Troy Bayliss is to swing his leg over a World Superbike Ducati again. Ducati today shocked fans and media by announcing that the three-time WSBK champion is to take the place of the injured Davide Giugliano, who is out for three months after injuring two vertebrae in a crash during testing. Currently, Bayliss will only replace Giugliano at Phillip Island, with Ducati test rider Michele Pirro pencilled in for the remaining races the Italian is likely to miss.
The decision to replace Giugliano with Bayliss came at the request of the Australian himself. In a press release, Ducati said that Bayliss had asked the factory to be allowed to race as a wildcard at Phillip Island, and when injury forced Giugliano out, Ducati were happy to agree to his request. The factory had not originally planned to replace the injured Italian, as test rider Michele Pirro is due to start the second MotoGP test at Sepang on Monday, taking the Desmosedici GP15 out for its first full laps on a proper race track. That currently has a higher priority than replacing Giugliano, so Bayliss' offer was serendipitous.
The ride at Phillip Island comes as a remarkable return for Bayliss. The 45-year-old Australian officially retired from World Superbikes at the end of the 2008 season, after wrapping up his third World Superbike title on a third different Ducati. His retirement was rumored at the time to not have been entirely voluntary: it was said that his wife Kim had given him an ultimatum, demanding that it was time to stop. After an abortive attempt at racing V8 Supercars, Bayliss turned his attention to flat track and cycling, both of which he practices keenly. Bayliss is still fast on a motorcycle: he won the 2014 edition of the Troy Bayliss Classic, the flat track race which he organizes every winter, and which features some top racing names from Australia and abroad. He also regularly rides a Superbike, having worked as a tester for Ducati until two years ago, and still taking bikes out on track, sometimes offering two-up rides at circuits.
Will Bayliss be competitive? There is no doubting his fitness, and there is no doubting his will to compete, but it has been some time since he raced a Superbike. His results are unlikely to matter to anyone but himself, the Australian remains extraordinarily popular both at home and abroad. On an interesting sidenote, the return of Bayliss will see him having competed on four different generations of Ducati. He started on the 996, which later became the 998, and won a championship on it in 2001. When he returned from his spell in MotoGP, he raced the 999, winning a championship in that in 2006. He then raced the bike's successor, the 1098, winning a third title on that bike in 2008, his last year in the series. Now, he will race the 1199 Panigale R. It is truly a remarkable and unique record.
In a press release issued by the Aruba.it Ducati team, Bayliss was quoted as follows:
“I want to start by saying that I really feel for Davide and that it’s a real shame for his season to be starting in this way. The desire to be able to return to the track and see the home crowd and the Ducatisti has always been strong, ever since I last raced and then also Phillip Island, one of my favourite tracks, is celebrating its 25th anniversary of World Superbikes. This gave me the idea to compete as a wildcard and work with the Ducati Superbike technicians once again. I know it’s going to be a very difficult weekend, also because it’s a while since I’ve ridden the Superbike but I do know the track well and so hope to get back into it after a few laps. I’ll try to enjoy myself and will of course be doing my best to score a good result and put on a good show for the public.”
If you'd like to see more of Andrew Gosling's work, head on over to his website http://www.tbgsport.com/, or follow him on Facebook and Twitter. If you'd like to have desktop-sized versions of the fantastic photos featured on the site, you can become a site supporter and take out a subscription. If you'd like a print of one of the shots you see here, then send Andrew an email and he'll be happy to help.
It is difficult to overstate just how different the GP15 is from its predecessors. Some details are already clear from the press shots, but more will come tomorrow. For the moment, here is a selection of the press shots.
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Within a day of the announcement that the British round of MotoGP would not be held at Donington Park comes confirmation that the race will be held at Silverstone. The ending of the relationship between Donington and the Circuit of Wales meant that a replacement venue had to be found at short notice, and with only Silverstone currently capable of hosting a MotoGP round, the deal was quickly arranged.
The deal will see Silverstone host the British Grand Prix in both 2015 and 2016. By then, the Circuit of Wales hopes to have obtained both permission to build on public land, and the funding to actually start to do so, with the aim of hosting the 2017 race at the new track. The circuit faces considerable obstacles before that can happen, however.
