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Broc Parkes To Replace Jonas Folger at Tech 3 For Phillip Island MotoGP Round

Broc Parkes is to step in to replace the still ill Jonas Folger in the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team at Phillip Island. The Australian veteran is already part of the Yamaha family, riding for the manufacturer-backed YART World Endurance team. 

Parkes is an obvious choice, being both Australian and having previous MotoGP experience. Parkes previously rode for the PBM team in 2014, when he was teammates with Michael Laverty aboard Aprilia-based ART machines.

There is still no news on when Folger will make a return to MotoGP, as the team has not yet released any information on a diagnosis of his illness. Folger is suspected of having suffered a relapse of the Epstein Barr virus, and if that is correct, that would put him out for an extended period of time, and possibly meaning he would miss the rest of the season. If that happens, Tech 3 will have to make a decision on who would replace Folger for the last two races of the season, at Sepang and Valencia.

Below is the press release from the Tech 3 team announcing Broc Parkes as a replacement:


Broc Parkes to join Tech3 for Australian Grand Prix

Experienced Australian rider Broc Parkes will fill in for the recovering Jonas Folger in front of his home crowd this weekend at Phillip Island. Folger returned to his native Germany before the Japanese Grand Prix to undertake blood tests for the suspected Epstein Barr virus. Monster Yamaha Tech3 would like to welcome Parkes, who has previously competed in MotoGP in 2014 and who has achieved success in the World Superbike and Supersport leagues. The Australian ace is also a competitive front-runner in the FIM Endurance World Championship for the Yamaha Austria Racing Team having picked up four podiums in fifteen races.

Broc Parkes

"Of course, I would like to thank the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team for giving me the amazing opportunity to race at my home Grand Prix in front of all of my supporters, fans and family. I am really looking forward to getting on the Yamaha YZR-M1 at Phillip Island and giving it my all!"

 

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Sylvain Guintoli, Ant West To Race In Jerez

The WorldSBK grid at Jerez will be full of replacement riders, as injury takes its toll, not just on the regular riders, but also on possible replacements. Sylvain Guintoli is to step in and replace the still injured and departing Randy Krummenacher in the Kawasaki Puccetti team for the rest of the season, the Swiss rider having previously fractured his wrist. Guintoli will ride for the Puccetti team in both the remaining rounds this year, at Jerez and at Qatar.

The replacement ride is also something of an audition. Guintoli and Puccetti are believed to still be negotiating over a possibility the Frenchman could ride for them in 2018 in WorldSBK.

There is a replacement in Puccetti's WorldSSP team as well. With Kenan Sofuoglu almost certain to miss Jerez and Qatar, Ant West will be riding one of the Puccetti bikes. Leon Haslam had originally been scheduled to race Sofuoglu's bike, but the Englishman fractured an ankle in a major crash in the final race of the BSB championship at Brands Hatch this weekend. 

Below are the press releases announcing the changes:


Guintoli Joins Kawasaki Puccetti For Final WorldSBK Rounds

2014 FIM Superbike World Champion Sylvain Guintoli will join the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing Team for the final two rounds of the 2017 WorldSBK season, starting this coming weekend at Jerez de la Frontera in Spain.

Having just completed a season in the British Superbike Championship the French rider has decided to make his return into the WorldSBK paddock with the Reggio Emilia based Kawasaki Puccetti Racing squad.

Guintoli, who rode for many years in both 250cc Grands Prix and MotoGP, before winning nine WorldSBK races and subsequently the title itself, will make his comeback on two track layouts – Jerez and Losail - that he knows very well. This will also be his first ever experience riding a Kawasaki machine in WorldSBK.

Sylvain Guintoli, stated: “I am very happy to be back in the FIM Superbike World Championship for the last two rounds of the season. Jerez and Doha are fantastic race tracks and I have many memories related to these layouts. I can’t wait to try the ZX-10RR machine and I would like to thank both Manuel and Kawasaki for this great opportunity.”

Manuel Puccetti, Team Principal, stated: “We are really happy to have a top rider as Sylvain on our bike for the final stages of the season. Guintoli is a strong rider with a great experience as he was riding in MotoGP for many years. We hope that the team will grow even more thanks to his work.”


All Change For Penultimate WorldSSP Round

The Jerez de la Frontera round of the 2017 WorldSSP championship takes place this coming weekend in southern Spain with five-times World Champion Kenan Sofuoglu ruled out of the action through injury. There will be a new line-up of official Kawasaki Puccetti Racing WorldSSP riders in Spain, with Axel Bassani and Anthony West competing for the Italian based team.

Despite a hip injury sustained in a crash during Superpole at the previous round in France, Kenan Sofuoglu still aims to return racing in 2017. The condition of the Turkish rider, who went back to his home country directly after his accident, is constantly improving, but it remains to be seen if he will be able to come back to action for the final round of the year in Qatar.

