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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 GPOne.com, 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 MotoGP.com 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 MotoMatters.com 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!”

MotoMatters.com 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


Formic


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)

 

Thank You And Happy New Year To All Our Readers!

We wish all of our readers a very Happy New Year, and good health, happiness, and success in 2015!

Thanks to all our readers for your support in 2014. We hope you have enjoyed our coverage of MotoGP and World Superbikes this year, and will continue to support us again in 2015. A special thanks to everyone who has become a site supporter and taken out a subscription, without your financial support we would have had to stop a long time ago. Thanks also to everyone who bought a calendar in 2014, and who bought one for 2015, the proceeds from calendar sales are also a key factor in keeping the site running. If you woud like to support us, you can buy a 2015 calendar here, or join the growing band of site supporters. Thanks also to the many people who donated money to keep the site running, their contributions made a big difference.

Thanks to Pole Position Travel for their continuing support, to Alpinestars for their help and assistance, to all of the riders, mechanics, team managers, press officers who helped us keep you informed throughout the year. Thanks also to the staff in the many hospitality units who kept us supplied with coffee (essential fuel for a sports writer!), snacks and food. Thanks to the staff at Dorna, who provided many essential services behind the scenes, and to the staff at circuits around the world, who are almost unfailingly helpful. 

A very special word of thanks to the people who keep the site running. To Scott Jones, arguably the finest photographer working in the paddock today. To Jared Earle, for his tireless coverage of World Superbikes and World Supersport. To Mike Lewis and Jacob Leech, for covering practice and the races, giving me a chance to get out and collect more information. 

But above all, thanks to you, readers, for following and supporting the site, but also for the many intelligent comments which all too often put the content of the site to shame. May 2015 bring a fantastic year of motorcycle racing, and give us more than enough to write about and discuss!

Scott Jones 2014 Retrospective: Part 3 - Le Mans


#93


Pro tip: how to keep your clutch plates in order


Le Mans turned out some good battles. Dovizioso led a close group early on ...


... while Rossi took over at the front a few laps later


The official Moto2 and Moto3 tire supplier even has a bridge and corner named after them...


Mika Kallio shows emotion. A rare sight from the cool Finn


Comfort is everything, next to protection


One of the most famous sights in all of motor sports


Every race track should have a big wheel


The Hayden Hustle


A glimpse of the future: Le Mans was one place where Pol Espargaro could play with a Moto2 style on the Yamaha


Marc Mirage


His second podium of the season, Le Mans was the point at which we knew Valentino Rossi was back


Ready for Raccordement


Job done


Miller vs Rins was as tough as Miller vs Marquez


Mechanics always manage to retain a remarkable sense of calm when riders bring their bikes back like this


Everything else is just waiting


Now try to clear your mind


Le Mans was a tale of two Yamahas


Mr Miller


Alvaro Bautista had good days and bad days in 2014. A podium meant that Le Mans was a good day


Brake, turn, release. Jorge Lorenzo makes it look much simpler than it is


Stefan Bradl, getting ready to stand it up and fire it along the front straight

 


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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