Aprilia have finally confirmed that they will be providing factory backing for the Milwaukee SMR squad in WorldSBK in 2017. It had been an open secret for months that the Milwaukee team were looking to make a switch to Aprilia, and they had signed Eugene Laverty and Lorenzo Savadori to contest the championship for them. But it took a long time for the official confirmation to come through.
It was a weekend of contrasts in Germany. Four weathers in a race weekend is usually something associated with Phillip Island, but with 30°C temperatures having welcomed the WorldSBK paddock from their summer break, the heat gradually transitioned to a downpour on a cold and windy Sunday.
With Chaz Davies and Jonathan Rea claiming the spoils in the races there was little reason to think that this was a standout weekend, but in many ways the German round of WorldSBK could prove pivotal when the season concludes.
There is a current fashion in moviemaking, of taking proven formulas from the past, giving them a light makeover and then relaunching them, then trying to spice them up by referring to them as a "reboot" or "reloaded". Dorna executives must have been to see Ghostbusters, Mad Max, and many more, as the 2017 MotoGP calendar is best described as 2016 Reloaded.
The 2017 MotoGP calendar is almost identical to the 2016 calendar, with a couple of minor tweaks. Those tweaks are a clear improvement on 2016: there are fewer large gaps, and there are fewer back-to-back races. There have been some changes to help with logistics, and some to help with race organizations.
After Misano, let’s hope the off-track chatter at Aragon doesn’t once again eclipse the on-track action
Right now the world’s MotoGP media is all agog, counting down the minutes and seconds to 17.00 hours on Thursday. The reason: a live edition of the latest episode of the MotoGP pantomime, a kind of petrol-head’s soap opera, during which Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo will be encouraged to say nasty things about each other by journalists hungry for Friday morning newspaper headlines, or Thursday afternoon clickbait.
The music has stopped for the MotoGP riders, with all of them now having taken their seats for next year. That does not mean that contract season is over, however. We are in the middle of another migration, this time of crew chiefs and mechanics.
It all started with Jorge Lorenzo. The Movistar Yamaha rider's move to Ducati for next season left him needing a crew chief. Once his current crew chief Ramon Forcada made the decision to stay with Yamaha, and work with Maverick Viñales, who takes Lorenzo's place, that precipitated a search for someone to work with the Spaniard at Ducati.
It was a search which took some time, but which saw Cristian Gabarrini tempted back to Ducati. The quiet, reflective Italian had been set somewhat adrift after the retirement of Casey Stoner, with whom Gabarrini won MotoGP titles at Ducati and Honda. First, he acted as engineering advisor to Marc Márquez and his crew chief Santi Hernandez, but Márquez made it clear he wanted only to work with Hernandez. Then he was put in charge of Honda's Open Class project, and managing the bikes.
Nicky Hayden is to make a temporary return to MotoGP. The American is to spend his weekend off between WorldSBK races filling in for the injured Jack Miller at the Aragon round of MotoGP. Hayden is to ride Miller's Marc VDS Honda RC213V, marking his first ride on a full MotoGP bike since he left Ducati at the end of 2013.
World Superbike standings after the second race in Germany:
World Supersport standings after the German round of World Supersport:
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport organizers and teams:
As the riders lined up on the grid, it started to rain. Immediately, the race start was delayed by fifteen minutes and dropped down to only twenty laps. The riders set up for a quick start procedure with one sighting lap before a reduced grid. It was declared a wet race. After that, the warmup lap was completed and riders lined up at the lights. A few hands went up and the yellow board came out declaring "START DELAYED".
As the rain continued to pour down, the bikes were pulled off the grid and the riders in the safety commission, including Rea, Hayden, Davies and Guintoli, were then summoned to a meeting. Would a race be safe?
After a thirteen week absence, World Supersport returns. Randy Krummenacher closed in on championship leader Kenan Sofuoglu by two points in the summer as Federico Caricasulo lost his second place in Misano from a fuel infraction. Would he be able to close the gap even further?
Standings in the World Superbike championship after the first race in Germany:
Press releases after the first WorldSBK race and qualifying for the WSS class from the Lausitzring in Germany:
Lausitzring: Day 2
Nine years since the last World Superbike race at this American-style oval track with a nadgery infield, Noriyuki Haga's lap record would most certainly fall, but how quickly? The Lausitzring was completely dry in time for the first race of the weekend but the riders lined up without having done a race simulation and the rain having washed the rubber build-up off the track. All bets were off.
Twenty-three World Supersport riders poured out of the pits to contest the two promotions and a chance of pole position after a break of thirteen weeks. Kyle Smith, fastest this morning in the wet, and Zalfumi Khairuddin are the two quickest riders yesterday to be in the first session.