dall'Igna has shown no interest in a move to Ducati, however. One source close to Aprilia suggest that Dall'Igna could have started the rumors himself, to strengthen his hand inside Aprilia.
But perhaps Aspar's interest in the Honda is born of a more practical and pressing need. With the loss of Power Electronics as a sponsor, Aspar is in a more precarious financial position than they have been for a while. That makes them more dependent on Aprilia as a supplier, to the extent that Aprilia look to be underwriting both riders in the Aspar squad. Honda, on the other hand, have three production RCV1000Rs which are in the process of being built, but which have not yet been sold. A persistent rumor in the paddock insists that Honda could be tempted to part with them at a knockdown price, and selling them to a team with a proven track record would be an attractive choice.
That, however, would leave Aspar without riders. If both Nicky Hayden and - most probably - Eugene Laverty are being paid by Aprilia, then Aspar would have no one to put on the bike. Likewise, Aprilia would have two riders under contract, and no team to put them on. Despite the clear potential of the RCV1000R, the chances of Aspar actually racing them look relatively slim.
Below is the press release from HRC after Stoner's test at Motegi:
Stoner tests Honda Production Racer after bad weather again causes delay
HRC test rider Casey Stoner today tested the Honda RC213V works machine currently racing in the MotoGP class, and the "MotoGP Production Racer" as part of Honda’s development tests at the Twin Ring Motegi Circuit in Tochigi, Japan.
Casey was unable to ride yesterday on the first day of scheduled testing, due to poor weather, but testing commenced as planned today under cloudy skies. In the morning, Casey tested the RC213V MotoGP works machine, and in the afternoon he also tested the Production Racer, a machine being developed based on the RC213V. Despite it being his first ride on the test model, Stoner lapped the circuit with high average speeds worthy of the RC213V. Honda is developing the track-only Production Racer to enable teams and riders to race in the MotoGP class in 2014 with a reasonable budget.
At 15h45 local time bad weather once again brought proceedings to an end.
"Unfortunately the weather played a big role in this test which was a little frustrating not to be able to share the workload over the two days. We tried to do everything today but it was a little difficult, and we also had the threat of rain again. We started with the current RCV, trying to find a base setting and then work from there. We had two variations of chassis' to try and some big modifications and improvements in my opinion. We also tried the production bike which was more impressive than I predicted. It had a similar feeling to the RCV but with a little less power and a different feeling in engine braking. With some small modifications I believe this bike will be competitive and I look forward to the next test with it! In general it was a good, but busy day!"
The FIM have today released the provisional version of the MotoGP calendar for 2014. As expected, there are few surprises: with the addition of Argentina and Brazil, there will be nineteen races on the calendar, though Brazil is not expected to be ready to host a race next year, the event likely to be postponed until 2015. Laguna Seca is gone from the calendar, leaving just two US races on for 2014. And once again, there are four Spanish rounds on for next season, although Jerez is marked subject to contract.
The season opens with the night race in Qatar on March 23rd, though this decision is likely to face criticism from the riders. Moving the race two weeks earlier increases the risk of the evening dew which settles on the surface hitting earlier, while the bikes are still out on track. That was the case in previous years, when the race was held earlier, with some major crashes as a result. The dew settles quickly and is impossible to see under the lights, but renders the asphalt extremely slippery within a very short period.
Two more flyaways follow, to Austin and Argentina, before the series heads back to Spain for the first European race in Jerez. Jerez is still marked as subject to contract, the circuit in continuing financial straits, but it is expected that race will happen. The Argentina/Jerez pairing is the first of two Transatlantic back-to-back races, with Indianapolis and Brno also just a week a part, on the 10th and 17th of August. The three Pacific flyaways are the only three-race back-to-back, starting in Malaysia on 12th October, before heading to Motegi in Japan, and then to Phillip Island.
The schedule looks broadly similar to this year's calendar, with Mugello taking place in early June, Barcelona mid-July, and Silverstone on the last weekend of August, a move which proved very popular and successful this year. This year has seen attendance at races increase almost everywhere by between five and fifteen percent, part of which is down to better scheduling.
