So at last it's official. "This will be my last year in MotoGP. I will be moving to World Superbikes next year with Honda and the Ten Kate team," Nicky Hayden told the press conference at Motegi. The move had been long expected, as Hayden's options of a competitive ride had petered out. "These last two years haven't been so good, I haven't been able to get the results on an Open Honda to really keep a high level bike in MotoGP," he acknowledged.
That had prompted his decision to finally move to World Superbikes. "I've always thought World Superbikes might be something I'd like to try, I've always liked the racing there," Hayden said. "The opportunity just felt like it would be a good fit. Obviously I'm getting a bit older, but I still enjoy the sport and the game, and thought it would be a fresh challenge and a new opportunity, to go there and try to have a bit more fun. Of course I'll miss MotoGP. I had a great opportunity here. Was part of some great teams and worked with some great people. But nothing lasts forever, and that's life. Have to keep moving. Go to Superbike with Honda and hopefully have some fun."
Hayden is to stay within the Honda family, and join the Ten Kate squad in World Superbikes. He will be with the team for two years, the first year on the aging Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade, the second on a rumored updated version of the bike. According to the Dutch magazine MOTO73, that bike will be based on the current SP version, but with an improved engine with an extra 10 to 15 horsepower. Given the results with the underpowered existing bike, 15 more horsepower should transform the Fireblade into a much more competitive package. Rumors also about of a new bike to replace the Fireblade based on Honda's V4 powerplant. But given that such rumors have been doing the rounds since the turn of the century, they should perhaps be regarded with a pinch of salt.
Honda was not Hayden's only option. While we had always expected the move to World Superbikes, Hayden had long been linked with Aprilia, the idea of being on a competitive bike an appealing prospect for both Hayden and Dorna, who are keen to have a fast American in the series to help boost its international profile. But a future at Aprilia was uncertain, the factory having recently announced they would not be fielding a factory team in WSBK, as the MotoGP project was using up more resources than they had planned. After a long courtship, Hayden rejected the deal and decided to stay with Honda instead, continuing his relationship with the manufacturer which has existed for most of his career, interrupted by a five-year stint at Ducati.
Ducati was his first option to head to World Superbikes. After it was announced that Cal Crutchlow would be taking his place in the Factory Ducati team in MotoGP, Hayden was given the offer of a factory ride with the Italian manufacturer in World Superbikes. Hayden rejected that move at the time, as he was in talks with Aspar, who were due to run Open class Aprilias with factory backing for 2014. When that deal fell through, in part with as a result of the departure of Gigi Dall'Igna to Ducati, Hayden found himself on board the Honda RCV1000R. Despite being teased by Honda as being just a few tenths of a second off the pace of the factory bike, the Open class Honda proved to be woefully underpowered. The uprated version for 2015 has been only a little better, having plenty of horsepower, but lacking the factory electronics and seamless gearbox to put that power on the tarmac.
Hayden will get his first taste of the WSBK Honda at a test in November. He faces plenty of challenges: he must adapt to the much softer Pirelli tires used in WSBK, and to a heavier, much softer bike. Hayden still has issues with the wrist he damaged in 2011, though the surgery to remove the row of bones in his right hand has made a huge difference there. The combination of less stiff Pirellis and a more pliant chassis may make it a little easier on his right wrist for the next few years.
Hayden's departure from MotoGP leaves the series without an American rider for the first time in 40 years. He leaves big boots to fill, as Hayden has always had a huge following, and more significantly, he is the last American rider to win a MotoGP title. The MotoAmerica series is still in the early stages of rebuilding after years of decline in the hands of DMG, but there are hopeful signs that it can produce new talent. Cameron Beaubier, Joe Roberts, Jake Gagne, JD Beach and Hayden Gillim have all been touted as future world championship contenders, but none of them have yet made the jump across the ocean. Ironically, the US' best chance of a championship could come in the shape of the man likely to be Hayden's teammate at Ten Kate. PJ Jacobsen is reported to be close to a deal with Ten Kate for 2016 to race in the World Supersport championship. The American will finish as runner up to champion Kenan Sofuoglu this year, and along with Jules Cluzel, was the only rider to take the fight to the Turkish multiple champion. With increased support from Honda next season - either as part of Ten Kate, or with Ten Kate backing inside the CORE Motorsports team - Jacobsen has a good shot at a title.
The challenge for Hayden is greater, especially given that the 2016 Honda CBR1000RR will still be lacking performance. But his goal will remain the same, to become the first rider to win both a MotoGP title and a World Superbike title. Max Biaggi and John Kocinski both won WSBK titles after becoming champions on a 250, but nobody has won titles in the premier classes of both series.
