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Superprestigio Provisional Entry List Published:

The organizers of the Barcelona Superprestigio indoor flat track event, to be held in Barcelona on 16th December, published the provisional entry lists on Thursday. The entries contain more than their fair share of talent, with eight world champions in different disciplines lining up on the grid.

Arguably the biggest name from the road racing scene is double Moto2 world champion, MotoGP Rookie of the Year, and best independent team rider Johann Zarco. The Frenchman is due to line up on the grid representing Yamaha. His compatriot World Supersport champion Lucas Mahias will also be racing in the Superprestigio, as well as former Moto2 world champion and reigning MotoAmerica champion Toni Elias. The current Moto2 and Moto3 grid will also be well represented, with Fabio Quartararo, Remy Gardner, Fabio Di Giannantonio, Albert Arenas, and Xavi Vierge racing in Barcelona. Former World Superbike star Ruben Xaus will also be taking part.

The Open class entries will be less familiar to MotoMatters.com readers, but feature top flight talent nonetheless. JD Beach and Briar Bauman are representing the American Flat Track series, while multiple Supermoto champion Thomas Chareyre leads non-flat track charge. The field is full of the big names from Europe's burgeoning flat track scene, including FIM champion Francesco Cecchini, British dirt track racers Ollie Brindley and Toby Hales, and a host of names from the popular Spanish Copa Rodi flat track series. Two national flat track champions will also be taking part: Italian champion Lorenzo Gabellini and French champion Wilfried Delestre.

The Barcelona Superprestigio is to be held at the Palau San Jordi, in the former Olympic Park on the top of Montjuic, just south of the city, on 16th December. The racing starts at 6:30pm, with the Super Final to be held shortly after 9pm. Tickets and more information are available from the Barcelona DTX website.

The entry lists appear below.

  Category: Superprestigio
2 Jesko Raffin SUI Suzuki 2017 FIM Moto2 World Championship, 26th
5 Johann Zarco FRA Yamaha 2-time FIM Moto 2 World Champion (2015, 2016)
11 Vincent Philippe FRA Suzuki 10-time Endurance World Champion (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016)
15 Dani Ribalta ESP Honda 2006 Le Mans 24 Hours winner
16 Gregg Black GBR Suzuki 2014 FIM Endurance Stock World Champion
20 Fabio Quartararo FRA Suzuki 2017 FIM Moto2 World Championship, 8th
21 Fabio Di Giannantonio ITA ZAE 2017 FIM Moto3 World Championship, 5th
24 Toni Elias ESP Suzuki 2010 FIM Moto2 World Champion & 2017 MotoAmerica Superbike Champion
31 Carmelo Morales ESP Yamaha 2-time FIM CEV Superbike European Champion (2015, 2016)
34 Xavier Pinsach ESP Honda 2017 FIM Superstock 1000, 30th
42 Marcos Ramirez ESP Honda 2017 FIM Moto3 World Championship, 8th
52 Alessandro Delbianco ITA Honda 2017 CIV Moto 3, 3rd
75 Albert Arenas ESP KTM 2017 FIM Moto3 World Championship, 26th
87 Remy Gardner AUS Yamaha 2017 FIM Moto2 World Championship, 21st
94 David Checa ESP Yamaha 3-time Endurance World Champion (2004, 2014, 2017)
97 Xavi Vierge ESP Honda 2017 FIM Moto2 World Championship, 11th
111 Ruben Xaus AND TM 2003 FIM World Superbike Runner-Up
144 Lucas Mahias FRA Yamaha 2017 FIM Supersport World Champion & 2016 FIM Endurance World Champion
         
  Category: Open
1 Ferran Cardus ESP Suzuki 2017 Copa Rodi Dirt Track Champion
4 Thomas Chareyre FRA TM 6-time FIM Supermoto S1 World Champion (2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)
10 Francesco Cecchini ITA ZAE 3-time FIM Flat Track Cup winner (2015, 2016, 2017)
13 Jaume Gaya ESP KTM 2017 Copa Rodi Dirt Track, 8th
14 Briar Bauman USA Kawasaki 2017 American Flat Track, 6th
17 Gerard Bailo ESP Suzuki 2017 Copa Rodi Dirt Track Runner-Up
18 Franc Serra ESP Honda 2017 Copa Rodi Dirt Track, 3rd
33 Sergi Sanchez ESP Honda 2017 Copa Rodi Dirt Track, 6th
36 Lorenzo Gabellini ITA Yamaha 2017 Italian Flat Track Champion
45 Matias Lorenzato ARG Suzuki 2017 South American Supermoto Champion
55 Wilfried Delestre FRA Suzuki 2017 French Flat Track Champion
58 Maikel Dijkstra NED TM 2017 FIM Flat Track Cup, 5th
64 Sylvain Bidart FRA Honda 4-time FIM Supermoto of Nations World Champion (2011, 2014, 2015, 2016)
70 Masatoshi Ohmori JAP Suzuki 2015 Superprestigio Dirt Track superfinalist and drift contest winner
74 Adrian Garin ESP Honda 2017 Copa Rodi Dirt Track, 4th
95 Jd Beach USA Yamaha 2017 MotoAmerica Supersport Runner-Up
98 Richard Mason GBR Honda 2017 British DTRA Dirt Track Championship, 4th
99 Marc Capdevila ESP KTM 2017 Copa Rodi Dirt Track, 9th
120 Toby Hales GBR HQV 2017 British DTRA Dirt Track Championship, 3th
124 Oliver Brindley GBR Kawasaki 2017 American Flat Track Singles Championship, 9th
179 Guillermo Cano ESP Suzuki 2017 Copa Rodi Dirt Track, 7th
213 Jaume Gaya Jr. ESP KTM 2017 Copa Rodi Dirt Track, 5th

