If anyone had any doubts about the importance of the meeting of the Grand Prix Commission at Geneva on December 11th, Carmelo Ezpeleta's charm offensive in the media should remove them completely. Ezpeleta spoke to Motoworld.es on Friday about the new regulations due to come into force in 2012, and today, the Dorna CEO gave an extended interview to the Spanish sports daily AS.com, in which he expanded on the changes.
Ezpeleta's main purpose with the interview was to make clear that the switch back to 1000cc will not in any way impinge on the World Superbikes series' territory. The bikes, Ezpeleta emphasized are prototypes, and will have nothing to do with production bikes. "There will not be a word in these regulations about production engines," Ezpeleta told AS.com. The bikes are prototypes, and which engine was used was entirely up to the builder of the bike, not something set out in regulations.
Aprilia's withdrawal from the Moto2 class continues to cast a shadow over the series. As the teams assemble at Valencia for the combined Moto2 and World Superbike test, the teams which had originally planned to run the Aprilia Moto2 chassis will meet to discuss their reaction to the decision by the Noale firm. According to the leading Italian site GPOne.com, legal action is one of the courses of action that Aspar, Cardion AB, Speed Up Aprilia and Ajo Motorsport are considering, though some of the teams are a little hesitant, preferring not to jeopardize their relationship with Aprilia. Given the interest Aprilia has expressed in entering MotoGP again, potentially through a privateer effort, that reluctance is understandable.
According to the well-informed racing site, Speedweek.eu, Czech Jakub Smrz will have the opportunity to test the Aprilia RSV4 at the upcoming combined WSBK/WSS/Moto2 test at Valencia this Wednesday and Thursday. According to Aprilia Technical Director Gigi Dall'Igna, no agreement has been signed to date between Guandalini Racing and Aprilia but a bike is available and ready for Smrz to ride at the test. It has been widely supposed that Smrz would be campaigning the Aprilia in the World Superbike series in 2010, but after an initial spate of rumors, including a confirmation by Smrz, nothing much has been heard about the alleged merger between Guandalini and Team Sterilgarda Ducati or a reported move to the Aprilia machines. Guandalini was supposedly miffed at Ducati for providing equipment to the Althea team for the upcoming season and Aprilia has reportedly been looking to set up a second team, so it would look at first blush that the proposed switch would be a marriage made perhaps not in heaven, but at least of convenience.
Uncertainty continues over the fate of Aprilia's Moto2 project, after last week's sudden change of heart by senior management. Though still uncertain, the project does seem to be heading to its eventual demise, however.
What is certain is that Aprilia's Moto2 bikes will not be appearing at the tests scheduled to take place at Valencia on Wednesday and Thursday. Speaking to GPOne.com, Aprilia's chief engineer Gigi dall'Igna confirmed that the Noale firm's Moto2 machines would not be available in Spain. Dall'Igna was also somber about the prospects of the bike ever making it onto the track. "From there [not testing at Valencia] it is a very short step to the museum," Dall'Igna told GPOne.com.
Ever since the announcement that MotoGP will return to 1000cc in 2012, a war has been brewing between Infront Motor Sports, the commercial rights holders for the World Superbike series, and the FIM and Dorna. IMS, in the person of Paolo Flammini, has threatened on several occasions to defend what they believe to be their exclusive right to organize production-based motorcycle racing against any move by the FIM - or rather, the Grand Prix Commission, in which the FIM, Dorna, the manufacturers' association MSMA and the teams' assocation IRTA all have a seat - to allow the use of production engines in the MotoGP class.
The FIM has come out clearly on the side of MotoGP, with Vito Ippolito stating clearly that the World Superbike contract does not pose an obstacle to the use of production engines in MotoGP. Ippolito's argument is that IMS' contract grants them the exclusive right to organize races for production motorcycles, not motorcycles using production engines.
Despite the fact that the proposal to return to a 1000cc capacity was made by Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, Dorna have kept very quiet on the whole affair. Yesterday, however, in an interview with the Spanish website Motoworld.es, Ezpeleta spoke out to clarify Dorna's position, though he did so very carefully. He emphasized that he did not want to get into a war of words with IMS over the definition of a production engine. "Nowhere will we say anything about using production engines, nothing, nowhere." Ezpeleta told Motoworld.es. "Nor will we draw up a definition of whether an engine is a production engine or not."
