Latest World Superbike News
Now that it has the World Superbike series under its control, Dorna is turning its attention to the question of costs. It was an issue which, WSBK insiders claim, the Flammini brothers and Infront spent too little time on, preferring to focus on trying to compete with MotoGP instead. The series' critics charge that this obsession caused WSBK to allow bikes into the series which were more like MotoGP prototypes than production road bikes. The Aprilia RSV4 is one of the bikes most often named in this regard, though perhaps the most extreme example was the Foggy Petronas FP3 machine, of which the entire homologation run is rumored to be stored in a warehouse owned by the Malaysian oil company in Kuala Lumpur. As a result, grids have shrunk from around thirty starters in 2009 to just twenty in 2013.
One of the greatest fears which World Superbike fans expressed when it was announced last year that control of WSBK would fall under the responsibility of Dorna was that WSBK would either be killed off as a series, or absorbed into MotoGP as a glorified support class. The continued existence of two motorcycle road racing world championship seemed in serious doubt; in dire economic times, one of the two must give. And with Dorna having invested so much in making MotoGP the dominant championship, WSBK fans feared, it would be World Superbikes that suffers.
That fear, at least, is groundless. Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta told German-language publication Speedweek that he could not conceive of the two series being run at the same events. There would always be come circuits and some countries that would prefer one series to the other, Ezpeleta explained to Speedweek. "We will be keeping the two series separate, and supporting them both," Ezpeleta said.
The inaugural round of World Superbikes in India is under serious threat, leaving Dorna facing severe problems just months after taking over the running of the WSBK series. Bureaucracy, customs formalities and import bonds threaten to see the race, scheduled to be held on March 10th at the Buddh International Circuit near New Delhi in India, either postponed or called off indefinitely, according to reports over on GPOne.com.
The problem revolves around the difficulties faced by the need to temporarily import large quantities of material into India, and consists of two parts, GPOne is reporting. The first issue is one of timing: the Indian round of WSBK is due to be held on March 10th, just two weeks after the opening round of the series at Phillip Island in Australia. The problem is that Indian customs regulations demand that the technical equipment (bikes, parts, tools, and other equipment) need to be in a customs warehouse in India 15 days ahead of the race, to allow the customs service time to inspect the goods prior to entry into the country. That would make racing at Phillip Island difficult, given that it would mean that the bikes would have to be in India at around the same time that the WSBK men need them to contest Superpole on the Saturday before the race.
FIM Superbike, Supersport World Championships & FIM Superstock 1000cc Cup
New round on the 2013 calendar
A new round will be included in the FIM Superbike & Supersport World Championships. It will be held on the circuit of Intercity Istanbul Park near Istanbul (Turkey) on September 15, 2013. The 2013 updated calendar is the following:
With just one more day to go until Christmas, time is running out to find the perfect gift for the motorcycle racing fan in your life. Fortunately, there are still a few options left open to you. Some, you will be able to present to your loved one on the day itself, others may not arrive in time for Christmas, but you can be certain they will be a massive success for the diehard motorcycle racing fan. Below are eight options for when the shops are shut:
Often referred to in the paddock as the Bible of motorcycle racing, the Motocourse annual is an almost compulsory purchase for any serious motorcycle racing fan. Compiled by veteran Grand Prix reporter Michael Scott, the Motocourse annual contains a race-by-race review of the MotoGP and World Superbike seasons, a technical review of the MotoGP machines, and in-depth articles explaining the background to all of the big events in the world of motorcycle racing. The AMA and BSB series are also covered, as well as the Irish and international road racing scene.
The annual is available at Amazon and other sellers, but anyone buying the book directly from the Motocourse website will also receive a bonus worth the purchase price alone: access to Motocourse's online archive of historic editions, currently featuring the years 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981 and 2010. The online archive is also available as a separate digitial subscription, giving access to the same historic editions.
Price: GBP 35 for the 2012 Motocourse Annual, GBP 25 for the online subscription.
More information: The Motocourse website
After several years of steady deterioration, the surface at Phillip Island is about to get fixed. According to reports from Australia, work commences on resurfacing the iconic Australian circuit on Tuesday morning, and over a period of two days, the track will receive a fresh layer of asphalt, for the first time since 1998.