 

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Jake Gagne To Join Leon Camier In The Red Bull Honda WorldSBK Team For 2018

Jake Gagne is to join PJ Jacobsen as the second American on the WorldSBK grid for 2018. The 24-year-old Californian is to join Leon Camier at the Red Bull Honda WorldSBK team next year, contesting the Honda CBR1000RR for the coming season.

Gagne is no stranger to world championship paddocks. The American started his career in the Red Bull Rookies, winning that championship in 2010, his third season in the class, beating former Moto3 world champion Danny Kent. After a year racing in the CEV Moto2 championship, he headed back to the US, where he raced a Yamaha in the AMA Pro Daytona Sportbike championship, winning the title in 2014. He followed that up in 2015 with victory in the MotoAmerica Superstock 1000 championship, before switching to the Superbike class. 

In 2017, he raced for American Honda in the MotoAmerica Superbike championship, finishing eleventh overall. He also made his debut in the World Superbike series at Laguna Seca, taking the seat made vacant by Nicky Hayden's tragic death after a training accident. When Stefan Bradl injured himself at Portimao, Gagne was once again called in to help the Red Bull Honda team, racing at Magny-Cours and Qatar.

Gagne will get his first taste of the bike in January, once testing resumes for the WorldSBK paddock. 

The press release from the Red Bull Honda team is below:


Jake Gagne completes Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team line up for 2018
The American rider to return with the team on full-time basis alongside Leon Camier

American rider Jake Gagne will race alongside Leon Camier in the 2018 FIM Superbike World Championship for the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team. The 24-year-old from San Diego, California, will reunite with the squad to take on his maiden full season in the series on board the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2.

Gagne joined the team for the first time last July, when he made his World Superbike debut at Laguna Seca. After a strong showing in front of his home crowd, he was recruited by Honda and the team for two more rounds, firstly at Magny-Cours and then at the Losail International Circuit for the season finale. Jake constantly improved his performance and feeling with the WorldSBK-spec Fireblade machine as he claimed best results of twelfth on three separate occasions.

Gagne also contested a complete season in the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship on Honda machinery with the Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda Racing team.

Jake Gagne

“It’s really a dream come true to have the chance to contest a full World Superbike season with the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team. I cannot thank Red Bull, Honda and Ten Kate enough for the opportunity to race the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 over three rounds this year. I have learned so much from them and I got to know them quite well, so I’m looking forward to getting going again. 2018 will be an exciting year for me, with a lot of travelling and racing on some of the best race tracks in the world. I want to thank again everyone involved for this incredible opportunity, and I feel I’m ready for the challenge ahead!”

Marco Chini

“We are delighted to have Jake on board for the 2018 season. He picked up the challenge this year and jumped on our Fireblade without prior testing and did well at Laguna Seca, and later showed his talent at tracks he had never raced before. He is young, gifted and a great guy, so he’s the right choice for the team to ride alongside Leon. We look forward to seeing him on track very soon and we’re sure American fans will be happy to cheer him on.”

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Grand Prix Commission Approves Five Wildcards In 2018 For Mika Kallio

The Grand Prix Commission met in Switzerland last week to discuss a few updates to the 2018 MotoGP regulations. The changes made were relatively minor, yet contained one or two interesting tidbits that revealed much about the 2017 season.

The most eye-catching rule tweak made was the change to the virtual pit board, or dashboard messages. The press release from the FIM states that the messages sent to a rider via the dashboard be precisely replicated in the message received by Dorna timekeeping and TV. After the controversy surrounding Ducati's messages to Jorge Lorenzo during the last two Grand Prix of the 2017 season, this suggests that they believe there was some kind of loophole in these regulations.

What that loophole might entail is not known, but if the dashboard system and the timekeeping system are separate, that would leave room for the system to send two different messages with a single trigger: one to the dashboard and one to Dorna timekeeping. Alternatively, the dashboard could display an alternative message by mapping messages received to a different dashboard message. This remains speculation, but the fact that the GPC considered it worthy of clarification suggests they believe there was room for manipulation.

