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KTM To Enter MotoGP In 2017 - And Is That Bad News For World Superbikes?

Yet another manufacturer is to enter MotoGP, it was announced yesterday. KTM is to join Honda, Yamaha, Ducati, Suzuki and, most probably, Aprilia in MotoGP, with KTM moving up to the premier class in 2017, a year after the new regulations take effect and Michelin takes over as single tire supplier.

The news was announced by KTM CEO Stefan Pierer, in an exclusive interview with the German-language website Speedweek. In that interview, Pierer set out the approach KTM will take to MotoGP, which will be a departure from the more traditional route of the other manufacturers in the class. The idea is not to enter as a factory team, but to build a bike and make it available to customer teams, much as they currently do in Moto3. 

That bike will be a 1000cc V4, housed in a tubular steel trellis frame. The bike will have suspension from KTM subsidiary WP, as supplied with the Moto3 machines. Design work has already started on the V4 engine, and it is due to be tested on the dyno for the first time in May 2015. The complete bike will take to the track at the end of 2015, with 2016 being used to complete development of the bike, ready for the 2017 season. Pierer told Speedweek that wildcard appearances in the second half of 2016 are a definite possibility. The bike will be available to interested teams at a price of around 1 million euros, Pierer said, as that is the price at which Dorna has been trying to get the manufacturers to supply MotoGP bikes.

This would be KTM's second foray into MotoGP. The first attempt was an unmitigated failure, when the Austrian company built a V4 machine for Kenny Roberts' Team KR in 2005. That engine was known for being too aggressive, and suffering badly with underdeveloped electronics. Since then, Pierer emphasized, KTM's engineers had learned a lot about rideability and smoother power delivery. Furthermore, with all MotoGP entries to use spec software from 2016, the issue of software development had also been removed from the equation. The engine for KTM's RC16 (as the MotoGP bike is to be known) is being designed by Kurt Trieb, the engineer who developed the Moto3 powerplant which is dominating that championship.

The interview with Stefan Pierer contains a few aspects which are worthy of note. The first is the refusal to enter as a full factory team, as the other manufacturers have done. This is reminiscent of BMW's strategy, of supporting private teams but not taking part directly. That strategy has been extremely successful for BMW, the German manufacturer able to send out press releases boasting of the success of BMW privateers, without having to take responsibility for their failures. By concentrating on motorcycle design and production, KTM can keep their costs down, while still receiving both the R&D and marketing benefits of participating in MotoGP.

The more interesting aspect of the announcement is the way in which development is to be subsidized. The KTM RC16 is not only to be sold to MotoGP teams, but a cheaper version is also to be sold as a glorified track bike to private individuals. 'Cheaper' is a relative term here: where the full MotoGP version will have a price tag of a million euros, the retail bike will cost in the region of 150,000 to 200,000 euros. It will not be available as a street legal version, as the restrictions imposed on street bikes make it impractical to produce such a high-performance machine. The combined problems of producing a bike which complies with Euro 4 emissions standards and in sufficient quantities to homologate the bike for World Superbikes make that an impractical project, Pierer told Speedweek. It was better to aim at wealthy, dedicated individuals looking for an exclusive high-performance bike. Pierer estimated they should be able to sell at least 100 units of such a machine, which would represent a large proportion of any MotoGP development budget.

One of the reasons given by Pierer for going down the track-only route for the RC16 does not bode well at all for the World Superbike series. The discussions about safety have taken on ridiculous proportions in some EU countries, Pierer told Speedweek, especially after a streak of good weather had produced a string of motorcycle fatalities. There is a lot of pressure on bike manufacturers, and discussions are going on at the EU in Brussels about the possibility of imposing performance restrictions. There have even been calls from some quarters to ban so-called superbikes, Pierer said. KTM saw it as their responsibility to keep motorcycle performance within strict limits, he added. 'Anything with over 200 horsepower has no place on public roads,' Pierer told Speedweek.