The new surface is to be laid over a flatter substrate, with 40mm of the old tarmac already having been removed to make way for the new asphalt. The aim of the project is to remove the bumps which have accrued over the years, as the track has taken punishment from MotoGP, World Superbikes, Australian V8 Supercars and the many track days and other events which happen at the circuit nearly all year round. Casey Stoner was brought in to consult on the project, the former MotoGP champion telling the media in October that he had advised the company which bumps to remove (most of them) and which bumps to leave in as they added to the circuit's character.
After their split with Ducati over the support required for campaigning and developing Ducati's new Panigale superbike, there was some speculation as to what would become of the Italian team which ran Ducati's crypto-factory racing program for the past two years. On Monday, Althea announced that as expected, the team would be making the switch to Aprilia, and racing an RSV4 in 2013.
The team will field only a single rider, Davide Giugliano remaining with the team for 2013. The young Italian had an excellent rookie season with the Althea Ducati team, getting on the podium twice at Misano and Assen and regularly tussling with front group of WSBK men.
Althea's choice for Aprilia makes a grand total of four RSV4s on the 2013 grid. Beside the factory Aprilia squad of Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli, Michel Fabrizio will also be racing an RSV4 for the Red Devils Roma, while Giugliano races the bike for the Althea team.
Below is the official press release from Althea:
Team Althea Racing together with Aprilia in 2013 World Superbike Championship
Althea Racing partners with Aprilia and prepares to compete at the top level in the 2013 World Superbike Championship.
The last day of testing of 2012 turned out to be a mirror image of the MotoGP season just finished. As it had so many times this year, rain and wind ruined conditions, making the track far too dangerous for slick tires, and too dry to do any proper testing on wets. And just as they had done so often this year, the few riders remaining at the Jerez combined MotoGP and World Superbike test spent the day sitting in the garage, watching the weather, before calling an early halt to proceedings and heading home.
A few riders did briefly venture out, though to little effect. Nicky Hayden had stayed on for an extra day to help the testing program, after Andrea Dovizioso's neck problem meant that the Italian did only three laps over the first two days of the test. Hayden went out for a few laps to compare the two different wet compounds, and Ducati test rider Michele Pirro put in a few laps as well, but both Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone chose to sit out the final day. Dovizioso's neck problems had not subsided sufficiently, and the conditions were not worth the risk, while Iannone did not feel there was anything to learn on the treacherous conditions.
MV Agusta will be making a return to world championship racing. Today, the iconic Italian brand they will be teaming up with the ParkinGO squad led by Giuliano Rovelli to race the company's new three-cylinder F3 675 machine in World Supersport for the 2013 season.
The choice of ParkinGO to run the MV Agusta WSS effort is a logical move. ParkinGO has experience of developing different machinery, having raced Triumph's 675 Daytona in the World Supersport class between 2008 and 2010. The team then lifted the World Supersport title in 2011 with Chaz Davies, after switching to Yamaha's YZF R6, a bike which had not been raced the previous year. The team then moved up World Superbike with Davies, racing an Aprilia RSV4, on which the Welshman scored a win and three podiums.
Though no rider has yet been named, GPOne.com is reporting that Luca Scassa will be signed up to race the F3. Scassa knows the team, having partnered Davies for the team in 2011, and knows MV Agusta, having raced with the marque in Superstock 1000 in 2006 and 2007.
Below is the official press release from ParkinGO announcing the collaboration with MV Agusta:
MV Agusta and ParkinGO together for the come back to the racing world
The reports of a major reshuffle at Ducati which emerged at Valencia turned out to be accurate. Today, Ducati Motor Holding announced a complete reshuffle within its racing department, which sees the current leaders of Ducati's racing projects moved aside to make way for new blood.
The biggest change is at the top of Ducati's racing department, Ducati Corse. Current general manager and technical lead Filippo Preziosi is being moved out of the racing department and reassigned as head of R&D for all of Ducati, though his focus will shift to production machines. In his place, former BMW World Superbike team manager Bernhard Gobmeier has been appointed as General Manager of Ducati Corse. MotoGP project director Alessandro Cicognani has also been replaced, by Paolo Ciabatti, who was director of the World Superbike Championship for Infront Motor Sports until it was taken over by Dorna. The only person staying in place is Ernesto Marinelli, who will remain Ducati's WSBK project director.
