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2018 Buriram MotoGP Test Preview: Burning Rubber For Bibendum

The Sepang MotoGP test proved to be most instructive, both for the fans, who got a first taste of what the 2018 season could look like, and for the factories, who put the first imaginings of this year's bikes – and especially engines – through their paces. We learned that Ducati have taken another step forward, that Honda is improved, that Yamaha have solved one problem but possibly created another, that Suzuki are showing promise, that Aprilia are still waiting on a new engine to match their new chassis, and that KTM are starting to realize that closing in on the top ten was much easier than getting into the top five will be.

From Sepang, MotoGP moves to Thailand, some 1300km almost due north. The Chang International Circuit – mostly referred to as Buriram among the MotoGP faithful, as the circuit is owned by (and named after) the main Thai rival to Official MotoGP Beer Supplier Singha – may prove a good deal less instructive than Sepang, for a couple of reasons. First of all, it offers more of the same, especially from a climate point of view. And secondly, it offers less, in terms of variety of corners and bike maneuverability.

The layout of the Buriram circuit is relatively simple. There are no real elevation changes, though the track has one or two crests and dips. The track consists of three straights strung together with tight corners, and then an ornery section of tightish corners taking the riders back to the final first-gear corner, and back onto the relatively short start and finish straight. It is, unsurprisingly, a Hermann Tilke track, and exactly what you would expect as a result.

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The Education Of Loris Baz: The Frenchman Returns To WorldSBK With A Wealth Of Experience

For most riders age is just a number, but for Loris Baz it's also a virtue. Despite already having six years' experience in world championship racing, the Frenchman returns to WorldSBK as one of the youngest riders in the field

Loris Baz on the Althea Ducati at the Portimao January test in 2018

When Loris Baz first raced in WorldSBK he was one of the rawest prospects on the grid. For Pere Riba, his former crew chief, he was a rough diamond that could be molded into a star. Three years working with the Spaniard turned Baz into a race winner. Three years in MotoGP turned him into a much more complete package, and returning to WorldSBK for 2018 Baz feels primed to show his true potential.

“When you ride with the best guys in the world in MotoGP on a bike that's a bit older you improve a lot,” reflected Baz. “You are always trying to find solutions and find some extra speed. That experience from MotoGP has definitely made me a much better rider and if I had this experience when I was racing in WorldSBK I would have been winning races.

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Jerez WorldSBK January Test Press Releases

Press releases from some of the WorldSBK teams after the Jerez test:


KRT Duo Light Up Jerez Tests

KRT’s official WorldSBK championship riders Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea played a leading part in a two day test session at Jerez in Spain, between 23rd and 24th January. Sykes set the fastest time of all with Rea just behind in the final rankings.

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Motorcycle Racing Gets Nearer: Testing For WorldSBK And MotoGP Starts This Week

With the holiday season receding into the rear view mirror, that means that we are getting closer to seeing bikes on tracks. Testing starts this week for both the MotoGP and WorldSBK paddocks, and before testing, the Movistar Yamaha team will present their 2018 livery later on this week as well.

The action starts on Tuesday in Jerez, where virtually the entire WorldSBK paddock is gathered for a two-day test. The Andalusian track will see the first real test of the 2018 WorldSBK machines, with the teams all having had the winter break to develop their bikes under the new technical regulations - new rev limits, and better access to cheaper parts.  

All eyes will once again be on triple and reigning WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea, the man who dominated at Jerez in November. Rea was seemingly unaffected by the new rule changes, saying less top end merely made the bike easier for him to ride. Teammate Tom Sykes will be hoping to match Rea's pace, and adapt to the new character of the bike.

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Jerez WorldSBK Test - Aprilia and Althea Press Releases

Press releases from the Aprilia and Althea teams after the first two days of testing at Jerez:


Milwaukee Aprilia begin 2018 preparations at Jerez test

Circuito de Jerez 21 / 11 / 2017

Milwaukee Aprilia have completed two days of valuable test running at the Jerez circuit in Spain.

Less than three weeks after the WorldSBK 2017 finale at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar the team were back in action, utilising their experience of the year to continue developing and improving the Aprilia RSV4-RF.

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Press Release: Loris Baz Joins Althea BMW For 2018 WorldSBK Season

Loris Baz has signed to race for the Althea Ducati team in WorldSBK in 2018. The team issued the following press release announcing the deal:


Althea BMW Racing announces its plans for the 2018 season

Rome, Italy, Thursday 16 November 2017

The Althea BMW Racing Team prepares for the 2018 Superbike World championship and announces its hiring of former MotoGP rider, Frenchman Loris Baz.

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