Tito Rabat has suffered a fracture of the radius of his left arm. The reigning Moto2 champion crashed while training at Almeria in preparation for the Pacific triple header, falling and injuring his arm. He immediately underwent surgery to have a plate fitted to his arm, and is to fly to Japan where he intends to try to race.
The cause of the crash is not clear. Rabat blamed the crash on a technical problem, causing him to fall at the chicane, but due to his injury, he has not been able to take a look at the bike to determine what caused the problem. This is Rabat's second training-related injury this season, having also broken his collarbone earlier in the year after a crash at Almeria.
Rabat's decision to race is forced by his desire to defend his title. Johann Zarco leads Rabat by 78 points, so if Rabat wants to keep his title hopes alive, he has to score 4 points more than Zarco at Motegi. Even then, Rabat will need the Frenchman to score a number of DNFs. But riders are not willing to give up on a title until the mathematics says it is impossible.
Below is the press release from the Marc VDS Racing Estrella Galicia team:
Rabat ready to race in Japan despite training injury
Gosselies, Belgium – 6 October 2015: Tito Rabat heads to Motegi determined to race in the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend, despite fracturing the radius in his left arm in a training crash at Almeria on Monday.
Rabat sustained the injury after a technical failure caused him to crash heavily at the Almeria chicane. The reigning World Champion was initially treated at the track by circuit medical staff, before being transported to the Clinica Mediterráneo in Almeria.
Doctors at the hospital operated to stabilise the fracture with a metal plate, after consulting with Doctor Ángel Charte in Barcelona. The surgery was a success and Rabat now heads to Japan determined to race this weekend, although his participation will only be confirmed once he’s undergone a medical examination on arrival in Motegi.
“The bike cut out in the chicane and I went down quite hard. I’m not sure yet what caused the crash, as I haven’t had a chance to check the bike over. Once again the marshals and medical staff at Almeria did a fantastic job of taking care of me. They immobilised my left arm at the track and I was in hospital less than an hour after the crash. The doctors in Almeria spoke to my doctors in Barcelona and we decided that surgery to stabilise the fracture was the best option. The surgery last night was a success and this morning I am more confident than ever that I will be able to race this weekend in Japan with few issues.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“With three races in as many weekends ahead of us, Tito’s injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. The fracture may only be minor, but he will have no time to recover fully until we return to Europe at the end of this month. It will be a tough three weeks for him but, as he showed in Sachsenring earlier in the season, he’s no stranger to riding injured and it doesn’t impact massively on his performance. What is clear is that we need to review Tito’s training methods. It’s important for a rider to train, but we need to minimise risk as much as possible in future.”
Jorge Lorenzo has sprained his left shoulder in a training accident. The four-time world champion was training on a minibike with some other riders, when he fell heavily on his left shoulder. The pain was severe enough for him to travel to a medical center in Barcelona, where he was diagnosed with grade 1 sprain of his left shoulder. Grade 1 sprains are the lowest level injury, a mild sprain. Sources speaking to both Motocuatro and GPOne.com classified the injury as "not serious, nothing to worry about."
Lorenzo is already underway to Japan, and intends to race at Motegi, the first of three back-to-back flyaway races. How much the injury will hamper him remains to be seen, but given the mild nature of the injury, it should not trouble him too much. Motegi does have a lot of heavy braking, but it is mostly for right-hand corners. From there, the circus heads to Phillip Island, which is a left-hand circuit, but which does not feature much heavy braking. Then to Sepang, which is a mixture of braking for both left and right handers.
It is worth noting that Andrea Iannone suffered a much more serious injury the week before the Aragon round of MotoGP. The factory Ducati rider dislocated his already weak shoulder, and had to have the joint put back into place in a local hospital. Iannone went on to finish a highly commendable fourth, much where you would have expected him to finish without the injury.
This is also not the first time that Lorenzo has suffered a shoulder injury and gone on to race. The 2013 race at Assen is one of the Movistar Yamaha rider's most memorable races, Lorenzo having broken his collarbone in a big and very fast highside during FP2 on Thursday. That night, he was flown to Barcelona for surgery to plate the collarbone, returning the following evening. After a medical inspection on Saturday morning, Lorenzo went on to finish a brave race in fifth position, after starting from twelfth on the grid.
Jorge Lorenzo is the second rider to injure himself ahead of Motegi. Last week, Marc Marquez fell while riding his mountain bike, and broke a metacarpal bone in his left hand.