The meeting also endorsed some extra rankings in the various championships. A team championship is to be introduced for Moto2 and Moto3, along the same lines as used in MotoGP. And an additional ranking is to be introduced in MotoGP for the best independent team as well as the best independent rider. MotoGP already recognizes the best independent rider at the end of each season.

The GPC approved KTM's request of five wildcard entries for Mika Kallio. KTM's Finnish test rider will race at Jerez, Barcelona, the Sachsenring, the Red Bull Ring, and Aragon in 2018. One of the benefits KTM had offered Kallio to retain him as test rider was the chance of more races, but having more races also keeps Kallio fresh and fast, a key factor for a test rider.

Allowing Kallio five wildcards also forced the GPC to confront a possible difficulty with the regulations. Currently, factories with concessions (i.e. teams without a podium in the previous season) are allowed six wildcards a season, while teams without concessions may only field wildcards at three events. If a manufacturer loses its concessions (by scoring a total of six concession points, awarded for scoring podiums), then normally, those concessions would be withdrawn immediately. However, given KTM's rapid progress in 2017, it is entirely conceivable that a factory with concessions could find itself having planned for a wildcard late in the season then having to cancel it. To allow factories to plan their season more effectively, the GPC changed the rules to allow them to keep their wildcards for that season.

One other minor note: the minutes of the GPC meeting also discussed the matter of insurance for permanent pass holders. After a series of health complications this year - including one team member hospitalized with a heart attack at a race, and another while cycling between events - the FIM decided to expand their insurance for hardcard holders. Everyone with a permanent pass - team staff, riders, riders assistants, Dorna staff, IRTA staff, Race Direction, and all media members - will be covered for medical expenses and repatriation costs if they suffer an accident or health emergency at an official Dorna event, such as a race or preseason test.

The FIM press release containing all of the minutes of the meeting appears below:


FIM Grand Prix World Championship
Decisions of the Grand Prix Commission

The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Paul Duparc (FIM), Herve Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA), in the presence of Vito Ippolito (FIM President), Carlos Ezpeleta (Dorna), Mike Trimby (IRTA, Secretary of the meeting), Corrado Cecchinelli (Director of Technology), Mike Webb (Race Director), Danny Aldridge (Technical Director), Fabio Muner and Steve Aeschlimann (FIM), in a meeting held in Mies, Switzerland on 29 November 2017, made the following decisions:

Technical Regulations

Effective Season 2018

Road Racing Wheels
New proposals for the testing and approval of road racing wheels were confirmed. Details can be seen in the updated technical regulations.

Virtual Pit Board Signals
In the 2018 season teams will continue to have the ability to send messages to the dashboard of the rider using the same system as already in place for Race Direction messages, as some of them have been doing towards the end of the 2017 season. Regulations have now been introduced to ensure that teams using this system comply with the protocols issued by Dorna timekeeping. The main requirement is that any message sent to a rider dashboard must be precisely replicated in the message received simultaneously by Dorna timekeeping and TV.

Sporting Regulations

Effective Season 2018

New Championships and Classifications
There currently exists an FIM World Championship for MotoGP class teams. Two new FIM World Championships have now been introduced for Moto3 and Moto2 teams. Results will be based on the combined points of all riders in the team including substitutes and replacements.

Awards will also be introduced to recognise the highest ranked Independent Team in the MotoGP class and the highest ranked rider in an Independent MotoGP class team. These will not be World Championships but eligible teams and riders will compete for:

  • MotoGP Class Independent Team Trophy
  • MotoGP Class Independent Team Rider Trophy

Other Matters

MotoGP Class Wild Card Entries
An application from KTM to enter Mika Kallio as a wild card entry in the MotoGP class in five 2018 events was approved. The events are those in Spain (Jerez), Catalunya, Germany, Austria and Aragon. Teams using machines from Manufacturers with concessions have the right to have six wild card entries per season as opposed to only three. It has been decided that if a Manufacturer loses its concessions, this right won’t be revoked till the following season.

Best Grand Prix of 2017
The Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang was chosen as winner of the best Grand Prix of 2017.

Insurance for Permanent Pass Holders
For several years, holders of permanent working passes have been insured in case of accidental death whilst travelling to or from an event or actually during the event.

With effect from 2018 this policy is being extended to cover up to €100,000 of medical or repatriation costs of holders of all permanent working passes; IRTA, Dorna, FIM and Media. This cover will include the pre-season official tests in and outside of Europe.

The premium for this new arrangement will continue to be paid by the FIM

A regularly updated version of the FIM Grand Prix Regulations which contains the detailed text of the regulation changes may be viewed shortly on:

http://www.fim-live.com/en/sport/regulations-and-documents/grand-prix/

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Superbike Commission Tweaks WorldSBK Regulations

The Superbike Commission, the rulemaking body for the WorldSBK series, met in Switzerland last week to review the rules for the 2018 season. The meeting came to approve the changes agreed earlier, and introduce a couple of minor tweaks to the rules.

