November 2017

PJ Jacobsen Moves Up To WorldSBK With TripleM Honda

The WorldSBK class is to have at least one American racer in 2018. Today, Honda Racing announced that PJ Jacobsen will be moving up to the World Superbikes class for next season. The 24-year-old American will be racing for the TripleM team, who are also making the move up to WorldSBK after in the Superstock 1000 class for the past five seasons.

Jacobsen has been a consistent contender in World Supersport since joining the class in 2014, scoring two wins and getting on the podium 16 times in total in his career. He had his year in WorldSSP on a Honda in 2015, winning at Sepang and Magny-Cours.

Jacobsen may not be the only American rider to race in WorldSBK in 2018. There are strong rumors linking Jake Gagne to the second seat in the Red Bull Honda team, alongside Leon Camier. Gagne filled in at the Red Bull Honda WorldSBK team at Magny-Cours and Qatar, and is believed to be a strong favorite with Honda and the team's title sponsor Red Bull. Red Bull Honda team manager Kervin Bos refused to comment on the Gagne rumors at the recent Jerez test. Nevertheless, everyone in WorldSBK not wearing a Honda shirt remained fully convinced that it is Gagne who will get the nod.

The Honda press release announcing PJ Jacobsen's signing follows:


PJ Jacobsen graduates to WorldSBK championship with TripleM Honda WSBK Team in 2018

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Barcelona Superprestigio Returns, Without Baker And Marquez, But With JD Beach And Briar Bauman

The Barcelona Superprestigio dirt track event returns for its fifth edition this December 16th. But the indoor short track held in the Palau Sant Jordi in the Olympic Park on the Montjuic hill south of the city center will be without a couple of its big name riders this year, including the originator of the idea, Marc Marquez.

The Spaniard announced a few days ago on his Twitter account that he would not be racing in the event, citing the need for a rest after a long season. Just how much it was his own decision, and how much the result of pressure from Honda, is unknown. HRC were known to be deeply unhappy about Marquez racing in an event which is fraught with the risk of injury, but were unable to stop him. Common sense on the part of Marquez, or perhaps the changing of the guard in the Repsol Honda team - both Shuhei Nakamoto and Livio Suppo, the two men who were instrumental in bringing Marquez to Honda, have now left the employment of HRC - have persuaded him to step back.

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Suter Back In Moto2 With Forward

Five days after they announced they would be pulling out of Moto2 for the 2018 season, Forward Racing are dragging them back in. Today, the Forward Racing team officially announced that they have signed a deal to race Suter chassis for 2018. Forward will be fielding Eric Granado and Stefano Manzi for the coming season.

The deal came about after Forward tested both Suter and Kalex chassis at the Jerez Moto2 test a couple of weeks ago. Granado and Manzi were fast on the Suter, and after supply problems with Kalex and KTM, the decision was made to proceed with Suter. This took some persuading, as Suter had to be convinced to change their mind. But after discussions between the company founder Eskil Suter and CEO Maurizio Bäumle, Suter decided to step back into the series.

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Dunlop Extends Moto2 & Moto3 Tire Contract Through 2020

Dunlop is to remain the official tire supplier to the Moto2 and Moto3 classes for the next three seasons. The European arm of the US-based tire conglomerate is to keep the role it has had since the start of the two four-stroke classes. That, in itself, was an extension of the near total dominance Dunlop had in the 125cc and 250cc classes which preceded them.

The renewal should come as no surprise. There has been little interest from Dorna in finding a replacement for Dunlop, nor much interest from other tire manufacturers in taking on the role. The role does not bring the same level of either media profile nor media scrutiny as the MotoGP contract.

For the most part, Dunlop has done a solid job in Moto2 and Moto3, with few complaints from the teams - though there were some protests when Dunlop started insisting on enforcing a minimum tire pressure after a couple of serious incidents as teams pursued grip by lowering tire pressure. The only serious complaint raised by the riders is the fact that in Moto2, there is only a single wet-weather compound.

Below is the press release from Dorna issued announcing the contract extension:


Dunlop to remain tyre supplier to Moto2™ and Moto3™ until 2020

Three-year contract extension sees the classic marque remain sole tyre supplier to the lightweight and intermediate classes until at least 2020

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Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 64: Reviewing The 2017 WorldSBK Season

With the most important part of the WorldSBK grid assembled at Jerez, it seemed like a good time to go over the 2017 WorldSBK season. No one knows the World Superbike paddock quite like Steve English, so David Emmett submits him to a grilling over the events of the past year, and how he sees the future, while David tries not to make too many stupid remarks.