The 2016 European WorldSSP Champion Axel Bassani will replace Sofuoglu at Jerez. After a positive seventh place at Misano earlier in the year, riding on board Michael Canducci’s Kawasaki ZX-6R machine, the Italian rider aims to complete the Spanish round with a strong performance to help win the 2017 Teams’ title for Kawasaki Puccetti. Alongside Bassani, Australian rider Anthony West will ride in the WorldSSP class this weekend.

On the completion of the Jerez round the championship finale will be held on Saturday 4th November, at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.

Axel Bassani, stated: “I am really happy to be able to get back racing! I was waiting for a similar chance for months and finally it arrived. I will give my best to replace the world champion. Now I will focus only on the race weekend.”

Manuel Puccetti stated: “In WorldSSP the Riders’ title seems already impossible to win, but we won’t give up on the Teams’ title. Canducci, Bassani and West will try to get into the top 5 this weekend.”

Michael Canducci (3570 Puccetti Racing FMI Kawasaki) will start his Spanish weekend sitting 15th in the championship table, Kazuki Watanabe (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) is currently in 18th place.

Part-time ESS rider Rob Hartog (Team Hartog Jenik Against Cancer Kawasaki) sits 20th, Gino Rea (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) is still 21st and series regular Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) starts his home round in 27th place.

Lachlan Epis (Response RE Racing Kawasaki) is on the same points score as Calero, in 28th place, while Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) remains 34th.


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Dominique Aegerter Stripped Of Misano Win For Use Of Illegal Oil

Dominique Aegerter has been stripped of his victory in the Misano Moto2 race for use of illegal engine oil. The oil was sent for testing directly after the Misano race, and found to be in contravention of the rules, which mandate the use of oil from the official supplier to Moto2, LIQUI MOLY.

Aegerter and the Kiefer Racing team were notified of the violation at the Aragon round, and immediately asked for the B sample (the second sample taken to rule out contamination or mistakes) to be examined. That was done between Aragon and Motegi, and the same result was found. At Motegi, the FIM Panel of Stewards confirmed the penalty. The Kiefer team maintain their innocence, and issued a press release denying any wrongdoing, but accepting the ruling, and waiving their right of appeal. 

The delay in finalizing the punishment is due to the process required to establish the facts of such an offense. The oil samples have to be sent to labs for testing, and the findings of that analysis presented to the team and the rider at a hearing. Given that riders, teams, and FIM Stewards are scheduled to be in the same place every race weekend, such hearings are normally held at race events. That means there can be several weeks in between an infringement and a penalty being imposed for such an infringement. 

Though Kiefer insists they used the official oil, there are incentives for a team to risk using illegal oil. In a series with a spec engine, where engines are carefully assembled and checked to ensure they all produce as close to the same horsepower as possible, marginal gains can count. Using a thinner oil or oil with special additives can extract one or two more horsepower from the engine, and give the team that uses it a slim advantage. 

Speaking to German-language website Speedweek, Suter boss Eskil Suter dismissed the idea that Kiefer would have used an illegal oil as "ridiculous". Suter told Speedweek he believes it must be a faulty analysis. In response to the fact that the B sample was also found to be illegal, Suter said he believed there are alternative pathways to contamination. It could, he said, be that oil used to prepare the clutch plates could have contaminated Aegerter's engine oil. The fact that this is the second time this year that a rider has been found guilty of using an ilegal oil - Mattia Pasini was stripped of his second place at Barcelona for the same offense - suggests to Suter that that, too, was a faulty analysis.

The penalty imposed, disqualification from the Misano round of Moto2 and stripping Aegerter of the 25 points he earned there, will have a small but not insignificant effect on the Moto2 championship. With Aegerter disqualified, Tom Luthi has been handed the win, and an extra 5 points. As Franco Morbidelli did not score any points at Misano, the Italian's lead in the Moto2 championship is cut from 24 to 19 points. With just three races left to go, that could end up being a decisive factor in the title chase.

Aegerter's disqualification has few other effects in the championship, other than for himself. His points tally is cut from 99 points to just 74, and he drops from eighth in the championship down to eleventh, behind Xavi Vierge. Dorna and the FIM have yet to release an officially revised championship points table, but will surely do so shortly.

Below is the FIM Stewards Panel press release confirming the punishment, and below that, Kiefer's press release refuting the allegations but accepting the ruling.


FIM MotoGP Stewards Panel
NOTIFICATION OF SANCTION

To: The Team of Dominique AEGERTER, Rider No. 77 of the Moto2 Class.

Dear Sir,

According to Article 3.5.5 of the FIM World Championship Grand Prix Regulations, we confirm our decision.

Motive

On 9 September 2017 at post qualifying technical control after the Moto2 Qualifying Practice of the GRAN PREMIO TRIBUL MASTERCARD DI SAN MARINO E DELLA RIVIERA DI RIMINI, you were found to be using an oil outside the FIM Moto2 specifications.