Leaving aside the absurdity of the argument - it is virtually impossible to extract maximum performance from any sporting motorcycle on a public road; most fatal accidents occur at speeds a very long way below the maximum of the bike involved; the majority of motorcycle accidents are caused by other vehicles - Pierer's statements point to a significant threat to WSBK. Superbikes have become ever more extreme over the past twenty years, a factor which has played a major role in the decline of their popularity. The original Ducati 916 produced 114 bhp in 1994. This rose to 122 bhp with the 996, and 123bhp with the 998, which was sold until 2002. From 2003, the 999 produced 150bhp, which was then replaced by the 1098. The 2009 Ducati 1098R produced 180 bhp, and the current top-of-the-range Ducati Panigale 1199R is quoted as producing 195bhp. In the space of twenty years, power outputs have risen by over 70%. As power outputs have risen, sales have declined, the performance of such extreme bikes becoming less and less relevant on public roads which are more and more heavily policed, despite improvements in engine response and handling.

By dropping the RC8 and replacing it with a bike which will not be eligible for homologation, KTM has effectively abandoned the World Superbike championship. If the EU or another major motorcycle market imposes performance restrictions - or bans large capacity sportsbikes altogether - then the viability of WSBK in its current form is called into question. The current identity crisis facing WSBK could become a lot worse.

Phakisa Freeway Round Of World Superbikes Canceled, Qatar Confirmed

The 2014 World Superbike calendar has been updated once again. The South African round of WSBK has been canceled, after the Phakisa Freeway track failed homologation. Work was being carried out on the circuit to allow it to meet requirements, but the work will not be finished on time. Dorna and the FIM are looking at finding a replacement for the dropped South African round, but at such short notice, and with attendance at WSBK events being disappointing, that will be difficult.

While the South African round was canceled, the Qatar race was confirmed. The racing at Qatar is to be held at night under the floodlights, just as MotoGP is. As this is also the last round of the season, the traditional awards ceremony will also be held in Qatar, though it will be held on the Monday after the race, rather than very late at night.

The cancellation of the South African round does not have direct consequences for the World Superbike championship chase, but it could have an effect for World Supersport. With just three rounds to go now, Pata Honda rider Michael van der Mark has a 53-point lead. That means that the Dutchman needs to score just 2 more points than Jules Cluzel, the man in second place, to clinch the title.

Below is the official press release from the FIM and Dorna on the 2014 World Superbike calendar:

FIM Superbike & Supersport World Championships

FIM Superstock 1000 cc Cup 2014 calendar, updated 31 July

The FIM and Dorna WSBK Organization would like to announce the confirmation of the Qatar Round at Losail International Circuit, scheduled for 2 November 2014.

As the round will be held at night time, the final prize-giving ceremony for both WSBK and WSS classes will take place in Doha the following day, on the evening of Monday 3 November.

Regarding the Round in South Africa originally scheduled to take place on October 19, FIM and Dorna WSBK regret to announce that, despite the efforts of the local promoter (GAS Sport), the works carried out on the race track are not advanced enough to meet the conditions required to achieve FIM homologation.

Dorna WSBK Organization and the FIM are looking into the possibility of finding a replacement for this race. Depending on the replacement venue, the awards for the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup could be presented either at the French Round, scheduled on Sunday 5 October 2014 in Magny-Cours, or at the new venue.

The calendar has been updated as follows:

23 February Australia Phillip Island GP Circuit X X  
13 April Spain MotorLand Aragón X X X
27 April The Netherlands TT Assen X X X
11 May Italy Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola X X X
25 May UK Donington Park X X  
08 June Malaysia Sepang International Circuit  X X  
22 June Italy Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli X X X
06 July Portugal Autódromo Internacional do Algarve X X X
13 July USA Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca  X    
07 September Spain Circuito de Jerez X X X
05 October France Circuit de Magny-Cours X X X
02 November Qatar Losail International Circuit X X  


Red Bull To Back Repsol Honda Team From 2015

Red Bull is to make its long awaited return to sponsoring a team in the MotoGP class. The Austrian energy drink giant has announced that they will expand their sponsorship of the Repsol Honda team for 2015 and 2016, with the Red Bull logo appearing on the team's Honda RC213V machines for the first time.