The most significant act of the Superbike Commission was to approve the rev limits, performance balancing and so-called concession parts (the provision of approved and homologated parts to private teams at a fixed cost) agreed earlier, with some clarifications appended. What those clarifications are is not made clear in the press release, but should be apparent once the rules are published. 

The Superbike commission did make clear that the use of aerodynamic components (aka winglets) will only be allowed if they are fitted as standard to the bike homologated in Europe, North America, or Japan. Should a manufacturer start selling a bike with winglets attached, much as the Kawasaki H2R has, then the teams will be allowed to race with those devices. Given that WorldSBK rules say that the body work must have the same silhouette as the production bike, it will be interesting to see to what extent teams are allowed to tweak the winglets on a production bike.

The only other measure of interest was the adoption of the SCAT5 regulations on concussion. This measure - a set of standardized tests to test for concussion after a crash - has already been adopted in MotoGP, and this brings WorldSBK into line with the other World Championship.

The full press release from the FIM is shown below:


MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship & FIM Supersport World Championships
Changes to the Regulations for 2018

The Superbike Commission composed of Messrs Gregorio Lavilla (WorldSBK Sporting Department Director), Rezsö Bulcsu (FIM CCR Director), Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA Representative), in the presence of Messrs Daniel Carrera (WorldSBK Executive Director), Steve Aeschlimann, Fabio Muner, Charles Hennekam, Scott Smart and Paul Duparc (FIM) in a meeting held in the FIM Headquarters in Mies, on 29 November, made the following changes for the 2018 MOTUL FIM Superbike & FIM Supersport World Championships Regulations:

Sporting and Disciplinary Regulations

  1. The time schedule of practices sessions and warm ups (time and duration) has been reviewed.
  2. Slight changes have been carried out to the Sporting rules mainly to clarify the Practice restrictions and the starting procedure.
  3. It was also clarified that any rider, having taken part in the qualifying practices (WorldSBK and WorldSSP) who failed to achieve a qualifying time within 107% of the fastest rider of his class, will start the race from the back of the grid.
  4.  A start delay with a “quick start” procedure has been put in force.
  5. Taking into consideration that the penalty points were withdrawn from the list of penalties, a clarification and the definition of the penalties have been adopted.

Technical Regulations

The Superbike Commission approved a number of clarifications and editorials with regards to the earlier introduced ‘REV limiter’, ‘Balancing calculator’ and the ‘Concession parts’ (with price capping, in order to provide availability to all parts and for all teams along with controlled pricing).

The use of aerodynamic components (e.g. ‘wings’), would only be permitted if fitted on the homologated model sold in the Europe, Japan and North America.

Furthermore, it was agreed that electronic suspension could not be used (even if present on the homologated model).

Medical Regulations

  1. Various regulations improving the Medical Code have been decided. The SBK Commission included the SCAT5 (in accordance with the current Intl Consensus Statement of Concussion in sport).
  2. The alcohol testing procedure, in line with the one adopted in Grand Prix has been accepted.

The 2018 MOTUL FIM Superbike & FIM Supersport World Championships Regulations will be available at FIM-LIVE.COM within the next two weeks.

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PJ Jacobsen Moves Up To WorldSBK With TripleM Honda

The WorldSBK class is to have at least one American racer in 2018. Today, Honda Racing announced that PJ Jacobsen will be moving up to the World Superbikes class for next season. The 24-year-old American will be racing for the TripleM team, who are also making the move up to WorldSBK after in the Superstock 1000 class for the past five seasons.

Jacobsen has been a consistent contender in World Supersport since joining the class in 2014, scoring two wins and getting on the podium 16 times in total in his career. He had his year in WorldSSP on a Honda in 2015, winning at Sepang and Magny-Cours.

Jacobsen may not be the only American rider to race in WorldSBK in 2018. There are strong rumors linking Jake Gagne to the second seat in the Red Bull Honda team, alongside Leon Camier. Gagne filled in at the Red Bull Honda WorldSBK team at Magny-Cours and Qatar, and is believed to be a strong favorite with Honda and the team's title sponsor Red Bull. Red Bull Honda team manager Kervin Bos refused to comment on the Gagne rumors at the recent Jerez test. Nevertheless, everyone in WorldSBK not wearing a Honda shirt remained fully convinced that it is Gagne who will get the nod.

The Honda press release announcing PJ Jacobsen's signing follows:


PJ Jacobsen graduates to WorldSBK championship with TripleM Honda WSBK Team in 2018

Patrick ‘PJ’ Jacobsen will race the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 for the TripleM Honda WSBK Team in the 2018 FIM Superbike World Championship. After several years racing at the front of the field in the World Supersport championship, the 24-year-old American is ready to make his debut in the prestigious class by becoming the standard-bearer of Honda’s new satellite team in the series.

This is a welcome return to the Honda family for Jacobsen, who in the two-year period from 2015-2016 was able to put together a tally of two wins, eleven podiums, two pole positions and three fastest laps with Honda machinery in World Supersport – along with the runner-up spot in 2015. The following year, Jacobsen also impressed on board the previous model of the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade in the Endurance World Championship, riding for the F.C.C. TSR Honda Team at Portimão and Suzuka.