This contravenes the Article 2.5.5.1.3b of the FIM World Championship Grand Prix Regulations “Only engine oil from the appointed oil supplier is permitted. This oil will be available at all official events and will conform to the FIM Grand Prix specification for the relevant class. The use of the official oil without any addition or alteration is mandatory.

Convocation

You were summoned to attend a hearing with the FIM MotoGP Stewards Panel during the GRAN PREMIO MOVISTAR DE ARAGON. You attended the hearing and acknowledged the facts presented and elected to have the B Sample tested.

The B sample test results were received, showing the same results as the A sample, with both samples failing to comply with the regulations. You were subsequently summoned to attend a hearing with the FIM MotoGP Stewards Panel during the MOTUL GRAND PRIX OF JAPAN. You attended the hearing and acknowledged the facts presented.

Sanction

For the above reasons, the FIM MotoGP Stewards Panel has imposed upon you a disqualification from the results of the entire event, being the Moto2 class Qualifying and Race of the GRAN PREMIO TRIBUL MASTERCARD DI SAN MARINO E DELLA RIVIERA DI RIMINI according to Article 3.2.1 of the FIM World Championship Grand Prix Disciplinary and Arbitration Code.

Right of Appeal

According to Articles 3.4.2, 3.4.6, and 3.4.7 of the FIM World Championship Grand Prix Regulations, you have the right to appeal against this decision of the MotoGP Stewards Panel to the FIM Appeal Stewards. A statement of appeal must be made within 30 minutes from the date and time of this notification, and accompanied by a security deposit of €1320. The appeal can be lodged with IRTA who may also arrange for guarantee of the security deposit payment.

Sincerely,

FIM MotoGP Stewards Panel


Official statement on the allegation of non-compliance at the Misano Grand Prix 2017

In a technical control at the Misano Grand Prix, an oil sample was taken from the motorcycle of race winner Dominique Aegerter.

In the analysis of this oil sample, irregularities were found and later confirmed with the B sample.

According to technical regulations, this means the disqualification in the Misano race. As a result, the victory of Dominique Aegerter and Kiefer Racing at this Grand Prix has been revoked.

Kiefer Racing has no other choice than to accept this decision, since the same irregularity occurred in both the tests. However, this irregularity remains an inexplicable mystery to the team management and the engineers in Aegerter’s crew. Kiefer Racing has evidently used engine oil according to the FIM Moto2 specifications and declares categorically that no additives whatsoever have been used.

The FIM's decision is devastating for Kiefer Racing. We have to accept this ruling, but we strongly deny any wrongdoing.

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Jonas Folger To Miss Motegi And Possibly More Due To Illness

Jonas Folger has been forced to pull out of the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi, and may be absent for the remainder of the overseas triple header as well. The German has been taken ill with what could potentially be a recurrence of Epstein Bar, which he suffered from previously. Japanese test rider Kohta Nozane is to replace him in the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team for the Motegi round at least.

Folger was taken ill on his travels to Japan, suffering from a complete lack of energy, forcing him to miss a number of official Yamaha events. He had hoped that some rest would mean he was strong enough to race at Motegi, but rest has not helped. After consultation with Dr. Charte, the medical officer for MotoGP, the decision was taken to fly back to Germany for further tests to try to pin down the cause of Folger's problems. The first check to be carried out will be for Epstein Barr, which Folger has had previously, and which can flare up again in some rare cases.

The Tech 3 team was lucky in some respects that Folger was taken ill at Motegi. Yamaha's young Japanese test rider Kohta Nozane was going to be present at the Japanese round of MotoGP anyway, and this presents a perfect opportunity for him to get some time on a MotoGP bike on a race weekend. Nozane is already familiar with the bike, having tested it at Sepang earlier this year.

Whether Nozane will continue on the bike, if Folger is not fit enough to return at Phillip Island, remains to be seen. The next round of the All-Japan Superbike championship is not until 5th November, meaning that Nozane will be free for both Phillip Island and Sepang. Yamaha's WorldSBK riders Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark will be busy next weekend, racing at the penultimate round of the WorldSBK championship in Jerez, which clashes with Phillip Island.

Below are the press releases from the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team announcing Folger's withdrawal and Nozane as a replacement:


Folger forced to withdraw from forthcoming MotoGP action

Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Jonas Folger will sit out the Japanese Grand Prix and return immediately to his native Germany for medical checks. The Clinica Mobile medical staff examined Folger today and recommended that he undertake further tests in Munich, with his participation in the next two rounds being doubtful. The entire team would like to wish Jonas a swift and full recovery.