The move is a major step forward for Red Bull. The energy drink firm withdrew from the premier class in 2002, at the start of the MotoGP era, after having sponsored the WCM team, then racing Yamaha YZR-500s as the Red Bull Yamaha team. Since then, Red Bull's strategy has been focused on individual riders rather than teams, with its focus switched to Honda. Red Bull backed Dani Pedrosa, Marc Marquez, Stefan Bradl, and when they were at HRC, Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden. The Austrian energy drink logo had appeared on the LCR Honda machine at some of the US rounds of MotoGP, but so far, they had held off on backing a team full time.

That is set to change, with the stickers set to appear on the Repsol Honda machines. The move had been presaged by the increasing role Red Bull have played in helping promote the Repsol Honda team. The most prominent example was last year, when the company covered the costs of the Repsol Honda team's test at Austin early in the season, using that test as an opportunity to produce large amounts of promotional material, including online videos. Normally, teams have to purchase such material from Dorna for a sizeable fee, which then comes with severe restrictions on usage. With both Pedrosa and Marquez long-time Red Bull sponsored riders, the move to backing the team was a logical one. It was a move which HRC Team Principal Livio Suppo had been pushing for for a very long time.

The move also allows Red Bull to take on their competitors more directly. Monster has backed both the factory Yamaha team and the Tech 3 satellite Yamaha team, as well as supporting the French Grand Prix at Le Mans. Malaysian brand Drive M7 has also stepped up to back the Aspar team this season. Putting the Red Bull logo on the Repsol Honda bikes gives the brand more prominence, and also fits with the company's strategy of getting behind winners.

Below is the press release issued by HRC announcing the deal:

Honda Racing Corporation increase partnership with Red Bull

HRC are pleased to announce an evolution in their partnership with Austrian-based energy drink manufacturer, Red Bull.

After nine years of cooperation with the Repsol Honda Team and its riders – starting with Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa in 2006 – from next season the Red Bull logo will also feature for the first time on the Honda RC213V machines of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, and Red Bull will become the Official Energy Drink partner of the Repsol Honda Team, for the next 2 years, until the end of 2016.

Since the collaboration began the Repsol Honda Team and Red Bull have celebrated a total of 58 wins, 172 podiums, 63 pole positions, 73 fastest laps, three rider’s World Championships and four Constructor’s Championships.

Shuhei Nakamoto

HRC Executive Vice President

"We are delighted to have the opportunity to grow our partnership with Red Bull. It is an iconic global brand with whom we've worked alongside for nine years, so this was the logical next step. I'm sure that this new partnership will increase our visibility, not only as Honda, but also MotoGP on a whole to a wider global audience, which can only be good for the sport"

Leon Camier To Replace Nicky Hayden For Indianapolis And Brno MotoGP Rounds

After his seat in the IODA Racing team fell through due to a lack of funds, Leon Camier is to race in MotoGP in 2014 after all. The Englishman is to replace Nicky Hayden on the Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R for both the Indianapolis and Brno rounds of MotoGP. 

Hayden had surgery last week to remove a row of bones in his right hand, including the scaphoid he injured in a crash in 2011. On Tuesday, Hayden was examined for the first time after surgery, and although his recovery is going well, he will require an extended period of rehabilitation before he is ready to return to race. As a result, Hayden will be forced to skip both the Indianapolis and Brno rounds of MotoGP, in the hope of returning to action at Silverstone at the end of August.

In the meantime, Camier is to ride his production RCV1000R for the two rounds, making his debut in the premier class at last. The Englishman will face an uphill task at Indianapolis, acclimatizing to the Bridgestone tires at a notoriously difficult circuit, and one which he has never ridden. A week later, Camier will face a slightly easier challenge, racing at Brno which he knows from his time in World Superbikes.

