February 18th, 2011
With just over a week to go before the first race of the season, BMW have issued their preview for the World Superbike season opener at Phillip Island. Here's the press release:
Australia - Phillip Island Preview.
Below is a round up of all the Moto2 press releases we have received so far from the teams present at the Estoril test:
As promised, the weather on the final day of testing for the Moto2 and 125 classes at Estoril was better. Unfortunately, and also as promised, "better" was still a very long way from anything resembling suitable for serious testing of racing motorcycles. The track never really dried out, despite the sun showing its face every now and again, and strong winds blowing across the circuit, but despite the weather, a larger group braved the conditions to put in a few laps on Thursday, if only to avoid the trip to Estoril having been a complete waste.
Times, once again, were hardly meaningful: Simone Corsi, Thomas Luthi and Claudio Corti took the honors, at least unofficially, just ahead of Alex de Angelis, Jules Cluzel and Michele Pirro. Corsi, Luthi and Corti's time was a 1'42.4, three seconds better than the record from the race last year, but given that the Portuguese Grand Prix was also severely hit by rain last October, that means little. The time of Corsi et al is still nearly two seconds off the 250cc lap record, which is about a second above the differential the Moto2 bikes were showing at most tracks last year.
The Castrol Honda World Superbike team - or the team formerly known as Ten Kate Honda - finished up two days of testing at Phillip Island this morning, ahead of the official World Superbike test at the Australian track at the start of next week. Johnny Rea suffered a crash during the test, requiring a brief visit to a local hospital, but was given the all-clear straight away, suffering little more than a sore neck. The team issued the following press release after the test, as well as a video (shown below) of Jonathan Rea talking about the lead up to the season:
Day 2 of the test at Estoril was, if at all possible, even more of a lost cause than the first. More rain came in throughout the day, accompanied by very heavy winds, making riding almost impossible. Tech 3 Moto2 team boss summed it up in a couple of sentences. "You can't get anything done in this weather," he said. "You go out for two laps and then it starts raining again."
Very few riders ventured out in the treacherous conditions, most deciding, as Robertino Pietri posted on his Twitter page, to stay in the race truck and watch TV. Of the few men who did ride, there were a number of crashes, including Randy Krummenacher, Bradley Smith, Aleix Espargaro, Dominique Aegerter and Max Neukirchner, though all escaped without injury.
The test concludes tomorrow. There is some hope that the weather will be better on Thursday than it was on Wednesday, but even so, conditions will be far from ideal. The rain should at least stop, but the temperatures will remain cool and the winds very strong. If it does stay dry, it could get very busy out on the track tomorrow afternoon.
Yamaha today unveiled the livery of their World Superbike team for 2011, and though the color scheme is similar to last year's there is one major, and rather worrying difference. For where there should be the large logo of a title sponsor, instead there is Yamaha's R1 logo, signifying that Yamaha have failed to pick up a title sponsor for the 2011 season. Despite the presence of Marco Melandri, an Italian who should be popular in their home market, Italian dairy giant Sterilgarda have chosen not to extend their sponsorship deal, which ran through 2009 and 2010.
Yamaha are putting a brave face on it, underlining the return to corporate colors. But it is a worrying sign of the state of racing sponsorship that a team as successful and competitive as the Yamaha WSBK team is unable to secure a title sponsor. The fear for Yamaha must be that the factory will also be unable to secure a sponsorship deal for their MotoGP team as well, after Fiat pulled out at the end of 2010. Yamaha's MotoGP machine is to be unveiled at Sepang on Monday night. We shall see then whether Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies will also be running in Yamaha corporate colors.
Below is the official press release from Yamaha:
Yamaha World Superbike Team unveil 2011 livery
If any of the Moto2 or 125 riders bust a gut rushing from one side of the Iberian peninsula to the other, leaving Valencia after the last day of the test on Saturday to get to Estoril - just west of Lisbon in Portugal - for the first day of the Estoril test, they needn't have bothered. The weather on Tuesday morning might generously be described as atrocious: soaking wet and high winds, and the riders spent most of the morning kicking around the paddock and not doing very much. Action only took to the track in the afternoon, once the sun came out a little and dried the track out enough to circulate on.
Times, though, were pretty meaningless. First man to brave the conditions was Kenan Sofuoglu, returned after skipping the Valencia test to attend his father's deathbed, and the Technomag CIP rider was soon joined by a select group of others. Fastest riders of the day were Simone Corsi and Jules Cluzel, their lap times a little under the lap record set back in October; that weekend, like this test, was affected by heavy winds and rain, giving little guidance for comparison. In the 125cc class, Nico Terol was the fastest man, but once again, his time was 5 seconds off record pace.
