Losail, Qatar

Byrne To Be Sole Sterilgarda Rider At First Two World Superbike Rounds

So  far, the global financial crisis has mainly affected MotoGP, leaving World Superbikes largely untouched. This is hardly surprising, as World Superbikes is a much cheaper series to compete in, and does not swallow money in the same way that developing the highly strung prototypes in MotoGP does.

But that does not mean that World Superbikes is immune. According to Motoblog.it, the Sterilgarda Ducati team, in an attempt to cut costs, will only be fielding Shane Byrne at the first two rounds of the series, leaving their Italian rider, Alessandro Polita, making the step up from Superstock, at home. "I'm very sorry about the situation, which prevents us from taking Alex," team manager Marco Borciani said. "Unfortunately, business conditions have prevented some of the companies from providing the sponsorship we were expecting for 2009."

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Rossi To Ride At Qatar - In World Superbikes?

Since the end of the 2008 season, Valentino Rossi has been very public about his admiration of the World Superbike series. So much so that the revealed he had tried to arrange to race in the final World Superbike round of 2008 at Portimao in Portugal. After that proved impossible to arrange, Rossi then spoke of his desire to race triple world champion Troy Bayliss aboard a World Superbike some time in 2009.

Bayliss may have turned down Rossi's offer - or perhaps we should call it a challenge - but Rossi remains undeterred. The Doctor continues to press for a chance to ride in World Superbikes.

Now, according to the British motorcycle racing website bikesportnews.com, it looks like he could get his chance. BSN's Edgar Jessop has revealed that Valentino Rossi hopes to line up at the second race of the World Superbike season at Qatar in March.

The report cites unnamed sources inside the Yamaha Motor Italia team, but despite there being no official statement, the chances of Rossi actually racing in World Superbikes are pretty good. Rossi's MotoGP team boss Davide Brivio has already stated publicly that he is prepared to support Rossi in his bid for a World Superbike wildcard, so The Doctor would appear to have Yamaha's official blessing.

The prospect of Rossi riding in World Superbikes must be have Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta in a cold sweat. This has already been a very bad week for MotoGP, and the chance of MotoGP losing the goose that lays Dorna's golden eggs would see MotoGP's status as the premier motorcycle racing class showing some serious cracks. The next few years promise to be interesting times for motorcycle racing fans.

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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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MotoGP Winter Test Schedule For 125, 250 And MotoGP Classes

The schedule for the official tests has been announced. The MotoGP and smaller classes will test separately. Highlight of the test season is as ever the official IRTA test at Jerez, also known as Grand Prix Zero. Here, a BMW coupe will be up for grabs during a special qualifying session held on the last day.

MotoGP

November 26-27 Jerez Spain  
December 1 - January 20 Winter test ban
February 5-7 Sepang Malaysia  
March 1-3 Losail Qatar Night Test
March 28-29 Jerez Spain Official IRTA Test

125 and 250 class

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2008 / 2009 Provisional Testing Schedule

With the new tire regulations comes a severely reduced MotoGP testing schedule. Here's the testing schedule as it stands:

October 27 - 28 Valencia Spain
November 26 - 27 Jerez Spain
February 5 - 7 Sepang Malaysia
March 1 - 3 Losail Qatar
March 28 - 29 IRTA Test, Jerez Spain

More details when they become available.

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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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Rusty Writes: Musco, Lighting Up The World of Sports

For those of you who did not recently watch the Daytona 500 here in The States, you missed your best opportunity to see the handiwork of Musco Lighting prior to the GP of Qatar. Musco has been the premier outdoor lighting specialists in The States for 32 years. I first heard of them 23 (or more) years ago while I was marching in drum & bugles corps on American and Canadian football fields. For three years in the mid '80s, the annual Finals competitions were held in Madison, WI. Musco is from nearby (relatively speaking) Iowa, and there was quite a discussion about their amazing ability to use temporary lighting stands to illuminate the somewhat large Camp Randall Stadium that played host for the Finals. At the time, that stadium did not have permanent lighting. Musco was beginning to be known for showing up at a football stadium with their large trucks and providing enough light for a live television broadcast where such a thing had not been previously possible at night.

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2006 Qatar MotoGP Race - A Champion's Masterclass

After the surprises and upsets of Jerez, everyone was wondering how realistic the picture was which had emerged, and how Rossi's 14th place would affect the standings. Qatar was Rossi's chance to set the record straight.

The trouble was, that the new generation of riders, which had elbowed their way to the front at Jerez, was showing signs of repeating this performance at Qatar. Although Pedrosa, who had shone at Jerez, was having a much harder time at Qatar, Stoner, the other newcomer who'd done so well in Spain, had led qualifying all weekend, and was the second youngest pole sitter since a certain Fast Freddie Spencer. Rossi, who had been battling chatter in Jerez, and during qualifying, was only 6th on the grid, not far enough ahead to be sure of avoiding getting caught in first corner tangles, like the one which had cost him so dearly two weeks ago. Then there was the small matter of Loris Capirossi, the winner in Spain and championship leader, on the Ducati, looking more and more like a championship winning machine all the time.

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