Jonas Folger
Championship: 10th - Points: 84

"I came to Japan and was motivated for these three flyaway races, but I’ve been feeling really weak since the Misano and Aragon rounds. On arrival here, I have been struggling with my energy levels, even leaving the hotel room was impossible for me, and unfortunately, I had to miss some Yamaha events, which I’m very sorry for. I met with Hervé on Wednesday night and we agreed to go for a check with the doctors this morning. I met with Dr Charte and the Clinica Mobile team and they have advised me to return to Germany right away for a series of blood tests. I’ve had Epstein Barr virus in the past and it’s a possibility that this has flared up again and resurfaced, but we can’t be sure until I’ve had these tests in Munich. I’m really sorry for my whole team and Yamaha at their home race and would like to thank them for all their support. Also sorry to my personal sponsors, I appreciate them all standing by me at this difficult time. Now we must remain positive and aim to come back stronger."

Hervé PONCHARAL
Team manager

“The very sad news for the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team is that Jonas Folger will fly home to Germany tonight and he will not compete in the Japanese GP. He has a disease but we don’t know exactly what it is, however, Jonas has been checked by Dr Charte, the MotoGP World Championship doctor, who confirmed that he is very weak and that this condition has lasted for several weeks. If there is anything good about this situation, it is that we now know why he has been so weak since the summer break. The more he trained, the worse he felt, and the peak of the problem was on Tuesday and Wednesday where he had to stay in bed because he couldn’t even walk and he unfortunately had to miss the Yamaha promotion activities. For sure he will miss this round, but we don’t want to start guessing as to when our rider will return. When Jonas gets back to Munich he will have a thorough check in the hospital as recommended by Dr Charte, and we will know more then. The entire Tech3 team wishes him a swift recovery and we all need Jonas back with us but at the moment there is not much that we can say or do. He will not start this race and it’s 99% certain that he will not participate in the Australian round. More news will come, but for now, we just want to express our sadness and wish him a speedy recovery. We all know that he is a top rider when he is on top form.”


Nozane to replace Folger at Japanese Grand Prix

Local hero Kohta Nozane will step in for the absent Jonas Folger this weekend at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan. Folger will fly home today in order to undertake more medical checks and his seat will be filled by Nozane, who made his Grand Prix debut as a 16-year-old in the 2012 Japanese Moto2 race as a wildcard. He won the Japanese GP2 class one year later and for the past few seasons, he has competed in the JSB1000 Championship where he has produced some highly impressive results. In addition, he has also notably battled for Yamaha in the World Endurance Championship. The Monster Yamaha Tech3 team would like to welcome Nozane, and would also like to wish Jonas Folger a speedy recovery.

Kohta Nozane

"This is big surprise for me! I still can’t believe that I will ride at the Grand Prix of Japan. Motegi is my favourite circuit, and I have ridden the YZR-M1 with Michelin tyres here before as a Yamaha test rider. It will be an honour to ride on home soil like a MotoGP rider. I would like to thank Yamaha and Monster Yamaha Tech3 for giving me this opportunity."

Hervé PONCHARAL
Team manager

“After the very sad and disappointing news that Jonas Folger can not take part in the Japanese Grand Prix, I am pleased to say that the #94 side of the garage will be racing this weekend. We are proud to announce that Kohta Nozane will compete for us here. He is a really important rider for Yamaha Motor Company and has raced in many different championships, including the World Endurance Championship. When we knew that Jonas was going to have to withdraw from this GP, we talked with Yamaha and it made perfect sense to choose Nozane. He knows Motegi quite well and I think he won a race here this year in the Japanese Superbike Championship. He tested the M1 in January, which will clearly be a big help for him to show what he can do. We don’t expect too much because this is one shot and he doesn’t have MotoGP experience. However, one thing that will be interesting is his mentor, Nakasuga, who is a wildcard on another YZR-M1 and I’m sure they will be happy to compete against each other. We are pleased to have found the possibility for two riders to race for Tech3 this weekend. We don’t want to put any pressure on Nozane, but we just want to thank him, YMC, Mr Tsuji and Mr Tsuya, who have helped us tremendously to have this opportunity. We hope that we can give Nozane a good experience, which will help him grow as a racer and hopefully as a MotoGP rider in the near future. Lets see what happens, but the weather forecast does not look so good as there will certainly be sure rain during the weekend. Nevertheless, I want to say thanks and welcome him to our team.”


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KTM Confirm Smith And Espargaro As 2018 MotoGP Rider Line Up

After months of speculation of an impending rider change at KTM, the Austrian factory has issued a press release clarifying its 2018 line up in MotoGP. The KTM factory team will continue with both Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith as their contracted race riders, while Mika Kallio remains contracted as a test rider. 

The move will be welcomed inside the team, restoring stability and removing the uncertainty which had surrounded Bradley Smith and his future as a factory rider. The Englishman had struggled badly to be competitive in the first part of the season, while his teammate Espargaro seemed to go from strength to strength. Smith's position was made even more tenuous when test rider Mika Kallio easily outperformed him during the Finn's wildcard appearances, especially at the team's home race at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria.