Below is the press release issued by the Circuit of Wales and Silverstone announcing the deal:
Circuit of Wales announce they have reached an agreement to run British MotoGP™ at Silverstone in August 2015
- World Series by Renault move to early September
Silverstone Circuit and Circuit of Wales have today confirmed that they have reached an agreement which will see Silverstone hosting the British round of MotoGP™ in 2015. The event will take place over the weekend of 28 – 30 August 2015 and the arrangement has secured the future of MotoGP™ racing in the UK following the recent announcement by Donington Park confirming that they will not be hosting the event.
Patrick Allen, Managing Director of Silverstone commented: “A lot of work has been done over recent years to ensure MotoGP™ fans enjoy what Silverstone has to offer and it was devastating for the venue to lose the event last autumn. I welcomed the opportunity to meet with both Dorna and the Circuit of Wales recently so that we could try and find a way to keep MotoGP™ in the UK and racing at Silverstone. Two wheel racing is as much a part of Silverstone’s heritage as four wheel racing and I am obviously delighted to be in a position to announce we are hosting both the F1™ and MotoGP™ Grands Prix in 2015.”
“We have recently introduced a family friendly pricing policy for the Formula 1 British Grand Prix which is proving extremely popular and over the next two weeks I will be working closely with my team at Silverstone to launch a ticket model for MotoGP™ that I hope will be equally well received by fans.”
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers who have moved their event dates to enable us to accommodate MotoGP™. Particular thanks must go to Renault Sport who have been extremely helpful in working with us to move the date to September 5th & 6th of their World Series by Renault event.”
Patrice Ratti, Renault Sport Technologies Managing Director: ‘‘Through our close relationship with Silverstone, we have been able to quickly find a fully satisfactory solution. This will allow the passionate fans to come in droves on 5 and 6 September to attend this comeback in Great-Britain which gathered an average of more than 100.000 people on the last editions.’’
Michael Carrick, Chief Executive of Circuit of Wales commented “We are delighted to announce that we have reached agreement with Silverstone to host the 2015 and 2016 British rounds of MotoGP™. We want to thank the new management at Silverstone, our partners at Dorna and our investors for the rapid response needed to support the 2015 event when it became clear that we would be unlikely to conclude the contractual arrangements at Donington. We are delighted to secure the future of the event for the next two years while our circuit in Wales is under construction. Today’s announcement ensures we will have the 2015 MotoGP™ event in the UK.”
“We continue to advance our development activity on the Circuit of Wales and are focused on the upcoming public inquiry into the deregistration of the common land. We expect construction to commence once this inquiry has concluded.”
The World Superbike calendar has been reduced to 13 events. The Russian round of WSBK, scheduled to be held at the Moscow Raceway on 5th July has been canceled, after the event organizer, YMS Promotion, failed to provide the contract guarantees required by the contract. As a further consequence, the Yakhnich Motorsport Team have also lost their slot on the 2015 World Supersport grid, which was tied in with the Russian round.
The cancellation of the Russian round did not come as a surprise. The Russian WSBK round is a legacy of the last years of Infront running the series. Infront and YMS signed a ten-year deal to organize a World Superbike round in Russia, but continuing political instability in Russia, tensions between Europe and Russia over Ukraine, and murky regional politics have made it impossible to stage a race there. The round was placed on the calendar automatically, because of the existing contract, but it was never expected to actually take place.
The Russian round of World Superbikes will not be replaced. Instead, the series will run 13 rounds in 2015. Below is the press release and updated 2015 WSBK calendar.
2015 WSBK Calendar update
Wednesday 11 February 2015 - Dorna WSBK Organization and the FIM, Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme, regret to inform of the cancellation of the Russian Round scheduled to be held at Moscow Raceway on July 5th 2015.
The Russian event promoter, YMS Promotion, has not provided the required contract guarantees defined by DWO to confirm and implement the event organisation.
The Round will not be replaced and the 2015 WSBK Calendar will consist of the 13 confirmed events as included in the enclosed document.
As a consequence, the Moscow Region Yakhnich Motorsport Team which applied to the FIM Supersport World Championship will not participate in the series for the 2015 season.