Since learning that the IODA Racing team did not have the funds to field a second Aprilia RSV4 for Camier, the Englishman has been filling in as a replacement rider in World Superbikes. He took the seat of Sylvain Barrier on the BMW S1000RR EVO bike, and replaced the injured Claudio Corti on the MV Agusta F4RR. He was also on standby to replace Nicky Hayden earlier in the year, after Hayden suffered a flare up of the wrist injury, but Hayden continued to race. Camier will now get his chance to ride Hayden's bike, since the American decided to opt for surgery to fix the problem.

Below is the press release from the Drive M7 Aspar team:

Nicky Hayden recovery process from wrist operation is favourable

Nearly a week after surgery, Drive M7 Aspar rider underwent his first examination on Tuesday and received positive news

After undergoing surgery on his right wrist at the Oasis Center of San Diego last Wednesday, and after resting for several days, DRIVE M7 Aspar rider Nicky Hayden was examined on Tuesday for the first time since the operation. According to Dr. James Chao, the physician in charge of the surgery, the procedure was a success and his recovery is on track. The American rider will gradually regain movement in his wrist.

Hayden has had his wrist immobilised and has been resting since Wednesday of last week, but this Tuesday he underwent his first review. During the examination he was injected with platelet-rich plasma to help regenerate bone structure and also received magnetic therapy to accelerate the healing of the operated area. The need for adequate recovery time requires Hayden to miss the MotoGP rounds at Indianapolis and the Czech Republic.

A fitness plan has been devised for Hayden to keep in shape during his layoff, so that when he returns to action he will be at 100%. The DRIVE M7 Aspar team will field Superbike rider Leon Camier for the Indianapolis and Czech Republic rounds that follow the summer break, standing in for Hayden.

Nicky Hayden: "Although undergoing surgery is not usually a positive thing -not least because you lose a lot of time- I'm happy with how the operation went last week. Sometimes it is difficult, but we know that injuries are part of our sport and we must learn to manage them. Everyone knows that my wrist has been causing me problems, especially at recent races. I underwent an operation in June, which helped me to complete the first half of the season, but the truth is I've been riding with a lot of discomfort, and have been unable to perform at my best. So, together with the team, we decided to make an important decision and undergo a larger operation to treat an injury that comes from three years ago -when I broke my scaphoid and did not heal well. According to Dr. Chao the operation was a success and I am very happy, and focusing on my recovery. My right wrist still needs to be immobilised for another week. Then I will begin rehabilitation therapy, and I'll slowly recover mobility. I want to thank the team, sponsors and fans for all the support they are giving me at this time. In the first examination, a week after surgery, I received an injection of platelet-rich plasma to help heal bones. According to the doctor my recovery is on course, which is very positive. It takes patience, but if I have made the decision to have surgery it is to get back to my best. I made the decision thinking about being healthy for the end of the season and already thinking about next year."

Portimao WSBK Test - Sykes Tops Abbreviated Field After Two Days Of Testing

Kawasaki's Tom Sykes leaves the two-day official World Superbike test with his authority firmly stamped on the WSBK field. The Yorkshireman was nearly a quarter of a second faster than Aprilia's Sylvain Guintoli, and nearly four tenths quicker than his teammate Loris Baz. Marco Melandri was six tenths off the pace of Sykes, with the Ducatis of Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies setting the fifth and sixth best times.

Neither Sykes nor Baz had much to work on besides further perfecting set up of the Kawasaki ZX-10R. The development work was handed to EVO rider David Salom, who spent time developing the 2015 version of the bike Kawasaki will race next year. Despite the rule changes coming next season, the Kawasaki is still more closer to a Superbike than an EVO bike, Kawasaki manager Guim Roda told German website Speedweek.

At Aprilia, they several parts to test, but both Sylvain Guintoli and Marco Melandri managed to crash. Neither rider suffered serious injury, but Guintoli was forced to call it a day early after crashing towards the end of the session. Ducati riders Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies spent a lot of their time working their starts, a weak point of the Panigale so far this season. All of the riders got to evaluate new tires from Pirelli.

