Laguna Seca, USA
The World Superbike calendar has been reduced to 13 events. The Russian round of WSBK, scheduled to be held at the Moscow Raceway on 5th July has been canceled, after the event organizer, YMS Promotion, failed to provide the contract guarantees required by the contract. As a further consequence, the Yakhnich Motorsport Team have also lost their slot on the 2015 World Supersport grid, which was tied in with the Russian round.
The cancellation of the Russian round did not come as a surprise. The Russian WSBK round is a legacy of the last years of Infront running the series. Infront and YMS signed a ten-year deal to organize a World Superbike round in Russia, but continuing political instability in Russia, tensions between Europe and Russia over Ukraine, and murky regional politics have made it impossible to stage a race there. The round was placed on the calendar automatically, because of the existing contract, but it was never expected to actually take place.
The Russian round of World Superbikes will not be replaced. Instead, the series will run 13 rounds in 2015. Below is the press release and updated 2015 WSBK calendar.
2015 WSBK Calendar update
FIM Superbike & Supersport World Championships
FIM Superstock 1000 cc Cup
2015 calendar, 11 February
The FIM have finally released the provisional calendar for the World Superbike series for next year. The 2015 season will see WSBK travel to 14 rounds, returning to all of the venues which hosted races in 2014, and two more overseas rounds added, in Russia and Thailand.
The chances of this being the definitive calendar appear to be slim. Three rounds are marked as still subject to contract: Portimao, Moscow and Qatar. Both Portimao and Qatar look likely to go ahead, but whether WSBK will actually return to Moscow remains to be seen. The 2014 round was canceled due to the political instability in the Russian Federation and the overflow of conflict in Ukraine, which affected various partners of the series. The political situation has only deteriorated since then, with the EU and US imposing sanctions on Russia, making the race there almost impossible. The teams and riders will be hoping for the round to be canceled: the race was a logistical nightmare to get equipment to and from, and for both the fans and riders to attend and find accommodation for.
Press releases from the World Superbike teams and series organizer after Sunday's incident-packed races at Laguna Seca:
Race two at Laguna Seca would be started without two riders, and with the red flags brought out the grids for restarts would be further reduced.
As the riders relaxed on the grid before the race, Eugene Laverty's Suzuki had the tank off and the throttle bodies on a towel on the tarmac as his engineers hurried to fix a problem. The 21°C Californian sun ensured that anyone who would start would do so on a hot dry track.
Press releases from the series organizer and World Superbike teams after Saturday's qualfying at Laguna Seca:
Qualifying at Laguna Seca was in unsurprisingly glorious Californian weather, with the dry lake bowl providing the usual entertainment, in spite of there being no long straights on the short, but exceedingly popular, track. With the Corkscrew getting the column inches, the last turn, the first gear turn 11, is the one that catches most people out, and it caught a rider out in Superpole Two.
Unlike the usual schedule, with limited pit space causing the absence of World Supersport and requiring all manner of logistical shifts, all three timed qualifying sessions took place on the Friday, with the entries to Superpole decided yesterday.
Tom Sykes puts himself at the top of the most likely to get pole position with a blistering 1'23.097 ahead of the Ducatis of Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies. On a track where outright top speed and power aren't necessary to do well, as can be seen by the top speeds below, Sykes still shows that on a single lap, he's at the top of the pile.
Chaz Davies heads to Superpole with the fastest time of the day, beating the Aprilias of Sylvain Guintoli and Marco Melandri. Tom Sykes has to rely on his time from the second session for provisional fourth, while Toni Elias's time from the first session qualifies him for Superpole Two, knocking Loris Baz down to Superpole One where he will be one of the favourites to be promoted to the second session.
Tom Sykes set the quickest time ahead of Chaz Davies, much like the results of race one last year. Marco Melandri, third quickest today, was fourth behind Eugene Laverty in that race.
Sylvain Guintoli sets the only 1'23 lap of the session but has still got 1.2 seconds before he matches his own best time, the outright lap record of 1'22.683, set in 2013. Tom Sykes and Marco Melandri are within three tenths of a second.