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Weather Fails To Cooperate With World Superbike Teams At Portimao

The weather continues its stubborn refusal to cooperate with preparation for the 2015 World Superbike season. After rain and cold conditions plagued the earlier test at the Motorland Aragon circuit, the rain halted testing for the best part of two days at Portimao. Wednesday was a complete washout, while a wet track hampered progress on Thursday morning. 

Despite the cold, the assembled teams were able to ride almost continuously after lunchtime, until the track closed at 6pm. Cramming two days of testing into an afternoon was difficult, the teams concentrating on working with the 2015 version of their machines, incorporating the major rule changes new for this year. The conditions were not conducive to fast lap times: the quickest time reported was set by Leon Haslam on the Red Devils Roma Aprilia, but that was still over a second slower than the race lap record set by Tom Sykes back in 2013. Suzuki's Alex Lowes was half a second behind Haslam, matched by Ducati's Chaz Davies. Davide Giuliano and Sylvain Barrier were a couple of tenths behind Lowes and Davies, while Randy De Puniet was nearly a second slower than Barrier, and only a fraction quicker than World Superbike newcomer Jordi Torres.

Raising a few eyebrows was the return of Max Biaggi, this time in his role of official Aprilia tester, taking over the job from Alex Hofmann, who has departed to help develop the KTM MotoGP bike with Dani Pedrosa's former crew chief, Mike Leitner. Biaggi was a little off the pace, not helped by a crash on Wednesday, in which he hurt his shoulder. Biaggi has been tasked with testing both the development version of the World Superbike machine, as well has helping to work on Aprilia's MotoGP bike. His return to testing has fueled rumors of a possible return to racing, though at 43, that would be difficult. Biaggi has commentary commitments with Italian TV for 2015, and so the prospect of seeing Biaggi racing seems remote. 

Unofficial times, courtesy of press releases and

Rider Bike Time Diff Previous
Leon Haslam Aprilia 1:43.5    
Alex Lowes Suzuki 1:44.0 0.5 0.5
Chaz Davies Ducati 1:44.0 0.5 0.0
Davide Giugliano Ducati 1:44.5 1.0 0.5
Sylvain Barrier BMW 1:44.8 1.3 0.3
Randy De Puniet Suzuki 1:45.7 2.2 0.9
Jordi Torres Aprilia 1:45.9 2.4 0.2
Max Biaggi Aprilia 1:46.4 2.9 0.5


Aragon WSBK Testing Thwarted By Cold Conditions

The weather has not been kind to the World Superbikes who headed to Aragon for testing. The first day was lost to a wet track, and while the track dried on the second day, cold temperatures limited the usefulness of the test. 2013 world champion Tom Sykes did not bother going out at all, not wishing to risk injury on a cold track just for the sake of turning some laps.

Sykes' Kawasaki teammate Jonathan Rea did spend some time on track, though for him, too, conditions meant that lessons were limited. Rea spent time working on gearshift set ups, and clutch strategies for race starts. It was important for Rea to spend some more time on the Kawasaki ZX-10R, after having spent so many years on the Honda CBR1000RR with the Pata Honda team. It wasn't just bikes that Rea is switching, the Ulsterman showing off his Monster Energy colors for the first time, leaving Red Bull behind. That is a major change for Rea, who has been backed by Red Bull almost from when he first started racing motocross, before switching to circuit racing.

Pata Honda riders Sylvain Guintoli and Michael van der Mark both took to the track, putting in the majority of their laps in the afternoon, but work was restricted to finding a base set up. The weather was far too cold to be able to get anywhere near a competitive lap time, so there was not much performance testing to be done. Team Pedercini's David Salom, and the Grillini duo of Santiago Barragan and Christophe Ponsson also put in a few laps, having also ridden on Monday.

The teams now head south, to Jerez and Portimao, where they will be joined by the majority of the other teams. Prominent absentees could be Toni Elias, Ayrton Badovini and the JR Racing team, the BMW team backed by Troy Corser. According to reports on the German-language website Speedweek, the team has yet to take delivery of their BMW S1000RR machines. The bikes are being held by a dealer in Stephanskirchen due to non-payment by the team, according to Speedweek. There have been reports of financial problems since last year: the team's backers are based in the Dominican Republic, and transferring funds from the Caribbean island to the team's base has proven problematic. If the bikes are not ready for the Jerez test next week, then that could put their participation in the opening rounds at risk. The World Superbike machinery is due to be flown to Australia by Dorna straight from the Jerez test, and if the bikes aren't present, the JR Racing team would have to ship the bikes to Australia at their own expense. For a cash-strapped team, that could prove to be prohibitively expensive.