Patrick Jacobsen 99

I’m very excited to be making my World Superbike debut with TripleM Honda WSBK Team. It’s a great opportunity for me to be finally racing in this class and I want to thank the team and Honda for making this possible. Both the team and I will be rookies in the WorldSBK championship so there’ll surely be a lot to learn, but it’s a challenge that stimulates me and I can’t wait to get started. I enjoyed racing the Fireblade in the EWC two years ago and I love riding 1000cc bikes, so I’m looking forward to trying the new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2.

- TripleM Honda WSBK Team

Marco Chini
Honda's WorldSBK Operations Manager

We’re happy to welcome back PJ in the Honda family. He’s a young and very talented rider who has a good amount of experience across different championships, so it will be good to see him riding the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 in World Superbike. I reckon the TripleM Honda WSBK Team is the perfect fit for him because they can learn and grow together in the series during their first year. We look forward to seeing PJ out on track in Honda colours again.

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Barcelona Superprestigio Returns, Without Baker And Marquez, But With JD Beach And Briar Bauman

The Barcelona Superprestigio dirt track event returns for its fifth edition this December 16th. But the indoor short track held in the Palau Sant Jordi in the Olympic Park on the Montjuic hill south of the city center will be without a couple of its big name riders this year, including the originator of the idea, Marc Marquez.

The Spaniard announced a few days ago on his Twitter account that he would not be racing in the event, citing the need for a rest after a long season. Just how much it was his own decision, and how much the result of pressure from Honda, is unknown. HRC were known to be deeply unhappy about Marquez racing in an event which is fraught with the risk of injury, but were unable to stop him. Common sense on the part of Marquez, or perhaps the changing of the guard in the Repsol Honda team - both Shuhei Nakamoto and Livio Suppo, the two men who were instrumental in bringing Marquez to Honda, have now left the employment of HRC - have persuaded him to step back.

Despite the absence on track of Marquez, the racing will still be worth watching. Seven current and former world champions from various disciplines and at least two American flat trackers will take to the dirt oval in Barcelona in pursuit of the Superprestigio crown. Headlining for the road racing disciplines are Johann Zarco, MotoGP rookie of the year and best independent rider after a phenomenal first season with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team. Toni Elias, MotoAmerica Superbike champion will also be back, and hoping to go one better than the second place overall he scored last year. 

There will be other road racing champions contesting the Superprestigio as well. Current World Supersport champion Lucas Mahias will be present in Barcelona, along with Stock Endurance champion Gregg Black. 

The offroad disciplines will be sending a similar quality of riders. Supermoto world champion Thomas Chareyre will once again be racing in Barcelona, as will fellow Supermoto rider Sylvain Bidart. The UK flat track scene will also be well-represented, with rising young star Ollie Brindley racing, along with Toby Hales. Spanish veteran dirt tracker Dani Ribalta will be making a return, having competed in several editions of the race.

The American contingent will be without some familiar names, with Brad Baker out through injury and Jared Mees skipping the event. In their place, two of the most talented short track riders will be representing the US flat track scene. JD Beach is a familiar figure in Europe, having raced in the Red Bull Rookies and even a single Moto2 race back in 2011. Since returning to the US, he has raced both on asphalt and dirt, winning the MotoAmerica Supersport championship in 2015, and racing the AMA Pro Flat Track series at the same time. Briar Bauman is an exciting young American with a solid tally of victories on the dirt. Bauman won his first GNC race at the Daytona event, a short track not entirely dissimilar to the Superprestigio event. 

The Superprestigio takes place on Saturday, 16th December in the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona. The riders are divided into two classes: the Superprestigio class featuring the top road riders and invitees, and the Open class, for the various off road disciplines and dirt track racers. The two classes compete separately, with the four best racers from each category eventually going forward to the Superfinal, a single race over 14 laps in which the overall event winner is crowned.

After morning practice, gates open at 5pm local time, with the first race of the evening kicking off at 6:30pm. After a series of heats, qualifiers and finals, the eight best riders in the event face off in the Superfinal at 9:11pm.

Tickets for the event can be bought through the official DTX Barcelona website. They start at €22, and go up to €50 for tickets close to the finish line. The seats directly opposite the finish line are for Gold Pass holders, who also get access to morning practice. The Gold Pass costs €130.

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Suter Back In Moto2 With Forward

Five days after they announced they would be pulling out of Moto2 for the 2018 season, Forward Racing are dragging them back in. Today, the Forward Racing team officially announced that they have signed a deal to race Suter chassis for 2018. Forward will be fielding Eric Granado and Stefano Manzi for the coming season.

The deal came about after Forward tested both Suter and Kalex chassis at the Jerez Moto2 test a couple of weeks ago. Granado and Manzi were fast on the Suter, and after supply problems with Kalex and KTM, the decision was made to proceed with Suter. This took some persuading, as Suter had to be convinced to change their mind. But after discussions between the company founder Eskil Suter and CEO Maurizio Bäumle, Suter decided to step back into the series.