Prominent absentees were the Pata Honda squad of Johnny Rea and Leon Haslam, who are off to Japan to race the Suzuka 8 hours, and the Voltcom Suzuki pairing of Alex Lowes and Eugene Laverty. The World Superbike field now take an extended summer break, their next race coming on 7th September at Jerez.

Overall best times (all set on day 2):

Pos No Rider Bike Time Diff Prev
1 1 Tom Sykes Kawasaki 1:42.719    
2 50 Sylvain Guintoli Aprilia 1:42.954 0.235 0.235
3 76 Loris Baz Kawasaki 1:43.110 0.391 0.156
4 33 Marco Melandri Aprilia 1:43.315 0.596 0.205
5 34 Davide Giugliano Ducati 1:43.592 0.873 0.277
6 7 Chaz Davies Ducati 1:43.742 1.023 0.150
7 71 Claudio Corti MV Agusta 1:44.485 1.766 0.743
8 44 David Salom Kawasaki EVO 1:44.487 1.768 0.002
9 21 Alessandro Andreozzi Kawasaki EVO 1:44.924 2.205 0.437
10 11 Jeremy Guarnoni Kawasaki EVO 1:45.109 2.390 0.185


Ducati Line Up To Remain Unchanged For 2015: Crutchlow Dovizioso And Iannone To Ride Radically Revised Desmosedici GP15

After all the speculation of massive changes in Ducati's MotoGP team, all is to remain the same. During the World Ducati Week event held for fans of the Italian marque at Misano, both Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow announced that they would be remaining with Ducati for 2015, with Crutchlow choosing not to exercise his option to leave, and  Dovizioso being persuaded to sign on for two more years. In addition, Ducati exercised its option to extend the contract with Andrea Iannone, with Iannone to be given factory support.

The decisions by all three riders are a both a show of confidence in the ability of Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna to build a more competitive MotoGP machine, as well as a lack of alternatives elsewhere. The only other factory rides available are the two seats at Suzuki, but given the slow pace of the bike during testing and the amount of development work needed, that was a bigger risk than staying at Ducati.

Crutchlow's decision was perhaps the easiest to make: the option to stay or leave was in his hands alone, and although the relationship between the Englishman and Ducati is far from ideal, neither party had much of a choice. After a very strong season in 2013, Crutchlow has suffered a terrible slump in his form since joining Ducati. Twelve months ago, the question in the press room was when Crutchlow would win his first MotoGP race. This year, the question has been whether he would elect to stay or not. Crutchlow had options with Suzuki and interest from Honda, but they would have meant a reduction of wages without a guarantee of a competitive bike.

Dovizioso had also been high on Suzuki's target list of riders, but Ducati had worked very hard to keep the Italian on board. After a tough first year on the Ducati - a seemingly universal experience - Dovizioso is coming into his own this season, using the strengths of the Desmosedici GP14 to his advantage, and bagging two podiums along the way. Ducati Corse and Gigi Dall'Igna have praised Dovizioso's technical input, and believed it to be crucial for next year, when the Desmosedici is due to change so radically.

With Dovizioso and Crutchlow staying where they are, that leaves no room in the factory Ducati team for Andrea Iannone. Iannone had been pushing hard for promotion to the factory squad, and his results had certainly merited such a move. But Iannone, too, looks set to remain with Ducati, although in what form remains to be seen. Iannone is on the payroll of Ducati Corse, and it is possible that Iannone will be moved into a separate team with the joint colors of Pramac and Ducati Corse, according to reports on Iannone, too, was high on the list of candidates for Suzuki.

The reason the three men have decided to remain with Ducati for the 2015 season is the promise of a radically revised machine for next year. At Misano, Gigi Dall'Igna reaffirmed earlier statements he had made about building a completely new machine for next season. The bike will have a new engine, although it will remain a 90° V4 and will continue to use desmodromic valve gear. The engine dimensions will be radically changed, however, the motor being lighter and shorter than the current powerplant. The revised power unit will allow greatly changed geometry and bike layout. That, in turn, should cure the chronic understeer which has plagued the Desmosedici since the advent of the spec tire.

