With the drama of last year behind them - sacking riders, threatening to pull out of racing, more sacking of riders, vitriolic press releases - Effenbert Liberty Racing have announced a return to World Superbikes with Mark Aitchison. Having courted Jakub Smrz and Noriyuki Haga and being rebuffed, they finally found a rider that would ride their Ducati 1098R. Aitchison was, along with, ironically, Jakub Smrz, left without a ride for 2013 when the Splitlath BSB team closed its doors before the season started.
Press releases issued by the FIXI Crescent Suzuki and the BMW Motorrad Goldbet teams after the test at Aragon:
POSITIVE TEST FOR FIXI CRESCENT SUZUKI
Team Suzuki Press Office - April 5.
FIXI Crescent Suzuki has ended a successful three-day test at Motorland Aragon in Spain, as it prepares for the forthcoming race at the same circuit later this month.
The Pata Honda team issued the following press release at the end of their test at the Motorland Aragon circuit:
Rea and Haslam complete Aragon test
Pata Honda World Superbike riders Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam have completed a three-day test at Motorland Aragon in Spain ahead of next week’s second round World Superbike championship event at the same circuit.
As many of you will have spotted, this was in fact an April Fool's story. While discussions about the future of the World Superbike series are ongoing, there are no proposals at the current time to switch to naked bikes. The sales trend of the sport bike market segment is true, as are the numbers for bike sales in Belgian (I wrote a column for the Belgian magazine Motorrijder on this very subject, which is to appear in the April issue). The idea was sparked both by the current market trends in motorcycle sales, and by pictures of former greats like Eddie Lawson and Freddie Spencer muscling Kawasaki Z1000s and Honda VF750s around the track. For another year at least, all of the stories on the website will be as accurate as possible. Normal service has now been resumed...
The news that Dorna had been handed control over the World Superbike series struck terror into the hearts of WSBK fans around the globe. The fear was Dorna would use their position of controlling both World Superbikes and MotoGP to widen the technical gap between the two series in an attempt to cut costs. With Dorna having so often complained that World Superbikes was encroaching on MotoGP territory, and with MotoGP's technical regulations becoming ever more restrictive, the logical step would appear to be to severely restrict the level of machinery used in WSBK.
Over the winter, and during the first round of the 2013 World Superbike series, talks between Dorna, the Superbike teams and the manufacturers involved in the series failed to make much headway. The factories could not agree among themselves what level of modification to allow, while the teams were unimpressed by Dorna's demands that a WSBK machine should cost 250,000 euros a season, stating that the money saved in the bike would only be spent elsewhere.
Talks had continued at the IRTA test at Jerez, with Dorna's new World Superbike boss Javier Alonso present, and engaged in private discussions with the bosses of HRC, Shuhei Nakomoto, Yamaha Motor Racing, Shigeto Kitegawa, and Ducati Corse, Bernhard Gobmeier. MotoMatters.com has learned that since then, further telephone discussions have taken place with Kawasaki boss Ichiro Yoda and Suzuki's Shinichi Sahara, while Alonso had previously spoken to Aprilia Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna at the Jerez circuit, during their test there.
The factory Aprilia WSBK team issued the following press release after concluding two days of testing at Jerez:
APRILIA RACING TESTS AT JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA
EUGENE LAVERTY AND SYLVAIN GUINTOLI BUSY WITH TWO DAYS OF TESTING IN ORDER TO BE FULLY PREPARED FOR THE NEXT RACE WEEKEND AT ARAGON.
When the news that Dorna would be taking over World Superbikes broke, there was a wave of outrage among fans, expressing the fear that the Spanish company would set about destroying the series they had grown to love. So far, Dorna have been careful not to get involved in debates about the technical regulations which seem to be so close to fans' hearts, their only criteria so far appearing to be a demand that bikes should cost 250,000 euros for an entire season.
After already having staged the first race, the World Superbike calendar has finally been updated and lost its provisional status. Today, the FIM issued an official, finalized version of the 2013 World Superbike calendar, confirming the changes we reported on yesterday.
Fears that the World Superbike round at Silverstone is to be dropped are misplaced. Paddock rumors that Silverstone was back on the calendar emerged last night, with confirmation coming from Silverstone today, and being confirmed on their Facebook page. The race at Silverstone will take place on 4th August, and will see World Superbike, World Supersport and the Superstock 1000 and 600 classes compete.
Ducati Motor Holding today issued the following press release, announcing that former head of Ducati Corse Filippo Preziosi is to step down from his position on health grounds:
Engineer Filippo Preziosi resigns from Ducati Motor Holding
Marco Melandri has undergone surgery to fix the pain he had been suffering in his right shoulder. The Italian had damaged his shoulder in a crash last year at Portimao, and been treated for the problem over the winter. The initial feeling after testing had been good, but another crash at Phillip Island exacerbated the problem once again, and Melandri elected to undergo surgery on his return to Italy.