It's been hard being Carmelo Ezpeleta these past few years. Ever since the capacity reduction to 800cc, MotoGP fans all around the world have been baying for the Dorna CEO's blood. The fans blamed Ezpeleta personally for killing off the spectacular 990s and allowing the 800s to degenerate into the rather sterile racing that it has become.
Yet Ezpeleta had little say in the capacity change: under the terms of the contract between the MSMA (the manufacturers' association) and Dorna, the MSMA would get to draw up the technical regulations, and the other parties in the Grand Prix Commission (MotoGP's rulemaking body) would accept what the MSMA put forward. The MSMA, it was felt, knew what they wanted from the series, and as they were providing the bikes, they should get to make the rules.
While the MotoGP riders get to bask in the tropical heat of Sepang, the 125 and Moto2 riders are left to test in the more temperate climes of Valencia. While Eastern Spain at this time of year can be an uncertain proposition, the weather gods were favorably inclined for this test, leaving MotoGP's support classes to practice under excellent conditions. Good conditions meant the teams all got plenty of work done, and after posting around 150 laps each, there was lots to talk about.
The biggest story of the test is obviously Marc Marquez. The cool-headed youngster demonstrated his ability in the 125cc class all last year, where he won the title with almost deceptive ease. Marquez learned from his mistakes and got better every race, and the Spaniard is ploughing that same furrow on his entry into the Moto2 class. Starting modestly, Marquez posted the 5th fastest time on Thursday, but by the end of Saturday, Marquez had stripped a second and a half off his times, and was lapping half a second under the lap record.
Drawing overall times for the Moto2 and 125cc tests at Valencia has proven to be a trickier proposition than you might think. Not all of the teams provided times for their riders on all three days, meaning that not all of the riders have their best times posted. What's more, the times are all as reported by the teams. The teams may decide not to accurately report the fastest lap the riders did, for whatever reason. So the times need to be taken with a sizable pinch of salt. However, they are all we have:
Moto2 class results over all three days:
Polish motorcycle racing is clearly looking up. After many years of almost total absence from the world stage, Poland now has not one but two racers active in World Championships, as well as a Polish-backed team. In the World Supersport class, the Bogdanka PTR team will be fielding Pawel Szkopek alongside veteran British rider James Ellison. And on Saturday, it was announced that Lukasz Wargala would be contesting the 2011 Moto2 championships, riding alongside Rafaelle de Rosa in the G22 team.
The signing of Wargala is something of a surprise. When Fonsi Nieto announced he would be retiring from racing, it was widely expected that his seat would go to Gabor Talmacsi, the Hungarian still being highly regarded in the paddock. Instead, adding a Polish rider to the grid appears to have been more important to Dorna, to help cement the TV deal with Polish broadcaster SportKlub. The deal will have been at least partially motivated by funding, as it was believed that the G22 squad was short of funds, which was one factor behind Nieto's retirement. The G22 team needed a rider who could help pay his way, and it seems likely that Wargala was better able to do that than Talmacsi.
Below is the press release from Wargala's management:
Lukasz Wargala and G22 join forces in Moto2
If the Sepang tests mark the season kickoff for MotoGP, the Daytona tire tests are the unofficial start for the American motorcycle roadracing season. The top riders of the AMA American Superbike and Daytona Sportbike classes gather at Daytona International Raceway, and prepare for the start of the coming season.
Below is a selection of press releases received after the latest Moto2 test at Valencia:
Marc Márquez sets record pace in Valencia
125 Rider Merry-Go-Round: Salom Salvages Ride With Former Molenaar Team, Martin Out At Motorsport 69
More reshuffling in the 125cc class as the start of the season draws near. The first piece of news is a renaming exercise, rather than radical change, as the former Molenaar team is redistributed throughout the paddock. With owner Arie Molenaar forced to withdraw after several sponsors pulled out over a failed Dutch TV deal, the management of the team is to be taken over by Roelof Waninge (former manager of the Sent Waninge transport business, who have backed Molenaar financially). Waninge was previously involved in the Molenaar team, but has now taken on a more substantial role, as reflected by the renaming of the team as the RW Racing GP team.
RW Racing GP will field Luis Salom for the 2011 season, who will have Hans Spaan as his crew chief, a role Spaan played for Salom at Molenaar in 2010. The former Molenaar mechanics are also heading to RW Racing GP, as will team manager Marlon Fluit. Salom's former teammate Jasper Iwema has now moved to the CBC Corse team, retaining a Dutch interest in the 125cc class.