News 13 Feb 2009

Racing Insider #30

Yamaha’s World Superbike team has released pictures of its new contenders with their 2009 paint schemes.

Reigning 250cc Grand Prix World Champion Marco Simoncelli has certified his status as world number one in the class, topping the first test that he has taken part in this year to lead the way in Valencia, Spain. Simoncelli posted a 1.37.2, leading the way ahead of Héctor Faubel, and Alex Baldolini. The 125cc class was topped by Efrén Vázquez, ahead of Lorenzo Savadori, and Pol Espargaró. Maxtra has joined in the fun, with Michael Ranseder seventh fastest and Mathew Hoyle 10th. Ranseder was just over four seconds off the pace.

In Speedcar news, Marco Melandri posted the fifth quickest lap time of the day in Qatar, ahead of former Formula One drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Heinz-Harold Frentzen. Waiting on news of his MotoGP future with Kawasaki, Melandri was less than two seconds off the leaders.

Friday practice at MotoGP events looks like it will be cancelled, according to Italian site GP One, although this is yet to be confirmed at this point.

World Superbike
Reigning Superbike World Champion Troy Bayliss will test a V8 Supercar at Queensland Raceway next month, with an official announcement set to come at the opening test of the year at the same circuit on 11 March. Bayliss is speculated to be driving a TeamVodafone Ford in the test, most likely Jamie Whincup’s championship-winning car, with both Bayliss and Whincup shiring the same agent in Fluid PR.

Regarding his aspirations to become a V8 Supercar driver in the future, Bayliss said: “There are bits and pieces that are coming together. I’m having my first full test in May, which I’m looking forward to.

“It’s not really a test to see if I’m going to be driving for the rest of the year, but there’s a possibility of a few wildcard drives. I’m a bit limited because I’ll still be working with Ducati, and being the reigning world champion there are jobs for me to do overseas. V8 Supercars is something that I’d really love to do. I’m really looking forward to having a drive.”

Bayliss also shed more light on his continuing testing and publicity role in an exclusive interview with Moto Online, confirming that he’ll still be involved with the iconic Italian manufacturer.

“I’m going to do a bit of work with Ducati at some races this year, but as far as riding the bikes, I’m not really a test rider, but I’ll be doing some tests,” said the 39-year-old. “They’ve offered for me to do a couple of tests, but it’s basically an opportunity to make me happy if I want to ride the GP bike or the Superbike. It’s just to get a bit of adrenaline and hop on the bike – let my hair down and go do some laps.”

Check out Moto Talk for a full transcript of the interview.

Yamaha's new WSBK livery

Yamaha's new WSBK livery

In other SBK news, Yamaha’s World Superbike team has released pictures of its new contenders with their 2009 paint schemes, with the press release revealing that the team now has full support from Yamaha Motor Europe and is renamed the Yamaha World Superbike Team.

Featuring two new rookies in American Ben Spies and Brit Tom Sykes, plus an all-new YZF-R1 in 2009, the new team will be one to watch and we reckon the new colour scheme looks awesome.

The Yamaha World Superbike team structure remains virtually the same for 2009 with the exception of two new replacements. Ben Spies’ American Crew Chief Tom Houseworth has moved from the USA to join him in 2009 and Italian new-comer Sergio Verbena steps up to join Tom Sykes as his new Crew Chief for the upcoming championship battle.

With the global credit crunch affecting all areas of racing, The Yamaha World Superbike Team also needed to restructure their budgets by streamlining their operations to be as efficient as possible. Cost savings have been found in the logistics, including number of staff members traveling, as well as in several other areas, without compromising the ability to win on the track. They are determined and motivated to adapt to the situation and go out there and fight for the championship.