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Saturday night is the last chance to see the stars of motorcycle racing turning a wheel in anger. On 13th December, the cream of both the MotoGP and AMA flat track paddocks meet for the second running of the Superprestigio, an indoor invitation dirt track race, at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona. The setting is a classic location: the Palau Sant Jordi is part of the former Olympic park, set atop Montjuic, scene of many legendary motorcycle races of the past.
For those who could not make it to Barcelona themselves, they need not despair. The event is to be broadcast in several countries around the globe, as well as streamed live online. In the UK, the Superprestigio will be broadcast on the BT Sport channel. In the US, the event will be streamed live - with English commentary - on the Fanschoice.TV website, as well as on the website of Cycle World magazine.
Action starts at 6:30pm local time, with heats for the two different classes: Superprestigio, an invitation-only class for GP and elite road racers; and Open, for AMA flat track racers and other offroad disciplines, including enduro, long track and European dirt track. The final is a run off between the best riders from both classses, which starts at 9:10pm. You can see a full schedule on the DTX Barcelona website, as well as a full list of riders, and ticket prices.
The status of the Spanish championship has received yet another boost. After the Moto3 championship was run under the auspices of the FIM in 2014, from 2015, the category is to be renamed the "FIM CEV Repsol Moto3 Junior World Championship." The CEV Moto3 championship will be runover eight rounds, six of which will take place in Spain, with the championship kicking off in Portugal at Portimao, and the CEV Moto3 class appearing as a support class at the French MotoGP round at Le Mans.
The two classes comprising the Spanish championship, Superbike and Moto2, will also get a status upgrade. For 2015, the CEV Superbike and CEV Moto2 championships will also be part of the European Championship. Superbike and Moto2 will have only seven events, however, the two classes not travelling to France to join the CEV Moto3 class.
The stated intention of the changed status is to help prepare young riders of all nationalities to make their mark and enter Grand Prix racing. That has increasingly been the role of the CEV Moto3 championship, with the champions in the Spanish series moving up into the Moto3 World Championship paddock. The CEV has also become less of a Spanish series over the years, with top young riders from all over the world competing in Moto3. Of the top 10 finishers in Moto3 last year, only half were Spanish, the other five hailing from France, Japan, Italy and Australia. Indeed, of the champions in all three Spanish CEV championships, none were Spanish: Fabio Quartararo (Moto3) is French, Jesko Raffin (Moto2) is Swiss, and Superbike champ Kenny Noyes - son of legendary journalist Dennis - is American, though he has spent a large part of his life in Spain.
The intention is to create a training ground for young talent to move up to the World Championship level, and given the strength and international breadth of competition, that seems like a viable objective. However, doing so creates problems for the series as well. For a start, it leaves Spain without a purely national championship, though given the large number of very strong regional championships, that may not be as much of an issue as it seems. More significantly, it devalues other national championships: the Italian CIV championship has lost some status, with several leading Italian riders and teams switching to the CEV as a place to develop talent.
The CEV is also largely a place for Moto3 talent to develop. The Superbike championship does not have the depth of talent which appears in CEV Moto3, and the average of the CEV Superbike class is much older. The best path into World Superbikes appears to be BSB, which is currently the strongest national Superbike championship by far. However, nobody has been foolish enough to suggest the idea of rebranding the BSB championship as the "Junior World Superbike Championship".
Last but not least, the championship is a little too regionally isolated to be regarded as a "Junior World Championship", the series being confined to the Iberian peninsula, and a single excursion to France. Racing at a wider range of circuits in more countries would make the series' new title less inflated, though it would also raise costs well beyond the current level of the series. Whether it is possible to expand to other countries remains to be seen, it is unknown just how much fan support there would be at rounds outside of Spain.
The elevation of the CEV series to FIM status is in part down to the decline of the European Championships. Some twenty years ago, there was a highly active and competitive European championship for both the 125cc and 250cc classes, which helped to produce riders like Valentino Rossi, Marco Simoncelli and Andrea Dovizioso. The killing off of the two-stroke classes, and the ensuing cost explosion caused by trying to race four strokes, put an end to the European championships. Perhaps, once sufficient Moto3 and Moto2 bikes have trickled down from the Grand Prix paddock down to national level, the European Championship will see a revival. Or perhaps by then the CEV Junior World Championship will have expanded to take the place of the former European Championship.
