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 weather continues its stubborn refusal to cooperate with preparation for the 2015 World Superbike season. After rain and cold conditions plagued the earlier test at the Motorland Aragon circuit, the rain halted testing for the best part of two days at Portimao. Wednesday was a complete washout, while a wet track hampered progress on Thursday morning.
Despite the cold, the assembled teams were able to ride almost continuously after lunchtime, until the track closed at 6pm. Cramming two days of testing into an afternoon was difficult, the teams concentrating on working with the 2015 version of their machines, incorporating the major rule changes new for this year. The conditions were not conducive to fast lap times: the quickest time reported was set by Leon Haslam on the Red Devils Roma Aprilia, but that was still over a second slower than the race lap record set by Tom Sykes back in 2013. Suzuki's Alex Lowes was half a second behind Haslam, matched by Ducati's Chaz Davies. Davide Giuliano and Sylvain Barrier were a couple of tenths behind Lowes and Davies, while Randy De Puniet was nearly a second slower than Barrier, and only a fraction quicker than World Superbike newcomer Jordi Torres.
Press releases from the World Superbike teams who tried to test at Portimao:
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team concludes its first tests of the 2015 season at Portimao
Portimao (Portugal), Thursday 22 January 2015 – The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team today concluded its first test session of the 2015 season. The unstable weather conditions undoubtedly affected progress at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal but overall the squad is satisfied with the work it has completed.
The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team, with official riders Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano, took to the track in its new configuration for the first time this week at the Portuguese circuit in Portimao. The team had a lot planned for the two-day session, with work centering around the shake-down of the brand new 2015 Ducati Panigale bikes, constructed during the weeks prior to this test session.
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.
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:
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 issued after the two-day test for the World Superbike teams at Portimao:
Sykes ends official test at Portimao on top
Portimao (Portugal), Tuesday 22 July 2014 - The two day official DWO test drew to a close today at Portimao’s Autodromo International do Algarve with Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) the quickest rider thanks to his 1’42.719s lap time set this morning. The reigning champion and his teammate Loris Baz mainly focused on fine-tuning their ZX-10R as well as testing new items, whilst KRT EVO peer David Salom tried out new parts developed for what will be next year’s Kawasaki machine.
Tom Sykes: “It was a useful test. In the first day the track was not in perfect conditions but we managed to make some progress with the ZX-10R anyway. We started the second day a bit late, we had still some items to try but we had not enough time. Anyway we tried different geometries and improved the overall feeling on the bike. We could make changes that were impossible to do during the race weekends. The lap times were not our biggest concern but it is always nice to finish on top. Now I am going to enjoy the summer break back in the UK and hopefully sort out my hand/wrist problem. I feel we have the right package to be competitive in the final part of the season.”
Kawasaki's Tom Sykes leaves the two-day official World Superbike test with his authority firmly stamped on the WSBK field. The Yorkshireman was nearly a quarter of a second faster than Aprilia's Sylvain Guintoli, and nearly four tenths quicker than his teammate Loris Baz. Marco Melandri was six tenths off the pace of Sykes, with the Ducatis of Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies setting the fifth and sixth best times.
Neither Sykes nor Baz had much to work on besides further perfecting set up of the Kawasaki ZX-10R. The development work was handed to EVO rider David Salom, who spent time developing the 2015 version of the bike Kawasaki will race next year. Despite the rule changes coming next season, the Kawasaki is still more closer to a Superbike than an EVO bike, Kawasaki manager Guim Roda told German website Speedweek.
Rain is the great leveller, with some bikes that lack power or traction suddenly being just as rideable as the ones at the sharper end. Suddenly, being on a Fireblade or a GSXR isn't the handicap it would otherwise be, and the Panigale looks like a contender. It won't put the Evo bikes to the front, but if you're in the top ten, having the right bike is suddenly no longer as important.
Press releases from the series organizers, World Superbike and World Supersport teams after Sunday's races at Portimao:
Sykes pulls away and wins race 1 to extend points lead
Portimao (Portugal), Sunday 6 July 2014 - An enthralling 20 lap race 1 saw Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) emerge victorious at a cloudy and overcast Portimao to claim his 7th win of the season and the 21st of his WSBK career.
At the start it was Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea that took the holeshot, leading for the opening three laps before Sykes and Marco Melandri (Aprilia Racing Team) overtook him into turn one at the start of lap four.
By half distance the constant swapping of positions had allowed reigning champion Sykes to stretch his lead to 3 seconds, before seconds later the white flag was waved to indicate that rain was beginning to fall.
Behind the leader five riders that included Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team), Chaz Davies (Ducati Superbike Team), and Sylvain Guintoli, Leon Haslam on the second of the Pata Honda’s slowly began to close the gap, giving the fans a six rider group battling for the podium places.
Leon Haslam collided with Chaz Davies, both riders able to remount with Davies later retiring. Haslam eventually finished 11th.
With rain pouring from the sky, the umbrellas were put to their proper use. Along with wet-weather tyres, everyone softened their springs, reduced their damping, put on the double-wide knee sliders and slotted clear visors in their helmets. The race was reduced to eighteen laps and everyone got wet.
The weather continued to look threatening for the start of the World Supersport race.