Latest World Superbike News
The Liberty Racing team has today announced they will be withdrawing from the World Superbike championship. The announcement is hardly a surprise: the Liberty team announced their withdrawal last year after the Silverstone round, missing the final four rounds of the series. The team had not fared much better in 2013, making a late start and missing the first round of the championship in Phillip Island. Now, after just three races, they have pulled out once again.
The withdrawal of the Liberty Racing team leaves Mark Aitchison without a ride for the rest of the season, after the Australian agreed a late deal to ride for the team. It also leaves the World Superbike field looking very sparse, with just 18 full-time entries left on the grid. The World Superbike grid weathered the first storms of the global financial crisis relatively well, due to lower costs of competition, but poor TV coverage of the series for the past few seasons has seen numbers dropping season by season, with the 18-bike grid the result. Dorna and the MSMA hope that the new rules discussed recentlly, limiting the cost of a bike to 300,000 euros per rider per season, will help make the series more affordable, and help swell numbers on the grid.
Below is the official press release issued by Liberty Racing on their withdrawal:
The last lap of the second World Superbike was frought with controversy after an overtake followed by an off-track excursion. The results of third and fourth place in the race have subsequently been reversed, following an appeal.
As many of you will have spotted, this was in fact an April Fool's story. While discussions about the future of the World Superbike series are ongoing, there are no proposals at the current time to switch to naked bikes. The sales trend of the sport bike market segment is true, as are the numbers for bike sales in Belgian (I wrote a column for the Belgian magazine Motorrijder on this very subject, which is to appear in the April issue). The idea was sparked both by the current market trends in motorcycle sales, and by pictures of former greats like Eddie Lawson and Freddie Spencer muscling Kawasaki Z1000s and Honda VF750s around the track. For another year at least, all of the stories on the website will be as accurate as possible. Normal service has now been resumed...
The news that Dorna had been handed control over the World Superbike series struck terror into the hearts of WSBK fans around the globe. The fear was Dorna would use their position of controlling both World Superbikes and MotoGP to widen the technical gap between the two series in an attempt to cut costs. With Dorna having so often complained that World Superbikes was encroaching on MotoGP territory, and with MotoGP's technical regulations becoming ever more restrictive, the logical step would appear to be to severely restrict the level of machinery used in WSBK.
Over the winter, and during the first round of the 2013 World Superbike series, talks between Dorna, the Superbike teams and the manufacturers involved in the series failed to make much headway. The factories could not agree among themselves what level of modification to allow, while the teams were unimpressed by Dorna's demands that a WSBK machine should cost 250,000 euros a season, stating that the money saved in the bike would only be spent elsewhere.
Talks had continued at the IRTA test at Jerez, with Dorna's new World Superbike boss Javier Alonso present, and engaged in private discussions with the bosses of HRC, Shuhei Nakomoto, Yamaha Motor Racing, Shigeto Kitegawa, and Ducati Corse, Bernhard Gobmeier. MotoMatters.com has learned that since then, further telephone discussions have taken place with Kawasaki boss Ichiro Yoda and Suzuki's Shinichi Sahara, while Alonso had previously spoken to Aprilia Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna at the Jerez circuit, during their test there.
After already having staged the first race, the World Superbike calendar has finally been updated and lost its provisional status. Today, the FIM issued an official, finalized version of the 2013 World Superbike calendar, confirming the changes we reported on yesterday.
The Silverstone race has been confirmed, and the Subject To Contract status has been removed from the Portimao and Imola rounds. The round originally scheduled for June 23rd has been scrapped, and a new round scheduled for Istanbul Park on September 15th. The replacement of Istanbul Park for the 23rd June round, for which Brno had originally been penciled in, means that the Superstock calendar is reduced by one round, from 10 races to just 9, while the World Superbike calendar now has 15 rounds planned, including two races in the UK, at Donington and Silverstone, and a trip across the Atlantic to Laguna Seca.
Below is the official press release issued by the FIM containing the updated and finalized calendar:
FIM Superbike, Supersport World Championships & FIM Superstock 1000cc Cup
New round on the 2013 calendar
Fears that the World Superbike round at Silverstone is to be dropped are misplaced. Paddock rumors that Silverstone was back on the calendar emerged last night, with confirmation coming from Silverstone today, and being confirmed on their Facebook page. The race at Silverstone will take place on 4th August, and will see World Superbike, World Supersport and the Superstock 1000 and 600 classes compete.