The first piece of the Marc VDS / Estrella Galicia puzzle has officially been put in place. Today, the team announced that Tito Rabat will be moving up to race for the team in MotoGP for 2016. Rabat will take the place of the departing Scott Redding, riding a factory-backed Honda RC213V. Rabat got his first spin out on the bike on Monday after Aragon, ostensibly as a reward for winning a title, but the suspicion was always that the team had done this to allow Rabat to get at least a feel for the bike ahead of next year.
That this was the only announcement from the team is something of a surprise. The original plan, MotoMatters.com understands, was to announce the entire line up all in one go. This was intended to make life easier for the team and its many sponsors, allowing them to coordinate their announcements. However, when asked about progress on this, team sources made it clear that the intention was still there, but that getting all of the deals done, contracts signed and sponsors ready was a little like herding cats.
More news is likely to emerge from the Marc VDS team in the next week or so, including announcements of Jack Miller to race alongside Rabat, on similar material, the arrival of Franco Morbidelli in Moto2, and Enea Bastianini partnering Jorge Navarro in Moto3.
Below is the press release from Marc VDS on Rabat's deal:
Tito Rabat to move up to MotoGP with Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS
Gosselies, Belgium – 1 October 2015: Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS are pleased to announce that they have reached an agreement with Tito Rabat that will see the reigning Moto2 World Champion contest the 2016 MotoGP World Championship aboard the team’s factory Honda RC213V.
Promotion to the premier class is a fitting reward for the 26-year-old Spaniard, who brought Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS their first World Championship title after a recording breaking 2014 season. Rabat dominated in Moto2 that year, scoring more points than any other rider in the 67-year history of the intermediate class and taking seven wins and 14 podium finishes on his way to the world title.
It is this record, and his commitment to the Estrella Galicia 0,0 backed development project in which the team play a major part, that made Rabat the obvious choice to succeed Scott Redding as the team’s MotoGP rider for the 2016 season.
Rabat is looking forward to the new challenge, having tested the team’s factory Honda RC213V at Motorland Aragon after the Grand Prix at the same circuit. The Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider completed 60 laps and was immediately impressed by both the power and potential of Honda’s MotoGP machine.
Testing for the 2016 MotoGP World Championship will start in earnest immediately after the Grand Prix of Valencia, but Rabat’s focus now is on the last four races of this season and the fight to keep his championship hopes alive after winning last time out in Aragon.
“The objective of my life was to, first of all, arrive to MotoGP and then to make results in the premier class. This is the first step and for that I would like to thank Marc van der Straten, the team and Estrella Galicia for this chance and their confidence in me. I know stepping up to MotoGP on the factory Honda RC213V isn’t going to be easy, but I have all the winter to prepare, to make sure I’m strong and ready for preseason testing. It’s going to be a steep learning curve, but the goal will be to improve step by step so that we’re ready for the first race in Qatar.”
“The test at Aragon aboard the factory Honda RC213V was an incredible experience. The first time you ride this bike you just aren’t prepared for it. There is so much speed, so hard acceleration and the corners arrive far too early! To be honest, it was the best experience you can have on a bike. Once I’d adapted to the speed, the power and the carbon brakes I was able to understand a little more how the bike works and go a little faster. I would like to have ridden for longer but, unfortunately, they wanted to close the track!”
Marc van der Straten:
“I am happy to see Tito step up to race our MotoGP bike next season. His approach to racing, his work ethic and his determination to succeed are the same attributes on which our team was built. It is fitting that we should have a rider such as Tito in the premier class to act as the perfect role model for the younger riders making their way through our development program. To race at the very top level is never easy, but Tito has shown that he has the ability to adapt rapidly and his commitment to this project is absolute. I am confident he will do us proud next season.”
Marc Marquez has broken his left hand for the second time this season. While out training on a mountain bike, the reigning MotoGP champion fell, and fractured the fifth metacarpal of his left hand. He underwent surgery on Wednesday morning at the Dexeus Institut in Barcelona to fix the bone. Dr Mir inserted a titanium plate to stabilize the bone.
Marquez will start physical rehabilitation immediately, and intends to fly to Japan and contest the three flyaway rounds of MotoGP, at Motegi, Phillip Island and Sepang.
This is the second time he has injured his left hand this year. Before the Jerez race, Marquez crashed while riding dirt track, and fractured a phalange bone in his left pinky finger. This injury is to the same finger structure, the fifth metacarpal being the bone in the hand which the pinky finger is connected to.