The retention of Dovizioso, Crutchlow and Iannone leaves no room for Aleix Espargaro, who was rumored in the Spanish media to be close to a deal with Ducati. Espargaro is desperate to get on to a factory option bike, in the hope of being able to compete at the front. His only hope at Ducati is that they make space in the Pramac team and offer him identical support to Iannone, though there are no signs that Ducati has either the budget or the intention to do that. That puts Espargaro at the top of Suzuki's target list, as the fastest of the riders still available - with the proviso that Espargaro would need to be bought out of his contract. With the Ducati seats tied up, the remainder of the open seats should soon start to fall into place. News is expected soon of Maverick Viñales' future, and whether he will ride for Suzuki, and whether Jack Miller will make the leap up to MotoGP, and slot in at the LCR Honda squad. News of those decisions shoud also follow soon.

Post-Sachsenring Surgery Update - Arm Pump Operation For Crutchlow, More Wrist Surgery For Hayden

With nearly four weeks of rest between the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring and the round at Indianapolis, riders are taking advantage of the break to have surgery. On Tuesday, Cal Crutchlow had surgery to relieve arm pump, and help reduce the swelling in his forearms. Crutchlow had had swelling in his forearms since crashing at the Sachsenring in 2013, a situation which previous surgery has done little to relieve. Though he posted a picture of himself on Twitter with both arms in bandages on Tuesday, he was fit enough to type several messages on the social media website a day later. Crutchlow is expected to be fully fit and back in action at Indianapolis. 

Nicky Hayden has had more invasive surgery. The Aspar rider has been suffering the after effects of his first-corner crash at Valencia 2011 ever since it happened, Hayden breaking a scaphoid in the incident. Further crashes exacerbated the injury, and his wrist became seriously inflamed at Jerez earlier this year. One operation to clean up the joint earlier in the year provided some relief, but now, Hayden has decided to try a more serious solution. Hayden underwent surgery to have a proximal row carpectomy, which involves removal of the scaphoid, lunate and triquetrum bones. Hayden had long been suffering arthritic symptoms around his scaphoid, and the scaphoid had failed to heal properly after the crash in Valencia. The PRC procedure should allow for increased mobility and much less pain. Hayden also expects to be fit to ride in Indianapolis.

Below is the press release issued by the Aspar team on Hayden's surgery:

Nicky Hayden undergoes successful operation in San Diego

DRIVE M7 Aspar rider was treated yesterday at the Oasis Center in San Diego

DRIVE M7 Aspar rider Nicky Hayden has decided to go back under the surgeon's knife yesterday in order to increase mobility in the joint. With nine rounds now completed out of eighteen in the 2014 season the 'Kentucky Kid' is making the most of the summer break to fix his wrist properly.

On Wednesday morning at 6am the DRIVE M7 Aspar rider underwent an operation that lasted an hour and a half, carried out by Dr. Chao at the Oasis Center in San Diego. The medical term for the procedure is a proximal row carpectomy with radial styloidectomy, which involves the removal of a row of small bones in the wrist in order to increase mobility within the joint.

Dr. Chao reported that the operation had been a success and that Nicky now has increased range of motion in his wrist. The former MotoGP World Champion will now take some rest and begin therapy to recover and return to racing as soon as possible. The DRIVE M7 Aspar Team has full confidence in the rider and wishes him a swift and full recovery.

Tito Rabat To Remain With Marc VDS In Moto2 For 2015

As expected, Tito Rabat has confirmed he will stay with the Marc VDS Racing team for 2015, and spend another year in Moto2. The Spaniard had an option in his contract which would allow him to leave for a MotoGP team if he were to win the Moto2 title and he had an offer from a factory team. With few factory option bikes on offer next year, and with the MotoGP rules set to change in 2016, Rabat elected to stay in Moto2 for another year, and if he wins the title, become the first ever Moto2 champion to defend his crown.