Below are the press releases issued by Kawasaki and Pata Honda after the Aragon test:

Cold Weather Interrupts KRT Motorland Test Plans

The official Kawasaki Racing Team pairing of Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea found low track temperatures at Motorland Aragon during their expected two-day winter test session, meaning only Jonathan went out for a few shakedown laps on his Ninja ZX-10R in afternoon of the second day.

With track temperatures in the low single figures all through a damp first day and then in the morning of day two, neither KRT rider ventured onto the track as no meaningful performance testing could be done on such a cold surface.

As the track temperatures crept over the double-digit mark in Celcius during the sunny second afternoon new KRT recruit Rea ventured out to do some tests on gear shift and clutch settings, but track conditions dictated that he did not try to make any long runs or attempt any pure performance testing.

Sykes elected not to run on the second day and the team now relocates to the Jerez circuit in southern Spain for their final two-day private test in Europe next week, on Monday 26 and Tuesday 27 January.

Afterwards they will head to Australia for the official pre-season test sessions at Phillip Island, shortly before the first round of the year in late February.

Jonathan Rea: “To be honest we were not able to get any meaningful performance testing done but we managed to work on some ideas in relation to gear shifting and clutch set-ups for race starts. If I consider the amount of hours I have ridden with the bike it is not a lot so we need to work on our performance at the next test rather than on general set-up. We will work on getting the best out of me and the bike now at the next test in Jerez.”

Tom Sykes: “We are still in the middle of January and we got dealt this set of cards because of the cold weather, so we will move on from that. It would have been nice to have turned some wheels to try various things but I cannot lose sleep about this because we will be out on the bike at Jerez in a matter of days. We will hopefully try it all then.”

Guim Roda, KRT Team Manager, said: “Yesterday there was rain and today sunshine but it is still too cold. We have had some bad luck because the cold only started on Sunday. On Friday the temperature was incredibly good and the last three weeks have been really nice in this area of Spain. That’s life and we understand that in the period between December and January, in terms of probability of finding good weather Europe, the best place we can test is Spain. Sometimes it is good, sometimes not. We have still used these two days to do a lot inside the box, on the new electronics system. Not from the riding side but from some other sides, these days have been very useful. In any case, next week we go to Jerez for two more days on track.”

Guintoli and van der Mark complete Aragon test

The Pata Honda World Superbike team concluded back-to-back pre-season tests today at Aragon in Spain, following a two-day test last week at Portimao in Portugal.

Unfortunately, the weather at both tests prevented riders Sylvain Guintoli and Michael van der Mark from completing a full scheduled programme on the 2015 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP machine that they will campaign in this season's World Superbike championship.

However, in spite of some rain at Portimao and very low track temperatures at Aragon, both riders declared themselves happy with the progress that was made in developing this year's CBR alongside new technical regulations for the series.

Reigning World Superbike champion, Sylvain Guintoli, said: "In spite of the rain in Portimao last week, the test was good there for the first time out on the 2015-spec CBR; and the times were quite good, even on 25-lap tyres. I was feeling a lot more comfortable on the bike by the end. Aragon has also been good, but it's been really cold. We worked on power delivery, engine brake and bike balance with some interesting findings. I cannot wait to race in Australia."

Guintoli's 2015 team-mate, current World Supersport champion, Michael van der Mark, was equally positive, despite a lack of track time: "The test was quite good for what we were able to do," he said. "This afternoon I did many laps of Aragon and tried many different things, but of course, the track was not in an ideal condition for the tyres. But I'm happy with the laps we were able to make and I'm looking forward to testing some more in, hopefully, drier and more normal conditions."

The team's technical co-ordinator, Pieter Breddels, said, "After yesterday's wash out, we were able to do some laps today and cross-check the settings found in Portimao last week. Michael tested new front geometry, which Sylvain already tested last week, and we tried some softer springs and a higher bike for Sylvain to give him a little more feel and transfer. All in all, considering track conditions and the number of laps, we leave with a positive feeling for our third and final test this month where we hope to see some more dry track time."

