Despite promising results, especially from Niccolo Canepa, the EBR Hero Racing team is being forced to pull out of the World Superbike championship. The withdrawal became inevitable when EBR filed for bankruptcy. The EBR team, run by Larry Pegram, had hoped to find a way to continue, but without the backing of Indian motorcycle manufacturer Hero, did not have the funds. The press release issued by EBR announcing their withdrawal is shown below:
TEAM HERO EBR TO WITHDRAW FROM COMPETITION
Team Hero EBR will be forced to withdraw from the World Superbike Championship for the immediate future. With the recent bankruptcy of EBR and the re-prioritizing of efforts by title sponsor Hero, Pegram Racing is unable to continue its Team Hero EBR program at this time. Pegram Racing is dedicated to returning to racing very quickly and will announce our future plans very soon.
Four rounds into the World Superbike season and the contours of the 2015 championship are starting to become clear. Some of the things we expected to happen have unfolded much as predicted, but there have also been a fair few surprises. Time to take a quick look at the state of World Superbikes so far.
New technical regulations have been put in place aimed at reducing cost and leveling the playing field somewhat. Their effect so far? Despite the protestations of the Kawasaki and Aprilia riders, all of whom have been complaining of a loss of horsepower, neither top speed nor overall lap times appear to have been affected much. Taking Tom Sykes as perhaps the best example, as he was on the Kawasaki ZX-10R both this year and last, his lap times were half a second slower at Phillip Island, half a second quicker at Assen, the only two tracks at which it is possible to compare. Chaz Davies on the Ducati Panigale was a second quicker at Assen, and eight tenths quicker in race one at Phillip Island, but in race two lapped just as fast in 2015 as he did in 2014. Overall, the Phillip Island track was a little slower in 2015, while conditions at Assen were definitely improved this year over last. The jury is still out on the new rules, but there are definite rumblings audible from the jury room.
Perhaps the biggest effect of the new rules is on the expectations of riders. The Kawasaki is among the most affected of the WSBK bikes by the new rules, with claims that the ZX-10R has between ten and twenty fewer horses than it had in 2014. That has had a bigger impact on Tom Sykes than on his new teammate, Jonathan Rea, Sykes struggling while Rea has come in and cleaned up. Sykes finds himself with a bike that is down on power to what he is used to, a development which is not good for a positive mindset. Rea has come off a bike which he knew to be incapable of winning a championship, and hopped onto one which has been proven capable of doing just that. It's easy to go fast when what you have is better than what you had, and you see opportunity looming.
Can you ever have too much motorcycle racing? You can if the amount of racing over one weekend actually exceeds the number of hours in each day. That was pretty much the case last weekend, when we MotoGP at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina, World Superbikes – including World Supersport, FIM Superstock 1000, the European Superstock 600 Championship, and the European Junior Cup – at Assen, British Superbikes at Brands Hatch (the very short, very fast Indy circuit, not the longer GP layout), the second round of the inaugural MotoAmerica series at Road Atlanta, and the 24 hour race at Le Mans in France. Looking beyond motorcycle road racing, there was also the fourth round of the MXGP motocross world championship at Trentino in Italy, and a Formula One race at Bahrain.
Although the constraints of long seasons mean that there will always be clashes, this was a little ridiculous. Racing series are not completely free to set their calendars as they wish – they are tied down by a host of factors such as track availability, the weather, other events organized at the circuits, local government permission and many, many others – this weekend was one of the more spectacular scheduling SNAFUs. Let us hope this can be avoided next year.
Press releases from the teams after Sunday's thrilling World Superbike races at Assen:
Assen warmed up for race two to a still-need-a-jumper 13°C, the temperature IT departments chill their server rooms to, with a track temperature of 20°C.
The clouds over Assen let the sun peek through, but it was still a cold 9ºC air temperature and a 15ºC track. Pirelli advised riders that the soft A rear (SC0) likely wouldn't last the distance, but eight riders chose it anyway, including Chaz Davies and Sylvain Guintoli.
Heading into Superpole, Chaz Davies had the quickest time and it was set in the afternoon on Friday, where track conditions would be similar to those in Superpole. Fresh from a win last weekend, Davies would be looking for a front row start to best allow him to stay with the other fast men.
Press releases from the World Superbike teams after qualifying at Assen:
Superpole One at Assen took part in sunny weather, warmer than it's been so far this weekend. Sylvain Guintoli and Ayrton Badovini were the most likely to advance, twelfth and fourteenth quickest in timed qualifying.
In the untimed practice, the Kawasaki pairing of Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea, with Michael van der Mark third-quickest at his home race.
Leon Haslam set the fastest lap of the session ahead of the Kawasakis of Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea, but was unable to beat the time set by Chaz Davies yesterday. Davies was the only rider in the top ten unable to improve on his time from yesterday.
Leon Camier put the MV Agusta into Superpole Two for the first time in the marque's history.
Press releases from the series organizer and some of the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the first day of practice in Assen:
Chaz Davies, fresh from the Ducati's inaugural victory last weekend, records the quickest lap, ahead of the Kawasakis of Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea.
Tom Sykes leads, with only Michael van der Mark and Chaz Davies within a second of his quickest lap.