With the weather rapidly improving on Portugal's Algarve coast, the World Superbike riders took to the track at the Portimao circuit en masse, unlike their World Supersport counterparts who had elected to stay in their pit garages earlier this morning. At the end of the two hour session, it was once again Johnny Rea who topped the timesheets, staking his claim as a favorite for the 2010 World Superbike championship. His lead over 2nd placed man Leon Haslam could barely have been smaller, though, the Alstare Suzuki rider finishing just one thousandth of a second behind his Ten Kate Honda rival. The Ducatis scored a marked improvement, with Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio both finally getting into the top 4.
The test will finish this afternoon.
Times from session 1 on Sunday for the World Superbike class:
As the aftermath of the global economic crisis rumbles on, sponsorship for motorcycle racing teams is spread pretty thinly on the ground. So it helps to have contacts in the upper echelons of large companies who are sympathetic to motorcycle racing. It helps, for example, if the team is on good terms with the CEO of a large international company.
Aprilia have this situation down pat. The CEO of the Piaggio Group, Roberto Colaninno, is also the CEO of the Italian national airline Alitala, IMMSI, a commercial real estate company, and Omniaholding, a private investment firm, and so sponsorship of Aprilia's World Superbike team has been found internally. According to GPOne.com, Colaninno has corralled Alitalia into becoming title sponsor for the factory Aprilia WSBK effort this season. The rationale behind the move - apart from the relative simplicity with which it has been achieved - is to allow the two parties to benefit from the marketing synergy of the two Italian brands.
The track is still wet at Portimao, but the World Superbike class managed to take 6 seconds off their times from this morning. Once again it was Ulsterman Johnny Rea who was quickest, mastering the wet conditions ahead of Leon Haslam on the Suzuki, while this Troy Corser made a big leap forward in the wet, taking nearly 8 seconds off his time from this morning.
Saturday afternoon times for the World Superbike class:
Rain moved in to cover Portugal's Algarve coast on Friday night, drenching the Portimao circuit and limiting action on the track. For some of the teams, the action has moved indoors, where crews are hard at work mopping out flooded pit garages, in the hope of better whether.
Of the riders how went out this morning, Johnny Rea was quickest, putting his Ten Kate Honda ahead of Leon Haslam's Suzuki, while the unsurprising name of MotoGP's rainmaster Chris Vermeulen has moved into third spot on the timesheets, the Australian fast as ever in the wet.
Times from session 3 for World Superbikes at Portimao:
Leon Haslam continues to lead the charge of the Brit Brigade on the first day of testing for the World Superbike field at Portimao. The young Briton took a quarter of a second off his time from this morning, but remains out of reach for the rest of the field. Another young British upstart finished the day 2nd fastest, Cal Crutchlow doing a sterling job of filling Ben Spies' shoes at Yamaha. The reigning World Supersport champion edged out Ulsterman Johnny Rea on the Ten Kate Honda by less than a tenth, making a British 1-2-3. Indeed, if the MotoGP refugee James Toseland had been just 0.014 seconds quicker, it would have been a top four for British riders, the Yamaha man ending the day just a tiny fraction behind Aprilia's Max Biaggi.
Championship runner-up Noriyuki Haga ended the first day of official testing as 7th fastest, nearly 0.8 seconds behind Haslam, and less than two tenths ahead of his teammate Michel Fabrizio. Ex-Yamaha man Tom Sykes was fastest of the Kawasakis in 12th, fractionally ahead of the quickest BMW man Troy Corser. Testing continues tomorrow.
Times from the second session for the World Superbikes at Portimao:
At the same time as they announced the provisional entry lists for World Superbike and World Supersport, the FIM also released a revised calendar for the series. The revisions consist of a single change: The British round at Donington has been moved to Silverstone.
The move is the final episode in a long saga, both tragic and farcical in equal measure. It started with the ambitious plans of altering the Donington Park circuit to allow the return of Formula One, and ended with the bankruptcy of DVLL, handing the lease and a torn-up track unsuitable for racing back to the circuit's owners, the Wheatcroft family. It also sees Silverstone completely replace Donington as the main venue for world-class motorcycle racing.
The contrasts between the plans of the two circuits are key to their outcomes. DVLL, the company that ran Donington Park, had a huge and ambitious plan to build a new track and new world class facilities, at a cost of over 130 million pounds. Silverstone, on the other hand, made a few strategic changes to the track layout and spectator areas at an estimated cost of just 5 million. DVLL is bankrupt, and Silverstone has MotoGP, Formula One, World Superbikes and BSB. Such is the price of hubris.
The FIM today officially released the provisional entry lists for the World Superbike and World Supersport championships for 2010. The lists had been released unofficially last week, when a programming error meant they were available on the official WSBK timing site with a little bit of CGI parameter tweaking.
The new lists see 3 extra riders added to both the World Superbike and the World Supersport grids, bringing the numbers up to 26 and 21 respectively. One name shown in the leaked list is missing from the official World Superbike list, however, as Matteo Baiocco, who was down to ride the DFX Corse machine, is listed as being TBA (To Be Announced). There is much speculation that the DFX Corse ride will be filled once again by Regis Laconi, the French veteran who was injured so badly at last year's South African round of World Superbikes at Kyalami.
