The weather has not been kind to the World Superbikes who headed to Aragon for testing. The first day was lost to a wet track, and while the track dried on the second day, cold temperatures limited the usefulness of the test. 2013 world champion Tom Sykes did not bother going out at all, not wishing to risk injury on a cold track just for the sake of turning some laps.
Sykes' Kawasaki teammate Jonathan Rea did spend some time on track, though for him, too, conditions meant that lessons were limited. Rea spent time working on gearshift set ups, and clutch strategies for race starts. It was important for Rea to spend some more time on the Kawasaki ZX-10R, after having spent so many years on the Honda CBR1000RR with the Pata Honda team. It wasn't just bikes that Rea is switching, the Ulsterman showing off his Monster Energy colors for the first time, leaving Red Bull behind. That is a major change for Rea, who has been backed by Red Bull almost from when he first started racing motocross, before switching to circuit racing.
With preseason testing for the World Superbike teams kicking off in Spain and Portugual, the Crescent Suzuki team issued the following press release:
Crescent Suzuki heads to Southern Europe for pre-season tests
Crescent Suzuki World Superbike team begins its Championship preparations in earnest this week with two back-to-back tests scheduled in the Iberian Peninsula before the opening round of the 2015 eni FIM Superbike World Championship in little over a month’s time.
Randy de Puniet and Alex Lowes’ first port-of-call for the two-day tests aboard their Yoshimura-powered GSX-Rs is Portugal’s 4,592m Autódromo Internacional do Algarve. Located 20km to the north-west of Portimao, the circuit is a favourite of Lowes - after his impressive rookie performances in last season’s January tests and July races. De Puniet, having yet to experience ‘the rollercoaster’ layout despite his 15-year top-flight career, is eager to acquaint himself with the Portuguese track while gaining more all-important time on his new Suzuki Superbike.
Want to buy a Moto2 machine? AGT Rea Racing, the team run by and for Gino Rea, have a number of Moto2 machines on sale. The bikes include Tito Rabat's Marc VDS Kalex, the Caterham Suters of Johann Zarco and Josh Herrin/Ratthapark Wilairot, and Gino Rea's own Suter from 2014. Prices start at €58,000 and rise to €80,000 for Rabat's Kalex, while a vast amount of Suter spares are also on offer. For more details, see the press release issued by the team below.
Marc VDS Kalex, Caterham Suter & AGT REA Racing Moto2 bikes for sale to public
AGT REA Racing have acquired the Marc VDS Kalex & Caterham Suter Moto2 race bikes (including Johan Zarcos full bike that finished on the podium at the final Moto2 race of 2014) and are now offering these to the public and race teams. Read below for details:
Marc VDS Kalex 2014 Moto2 (Tito RABAT) Complete Bike
Marc VDS Kalex 2014 Chassis and Swingarm, wiring loom, Moto2 Engine, Ohlins front & rear suspension, Brembo Brakes, Akrapovic Exhaust, OZ Wheels, 1 Kit Chassis Setting Materials- Pivot 0.1.2.3.4, Suspension Link A, Head Insert A,B,C.
Total Price Euros 80,000
Johan Zarco Caterham Suter Moto2 2104/2015
Preparations for the 2015 season are starting to get underway. While the MotoGP teams will have to wait until February, the World Superbike squads are assembling on the Iberian peninsula to resume their testing programs for 2015. Pata Honda were the first to kick off testing, spending two days at Portimao last week, where reigning World Superbike and World Supersport champions Sylvain Guintoli and Michael van der Mark got to grips with the Honda CBR1000RR. A dry first day meant that both men managed a good number of laps, while most of the second day was lost to rain. Van der Mark told Dutch site Racesport he had not spent too much time testing different settings, his main objective being to get used to riding a Superbike. Both he and Guintoli had tested the new engine, with standard conrods and pistons, while Guintoli had spent a lot of time working on different set ups, trying to get comfortable.