That performances spawned the idea of swapping Kallio and Smith in the factory team. Kallio would become a full-time racer again, as he had made clear was his prime objective. Smith would take on the role as development and test rider, making occasional wildcard appearances. By Smith's own admission, he had been focused too much on developing the bike, and not enough on racing it. (See for an example of this, Steve English' excellent interview with Bradley Smith published here yesterday.)

Those rumors gained even more strength after another strong result by Kallio as a wildcard at Aragon, where Smith finished 19 seconds behind the Finnish test rider. When KTM announced that Kallio would get one final wildcard at Valencia, many believed the decision had been made.

That now appears not to have been the case. After meetings in Austria, KTM have decided to clarify the situation, and remove any doubt. In an interview with German-language publication Speedweek, KTM boss Pit Beirer said that Smith had "not deserved" to be dropped, and they had seen that the pressure coming from the media was starting to weigh on Smith's performance. They wanted to end that, Beirer said.

There is also a question of just how serious the proposals to replace Smith actually were. In the interview I did with KTM team manager Mike Leitner at Aragon, Leitner was speaking of Bradley Smith as if it was a given he would be remaining as factory rider in 2018. That, it turns out, was the official position all along. The press release issued today by KTM confirms that.

Below is the press release announcing the 2018 KTM MotoGP line up:


Red Bull KTM MotoGP Factory Racing look forward to 2018 clarifying rider line up

MotoGP Announcement

KTM are about to complete their first year competing in MotoGP but the team are already looking forward to next year with knowledge and data gained from races in 2017. Further to the team’s announcement before the season, KTM clarifies their rider line up for 2018 with Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith following top ten finishes for the pair of them during this opening season with the KTM RC16 motorcycle. The team remains committed to both riders who have remained steadfast and unwavering in their commitment to furthering the biggest motorsport programme KTM has ever undertaken since the company started in 1953.

Pol Espargaro has been resolute and relentless in his drive to take the KTM MotoGP project forward to further success during one of the closest seasons in MotoGP history. Espargaro has taken the best result for KTM so far – ninth at Brno – and has taken some qualifying positions much higher than the team though of before the first wheels were turned at the start of the year. To have the former Moto2 World Champion on board for the second season is fantastic for the Austrian squad.

KTM have supported Bradley Smith from the very first test on the KTM RC16 MotoGP bike in Valencia 2016. He has fitted into the team well and has worked hard at every test, practice and race as a new motorcycle is developed with new parts coming into the garage for every race. The team want to confirm that 2018 will remain as committed to Smith as before as we both look forward to bettering results and lap times. He is a Grand Prix winner and a podium man over the three classes of Grand Prix racing he’s contested, something that KTM wish to repeat with an orange motorcycle underneath him.

Mika Kallio will remain as the team’s test rider for 2018 with selected wildcard rides for the Finn. He has been a huge part of the progress of the MotoGP project through his vast experience in Grand Prix that go back 17 years, knowledge that has been a major factor in the project exceeding the initial expectations for 2017. KTM look forward to Kallio’s ongoing speed and support so the motorcycle can jump forward to the next step in 2018 and beyond. His three races so far this year have been some of the most impressive for a wildcard in recent times with his commitment and speed, something that KTM look forward to seeing again at the season final in Valencia in a month’s time.

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Making Motegi A Little More Japanese: Aoyama And Nakasuga To Race At Their Home Grand Prix

In the week in which MotoGP marks ten years since the remarkable Norick Abe tragically died in a traffic accident (an occasion which MotoGP.com is marking by posting videoes of some of Abe's career highlights on their Facebook page), news comes of extra Japanese presence at the Motegi round of MotoGP. There will be at least two Japanese riders on the grid for the start of the race on Sunday, 15th October.

With Australian rider Jack Miller out through injury, the Marc VDS Honda team will be fielding Hiroshi Aoyama as a replacement at Motegi. The choice of Aoyama should come as no real surprise: the former 250cc champion is one of HRC's official test riders, and still heavily involved in Honda's MotoGP effort, and especially with the development of the Honda RC213V. With Miller being under contract to HRC, it was Honda's prerogative to choose a replacement for the Australian. And Aoyama's work as a test rider means he already knows many of the HRC staff currently working with Jack Miller.

Marc VDS team boss Michael Bartholemy explained the role HRC played in the press release previewing Motegi, and announcing Aoyama as a replacement. "Firstly I'd like to say a big thank you to Hiroshi for stepping in at the last minute to replace Jack in Motegi and to HRC for arranging everything at such short notice," Bartholemy stated in the press release. "I am looking forward to welcoming Hiroshi into the team this weekend. It won't be completely new for him, as he's worked with many of our technical staff previously, so we start already from a good position. I am sure he will do a good job for us this weekend and I hope he enjoys this opportunity to race once again in front of his home crowd."

