In case you still needed a little help in getting warmed up for the World Superbike season opener at Phillip Island next weekend, here's a video from the Italian channel SuperbikeTV. Yes, it's in Italian, and therefore contains commentary which non-Italian speakers will find incomprehensible. But it also features footage of the bikes on track, and that should get your juices running ready for Sunday. Just a few more days to go ...
If there was any doubt that Ducati has set its sights on reclaiming the 2010 World Superbike title, then the last test of the preseason before racing starts in earnest will have put those doubts to rest. After allowing Leon Haslam and Suzuki top honors in the first session on Sunday, a Ducati has topped the timesheet ever since, ending the session with five bikes in the top six. Fastest over both days was Michel Fabrizio, the factory Xerox Ducati rider shattering Troy Corser's race lap record on Monday morning, after the track had dried and before the wind picked up too strongly.
Photo copyright Andrew Gosling
Results of the second and final session of testing for the World Superbike class at Phillip Island:
Results of Monday's first session of practice for the World Superbike class at Phillip Island. The session was delayed due to overnight rain, which took a while to dry out:
The first day of testing for the World Superbike class at Phillip Island was a chance for Ducati to stamp their authority on the series they have so often dominated. The Italian factory tackled this challenge with gusto, putting five bikes in the top six of the morning test session, and taking three of the four top spots in the afternoon. It was not the factory bikes that took top honors, however: In the morning session, Xerox Ducati riders Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio had to cede that honor the the Alstare Suzuki of Leon Haslam, while in the afternoon, it was the turn of the privateer Carlos Checa on the Althea Racing 1098R, edging the factory bikes into 2nd and 4th.
Checa's time in the afternoon was extremely impressive, just over a tenth off Troy Corser's official lap record, and nearly four tenths of a second faster than the next fastest man Fabrizio. Leon Haslam is continuing his apparently trouble-free transition to the Suzuki GSX-R 1000, claiming a permanent spot at the top of the field, though the Englishman was half a second slower during the afternoon session. The two Xerox Ducati teammates are once again closely matched, raising the specter of a repeat of last year, when Fabrizio stole valuable points from Noriyuki Haga in the Japanese rider's failed attempt to conquer the 2009 WSBK title.
Results of the second session of practice for the World Superbike class at Phillip Island:
Results of the first session of testing for the World Superbike class at Phillip Island:
After several long, dark months of near silence on racetracks around the world, motorcycle racing fans can ready themselves for a feast of on-track action. For 10 of the next 14 days will see every international race class on track testing, with the bonus of the opening round of the World Superbike championship to top it off.
First up is a major outing for the Moto2 and 125cc classes at Barcelona's Montmelo circuit. A total of 42 riders are expected to take to the track, including the cream of the 125cc crop and some of the major players in Moto2.
In the 125cc class, the four favorites for the title will face off for the first time. The Derbis of Pol Espargaro and Marc Marquez will be up against the Aprilias of Bradley Smith and Nico Terol, as the teams and riders prepare for the championship.
Smith returns to the Aspar fold, after failing to find a place in Moto2. In compensation, however, Smith will start the season with the best chance of becoming the first British World Champion since Barry Sheene in 1977. He knows the bike and the team, and his biggest challenge may come from his still growing body, as he inches north of 5'8, outgrowing the ideal size for a 125 racer.
Racing is rapidly approaching, and a spate of bike launches have taken place over the last week of so, few of which we have been able to give the coverage or publicity they deserve. Yamaha, however, have made our job extremely easy, providing photographs and video of both the MotoGP and World Superbike launches. Today was the turn of the 2010 Yamaha World Superbike team to unveil its livery. Sterilgarda remains as title sponsor to the team, and Cal Crutchlow and James Toseland have the task of taking up the mantle left behind by departing champion Ben Spies.
The launch also revealed some interesting changes to the 2010 Yamaha YZF-R1. Power is up by 8 horsepower compared to last year, with the benefits coming across the rev range, while the bike is also 3kg lighter. The radiator and lower fairing have been redesigned for better aerodynamics, while also increasing cooling. And the fuel tank has been simultaneously lightened and had its capacity increased. You can read more about the new R1, as well as find out about who and what Sterilgarda is exactly on the Yamaha Racing website. And you can judge the changes for yourself from the photos below:
With just over two weeks to go until the 2010 World Superbikes season kicks off at Phillip Island in Australia, the ever-assiduous staff at World Superbike headquarters have put together a video preview of the season to whet your appetite for the racing - as if that was necessary after a long cold winter. The video features a rundown of the teams and riders participating in the upcoming season, interviews with most of the protagonists, and highlights of the fantastic racing that made up the 2009 season.