The two world champions will now make their way to Verona in Italy where the full 2015 Pata Honda rider line-up will be presented to media and race fans at Motor Bike Expo this Saturday 24 January.

Following the team launch, both riders will return to Spain for a further two-day test at Jerez on Monday and Tuesday next. After this final European pre-season outing, the Pata Honda bikes and equipment will head north to the team's workshop in the Netherlands to be packed into flight cases for Australia, where round one of the 2015 championship will take place on 22 February.

Testing Begins In Earnest: World Superbike Teams Convene At Aragon

Preparations for the 2015 season are starting to get underway. While the MotoGP teams will have to wait until February, the World Superbike squads are assembling on the Iberian peninsula to resume their testing programs for 2015. Pata Honda were the first to kick off testing, spending two days at Portimao last week, where reigning World Superbike and World Supersport champions Sylvain Guintoli and Michael van der Mark got to grips with the Honda CBR1000RR. A dry first day meant that both men managed a good number of laps, while most of the second day was lost to rain. Van der Mark told Dutch site Racesport he had not spent too much time testing different settings, his main objective being to get used to riding a Superbike. Both he and Guintoli had tested the new engine, with standard conrods and pistons, while Guintoli had spent a lot of time working on different set ups, trying to get comfortable. According to, Guintoli lapped in the 1'44s, while Van der Mark was managing 1'45s, both well behind the fastest race lap set by Tom Sykes during race 1, but hardly surprising given the difference in temperatures between January and July.

Temperatures are also causing problems for the riders at the Motorland Aragon circuit. Pata Honda are there with the official Kawasaki duo of Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea - now backed by Monster Energy - as well as the Pedercini and Grillini Kawasaki teams. Asphalt temperatures are only barely above freezing, Sylvain Guintoli posting a picture on Twitter of the temperature gun showing a temperature of 1.8°C. The weather is set to remain largely the same tomorrow, meaning that on-track action is likely to be limited. 

The World Superbike teams may have to wait until they can head south. The weather looks more promising for Ducati, MV Agusta, BMW, Aprilia, EBR and Suzuki, who head to Portimao on Wednesday. Next Monday, most of the field assemble at Jerez, which should be even warmer, and remain dry. 


Ducati's Desmosedici GP15 Officially Delayed - Not Ready For Sepang 1

As had been widely expected, Ducati will not have the GP15 ready for the first test at Sepang, in early February. In an interview with the website, due to be shown on 19th January, Ducati Corse boss confirmed that work was still underway on the all-new bike, and that instead, Ducati will be bringing an uprated version of last year's bike, dubbed the GP14.3, to test aspects of the new design not requiring the new engine.

The delays have been trailed by both Dall'Igna and Paolo Ciabatti, speaking to the media at the Valencia test and at the Superprestigio dirt track event in December. The GP15 is a completely new bike, designed from the ground up, with a completely redesigned engine. Though expected to retain Ducati's 90° V4 layout and desmodromic valve operation, the engine is likely to be much shorter, with a revised gearbox layout making it much more compact. Ducati are also believed to be looking at a heavier crankshaft, to help smooth throttle response. Dall'Igna will reveal more details on the design of the bike to the MotoGP website in the interview to be shown as part of the site's Off Season Show, set to be aired on 19th January.

Paolo Ciabbatti told in December that the bike will look very similar to the GP14, though noticeably smaller. The silhouette is broadly the same, though the exhaust and tail are markedly different.

The GP15 now looks likely to make its debut at the second Sepang test, which starts on 23rd February. If they do not make that date, then the first opportunity for Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone to ride the bike will be at Qatar, on 14th March. Given that factory riders will get their first chance to test the Michelin tires at the second Sepang test, it seems likely that Ducati will push to have the bike ready then.

Honda Extend Testing Contract With Casey Stoner For 2015

Casey Stoner is to remain as a Honda test rider for another year. Today, HRC officially announced that the former world champion will undertake two tests for the factory during 2015. The first test will be at Sepang from 29th to 31st of January, four days before the official MotoGP test at the circuit. No date has been set for the second test, HRC stating only that it will be towards the end of the year, when Stoner will presumably be providing feedback on the 2016 machine.

