Joan Lascorz topped the timecharts at the end of two days of testing at Phillip Island, getting within spitting distance of Kenan Sofuoglu's pole record from last year. The Spaniard had been strong all weekend, finishing as fastest in three of the four sessions the World Supersport class had at the Australian track, the final test in the run up to the opening round of the 2010 season.
A cluster of Hondas sit from 2nd to 4th, with Eugene Laverty's Parkalgar bike sandwiched between the Ten Kates of Kenan Sofuoglu and Michele Pirro. These four look the most likely title candidates, but the old guard of Katsuaki Fujiwara and Fabien Foret will give them a run for their money from time to time.
With three Kawasakis and three Hondas in the top six, the prospect of a Kawasaki winning a world championship is looking increasingly realistic. Team Green have generally had a miserable time in all of the World Championship series they have entered, their last title coming in 2001 in this very class, with Andrew Pitt aboard a Kawasaki ZX-6R. But the World Supersport series is the only class where Kawasaki have shone, and with Joan Lascorz growing in maturity year on year, the Spaniard could be one to watch in 2010.
Results of the second and final session of testing for the World Superbike class at Phillip Island:
Results of Monday's first session of practice for the World Superbike class at Phillip Island. The session was delayed due to overnight rain, which took a while to dry out:
Results of the second and final session of testing for World Supersport at Phillip Island:
Results of the first session of practice for the World Supersport class on Monday:
The first day of testing for the World Superbike class at Phillip Island was a chance for Ducati to stamp their authority on the series they have so often dominated. The Italian factory tackled this challenge with gusto, putting five bikes in the top six of the morning test session, and taking three of the four top spots in the afternoon. It was not the factory bikes that took top honors, however: In the morning session, Xerox Ducati riders Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio had to cede that honor the the Alstare Suzuki of Leon Haslam, while in the afternoon, it was the turn of the privateer Carlos Checa on the Althea Racing 1098R, edging the factory bikes into 2nd and 4th.
Checa's time in the afternoon was extremely impressive, just over a tenth off Troy Corser's official lap record, and nearly four tenths of a second faster than the next fastest man Fabrizio. Leon Haslam is continuing his apparently trouble-free transition to the Suzuki GSX-R 1000, claiming a permanent spot at the top of the field, though the Englishman was half a second slower during the afternoon session. The two Xerox Ducati teammates are once again closely matched, raising the specter of a repeat of last year, when Fabrizio stole valuable points from Noriyuki Haga in the Japanese rider's failed attempt to conquer the 2009 WSBK title.
If Moto2 testing has been dogged by bad weather and poor conditions, the sun has smiled on the World Superbike and World Supersport classes. The men - and woman - of the WSBK paddock enjoyed the warm sunshine of the Antipodean late summer, but then again they did have to fly halfway round the world to enjoy it. Kenan Sofuoglu immediately made himself at home at Phillip Island, setting the fastest lap of the first day of testing during the morning session, and showing a similar turn of pace in the afternoon. Motocard Kawasaki's Joan Lascorz was quickest in the afternoon session, but his time was well off the time set by the Ten Kate Honda rider in the morning session.
The Ten Kate Hondas and Motocard Kawasakis dominated the timesheets, taking the top four spots with Sofuoglu and his new teammate Michele Pirro sandwiching Katsuaki Fujiwara and Lascorz between them. Another Kawasaki was 5th, the Lorenzini by Leoni bike of former WSS World Champion Fabien Foret. The Frenchman finished just ahead of last year's championship runner up, Eugene Laverty on the Parkalgar Honda.
Sebastien Charpentier was the fastest of the Triumphs, ahead of his BE1 teammate David Salom. Chaz Davies was the second fastest of the British riders in 10th place, 3 places ahead of newcomer Gino Rea, and two places ahead of his Factory Triumph teammate, American rider Jason DiSalvo.