There was some confusion after the DMG announced the schedule for the 2010 AMA Pro Racing series. For on the calendar for the US national Superbike series, there was a gaping hole where Laguna Seca should have been. In previous years, the AMA had shared the weekend with the MotoGP series, providing a necessary time filler for the missing support classes. Without the AMA, the Laguna Seca MotoGP weekend would be a pretty quiet weekend.
The problem, it seems, was just temporary. The leading US racing magazine Roadracing World is reporting that the DMG has reached a deal with Laguna Seca after all, and that the teams are being told to start booking hotel rooms in anticipation of the AMA series running at the Laguna Seca MotoGP weekend on July 25th, 2010.
Since the announcement that Motomatters.com would be producing another motorcycle racing calendar, our inboxes have been filling up with requests when it was going on sale. We can finally answer that question with the words "today!" The printing has been completed, and the printed pages are waiting to be collated, bound and packaged ready for shipping. The first copies will be going out to customers late next week, but they should arrive in plenty of time for the holiday season.
The calendar is bigger than last year's edition (at 12" by 9.25", or 12x18.5 when folded open), and features one of Scott Jones' fantastic photographs on the upper side of each month, with the calendar grid on the bottom half of the page. The months contain the complete MotoGP and World Superbike calendars, along with the birthdays of all of the MotoGP riders, most of the World Superbike riders, and selected riders from other series. Race weekends are clearly marked, showing all three days of on-track action for the MotoGP and World Superbike series, providing an essential tool for planning your weekends without missing out on the world's greatest motorcycle racing series. US customers should be aware that the week starts on Monday in the calendar grid, in European style, to highlight the race weekends more clearly. At its heart, the calendar features a double-page spread of the 2009 MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi. See below for the layout of the calendar, or the calendar ordering page for full details of size and printing methods.
BMW has been making a big push in the marketing of its new sportbike, the S1000RR. Facing the difficulty of persuading the public that their products are more than just long-distance tourers or specialist curiosities, the German manufacturer has concentrated its efforts on racing, hiring Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus to contest the World Superbike championship and give them a presence on the global stage.
Now that the S1000RR has been officially launched (onboard footage from the launch available here), BMW is putting a big push into getting more of its bikes on to Superbike grids around the world. At least two teams will be fielding the bikes in the German IDM championship, with former World Supersport rider Barry Veneman joining the ranks of BMW riders in the IDM earlier this week. BMW will be fielding a two-man team in the Superstock class in BSB next year, and rumors continue that the factory will be supplying bikes and support to a team for the AMA series as well.
There has been a good deal of talk in recent weeks about the proposed changes to the MotoGP class, but confusion still exists about exactly what those changes entail. When even our good friends, the normally extremely well-informed Jules Cisek and Jim Race over at the MotoGPOD podcast get the proposals wrong, then it's time for some clarification. And so we have set out below the state of the proposed rule changes, as they stand now, prior to the Grand Prix Commission meeting scheduled for December 11th, 2009.
The agreement governing the current rules package (i.e. 800cc prototypes) is due to expire at the end of 2011, and so the new rules will come into effect for the 2012 MotoGP season. Under the proposals currently being studied, the class will consist of the following machine types:
Yesterday's debut for the Tech 3 Moto2 bike saw success mixed with problems, and justified the decision to run a shakedown test at a track close to the team first. But the problems which arose made the team decide to run a second day of testing, to iron out the problems found on Tuesday. So Tech 3's Moto2 crew, led by engineer Guy Coulon, headed off to the circuit at Alès in the south of France to complete a second day of testing.
The decision had been made because the first day of testing at Ledenon had been so short, Herve Poncharal told Motomatters.com. "We could only run [at Ledenon] between 11am and 3pm," Poncharal said, "and because of the noise regulations, we could not run between 12 and 2." The first how, between 11 and 12, had been perfect, Poncharal said, but a niggling electrical fault had ruined the final hour, between 2 and 3pm. "It was a stupid problem. There was a faulty earth, and the bike would run fine, then just cut out," the Tech 3 boss told us. "It took us a long time to figure out the problem." By that time, the conditions on track were too cold to continue, and the team decided to run a second day's testing at Alès.