No doubt this agreement will once again revive speculation that Stoner could return to MotoGP, but there is zero chance of that actually happening. The Australian has stated both in public and to HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto that he does not want to race again, and has turned down an offer from HRC before. His speed and the quality of the feedback he provides means he remains an extremely valuable asset to Honda's test program.

The contents of the press release issued by Honda is shown below:

HRC renews relationship with Casey Stoner

Honda Racing Corporation have retained the services of two-time World Champion Casey Stoner through 2015.

The 2007 and 2011 MotoGP World Champion will test for two days in Sepang between the 29th and 31st January, prior to the first Official IRTA pre-season test.

A second test will take place towards the end of the year, but no date is confirmed at present.

Shuhei Nakamoto

HRC Executive Vice President

“First of all, Happy New Year! We are very happy to be able to start 2015 by announcing the continuation of our relationship with Casey and keep him in the Honda family. The feedback he gives HRC is invaluable and we are fortunate to have a test rider capable to push the RC213V to its limits”

Casey Stoner 27

Test Rider – MotoGP

“After having a long break from riding, it was refreshing to get back on a bike a few months ago! Now after a relaxing Christmas and New Year I’m happy to announce that I’ve been speaking to Nakamoto san and we have come to an agreement in continuing our relationship. I am currently preparing to ride in Sepang in a few weeks - which will be very different weather and humidity to Motegi - so I need to get myself fit!” On A Brief Hiatus - Full Service To Be Resumed Next Week

You may have noticed a distinct lack of articles over the past few days. That is in part because there is nothing much happening - motorcycle racers are hard at work training, while factory race departments are frantically working on the last details of their 2015 machines - and so there is not much to report. It is also in part because we are having a well-earned break, and are spending some time away from our computers.

We will start to provide coverage of World Superbike testing, which starts later this week, while normal service will be resumed from Monday, 19th January, when we are back at our desks. From then, we will also resume our review of 2014, before looking forward to 2015. We apologize for not providing you with anything to help fill the empty weeks of January, but hope to make up for it once we return, together with some new initiatives.

Thanks for your patience!

Scott Jones 2014 Retrospective: Part 6 - Phillip Island

Ready to rumble, down under

Stopping power. But dissipating heat wasn't the problem, disks got brake covers to keep the heat in

Team Rossi - Matteo Flamigni and Silvano Galbusera played a key role in Rossi's revival. Though not as great a part as Rossi himself

Famous name, a lot to live up to. Remy Gardner gets a shot in the big leagues in 2015

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside

Oh I do like to be beside the sea ...

Phillip Island was another step in the rehabilitation of Cal Crutchlow. Until almost the last lap

War in Moto3. 'T was ever thus

Jack Miller came out on top, thrilling the Australian crowds

Ohlins trickery from Dovizioso's Ducati

Danilo Petrucci worked hard, suffered through a tough year, and was rewarded with a Ducati ride for 2015

Phillip Island. Sea, sky, sonic assault

Photographers love PI

Mr White

It was a tough weekend for Marc Marquez, crashing out using the asymmetric tire

His loss was Valentino Rossi's gain, the Italian getting his second win of the season

Behind them, PI produced some fantastic racing

Jack Miller, mastering the leg thing

The best front end in MotoGP? Got to be close

Farewell tour for the Leitner/Pedrosa partnership

If you'd like to have desktop-sized versions of Scott's fantastic photos, you can become a site supporter and take out a subscription. If you'd like a print of one of the shots you see on the site, then send Scott an email and he'll be happy to help.

Scott Jones 2014 Retrospective: Part 5 - Silverstone

There is no part of a Honda racing motorcycle that is not beautifully made

A study in yellow, white and blue

Scott Redding takes racing in front of his home crowd very seriously

Stefan Bradl, knee down...

... elbow down, forearm down ...

... and sometimes, everything down.

Marc Marquez, looking in the direction his competitors are usually to be found.

