Though testing for the MotoGP class has finished, motorcycle racers in other series still have plenty of work ahead of them. Both the World Superbike series and the Grand Prix support classes have been hard at work, ahead of a busy schedule of testing. The Ducati and Kawasaki World Superbike teams have been testing at the Motorland Aragon circuit, while Moto2 and Moto3 are back at Valencia.
At Aragon, Jonathan Rea made his long-awaited debut on the Kawasaki ZX-10R, alongside 2013 World Champion and fierce rival Tom Sykes. With the World Superbike teams adapting to the new regulations, the two Kawasakis were a little slower than the Ducatis of Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies. The day started off soaking, with journalists and test riders doing media laps on the 2014 bikes of Tom Sykes and David Salom. Once the track dried out in the afternoon, Kawasaki also joined the action. At the end of the day, both Ducati riders clocked up unofficial times of 1'51.3, while Sykes posted a 1'52.2 and Rea a 1'52.7. As an interesting note, they are running the track in its MotoGP configuration, using the long, sweeping double left hander as the final corner, rather than the longer version used by WSBK when the series races there, featuring the hairpin and then right and left combination leading back on to the front straight. Giugliano's best time is three seconds slower than the best time set by Andrea Dovizioso on the first day of practice for the MotoGP race at the circuit.
It was no secret that Johnny Rea, Honda Europe and the Ten Kate Honda team had a fantastic working relationship. To underline just how strong the bonds were between Honda and Rea, they issued a press release bidding Rea a fond farewell, and wishing him the best in his future endeavors. The press release appears below:
Honda bids farewell to a racing friend
Last Sunday's thrilling end to the 2014 World Superbike championship season in Qatar also marked the conclusion of one of the longest and most successful racing partnerships that the series has ever seen.
After six seasons with the official Honda World Superbike team, run from the Ten Kate Racing workshops in the Netherlands – plus a year in the World Supersport championship with the same outfit – Jonathan Rea will begin the 2015 season with a new challenge.
Year one of the partnership between Rea and the Ten Kate Honda team yielded six World Supersport podiums and three race wins. When he stepped up to World Superbikes and the Honda Fireblade in 2009, Rea began a remarkable record that has seen him take at least one race victory every year.
The end of the 2014 World Superbike championship, wrapped up last night at Qatar, has triggered a series of official rider announcements for 2015. Two of the most anticipated announcements were made on Monday, with official confirmation that Jonathan Rea would be leaving Pata Honda to join the Kawasaki Racing Team in World Superbikes, while the seat he is vacating at the Ten Kate Pata Honda team will be filled by newly-crowned 2014 World Superbike champion Sylvain Guintoli. Rea will line up alongside Tom Sykes, while Guintoli will be teammate to World Supersport champion Michael van der Mark.
The moves of both men were an open secret in the paddock, and had originally been expected to be announced after the previous round at Magny-Cours. That, however, was dependent on Sykes wrapping up the title at the French round, but an outstanding weekend by Guintoli and a poor weekend by Sykes took the title chase down to the final WSBK round at Qatar this Sunday. With the championship over, the news could finally be announced.
The partnership of Rea and Sykes is eagerly awaited, both inside and outside the paddock. Rea is very highly rated by industry insiders, who have praised what the Ulsterman has been able to achieve on what is widely regarded as an outdated and underperforming Honda CBR1000RR. Rea has finished ahead of his teammate and as first Honda rider, ever since moving to WSBK in 2009. Rea is expected to be a very strong teammate for Sykes, something which the rumored animosity between Sykes and Rea will only exacerbate. The pairing of Rea with Sykes will certainly make Kawasaki the strong favorites for the 2015 WSBK title.
Silly Season Round Up: The MotoGP Merry-Go-Round, Moto2 And Moto3 Madness, And Guessing At The 2015 Calendar
The period since the MotoGP circus rolled up at Silverstone has been pretty frantic. Almost as soon as the teams and riders arrived in the UK, the negotiations over 2015 and beyond started. The developments around Gresini's impending switch to Aprilia triggered a further round of haggling and fundraising, with several teams and riders trying to cover all the possible permutations of the Honda RC213V becoming available. The submission date for the Moto2 and Moto3 entries intensified the bargaining over rider placements, the field split into those who must pay, and those who will be paid. Time for a quick round up of all that has happened.
The most pressing problem in MotoGP at the moment is the situation around Scott Redding and the Honda RC213V being abandoned by Gresini. Where that bike goes depends on just a single factor: money. Aspar is interested in the bike, but cannot raise the extra money it would cost over and above the cost of a Honda RCV1000R. Marc VDS Racing is in a desperate scramble to find the last 1.9 million euros they need to plug the gap in their budget if they are to move up to MotoGP. LCR Honda could perhaps find the budget to put Redding alongside Cal Crutchlow, and having two British riders would greatly please CWM FX, the British foreign exchange trading firm stepping in as a title sponsor. CWM have already fronted the money for 2015, but would have to increase their sponsorship if LCR were to take a second RC213V.
