The Racing Week On Wednesday - News Round Up For The Week Of 22nd April

Can you ever have too much motorcycle racing? You can if the amount of racing over one weekend actually exceeds the number of hours in each day. That was pretty much the case last weekend, when we MotoGP at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina, World Superbikes – including World Supersport, FIM Superstock 1000, the European Superstock 600 Championship, and the European Junior Cup – at Assen, British Superbikes at Brands Hatch (the very short, very fast Indy circuit, not the longer GP layout), the second round of the inaugural MotoAmerica series at Road Atlanta, and the 24 hour race at Le Mans in France. Looking beyond motorcycle road racing, there was also the fourth round of the MXGP motocross world championship at Trentino in Italy, and a Formula One race at Bahrain.

Although the constraints of long seasons mean that there will always be clashes, this was a little ridiculous. Racing series are not completely free to set their calendars as they wish – they are tied down by a host of factors such as track availability, the weather, other events organized at the circuits, local government permission and many, many others – this weekend was one of the more spectacular scheduling SNAFUs. Let us hope this can be avoided next year.

For the upcoming weekend, the calendar is much more limited. The FIM Repsol CEV championship – what we used to know as the Spanish championship – has its first race at Portimao in Portugal. The field is as varied as ever, with riders from all over Europe and Asia, as well as an Australian and an American in Moto3, an even more varied field in Moto2 – including exotica such as the Vyrus, ridden by British youngster Bradley Ray – and Barcelona-based American rider Kenny Noyes defending his title in the Superbike class. Their Italian counterpart, the CIV championship, also kicks off this weekend with their first races at Misano. Both series will be streamed live, CEV on their Youtube channel, and the CIV via a specialist Italian motorsports channel called Sportube.

World Superbike calendar for 2016 and beyond

The German website Speedweek had a lot of news on WSBK this weekend, after their correspondent Ivo Schützbach spoke to Dorna's head of WSBK, Daniel Carrera. For next year, the WSBK calendar looks set to be very similar to 2015, with all of the current tracks except for Jerez already having a contract for next year or longer. Carrera also announced that Monza is to make a return for 2016, bringing the total number of WSBK rounds in Italy to three. That could even rise to four: Dorna today announced that Vallelunga is to serve as a reserve circuit for 2015 and 2016. Should circumstances prevent one of the races not happening this year or next, then Vallelunga will take its place. The press release explicitly stated that they did not expect to lose a race, but after the problems with India and Russia, and a little longer ago, the failure of the Balatonring to stage a race, having a reserve circuit is a good idea. Russian SBK organizer Yakhnich still has a contract to run the Russian round for the foreseeable future, but have neither a circuit nor the funds to do so. Whether Vallelunga would take the place of a Russian race is uncertain.

The more intriguing announcement by Carrera was that World Superbikes intends to return to India in 2017. The previously restrictive customs regulations have been dropped, making it possible to hold a race there without lodging a security fee covering the full value of all of the equipment shipped in and out of the country. There are still some hurdles to be taken, but it seems like that WSBK will be racing at the Buddh International Circuit in 2017. If World Superbikes goes there, then MotoGP is sure to follow, in 2018 at the earliest. India and Thailand are key markets for the motorcycle manufacturers.

Melandri's misery to end?

The idea that Marco Melandri should leave World Superbikes and make a return to MotoGP has turned out even worse than almost everyone expected, Aprilia and Melandri included. The Italian is deeply uncomfortable on the Bridgestone tires, and Aprilia's RS-GP bike, and has circulated consistently several seconds off the pace, and a second or more off his teammate, Alvaro Bautista. The relationship between Melandri and Aprilia is exploring new depths, with neither side having anything positive to say about the other.

At Assen, serious rumors started emerging about a possible return to World Superbikes in 2016 for the Italian. Melandri's name is being linked with Yamaha, who are due to make a full return to the series next year. Though officially, Yamaha are refusing to confirm they will be in WSBK next year, their Superstock and national programs are being stepped up ready for a full-on assault in 2016.

The reason for Melandri's name coming up is that Andrea Dosoli, who has worked with Melandri at Hayate, Yamaha and BMW, is tasked with coordinating Yamaha's racing efforts with the all-new YZF-R1. Dosoli is rumored to be keen on another link up with Melandri, according to some sources in the WSBK paddock.

Just how much truth there is to the rumors remains to be seen. Melandri will be 33 this year, and if his poor season continues, question marks will linger over how much longer he has. He can be fast on a competitive bike, but if the bike needs development, will Melandri be willing to put in the work?