The announcement also confirms Marc VDS' intention to remain in Moto2 and not move up to MotoGP, as we have been reporting for some time. The deadline for the team to make a decision to move up to MotoGP was at Assen, with chassis builder Kalex needing confirmation from either Marc VDS or Pons before they could start to go ahead and build chassis for the Yamaha engines available for lease. With the introduction of a single set of electronics, and Michelin replacing Bridgestone, moving up to MotoGP in 2015 was a risk. Waiting for a year will allow teams such as Marc VDS to judge which is the most competitive package, and which manufacturer appears to be adapting to the new tires best.

With Rabat confirmed, the next step is to wait for who will join him in the team. Despite the fact that he is currently second in the championship and challenging his teammate for the title, Mika Kallio looks set to lose his ride in favor of a youngster coming up from Moto3. Or possibly even two youngsters, with both current Estrella Galicia riders Alex Marquez and Alex Rins being linked to the ride. Marc VDS also has Jack Miller under contract, but the contract dispute between Marc VDS and Miller's manager Aki Ajo has soured relations between the two parties. Miller is still being linked to a ride in MotoGP with LCR Honda, but he could also move up to the Pons Moto2 team, where he could replace another Ajo protege Maverick Viñales.

The press release announcing Rabat's contract appears below"

Rabat confirmed at Marc VDS for 2015 season

Gosselies, Belgium – 17 July 2014: The Marc VDS Racing Team is pleased to announce that Tito Rabat will remain with the team for the 2015 season.

Rabat, who is currently leading the Moto2 World Championship, having won four of the nine races so far, had an option in his contract that would see him released from the team to make the move up to MotoGP should he be crowned World Champion this season.

The 25-year-old Spaniard has decided against exercising this option and, instead, has committed himself to a second season in Moto2 with the Marc VDS Racing Team.

Should Rabat achieve his goal and win the championship this season, 2015 will be the first time the reigning Moto2 World Champion has returned to defend the title since the intermediate class switched from 250cc two-strokes to 600cc four-strokes in 2010.

Tito Rabat

“I’m happy to stay with Marc VDS in 2015 for a number of reasons, but the main one is because they are as committed to winning races as I am. I have a good team of people around me and they ensure I have everything I need to win, so why would I go anywhere else? Now everything is sorted we can focus on doing what we set out to do at the beginning of the season, which is to win races and the championship. Nobody has ever won the Moto2 World Championship and then returned the following year to defend the title, so I hope I will be the first.”

Michael Bartholemy // Team Principal

“Obviously I’m pleased that Tito will remain with the Marc VDS Racing Team next year, as I know he’s had quite a few offers to make the step up to MotoGP next season. That he’s made the decision to remain with the team now, rather than waiting, also shows just how committed he is to the job at hand. With the decision about his future made, he can focus completely on his main goal for this season; winning his and the team’s first ever World Championship title.”

Marc van der Straten // President, Marc VDS Racing Team

“When you have a rider in your team that isn’t just leading the championship but pretty much dominating it, then you know that MotoGP teams are going to be knocking on his door, and that’s exactly what’s happened with Tito this season. But, despite the offers, he’s made the decision to remain with the Marc VDS Racing Team for another season and I’m proud that he feels his future lies with us.”

Carbon Fiber Brough Superior Moto2 Bike To Make Debut At Silverstone

Despite some early promise, there has been much complaining of a lack of innovation from chassis builders in Moto2. the bikes have followed the same basic layout as all modern race bikes since the late 1980s: aluminium twin spar chassis and conventional suspension arrangements.The only real interest has come from wildcards. At Le Mans, the French Promoto Sport team raced their Transfiormer chassis, with some solid results. Beyond that, the bikes have been pretty much identikit.