So pour yourself a fresh beverage, pull up a chair and enjoy 25 minutes of World Superbike action. It's very nearly time to go racing again.
The news has been leaked, announced and reported for the last couple of weeks, but finally today Aprilia announced its partnership with Alitalia, to act as title sponsor for the Noale factory's World Superbike squad. At the bike launch - held rather spectacularly at Rome's Fiumicino airport - Aprilia's new head of Product Development and Strategy, Maurizio Roman, unveiled the Aprilia's new livery, flaunting the Italian tricolor red, green and white as used by the Italian flag carrier. The actual financial details of the deal were not discussed, though as both Alitalia and the Piaggio Group are owned in part by Italian tycoon Roberto Colaninno, it is hard to regard the deal as outside sponsorship of the industry.
Trouble continues to brew in the Aprilia camp. The Italian company's decision to pull out of Moto2 at the end of November last year looks set to have even more serious repercussions, as the authoritative Italian site GPOne.com is reporting rumors that Aprilia's racing boss Giampiero Sacchi could leave his role as head of the factory's racing program altogether. Sacchi's departure would be a body blow to the Noale factory, as Sacchi has been with Aprilia since the 80s and has worked with all of the great stars that the company has produced, from Max Biaggi to Tetsuya Harada, Valentino Rossi to Jorge Lorenzo.
The root of the problem, according to GPOne.com, is the long-standing rivalry between Sacchi and Aprilia's General Director Leo Mercanti. The high-profile CEO of the Piaggio Group Roberto Colaninno is reportedly tired of the bickering between Sacchi and Mercanti, and has been taking steps to sort the situation out.
As a warm up for the coming US round of World Superbikes at Miller Motorsports Park on Labor Day, May 31st, John Gardner, Media Manager for the Utah circuit hosted a telephone press conference with Roger Lee Hayden, the youngest of the Hayden brothers. Hayden is signed to race in the World Superbike series in 2010 aboard a Pedercini Kawasaki, and given that the last American to cross the pond from the AMA was Ben Spies - who came in and took the title at the first time of asking - he has a tough act to follow. In the press conference, Hayden covered a huge amount of ground; from how the World Superbike ride with Pedercini Kawasaki came about, how he nearly went to Moto2, the parlous state of the AMA, and his expectations for the 2010 season. Here's what he had to say:
John Gardner: Good afternoon, everybody. This is John Gardner. I'm the media manager at Miller Motorsports Park, and this is the first of what we hope are going to be regular teleconferences with riders from the HANNspree Superbike World Championship.
After two days of sitting in garages watching the rain fall, the World Superbike and Moto2 riders still left at the Valencia circuit finally got a chance to test their bikes in anger. The relief was tangible; as the formerly idle riders broadcast their happiness to be riding on Twitter.
With conditions suitable for riding - dry, sunny, but still cold - the teams still remaining at the circuit made the most of the little time they had. It was Althea Ducati's Carlos Checa who came out on top, setting a surprisingly good 1'33.8 given the cool conditions, two tenths of a second ahead of Noriyuki Haga on the factory Xerox Ducati. Worrying for the factory Ducati effort, Shane Byrne on the other Althea Ducati was just a tenth behind Haga, and a couple of tenths ahead of Haga's teammate Michel Fabrizio. Czech rider Jakub Smrz also finally got some track time, riding the Guandalini-Borciani Ducati, now that the team has found some funding from Pata, and Italian snack manufacturer.
The BMW's had the worst of the test, with both Ruben Xaus and Troy Corser down in the 1'35s, and Xaus running the same time as Alex Hofmann on the Aprilia. Aprilia will be glad of the track time, as their factory riders Max Biaggi and Leon Camier were already making their way back to Italy to the Noale factory.
The miserable weather which prevented the World Superbike and Moto2 teams from getting much track time at Valencia yesterday continued on Wednesday. All of the teams spent most of the day in the garage, only venturing outside on occasion to test the conditions and conclude that they were still no good.
The weather has left a number of teams facing a dilemma. The weather forecast for tomorrow is sunny and dry, with temperatures warm enough to make testing valuable. But the Aprilia factory team for one has already packed up and is heading back to their base in Noale in Northern Italy, a fact that discombobulated the Italian veteran Max Biaggi. "This could be a problem because we didn't get the confirmation we were looking for," Biaggi said, according to the official World Superbike website. "In addition our rivals will also be testing tomorrow, when it's expected to be sunny."