Everywhere, except the US, that is. Though total attendance for all three races combined is up, attendance at the two races from last year is down by around ten percent. That is one of the reason why Laguna Seca has been dropped from the calendar, as the Red Bull US GP at the Laguna Seca track has not been profitable for the past four years, according to a report in the Monterey County Herald. As a non-profit organization, SCRAMP, the organization which runs the track, has been unable to find the investment of the two other US tracks. The Circuit of the Americas receives $2 million in state tax credits, while the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has received a $100 million grant for improvements to the facility, including a new layout for the road course inside the Speedway. The sanctioning fee Laguna Seca paid to hold the MotoGP race is believed to be lowest on the calendar, and was the main reason why Moto2 and Moto3 (and previously, the 250cc and 125cc classes) never joined MotoGP at Laguna Seca.
Though the race was popular with many in the paddock, mainly for the setting, there was criticism too. Prices for accommodation in Monterey were extortionate, and the event never resonated in the local area. Compared to the lively downtown happenings at Austin, or the huge and well-organized evening events in downtown Indianapolis, the events on Cannery Row were rather small scale.
Most of all, though, there were concerns over safety. Though Turn 1 was one of the most impressive corners on the calendar, the wall was still very close, despite the hill having been moved back after 2005. Other sections, such as Turn 4 and the climb up the hill towards the Corkscrew, faced similar criticism. If something went wrong, it could have been very nasty. One team manager told me that every time MotoGP raced at Laguna Seca, he crossed his fingers on Friday morning and didn't uncross them until he left on Sunday night, with all of the riders still in one piece.
But to lose Laguna Seca is a shame, as it remains an iconic circuit which has produced some fantastic racing. The Corkscrew remains one of the most memorable corners in racing, and Turn 1 among those requiring the most bravery.
The provisional calendar appears below:
|27 April||Argentina||Termas de Rio Hondo|
|04 May||Spain(STC)||Jerez de la Frontera|
|18 May||France||Le Mans|
|15 June||Catalunya||Barcelona- Catalunya|
|28 June||Netherlands**||TT Assen|
|10 August||Indianapolis GP||Indianapolis|
|17 August||Czech Republic||Brno|
|31 August||Great Britain||Silverstone|
|14 September||San Marino & Riviera di Rimini||Marco Simoncelli Misano|
|26 October||Australia||Phillip Island|
|09 November||Valencia||Ricardo Tormo-Valencia|
Moto2 & Moto3 Silly Season Updates: Herrin & Zarco To Caterham, Honda's Moto3 Plans, Rins' Moto2 Option
More changes are afoot in the Moto2 and Moto3 field for next season. With the lack of any American talent coming through from the support classes - despite the outstanding results of Joe Roberts in both the Red Bull Rookies Cup and in AMA Supersport, and the clear talent of riders such as Cameron Beaubier and Jake Gagne - the news that Josh Herrin is to race in Moto2 in 2014 will be well received. Herrin announced the news himself on Sunday night, after wrapping up the 2013 AMA Superbike championship, defeating three-time champion Josh Hayes to do so.
Herrin had been refused to answer questions on who he had signed with, but informed paddock gossip suggested that Herrin had signed with the new Caterham Moto2 squad. Caterham, which is linked to the F1 team of the same name, and races with backing from Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes, will race a Suter chassis next season, and will see Frenchman Johann Zarco race alongside Herrin in Moto2. Herrin's switch to Moto2 had been in some doubt, as there were question marks in the paddock over both Herrin's outright ability and the sponsorship he would bring to the team. The AMA Superbike title helped remove one of those question marks, and the fact that Herrin is signed must mean that the other has also been removed.
In Moto3, there is more and more confirmation that Honda will be building a high-powered engine to defeat KTM. There had been a fierce internal debate inside HRC over whether to spend the money necessary to beat KTM at their own game, as the cost of the actual engine will be vastly more than the 12,000 euro price cap in Moto3. However, facing humiliation at the hands of KTM - who have found other ways to pass on the costs, hiding engine development costs in the price of a complete bike package - Honda has decided to act.
To defeat KTM, they will also need a winning team, and that team will be the Estrella Galicia 0,0 team of Alex Rins and Alex Marquez. The team, run by Monlau, the organization behind Marc Marquez and Maria Herrera's Spanish championship team, will make the switch to Honda for 2014, and take on the KTMs. With Rins and Marquez being two of the top favorites for the 2014 Moto3 title, along with Jack Miller, Honda should have everything in place to defeat the KTMs.
Whether Rins stays in Moto3 is still not 100% certain, however. Rins is believed to have a clause in his contract which says that if he wins the 2013 Moto3 title, he will enter Moto2 with the Monlau team. On the strength of Rins' performance at Aragon, his chances of being Moto3 champion are improving.
