Assen, The Netherlands

2009 World Superbikes Assen FP1 Result - First Time At Assen, Spies Takes First Place

The first session of free practice has just been run for the World Superbike machines, and Ben Spies set the fastest time at his first attempt. He took all session to get to the top, but an impressive session nonetheless. Noriyuki Haga and Max Neukirchner had swapped the top spot prior to Spies taking charge.

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Assen Gets A Street Circuit Back - Solex Style!

As a rule, the official pre-race media events on both World Superbike and MotoGP tend to be rather bloodless, even dull affairs. A select group of big name riders participate in a local tradition in a picturesque setting, as a tribute to the culture of the country the series is visiting, and to help publicize the race. In Valencia the riders helped cook a giant Paella dish, and in Qatar, they rode camels. 

Normally, when visiting Assen, the organizers would try to do something typically Dutch and eminently forgettable, such as visit a wooden shoe factory or a windmill, or go and watch cheese being produced. Fortunately, this year the organizers of the World Superbike round at Assen came up with something a little less obvious, and far more entertaining: They organized a Solex race through the streets of the city of Assen. The Solex - a type of moped with a small petrol engine mounted directly over the front wheel, which it drives using a rubber wheel - has a cult following in Holland, after becoming vehicle of choice for Holland's first '60s youth cult, the Nozems. So the bikes are still hugely popular, and a surprisingly common site on the streets and cycle paths of Dutch cities.

The atmosphere of the Solex race was heightened by dressing the riders - Noriyuki Haga, Ben Spies, Johnny Rea and local Supersport men Barry Veneman and Arie Vos - in 1960s helmets and full-length leather overcoats. And luckily for us, the Dutch motorcycling blog Oliepeil was there to capture the whole occasion on film:

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2009 World Superbikes Assen Preview - Double Dutch

The World Superbike series completes its spring migration this weekend, reaching the most northerly point of the season, after starting at its most southerly point just three races ago. For the teams and riders of the series are gathering at Assen, to do battle on the emasculated version of what was once called the Cathedral of Racing.

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Lorenzo Lanzi To Replace "Underperforming" Rider In WSBK - But Who?

Intrigue haunts the World Superbike paddock at the moment, after rumors emerged that British rider Tommy Hill was to be replaced at Althea Honda. There was a quick response from the Althea Honda team, who issued a press release officially denying the story. The press release stated: "With reference to reports on several websites and forums regarding the substitution of our Superbike rider Tommy Hill with Lorenzo Lanzi, the Honda Althea Racing team wishes to deny this news, which is considered to be totally groundless."

A comprehensive denial. So what is fueling the rumor? Part of the problem is the replacement rider being named: Lorenzo Lanzi is an undeniably talented rider, and a winner at Valencia last year. The Italian started the season riding for Stefano Caracchi's KTM Scuderia Corse team in the Italian Superbike championship, but on the eve of the first round of the season, Caracchi and Lanzi have issued a joint statement announcing that Lanzi had been released from his contract to allow him to pursue opportunities in World Superbikes.

That press release is one of the things fueling the speculation, for it is refreshingly honest in why Lanzi is being released:

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2009 Season MotoGPMatters.com Fundraising Drive!

If you're reading this, then you already know the kind of job MotoGPMatters.com does in providing in-depth coverage of the MotoGP and World Superbikes championships. But as ever, it is our aim to keep making the website better, bringing you more news and better analysis from the world of motorcycle road racing. To achieve this aim, we will be providing coverage from track side at a number of events this season, keeping you up to date with the news as it happens.

The season kicks of with David Emmett (Kropotkin) reporting live from the IRTA Tests at Jerez starting from Friday, followed by coverage from the third round of the World Superbike series at Valencia in a week's time. A week after that, Scott Jones will be heading to Qatar to bring you some more of his stunning photos live from the MotoGP season opener at Qatar. More coverage is to follow, as we will also be reporting live from several other MotoGP and World Superbike rounds.

Of course, all this costs money. Some of this is provided by advertisers (such as our friends at Power Sport Dynamic, who are offering a fantastic package for the Turn 5 Chalet at the US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca on the July 4th Weekend), while more is provided by the kind donations of regular readers of the site. But if we are to achieve our ambitious goals for this season, we will need more help.

So we are calling on you to help us out. Join the crowd of generous contributors who have already donated to MotoGPMatters.com by clicking on the Donate button below, and sending us some funds to help towards making the site even better. All donations are warmly welcomed and deeply appreciated, and if you're unsure of how much to send us, look at what a subscription to your favorite magazine costs. 

