Nineteen laps of World Supersport racing under a cooler 26º sun.
Misano, or Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli to give it its full name, was missed off last year's calendar, but its inclusion in the 2024 season was a welcome one. The first four qualifying sessions in World Superbike were led by an Italian on an Italian bike, with Davide Giugliano and Marco Melandri sharing the spoils, giving local fans plenty to cheer about.
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after qualifying at Misano:
Qualifying was, like the Superbikes, done under a 30º sun.
Raffaele De Rosa and Kenan Sofuoglu traded places at the top spot all morning, but as the session wound down De Rosa claimed the best time ahead of Kenan Sofuoglu and Film Wilairot. Michael van der Mark took fourth place on the third Honda in the top four.
Press Releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the first day of practice at Misano:
Jules Cluzel beat the Hondas of Michael van der Mark and Film Wilairot with Kenan Sofuoglu fourth quickest.
Michael van der Mark headed off Kenan Sofuoglu and Jules Cluzel to record the quickest time of the opening session.
Press releases from the series organizers, and the World Superbike and World Supersport teams ahead of this weekend's WSBK round at Misano:
At the Barcelona round of MotoGP – or to give it its full title, the 'Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya' – title sponsors Monster Energy are to unveil a new flavor of their product, called 'The Doctor', marketed around Valentino Rossi. This is not a particularly unusual event at a MotoGP weekend. Almost every race there is a presentation for one product or another, linking in with a team, or a race, or a factory. If anything, the presentation of the Monster Energy drink is even more typical than most, featuring motorcycle racing's marketing dynamite Valentino Rossi promoting an energy drink, the financial backbone of the sport.
It is also a sign of the deep trouble in which motorcycle racing finds itself. Energy drinks are slowly taking over the role which tobacco once played, funding teams, riders and races, and acting as the foundation on which much of the sport is built. Red Bull funds three MotoGP rounds, a Moto3 team and backs a handful of riders in MotoGP and World Superbikes. Monster Energy sponsors two MotoGP rounds, is the title sponsor of the Tech 3 MotoGP squad, a major backer of the factory Yamaha squad and has a squadron of other riders which it supports in both MotoGP and World Superbike paddocks. Then there's the armada of other brands: Gresini's Go & Fun (a peculiar name if ever there was one), Drive M7 backing Aspar, Rockstar backing Spanish riders, Relentless, Burn, and far too many more to mention.
Why is the massive interest in backing motorcycle racing a bad thing? Because energy drinks, like the tobacco sponsors they replace, are facing a relentless onslaught to reduce the sale and marketing of the products. A long-standing ban of the sale of Red Bull – though strangely, only Red Bull – was struck down in France in 2008. Sale of energy drinks to under-18s has been banned in Lithuania. Some states and cities in the US are considering age bans on energy drink consumption. And perhaps more significantly, the American Medical Association has been pushing for a ban on marketing energy drinks to minors, a call which resulted in leaders in the industry being called to testify in front of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee of the US Senate.
With Ben Spies already retired, Colin Edwards about to retire at the end of the 2014 season, Nicky Hayden struggling with a wrist injury and Josh Herrin having a very tough rookie year in Moto2, there is growing concern among US fans about the future of American racing. What is to become of the nation that once dominated world championship racing, with existing stars in decline and no fresh blood ready to replace them?
Perhaps the brightest point in the firmament for American racing is PJ Jacobsen, currently racing in the World Supersport championship for the Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpress team. The native of Montgomery, New York has been quietly building a reputation as a fast and promising young racer, stringing together a series of top ten results in the competitive WSS series in his debut year, and coming very close to scoring his first podium. Jacobsen's World Supersport debut comes after an impressive first year racing in the British BSB championship with Tyco Suzuki, which earned him a move to the world stage.
We caught up with Jacobsen a few weeks ago at Assen, ahead of the third round of the World Supersport championship. There, we spoke to him about the state of American racing, the difficulties faced by American riders trying to break into a world championship, and the path he took to the world stage. Jacobsen covers BSB, living in Northern Ireland and how his background in dirt track helped in road racing. PJ tells us about how BSB is a viable route into a world championship, and just what it takes to make the move. It was a fascinating perspective from an extremely talented young racer.
MotoMatters.com: First, a little background on you. You started your career racing with Barry Gilsenan in the AMA with Celtic Racing?
PJ Jacobsen: I've been racing for [Barry Gilsenan] since I was twelve, he was the first person that got me on a bike.
MM: He got you onto a bike, he got you racing, what was your path to World Supersport?
PJ: I was racing 125s in the USGPRU series in the US. He got me involved in that, and I won a title with him in the States. Then I came to Europe to race in the Spanish championship, and was in the MotoGP Academy. Then I went back to the US and rode for them in the AMA on a Suzuki 600. I rode for them for three years in the States. I rode in the Daytona Sportbike class, that's when everything was kinda turning around there.
The Sepang World Superbike races brought teammates to the fore today. All of the top teams have two-riders that need to get along and compete at the same time. Under the tropical sun, some of the partnerships may have changed beyond repair.
Press releases from the organizers and from the teams after Sunday's World Superbike and World Supersport races at Sepang:
The World Supersport race was fourteen long laps of close racing in 32°C sunshine with a track temperature of 48°C.