The Monlau team will not be the only one on a Honda. Racing Team Germany is also to remain with the Japanese manufacturer, and with Jack Miller having signed for the Red Bull KTM team, RTG has signed Efren Vazquez to race for them in 2014. Who Vazquez' teammate will be is as yet unknown, but the chances of it being a young rookie look promising.
Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam will return to the Pata Honda team for the 2014 World Superbike season. Both men have extended their contracts for one more season, giving the aging CBR1000RR what is expected to be its last season before a new bike makes an appearance.
The pairing has been plagued by injury this season, and despite increased support from HRC for 2013, the results have not been as the team had hoped. The problems had caused Johnny Rea to look elsewhere for 2014, the Ulsterman having held talks with Forward Racing about riding one of the Yamaha machines, as well as having spoken to Ducati about replacing Ben Spies in the Pramac team. In the end, the Pata Honda team was his best option for 2014.
One disappointment has been the lack of the expected V4 Honda superbike. Honda had been expected to reveal the bike at the EICMA show this November, but the Japanese manufacturer appears to have postponed the release of the new bike due to the dismal market for sports bikes. Whether the delay will turn into a cancellation is as yet unknown.
The Pata Honda press release appears below:
Pata Honda confirms 2014 SBK line-up
The Pata Honda World Superbike team has announced that it will retain the same rider line-up of Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam heading into the 2014 world championship season.
Rea is currently recuperating from a fractured left femur that he sustained in a crash at Nürburgring in Germany last month, but the 26-year-old from Northern Ireland is making a good recovery and is optimistic about the possibility of riding his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade again before then end of the year.
Rea began his world championship career with the Ten Kate-run Honda team in the 2008 World Supersport series before moving up to World Superbikes in 2009, since when he has secured 33 podiums from 116 races, including 11 race victories.
He will once again partner fellow British rider Leon Haslam who joined the team for the 2013 season, which has unfortunately been affected by a broken leg he sustained at Assen in the Netherlands in April.
Haslam, 30, has contest 155 World Superbike championship races, a third of which have been on Honda’s CBR machine. The British rider has achieved a total of three race wins and 28 podium finishes since his first SBK race in 2003, and he finished as runner-up in the series in 2010.
It's been a big decision that I've thought long and hard about because there were some other options to consider. However, at the end of the day it was an easy choice because of the faith and respect that I have for the team that I've been with for six years and the company that I have been with my entire career. I know how hard the guys work to make the Honda competitive and I know that we have the potential to fight again for more podiums and race wins and the championship next season. Those podiums and wins are what motivate all of us and that's why I know that everyone will pull out the stops over the winter again to make them happen. We will go into the testing programme in a much better position than we were in 12 months ago because we've worked so hard to get the new electronics package to work this season. I am as motivated as ever and really looking forward to riding my bike again.
I’m very happy to have another go at it, really! This season has been pretty non-existent with the injury and the big learning curve we’ve had with the new electronics. So I’m excited to get back to full fitness and to have good go with the bike and see if we can turn the potential into success. We’ve made some really good steps recently but that’s been combined with some bad luck this year. Hopefully, that’s all out of the way now and we can keep making progress in the last few races and over winter testing. The Haslam link to Honda has been strong for many years and it was fantastic to win the Suzuka 8-hour this year. Hopefully we can go back and defend that next year, and I can’t wait to go into the next World Superbike season with the same bike, the same guys and have a proper go at it.
Ronald ten Kate - team manager
Jonathan has demonstrated great faith in this team over the years and we are, of course, overjoyed to have him back for a sixth World Superbike campaign. We have got to know each other very well over the years and one thing that comes across is his consistent and tenacious desire to get the very best out of the CBR – something he does year after year. Of course, with injuries, it has not been an easy season for him or for his team-mate, so we are very happy that Leon will join us again for next season. With two fit riders and some further development on the bike, we can look forward to 2014 with renewed confidence and optimism.
