Ryuichi Kiyonari is not wearing the Hannspree livery on his Ten Kate Honda this season - will use a livery based off of last year’s Suzuka 8 Hours bikes.
Bridgestone and Dorna have officially confirmed that they have signed the final contract for the Japanese company to be the Official Tyre Supplier for the MotoGP class in the FIM MotoGP World Championship for a three-year period, beginning with this season. The agreement covers the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons where all MotoGP competitors will exclusively use Bridgestone tyres.
This announcement wasn’t an unexpected one, and was previously announced late last year, but the fact that the final contract has now been signed means that there is no turning back on plans for the mono tyre regulations (not that we ever expected there to be a turnaround).
The fact is, Bridgestone have simply beaten Michelin in these last two seasons, firstly winning the world championship with Casey Stoner and Ducati in 2007 before repeating the feat again with Vale Rossi and Yamaha last year. Not a bad result for a company that only entered the series in 2002.
“We’re delighted to have secured Bridgestone as sole tyre supplier for all teams in the MotoGP class of the FIM World Championship for the next three years,” said Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta. “We strongly believe that this new agreement is very positive as it will simultaneously reduce costs and increase competition in MotoGP.”
Bridgestone is also understandably delighted with securing the rights to the series, and have so far impressed with their ability to produce a tyre that suits a wide variety of machines and riders – not to mention the many varying tracks.
“Becoming the Official Tyre Supplier to the MotoGP World Championship is a prestigious honour for Bridgestone and we await the start of the 2009 season with great anticipation,” said Hiroshi Yasukawa, Bridestone’s director of motorsport.
Not only is it a major test for Bridgestone in 2009, but also for riders like Nicky Hayden, Andrea Dovizioso, and Jorge Lorenzo, who will have to come to grips with the new brand of tyres that they’ll be racing on.
MotoGP.com broke a news story today about Stoner’s confidence heading into this season, where he stated that his late-2008 form will be enough to beat Rossi this year. Casey will be fast on the carbon-fibre framed Ducati GP9 this year, although The Doctor will be extra motivated if he reads that story.
In 250cc and 125cc class news, these categories are currently testing at Jerez in Spain, with Alvaro Bautista topping the quarter-litre timesheets on day one overnight. Thomas Luthi was second quickest, ahead of Ratthapark Wilairot. Julian Simon had the quickest time in the 125cc class ahead of Bradley Smith and Marc Marquez.
One thing that we didn’t mention in yesterday’s Portimao test report from Portugal was the fact that Ryuichi Kiyonari is not wearing the Hannspree livery on his Ten Kate Honda this season. The three rider team will feature both Carlos Checa and Jonathan Rea in Hannspree colours, while Kiyo will use a livery based off of last year’s Suzuka 8 Hours bikes. Kiyo’s main sponsor on the ’Blade is Honda Genuine Accessories, and his is the first Honda in SBK since Colin Edwards’s bike in 2002 to adorn the HRC logo. Ten Kate confirmed that the bike is exactly the same as Checa and Rea’s, despite the different colour scheme due to Hannspree pulling back its support.
Makita Rockstar Suzuki (also known as Yoshimura Suzuki) has confirmed that it will be taking part in the new American Superbike class in this year’s AMA Superbike Championship, finally joining the grid after a very long offseason. The team will consist of six times series champion Mat Mladin, former AMA Supersport Champion Tommy Hayden, and Superbike rookie Blake Young – who was released from his M4 Emgo Suzuki contract a year early to join the team.
An interesting point is that Mladin will be wearing number seven in 2009, although the reason is unknown at this point. Mladin ran number six last year as an indication that he is a six times champion in the Superbike class.
It has been confirmed in the USA that 2008 MX2 World Champion Tyla Rattray will be joining Mitch Payton’s Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki team, beginning with the AMA Motocross Championship. The South African’s deal is two years and he will make his Supercross debut in 2010 – which is a wise move considering many European riders struggling with injury when rushing into Supercross too quickly, too soon. There’s no question that Tyla will be a contender come the outdoor season, and he’s already begun testing while the other riders focus on Supercross.