The press release from the FIM and the 2015 CEV schedule appears below:
FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Championship
2015 Calendar & New Classes, 2 December
The three classes of the current FIM CEV Repsol International Championship will have new titles starting next season, taking the Championship another step forward in its international progression.
The FIM, during its General Assembly held on 22 November, decided that as from 2015 the Moto3™ category would become the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Championship. Also, by agreement with FIM Europe, the Moto2™ and Superbike categories will be part of the European Championship from the same date.
With this new arrangement, the FIM CEV Repsol will help to break down national barriers even further and constitute a quantum leap in the search for young riders of any nationality who are ready to make their mark in road racing at international level.
|26 April||Autódromo Internacional do Algarve - Portimão||Portugal|
|17 May||Le Mans (Moto3™ only)||France|
|21 June||Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya||Spain|
|5 July||MotorLand Aragón||Spain|
|6 September||Circuito de Albacete||Spain|
|4 October||Circuito de Navarra||Spain|
|1 November||Circuito de Jerez||Spain|
|15 November||Comunitat Valenciana - Ricardo Tormo||Spain|
With testing now over, Jack Miller has joined the ranks of riders undergoing surgery in the off season. Flying back from Sepang to Barcelona, Miller had an operation to remove four loose screws from his right collarbone, the aftermath of an old injury sustained at Indianapolis in 2013. That injury was fixed with a plate, but preseason crashes on the KTM Moto3 bike caused a number of complications for the Australian. With testing completely, Miller now has time to have the remaining screws removed from his shoulder, and allow it to heal. Miller will be unable to train for five days while the scar heals, but will be able to resume his training program after that.
Miller's surgery means that both LCR Honda riders have now gone under the knife. Cal Crutchlow had an operation on 14th November to remove a plate from his left collarbone, which has been inserted in 2011. The Englishman also had some arthritis cleaned up from the same shoulder, the accumulated damage from several falls over the years. Crutchlow's recovery is complete, and he has since flown to California, where he will be training over the winter in preparation for the Sepang tests.
Below are the two press releases about the surgery, the first issued today covering Miller's surgery, the second issued in mid-November, discussing Crutchlow's operation:
SUCCESSFUL SURGERY FOR THE CWM LCR HONDA’S JACK MILLER
CWM LCR Honda’s Jack Miller has undergone successful surgery on his right shoulder today at the Dexeus University Hospital in Barcelona, Spain. The Australian had four loose screws removed from an old right collarbone injury, and the operation was performed by the MotoGP medical team’s renowned Dr. Xavier Mir. The 19year old rookie will take some days off from his rigorous training regime and is looking forward to starting his preparation for 2015.
Jack Miller: “I am really happy for finally having this operation to take out the titanium in my shoulder which is no longer needed. The operation was a success and it was not long till I felt very comfortable. I hope to have a quick recovery and focus all my attention to working for the 2015 season. In these recovery days it’s the perfect time for me to see how we can come back stronger in 2015. I would like to say a massive thank you to Doctor Mir and all his staff for their excellent work and their care”.
CWM LCR HONDA RIDER CAL CRUTCHLOW READY FOR WINTER TRAINING PROGRAMME AFTER SUCCESSFUL SURGERY
CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow has undergone successful surgery on his left shoulder last Friday morning and he is now recovering at his Isle of Man home before he flies to America at the end of November for a winter training camp ahead of his second appearance with CWM LCR Honda Team at the Sepang track in Malaysia in February. Crutchlow was operated at the Alexandra Hospital in Cheadle to remove a plate from his left collarbone that was inserted after he broke the bone in a crash in 2011.The 29-year-old also had arthritis in his left shoulder cleaned up, with both procedures carried out by Len Funk, who is a Consultant Shoulder Surgeon and Professor of Orthopaedics & Sports Science.
Cal Crutchlow: “I had arthritis in my left shoulder after a crash I had in 2010 and I also had a plate in there from my crash at Silverstone in 2011. I needed to get the arthritis cleaned out because in warmer conditions I didn’t have an issue, but in the cold, it was a bit painful. And the plate has been finally removed. Now I feel much better and want to thank Professor Len for his excellent job. Soon I will fly to America to start my winter training programme and I am really looking forward to the next outing aboard the RCV”.