Carlo Fiorani - racing operations manager, Honda Motor Europe
I do not think it is a secret that both Jonathan and Leon had some other options to consider for 2014, so we are, of course, delighted that we will be working with them again. We believe that there is a great level of mutual respect between us and we know that we have two fully-motivated riders who have the potential to fight for top honours. It’s good that they, too, know that the Honda they ride has equal potential and that they will have a team around them to help get the results that we all want to see. For many reasons, 2013 has been a difficult year for everyone, so we all hope that, with Dorna taking the series to new levels, we can have a 2014 season that is safe and successful, both for the riders and for the whole team.Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam will return to the Pata Honda team for the 2014 World Superbike season. Both men have extended their contracts for one more season, giving the aging CBR1000RR what is expected to be its last season before a new bike makes an appearance.The pairing has been plagued by injury this season, and despite increased support from HRC for 2013, the results have not been as the team had hoped. The problems had caused Johnny Rea to look elsewhere for 2014, the Ulsterman having held talks with Forward Racing about riding one of the Yamaha machines, as well as having spoken to Ducati about replacing Ben Spies in the Pramac team. In the end, the Pata Honda team was his best option for 2014.One disappointment has been the lack of the expected V4 Honda superbike. Honda had been expected to reveal the bike at the EICMA show this November, but the Japanese manufacturer appears to have postponed the release of the new bike due to the dismal market for sports bikes. Whether the delay will turn into a cancellation is as yet unknown.The Pata Honda press release appears below:Pata Honda confirms 2014 SBK line-upThe Pata Honda World Superbike team has announced that it will retain the same rider line-up of Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam heading into the 2014 world championship season.
After the serious incident at Silverstone, in which Dani Rivas crashed into Steven Odendaal during the Sunday morning warm up, as Odendaal and other riders stood waiting to make practice starts, the Grand Prix Commission has taken steps to regulate practice starts in all three Grand Prix classes. From now on, practice starts will only be allowed from designated locations at the circuit, and practice starts elsewhere will be banned.
Practice starts will be allowed from pit lane exit during practice, and at one or two designated zones around each track, as decided before each race. Marshals will indicate the start of the practice start zones, and all riders not electing to practice a start in that zone will be warned by yellow flags and will have to stay on the opposite side of the track from the start zone.
The new rules are effective immediately. The FIM press release containing the full set of rules appears below:
FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix
Decision of the Grand Prix Commission
The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Ignacio Verneda (FIM Executive Director, Sport), Herve Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA) in the presence of Javier Alonso (Dorna) and Mike Trimby (IRTA, Secretary of the meeting), in a meeting held on September 26 2013 at Motorland Aragon, made the following decision:
All Classes - Effective immediately
Responding to a request from Race Direction and the Safety Commission, The Grand Prix Commission has decided to make immediate amendments to the regulations controlling the regulation of practice starts.
Riders will still be permitted to make practice starts when it is safe to do so, at the pit lane exit before joining the track.
Riders will also still be permitted to make practice starts after passing the chequered flag at the end of practice sessions and warm-ups. However, under the revised regulation the location of these practice starts will be controlled.
For each circuit there will be one or two (depending on circuit layout) designated Practice Start Zones. These zones will be communicated to the teams on Wednesday or Thursday before practice begins. Practice starts may be made only in the designated Practice Start Zone(s), and the following procedure will apply:
1. After the chequered flag at the end of the practice session, a track marshal will be positioned on the side of the track indicating the Practice Start Zone(s).
The Zone will be off the racing line, on the opposite side of the track to the normal racing line.
2. Yellow flags will be waved at the marshal post(s) before the Practice Start Zone, to alert riders that bikes may be stopped ready for practice starts.
3. Riders may make practice starts only when there are no stationary bikes in front of them. That is, the riders most forward in the Practice Start Zone make their starts first, followed by the riders behind them, and so on.
4. Only one practice start from each Practice Start Zone is allowed. It is not permitted to make a practice start, then stop further up the track and make another practice start from the same Zone.
5. Riders who do not wish to make a practice start may continue slowly on the racing line, on the opposite side of the track to the Practice Start Zone.After the serious incident at Silverstone, in which Dani Rivas crashed into Steven Odendaal during the Sunday morning warm up, as Odendaal and other riders stood waiting to make practice starts, the Grand Prix Commission has taken steps to regulate practice starts in all three Grand Prix classes. From now on, practice starts will only be allowed from designated locations at the circuit, and practice starts elsewhere will be banned.Practice starts will be allowed from pit lane exit during practice, and at one or two designated zones around each track, as decided before each race. Marshals will indicate the start of the practice start zones, and all riders not electing to practice a start in that zone will be warned by yellow flags and will have to stay on the opposite side of the track from the start zone.The new rules are effective immediately. The FIM press release containing the full set of rules appears below:FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Decision of the Grand Prix Commission
There is more movement afoot in the Moto3 class for next season. Today, the Red Bull KTM Ajo team announced that they have signed 2013 Red Bull Rookies Cup winner Karel Hanika for 2014. The young Czech rider will join Australian rider Jack Miller and Malaysian Zulfahmi Khairuddin on board factory-backed KTM Moto3 machines for next season.
