Jonathan Rea may have done the double at the Italian circuitm but WorldSBK was in rude health last weekend
New tires offer a new reference
Pirelli brought a huge tire range to Misano. The Italian manufacturer has been criticized at times but they certainly aren't resting on their laurels in 2018. At their home round there were six front tire options available to teams and a new option to complement the increased profile of the rear tire. This new front tire wasn't to every rider's liking but it is now “the reference for teams” according to numerous engineers. The tire offered stability under braking but was a handful for some riders when they released the brake and tried to enter the corner. It will take time to make it work perfectly and find the correct settings but it was very well received.
Last lap scrap
Three riders from three manufacturers went into the final lap with a chance of claiming the win. Ultimately Rea took the victory in Race 2 but he had to dig deep for it. Making moves throughout the race the Kawasaki rider made a handful of uncharacteristic mistakes that allowed riders to counter attack. Once in clear air he was the fastest man on track but in a battle it was a struggle. Standing on the podium with his winners trophy in his hand you could see the struggle Rea had gone through and the relief at winning. On Saturday Rea said he wants to win at everything and he's been able to open an almost unassailable 92 point lead as the paddock goes into the summer break.
Ducati in demand?
The Misano paddock was filled with rumor and counter rumor about 2019. The only concrete information about Ducati's plans was that no one will test the all-new V4 until they've signed a contract for next year. Chaz Davies, a perennial title contender for the Italian outfit, admitted he was concerned about signing a contract without riding the bike first. “I want to roll down pit lane in Australia knowing I've a bike to win the title on,” was his assessment, while Race 2 podium man Marco Melandri was being heavily touted as a Yamaha rider in 2019. If he moves it will be to the GRT squad who need to find a fast rider to attract sponsors to foot the bill for an R1. The future for Shaun Muir Racing could also involve Ducati and Eugene Laverty, but whether they make a deal with the Bologna factory is still uncertain. Ducati may have the best pedigree in WorldSBK but their inability to win the title on their current bike clearly leaves them in the shade of Kawasaki.
The winds of change for Honda
A new fairing helped Honda protect Leon Camier from the wind but it didn't project them further up the field. The Englishman was pleased with the developments but said throughout the weekend that making a step with the engine was now key. Finding torque to power the bike out of corners is now crucial and an extensive upgrade list to be tested at Portimao next month could include a new engine specification. Whether that will be raced in 2018 is uncertain but it would indicate that for 2019 Honda will look to make a step forward.
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... to look barely-relevant in WSBK. Despite having an absolute bada$$ like Camier over-riding the CBR. I just dont see an inline-4 Honda ever reaching the top step at this point, it's just too conservative a machine compared to the competition.
Regarding Ducati, all indications point to a much-improved motorcycle based on impressions of the V4 streetbike. However, my take is that the frameless philosophy seems not to work for them, and if anything creates a disadvantage for setup and rider-friendliness. I sense a stubbornness in Ducati about this: Their GP bike is now an aluminum twin-spar after failing to compete in Gran Prix, so why hang on to frameless on their streetbikes?
I'm admittedly a big fan of trellis frames and the feedback they provide. I think back to Bayliss' final season on the 1098, and his utter domination thanks in part the chassis that helped winning appear so easy for him...
On the Yamaha front, there's a credible rumor going around that Beaubier may get a ride with the GRT squad? I hope it's true!
In reply to Honda continues... by Agent55
Agreed on all points
I feel especially bad for Leon Camier. I loved watching him ride on the gorgeous MV Agusta. Too bad that bike improved so slowly.
@ Agent55. Just look at their website. The V4 Panigale has a frame. Hopefully Ducati offer Chaz a lot of money to re-sign if they're not going to let him ride it first. He's ridden the wheels off the V-twin just as Jonathan Rea rode the wheels off those underpowered Hondas before he switched to Kawasaki. Chaz deserves to win a championship.
In reply to Frameless? by Tanker Man
Is a glorified headstock...
... a "frame"? I guess you could say it is, but not in the traditional sense, and certainly not in the way Ducati's rivals design their frames. The important difference is this: A connection between the headstock and the swingarm mount using aluminum or steel beams or spars (i.e. "twin spar frame") that ties the front and rear wheels together. The inherent semi-flexibility of this span of material acts a sort of suspension when the bike is over on its side, as well as an effective feedback mechanism to the rider thanks to the way the frame absorbs and releases energy. For example: trail-braking deep into a corner or getting on the gas early while still leaned way over puts a lot of force into the chassis, which the rider uses and can feel to to find the limit of grip.
Now, take away these beams or spars of continuous material linking both wheels, and what are you left with? An utterly rigid, inflexible crankcase. Because Ducati has chosen to abandon that approach, they've had to find new ways of making a chassis not only function, but communicate to the rider. Certainly, they've done a fine job at it, but they've also failed to win a WSBK Championship with it as well... for the first time, ever.
WSBK without a doubt needs Ducati to be competitive (hell, Ducati practically is WSBK!), and I hope the V4 makes the difference for them. But so far they've been unable to make a terribly strong case for the their "frameless" philosophy at the highesty level of production bike racing.
In reply to Is a glorified headstock... by Agent55
I didn't know I had a frameless bike
My 5th Gen VFR800 has a glorified headstock by your criteria, as the swingarm mounts into the engine case, not the frame.
CBR929 and 954 as well. And the VTR1000 too.
Did not watch... and I am glad
Last weekend I was away and missed the races. I avoided social media etc, but still caught whoe won. SO glad I did. I did not have to waste a night watching Rae drive off with 2 more wins. WSBK needs to get some competition as I am done for the time being.
@ Agent55. The V4 Panigale has a twin spar aluminum frame.
In reply to Frame by Tanker Man
It most certainly...
... does not. Go find images of the bike without bodywork. The headstock section does not connect with the swingarm. They both bolt to the engine independent of one another.
20 odd riders line up. So that Nr1 Rea finishes first.
Is it wrong to use Doohanesue, ?
Best rider, best bike-even knobbled. = wins. Whodathoughtit?