Honda have been officially confirmed as the single engine supplier for the Moto2 class for another four years. Honda will make engines available to Externpro, who manage the official Moto2 engines, until the end of the 2018 season.
The confirmation of Honda as official engine supplier means that Moto2 is to remain a single engine class until at least 2018. The chances of it changing after that are very slim, despite occasional expressions of interest from other manufacturers, such as KTM. Any proposal to introduce competition in engine supply meets with immediate opposition from the team, who are very keen on the single Moto2 engine. They believe it radically reduces costs - competing in Moto2 is significantly cheaper than contesting the Moto3 championship - and it eliminates one variable from the competition equation. Teams do not have to worry about choosing an engine supplier, and being stuck with an underperforming engine all season.
The official press release appears below:
Honda to continue to power Moto2™ racing through 2018
Honda Motor Corporation, in continued collaboration with Spanish company ExternPro, will remain as the official Moto2™ engine supplier for the next three years extending until 2018.
Since its inauguration in 2010 as the replacement for the 250cc two-stroke intermediate class, Moto2™ has run a single specification Honda CBR 600cc engine. Amongst the aims of the category are driving chassis evolution and developing rider talent and the class continually produces great racing, helping to prepare riders for MotoGP™.
From 2013, ExternPro, part of the Parque Tecnólogico de MotorLand Aragon, have been preparing the engines for competition, ensuring reliability and taking care of enigne maintenance. The three-year extension agreement will see ExternPro-prepared Honda engines featured in Grand Prix competition until at least the end of 2018.
Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta commented: “Moto2™ has been a success from the start, and just continues to get better! Honda has been our sole engine supplier since the inaugural race in 2010 and I am extremely pleased that we will continue to use its machinery for the next three years. The Honda engine has not only proved an exciting addition to the paddock, but has also been a technically very reliable asset, which is extremely important in motorsports. I would also like to welcome ExternPro on board, who have so far done a very good job during pre-season testing, and will no doubt continue to do so throughout the next three seasons."
Shuhei Nakamoto, HRC Executive Vice-President added: "The Moto2 category continues to advance and prepare riders for the premier class and Honda are very happy to support this class for a further 3 years. Together with ExternPro and Dorna we will continue to work hard to provide the best equipment for this class"".
Testing is set to continue this week in a range of classes, as bikes take to the track in preparation for the 2015 season. The south of Spain will see the most action, with a group of MotoGP teams being joined by the Crescent Suzuki World Superbike team at Jerez, and a selection of Moto2 teams heading to Almeria.
At Jerez, Suzuki and Aprilia will continue work on their bikes ahead of next season. As new factories, they receive the same concessions as Ducati, which means that they are allowed unlimited testing, more engines, they have the softer rear tire, and they are allowed to develop their engines throughout the season. Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaro will be riding the GSX-RR for Suzuki, while Alvaro Bautista and Marco Melandri will be taking the Aprilia ART out for further testing.
Ducati will also be present at the test, Andrea Dovizioso and new teammate Andrea Iannone continuing work on the Desmosedici GP14.2. They are still eagerly awaiting the arrival of the GP15, but that bike will not be ready until the Sepang tests, and most likely, only at the second test at Sepang.
The NGM Forward team are also due to test at Jerez, though they may have less to test than expected. The test had originally been planned to continue work on Kayaba suspension, but after complaints from Stefan Bradl at Valencia, there may not be much point. Bradl complained to German-language website Speedweek that Kayaba were poorly prepared, had no real test plan, very few suspension parts to test, and the engineers sent by the firm spoke almost no English. Bradl did not see any point in continuing to test the suspension until these fundamental problems were solved. That could prove to be an expensive decision for Forward: Kayaba would come on board with the team as a technical partner, paying all of their own costs and possibly contributing to the team budget. If Forward stays with Ohlins, they will do so as a customer, paying a considerable sum for the privilege.
The Suzuki World Superbike team is also at Jerez, with Randy De Puniet about to get his first ride on the GSX-R1000 as he makes the switch to the WSBK series. He and Alex Lowes have work to do ahead of the new regulations for 2015, with Yoshimura staff also present at the test to help development of the engine. The team also have new technical staff joining them, and this will be their first chance to integrate them and get them working as a unit. Suzuki will be joined by Kawasaki, where Jonathan Rea will get his second test on the ZX-10R alongside Tom Sykes.