It is not as if Yamaha would not have any other options. It is likely that at least one relatively competitive MotoGP rider will be out of a ride at the end of this year, making the switch to Yamaha in WSBK a strong option. There will be riders in BSB who may be suitable, such as the pairing of Josh Brooks and Broc Parkes currently racing for Milwaukee Yamaha. And Dorna would love to have a top American in the series, with plenty of talk at Austin of Cameron Beaubier, and even Jake Gagne. The line for a shot at the Yamaha R1 ride will be very long indeed.

Oh Dani boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling...

Will Dani Pedrosa be back at Jerez? As of this moment, it is uncertain, but the signs are looking positive. Pedrosa wrote on his blog on the Repsol website that his recovery is going well, and that he has already had some of the stitches removed. According to Catalan reporter Damià Aguilar, Pedrosa has been doing strength exercises with his right arm, and is due to try to ride a motorcycle for the first time this week, to see if he is capable. A decision about actually racing at Jerez has not yet been made, and is likely to be left right until the last minute. If he does not race, then Hiroshi Aoyama is likely to fill in for him again. Aoyama will be present in Jerez anyway, as there is a test on the Monday after the Jerez race.

EBR – Racing or bust?

The sad demise of Erik Buell's latest motorcycle operation, EBR, has left many people with an uncertain future. Not least for the many employees at the factory building the EBR1190RX. But it also raised a question mark over the future of the World Superbike team. At Assen, neither Larry Pegram nor Niccolo Canepa – who has been outstanding on the EBR – had any idea what their future would hold.

As of right now, the future remains unclear. Speaking to GPOne.com, Canepa was uncertain whether he would be racing at the next round at Imola or not. He heard nothing from EBR, after Larry Pegram, who also runs the team, had flown back to the US. Plans are being made in the background for a worst-case scenario, should the team also fold, with Canepa looking around for a ride. With Nico Terol out through injury, after crashing heavily at Assen, Canepa could take the place of the Spaniard, at least temporarily. Given his experience with the Ducati Panigale 1199, he would make the ideal replacement.

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Comments

Agree with your sentiments regarding a little more racing than it was possible to digest.

Sounds ungrateful, but spreading the racing a little more evenly would be appreciated organizers!

Total votes: 150

I decided to check out the TV coverage even though I'd already seen the results from COA.

The COA race weekend was all part of a single 1 hour show. After 15 minutes of discussing the bikes, tire types, etc, they showed a few laps of the 2 superbike races - maybe 30 minutes of racing total. And that was it.

MotoAmerica just released the TV schedule for the rest of the year, and it seems this is how it will be for the rest of the season - highlights shown a week after the races. The lack of recognizable riders may be the reason for the TV pkg being what it is.
http://www.motoamerica.com/motoamerica-tv-schedule

The Superbike grid only has a few recognizable names, and only a handful of riders were able to finish within a minute of the winner at COA - 3 in race 1, 5 in race 2. They didn't have the same type of results from Road Atlanta, but only 6 riders finished each of the Superbike races in the rain.

RE: Melandri - Aprilla should see if they could swap Melandri for Jordy Torres for the rest of the season. They're surely not getting much in return for having Melandri ride their GP bike, and don't have much to lose by letting Torres ride it.

Total votes: 163

Horrible weekend for Fox Sports, so frustrating.

They had some unscheduled Nascar race, which pushed MLS over to the slot that MotoGP was scheduled to run.

No end in site, so I go to their website, in hopes of seeing some news of what the heck happened, and when they would be re-broadcasting the race, only to see the results of the race on their damn home page.

How flippin lame can you get?

Total votes: 157

no mls fan here

Total votes: 159

WSBK could have had the field to itself this weekend, but no. They decided to run on a MotoGP /F1 weekend. Silly.

Total votes: 145

"It is not as if Yamaha would not have any other options. It is likely that at least one relatively competitive MotoGP rider will be out of a ride at the end of this year, making the switch to Yamaha in WSBK a strong option."
Could this be the same rider courted by Yamaha before he came to MotoGP?

Total votes: 140

I think Le Mans is in July - although there certainly was a dizzying amount of racing this weekend past...

The WEC cars ran 6 hours at Silverstone recently (maybe this weekend past)? No surprise, Audi won.

Total votes: 134

The FIM's 24 was this weekend, which reminds me to go and find it.

Re: the WEC, I really like what they're doing, all races are made available in FULL on their youTube channel. Talk about growing an audience! It seems like the perfect time to be a fan of WEC, its not popular enough to be major league commercialized yet there are still buckets of factory funds floating around. Don't get me started on the variety of technology either, I'm not sure the asylum would appreciate us hijacking the floor...

