Since recently retired 7-time AMA Superbike champion Mat Mladin let it drop on his Twitter page that he had offers to compete in WSBK in 2010, this breaking story has grown legs and developed a life of its own. As noted here at MotoMatters, it's rumored that the "very good machinery" that Mladin alluded to is a privateer BMW S1000RR fielded by Alfred Inzinger's Reitwagen Racing team. The latest development in this surreal saga comes from the intermittantly reliable Motorcycle News. According to MCN, rumor has it that a test is being arranged so that Mladin can ride the Beemer at Eastern Creek.
The Grand Prix Commission, MotoGP's rulemaking body, met today in Geneva to discuss a number of issues, clarifying a number of open points in the rule book concerning Moto2, as well as a few other minor points. But the point that MotoGP fans around the world had been waiting for most fervently was the new rules for MotoGP to take effect from 2012.
In the huge press release with regulation changes just issued by the FIM, the part covering MotoGP's new rule changes were incredibly brief- just four lines:
Basic concept for MotoGP
- Maximum displacement: 1000cc
- Maximum number of cylinders: 4
- Maximum bore: 81 mm
And so as predicted (most prophetically by Dennis Noyes on Speed TV), the "silver bullet" Carmelo Ezpeleta described is limiting the bore. Speaking to MotoGP.com, the Dorna CEO described the decision to limit the bore to 81mm as follows: "It's a very important measurement because with this we can have all the characteristics of the engine."
The Moto2 bikes concluded their second day of testing at Valencia on Thursday, but it will not be their last, as originally planned. A number of teams will be staying on at the Spanish track for one more day of testing, taking advantage of the excellent weather currently favoring Spain's Mediterranean coast.
The Aspar team continued to test the BQR bike, trying out Ohlins suspension on the bike in place of the Showa units Julian Simon tested yesterday. Towards the end of the day, the Aspar team borrowed the Pons team's Kalex machine, with both Simon and teammate Mike di Meglio running a short test to get a feel for the bike. Di Meglio had spent most of the day on a Yamaha World Supersport-spec bike, just to get used to riding a four stroke.
Di Meglio wasn't the only rider out on World Supersport equipment. Ant West continued on the MZ, in reality the rebadged Stiggy Honda CBR600RR the Australian campaigned with limited success in the World Supersport series, while two genuine World Supersport contenders - Kenan Sofuoglu and his brand new teammate Michele Pirro - circulated on the Ten Kate Honda Supersport machines. Both the Ten Kate's were over a second faster than West, Sofuoglu running a 1'36.1 and Pirro a 1'36.4.
Testing concluded at Valencia for the World Superbike riders today, and it was Max Biaggi who finished the test on top of the timesheets. Biaggi broke Noriyuki Haga's existing lap record by some eight tenths of a second on his final lap of the test, before climbing off the bike and heading off to the airport to fly back home. Biaggi finished ahead of yesterday's fastest man Leon Haslam, the young Briton confirming his excellent pace on the Alstare Suzuki. Third fastest was Sterilgarda Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow, just a tenth off Haslam's time. The reigning World Supersport champion has taken no time at all to adapt to the World Superbike machines, and continues to be very quick.
Crutchlow finished ahead of both Johnny Rea and James Toseland, the Ten Kate Honda man working on new suspension, while Toseland concentrated on electronics and chassis setup for his Yamaha R1. Reigning British Superbike champion Leon Camier finished some way off the pace, after crashing a couple of times during the day. He was joined in the gravel by Ten Kate Supersport rider Michele Pirro and James Toseland, though all three riders walked away uninjured.
Unofficial times from day 2 at Valencia:
Ever since Ben Spies entered the World Superbike championship, all eyes have been on his former teammate at Yoshimura Suzuki, Mat Mladin. The 7-time AMA Superbike champion initially decided to stay in the US, but his disillusionment with the way the DMG - the rights holders for AMA Superbikes - was running the series became more and more prominent, and he eventually announced his retirement from racing at the end of July 2009.
At the time, speculation was rife that this retirement was merely from the AMA, and that the Australian veteran was planning a secret return to World Superbikes for the 2010 series. Mladin denied it, telling Superbikeplanet.com's Dean Adams that he intended to stop racing altogether once the 2009 AMA season had concluded.
a couple of world superbike offers have come my way in the past month. 1 of them very good in regards to machinery. decisions decisions ;-)
Alstare Suzuki's Leon Haslam was the fastest of the World Superbike paddock on the first day of testing at Valencia. The young Briton was quickly up to speed on the new Suzuki GSX-R1000, taking two tenths of a second off Noriyuki Haga's race lap record at Valencia. That was exactly the same margin by which Haslam was faster than Max Biaggi, the Aprilia rider continuing his development of the RSV4, the bike continuing to show potential.
James Toseland had a strong outing at his second test of the bike, and pronounced himself pleased to be riding at a track he knows so well, after initially making his debut on the Yamaha R1 at Portimao, a tough track to master, without also having to get to grips with a new bike and tires. Toseland and his team mate Cal Crutchlow spent their time working on a new electronics package, the necessity of which was demonstrated by an early crash for Toseland. The Englishman locked the rear of his Yamaha up on a cold tire, while changing down between Turns 4 and 5.
Johnny Rea set the 4th fastest time of the day, just ahead of Crutchlow. Crutchlow was 0.7 faster than the second Ten Kate Honda rider Max Neukirchner, Aprilia's Leon Camier and Aprilia's test rider Alex Hoffman.
The first large-scale outing for the Moto2 teams started today at Valencia, with 5 teams, 6 bikes and 8 riders out on track. According to the times issued by the teams afterwards, Ant West was the fastest of the Moto2 riders, though this requires the first of a number of sizable pinches of salt. According to GPOne.com, West's MZ-badged Moto2 bike was just a Supersport CBR600 in disguise, and consequently an already sorted package.
From there, it all gets very difficult to judge, as the different bikes have engines in very different states of tune, varying from kitted standard engines to full Supersport, and producing anywhere between 115 and 140 hp depending on the level of tune. The real test will come when Honda starts supplying the standard engines to the teams in March next year.
Julian Simon certainly put in a strong performance, the Aspar team once again running the BQR chassis, and edging closer to deciding to use this chassis as the replacement for the missing Aprilias. The Italtrans bike of Roby Rolfo was also impressive, Rolfo setting some strong times, while Raffaele de Rosa made a strong debut on the Tech 3 Moto2 bike, especially given the very low level of tune the Tech 3 team is running their Honda CBR 600 engine in.
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.