As had been widely expected, Ducati will not have the GP15 ready for the first test at Sepang, in early February. In an interview with the MotoGP.com website, due to be shown on 19th January, Ducati Corse boss confirmed that work was still underway on the all-new bike, and that instead, Ducati will be bringing an uprated version of last year's bike, dubbed the GP14.3, to test aspects of the new design not requiring the new engine.
The delays have been trailed by both Dall'Igna and Paolo Ciabatti, speaking to the media at the Valencia test and at the Superprestigio dirt track event in December. The GP15 is a completely new bike, designed from the ground up, with a completely redesigned engine. Though expected to retain Ducati's 90° V4 layout and desmodromic valve operation, the engine is likely to be much shorter, with a revised gearbox layout making it much more compact. Ducati are also believed to be looking at a heavier crankshaft, to help smooth throttle response. Dall'Igna will reveal more details on the design of the bike to the MotoGP website in the interview to be shown as part of the site's Off Season Show, set to be aired on 19th January.
Casey Stoner is to remain as a Honda test rider for another year. Today, HRC officially announced that the former world champion will undertake two tests for the factory during 2015. The first test will be at Sepang from 29th to 31st of January, four days before the official MotoGP test at the circuit. No date has been set for the second test, HRC stating only that it will be towards the end of the year, when Stoner will presumably be providing feedback on the 2016 machine.
No doubt this agreement will once again revive speculation that Stoner could return to MotoGP, but there is zero chance of that actually happening. The Australian has stated both in public and to HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto that he does not want to race again, and has turned down an offer from HRC before. His speed and the quality of the feedback he provides means he remains an extremely valuable asset to Honda's test program.
The contents of the press release issued by Honda is shown below:
HRC renews relationship with Casey Stoner
Honda Racing Corporation have retained the services of two-time World Champion Casey Stoner through 2015.
The 2007 and 2011 MotoGP World Champion will test for two days in Sepang between the 29th and 31st January, prior to the first Official IRTA pre-season test.
You may have noticed a distinct lack of articles over the past few days. That is in part because there is nothing much happening - motorcycle racers are hard at work training, while factory race departments are frantically working on the last details of their 2015 machines - and so there is not much to report. It is also in part because we are having a well-earned break, and are spending some time away from our computers.
We will start to provide coverage of World Superbike testing, which starts later this week, while normal service will be resumed from Monday, 19th January, when we are back at our desks. From then, we will also resume our review of 2014, before looking forward to 2015. We apologize for not providing you with anything to help fill the empty weeks of January, but hope to make up for it once we return, together with some new initiatives.
Thanks for your patience!
Ducati Press Release: Ducati World Superbike Team Lands Title Sponsorship Deal With Aruba Cloudhosting Firm
Ducati today issued the following press release, announcing a three-year tie-in with Italian web services firm Aruba, granting Aruba naming rights to the factory World Superbike effort. The press release appears below:
Ducati and Aruba together in the Superbike World Championship
- The agreement between Ducati and the important Italian web company will last three years
- A new version of the Ducati Panigale and new regulations closer to production models for the 2015 Superbike World Championship
- "Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team" is the name of the team, the only official Ducati outfit to compete in the Superbike World Championship
Borgo Panigale/Arezzo (Italy), 8 January 2015: Ducati and Aruba confirm the signing of a three-year agreement that will see their joint participation in the 2015 Superbike World Championship with the “Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team”. This is a partnership agreement that sees Aruba directly involved in the management of the official Ducati team as well as in the role of title sponsor.
In the fifth part of our season review of 2014, we turn to the Espargaro brothers. Both Pol and Aleix had excellent seasons, impressing many with their speed. If you would like to read the four previous parts of our season review, they are here: Marc Marquez, Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, and Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso.
6th - 136 points - Pol Espargaro
Being a MotoGP rookie got a lot tougher after 2013. Marc Márquez raised the bar to an almost unattainable level by winning his second ever MotoGP race, the title in his debut season, and smash a metric cartload of records. Anyone entering the class after Márquez inevitably ends up standing in his shadow.
