News 11 Feb 2009

Racing Insider #28

It’s believed that 'Kawasaki' are placing a team together at the last minute, trying to save the career of popular identity Marco Melandri.

Freestyle Motocross
It’s with great regret that we report that iconic Freestyle Motocross star Jeremy Lusk has succumbed to injuries sustained in a horrific crash in Costa Rica last Saturday night. Lusk just came off a stellar year in 2008 with a gold medal in the Freestyle at X Games, as well as a silver in Best Trick with an amazing double-handed hart attack backflip. Here’s the announcement:

It is with the greatest sadness that we report… Jeremy Lusk passed away last night at approximately 11:03pm PST due to complications from the crash sustained Saturday evening in Costa Rica. Still in the Calderon Hospital Intensive Care Unit, he was surrounded by his loving mother and father, Chuck and Gina Lusk, his wonderful wife Lauren, his mother and father-in-law Lynne and Larry and many of his closest Mulisha family members including Brian Deegan, Ryan Hagy, Cameron Steele and Erik Apple. Please keep Jeremy and his family in your thoughts and prayers. All the warm thoughts, comments and support are comforting in these times.

It’s devastating news, news that has shaken the FMX fraternity a great deal as Jeremy was one of the lead Metal Mulisha troops, as well as one of the brightest new stars of the sport.


Melandri will be hoping last year's night race at Qatar wasn't his last under lights

Melandri will be hoping last year's night race at Qatar wasn't his last under lights

News has finally surfaced regarding Kawasaki’s future and it now seems that they could be on the grid without the branding of the manufacturer at all. In a team run by Dorna that wouldn’t even include Michael Bartholemy as the team manager, it’s believed that they are placing it together at the last minute, trying to save the career of popular identity Marco Melandri.

The Italian is a megastar in Europe despite his difficult season at Ducati last year, and remaining in GP is his main priority. Wouldn’t it be a great story if he was able to score good results as the underdog if the deal does go ahead? As for John Hopkins, it’s said that he wants to go to Superbikes and prove his talent, hopefully in a bid to earn his way back to a competitive MotoGP bike.

Circuits are a hot topic today in MotoGP, with the Catalunya circuit in Spain undergoing changes over the off-season to meet the standards of the FIM. The changes haven’t yet been announced publicly, but will be during a guided press tour in March.

Now in more disappointing news for circuits, Visor Down is reporting that the new Balatonring track in Hungary may not be ready in time for its scheduled September date on 18-20. There’s still a possibility that it could be ready in time, but a late start to the construction is said to be the problem that could cause the race to be delayed by one year.

Australian Superbike
Great news came through late yesterday afternoon that the Australian Superbike Championship has officially secured Woodstock Bourbon as the naming rights sponsor. Now that it’s all a done deal, expect a television package to be announced in the coming weeks – most likely on the new ONE HD channel owned by Network Ten. Here’s the release from event promoters IEG:

International Entertainment Group (IEG) Director Yarrive Konsky is excited to announce Woodstock Bourbon has signed on as naming rights sponsor of the 2009 Australian Superbike Championship, increasing their support for thegrowing sport of motorcycling in Australia.

The all new Woodstock Bourbon Australian Superbike Championship promises to deliver world class racing under the newly appointed championship promoter IEG.

Konsky said, “This is a great day for Australian road racers and motorcycle racing in general. To have a brand such as Woodstock Bourbon support Australian Road Racing continues to build the excitement behind one of Australia’s favourite pastimes.”

Woodstock Bourbon has been a great supporter of Australian motorcycle racing, and since their entry into motorcycle racing has been at the forefront of involvement with their sponsorship of national and
international motorcycle events, teams and athletes.

“The Australian Superbike Championship is the pinnacle of motorcycle racing in Australia and is an exciting partnership for Woodstock Bourbon”, said Woodstock Bourbon’s Brand Manager Natasha Buttler. “The international success of Australian riders over the past two decades continues to grow the sport’s popularity in Australia. We are proud to be the naming rights sponsor and look forward to seeing the legions of fans out at the races across the nation, enjoying all of the action”.

“This sponsorship will provide a great opportunity for the Australian Superbike Championship,” said Konsky. “With the support of Woodstock Bourbon and a television deal (TBA), we will be bringing spectators some world class events around the country.”

The Woodstock Bourbon Australian Superbike Championship will run over 7 rounds, 10 months and pass through 5 states. The first round is being run in conjunction with the 1st round of the World Superbike Championship on Feb 28 – March 1 at the prestigious Phillip Island circuit.

Australian Off-Road
GHR Honda has announced its team for the Australian Off-Road Championship, with multiple times champion Anthony Roberts confirmed as the lead rider alongside quick learner Peter Boyle on the all-new Honda CRF450R. Roberts will also contest the Australasian Safari for the first time since 2000. He’ll be joined by Jacob Smith in the Safari on the CRF450X. The Finke Desert Race will be contested by Jason Hill and Chad Billet. AFL star Tony Lockett will again be back at selected rounds, continuing his popular foray into off-road racing.

Want something to do on 20-22 February? Go and check out the inaugural Australian Motorcycle Expo on the Gold Coast in Queensland, where MotoGP star Chris Vermeulen will be on hand, as well as retired three times Superbike World Champion Troy Bayliss. The event is shaping up to be spectacular under the guidance of Fluid PR, and even current V8 Supercar champ Jamie Whincup will be there to receive a new KTM 450EXC from his long time sponsors.