As the 2013 World Superbike season ended, the question was how the series, now owned by Dorna, could once more fill the grids. With some races rewarding every finisher with points, while the cheaper Supersport and Superstock championships raced with full grids, it was clear that more seats were needed.
One part of the solution was the new EVO class. Essentially Superbikes with Superstock engines, EVO bikes are much cheaper and, from 2015, will be the standard specification of all bikes, and over a third of the full-time entries in 2014 are EVO bikes, with familiar riders taking some of the seats. Another part of the solution was the addition of several new and returning manufacturers to the series. Alongside Ducati, Aprilia, Honda, BMW, Suzuki and Kawasaki, we now have MV Agusta, Buell and, hopefully, Bimota bringing the number of marques to nine.
A new weekend schedule has been brought in, along with new qualifying rules, details are available here, with the new qualifying bringing World Superbike qualifying into line with the system used in MotoGP, for better or worse, and the Sunday races are timed to allow World Superbike not to clash with other motorsports events, with a view to increasing the audience. Along with the schedule change, Dorna has introduced a video streaming package for those without access to a broadcast of the events.
Kawasaki Racing Team returns with both Tom Sykes (1) and Loris Baz (76). World Champion Sykes will be wearing the number one plate on his bike, and he was characteristically quick in testing, with the Kawasaki looking like one of the strongest packages. The green bike is also a popular choice with EVO entries and the team fields a third rider on an EVO-spec ZX-10R.
More news on the condition of Ratthapark Wilairot, who was seriously injured in a road traffic accident that killed the rider of the motorcycle the Thai Moto2 rider was a passenger on. News emanating out of Thailand, in both the Bangkok Post and the website StayOnTheBlack.com suggests that happily, Wilairot's condition is improving.
Ratthapark Wilairot, the Thai rider who raced for the Stop&Go Moto2 team in 2010, has been seriously injured in a road traffic accident in his home province of Chonburi, Thailand, according to reports from StayOnTheBlack.com. Wilairot was reportedly traveling as a passenger on a motorcycle piloted by a friend, when the pair crashed at 3am on Monday morning. The accident proved fatal to the rider, while Wilairot was taken to hospital in Bangkok with serious injuries, though the precise extent of his injuries are not known at this time.
The Thai rider is being kept in intensive care, but StayOnTheBlack.com is reporting that Wilairot has now regained consciousness and has spoken to doctors. Doctors at the hospital are expected to issue a statement on Tuesday.
Putting together a list of riders for the 2011 Moto2 season has proven to be a remarkably intractable task. Fear and uncertainty stalks the Moto2 paddock, not least because the full list of admitted teams was not released until last weekend at Estoril. The list contains 22 teams with space for 40 riders, though doubt remains over whether the teams will be able to fill all 40 seats.
With the 2010 season already over, the 2011 World Superbike grid is gradually starting to take shape, with most of the seats filled, despite a host of riders involved in WSBK's version of musical chairs. One name who appeared to have been left standing as the music started to wind down was double WSBK champion James Toseland. The British rider had returned to World Superbikes this season from MotoGP with the factory Sterilgarda Yamaha squad, but Toseland had not adapted fast enough to WSBK to retain his seat for next season, and was looking to be out of a job for 2011.
The Moto2 class produces a huge dilemma for the organizers of the MotoGP championship. The huge entry field has proven to cause major problems at the start, with multiple-rider pile ups in the first corner a firm fixture during Moto2 races. And yet the class has been extremely popular, producing close, exciting racing, and throwing up plenty of surprise contenders.
As if the Moto2 grid wasn't confusing enough already, the Misano round for the 40-strong Moto2 class features a host of replacement riders and wildcards. Making things even worse, some of the replacements and wildcards are riders who have left one team and gone on to ride for another. Here's a rundown of the Misano Moto2 Musical Chairs:
First of all, the absentees: Aeroport de Castello's Alex Debon is out after fracturing his collarbone yet again, the 4th time in 10 months, after falling at Indianapolis. HolidayGym's Fonsi Nieto is also missing, having cracked his heelbone in the Indy Moto2 mayhem. Nieto has been extraordinarily unlucky: not only did he fracture bones in his foot, but the Spaniard had problems during surgery on his foot which saw him suffer a respiratory arrest as a result of the anesthetics being used. So serious was the situation that Nieto was even in danger of having his foot amputated because of the complications.
Just a few days before the season is about to begin, and the Moto2 class is to take to the track for the very first time, a new provisional entry list for Moto2 has been issued by the FIM. The new list contains two changes, one minor (Stefan Bradl changing his number from 4 to 65), and one major. The big change is the dropping of Belgian rider Vincent Lonbois by the Marc VDS Racing team, which is also fielding British rider Scott Redding, and his replacement with former 125 and 250 star Hector Faubel.