The other Japanese rider at Motegi is Katsuyuki Nakasuga. The Yamaha test rider - and the driving force behind Yamaha's three victories at the prestigious Suzuka 8 Hour race - will be making his customary appearance at Motegi as a wildcard. Nakasuga is likely to be racing a 2018 Yamaha M1 prototype in factory colors. The five-time All Japan Superbike champion will be racing for the Yamalube Yamaha Factory Racing team, a separate effort from the Movistar Yamaha factory team of Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales.

Aoyama's return to MotoGP is likely to be extremely brief. Jack Miller is making excellent progress in recovering from the broken right leg he suffered just over a week ago. Miller posted a video on his Instagram feed on Friday, showing himself cycling on a stationary bike, just five days after having surgery to fixate the fractured tibia in his right leg with a titanium plate. Miller is well on the way to being fit enough to race at his home Grand Prix in Phillip Island, on Sunday, 22nd October.

 

No idea how happy I was to get on this today!! 5 days since operation!

A post shared by Jack Miller (@jackmilleraus) on

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Ducati Superbike Boss Ernesto Marinelli To Leave Ducati At End Of 2017

A major surprise out of Borgo Panigale this afternoon. Ernesto Marinelli, the man behind so much of Ducati's World Superbike success, is to leave the company at the end of 2017 for pastures new.

Marinelli has been a lynchpin in Ducati's WSBK operation, working with the company for 22 years. He started as a track engineer, working with both Carl Fogarty and Neil Hodgson, but soon took on a major role in Ducati's racing operations. The Italian led Ducati's AMA racing program at the end of last century, working with such legendary riders as Troy Bayliss, Ben Bostron, Anthony Gobert, and John Kocinski. After returning to Europe, he took over the role of technical director, then project manager of Ducati's WorldSBK project.

Marinelli leaves big boots to fill. At the moment, it is not known either where he is headed to for next year, nor who will take on the role once he departs. But it does allow his replacement a year of breathing space, as 2018 will be the last year of the Ducati 1199 Panigale V twin, before the Italian factory switches over to the V4 bike to be launched at the end of this year.

Below is the Ducati press release announcing Marinelli's departure:


Ducati Corse Superbike Project Leader Ernesto Marinelli to leave the Bologna company at the end of this year

Ducati wishes to announce that Ernesto Marinelli, Superbike Project Leader, has decided to leave the company at the end of 2017. Ever since he joined Ducati in 1995, Marinelli has always been involved in Superbike racing for the Bologna-based manufacturer. In 1997 he worked as track engineer in the factory team with Carl Fogarty and Neil Hodgson in the production-based world championship and then from 1998 to 2000 he was head of Ducati’s AMA Superbike programme in the USA with riders Anthony Gobert, Ben Bostrom, Troy Bayliss and John Kocinski.

On his return to Europe in 2001 Ernesto Marinelli was Ben Bostrom’s track engineer for two years in the Superbike World Championship before taking on the role of SBK Technical Director in 2003 and then Ducati SBK Project Manager starting in 2010.

During his career in Ducati Ernesto Marinelli has contributed to the conquest of numerous world titles and in particular, under his technical direction, the Italian manufacturer won five Riders’ world titles (Hodgson in 2003, Toseland in 2004, Bayliss in 2006 and 2008 and Checa in 2011) as well as six Manufacturers’ world titles (2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2011). In November 2006 Marinelli was also track engineer for Troy Bayliss in that fantastic MotoGP race at Valencia, which the Australian rider won in his only race that year as replacement for Sete Gibernau.

Claudio Domenicali (CEO of Ducati Motor Holding SpA): “I began to work with Ernesto back in 1995, the year he joined Ducati, and since then I’ve learnt to appreciate his qualities of expertise, commitment, perseverance and passion for racing. Together we have shared success and disappointment, sacrifice and satisfaction, but I have never seen him lose the enthusiasm that has always distinguished him in his work. Under his guidance, Ducati has obtained numerous successes in the Superbike championship and of course I’m very sorry that he has decided to leave our company at the end of this year. I’d like to wish him all the best for his new professional challenge and I am sure that in the future he will continue to follow and support Ducati with the affection he has always has.”

Ernesto Marinelli (Ducati Corse Superbike Project Leader): “After 22 years it’s not easy to say goodbye and turn over a new leaf and if you leave a company like Ducati, the decision becomes even more difficult. Nevertheless, for each and every one of us, the time comes to raise the bar and face up to further challenges. I’m leaving Ducati in the knowledge that I have lived numerous unforgettable and successful moments, sharing passion, dreams and satisfaction, as well as defeats, disappointments and difficulties. All of these have marked and shaped my professional career and they have helped me to understand that “never give up” is not just a saying but to all intents and purposes a style of life. For my future, I’ve decided to accept a new professional challenge and put myself to the test again, albeit with the awareness that everything I leave behind will always have an important place in my memories and my heart.