Below is the press release from HRC on Marquez' injury:
Marc Marquez undergoes successful operation on left hand fracture after mountain bike crash
Reigning MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez was operated on this morning at the Universitario Dexeus Hospital in Barcelona, to treat a fracture to the fifth metacarpal of his left hand. The Repsol Honda rider suffered the fracture on Tuesday whilst mountain bike training on the outskirts of Cervera. The operation was carried out by Dr. Xavier Mir, Head of the Hand and Upper Extremities department of the Universitario Dexeus Hospital, who declared the operation a success. If post-operation recovery goes as expected, Marc should be fine to ride in the Japanese Grand Prix, which takes place in ten days’ time at Motegi.
After the surgery, Dr. Mir stated: “We have operated on Marc Marquez to treat a torsion fracture of the fifth metacarpal of his left hand. The surgery consisted of a reduction and internal fixation of the bone, through screws for compression and a neutralising titanium plate with six holes. After the insertion, the soft tissue has been closed up and we have placed a protective bandage around the finger, supporting it with the adjacent finger. Marc will remain in hospital for 24 hours, and in 48 hours will begin functional rehabilitation.”
The day after an intense race at the Motorland Aragon circuit, MotoGP held its first full Michelin tire test since Sepang this year. The track was open to any teams wishing to give the Michelin tires a spin, or work on the setting of their bikes. Fourteen riders elected to make use of the opportunity, including both Repsol Honda riders, the Tech 3 Yamaha duo, both LCR Honda riders and the Aprilia men, along with Scott Redding, Aleix Espargaro, Danilo Petrucci and Valentino Rossi.
Michelin had brought three rear tires and four front tires to Aragon, keen to get some data from the circuit, as they have not had much testing at the track, and very little in the dry. That they needed the data became clear in the morning, as cold temperatures caught a number of riders out, including Bradley Smith, with several crashes happening. Those problems disappeared in the afternoon when the temperatures rose.
But not entirely. Valentino Rossi managed to crash in the afternoon, falling at Turn 2 and suffering some minor abrasions and bruising to his right arm. The cause of the crash, Nicolas Goubert told Speedweek, was because Rossi had slowed down a lap earlier and then pushed hard to test the bike. Turn 2 saw a lot of fallers during the weekend, as it is the first right hander after a long straight and a couple of left corners. The right side of the tire tends to cool rapidly in the wind which blows across the exposed Aragon circuit, causing problems when the bikes are tipped in to Turn 2, and precisely this appears to have happened to Valentino Rossi.
The crash, along with others, suggests there are still several problems with the Michelin tires which need ironing out. The front, Goubert acknowledged, still needs some improvement, and the French tire maker is working on a range of compounds to solve the issues. Testing during the current season, with bikes set up mainly for Bridgeston es, is still a tricky affair, as the character of the two tire brands is so radically different. The Bridgestone front is incredibly strong and very planted, and can be trusted implicitly into corners, while the rear does not excel in producing grip and drive. Michelins are precisely the opposite, the rear being outstanding, while the front does not have the grip of the Bridgestone. MotoGP bikes are set up with a rearward weight bias for the Bridgestones, the front not needing any help to gain grip. The opposite is needed for the Michelins, the front needing all the help it can get, while the rear grips and drives easily. The real testing of the Michelins will start at Valencia, on the Tuesday after the race. From then, the teams will be focused entirely on the Michelins, and will start work on setting the bike up around the new tire brand.
Because of the pre-existing agreement between Michelin, Bridgestone and Dorna, no times were released from the test, though Nicolas Goubert told Speedweek that the times were comparable to the best times set during the race weekend. Whether the tires can maintain the same level of performance throughout the race remains to be seen.
Along with the new tires, there were also a few new bikes on display. Repsol Honda had brought a version of their 2016 RC213V to the test, which got a few laps round the track. But there was no extensive testing, as tires and electronics will change for next season. The spec electronics have been tested on the dyno, and are due to make their debut on the track in the coming month, when test riders will try them for the first time. How the spec electronics will affect the bikes, and perhaps more importantly, the tires, is still an unknown. Valencia will prove a wealth of information in that respect.
Danny Kent has finally made a decision on where he will be racing next year. Today, the Leopard Racing team announced that Kent is to remain with the team for 2016, and move up to Moto2. There, he will partner Miguel Oliveira aboard Kalex Moto2 machines.
Kent's decision had been a long time coming. Ducati had tried to tempt the Englishman to go straight to MotoGP, Kent already having spent a year in Moto2. Kent had first been linked with Pramac, but had lost that ride when it was taken by Scott Redding. Aspar had made a late play for Kent's signature, but on Saturday morning, Kent decided his best option was to stay with his current team and go back to Moto2.