FIM Superbike & Supersport World Championships
FIM Superstock 1000 cc Cup
2015 calendar, 11 February
|22 February||Australia||Phillip Island GP Circuit||X||X|
|22 March||Thailand||Chang International Circuit||X||X|
|12 April||Spain||MotorLand Aragón||X||X||X||X**|
|19 April||The Netherlands||TT Circuit Assen||X||X||X||X|
|10 May||Italy||Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola||X||X||X||X|
|24 May||UK||Donington Park||X||X||X|
|07 June||Portugal||Autódromo Internacional do Algarve*||X||X||X||X|
|21 June||Italy||Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli||X||X||X||X|
|05 July||Russia||Moscow Raceway*||X||X|
|19 July||USA||Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca||X|
|02 August||Malaysia||Sepang International Circuit||X||X|
|20 September||Spain||Circuito de Jerez||X||X||X||X|
|04 October||France||Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours||X||X||X||X|
|18 October||Qatar||Losail International Circuit*||X||X|
* STC = Subject to contract
** Two races for the STK600 class
The Circuit of Wales has disputed the chain of events that led to Donington Park rescinding the contract the two parties had to organize the British Grand Prix at the Leicestershire circuit. In a statement issued to the press, the circuit laid the blame for the breach firmly at the feet of Donington Park. Donington had claimed that they had not received the funds agreed, which were necessary to bring the British track up to the standard required to host a Grand Prix, but the Circuit of Wales statement claims that the sequence of events is precisely the reverse. Without a contract with Donington, the Circuit of Wales claims, they were unwilling to provide the funds which Donington needs for upgrades.
The statement also says that the Circuit of Wales will continue to work to host the British Grand Prix at a track in the UK. Given that only Silverstone has the necessary FIM homologation papers, that would appear to be the only venue capable of hosting a MotoGP round at short notice. As the Circuit of Wales holds a contract with Dorna for the right to organize the British GP, it is their prerogative to try to find a new venue and organize and promote a race. That will be neither cheap nor easy. With so much at stake, it is common practice for contracts such as these to have penalty clauses, should one party or the other fail to deliver on the terms of the contract.
With the British Grand Prix less than eight months away, the Circuit of Wales have their work cut out. With Silverstone reported to already be in talks with Dorna for the rights to organize the 2015 MotoGP race, the Circuit of Wales will need to hurry.
Below is the statement issued by the Circuit of Wales:
The Circuit of Wales is disappointed to have been unable to reach a contractual agreement with Donington Park Racing Limited (DPRL) to host the British round of the 2015 Motorcycle Grand Prix World Championship.
After initially agreeing Heads of Terms with the board of DPRL in September 2014, both parties were subsequently unable to agree further terms to form a legal contract. Contrary to claims by DPRL that the Circuit of Wales is unable to meet the funding arrangements, we are unwilling to provide the significant funding that DPRL required for the necessary track upgrades to host the British Grand Prix without a signed contractual agreement. We have all of the funding necessary in place to promote and host the 2015 race in the UK. All funding for the flagship Circuit of Wales regeneration development in Blaenau Gwent is on track with works due to start later this year following the outcome of the public inquiry in March.
The Circuit of Wales will continue to promote the British round of the FIM MotoGP™World Championship and is fully committed to delivering the event later this year.
Donington Park Renounces Partnership With Circuit Of Wales - UK MotoGP Round Back At Silverstone In 2015?
The British round of MotoGP will not this year take place at Donington Park. In a shock statement, Donington announced they were breaking off their partnership with the Circuit of Wales to host the British GP. In the statement, Donington claimed that they had not received the funding promised to them by the Circuit of Wales, which was needed to perform the upgrades required for MotoGP. With no money forthcoming, Donington had no choice but to break the contract, leaving the British round of MotoGP without a home, at least temporarily. Reports on the Motorcycle News website suggest that Silverstone will host the British race instead, with senior staff from the circuit having spoken to Dorna in Barcelona last week.