The tickets are cheap from what I hear, the paddocks are open and the drivers are approachable and interact with their audience. Oliver Jarvis liked a video I posted (of the broadcast) on Instagram of him taking a 919 round the outside. I've aways watched the 24, last year I followed the championship through the website, this year I watched Silverstone on their Youtube and that small bit of driver/audience interaction has certainly accelerated my interest in the series. Full time fan...

Total votes: 159

Appreciate the WEC youtube heads-up, I'll be tuning in from now on.

Total votes: 140

I kind of focus on MotoGP in bikes, and am blind to some of the other events. When I hear Le Mans...I think 917s. 24 hours of bike racing is in-sane!

Total votes: 147

I cannot state in strong enough words how utterly disappointed I am with what has happened with the opportunity NotoAmerica has squandered. I will adopt just about any other national series as my own instead. Better racing and better coverage from thousands of miles away.

PS "NotoAmerica" - this was a typo but after I looked at it, it seems just about right so I left it alone ...

Total votes: 147

There was a much lengthier, better-informed and more articulate defense of MotoAmerica on an article a few weeks back, but the gist of it was: let's give them a little time. The way things are now are not necessarily the way they want them to be. Priorities had to be set and compromises had to be made to pull off the minor miracle of launching the entire series between one season and the next.

I mean Dorna can barely convince American broadcasters to give MOTOGP some air time. I'm sure Wayne Rainey and co. would have loved to see every race weekend broadcast live in their entirety, but they can't just snap their fingers and make it so. For now, I'm happy to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they see as much room for improvement as we do.

Total votes: 146

I respect your position and hope you are right but let me elaborate further.

I choose to assume that the target market are disenchanted US motorcycle fans that were dismissing the DMG run series and turning to other series to get their fix (for me it was BSB). Furthermore, the terrible and limited coverage made any attempts to look past the bad decisions prior management made impossible.

So it stands to reason that fixing these things would resolve the issue and get it back on track so to speak. Reset rules without bankrupting teams (the hardest part was done well I thought) and reintroduce the series to the fans.

I am not asking for live coverage or slickly produced reels like MotoGP or even BSB. That's too much to start with. I was just hoping that I could see the races in full. What are they putting out differently than what DMG was doing is my question ... I was willing to pay for coverage. Still am.

Yes, I understand the media outlets in the US have no interest in motorcycle racing as a whole but why not find an alternate avenue. A monetized Youtube Channel or some other media platform that isn't tied to someone else's programming vision.

Anyway, 2 rounds have come and gone and if not for this site, I would know nothing at all about it because I have to work to find the product. No email list, social media accounts not publicized all that well ... If I do find it, I only get snippets that had the life sucked out of them. Sounds like the DMG days to me though I must admit, the bikes and suits do look the part now and Jonathan Green at COTA was marginally better than Scott Russell. :-)

I'm kidding about the bikes. They got that part right but I guess I only had one more chance left in me with regard to coverage. I was willing to do the donkey work (as Nick Harris would say) and look for them but now they will have to find me and drag me back if they want me. That's all. I really hope they do but I'm not counting on it until I see something different on the coverage side. Can't get excited about something I can't see.

Total votes: 140

It is hard to understand why the media exposure wasn't a higher priority. I'm just hoping it was a case of too much to do and too little time and not a lack of understanding about what the fans want.

Total votes: 134

Especially with all the free avenues to explore, as I mentioned above WEC makes all races available on Youtube in Full. Granted maybe MotoAmerica is worried about making the content available freely only to experience backlash when they pull it years down the road if and when a national broadcast contract is secured? I they're not using that logic, 'at the risk of alienating fans we won't appease them either...'

Total votes: 152

Maybe it was lower priority because of the cost factor. Youtube might be free-ish but filming, editing and producing costs money. If CBS or whoever has the media deal picked up the tab, it would explain the decision -- bad as it might be for the show.

As for backlash on free-to-pay changes (a valid point I might add), I think it could be minimized by offering full races for only the first year. Inform people even before the first race aired that it will change the following year.

"This year is free but next year will be pay -- and cost you (insert reasonable amount here) to see full races (season pass or a la carte). Other content will remain free including event recaps [with the life sucked out of them through editing. lol] Think of your subscription cost as an investment to keep us going in the right direction and use our (insert social media platform of choice here) to make suggestions, provide constructive criticism and interact with the series and riders."