So far, the weather has not been kind to the teams testing, with the track wet and rain still falling. Better weather is forecast for this afternoon and for Tuesday, but the Jerez track takes a long time to dry out, meaning action is likely to be limited on Monday.
Further eastwards on the Iberian peninsula, the weather is a little better. From Tuesday, the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing Team (currently candidate for the longest team name in racing) will be testing at Almeria. Tito Rabat, who virtually lives at the circuit, will continue work on the 2015 Kalex, while new teammate and reigning Moto3 champion Alex Marquez will carry on with his job of adapting to the new category, and changing his riding style to suit Moto2.
The man Marquez beat for the 2014 Moto3 title is headed to Malaysia. Jack Miller has a private test arranged at Sepang for later in the week, where he will get his first taste of the Honda RC213V-RS Open class bike. Miller will ride for two days at Sepang, on the 27th and 28th November, before heading home for a break.
For the Grand Prix teams, the winter test ban kicks in on 1st of December, and will last until the end of January. With new technical regulations coming into effect for the World Superbike class, their winter test ban has been greatly eased, testing only stopping for a brief two-week break for Christmas and New Year. Action ceases for WSBK on the 21st December, and will only resume again after 4th January.
Winter Racing: Superprestigio, 13th December 2014 - Marquez * 2, Rabat, Baker, Mees & Many Others - But No Hayden
After the resounding success of the Superprestigio indoor dirt track event back in January this year, the race is to return. On 13th December, the Sant Jordi stadium on Montjuic, the hill south of Barcelona, will host the second running of the Superprestigio, featuring the cream of motorcycle road racing taking on some of superstars of American flat track racing.
Reigning Superprestigio champion Brad Baker will be back in Barcelona once again, to defend the honor gained back in January. He will be joined by reigning AMA flat track Grand National champion Jared Mees, the two Americans defending the reputation of the home of dirt track, and the country the sport originated in its current form. They will have their work cut out for them: they will face some the best circuit racers in the world, with reigning and former champions taking to the short indoor oval. All three Grand Prix champions - Marc Marquez, Tito Rabat, and Alex Marquez - will be lining up in Barcelona, the three avid practitioners of the art.
They will be joined by legendary former World Superbike champion Troy Bayliss, now spending his retirement racing dirt track and running his own invitational dirt track event, the Troy Bayliss Classic, which will run on 17th January next year. Another world champion will also be taking to the dirt, with Supermoto S1 world champ Thomas Chareyre also joining the fray.
Many more of motorcycling's superstars will also be racing in Barcelona: TT star, TV personality and truck mechanic Guy Martin will be taking part. From the world of MotoGP, the three world champions will be joined by Bradley Smith, Scott Redding, Mika Kallio, Julian Simon, Alvaro Bautista, Johann Zarco, Jonas Folger, Marcel Schrotter, Xavier Simeon, Lorenzo Baldassari, Ricky Cardus, Alex Rins, Enea Bastianini and Niklas Ajo. Newly crowned CEV Superbike champion Kenny Noyes will also be there, along with indoor Enduro champion Taddy Blazusiak, Long Track world champion Joonas Kylmäkorpi, former Enduro world champion Ivan Cervantes, and the stars of regional dirt track championships from the UK, Spain and Italy.
There will be racing in three different classes: the Superprestigio class, for riders from an asphalt and road racing background; the Open class, for riders with flat track and other offroad backgrounds; and a junior class, for riders up to 18 years of age. The juniors will race against themselves, while the best riders from the Open and Superprestigio classes will qualify through a series of heats, the best riders from both classes meeting in the Grand Final at the end of the evening.
One rider who will not be there, unfortunately, is Nicky Hayden. Hayden is himself a former flat track winner and champion, having grown up on the dirt before making the switch to the road circuits. The American had watched the Superprestigio in January from his home, and had made arrangements to race at the event in December. His participation was dependent on getting the green light from his doctor, however, as Hayden is still recovering from surgery to remove three bones in his right wrist. Hayden was told it would be better for him not to take part in the Superprestigio, and instead to focus on gaining more movement in his wrist, the American told Cycle World. That has been his main concern since the surgery, Hayden aiming to be able to bend his wrist to 45°, rather than the 25° to 35° which he has been limited to since the surgery. Even that was an improvement, however, as Hayden had a lot of pain and virtually no movement prior to have the bones removed.