As is the case for MotoGP, the WSBK paddock will use the old pit complex, rather than the new Silverstone Wing complex. This moves the start and finish line from the new location between Club and Abbey back to the old location, between Woodcote and Copse. This location has more room for the four classes which race at WSBK, and is better for the fans, as the pit lane under the Silverstone Wing is recessed, and not visible from the grandstands opposite.
Marco Melandri has undergone surgery to fix the pain he had been suffering in his right shoulder. The Italian had damaged his shoulder in a crash last year at Portimao, and been treated for the problem over the winter. The initial feeling after testing had been good, but another crash at Phillip Island exacerbated the problem once again, and Melandri elected to undergo surgery on his return to Italy.
The operation - to remove arthritis and other irregularities from the acromion, the part of the shoulder blade where the collarbone attaches - was performed by the renowned Italian shoulder specialist Dr. Giuseppe Porcellini, the same surgeon who fixed Valentino Rossi's damaged shoulder at the end of 2010. The surgery was deemed a success, and Melandri is hoping to be fit enough to ride at the next round of World Superbikes at Aragon, on 14th April. The prognosis is that Melandri will be able to ride free of pain, though his shoulder will probably still be weak.
Below is the press release issued by the BMW press office:
Despite the fact that the World Superbike series kicks off on Sunday, the provisional calendar is still very much in a state of flux. Rumors emanating from the WSBK paddock, gathered at Phillip Island for the 2013 season opener, suggest that major changes could stilll take place to the calendar. The biggest change is that the UK round, set for Silverstone on 4th August, could be dropped altogether, and replaced with a round in Turkey, at the spectacular Istanbul Park Circuit in mid-September.
The rumors, reported by German-language website Speedweek and confirmed by other WSBK sources, state that Silverstone is to be dropped because the circuit cannot afford to pay the sanctioning fee previously agreed with Infront, and now being demanded by Dorna. Crowd numbers at Silverstone for World Superbikes were always low, in part because the flat nature of the circuit made viewing difficult, and in part due to relatively high ticket prices, which meant that ticket sales did not generate sufficient revenue to cover the circuit's costs.
With the 2013 motorcycle racing season about to kick off just a few hours from now, with World Superbikes about to take to the track at Phillip Island, Dorna and the FIM had a few official appointments to confirm before the season starts. Today, the FIM officially announced all of the people in charge of both MotoGP and WSBK. MotoGP's Race Direction sees two changes, with Franco Uncini promoted to FIM Safety Officer, and Loris Capirossi joining Race Direction as the riders' representative. Danny Aldridge has been confirmed as Technical Director, after taking over in the role from Mike Webb last year. In the WSBK paddock, Gregorio Lavilla joins Race Direction as Dorna Representative
Below are the press releases from the FIM announcing the changes:
FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix
Decision of the Permanent Bureau
The Permanent Bureau of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix, comprising of Messrs Vito Ippolito, FIM President, and Carmelo Ezpeleta, Chief Executive Officer of Dorna Sports, met on 20 February 2013, in order to designate the following composition of the 2013 FIM Grand Prix Race Direction:
With the first full test for the World Superbike class behind us, and the first test of the MotoGP grid about to get underway at Sepang at the end of this week, it is time to take a look at motorcycle racing's preseason, and evaluate where we stand so far. Just what is the state of play for both MotoGP and World Superbike in 2013?
The question is even more pertinent now that both series have been taken under the wing of Dorna, much to the consternation of World Superbike fans and, to some extent, the WSBK paddock as well. It was feared that Dorna would either kill off World Superbike entirely to strengthen the position of MotoGP, or impose such stringent technical regulations on the series as to dumb it down to Superstock spec.
Fortunately, neither of those options looks likely. World Superbikes will continue as a separate series, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta was keen to explain when quizzed about the takeover at Ducati's Wrooom launch event early in January. The aim is to build a strong WSBK series to stand alongside MotoGP, preserving the unique identity of the two series - WSBK as a place to race production bikes, MotoGP as the series for racing prototypes.