Reading something like that would make me buy into it but maybe I am easy like that. Hopefully, someone over at M.A. already has this all worked out and will announce later this year but if not, someone else tell them please. I already did when their site first went up and had an email address I could send to (because I am special like that *haha*).

Total votes: 145

At CotA, I heard from a reliable source that one TV channel were asking a seven figure sum for TV production of the series. Adding live streaming would have nearly doubled that. And yes, you understood it right, MotoAmerica would have to pay to have the series broadcast, not the other way around. Once the series has some popularity, then broadcasters may start thinking about paying MotoAmerica. Until then, it will cost the series money.

Total votes: 148

The cost sounds about right. I am not at all surprised were they are at. They did a major insert in last months Cycle World. Really well done piece anti cost a ton. They are doing promotion, Facebook page etc But motorcycle racing in the USA is not very popular. The only way to get exposure is to buy it at this point. Not sure if it will ever get any better so I hope the group has some deep pockets and can lose money for a few years.

Total votes: 135

I didn't see these two stories because after the (lack of) COTA coverage, I stopped looking. Quick to judge, yes. Unreasonable? Maybe. Alone in this reaction, probably not. If I am in the minority, then they are fine and my viewpoint doesn't matter much anyway. lol

I get it, traditional TV deals and owning/producing your own streaming service is just not possible with the kind of investment it would take. I was never suggesting that they do traditional and my frustration was with the lack of information as much as the lack of coverage. I was hoping for a fresh approach and alternatives to the old standby which included me not having to hunt down the info on how, when and where I could watch the race (other than in person).

That said, they must have been trying to negotiate a workable deal with AMA for the Fanschoice.tv portal (sans COTA) so that is a glimmer of hope. I'll have my fingers crossed that it is the start of better things to come and go looking for them there.

Total votes: 125

I wrote a lengthy diatribe a couple weeks ago to give MA some time to build it after DMG destroyed the series. Some of the names involved with MA might not jump out to everyone but Rainey should. There's many others involved that know motorcycle racing quite well including Chuck Aksland & Paul Carruthers. If anyone can do this, it will be them. They've already got commitment from numerous manufacturers and that seems to be growing weekly. That's been missing for a few years now and is a big start towards growing the series back into something respectable. Without the manufacturer involvement, it's over.

I'm not happy with the lack of coverage but understand and empathize with their position at this point. It's easy to sit out here in fanland and say we want this & that, or the other. It's a completely different task to try to provide all of it right from the get go. I'd be willing to wager that within 3 years, let's say the start of 2018, things will look quite different. Just my 2¢ worth.

Total votes: 138

Supposedly he's racing a Supermoto next week.

"Danis forearm looks perfectly and currently there is no reason why he should not go," said Pedrosa's attending physician Dr. Angel Villamor after an investigation on Tuesday against ace. "He wants to do everything right and therefore take it slow. After the test, with the supermoto bike he will finally decide whether to participate in this weekend or the next."

http://www.motorsport-magazin.com/motogp/news-211004-pedrosa-entscheidet...

(Am I impolite to post a link out?)

Total votes: 146

I've always been the biggest Melandri fan ... but his inability of late in MGP is neigh on child like. They should remove him from the team with immediate effect. And honestly for Yamaha to 'maybe' be considering him for a ride in WSBK ... I think would be a negative impact on Yamaha. Me thinks if Torres is out of a contract ... grab him quick.

Melandri has a cute girlfriend ... perhaps its time for hang up his riding gear and go make babies. He's shown he's definitely no VR!

Total votes: 154

I dunno.... calls like this from the sidelines about former world gp champions always leave me a bit cold. Personally I'm reasonably confident that if Melandri felt he could achieve something worthwhile on the aprilia without a trip to hospital he would. Even the great VR didn't risk his neck when his limits with ducati were obvious to him.

Total votes: 138

Cameron Beaubier did the double at Road Atlanta, looking forward to seeing him do it on the world level soon.

He did have arm pump surgery immediately after the race but it shouldn't hinder him any, there's a nice month off until the next round.