Tickets for the event range in price between €25 and €130, depending on seat location, and are available online through the RPM Ticket website. The event runs from 4pm until 9:30pm and is to be held in the Sant Jordi stadium, on Montjuic in the former Olympic complex. It is easily accessible by bus and metro, a set of escalators rising from the Plaza de España to the Olympic park. Its timing and location makes it an ideal as a pre Christmas excursion, with Barcelona's nightlife and shopping during the day, and the Superprestigio in the evening.
One of the things I enjoy most about running the MotoMatters.com website is the ability to communicate and interact directly with fans. Here, and as @motomatters on Twitter (and even one day on Facebook, once I get the page sorted out properly), I derive a lot of pleasure from hearing your questions and answering them to the best of my ability.
Of course, the problem with Twitter is that space to give an answer is severely limited, to just 140 characters. That doesn't leave much space to give as full an answer as the questions usually deserve. Similarly, when responding to comments on the website, I often don't have the time to spend giving the answer the full attention it deserves, as most of the questions and comments come during a race weekend.
To rectify this, I will be hosting an Ask Me Anything session on MotoMatters.com on Wednesday, 26th November 2014. Send me any question you like, and I shall endeavor to answer it. Want to know about how I got into bikes, how I started the website, who my favorite photographer is? (It's our very own Scott Jones, of course!) Want to know who I think is the best crew chief in the paddock, or what the future of Moto2 is, or whether Dorna will make the series grow or are running it into the ground? I shall try to give as honest an answer as I can to all of the questions received. Of course, the normal rules of MotoMatters.com debate apply: questions should not be intended to offend, or likely to deteriorate into pointless and circular flame wars.
So how can you ask your questions? There are three ways:
- If you are a registered user, you can post your question as a comment under the Ask Me Anything blog post which will be published at 00:00am CET on Wednesday, 26th November 2014. If you are not a registered user, you can sign up here. As a registered user, you will also be able to post follow up questions, and participate in the debate on other pages.
- If you are not a registered user, you can also send your questions to me via the Ask Me Anything form on the Contact page. Make sure that Ask Me Anything is selected in the drop down list (it is by default).
- If you do not want to use either of those methods, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, with Ask Me Anything in the subject line.
I look forward to your questions, and will do my best to answer them.
PS: Don't post your questions in the comments section here, as I will have forgotten them by the time Wednesday 26th November comes around.
While the Moto2 and Moto3 bikes were circulating at Valencia, along with the Althea WSBK team, Ducati and Kawasaki wrapped up their test at the Motorland Aragon circuit in preparation for the 2015 World Superbike series. The two Ducati riders were once again fastest, building on the work from Monday, with Davide Giugliano topping the timesheets ahead of teammate Chaz Davies. Jonathan Rea managed to just pip his Kawasaki teammate Tom Sykes, an impressive enough performance on his first ride out on the ZX-10R, though reports from the track suggest Rea may have set his best time on qualifying tires.
All of the riders have a lot of work to do, with new technical regulations that restrict the tuning of the engines and limit electronics to a factory-supplied kit. Ducati has the least amount of work to do, the factory already having prepared for 2015 during the 2014 season, and having not to change much as a result. Kawasaki had more work on their hands, much of it falling on the shoulders of Tom Sykes, as Jonathan Rea's main objective at Aragon was simply learning his way around the bike. Also present at the track were a number of journalists and test riders, who got to ride both Tom Sykes' WSBK ZX-10R and the EVO spec Kawasaki ZX-10R with which David Salom took the 2014 EVO crown. Among those doing media laps were former Moto2 race winner Jordi Torres.
Below are press releases issued by Ducati and Kawasaki after the test:
The Ducati Superbike Team concludes its first winter test sessions today in Spain
Alcaniz (Spain), Tuesday 18 November 2014 – The Ducati Superbike Team and riders Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano have completed the first of a series of winter tests, which took place this week at the Spanish circuit of Motorland Aragon, in mainly dry conditions and with very positive results.