Suter's decision to return to Moto2 five days after leaving was explained by Eskil Suter in an interview with the German-language website Speedweek. The decision had been poorly handled, Suter acknowledged, but he saw possibilities for 2019 and beyond, when Triumph is due to take over supply of the Moto2 engines. Suter's plan is to use Granado and Manzi - both young, but both with some experience of Moto2 already (a year with Sky VR46 for Manzi, and racing both in the World Championship and in the FIM CEV for Granado) to help develop the chassis for the Triumph engine.

Forward may not be the only team Suter end up supplying. There is also a chance that Kiefer Racing, due to continue next year but in talks with a Russian backer over finance, could continue with Suter in 2018. Kiefer, with Domi Aegerter and Sandro Cortese, are in discussions with KTM for a chassis for 2018, but they could still return. This would be good news for Suter, as Aegerter proved himself to be competitive on the bike in 2017. Dynavolt Intact, who were originally scheduled to be running Suter chassis in 2018, will be sticking with Kalex instead.

The deal is also crucial for the survival of Forward Racing in the class. The supply issues with Kalex were a result of the reputation Forward owner Giovanni Cuzari has gained for bills going unpaid. The appointment of team manager Milena Koerner has helped turn that situation around, with bills being paid off, but it takes a long time to restore trust once it has been lost. Forward is not the only team to have a reputation for not paying on time: late or non-payment of bills is commonplace, especially among Moto2 and Moto3 teams, which tend to be run on a much less solid financial basis.

The Forward Racing press release appears below:


Forward Racing with Suter Moto2 Machines towards the future

The Forward Racing Team is happy to announce the participation in the 2018 World Championship with Suter Moto2 Machines. The ambitious project started with a very positive first test on track in Jerez de la Frontera where Eric Granado and Stefano Manzi had the chance to compare the 2017 Kalex and the Suter MMX2 as used during the past championship. Both riders were immediately able to post competitive lap times and recognize the high potential of Swiss Motorcycle, which lead to the decision to race with Suter machinery during the next season. The team around Giovanni Cuzari, is now eagerly waiting for the arrival of the new 2018 motorcycles in order to prepare in the best possible way for the upcoming season.

This collaboration is not restricted to be a simple material supply, but includes a stimulating test program especially, but not exclusively, in view of the preparation of the 2019 World Championship. At the same time, it marks a return to the roots because Suter has been the first supplier during the initial year of Moto2. Moreover, Suter Industries is one of only two engineering companies in the Moto2 World Championship capable to realize a complete motorcycle in house. The structure presents besides a large engineering department and an in-house production machinery setup 5 modern engine development test benches, plus 48 employees with vital know-how for a successful project development. For all these reasons the partnership between Suter and the Forward Racing Team will not only create an all Swiss combination, but might be a winning one in future.

Giovanni Cuzari - Team Owner

“I'm very happy to work again with Suter Industries, which were already a vital part at the beginning of our Moto2 experience. This is a return to the origins; looking back to the past I see not only the same bike supplier but also Milena Koerner, who started the Moto2 experience with us. I still have very good memories of these years, the start of everything, a period of hard work that has rewarded us with fantastic results. During my latest visit to the headquarters, 7 years after my last trip to Turbenthal, I saw great progress and a lot of investments made by this company and I think that Suter Industries is the only engineering in the championship that could bring important updates race by race.”

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Dunlop Extends Moto2 & Moto3 Tire Contract Through 2020

Dunlop is to remain the official tire supplier to the Moto2 and Moto3 classes for the next three seasons. The European arm of the US-based tire conglomerate is to keep the role it has had since the start of the two four-stroke classes. That, in itself, was an extension of the near total dominance Dunlop had in the 125cc and 250cc classes which preceded them.

The renewal should come as no surprise. There has been little interest from Dorna in finding a replacement for Dunlop, nor much interest from other tire manufacturers in taking on the role. The role does not bring the same level of either media profile nor media scrutiny as the MotoGP contract.

For the most part, Dunlop has done a solid job in Moto2 and Moto3, with few complaints from the teams - though there were some protests when Dunlop started insisting on enforcing a minimum tire pressure after a couple of serious incidents as teams pursued grip by lowering tire pressure. The only serious complaint raised by the riders is the fact that in Moto2, there is only a single wet-weather compound.

Below is the press release from Dorna issued announcing the contract extension:


Dunlop to remain tyre supplier to Moto2™ and Moto3™ until 2020

Three-year contract extension sees the classic marque remain sole tyre supplier to the lightweight and intermediate classes until at least 2020

The FIM Moto2™ and Moto3™ World Championships will continue racing on Dunlop tyres until at least the end of the 2020 season, with a new contract extension securing the future of this long-standing partnership for at least another three years. This announcement continues Dunlop’s proud history in World Championship motorcycle racing that began in 1949, when Les Graham rode Dunlop tyres to glory in the first 500 Championship for motorcycles.