Below is the press release from the Leopard Racing team:
LEOPARD RACING AND DANNY KENT TOGETHER IN MOTO2 IN 2016
Leopard Racing proudly announces to continue their collaboration with Danny Kent, though the Englishman will step up to Moto2 category from next season onwards.
After the announcement that Miguel Oliveira will take part in Leopard Racing’s Moto2 efforts next year, it is confirmed that Danny Kent will ride alongside the Portuguese rider in the team’s completely new challenge for the upcoming season. An equivalent agreement finally was reached at the Gran Premio de Aragón this weekend.
Kent has proven his potential as he leads this year’s Moto3 series thanks to six race wins thus far in comfortable style so the 21-year from Chippenham in the UK will make his step up to the Moto2 class, which is a comeback for him as he already raced in this highly competitive category back in 2013.
#52 Danny KENT:
“I’m really happy to sign for Leopard Racing in 2016 for Moto2. We experience a great season this year so I’m really excited to start our challenge in the intermediate category. A massive thank you to all people in the team for believing in me and I’m pretty sure that we also can have a great season in 2016 together.”
Miodrag KOTUR (Leopard Racing):
"We are happy too to continue our collaboration with Danny who has shown not only his potential as a rider but also his loyalty for Leopard Racing for many times. We are also pleased to be able to offer him a great opportunity in Moto2. For now we look forward to start our new project with two very talented rider soon after this season is concluded. Our riders line up is complete both in Moto3 and Moto2 for next year. But first we must stay focused on our current exciting 2015 campaign.”
This weekend sees a spate of rider announcements in the Moto2 and Moto3 classes, and the news that Fabio Quartararo has signed for the Leopard Racing team for 2016 is one of the most important. The announcement had been widely expected, after the first news that Quartararo had decided to leave the Estrella Galicia Marc VDS team emerged at Indianapolis. Quartararo had expressed a desire to work with Christian Lundberg again, the engineer he worked with in the CEV championship.
Quartararo will line up alongside Joan Mir, who moves up from the CEV for 2016, with a third rider also expected to be announced soon. That, according to GPOne.com, will be Andrea Locatelli, though that is yet to be confirmed. Leopard Racing will also be moving up to Moto2, with an announcement expected this weekend of who will join Miguel Oliveira as their second rider. It seems almost certain that Danny Kent will remain with the squad which has seen him lead the championship, though Kent has remained firmly silent on the matter.
The press release appears below:
LEOPARD RACING SIGNS FABIO QUARTARARO FOR THEIR 2016 MOTO3 CAMPAIGN
Leopard Racing is proud to announce a two-year contract with rising-star Fabio Quartararo to ride the team’s Moto3 machine in 2016.
With just two weeks after the announcement that Leopard Racing will extend their efforts in World motorcycle racing with an entry in the intermediate class in 2016, the team is set to complete their Moto3 riders line up. Leopard Racing is extremely pleased to secure promising youngster Fabio Quartararo for the upcoming seasons. An equivalent agreement was reached at the Gran Premio de Aragón this weekend.
At 16, Fabio Quartararo has already become amongst the big names in this year’s FIM Moto3™ World Championship, his rookie season on world stage, as he made the step from CEV Spanish Championship as a two-time champion in the past two years. Quartararo won these titles in Spain in such a dominant way so that the young Frenchman will make his way up to the premier class in motorcycle racing sure. Due to an ankle-injury sustained last time out in Misano, the Nice born rider has to sit out this weekend’s round 14 of the season at the MotorLand Aragón circuit.
#20 Fabio QUARTARARO:
“I am very proud to join Leopard Racing from 2016. Indeed, I am really excited to work again with Christian Lundberg, the engineer with who I won my first FIM CEV Title in 2013. For the next two years, my career will be linked with this young structure, based on a solid project for the future. It perfectly matches with my goals. I would like to give a huge “thanks” to all people who have supported me till now and also to Leopard Racing for trusting in me. I will keep giving my best at every turn, lap and race to honour the trust they have bestowed on me. I hope guys, you will enjoy it too.”
Miodrag KOTUR (Leopard Racing):
“It is an honor for our still young project to reach an agreement with such a young talented rider as Fabio Quartararo. He is an exceptional talent and a real fighter on the race track.At only 16, he already underlined his determined approach to this sport and for many times his huge potential. Therefore, we are pleased to welcome him in our Moto3 line up for 2016. We are pretty sure that Leopard Racing will fight at the fierce end of the highly competitive lower Grand Prix category thanks to his natural born speedy talent from the very first beginning as soon the 2016 season gets underway.”