Though the fact that Donington Park announced they are pulling out of the deal at such a late stage caused a shock, it is not entirely unexpected. Donington had been awarded the contract to host the British Grand Prix as part of a deal with the Circuit of Wales. The Circuit of Wales had agreed a five-year contract with Dorna to organize the British race back in August last year, after protracted talks to host the race at the facility. However, the planning process has been subject to extensive delays, in part over the allocation of public land to the circuit, and in part due to the funding of the project. When it because clear that the track would not be ready to host the race in 2015, an agreement was reached with Donington Park, which would have seen the British race return to the Leicestershire circuit after an absence of five years.
A return to Donington was subject to major upgrades taking place to the track, however. The Circuit of Wales would have provided funds to help Donington perform these upgrades, and the failure to provide these funds appear to be the stumbling block over which the deal with the Circuit of Wales has fallen.
The statement from Donington Park assures ticket holders that they will not lose any money. Tickets bought through official channels will be refunded in full. However, tickets are just a small part of the total cost of attending a race. Costs for travel and accommodation may not be covered. The end of the deal will see travel organizations, in particular, hit hard.
The end of the tie up between Donington and the Circuit of Wales does not mean there will not be a British Grand Prix, however. Part of the deal between BT Sport and Dorna for the British rights to MotoGP is that there will be a race in the UK. With Donington Park out of the equation, that leaves Silverstone as the only viable option. MCN is reporting that talks are already well underway with Silverstone, with a long-term deal likely to keep the race at the circuit for the foreseeable future.
The breakdown of the deal between Donington Park and the Circuit of Wales could end up posing a serious threat to the future of the Circuit of Wales project. If the Circuit of Wales loses the contract to host MotoGP, then part of the rationale for building a circuit on such a grand scale in the Ebbw Vale region disappears. Without a major series at the circuit, the financial viability of the project is in question.
That was always the case, however. Although the Heads of the Valleys Development Company, the firm behind the Circuit of Wales, has consistently claimed that the track will be built using money from private investors, there has been a conspicuous lack of news forthcoming on which companies or individuals may have supplied any of the £315 million the project is said to cost. There has been a slow trickle of money from the Welsh regional government, including a £2 million development grant and underwriting of loans to the company, but no major investors have yet to step forward. That may be because of the legal issues surrounding the circuit - a public inquiry is due to be held in March on a request to deregister a large area of public land, on which the circuit and its facilities are due to be built. Attracting commercial investment may become easier if that process gives the development the green light, but so far, it has been conspicuous by its absence.
Below is the press release issued by Donington Park on its break with the Circuit of Wales:
Donington Park breaks off partnership with Circuit of Wales
10 February 2015
The Board of Directors and Staff of Donington Park Racing Limited (‘DPRL’) are greatly disappointed to have to report today that the Circuit of Wales company, and its new subsidiary GP15 Limited, have as yet been unable to complete their agreement with DPRL, nor meet long-planned payment deadlines, in order to set in motion the operation of the 2015 British Motorcycle Grand Prix, MotoGP™ at Donington Park.
For background:- In 2014 the Circuit of Wales (‘CoW’) signed a contract with Dorna SL of Barcelona, the owners and operators of the global racing series known as the FIM MotoGP World Championship, to stage the British round of MotoGP at their new circuit near Ebbw Vale for five years starting in 2015. The Circuit of Wales is not yet under construction.
In early September 2014, CoW therefore sought an alternative race circuit on which to hold the 2015 British race and so fulfil their Dorna contract. CoW agreed detailed Heads of Terms with the Board of DPRL to hire the Leicestershire circuit, which had been home to MotoGP for many years prior to 2009, in order to run their contracted British MotoGP in 2015, during which period the CoW track was scheduled to be built.
The situation at 10th February 2015 is very clear. Despite DPRL’s best efforts, the time lost with CoW being unable to complete the funding arrangements has resulted in delays in almost all of the event’s critically important operational plans, from track works to equipment hire. Therefore, in the judgment of the Board of DPRL, this current position could jeopardise the safe and successful running of the 2015 British MotoGP at Donington to such an extent, that both the commercial risks and the lack of time are now too great to allow Donington to proceed.
Therefore Donington Park must withdraw from any further participation. Consequently, the 2015 British round of the FIM MotoGP World Championship will not now be held at Donington Park on August 30th 2015.