A big thanks to Ducati. Thank you to all the many fantastic people who have shared with me these years of hard work, travel and circuits all over the world. There are still four races to go before the end of my final season in SBK, and it will be an even more special and motivating reason for me to continue to fight and win together, before saying farewell to all my colleagues and the Ducatisti, with whom I’ll continue to share friendship and passion, and with whom I’ll still be supporting our red bikes from Borgo Panigale!”

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Jack Miller Breaks Leg In Training Accident, To Miss Motegi

The 2017 season has claimed another training victim. This time, Jack Miller is the victim of misfortune, the Australian breaking his right leg while out trials riding in Andorra.

Miller was relatively fortunate, in that he suffered the injury at very low speed, putting his foot down trying to save the front end from washing out. However, his foot got stuck, causing the tibia to fracture just below the knee. He was taken to the Dexeus Institut in Barcelona, where a plate and eight screws were fitted, to pin the bone fragments back together again.

Miller already has some movement in the leg, promising a speedy recovery. However, he will not be fit in time for the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi on 15th October. Miller has chosen to focus instead on his home Grand Prix at Phillip Island a week later, and is concentrating his efforts on recovering for that race.

The Marc VDS Racing team is unlikely to field a replacement at Motegi, with the prospect of Miller making a return at Phillip Island. The press release from the team appears below:


Training accident rules Miller out of Motegi

Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS MotoGP rider Jack Miller will not race in the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi, after fracturing the tibia in his right leg in a training accident on Friday.

Miller was training on a trials bike near his European base in Andorra and fractured the top of the tibia when he put his right foot down to save a slow speed front-end crash.

The Australian immediately travelled to the Hospital Universitari Dexeus in Barcelona, where he underwent surgery on Saturday morning. A plate and eight screws were inserted to stabilise the fracture.

Miller already has some mobility in the injured leg, but will head back to Andorra today to start an intense program of physiotherapy designed to get him back on the bike for the Australian Grand Prix, which takes place at Phillip Island in just over two weeks time.

Jack Miller:

"Obviously I'm both disappointed and frustrated to have to sit out the Japanese Grand Prix through an injury sustained while training, especially as it wasn't even a crash! We were out trials riding and I put a foot down when I lost traction from the front tyre. Nine times out of ten that would have been the end of the story, especially at such a low speed, but this time I must have caught my foot on something and ended up fracturing my right tibia close to the knee. The injury has been stabilised with a plate and screws and I already have some movement, but it's clear that I won't be fit for Motegi. However, I am determined to be back on the bike at Phillip Island and that's what I'll be working towards now with the physiotherapist."

Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal

"Jack was extremely unfortunate to end up with a fractured tibia from such a seemingly innocuous incident; it was just bad luck. The timing is also unfortunate, as we're about to head overseas for three races in as many weekends, but Jack is adamant that he will miss only next weekend's Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi. His aim is to be back on the bike for his home race at Phillip Island and the prognosis is good. He will work now with a physiotherapist to increase mobility in the injury and, together with his doctors, we will make a decision on whether he is fit to ride in Phillip Island immediately after the Japanese Grand Prix."


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Stefan Bradl To Miss Rest Of Season

Stefan Bradl is to miss the rest of the 2017 WorldSBK season. The Red Bull Honda rider's wrist injury, sustained in a crash at Portimao, is more serious than initially thought, and the recovery period required means he will not be fit for either the Jerez or Qatar rounds of WorldSBK.

The decision was taken after surgery on Bradl's right wrist. Pins were inserted and a torn scaphulonate ligament reattached, damage sustained in the crash. The surgeons who performed the operation have ordered Bradl to keep his wrist immobilized to allow the damage to heal. This effectively makes it impossible for him to ride for the rest of the season.

The absence of Bradl puts the team in a difficult position. They are already having to substitute one rider, after the tragic death of Nicky Hayden in a cycling accident earlier this year. Now, they will also also have to replace Bradl as well. Takumi Takahashi replaced Hayden at Portimao, and will fill in at Jerez as well, but a clash with the All Japan Superbike series means he is unavailable for Qatar. Davide Giugliano is currently on one Honda at Magny-Cours, while American Jake Gagne takes the second seat. It is likely that some combination of those two riders will be used for the two remaining rounds.

The press release from the Red Bull Honda WorldSBK team appears below:


Stefan Bradl to miss the final two rounds of the 2017 WorldSBK season

Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team’s Stefan Bradl will miss the remaining two rounds of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship. The 27-year-old German highsided in the early stages of race one at Portimão on September 16th and was forced to miss the second encounter due to strong pain in his right wrist.