The Gresini/Redding situation has repercussions elsewhere. Until Redding finalizes where he will be riding in 2015, Ducati will be holding open the seat at Pramac, complete with full factory backing. Redding's priority is to be riding a Honda RC213V, but if that plan falls through, then there are worse options than a factory-backed Desmosedici GP15. The Ducati is very much his second choice, however: if you had to choose between the bike being ridden by the current world champion, and a machine which hasn't been built yet, which, Ducati management assures everyone, promises to be better than the bike it replaces, a bike which hasn't won a race since 2010, then the time taken to make your decision would be measured in nanoseconds.
Press releases from the series organizer and the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the first day of practice at Imola:
Press releases from some of the World Superbike teams after the latest test at Jerez:
With the start of the 2014 World Superbike season less that two weeks away, teams are gearing up for their campaigns. As part of their preparations, Pata Honda team today released a video showing their progress on the way to the new season. Team boss Ronald ten Kate, World Superbike riders Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam, and World Supersport riders Michael van der Mark and Lorenzo Zanetti all feature in the video, discussing what has changed over the winter, and what they expect of 2014. The video appears below:
The Pata Honda team issued the following press release after their launch at the Verona Motor Bike Expo in Italy:
2014 Pata Honda Team presented at Verona Motor Bike Expo
The 2014 Pata Honda team that will contest this season’s FIM World Superbike and World Supersport championships was presented this afternoon at the Motor Bike Expo exhibition at Verona in Italy.
The team comprises the same rider line-up as in 2013 with British riders Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam riding the new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP in the 14-round World Superbike championship which kicks off at Phillip Island in Australia on 23 February.
Meanwhile, following their rookie seasons in 2013, Dutch rider Michael van der Mark and Italian ace Lorenzo Zanetti will challenge for honours on Honda’s CBR600RR in the World Supersport series, which also starts at Phillip Island next month.
Press releases from some of the World Superbike teams after the test at Jerez:
With the uncertainty surrounding the World Superbike series easing up, the outlines of the 2014 season are starting to become clear. The test after the final round of the 2013 season at Jerez turned into an audition for some of the riders, with riders still searching for a team for next season.
In the days since that test, news has been emerging of rider signings and team plans for 2014. While both the Pata Honda and factory Kawasaki line ups were known, the future of the Aprilia and Ducati teams was still uncertain, with doubts over whether one or both of the Italian factories might pull out of World Superbikes. Ducati confrmed their intention to continue in 2014 earlier this week, while today, Aprilia have also stated their intention to keep racing next year. Aprilia have also confirmed the signing of Marco Melandri, something which had long been expected. Melandri will line up alongside Sylvain Guintoli for the 2014 season.
The Pata Honda team today issued the following press release, containing an interview with Jonathan Rea. In it, Rea discusses the leg injury he suffered in Germany, watching races at home, why he chose to remain with Honda, and his hopes for 2014:
Rea raring to go for 2014
Q&A with Pata Honda World Superbike rider Jonathan Rea
By his own admission, Jonathan Rea’s 2013 World Superbike season was not all that he would have wanted and, in spite of maintaining his record of scoring at least one race win in each of his five SBK seasons to date, it ended prematurely.
The 26-year-old was well-placed in race one at the Nürburgring in Germany on 1 September when he crashed at high speed on an expired machine’s oil. Rea broke his left femur in the crash and his season was over.
It was the second serious rider injury that the Pata Honda team suffered this season after Rea’s team-mate Leon Haslam broke his left tibia and fibula at Assen in The Netherlands in April.
Haslam returned to riding just four weeks later but his injury and its after-affects influenced the rest of his season and his own contribution to the development of the 2013 CBR1000RR.
Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam will return to the Pata Honda team for the 2014 World Superbike season. Both men have extended their contracts for one more season, giving the aging CBR1000RR what is expected to be its last season before a new bike makes an appearance.
The pairing has been plagued by injury this season, and despite increased support from HRC for 2013, the results have not been as the team had hoped. The problems had caused Johnny Rea to look elsewhere for 2014, the Ulsterman having held talks with Forward Racing about riding one of the Yamaha machines, as well as having spoken to Ducati about replacing Ben Spies in the Pramac team. In the end, the Pata Honda team was his best option for 2014.
One disappointment has been the lack of the expected V4 Honda superbike. Honda had been expected to reveal the bike at the EICMA show this November, but the Japanese manufacturer appears to have postponed the release of the new bike due to the dismal market for sports bikes. Whether the delay will turn into a cancellation is as yet unknown.
The Pata Honda press release appears below:
Pata Honda confirms 2014 SBK line-up
The Pata Honda World Superbike team has announced that it will retain the same rider line-up of Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam heading into the 2014 world championship season.