MotoGP™ is a leading global sport with far-reaching international impact which in 2017 featured 86 competing riders from 18 different countries. Moto2™ and Moto3™ are an integral part of both MotoGP™ race weekends and the entire Championship, showcasing some of the closest racing on the planet as well as the talents coming through the ranks who will one day redefine the possible in the premier class.

Moto2™ was launched in 2010 and Moto3™ in 2012, replacing the outgoing 250 and 125 classes respectively. Dunlop have been the exclusive tyre partner from the beginning of both Championships, after also having proven the most successful tyre company in the 250 and 125 categories - including claiming 17 250 World Championships before the category was replaced by Moto2™. Since the introduction of the new categories, Champions have included Marc Marquez, Maverick Viñales, Johann Zarco and Pol Espargaro - showing the effectiveness of the categories in creating MotoGP™ frontrunners.

As well as this new three-year agreement to continue as official tyre supplier to Moto2™ and Moto3™, Dunlop will also continue to promote the unique #ForeverForward Award, which rewards the rider who has made the most overtakes during a season across both categories. In 2017, the winner was Moto3™’s Italian GP winner Andrea Migno, who gained a record-breaking 137 positions over 18 Grands Prix.

Xavier Fraipont, Managing Director of Dunlop Motorcycle and Motorsport EMEA: “We are proud to continue our long and successful relationship with Dorna in Moto2 and Moto3. We are constantly pushing forward and bringing new technologies to the sport. Indeed, we introduced a brand-new specification of Moto2 tyre at Valencia for the final round of the 2017 season and this was chosen by the race winner, Miguel Oliveira. Top level motorcycle racing allows us to test and develop new constructions and compounds. We then apply the learnings to our award winning tyres such as the Dunlop SportSmart MAX and the new SportSmart TT.”

Pau Serracanta, Managing Director of Dorna Sports, Commercial Area: “It is an honour for us to count Dunlop as one of our longstanding collaborators within motorcycle Grand Prix racing. Tyres are one of the cornerstones of truly world-leading competition, and Dunlop are the perfect collaborator for Moto2 and Moto3 as both categories continue to provide some of the greatest racing and battles on earth. Another three seasons racing together is cause for celebration for all involved.”

The push for innovation and constant progress now fires up once more over the winter, before Moto2™ and Moto3™ get back on track for the Qatar GP in March.

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Suter Withdraws From Moto2 For 2018

Suter is to withdraw from the 2018 Moto2 world championship. The Swiss chassis manufacturer was only able to attract a single team for the 2018 season, and have decided that it makes no commercial sense to continue their participation. The Dynavolt Intact Team, who will field riders Xavi Vierge and Marcel Schrotter for 2018, will make the switch to Kalex instead.

Though the decision still comes as something of a surprise, it is entirely understandable. After early success when the Moto2 class was introduced - including winning the first ever Moto2 race at Qatar with the sorely missed Shoya Tomizawa - and then the dominance of Marc Marquez with the Monlau team, Suter struggled to be competitive against an ever improving Kalex machine. Once Marquez moved up to MotoGP in 2013, riders on the Swiss chassis booked fewer and fewer victories, while Kalex took over the class. For context, in the two seasons Marquez raced on a Suter, booked half of the Swiss manufacturer's total victories between 2010 and 2017.

With Kalex cleaning up in Moto2 - riders on a Kalex have won the title every year since 2013 - Suter found it hard to find customers. They had only two bikes in 2015, and were completely absent in 2016 after the JP Malaysia team of Efren Vazquez pulled out after the second race of the season.

Suter had better luck in 2017, persuading the Kiefer Racing and Dynavolt Intact teams to use their bikes. Dominique Aegerter had a very convincing season on the Suter, which would have included a podium had he not been disqualified for an irregularity with engine oil at Misano. But it was not enough to persuade more teams to make the jump to the chassis for the 2018.

Suter's withdrawal highlights the fundamental weakness of the Moto2 class. Teams and riders in the Grand Prix paddock are deeply conservative, and will always try to use whatever the most successful riders in the class are using at the time. But Moto2 is a series where riders and top teams can make a big difference. For Moto2 chassis manufacturers, this means that if they cannot persuade a dominant rider in a top team to use their chassis, their chances of success are already limited.

Suter has now suffered the same fate as FTR did earlier, which was forced out after everyone switched to Suter. With KTM having entered the series - and having proved to be competitive, winning the last three races of the season with Miguel Oliveira and racking up nine podiums in total - the pattern could repeat itself, if everyone chooses to race a KTM rather than a Kalex.

Suter's withdrawal from Moto2 still leaves five chassis manufacturers in the class: KTM, Kalex, NTS, Tech 3, and Speed Up.