The Ducati Superbike Team’s winter test schedule got started this week at Motorland Aragon. The team, also strengthened as a result of reconfirming both of its riders, Welshman Chaz Davies and Italian rider Davide Giugliano, was able to make the best possible start to its preparations for the new season. Work begins just two weeks after the final races of the 2014 season were held in Qatar.
Yesterday, in fairly cold conditions and on what was a damp track after overnight rain, the team focused on testing the new Panigale in its 2015 Superbike configuration, working with new electronics, new components and a new engine, that is closer to that of the production bike, in line with the 2015 regulation. In the afternoon, and on a dry track, both Davies and Giugliano completed approximately fifty laps, recording some very interesting lap times in the process.
Today, conditions allowed the team to work well with no interruptions to the programme. A great deal of important data was collated and the choices previously defined and tested by the development team were consolidated. The day concluded positively, with continuous improvement on the previous day’s performance in terms of lap times.
Winter testing will continue for the Ducati Superbike Team next week, with the Italian squad taking to the Spanish circuit of Jerez from the 26 to 28 November.
Quotes at the end of testing:
Chaz Davies - Ducati Superbike Team #7
“We’ve had two very positive days. This is the first time that I’m starting winter testing with the evolution of the the same bike with which I finished the season and this is important in terms of continuity in our work. The approach with the new bike has been very easy because the sensations are very similar to those I had with the bike I rode in Qatar. We’ve carried out some tests to confirm some of the solutions used during this season and the new components introduced on the 2015 bike have given us some very clear and positive feedback. The new electronics are working well and the new engine behaves in a fluid, linear way. I’ve had fun and look forward to getting back on the bike next week.”
Davide Giugliano – Ducati Superbike Team #34
“It’s all gone very well, we’ve tried many different things, all of which have led to improvements in areas where we needed them. I’m very pleased with the 2015 package because as soon as I got on the bike I felt comfortable, and we were able to concentrate on set-up and the testing of new components right away. Going fast at Aragon is very important to me because it’s a track that has always given me problems. We still have to work on pace which is the most critical aspect for me, but already over these two days we’ve seen that I was able to lap consistently fast with used tyres. This is very positive as we look ahead to next week’s tests at Jerez.”
Ernesto Marinelli – Ducati Superbike Project Director
“The first test in preparation for the 2015 season has been a positive one and I’m pleased that the configuration defined during the latest development tests in September and October has been supported by Chaz and Davide, who have confirmed the chosen solutions. We’ve still got a lot of work to do but the stopwatch tells us that we’re on the right path and rewards the huge amount of work put in both at home and on the track during the season. Aragon and Jerez are two very different tracks so it will be important to consolidate the information and results collated here when we get to Jerez next week, so that we can be confident when we resume in January.”
Motorland Winter Test Wraps Up For KRT
The new-look Kawasaki Racing Team of Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea completed their first winter test in preparation for the 2015 season with two days of action at Motorland Aragon in Spain, on 17 and 18 November. It was the first chance for Jonathan Rea to ride the Ninja ZX-10R after he was recently confirmed in the KRT team for 2015.
With several technical changes about to be introduced to the FIM Superbike World Championship next year the team worked on the many modifications to the Ninja ZX-10R, which include lower levels of engine tuning and fewer areas of machine adjustability than in 2014.
For the first time the riders used the MotoGP version of the Motorland Aragon circuit, rather than the more familiar SBK layout. Despite losing track time on day one after a rainy start each rider completed a high number of laps, with Sykes posting just over 100 and Rea around 80.
Neither rider was concentrating on lap times at this early stage but Rea made a best lap time of 1’51.1 on Motorland’s MotoGP layout, which will be used by the WSB class in 2015. Sykes set a best of 1’51.2 on a medium compound tyre choice, which he used all through this shakedown test for reasons of consistency and repeatability.
Next up for the KRT squad is more track evaluation of the 2015 equipment, this time at Jerez - the other Spanish circuit to have been recently confirmed on the 2015 WSBK race calendar. There will be two two-day sessions for tom and Jonathan at Jerez; 24 and 25 November and then 27 an 28 November.
