Shockwaves are running through both MotoGP and World Superbike paddocks today, as news of further management shakeups in Ducati's World Superbike and MotoGP teams is leaking out. We reported yesterday that Livio Suppo would be leaving the MotoGP team at the end of the season, but now it has emerged that Davide Tardozzi, head of Ducati's World Superbike team is also to leave.
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The final times from testing at Portimao.
MotoMatters.com Andy Doggett is enjoying a few days in the Portuguese sun after attending the World Superbike race at Portimao on Sunday, and was kind enough to send us some of his excellent photos from the first day of testing. He's an amateur, with a consumer DSLR, but he also has an excellent eye. Here's his images:
After just a day's rest after the end of the 2009 World Superbike championship, the Superbike field - old and new - are back in action at Portimao. Johnny Rea was the fastest on the first day of the two-day test, finishing a couple of tenths ahead of Michel Fabrizio. Cal Crutchlow was 3rd fastest, confirming that his World Supersport title was no fluke by finishing ahead of Noriyuki Haga on Crutchlow's first time out on the Yamaha World Superbike machine.
A variety of sources are reporting that "Super" Shinya Nakano wiil announce his retirement from competition at a press conference in Japan tomorrow. Nakano, who raced for the Factory Aprilia team in WSBK this past season, had some good finishes but was plagued by injuries in the latter portion of the year.
One of the big moves in the World Superbike paddock for next season is Max Neukirchner's move to the Ten Kate Honda team. Now that the first test of the 2010 World Superbike season is underway at Portimao, the Ten Kate team have released a video featuring the Ten Kate riders in action at the Portuguese track. Here's how Max Neukirchner's first day in his new team went.
According to German site Motorsport Aktuell, Ant West, Martin Cardenas, James Ellison, and Gino (no relation to Jonny) Rea will all test in the next two days for the Yamaha Factory World Supersport team. West, who was scratched for the final race of the season at Portimao by his Stiggy Honda team because they couldn't afford to put him on the grid, has made no secret of the fact that he's looking for a ride for next season.
Putting together the calendar for any motorcycle racing series is always a puzzle, depending on a huge number of factors such as circuit availability, travel distance, expense and a host of others. Alongside all of these more obvious factors, the MotoGP calendar also takes into account the scheduling of Formula One. An informal agreement exists between the bosses of Formula One and MotoGP to avoid direct calendar clashes wherever possible, in order to ensure the highest possible TV audiences for both series.
If you want to know what it's like to win your first World Superbike championship, you need wonder no more. Ben Spies spoke to Jonathan Green for the excellent OnTheThrottle TV website on Sunday evening about the season, the races at Portimao and how it feels to go to MotoGP as a champion.
Ben Spies said that he that he had trouble getting focused enough to start "holding the thing wide open." That "thing" of course, is the trusty Yamaha YZF-R1 that carried him to his record-setting eleventh Superpole of the 2009 World Superbike season today at Portimao. Spies had been lagging about a half-second off the pace in practice and the first Superpole session and didn't find his groove until the second outing, where he topped the field, two-tenths of a second faster than Ten Kate Honda's Jonny Rea, who previously had been at the top of the time sheets all weekend. The Texas Terror went out in the third round with a used tire that didn't meet to his liking and subsequently returned to the pits without setting a lap time. Spies' Yamaha Italia crew then fitted a fresh qualifier on the back of the R1 and Spies ventured out with three minutes and change left in the session and merely set the fastest lap ever at the Portugese track, over a half-second faster than his nearest rival, Sterilgarda Ducati's Shane "Shakey" Byrne.
With this being just the second time that the World Superbike series has visited Portimao, the brand new circuit which nestles in the hills overlooking Portugal's Algarve coast, not very many people have ridden the track yet. That is a shame, as the track is probably the finest motorcycle racing track in Europe, and a case could be made for it being the best in the world.
Shinya Nakano has decided to sit out the last World Superbike races of the season, citing the neck injury that has kept the Japanese rider out of the last two rounds. Nakano says that the injury isn't too debilitating in real life but didn't think that he was up to the strain of traveling from Japan and enduring the stress of racing speeds for three days.
The RES Software Veidec Racing Team has announced that Colombian Martin Cardenas will replace the injured Robbin Harms at Portimao. Harms, who hails from Denmark, is still recuperating from deep back and rib bruises incurred in the warm-up session at the Imola round. Cardenas, who raced this year for team M4 Emgo Suzuki in the AMA Daytona Sportbike class, where he finished the year in third place, has 250 GP experience and is widely regarded as one of the rising stars on the American racing scene.
Both MotoGP and World Superbikes are in action this weekend, and a grand total of four titles could be wrapped up on Sunday. At Sepang, Valentino Rossi could secure his 7th MotoGP title on Sunday, while Hiroshi Aoyama could clinch the last ever 250cc world title. Several hours later, at the last WSBK round at Portimao in Portugal, the World Superbike title is likely to go down to the wire, with little to choose between Noriyuki Haga and Ben Spies. Between the two World Superbike races, Cal Crutchlow looks likely to secure the World Supersport championship.
In yet another depressing occurance of the Economic Crisis Blues, Stiggy Racing, already sorely beset by financial woes, has announced that they can't afford to support Australian Ant West in the final race of the World Supersport season at Portimao. The latter part of this year's campaign has been a war of attrition for Stiggy, first cutting down to one rider per series and then severing ties with the financial portion of the team, S2 Racing.