The prospects of both MotoGP and World Superbikes visiting Wales took a step closer yesterday. Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta and Events Managing Director Javier Alonso flew to the UK earlier this week for a series of meetings about the proposed Circuit of Wales, a new facility that is to be built near Ebbw Vale, in South Wales. The Dorna bosses met with several key figures involved in the project, including Lord Kinnock, former UK Labour Party leader and now ambassador for the circuit, and Welsh Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science Edwina Hart.
Ezpeleta and Alonso also met with media, including Motorcycle News and local news organizations. Ezpeleta expressed how impressed he had been with the plans for the facility, which include an FIM and FIA approved race track, a motocross track, a karting track, as well a technology park, hotel facilities, and a motor sports racing academy, aimed at providing training for young riders and drivers. Having another track in the UK was a positive thing for racing, Ezpeleta told the Gwent Gazette. "“For me, I will say that out of all the races we have in the year, for us and all the people involved, we feel British people know much more about racing," the Dorna boss said. Once the track receives planning permission - a hurdle the facility still has to clear - the track could be ready to host a MotoGP or World Superbike round as early as 2015, Ezpeleta told MCN's Matt Birt.
Leon Camier has undergone surgery to remove a screw from his wrist. The operation was carried out at the renowned Dexeus Institute at Barcelona, by Dr Xavier Mir, who is the preferred surgeon of many top-flight motorcycle racers. Dr Mir removed a screw which had been inserted in Camier's wrist after a crash at the Nurburgring in 2010, but which had been causing the Englishman an increasing amount of pain. Removing the screw should help reduce the risk of inflammation and give Camier an increased range of motion in his wrist. Camier is expected to be fully fit for the start of the World Superbike season at Phillip Island on February 24th.
Below is the press release issued by the FIXI Crescent Suzuki team after the operation:
CAMIER UNDERGOES SUCCESSFUL OPERATION
Team Suzuki Press Office - January 25.
FIXI Crescent Suzuki's Leon Camier has had minor surgery in Spain to successfully remove a screw from his wrist.
The 2013 season has gotten off to a very damp start for Ducati. The Bologna factory had booked the Jerez circuit for a three-day test, for both the Alstare Ducati World Superbike team and the Ducati MotoGP test team with Michele Pirro and Franco Battaini, but the rain meant that they only got a few hours of testing done, and all of that was on Monday.
Despite only managing a few laps, the test counts as successful for the Alstare Ducati team. Carlos Checa and Ayrton Badovini both managed some forty laps, with Checa quickly up to speed and bettering his time from the last visit to Jerez at the end of November last year by over a second, according to times posted by the respected Italian site GPOne.com. Badovini's progress was much more limited: the Italian was just a couple of tenths quicker than his time from November, and over a second and a half slower than Checa's lap time, the Spaniard having set his fastest time on a set of soft tires.
The Philip Morris-sponsored Wrooom event is not just the event at which Ducati launches its MotoGP season, it has become the de facto kick off to the MotoGP season as a whole. With an important section of the international media present, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta inevitably seizes the opportunity to talk to the press about his view of the season ahead, and where necessary, of the future beyond that.
This year was little different. Ezpeleta spoke to the media ahead of the presentation by Ducati Corse boss Bernhard Gobmeier, and answered questions from a number of media outlets separately, answering questions on the future of both MotoGP and World Superbikes. From his statements, a picture of Dorna's vision for the two series starts to emerge: the future of world championship motorcycle racing is to be price-limited, with more support for the current teams, and factories holding a stake in both series, in exchange for keeping a lid on costs. The calendars of both series would come under scrutiny, with MotoGP heading to South America in 2014, and both series only racing at circuits willing to pay a sanctioning fee which would cover the cost of the logistics to get there.
The FIM today issued a press release confirming the news that the Indian round of World Superbikes has been moved to November 17th, as we reported earlier today. Below is the official press release:
FIM Superbike, Supersport World Championships & FIM Superstock 1000cc Cup
2013 Provisional calendar, updated 15 January (Change in bold)
The World Superbike race in India has been moved from the 10 March to the 17 November due to an insufficient period of time to properly finalise the training of the marshals and medical staff around the racetrack. FIM representatives will be at the Indian track on 19, 20 and 21 this January, in order to carry out the final racetrack homologation and provide the relevant seminars about the different aspects involved in the sporting organisation of the event.