Spectators who have already purchased tickets via Donington Park and their agency See Tickets are fully protected, with all ticket monies held safely in an independent escrow account. They will therefore automatically receive a full refund of the amount spent on their tickets, within 10 working days, if bought via See Tickets’ automated system, or by application.
The Board of DPRL is able to confirm to all ticket holders for all other 2015 race events at Donington Park that all these events will proceed as planned.
Naturally, any announcement on a replacement MotoGP race or about any future UK dates are now a matter solely for CoW and Dorna, and so DPRL will make no further comment.
DPRL has an established successful relationship with Dorna and will be welcoming Dorna’s World Superbike Championship to Donington for May 22-24, as planned.
The Board also assures all its industry partners, the many race clubs and other circuit-hiring clients who have helped build Donington’s revived business over the past 5 years, that DPRL itself will not feel any adverse financial effects. DPRL expects to work with such clients in continued partnership.
The Donington Park circuit, and the estate as a whole, is in excellent condition. The company is just currently completing a further £1 million of winter upgrades and track safety work, with innovations including a 4 x 4 course, and new build works, both on and off the circuit.
The Managing Director of Donington Park, Christopher Tate, said:-
“The whole Donington team who have worked so hard here over the past six months to fulfil our part of the MotoGP planning are as disappointed as those many fans will be who wanted to see the event return to Donington Park.
“The position we are now in is of course frustrating and uncomfortable for all concerned.
“We have our overall business, our staff and their futures to consider as well as our concerns for the fans. We have rebuilt so much of this facility and its global reputation in the years since 2010 under new ownership and management, and we are not going to risk all that nor risk affecting the quality of the MotoGP fans’ experience – looking after the fans is at the heart of what Donington does.
“It is this week, way past any normal deadlines, when we - in partnership with CoW - would have been committing to major expenditures. CoW have made it clear to us that they are not now in a position to complete, so we have to withdraw and end the planned arrangement.
“As to the immediate future, the team here at Donington look forward to welcoming fans to the wide range of 2015 events at our circuit this season which will, of course, all go ahead as normal, starting with great motorcycle racing on the Easter Weekend.”
Though the riders competing in the 2015 MotoGP championship have all departed, the factories stayed on at Sepang for another day of testing. For the fourth day of the first Sepang MotoGP test was designated as a test day for Michelin, who are due to take over as official tire supplier from 2016.
The legal complications of the change from Bridgestone to Michelin mean that the tire test is shrouded in confidentiality, rather than secrecy. This test features only the test riders, all of whom have been barred from talking to the press about the tires. Times were not recorded, and definitely not released, though a handful of hardy journalists stood at trackside with handheld stopwatches (or smartphones) and tried to time riders that way. The secrecy is understandable: Michelin are at a very early stage of their development, and Bridgestone are paying Dorna a hefty sum to be official tire supplier, and want to reap the marketing benefits that should bring.
Yet there were things to be learned from the Michelin test at Sepang today. Unofficial timing from people at the track suggests that riders were lapping somewhere between 1 and 2 seconds slower than they were on Bridgestones. Hiroshi Aoyama was the best benchmark, having ridden throughout the previous three days on a Bridgestone-shod Honda RC213V factory bike. His pace suggest that he is a little over a second a lap slower on the Michelins than on the Bridgestones. Given the newness of the project, and how much data and development Bridgestone have, Michelin appear to have done a pretty good job.
More worrying were the number of crashes at the test. Riders on Hondas, Yamahas and Suzukis all went down hard at Turn 5, the fast left hander at the back of the circuit. Michelin had told the teams to take it easy through that corner, but the riders still went down. The problem appears to have been the front tire in that section, which was wanting to tuck through the corner.
The purpose of the test is to narrow down the selection of tires to bring to the next test at Sepang, when the official riders will get their chance to try the tires. Michelin manager Piero Taramasso told a group of reporters that they had brought seven different front tires and five different rear tires, with the objective of whittling that down to three fronts and three rears for the factory riders to use at the second Sepang test. The feedback from the factory riders will then help define the direction which Michelin will follow for their further development. The basic construction of the tires - casing, compounds, profiles - will be finalized in July. For 2016, Michelin hope to bring three different compounds front and rear for each rider to use at each Grand Prix.
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.
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