As had been long predicted, Yamaha is to return to the World Superbike championship in 2016 to race the YZF-R1. Yamaha Motor Europe is to throw its weight behind the Crescent team run by Paul Denning, and will field 2014 WSBK champion Sylvain Guintoli and Crescent's current rider Alex Lowes.
Great things are expected of the new R1. Once the teams got it dialed in, the bike has performed exceptionally well in its debut year in the BSB and MotoAmerica championships, as well as in World Endurance. Bradley Smith, Pol Espargaro and Katsuyuki Nakasuga took the bike to victory in the Suzuka 8 Hours race as well.
The Yamaha set up will be very similar to that of the highly successful Kawasaki team, where Crescent receive factory backing from Yamaha, while running the team independently.
Crescent's switch to Yamaha leaves no team to run Suzukis in World Superbikes in 2016. The GSX-R1000 had been severely lacking in performance in the last couple of years, especially after the rule changes for 2014 and 2015. Not having Suzukis running in WSBK may hamper the efforts of the Japanese factory when they launch their brand new Gixxer in the middle of next year. Unfortunately, due to WSBK homologation rules and Suzuki's supply chain, the bikes will not be able to compete from the start of the season, so anyone wanting to take on the task of racing Suzukis would have to wait until half season before they could even think about racing the new bike, and would spend the rest of the season developing it.
One side effect of Guintoli signing for Yamaha is that it leaves a seat open alongside Michael van der Mark in the Pata Honda squad. That seat will now be hotly contested, especially as Aprilia have also announced they will not be fielding a factory team. That could be an interesting prospect for Nicky Hayden, who looks to be out of MotoGP next year. American Honda would be keen to see Hayden remain with the brand, and Dorna are keen to have an American racing in World Superbikes. Though 2016 will be a tough year on the CBR1000RR, with a new bike due for 2017, that would open an interesting perspective.
Below is the press release from Yamaha announcing their return to WSBK:
Yamaha Returns to World Superbike
Yamaha Motor Europe will make its official return to the World Superbike Championship in 2016 in collaboration with highly experienced partner Crescent Racing and title sponsors PATA. The team will place the new YZF-R1 in the talented hands of 2014 World Superbike Champion Sylvain Guintoli and 2013 British Superbike Champion Alex Lowes.
PATA has a proven track record and passion for motorsport with a high profile presence in World Superbike, making them a perfect complement to the partnership of Yamaha and Crescent Racing in 2016.
Frenchman Guintoli has over 15 years experience in racing, with 45 podiums, 10 race wins and, of course, the 2014 world title to his credit - in classes spanning 250cc, MotoGP, British Superbike and World Superbike. While young British rider Lowes took 20 podiums, 8 wins and 6 pole positions on his way to his 2013 British Superbike title. He has also competed with Crescent for the last two seasons so is no stranger to the team or the WSBK series.
Returning to the World Superbike stage for the first time since 2011, Yamaha Motor Europe's strategy is clear - to make full use of the all-new YZF-R1 to challenge for victory in the premier production Superbike series. Yamaha's impressive history in the Championship, combined with the stunning base specification of the YZF-R1, offers an unrivalled opportunity to campaign for victory honours.
2009 saw Yamaha take their first World Superbike Championship title, breaking multiple records throughout the season with American rider Ben Spies on board. Iconic riders such as Noriyuki Haga, Troy Corser, James Toseland, Marco Melandri and Cal Crutchlow, among others, have all taken their turns delivering countless victories on the YZF-R1 throughout Yamaha's Superbike career.
Crescent will partner Yamaha as their fully-supported Official WSBK Team from 2016. Crescent is the World Superbike Championship's only UK-based team and has a 20-year racing history at both national and global level that features victories in the British Superbike Championship, World Superbike and MotoGP.
Yamaha Motor Europe will retain responsibility over racing strategy and technical development, as well as the rider agreements with Crescent's hugely experienced, dedicated, technical and engineering racing personnel running the team's operation at each of the Championship rounds.
The all-new Yamaha YZF-R1 arrived as a game changer in 2015, re-writing the rulebook for the Supersport market as the next generation of racing machine. As the 2015 racing season draws to a close it can already claim numerous victories - including the inaugural Road America AMA Championship and the legendary Suzuka 8Hr Endurance race in the hands of MotoGP stars Pol Espargaro, Bradley Smith and five-time All Japan Superbike Champion Katsuyuki Nakasuga. In the UK the R1 is in contention for the British Superbike Championship title, while across Europe the story continues with both the Polish Superbike Championship and the French Superstock Championship secured. Yamaha also currently leads the Spanish FIM CEV Repsol International Championship and last weekend claimed second overall in the FIM Endurance World Championship in the hands of France's GMT94 Yamaha team.