The most significant change in the World Supersport list is the removal of Australian veteran Garry McCoy and his replacement by Jason DiSalvo and Sebastien Charpentier, a move that generated much controversy earlier this week. Other than that, two teammates, of Robbin Harms and Bastien Chesaux, are yet to be named.
Provisional World Superbike entry list
Test times from the first session of practice for the World Superbike class at Portimao:
Moto2 is not the only class whose entries continue to grow. To the 23 riders already included in the provisional entry list for World Superbikes can be added two more: Makoto Tamada and Luca Scassa. Tamada has been signed by the Pro Ride Honda team run by Marco Nicotari, at least according to reportsy by the Italian website BikeRacing.it. Scassa, meanwhile, is to be part of a new Ducati effort going by the name of Team Supersonic, according to GPOne.com.
There's an old saying in the world of computers and the internet: "Information just wants to be free." We had one demonstration of that aphorism just before Christmas, when Nicky Hayden posted that now famous picture of Ducati's GP10 on his website, without clearing it by the factory's (usually very helpful) PR bosses. This week, an alert reader of the Italian websites BikeRacing.it and Motoblog.it pointed out that the World Superbike website's timing had a small hole in it, which meant that the provisional entry lists for the 2010 season are visible on the site before they have been officially announced by the World Superbike website. The breach is trivial, after all this same information is available to anyone with a list of press releases and plenty of time on their hands, but the leak panders very nicely to those of us who suffer with Larry Wall's Three Virtues Of Programming, Laziness, Impatience and Hubris.
The leaked entry lists reveal nothing new, other than that both World Superbike and World Supersport fields have thinned considerably from last year. Prior to the 2009 season, World Superbikes had 32 entries, though several of those teams and riders had fallen by the wayside by the time the series reached its climax at Portimao, as the global economic crisis took its toll. In 2010, the series has 23 entries, but perhaps the most surprising thing about the entry list is the fact that 14 of those 23 entries are factory-backed (though Ten Kate continues to deny it is a factory effort, perhaps justifiably). Another two or three riders could be added to that list, and and one or two could still disappear during the course of the season, so the final number is not yet fixed.
Though the gift-giving season may be past, the motorcycle racing season is still a long way off. To help ease the wait, and to aid you in planning your life around the MotoGP and World Superbike racing series, as befits a true race fan, you can still get your hands on one of our beautiful 2010 Motorcycle Racing Calendars. With January one quarter gone, you will have missed eight days of looking at Scott Jones' beautiful action shot of Colin Edwards, but February's stunning shot of Valentino Rossi, brakes lit up at Qatar, should more than compensate you for that, along with 10 other fantastic photos and a double-page spread of the 2009 World Champion Rossi.
It appears that Roger Lee Hayden, younger brother of former MotoGP world Champion Nicky, has signed with Team Pedercini to contest the 2010 WSBK Championship. Hayden, the 2007 AMA 600 Supersport champion, had been rendered jobless recently when Kawasaki announced that they would not support a team in American roadracing. Although Hayden has been one of the best 600 class racers in the US throughout his career, coming to terms with the big bikes has been a struggle for him. In his three years on the Factory Kawasaki Superbike, two were shortened by serious crash related injuries, although, to be fair, the 2008 crash at Barber Motorsports Park that resulted in an amputated finger was not Hayden's fault.
After yesterday's instalment of Scott Jones' fantastic images from Qatar, today we have more, from the heart of Utah's stunning landscapes. The World Superbike paddock went to Miller Motorsports Park, and Scott Jones captured it all on film. With such a breathtaking backdrop, Scott is at his best. Savor round 7 of the World Superbike series all over again, and remember that you can help out by supporting MotoMatters.com in 2010.
2009's Nearly Man: Nitro Nori, and Mr March in the MotoMatters.com 2010 Racing Calendar
If you wanted a MotoMatters.com 2010 Motorcycle Racing Calendar for Christmas, you're too late, unless you can persuade Santa to take a detour via California or The Netherlands. But that doesn't mean you still can't get one. Though the calendars are selling fast, and the boxes are emptying rapidly, there's still time to get a racing calendar in time for January 1st, and maximize your enjoyment of Scott Jones' beautiful photos. Colin Edwards fans, in particular, should be quick, as January features a stunning shot of Edwards at the Sachsenring.
At the last round of MotoGP at Valencia this year, Ducati announced a double-whammy of team manager losses: MotoGP team boss and sponsorship generator Livio Suppo announced he would be moving on to Honda for the 2010 season as their Racing Marketing Manager, while at the same time, WSBK boss Davide Tardozzi told the world that he would be leaving the World Superbike squad in search of a new challenge.
That challenge has been found in Germany, according to the leading Italian magazine Motosprint. Though the contracts still remain to be signed, Tardozzi is said to be joining BMW to manage their ambitious World Superbike project. The move will see Tardozzi reunited with two former pupils of his, the Italian having already has both Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus under his wing in previous years at Ducati. Tardozzi will not be the only reinforcement that BMW is bringing in from Ducati, though, as Michel Fabrizio's track engineer Max Bertolini will also be joining the Bavarian team. The loss of Bertolini will be a blow for for Xerox Ducati rider Michel Fabrizio, to whom Bertolini was much more than just an engineer.