Johann Zarco had a very strong season in 2014, yet the Moto2 teams all abandoned Suter for 2015

Tires, suspension, front wheel buried under braking

'T was a cold and misty morning

Andrea Iannone was sometimes impressive, but still too inconsistent in 2014

Alvaro Bautista demonstrates "the stoppie"

The Doctor's Office

If your tires look like this, you should consider a career in motorcycle racing

Moto3: the race of the weekend, every weekend

Like I said, 't was a cold and misty morning

Even the welding is a work of art

Aleix Espargaro gets physical with his Forward Yamaha

An inch above the ground

Not an inch above the ground


If you'd like to have desktop-sized versions of Scott's fantastic photos, you can become a site supporter and take out a subscription. If you'd like a print of one of the shots you see on the site, then send Scott an email and he'll be happy to help.

Scott Jones 2014 Retrospective: Part 4 - Barcelona

You can teach old dogs new tricks, if they are willing to learn

... and here's one of the things the old dog learned: a radical new body position

Redding on red

The wheels on the bike go round and round ...

Barcelona was Alex Marquez' first win of the year. More would follow

Bike swap time

Pol Espargaro, all smiles

A sense of the scale of the Montmelo circuit

Is their generation about to be pushed aside?

Where's the wipers?

Enea Bastianini, Italy's next great hope

TV talk

Yonny Hernandez did such a good job on the GP13 that he earned himself a factory contract

They don't like it up 'em

Red on Red

Brad Binder goes just a little bit too far

Dani Pedrosa, always pushing to excel at home

It's been quite the learning curve for Bradley Smith


The hardest part of racing. Getting up when you go down

If you'd like to have desktop-sized versions of Scott's fantastic photos, you can become a site supporter and take out a subscription. If you'd like a print of one of the shots you see on the site, then send Scott an email and he'll be happy to help.

World Superbike Private Testing Schedule - Testing Starts Mid-January - UPDATED

Though tracks around the world have fallen silent over the winter break, testing is due to resume shortly. From mid-January, the World Superbike teams will resume their preparations for the 2015 season at circuits in Spain and Portugal. Testing starts at Portimao, where the Pata Honda team will be the first to hit the track on 14th January. The team then moves to the Motorland Aragon circuit near Alcañiz, where they will be joined by Kawasaki and Grillini, before the action moves back to Portimao for a test including Ducati, BMW Italian, Suzuki, MV Agusta, Althea Ducati and EBR.

After Portimao, the teams head east to Jerez, where from 26th January the circuit will see Ducati, Red Devils, MV Agusta, BMW Italia, Honda, Suzuki, Althea Ducati and EBR joined by the Kawasaki World Supersport team and Ducati's MotoGP test team. A day later, the Kawasaki World Superbike squad will take to the track. From then, they pack up ready to fly the teams and equipment to the Southern Hemisphere, ready for the start of the season at Phillip Island. Testing for the MotoGP class resumes on 4th February at Sepang.

Full private testing schedule for the World Superbike class, as announced so far:

Date Circuit Teams
14-16 January PORTIMAO WSBK: Pata Honda (Sylvain Guintoli, Michael van der Mark)
19-20 January MOTORLAND WSBK: Kawasaki KRT (Jonathan Rea, Tom Sykes), Grillini Kawasaki (Santi Barragan, Christophe Ponsson), Pata Honda (Guintoli, VD Mark)
21-22 January PORTIMAO WSBK: Ducati (Chaz Davies, Davide Giugliano), MV Agusta (Leon Camier), BMW Motorrad Italia (Sylvain Barrier), Red Devils Aprilia (Haslam, Torres), Crescent Suzuki (Lowes, De Puniet), EBR (Niccolo Canepa, Larry Pegram), Althea Ducati (Matteo Baiocco, Nico Terol)
WSS: MV Agusta, Puccetti Kawasaki (Kenan Sofuoglu, Marco Faccani)
26-27 January JEREZ WSBK: Ducati (Davies, Giugliano), Red Devils Aprilia (Haslam, Torres), MV Agusta (Camier), BMW Motorrad Italia (Barrier), Pata Honda (Guintoli, VD Marck), Crescent Suzuki (Lowes, De Puniet), EBR (Canepa, Pegram), Althea Ducati (Baiocco, Terol)
WSS: MV Agusta, Puccetti Kawasaki (Sofuoglu, Faccani)
MotoGP: Ducati (Test team)
27-28 January JEREZ WSBK: Kawasaki KRT (Rea, Sykes)