"This is a very exciting moment for us as we eagerly wait to return to the top level of Superbike competition next year after an absence of four years," commented Yamaha Motor Europe Chief Operating Officer, Eric De Seynes.
"Having re-written the Supersport rule book and changed the game with the new YZF-R1, directly developed from Yamaha MotoGP technology, it was clear we would need to return to the World Superbike Championship to show the full potential of our new Superbike machine. We took one year to grow experience with the new R1 in many other championships where the bike has shown its potential already, with the amazing 8H of Suzuka victory and the very positive results that our official Teams are gathering all around Europe. Now we are ready to be back on the world stage and I am happy we have found in Crescent the same values of professionalism, engineering detail and passion for victory we share."
The Gresini Aprilia Racing team have finally confirmed what we have all known for some time. Stefan Bradl is to remain with the factory Aprilia team for 2016 alongside Alvaro Bautista, while Sam Lowes is to join Aprilia on a three-year deal, the first of which will be spent trying to win the Moto2 championship on a Kalex.
The signing of Bradl comes as no surprise. The German has done exceptionally well on the RS-GP since joining Aprilia at Indianapolis after the collapse of Forward Racing. At 25, and with experience on both the Honda RC213V and the Open class Yamaha, he provides an excellent basis for the ongoing development of Aprilia's new prototype MotoGP bike set to see its first outing on the track at Sepang next year. Bradl is in a prime position to be the rider Aprilia puts its faith in for the future.
Lowes, meanwhile, will spend another year in Moto2, trying to win the world championship. Lowes has excelled on the Speed Up, far outperforming any other rider on the chassis, having made good progression in his second year in the class. Lowes has the opportunity to become the first rider in history to win a championship in both Grand Prix and World Superbike racing, having already wrapped up the World Supersport title in 2013.
After 2016, Lowes will then move up to the factory Aprilia squad - run by Gresini - in MotoGP for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. In preparation for that, Lowes will have a series of tests on the Aprilia RS-GP MotoGP bike through the 2016 season. Lowes will get to ride the Aprilia on ten occasions in 2016 at a test.
The signing of Lowes means that Xavier Simeon is without a ride for 2016, but as a Moto2 race winner this season, Simeon should be able to find a suitable replacement. For 2017, with Lowes moving to MotoGP, the Englishman is likely to replace Alvaro Bautista, Aprilia more interested in having two younger riders on the new project than Bautista, who by that time will be 32 years old.
The press releases from Aprilia and Gresini announcing the deals appear below:
STEFAN BRADL AND ALVARO BAUTISTA WITH APRILIA IN MOTOGP FOR 2016
Noale, 22 September 2015 - After an encouraging début this season where he familiarised himself quickly with the RS-GP, Stefan Bradl will be on the track with Aprilia in 2016 as well.
Alongside Alvaro Bautista, the twenty-five year old German rider - Moto2 world champion in 2011 - will ride the Aprilia prototype which will be raced next season with the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini.
Born in the Bavarian city of Augsburg on 29 November 1989, Stefan Bradl made his début in the 125cc class of Grand Prix Motorcycle Racing in 2005. In 2008 he took two wins and finished the season fourth in the overall standings. In 2010 he moved to Moto2, a category where he was crowned World Champion in 2011 thanks to four wins. His rookie year in MotoGP came in 2012 astride a Honda, a bike which he would race for two more seasons, with a second place finish as his best result in the 2013 United States Grand Prix.
Next season Sam Lowes will also be participating in development of the Aprilia MotoGP prototype as a tester. With Lowes - who will be participating in the 2016 Moto2 championship with Team Gresini - working with Aprilia Racing in the medium-term projects area, the British rider will be able to both develop the MotoGP prototype and get his feet wet with the performance and technical complexity of the highest category in the championship. All of this will lay the groundwork for Sam Lowes' participation in the 2017 MotoGP Championship season with Aprilia.