By donating to MotoGPMatters.com like so many before you, you will be helping us provide you with the news and analysis of motorcycle racing that you are looking for. Click on Donate below:  

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Imola Returns In Finalized 2009 World Superbike Championship Calendar

The FIM today announced the official and final version of the 2009 World Superbike calendar. The announcement both confirmed some sad news and provided some excellent news for racing fans.

The bad news is that Brands Hatch, the biggest motorcycle race in the UK, and arguably the largest motorsports event in the country, is now officially off the calendar. Its absence is a result of an argument over sanctioning fees between FGSport (or as it is now called, Infront Motor Sports) and MSV, the body which organizes BSB and is run by Jonathan Palmer, which owns both Brands Hatch and a number of other major race circuits in the UK. The arguments may ostensibly be over money, but a whiff of politics hangs over the decision, with the Flammini brothers wanting a great deal more money than last year, while Palmer refusing to pay any more than he did last year. The loss of Brands is a major blow to race fans, both in terms of the circuit - which is a beautiful track, in a rather idyllic wooded area, and in terms of the event. Attendances at Brands were huge, rivalling even the numbers seen at Spanish MotoGP rounds.

The good news, however, is that Vallelunga has been dropped in favor of Imola. There had been rumors that this was to happen, as the track was dangerous and difficult, with a tight section added on in haste to make it eligible for FIM sanctioned international races. And as Vallelunga was thought to be included primarily to draw in Max Biaggi's fans from his native Rome, with Biaggi now a regular part of the series, the need for a round near Rome has been obviated.

The return of Imola sees one of the classic race tracks back on the calendar. Imola has been the site of some classic battles, both in the Grand Prix series and in World Superbikes, but perhaps none have been so famous as the final round of the 2002 World Superbike series, when Colin Edwards beat Troy Bayliss to win the championship.

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2009 MotoGP Calendar Update: Misano Moved Back A Week

The FIM announced a minor change to the 2009 MotoGP calendar today. The Misano round of MotoGP will be held a week earlier than previously scheduled, moving it to the week after the Indianapolis MotoGP round.

DateGrand PrixCircuit
April 12th*QatarLosail
April 26thJapanMotegi
May 3rdSpainJerez
May 17thFranceLe Mans
May 31stItalyMugello
June 14thCatalunyaCatalunya
June 27th**NetherlandsAssen
July 5th***United StatesLaguna Seca
July 19thGermanySachsenring
July 26thGreat BritainDonington Park
August 16thCzech RepublicBrno
August 30thIndianapolisIndianapolis
September 6thSan Marino & Riviera di RiminiMisano
September 20thHungaryBalaton
October 4thPortugalEstoril
October 18thAustraliaPhillip Island
October 25thMalaysiaSepang
November 8thValenciaRicardo Tormo - Valencia

* Evening race
** Saturday race
*** Only MotoGP class

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Provisional 2009 MotoGP Calender Announced

As expected, the Chinese round of MotoGP at Shanghai is off the calendar, and as predicted earlier this week, the Hungarian Grand Prix will take place in late summer. But the calendar has a lot of significant shakeups: Motegi moves from late September to the spring, June is a lot less busy, with only 2 lots of back-to-back races in 2009, rather than three pairs which we saw this year. The British Grand Prix moves from June to late July, and Estoril switches back to October.

DateGrand PrixCircuit
April 12th*QatarLosail
April 26thJapanMotegi
May 3rdSpainJerez
May 17thFranceLe Mans
May 31stItalyMugello
June 14thCatalunyaCatalunya
June 27th**NetherlandsAssen
July 5th***United StatesLaguna Seca
July 19thGermanySachsenring
July 26thGreat BritainDonington Park
August 16thCzech RepublicBrno
August 30thIndianapolisIndianapolis
September 6thSan Marino & Riviera di RiminiMisano
September 20thHungaryBalaton
October 4thPortugalEstoril
October 18thAustraliaPhillip Island
October 25thMalaysiaSepang
November 8thValenciaRicardo Tormo - Valencia

* Evening race
** Saturday race
*** Only MotoGP class

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A Question Of Taste, or Own A Piece Of Hopper's Crashed Kawasaki

There are many good reasons for working as a marshal or corner worker at motorcycle racing events. You get free access to the track, you get closer to the action than almost everyone except the riders themselves, and you often get a chance to meet the riders and teams in person. Though the pay is usually nothing more than an expense allowance, it's still the best chance most people will have to meet their personal heroes.

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