Below is the press release from Suter announcing their withdrawal:


SUTER INDUSTRIES WITHDRAWS FROM MOTO2 WC

Suter Industries AG, a high-tech engineering company based in Turbenthal, Switzerland, withdraws with immediate effect from the Moto2 motorcycle world championship. Since the Kiefer Racing team has chosen not to compete with Suter motorcycles for the season 2018, only the two machines for the Dynavolt Intact Racing team would have been delivered. “From a strategical point of view, this does not justify any further our participation in the Moto2 WC”, explains owner and founder of Suter Industries, Eskil Suter.

FUTURE FOCUS ON OTHER MOTORCYCLE PROJECTS

Nevertheless, Suter Industries will continue to operate in the world of racing. The team of 40 proven specialists will increasingly focus on the development of its own motorcycles, as for example the two-stroke racing motorcycle Suter 500, and other high-quality motorcycle products for its customers. Suter also intends to further intensify the successful cooperation with the American motorcycle manufacturer Arch Motorcycle.

Suter Industries would like to thank the Dynavolt Intact team for the close and professional cooperation during the last season and wishes all the best for the upcoming racing season.

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2018 Qatar Schedule To Undergo Radical Shake Up - MotoGP Only Class To Race At Night

The time schedule for the 2018 round of MotoGP at Qatar is to undergo a radical shake up. As we have previously reported, from next season, the time slots are to be moved up much earlier, with most of the action taking place during the day, and only the MotoGP race to take place completely at night.

The change has been made to address a range of problems at Qatar. The 2017 race came under threat when rain started falling between the end of the Moto2 race and the planned start of the MotoGP race. Fortunately, the track dried sufficiently for the race to start with a 45 minute delay, but the later start pushed the race right into the time period during which the dew usually starts to settle on the track, rendering it treacherous. 

The dewpoint at the track has caused problems ever since the race switched to being held at night. As temperatures drop during what is the most humid (a relative term, admittedly) part of the year in Qatar. That part of the year is also the time at which rain is most likely to fall, despite still being relatively rare. In 2017, rain caused the loss of qualifying for all three classes.

The new schedule sees all three classes holding their early practice sessions during the afternoon. FP2 and Qualifying for the Moto3 class will be late afternoon, while the Moto2 class draws the short straw and will hold its FP2 and Qualifying during sunset, which occurs at 17:44 on the weekend of the race. The setting sun could cause a few problems with vision, as the entrance to turns 6, 9, 10, 14, and 16 all face towards the direction of sunset. This could be even more pronounced during the Moto2 race, which is schedule to start at 17:20.

But the new schedule will help the MotoGP class, in a number of ways. Their afternoon practice all occurs well after sunset, with practice, qualifying, and the race all taking place at 19:00 local time. MotoGP practice also happens directly after Moto2, meaning the teams will have a chance to understand the track as it will be after the Moto2 race with the Dunlop rubber on the track. This should address a consistent point of complaint that the track feels different for MotoGP on Sunday, as at most races, MotoGP practice takes place before Moto2.

The switch to a different time schedule offers better choices in terms of planning as well. The race schedule has been reduced from four to three days again, the same as the other races on the calendar. It also offers the opportunity to run the race earlier in the year, as the dew is no longer a factor at that time of night. This should help if the calendar expands to 20 races in 2019 or beyond. 

A new schedule should also help if rain should disrupt the race schedule again. As Moto3 and Moto2 start in daylight, they can race even if it rains. If it rains before the start of the MotoGP race, then Dorna can either hold a practice session in wet conditions, or wait for a while to see if the track dries. Rain tends to be torrential but short-lived in Qatar, and the track drying out quickly.

The new schedule is still provisional, and has yet to be fully approved. But it is a subject which has been under discussion since the 2017 Qatar round, and the way the weather affected it. After much debate between the teams, Dorna, and the circuit owners, this schedule has been settled on as the best compromise. It is almost certain to remain this way come 18th March 2018.

The proposed new schedule is below:

Qatar Time Schedule For 2018
Friday 16th March
13:00-13:40 Moto3 Free Practice 1
13:55-14:40 Moto2 Free Practice 1
14:55-15:40 MotoGP Free Practice 1
17:10-17:50 Moto3 Free Practice 2
18:05-18:50 Moto2 Free Practice 2
19:05-19:50 MotoGP Free Practice 2
     
Saturday 17th March
13:00-13:40 Moto3 Free Practice 3
13:55-14:40 Moto2 Free Practice 3
14:55-15:40 MotoGP Free Practice 3
16:35-17:15 Moto3 Qualifying Practice
17:30-18:15 Moto2 Qualifying Practice
18:30-19:00 MotoGP Free Practice 4
19:10-19:25 MotoGP Qualifying 1
19:35-19:50 MotoGP Qualifying 2
     
Sunday 18th March
13:40-14:00 Moto3 Warm Up
14:10-14:30 Moto2 Warm Up
14:40-15:00 MotoGP Warm Up
     
16:00 Moto3 Race (18 laps)
17:20 Moto2 Race (20 laps)
19:00 MotoGP Race (22 laps)

 

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