ROMANO ALBESIANO (Aprilia Racing Manager)
“Stefan Bradl came on board almost by chance, a result of the circumstances, but his change in bikes this season was a pleasant surprise for me. From the very start we found him to be a methodical and fast rider, extremely precise in his comments and therefore particularly suited for the delicate role of “race tester” that our rookie season requires. Precisely for this reason we wanted to continue working with him and now it's official. Stefan will work alongside Alvaro Bautista who will be in his second year with Aprilia. In this 2015 season Alvaro is providing a fundamental contribution to development of the RS-GP. With Alvaro and Stefan we have two excellent riders on our team with the right skills, professionalism and motivation to grow the Aprilia MotoGP project. For the work that will be done at Noale and by the test team we'll also be able to count on the contribution of a fast young rider like Sam Lowes who, along with his commitment in the Moto2 championship, will be working as our official tester."
FAUSTO GRESINI (Team Manager)
“I'm pleased that Stefan will be staying with us next season. He has contributed a lot to Aprilia Racing and the entire team in developing our MotoGP project. The work he is doing now is important and it will be even more important next season when we'll have a completely new bike to develop. This makes up a great team, with Bradl and Bautista, fast riders, young but with a lot of MotoGP experience, both able to drive the entire team to find the best possible performance.”
“I am really thankful for the great opportunity that Aprilia Racing Team Gresini gave me in the second half of the season. I would like to thank Romano Albesiano and Fausto Gresini for believing in me. At my first Grand Prix with Aprilia in Indianapolis I immediately felt really welcome by the whole team, I cannot really describe how professional everybody works in the team. I can say without a doubt that Aprilia is the best team I have raced with since starting my World Championship career. I have great support from my technical crew. I could tell from the first day that they really believe in me and I like the way they prepare and plan every session. Signing for 2016 gives me a lot of confidence for the upcoming races and it is great motivation to prepare for next season as best as possible. I know Aprilia has high expectations and I am confident that we have what it takes to be a consistent top ten contender for 2016. This must be our goal.”
SAM LOWES JOINS TEAM FEDERAL OIL GRESINI MOTO2 FOR 2016 SEASON
Federal Oil and Gresini Racing have renewed their partnership, started back in 2012, and they will be racing together again in the 2016 Moto2 World Championship: next year, the Team Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 will line up British rider Sam Lowes aboard a 2016 Kalex machine.
Sam Lowes, born on September 14th, 1990 in Lincoln (UK), was crowned Supersport World Champion in 2013 thanks to 6 wins and a total of 11 podium finishes out of 12 races. In 2014 Lowes made his debut in the Moto2 World Championship, collecting a fifth place in the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island as best result. Last April, in the Grand Prix of the Americas at Austin, the British rider scored his first win in the series.
For Federal Oil, market leader in lubricants for motorcycles in Indonesia - a country with an expanding motorcycling market for motorcycles and where MotoGP enjoys a tremendous interest from the media and the fans - the project will continue to be a powerful marketing tool to acquire reputation on the global stage in a particularly strategic period, in which the company is landing in specific markets.
“I am really looking forward to joining Team Federal Oil Gresini in Moto2 next season. I believe that I have the potential to win the championship and the team’s strong racing pedigree will hopefully provide the support I need to claim the title. 2016 will be my last year in Moto2 before stepping up to MotoGP and I am determined to try to leave the series as World Champion. I know my fans were keen to see me contest the championship on a Kalex and the move to Team Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 enables me to do that. I’ll be working hard with the new team over the winter to build strong relationships with the new team and ensure that I fully understand the bike. I feel that I have matured as a rider over the 2015 race season and hope to be able to use the learnings I’ve made to approach this fresh challenge and emerge victorious”.
PATRICK ADHIATMADJA (Presidente e CEO Federal Oil)
“We are happy and proud to continue to support Gresini Racing, a highly professional team with which we established a very good working relationship over the years. For the 2016 season, we set ourselves very ambitious goals together with Sam Lowes: this will ensure a great exposure to the Federal Oil brand and this will also be reflected in increased consumer confidence towards our products. In Indonesia an increasingly number of fans is following us closely, so we hope to be able to repay this great enthusiasm. We would like to thank Xavier Siméon for the beautiful podium finishes in these two years together”.
“It’s a great pleasure for me to be able to continue the important project in the Moto2 World Championship together with Federal Oil: in 2016 we will face our fifth season together in an extremely hard fought category. We are preparing to do so in the best possible way, setting ourselves ambitious goals: we will count on an eccellent technical package, with a brand new 2016 Kalex, and we will line up Sam Lowes, a talented rider who is proving to have all it takes to fight at the top. Last July at Sachsenring with Siméon we gave to Federal Oil the first win in Moto2: we will continue to do our best to close in a good way the 2015 season and we would like to thank Xavier for his hard work and for the good results obtained together. We wish him to get the satisfaction he deserves in the future”.