The FIM has announced the provisional WorldSBK calendar for the 2019 season. The calendar as it stands has 13 rounds, 12 of which have been confirmed. Brno and Laguna Seca are out, while Jerez makes a comeback, with a midsummer round still to be announced. That round could be Kyalami.
The season starts out in a similar vein to previous years, kicking off proceedings at Phillip Island on 24th February, before heading to Buriram in Thailand three weeks later. Three weeks after that, the series lands in Europe, racing first at Aragon in Spain, where WorldSBK and WorldSSP are joined by the WorldSSP300 class, before heading north to Assen for the Dutch round. Four weeks after Assen, the WorldSBK paddock heads south to Italy for the round at Imola.
There has been a fair shake up of the middle of the season, with various rounds reshuffled. From Imola, the paddock heads west again to Spain, this time to Jerez, then drives all the way back again to Misano. From Misano, WorldSBK heads to the UK, for the British round at Donington Park.
After Donington, an additional round has been scheduled, though it is not yet clear where that is. It is widely expected to be Kyalami, though details remain to be finalized. After this round, WorldSBK heads into its long summer break, with no racing through the month of August.
In an unprecedented move, the FIM has overruled the FIM Panel of Stewards' decision at Misano to ban Romano Fenati for two races. After meeting with Fenati and his representative at FIM headquarters in Switzerland, the FIM decided to withdraw his racing license for the remainder of the 2018 season.
Fenati will now have to reapply for a racing license according to the FIM procedures if he wishes to race in 2019. Whether he will or not is unknown: after he lost his 2018 ride with the Snipers team, and the 2019 ride with the MV Agusta Forward team, Fenati announced he would retire from racing altogether. He has already had his license issued by the Italian federation FMI suspended pending further notice.
The FIM press release appears below:
FIM withdraws Romano Fenati’s licence after discussions in Mies, Switzerland
Moto2 rider Romano Fenati attended a meeting at the FIM Headquarters in Mies on Tuesday 18 September following an incident in Misano during the Moto2 race on Sunday 9 September 2018.
Mr Fenati, accompanied by his legal representative, was received by FIM President Vito Ippolito and FIM Deputy CEO and Legal Director Mr Richard Perret.
Mr Fenati was asked to explain in person his act on the track in Misano, which has given rise to many extreme reactions in the traditional media and on social media platforms.
MotoMatters.com, in association with Motor Sport Magazine, is proud to feature the rider insights of 1983 and 1985 500cc world champion Freddie Spencer. After every MotoGP race, Fast Freddie will share what he saw and learned from the race.
In the latest episode of Freddie Spencer's Motor Sport Magazine video blog, the former world champion turns his attention to the events of Misano. Spencer first discusses his time racing at the circuit, a track which was very different in his time. He talks about what he learned racing there, but more importantly, what he learned about motorcycle racing as a team sport.
Apologies for the extreme tardiness of this report, dear readers. Travel delays, the Romano Fenati situation, and a minor mishap at home threw my work schedule into utter disarray, and I got a long way behind. Aragon will be better.
"I have my strategy," Andrea Dovizioso told us after qualifying on Saturday at Misano. "It's always better to have a clear strategy, but to have a strategy and be able to make your strategy is a different story. You have to adapt to the conditions."
Dovizioso had seemed quietly confident as he sat in Ducati's hospitality unit and told us about his day qualifying. The Italian often exudes a sense of calm, but in hindsight, this was calm built on a sense of confidence. Dovizioso believed he could win on Sunday. But first, he would have to dispose of Jorge Lorenzo and Maverick Viñales, both of whom had stamped their authority on practice with great ferocity. Then there was Marc Márquez, of course, who had spent practice concentrating on old tires, working for the latter stages of the race. Throw in a couple of wildcards – Jack Miller had impressed all weekend, while Cal Crutchlow and Valentino Rossi were perennial threats – and winning in Misano was obviously a tough gig.
Another new feature on the site starting this week. After every round of MotoGP, the immensely talented Cormac Ryan Meenan of CormacGP will be supplying a selection of photographs from that weekend's event. If you'd like to see more of his work, you can follow him on Twitter or Instagram, or check out his website, cormacgp.com.
Thomas Morsellino is a French freelance journalist and photographer, with keen eye for the technical details of MotoGP bikes. You may have seen some of his work on Twitter, where he runs the @Off_Bikes account. After every race, MotoMatters.com will be publishing a selection of Tom's photos of MotoGP bikes, together with technical explanations of the details. MotoMatters.com subscribers will get access to the full resolution photos, which they can download and study in detail, while readers who do not support the site will be limited to the 800x600 resolution photos.
Things are going poorly for Romano Fenati. His actions during Sunday's Moto2 race at Misano, when he reached over and squeezed Stefano Manzi's front brake, are having far-reaching repercussions.
On Sunday, the FIM Panel of Stewards penalized Fenati with a two-race ban. On Monday morning, he was sacked from his current Moto2 ride by the Marinelli Snipers Racing Team. On Monday afternoon, he also lost his 2019 ride with the MV Agusta Forward Racing Team.
More was to come on Tuesday. First, the Italian motorcycle federation FMI revoked Fenati's racing license for all sporting activities in Italy. This also renders him ineligible to compete in any international or world championship events, as international racing licenses are also issued by the national federation, which in Fenati's case is the FMI. He has been invited to a hearing on 14th September, at which he will have the right to representation by a lawyer.
Then, the FIM, the international motorcycling federation, summoned Fenati to the FIM headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, to explain his actions. In a press release, shown below, FIM president Vito Ippolito summoned Fenati to the FIM to here his side of the story, before considering further action against the Italian.
Romano Fenati burst onto the racing scene like a meteor, burning bright and lighting up Moto3. In his first race, at Qatar in 2012, he finished second behind Maverick Viñales. In his second, at Jerez, in difficult conditions, he won by a fearsome 36 seconds. Here was surely a rider to watch for the future.
His ascension to greatness did not run as smoothly as those early races promised. A couple more podiums in 2012 saw him finish sixth in the championship on the underpowered FTR Honda. After a tough 2013, he rediscovered his form when he was invited to become part of the VR46 Academy, and signed to ride a KTM with the Sky VR46 Racing Team the following year. The change did him good, winning four races and finishing fifth in the championship.
2015 saw less success, Fenati showing signs of frustration. During the warm up in Argentina, the Italian lashed out at Niklas Ajo inexplicably, first trying to kick him, then stopping next to the Finn for a practice start, and reaching over a flicking his kill switch.
MotoGP standings after Misano: