The WorldSBK series may be on its summer hiatus, but there is still plenty of news going on. After the official announcement that Tom Sykes would not be back with the KRT Kawasaki team, it is the turn of the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK squad to make announcements. Today, the team issued a statement saying that current riders Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes will remain with the team for the 2019 season.
The American Frontier was about finding a way to survive. To do this, people from all over the world had to work together and find a way to coexist on the open plains and in the mountains. They did this because they knew the rewards could be massive. Unimaginable wealth lay beneath the rivers and mountains of the West Coast, and everyone believed they would find it.
Every racer in the world also believes that the trophies and points are at their fingertips once they have the tools at their disposal. Finding a way to work with a group of people from all over the world and making them believe in you is crucial. The American Dream was founded on the ideal that anything was possible and the Racer's Dream is based on the belief that you're the best in the world and any issues you're having are just a temporary delay of the inevitable.
At Laguna Seca we had proof once again that the Racer's Dream is real. Jonathan Rea was a highly regarded rider prior to moving to Kawasaki in 2015 but since then he has been all but unbeatable. On Sunday he claimed his 62nd WorldSBK and fourth victory at the American venue. The success that the Northern Irishman has enjoyed has been unprecedented but, at least for Rea, was the gold he'd been seeking in a river bed.
The return of WorldSBK to the Czech Republic proved to be a race weekend to remember. Tensions between Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes overflowed, Alex Lowes delivered on his long held promise and we saw flashes of promise from elsewhere on the WorldSBK grid.
Kawasaki tensions overflow
That Rea and Sykes don't like each other has been clear since the start of their tenure as teammates. The 2013 world champion had been the center of attention at KRT for years and Sykes had developed the ZX10R into the best package on the grid. It allowed him to win races and become a consistent force at the front of the field. Since Rea joined in 2015, however, his power has been eroded within the team and his potential on track has been limited. Their dislike for one another has been clear to see for years but on Sunday it boiled over.
The Milwaukee Aprilia rider is back in action this weekend at Imola and he guides us around an action packed lap of the Italian venue
Imola is one of the most historic circuits in the world. Tamburello, Acque Minerali and Rivazza are corner names etched into the fiber of the sport, and with the circuit named after Enzo Ferrari's son, the emotion of Imola is always bubbling away just under the surface.
For a long time Eugene Laverty didn't feel at home at this twisting and technical circuit but over the last ten years he has been able to scratch at the surface and unlock the key to a fast time around this 4.936km circuit.
The WorldSBK series is set to go to Northern Ireland in 2019. Dorna have come to an agreement with Manna Developments, the company behind the brand new Lake Torrent Circuit near Coalisland, County Tyrone, to host a round of WorldSBK starting next year.
The announcement will be welcomed in Northern Ireland, given the very strong motorcycling heritage of the region. The northern part of Ireland - both north and south of the border - has produced some of the great names of motorcycle racing, and one of the great dynasties in the Dunlop family.
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.
A return to WorldSBK with the bike that he came so close to winning the championship on. It all appeared like a dream opportunity for Eugene Laverty to put himself into a position to win the title. The dream quickly turned to a nightmare and from the start of winter testing it was clear that major work needed to be done to return the RSV4 to the front.
Moving to the Milwaukee Aprilia squad understandably led to heightened expectations. In their second year in WorldSBK the former British Superbike champions were expected to make a leap forward. Teething problems were expected with the switch from BMW to Aprilia, but not the struggles that lay ahead.
“During the winter you can go in the wrong direction with the bike,” commented Laverty. “Unfortunately, that was the case for us. It wasn't the direction that I would have taken the bike and that’s why right away from early in the season I was starting to steer it back to how I rode the bike four years ago. It took us a few rounds to get the right base and we’ve been trying to progress since then.
It's been a turbulent 12 months for Shaun Muir Racing. Their much touted move to WorldSBK in 2016, as reigning British Superbike champions, proved to be an exceptionally trying campaign that ended with infighting between the team and their lead rider, Josh Brookes. Armed with the BMW S1000RR, expectations were high for the British squad but ultimately they struggled to find a consistent balance, and the season and their relations with the German manufacturer petered out.
The New Year has officially started, the real world of contracts finally lining up with the world of motorcycle racing. Riders who swapped factories are now free of their old contracts, their new contracts having commenced as the world greeted 2017. That also leaves them free to post about the new season on social media again. Aleix Espargaro was so keen to do so that he posted right on the stroke of midnight.
If the riders are excited, that gives fans reason to be excited too. Here are 10 reasons to look forward to 2017.
1. Six factories
For the first time since 2004, MotoGP has six different manufacturers* competing again. Unlike 2004, however, the level at which those manufacturers are competing is much more equal. In 2004, only Yamaha and Honda won races, though Ducati were regular visitors to the podium, and would win more consistently in 2005 and 2006. In 2016, four different manufacturers won races in the dry – Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, and Ducati – and all four were consistent podium threats.