Though Hanika's signing had been rumored since Misano, it marked a turnabout in fortunes for the young Czech prodigy. At Brno, Hanika was still without a ride for next season, the only offers he had requiring he bring sponsorship. By Misano, agreement with Ajo was as good as reached, the deal only just being announced.
That a rider like Hanika should have difficulty finding a deal speaks volumes of the financial problems faced by Moto3 teams. Hanika is very highly rated by all who have seen him race in the Red Bull Rookies Cup, series manager Peter Clifford describing him as 'the biggest talent the Red Bull Rookies has produced.' Hanika has shown maturity and talent in his domination of the series, yet Moto3 teams were still hesitant to sign him. With sponsors demanding instant success, young talent is being given less time to develop and learn. In the end, it took Red Bull to step up and support the young Czech rider who had come through the system.
Hanika's arrival means Arthur Sissis will have to make way at the Ajo team. After a promising start, the Australian had not made the progress which would have allowed him to keep his job. His future in Moto3 is uncertain at the current moment.
Below is the press release from the Ajo team announcing the deal:
Red Bull KTM Ajo sign Karel Hanika for 2014
2013 champion of the Red Bull Rookies Cup to ride with reigning Moto3 World Championship winning team.
Red Bull KTM Ajo have recruited young talent Karel Hanika for next season’s Moto3 World Championship campaign. The Czech rider, born in Brno on April 14th, 1996, is the winner of the 2013 edition of the Red Bull Rookies Cup and will debut in Grand Prix competition with the 2008, 2010 and 2012 lower cylinder category Teams World Champion.
Just like Danny Kent in 2011 and Arthur Sissis in 2012, 17 year-old Karel Hanika will make the move to the Moto3 World Championship with Aki Ajo’s team following success in the Red Bull Rookies Cup. The Czech rider took 3 wins and 4 podiums in the 2012 edition of the series, but this year has improved yet further to claim the title with two races in hand. Hanika has won 6 races in 2013 –half of those held so far– and finished runner-up at a further 3.
His results, riding and development were key to Red Bull KTM Ajo’s confidence in his abilities, and the team will challenge Hanika to continue his upward trajectory as part of their team for 2014.
Aki Ajo - Team Manager
"We are very happy to bring Karel [Hanika] to Red Bull KTM Ajo. He is a very talented young rider, who has had great races in the Red Bull Rookies Cup both this season and last season. Karel follows in the footsteps of Danny Kent and Arthur Sissis, moving from the Red Bull Rookies Cup to the World Championship with us. It is an honour for Red Bull KTM Ajo to have these young riders coming through, with their desire to work hard and learn after their time in that magnificent competition. I know that Karel is very motivated for next year, and that is the most important thing. After this announcement, the team will return our focus on our fight for the Moto3 title this season."
Karel Hanika - Rider
"Moving up to the Moto3 World Championship with Red Bull KTM Ajo is a dream for me. In my opinion this is the best team in the series and a perfect opportunity for me. I have to make the most of this unique chance. I don’t want to set goals for my first season in the World Championship, because it is still early, but I hope to have as much success as possible. I can’t wait for the first preseason tests and my first meeting with the team. The feeling about next season couldn’t be better."There is more movement afoot in the Moto3 class for next season. Today, the Red Bull KTM Ajo team announced that they have signed 2013 Red Bull Rookies Cup winner Karel Hanika for 2014. The young Czech rider will join Australian rider Jack Miller and Malaysian Zulfahmi Khairuddin on board factory-backed KTM Moto3 machines for next season.Though Hanika's signing had been rumored since Misano, it marked a turnabout in fortunes for the young Czech prodigy. At Brno, Hanika was still without a ride for next season, the only offers he had requiring he bring sponsorship. By Misano, agreement with Ajo was as good as reached, the deal only just being announced.That a rider like Hanika should have difficulty finding a deal speaks volumes of the financial problems faced by Moto3 teams. Hanika is very highly rated by all who have seen him race in the Red Bull Rookies Cup, series manager Peter Clifford describing him as 'the biggest talent the Red Bull Rookies has produced.' Hanika has shown maturity and talent in his domination of the series, yet Moto3 teams were still hesitant to sign him. With sponsors demanding instant success, young talent is being given less time to develop and learn. In the end, it took Red Bull to step up and support the young Czech rider who had come through the system.