Ducati today confirmed that they have signed an agreement the Francis Batta for the Belgian to run their World Superbike team for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. The announcement had been expected for some time, as Batta had been linked to the deal almost immediately after the shock announcement that talks between Althea and Ducati had collapsed.
The team will be contesting the 2013 World Superbike Championship with the Ducati 1199 Panigale. Carlos Checa and Ayrton Badovini have signed up for the team, and will ride the Panigale in Alstare colors next season.
Below is the press release announcing the deal:
Ducati and Team Alstare together in World Superbike for two years as "Team Ducati Alstare"
Max Biaggi has announced he is to retire from motorcycle racing. The 2012 World Superbike Champion will not defend his title in 2013, and has ceased racing with immediate effect. At the age of 41, after some 20 years of racing at the very top level, the six-time World Champion has decided to call it a day.
"It all started here and it all ends here," Biaggi told a press conference at the Vallelunga circuit just outside Rome. The decision had been taken with great difficulty, he said, but finally, the desire to spend more time with his wife and family had prevailed over his hunger to race. The night before the press conference had been "my longest night," Biaggi told the press, "but I am happy with this decision." It had been a decision taken freely. He had a contract ready to sign from Aprilia, and he still felt competitive, but he felt it was the right time to leave. Many riders had been forced by injury to retire, but being able to leave while still healthy was an important factor, Biaggi said.
The key role that money plays in motorcycle racing was once again underlined when Bridgepoint Capital, the private equity firm which owns a large part of Dorna, announced it was selling a 39% stake in the organizer of MotoGP and World Superbikes. That stake was sold to CPPIB, a Canadian pension fund, the combining of WSBK and MotoGP under the umbrella of Dorna having been a prime mover for the sale.
One of the first things the new owners have done is opened up bidding for refinancing of the debts Dorna is encumbered with. According to reports in Bloomberg Businessweek, Bridgepoint and CPPIB have hired the French bank Societe Generale to help arrange financing covering some 485 million euros of debt. The debt being renegotiated includes existing debt placed on the company, as well as debt being used to refund shareholder loans, according to the reports. A meeting is scheduled for this week, where potential lenders will be offered the chance to bid on the loans.
Yamaha has taken the first tentative steps towards an eventual return to the World Superbike series. On Friday, the Yakhnich Motorsport team announced that they have signed Sam Lowes to a three-year contract, with the stated aim of winning the World Supersport championship before moving up to World Superbikes. Lowes contested both the 2011 and 2012 World Supersport seasons with the PTR Honda team, winning 2 races and finishing 3rd in the standings this season.
The most significant part of the press release announcing the signing of Lowes, however, is that Yamaha Motor Europe is stepping up to support the Yakhnich effort, after a hiatus from racing in 2012. The Yamaha's European distributor had been a long-time supporter of both the World Superbike and World Supersport teams, but had been forced by the financial crisis and falling sports bike sales to cut back their presence in the production championship. Factory support in World Supersport was dropped at the end of the 2009 season, and from the World Superbike class at the end of 2011.
Jules Cluzel has signed to race with the FIXI Crescent Suzuki squad in World Superbikes for 2013. The deal, announced two days' ago, sees the young Frenchman move up from the World Supersport class in which he made an impressive debut in 2012. Cluzel had switched to the WSBK paddock after losing his ride in Moto2, despite a similarly impressive year with the NGM Forward team in 2011.
Cluzel takes the place of another Frenchman, Sylvain Guintoli having backed out of a deal he had already agreed to to ride with the team. Guintoli now looks likely to race for a semi-factory Ducati team to be run by Francis Batta. After Althea announced they were breaking their ties with Ducati earlier this week, Ducati has been in talks to put a structure in place to allow them to contest the 2013 World Superbike season. According to GPOne.com, those talks could be concluded as early as Thursday, with former Alstare Suzuki - and before that, Alstare Ducati - boss Francis Batta once again taking over the reins and running the team. Batta has been in talks with Guintoli about joining a team, and is very positive about the Frenchman, praising his talent, his experience with the Ducati and his language skills.