Following extensive medical checks back home in Augsburg, Germany, and being diagnosed with a torn scaphulonate ligament, Bradl underwent arthroscopy surgery on Thursday, September 28th, in which doctors inserted pins and wire to put back the two sides of the torn ligament in position – so that the healing process can begin. A seven-week full rest of the right forearm has been ordered by the group of doctors who performed the surgery, with a total of eight weeks required before Stefan will be able to begin with physiotherapy.

On October 11th, a new evaluation of Bradl’s wrist condition will be made in order to determine the exact date for the second surgery, in which pins and wire will be removed.

The team has not yet determined Bradl’s replacement rider for the remaining two rounds of the season.

Stefan Bradl 6

Obviously it’s quite a difficult time for me, as it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that I won’t be able to race for the rest of the season. I have to stay positive, though, and try to do everything needed to make sure that my hand and wrist are fully healed. Rest is now priority number one for the healing process. Luck hasn’t been on our side this year, but I couldn’t imagine that the consequences of my crash in Portimão were going to be so severe. I want to thank everybody who worked with me this year: it hasn’t been an easy one, not only from the sporting side but also for the tragedy we all had to endure early on. There’s not much I can do right now, but I will follow the races on TV and support the team from here.

- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team

Marco Chini

Honda's WorldSBK Operations Manager

First of all, we want to with Stefan a speedy and full recovery, because that’s the most important thing. We felt things were going in the right direction at Portimão and we enjoyed seeing him improve his feeling and his speed on board the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2, so that’s a real pity that we cannot have his talent by our side in the remaining rounds of the season. Jerez and Losail were two tracks he knew well, so we were looking forward to seeing him perform there. We will follow his recovery as we head into the last leg of the season.

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Pirelli Extends Contract As Official Tire Supplier To WorldSBK

Pirelli will continue to supply tires to all classes in the World Superbike championship for the foreseeable future. The Italian tire manufacturer has extended their current contract with Dorna through the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

Pirelli first took on the role of single tire supplier in 2004, and sparked a revolution in motorcycle racing. With the favoritism of competing tire factories for sponsored teams removed, and a much more level playing field for privateer teams, the World Superbike model would come to be replicated in many different road racing championships, with MotoGP eventually following suit in 2009.

The press release announcing the contract extension appears below:


Pirelli confirmed as official tyre supplier for MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship
Italian tyre company confirm partnership for 2019 and 2020

Pirelli and Dorna WSBK Organization have announced they will continue as the Official Tyre Supplier for all classes of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. This announcement means Pirelli will be the longest running control tyre supplier in history, as the contract is extended for two more seasons.

First signing in 2004, the technical partnership established by Pirelli with the World Superbike Championship is currently into its 14th consecutive season, and continues to impress. The single tyre formula proposed by Pirelli was initially designed to reduce the overall costs of running the Championship whilst at the same time, increase competitiveness. This is achieved by offering riders and teams the same opportunities to compete for victory year after year, through a fair and identical tyre supply for all.

Right from the outset, Pirelli, realised that the production bike derived series was a great development platform for its tyres, therefore and decided to give the Championship production tyres. Undoubtedly, this choice proved to be one of the best: based on the motto "We sell what we race, we race what we sell".

This confirmation in the role of Sole Tyre Supplier demonstrates the passion and dedication that Pirelli has always played in motorsport, confirming an important feature of the Italian company's DNA. The commitment placed in the control tyre championships however, has not deprived Pirelli of being leader also in open tyre championships and competitions.

To remain faithful to the philosophy that has always characterised Pirelli's commitment and strategy in the FIM Superbike World Championship - to use production not prototype tyres - Pirelli in 2013, became the first brand to abandon 16.5 inch sizes, introducing new 17” DIABLO™ Superbike tyres, a size most commonly used by motorcyclists.

Giorgio Barbier, Racing Activities Director of Pirelli’s Business Unit Moto, said: "We are historically a strong sporty DNA brand. This year we celebrated 110 years of Motorsports activity, and this renewal is a strong sign of our continued business strategy that has enabled our company to establish itself as a benchmark in racing. First of all in the segment of racing and Supersport tyres, and then with great success in both development and sales across the range. The bond between Pirelli and the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship has always been solid, over the years we have strongly contributed to the growth of this Championship and, at the same time, thanks to our participation we have succeeded in developing successful products which we have made available to all motorcyclists. Now we are thinking about the future, we will work together with Dorna on the growth of the Championship and especially with the new World Supersport 300 class, because today's young riders will be the future protagonists of tomorrow's World Superbike Championship."

Marc Saurina, WorldSBK Commercial and Marketing director adds: “To have Pirelli on board for another two seasons is fantastic news for the Championship, and to reach the milestone of the longest running sole tyre supplier really shows the strong relationship the two companies have. Providing all classes with such an important asset as tyres is something we take seriously, and we believe Pirelli are the perfect company to continue with.”

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