Results of the second session of practice for the World Supersport class at the Phillip Island test :
Results of the first session of practice for the World Supersport class at the Phillip Island test:
Results of the second session of practice for the World Superbike class at Phillip Island:
Results of the first session of testing for the World Superbike class at Phillip Island:
Once they got over the tragedy of losing the 250cc two-stroke, motorcycle race fans have turned their gaze to the Moto2 class. So little is known, and so much is up in the air for the class that fans are poring over photos in minute detail trying to work out the crucial differences between the different bikes. Cue the outstanding Italian website GPOne.com, who shot some close up video of six of the bikes due to contest the Moto2 championship next season. The video below gives a brief tour and explanation (albeit in Italian) of the RSV used by the Aspar and Cardion AB teams, the Moriwaki to be used by Gresini, the Holiday Gym team and Interwetten, the Blusens BQR bike, the Kalex Pons machine, Tech 3's Mistral 610 bike designed and built by the team's engineers, and the most popular choice on the grid, the Suter MMX.
The gods have not looked kindly on the advent of the Moto2 class. Nearly every time the new bikes have taken to the track for testing, the elements have intervened, throwing wind, rain and even snow into the paths of the CBR600-engined prototypes. The final day of testing at Barcelona was no different, the day starting wet and the track only drying out some time after 2pm, leaving precious little time for the riders to work further on developing and setting up their brand new Moto2 machines.
Despite the conditions and the lack of track time, the majority of riders still at the circuit did manage to improve their times. Once again, it was Shoya Tomizawa who was fastest, sharing the honor on Friday with Julian Simon and Yuki Takahashi. In the unofficial standings, Jules Cluzel was awarded the 4th fastest time, ahead of Ant West on the MZ.
But twelve riders finished the test within a second of each other, though being unofficial and self-reported, the lap times need to be treated with an artery-clogging helping of salt. A potential lead group seems to be appearing, but given the well-reported difference in engine tune being used, it is hard to judge just how much difference in time is being disguised by superior engines.
The fallout from the global financial crisis continues to affect the paddock, causing more suffering as it goes. This time, it claimed the WRB team as its victims, the Spanish squad being forced to withdraw after losing sponsorship from the clothing brand Jack&Jones. The withdrawal leaves riders Danny Webb and Adrian Martin looking for work, though both men are unlikely to be without a ride for long.
British rider Danny Webb is closing on a deal with the Andalucia Cajasol team, preparing to field an Aprilia RSA125 alongside Spanish CEV 125 champion Alberto Moncayo. Both the team and Moncayo are stepping up to the World Championship from the Spanish series, and given that the CEV 125 championship is a hotbed of talent and highly professional teams, the move could work out well for Webb. Though the WRB team finished 3rd in last year's 125cc World Championship with Nico Terol, Webb's new team should be just as competitive. The deal has not yet been signed, but according to an interview Webb gave MotoGP.com, the rider and the team are close to finalizing terms, including the length of a deal.
The second day of testing for the Moto2 class at Barcelona took place under far better conditions than the first. The day started off relatively sunny and dry, but damp patches and a cool track made for a treacherous track, which caught many riders out. The main victims were Roberto Rolfo and Alex Debon, two of the men tipped for success in the class, who both suffered serious shoulder injuries. Rolfo dislocated his shoulder and will be out for four weeks, while Debon fractured a collarbone and is likely to be out for a similar period. The Spaniard was taken to Valencia in the afternoon to undergo surgery to set the collarbone. Rolfo's injury came at a time when the Italian was doing well. He had just set the second time of the day behind American Kenny Noyes when he went down on a damp part of the track. In addition to Rolfo and Debon, the list of fallers included Thomas Luthi, Fonsi Nieto, Raffaele de Rosa and Julian Simon, though these riders came away relatively unscathed.
At the end of the day, it was the Japanese rider Shoya Tomizawa who reported the fastest time on a Suter MMX, ahead of Frenchman Jules Cluzel, also on a Suter, with the Colombian Yonni Hernandez in 3rd aboard a Blusens BQR. But while the teams are still using a mixture of engines - with a power difference of over 15 horsepower in some cases - the times need to be taken with a very large helping of salt, especially as these times have been released by the teams, rather than recorded by the official timekeeping.