At Silverstone, another interesting wildcard will get its first public running. The British round of Moto2 will see the Brough Superior make its debut in a competitive race, after making an appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last year. The bike is a rebrand of the design by John Keogh and Taylormade Racing, discussed on last year. The bike uses a monocoque chassis design made fully from carbon fiber, with integral fuel tank. The front suspension is a single wishbone with damping in the forks, while the rear swingarm is also fully carbon fiber. The radiator has been moved to the rear of the bike, to allow the machine to be narrower and free up space in front of the engine.

The Brough Superior is to be raced by Luke Mossey, currently competing in the British Supersport championship. The effort is to be backed by British insurance giant Bennetts, one of the largest specialist motorcycle insurers in the UK. The press release announcing the deal appears below:


Bennetts Back Racing Return of British Icon

Insurance specialists to sponsor Brough Superior project at British MotoGP round

Bike insurance specialists Bennetts are backing the return of the iconic British Brough Superior brand by sponsoring the reborn marque’s one-off entry into the British Grand Prix at Silverstone next month.

Bennetts Brough Superior, as the team will be known, will enter the Moto2 class with rider Luke Mossey competing on board the team’s innovative British-designed carbon fibre Carbon 2 machine.

The project is headed by California-based Brits Paul Taylor and John Keogh, who are running the team on behalf of the soon-to-be relaunched Brough Superior brand. The bike, which has won national level races in the United States, features a unique carbon fibre monocoque design and has received input from famed Formula One engineers John McQuilliam and Steve Nichols. Like all bikes on the Moto2 grid, the Brough Superior will be powered by the standard specification 600cc four-cylinder Honda engine.

Dubbed the ‘Rolls Royce of motorcycles’ Brough Superiors were rare and expensive machines during their 20 year production run from 1920. Famous for their association with Lawrence of Arabia, Broughs acheived numerous race wins and speed records in the 1920s and 1930s. The brand was bought by British engineer Mark Upham in 2013 and the company has plans to sell its new SS100 model early next year, the first new motorcycles to go on sale wearing the famous name in 75 years.

Mossey, a front runner in the British Supersport championships, has already tested the bike in America, before giving the Carbon 2 a first run out on British soil at Silverstone yesterday. The team is planning to undergo one further test, before making its world championship debut at the Northamptonshire circuit on the weekend of 29-31 August.

Paul Taylor, CEO, Taylormade Racing said: “It is really exciting to be partnering with Bennetts to bring the Brough Superior Carbon 2 to the track at Silverstone. The bike has been in development and testing for a number of years and as befitting the iconic Brough Superior name, this is the state of the art in chassis design. We’ve been able to benefit from Formula 1 expertise here in the UK and hope that will make for a very competitive package first time out. Luke has taken well to the bike so we are really looking forward to mixing it up with the regular Moto2 competition to see how good it is.”

Luke Mossey, Bennetts Brough Superior Carbon 2 rider, said: “I can’t wait to race the Bennetts Brough Superior Carbon 2. I’ve ridden it in California and really like the bike - it reminds me of riding my 250GP bikes. I’ve done well at Silverstone, its one of my favourite tracks, so think we can be competitive even though have had less track time than our competitors. Roll on August!”

Mark Upham, CEO of Brough Superior, said: “We are proud to be partnering with Bennetts, a long-established company that George Brough would have known, to show why Brough Superior is an iconic British name! The Carbon 2 is everything George Brough would want in a motorcycle and I’m sure he and TE Lawrence wil be watching from on high and cheering Luke on as his namesake rolls out in front of the British MotoGP fans.”

Paul Taylor, PR and Sponsorship Manager at Bennetts, said: “We are delighted to be working with the team and are looking forward to seeing what they can do at Silverstone. There is a lot of romance around Brough Superior and the project is sure to attract attention around the world, but as much as anything we are just excited to be backing British engineering and design. When it was introduced in 2010, we expected Moto2 to be a place for chassis innovation. Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case and we’re proud to be backing this original design in an otherwise homogenised field. There are no results expectations from Luke and the team, we’re just thrilled to be flying the flag for Britain. There’s no doubt that we are the underdogs, but we like that and hope that the British public will get behind this exciting project.”

Image credit: Double Red

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