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Leon Camier: A Leap Into The Unknown

When a rider changes team they also face the same question; will I sink or swim? First impressions from riding the Honda are that Camier will be swimming

Leon Camier was the central pin of the 2018 rider market in WorldSBK. The former British champion was sought after having proven his worth as a development rider in turning around the fortunes of MV Agusta. He faces a similar task for next year having joined the unfancied and under performing Honda squad.

First impressions for Camier have left the Englishman confident of a season where he can once again perform above expectations. After three days of winter testing at Jerez Camier enthused his excitement for the year ahead and the possibilities of a bright future for Honda.

“I'm very excited after the test because I wasn't expecting us to be this quick at the first test,” said Camier. “To be straight into the battle with Fores and Van der Mark is very positive for us. We need to make the right changes going forward and put us in the right direction for development for the winter so that we're ready at the next test to keep progressing.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The truth behind Britain, MotoGP and World Superbike

Many Britons wonder why British riders do so well in WSB and not so well in MotoGP. It’s a long story, says Mat Oxley…

Congratulations are due to Jonathan Rea; heaps of congratulations: his MotoGP-beating lap time at Jerez last week, his history-making third consecutive World Superbike title, his record-breaking points haul, his MBE, his BBC Sports Personality of the Year nomination and much, much more. All richly deserved by a great talent riding at his peak.

But as for all the WSB versus MotoGP talk of recent days – following last week’s combined WSB/MotoGP tests at Jerez – it’s just hypothetical barroom banter. Sam Lowes knows this better than most, having competed in WSB, MotoGP, World Supersport and Moto2. On Saturday he tweeted, “Stupid all the talk about WSB and MotoGP at Jerez. Means nothing. Lots of awesome riders on awesome bikes. Different tyres. Impossible comparison.”

Just like last November, when Rea also topped the Jerez tests, social media has been buzzing with the Northern Irishman’s performance; with many wondering why he hasn’t been signed by a MotoGP team.

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Eugene Laverty: No Rest Betwixt MotoGP and WorldSBK

360 laps at Jerez for the Irishman as he jumps from SBK to MotoGP bike. The contrast in both offers clarification of what he needs for 2018

Eugene Laverty had a busy week at the Jerez test. The Aprilia WorldSBK rider spent the opening two days riding his regular mount before being drafted into MotoGP duty in place of the injured Aleix Espargaro. For Laverty, it was the first opportunity to lap on the Grand Prix machine in 12 months, and he was kept busy with five days of testing.

“It's been a busy week,” said Laverty. “I did about 360 laps this week on the Superbike and the MotoGP bikes. It was a full week. I didn't really get a chance all week to look to set my ideal laptime because I was riding Aleix' bike and he's a lot taller than me. To be fast on it I can't load the front enough because of how much of a different size we are.

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Alex Lowes: A Change For The Better?

Making a change at the crew chief position can reap rewards or add a new set of challenges. For Alex Lowes the 2018 season will see him work with Andrew Pitt and first impressions were very positive at the Jerez test.

A change can be as good as a holiday and having fresh eyes to look at a problem can lead to new solutions. For Alex Lowes, the 2018 season will see the former British champion work with a new crew chief, but following the Jerez test the Yamaha rider is excited by the prospect of working with Andrew Pitt.

“It’s been a really good,” said Lowes. “You’re always a bit anxious when you make a change like this because the rider crew chief relationship is probably the most important that you have. This week has been fantastic because a lot of the things I’ve been struggling with Andrew, with his experience as a rider, has been able to help me with a lot already. We put some new ideas into the pot that we didn’t have before and that’s transformed into some improvements on the bike. It’s been really good so far and this sort of relationship only gets better so I’m looking forward to the next tests as this couldn’t have gone any better.”

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Marco Melandri: "The New Rules Are Hurting Ducati More Than Anyone"

The Jerez test offered the first chance to see the new regulations in action. For Marco Melandri it confirmed his worst fears; Ducati are being hit harder than anyone

That Ducati has been hit hardest by the 2018 regulations shouldn't come as a surprise, but following three days of testing at Jerez it was surprising how morose Marco Melandri felt. The Italian returned to WorldSBK in 2017 and was able to have a strong season that was highlighted by a victory in front of his home fans at Misano.

A winter of testing was expected to see the former 250GP champion once again a position to chase a title. Instead he was left chasing his tail at Jerez and acknowledging the mountain that the Italian manufacturer may have to climb. Rome wasn't built in a day and after three years of Ducati rebuilding their WorldSBK title challenge Melandri made it clear the extent of the challenge facing the team.

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