Total votes: 123

As an old timer and a long time fan of motorcycling I am happy to hear the mention of India as a possible venue for WSBK racing at the BIC in 2017. It is even more heartening that David Emmett believes that MotoGP could follow WSBK in 2018. But I am an Indian and since I am crossing over to the dusky side of my life, I have seen enough hype and hoopla that gets generated in India only for it to simply die down. F1 has clearly demonstrated that. I will believe about races in India after they have happened. The two things that we are proud of in this country is 1. the legacy of colonial bureaucracy (which was originally created by the British to make life difficult for Indians, but we have now appropriated the very same thing and like to make life difficult for ourselves) and 2. our ability to talk endlessly without doing much. Put together a team of 4 and assign them work and in no time you will see that they are all happily talking and fighting later. This is not a statement about the people of the country but about the morons who run it. Every official sitting in a chair knows his designation but does not know the responsibilities that come with it. The official is completely ignorant of the fact that there are rules and regulations that lay the path for the fulfillment of responsibility to so he just sits in a chair and acts important. He won't let anything move forward because he does not know if can or cannot and how if can move things. It will be a miracle if any more races than the ones that various corporates have at BIC actually manage to be held. I know of many go kart tracks built to host national and international levels only to be reduced to locations for children's birthday parties and in some cases they have even become venues for weddings.

Total votes: 147

That is one of the best posts you've submitted so far, avsatishchandra, and in all honesty I'd be hard pressed to suggest any alternative best posts from you (and there's a few to choose from).

Thanks for sharing.

Total votes: 142

Bravo said it all Avsatishchandra - a pleasure to read and very insightful.

Total votes: 133

MotoAmerica TV Coverage is nowhere near as dreadful and pointless as some of ye make it out to be. I've been watching GP Racing and domestic racing since I was born in 78' DMG has had more than enough time ruin things. It's not always a piece of cake rebuilding a burnt down building. PLUS+ This is the start of a NEW Series, so they are slightly repeating themselves, but I do think that it is to help people that aren't hardcore Motorcycle Racing enthusiasts to figure out what is going on. It could be so much worse... Hopefully some more $$$$$$ and proper discretion gets involved with the new American Road Racing Championship sooner than later!!!!! :)

Total votes: 131

Another piss-poor showing from Fox Spports 1&2---MOTOGP race shuffled off to where? There must be 20 different channels you can watch soccer on, yet Fox Sports shit on us again and we lose out on the MOTO3 and 2 races? WHY??
Regarding MotoAmerica TV/streaming coverage---when you can get FansChoice, you get the same shitty, jumpy, poorly produced style from last year---is this REALLY the best they can do? You couldn't do worse if you were TRYING to kill the sport here in the USA! I was hoping for a lot better...

Total votes: 134

Oh, and why don't we get the World Supersport on BEin anymore?

Total votes: 139

Exactly what I've been wondering! They showed WSS from P.I. but have failed to show it again. The thing that gets me is.....beIN shows about 4 HOURS of coverage for 2 races!!.....forget showing the same race multiple times, just show WSBK Race 1, WSS & WSBK Race 2 please. So much wasted airtime, drives me mad.

Total votes: 146

It's disappointing to hear of the TV coverage woes for the US fans (as a UK viewer we are fortunate to have a great national championship and great coverage of it) - hopefully matters will improve soon.

From the look of it the positive has to be that the Superstock 600 class has a good entry (31 bikes on the grid at Road Atlanta) - if the US is to get back to a position of producing a stream of top-line international riders then the classes for young riders have to be affordable, competitive and well-subscribed and the rest can build up from there. CEV in Spain has the strongest Moto3 national championship and produces the most GP successes; BSB regularly has entries of 40-50 for each of the Superstock 1000 and 600 classes (as well as 30-odd for each of Superbikes and Supersport and a couple of one-make series and 125/Moto3) and is dominating the front of WSB. Italy's national championship has always been pretty good on both GP and production based (All-Japan has very solid grids too but it's not quite translated internationally in recent years)

Where the AMA has struggled is that there hasn't been a decent competitive route up the ranks for young riders. We do have veterans in BSB too, but Shakey Byrne, Kiyo, James Ellison and Chris Walker have plenty of young guns (Dan Linfoot, Danny Buchan, Luke Mossey etc) coming through the ranks (along with Kyle Ryde in Supersport, definitely a name for the future winning races straight off at 17). Once MotoAmerica has a competitive Stock 600 class those riders should start percolating up to Stock 1000 and Supersport to fill out those grids, then into Superbikes where the entry currently looks a bit slim on its own (looks like 23 bikes with Superbikes and Stock 1000 running together in one race at the min).

There is clearly talent out there with PJ Jacobsen coming to Europe and doing well, I think Josh Herrin would probably have been better for going for WSS first rather than jumping into the Moto2 snakepit.

Definitely work still to do but fingers crossed for the future - and there couldn't be a better figurehead.

Total votes: 143

Thank you for your compliments and I am completely humbled by them. It is very gracious of both of you. Thank you again.

Total votes: 137