Which is a shame, as it means that Pol Espargaro's rookie season has not received the acclaim it deserves. The 2013 Moto2 champion started off the season on the back foot, breaking his collarbone at the final test, just a couple of weeks before the first race at Qatar. He crashed again during that opening race, but quickly found his feet. He came up just short of his first podium at Le Mans, nudged back to fourth place by Alvaro Bautista.
It would be his best result of the season, but the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider was to be consistently found in and around the top six. Espargaro would go on to bag a couple of fifth places and six sixth spots. That is where he would end the year, sixth in the championship behind the factory Hondas and Yamahas, and the factory Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso. Ignoring the exception that is Marc Márquez, it was the best start to a season by a rookie since Ben Spies joined the premier class in 2010. The Texan did secure two podiums that year, and fairly comprehensively outscored Pol Espargaro in comparison.
Though tracks around the world have fallen silent over the winter break, testing is due to resume shortly. From mid-January, the World Superbike teams will resume their preparations for the 2015 season at circuits in Spain and Portugal. Testing starts at Portimao, where the Pata Honda team will be the first to hit the track on 14th January. The team then moves to the Motorland Aragon circuit near Alcañiz, where they will be joined by Kawasaki and Grillini, before the action moves back to Portimao for a test including Ducati, BMW Italian, Suzuki, MV Agusta, Althea Ducati and EBR.
After Portimao, the teams head east to Jerez, where from 26th January the circuit will see Ducati, Red Devils, MV Agusta, BMW Italia, Honda, Suzuki, Althea Ducati and EBR joined by the Kawasaki World Supersport team and Ducati's MotoGP test team. A day later, the Kawasaki World Superbike squad will take to the track. From then, they pack up ready to fly the teams and equipment to the Southern Hemisphere, ready for the start of the season at Phillip Island. Testing for the MotoGP class resumes on 4th February at Sepang.
Full private testing schedule for the World Superbike class, as announced so far:
After looking at the top three finishers in MotoGP, our review of 2014 turns to the riders who didn't make it onto the podium. After Marc Marquez, Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, we turn our attention to the men who finished behind them. Today, we review the seasons of Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso.
4th - 246 points - Dani Pedrosa
Dani Pedrosa is easily the best rider never to win a MotoGP title, and if anything, 2014 merely reinforced that reputation. By almost anyone's standards, ten podiums, including a victory, and a total of 246 points – his fourth best since joining the premier class – is an outstanding year. But for a rider with aspirations of becoming world champion, it is simply not good enough.
Looked at another way, this was the worst season Pedrosa has had in MotoGP. The Repsol Honda rider has always managed to score multiple victories each year, even during his debut in 2006. This year, he never really looked a threat, except at Brno. Throughout the year, Pedrosa was consistently behind the front runners, never capable of making a push to dominate.
What was Pedrosa's biggest problem in 2014? Quite simply, the team's approach to fixing the shortcomings of the preceding season. In 2013, Pedrosa had found himself coming up short in the second half of races, getting overhauled by either Marc Márquez or Jorge Lorenzo. Over the winter, his crew, under chief mechanic Mike Leitner, had worked on a strategy to counter this situation, adjusting the balance of the bike to make it faster during the second half of the race.
To kick off the first year of their return to MotoGP, Suzuki have released a video documenting the latest steps on their way back to the premier class. The video offers a fascinating view into the process of getting ready for 2015: it shows testing going on in the wind tunnel and on the dyno, covers Randy De Puniet's wildcard appearance at Valencia, and then the first ride of the 2015 factory pairing of Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales.
Lasting 7 minutes, it offers a few interesting glances of things fans do not often get to see, such as footage of the work going on in the wind tunnel, and the collaboration between test riders and engineers. Most interesting of all are the first reactions of Espargaro and Viñales once they get off the bike after riding it for the first time. As a MotoGP rookie, Viñales' first reaction is one of pure pleasure at riding a bike with so much power. For the more experienced Espargaro, it is not about what is right with the bike, but what is wrong, and where it needs improvement. It is a peek into the life of a professional motorcycle racer, and how they approach their sport.