Tom Sykes: “As we all know there are a lot of new technical regulations for 2015 and as soon as I left pitlane on day one I knew that we have a lot of work to do. I changed my mindset after that because we had a big list of things to try, plus some requests from KHI. We never got the chance to find a perfect package so we just focused more on race pace and evaluating things. We found a set-up and worked through the list of items to test. My approach was to find out where we are right now and what we need to do to get faster. I was also working on my riding style on the new set-up because in some ways it was ground zero at this test. We will work with a strong sense of the development direction we should take to arrive at the first round in Australia in a good place.”
Marcel Duinker, Tom Sykes’ Crew Chief said: “The new regulations mean that the bike is very different. If you have been working so hard on the previous bike and been so successful it is quite a shock when you have to almost start from scratch because the new rules give us quite a few limitations. Tom set a 1’51.2 lap and did 101 laps in total despite losing track time on day one due to rain. We started on a medium compound race tyre and stayed with that compound each day. This was so that we were able to make a proper comparison because we used a lot of new material. At the next test in Jerez we still have quite a lot of things to test and we were just a bit limited in time here. We need to find our set up and because the new rules are so different we need more time to discover our performance.”
Pere Riba, Jonathan Rea’s Crew Chief said: “I feel quite positive about this first test. We used our new bike to suit the 2015 rules for the first time and at the same time we have a new rider in Jonathan Rea. On the first day it was raining in the morning but then it was a good day of testing because we started to understand what Jonathan needed. He is a very good rider, very professional and the information we received is really good. It helps us to understand which direction we needed to go in to develop the bike. Jonathan did around 40 laps each day. It was a first test so we had to look for the base setting for the rider and the machine. That meant we spent quite a lot of time in the pit box making changes, but it worked out positively.”
The FIM have finally released the provisional calendar for the World Superbike series for next year. The 2015 season will see WSBK travel to 14 rounds, returning to all of the venues which hosted races in 2014, and two more overseas rounds added, in Russia and Thailand.
The chances of this being the definitive calendar appear to be slim. Three rounds are marked as still subject to contract: Portimao, Moscow and Qatar. Both Portimao and Qatar look likely to go ahead, but whether WSBK will actually return to Moscow remains to be seen. The 2014 round was canceled due to the political instability in the Russian Federation and the overflow of conflict in Ukraine, which affected various partners of the series. The political situation has only deteriorated since then, with the EU and US imposing sanctions on Russia, making the race there almost impossible. The teams and riders will be hoping for the round to be canceled: the race was a logistical nightmare to get equipment to and from, and for both the fans and riders to attend and find accommodation for.
The Moscow round is a legacy of the period when WSBK was still being run by Infront Motor Sports. Infront bosses Paolo and Maurizio Flammini signed a contract with Alexander Yakhnich of Yakhnich Motor Sports to host a Russian round of WSBK until 2021. A round in Russia will be scheduled for as long as that contract has left to run, though the chances of it actually being held appear to be slim. The situation highlights the risk of signing contracts with circuits or organizers in politically sensitive or unstable regions.
Happier news for WSBK is that they are heading to Thailand, to the Chang International Circuit. The race is to be the first World Championship race held in the country, and is the start of a push by both Dorna and the manufacturers into Asia. The circuit itself is a good distance from the Thai capital Bangkok, with only limited accommodation in the region, but the popularity of all forms of motorcycle racing in the region makes it prime territory for both WSBK and MotoGP. The Thai round is widely believed to be a prelude to MotoGP going to the track, with the circuit expected to appear on the 2016 MotoGP calendar if the WSBK race is a success.
The World Supersport class will contest one less race than World Superbikes, the class once again not appearing at the US round in Laguna Seca. WSBK joins the MotoAmerica round at the circuit, and with limited paddock space, a full schedule, and high travel and accommodation costs, it makes more sense to leave WSS at home.
The Superstock series will continue as support classes at selected WSBK rounds, as will the Pata and Honda-backed European Junior Cup. The Superstock 1000 class will race at 8 rounds, all in Europe, while the Superstock 600 class will have 8 races, spread over 7 rounds, the series doubling up at Aragon.
Testing for both WSBK and WSS will take place at Phillip Island before the opening round, the teams riding on 16th and 17th February, while the WSBK class will get two tests on the Mondays following the Portimao and Jerez rounds, on 8th June and 21st September respectively.
FIM Superbike & Supersport World Championships
FIM Superstock 1000 cc Cup
2015 provisional calendar, 18 November
|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