The move back to 1000cc by the MotoGP class is looking ever more inevitable. The issue was discussed in the Grand Prix Commission at Valencia, where the MSMA finally accepted that the switch was inevitable, reversing its previous opposition to the change after its own proposal - to lease 800cc engines which private teams could then build their own chassis round - was rejected. The chief drivers behind this project have been Dorna and the FIM, though IRTA is also fully supportive of the scheme, and FIM President Vito Ippolito once again emphasized the importance of making the switch back to 1000cc in an interview with the Italian magazine Motosprint, which Autosport has summarized on its site.
Speaking ahead of the next meeting of the Grand Prix Commission, due to be held on December 11th at the FIM's headquarters in Geneva, Ippolito told Motosprint "The 800cc formula hasn't worked because the power is about the same, while corner speed has increased. And costs have increased too." He pointed out that the manufacturers had accepted the need for change, and that nothing stood in the way of the regulations being changed after the current agreement with the MSMA ends in 2012.
The day of reckoning draws ever nearer for Aprilia's Moto2 project. The meeting which Aspar's Jorge Martinez was due to have with Aprilia on Tuesday has been put back to Thursday, but the chances of the bikes actually making it onto the track appear to be dwindling. In an interview with the respected Italian site GPOne.com, Aprilia's head of racing Gigi dall'Igna was somber about the project's future.
"Aprilia will not be competing in Moto2, that much is certain," dall'Igna said. "The decision has been taken at the very highest level and is not open to discussion. What we are trying to do is save the work we have done so far. For this reason we are looking at handing over the project to a third party, but that's not a simple task. We would need to reach agreement on several key points and we would have to be able to trust the partner we chose completely."
The Tech 3 Moto2 bike made its on-track debut yesterday, at the Ledonon circuit in the south of France. French youngster Florian Marino took the bike out for its shakedown test, to make sure that everything was working correctly prior to the bike's official debut at the Moto2 tests at Valencia next week. The test was a success, in both positive and negative terms, as the bike performed well, until the test was cut short by electrical problems. But this kind of issue is exactly what a shakedown test is meant to reveal.
After the test, the French magazine Sport Bikes spoke to Marino about what he thought of the bike, and how it compared to both the 125s and the Superstock 600 the Frenchman had ridden this season. "This bike is very agile and very light at 140kg, and it feels more like a 125 than a 600," Marino told Sport Bikes. "Because the chassis is so rigid, you can run into corners really fast."
While the purists - and there are many - are still lamenting the loss of the two-stroke 250cc bikes, now reduced to scrap metal in crushers in Italy and Japan, the pace of developments in the world of Moto2 is starting to pick up.
Tuesday sees the Tech 3 team debut its long awaited Moto2 bike, which features a chassis designed and built by the team under the watchful eye of chief engineer Guy Coulon. The bike is due to hit the track for a shakedown test at the Ledenon circuit in the south of France, though some confusion over who is due to ride the bike. The original reports over on Crash.net made it clear that Tech 3 would not be flying their Japanese rider Yuki Takahashi back from Japan to ride the bike, leaving Raffaele de Rosa as a possibility. According to the French site Caradisiac.com, however, Tech 3 team boss Herve Poncharal has granted the young French rider Florian Marino the honor of being the first man to ride the bike, after promising him that reward if the former Red Bull Rookie finished on the podium this year. At Brno, Marino did even better, winning the race and claiming his prize.
The faltering global economy continues to take its toll on motorcycle racing paddocks around the world. Today, the GSE Racing team announced that unless they can find a title sponsor, they will be forced to close up shop and quit BSB next season. Despite winning the last two BSB titles - with Shane Byrne in 2008 and Leon Camier in 2009 - GSE lost their title sponsor Airwaves (a brand of chewing gum) at the end of the 2009 season, and GSE boss Colin Wright has so far failed to find a replacement. The failure to find funding has meant that the team has been forced to notify all of their current staff that they are likely to lose their jobs at the end of the year.