News 10 Mar 2009

Racing Insider #47

Is BMW planning an Australian Superbike assault with Troy Corser? Plus, MotoGP news, WSBK happenings, and more from the AORC.

MotoGP

Chris Vermeulen and Suzuki will be in Rizla colours again at the Jerez test

Chris Vermeulen and Suzuki will be in Rizla colours again at the Jerez test

The 2009 livery for both Rizla Suzuki and Monster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha is set to be revealed at the Jerez test at the end of this month, with both teams taking part in the recent Qatar test with carbon-fibre fairings only, despite already signing their agreements with the new sponsors. The reason for this wasn’t because the sponsorship deals had fallen through, more due to the fact that the design of the bikes or team uniform etc wasn’t finalised for either team in time for the tests.

It’s unknown when the Hayate Racing Team will release its new colours, and we are uncertain if the privately run ex-Kawasaki ZX-RR will even have the famous lime green colours of Kawasaki on them. We expect not, but it depends what sort of technical support the team is getting from the factory.

Spanish riders have opened up the new Parcmotor de Castelloli circuit in Barcelona, Spain, last weekend, with the likes of Jorge Lorenzo, Toni Elias, Alex Criville, Sito Pons, Emilio Alzamora, Pol Espargaro, Joan Olive and Marc Marquez, involved in the circuit’s grand opening. The 4.2 kilometre circuit features numerous layouts, with the riders declaring it fit for world championship racing, although that’s not planned at this stage.

World Superbike
The Superbike World Championship will host round two at the Losail Circuit in Qatar this weekend, with many of the international stars actually remaining in Australia following the Phillip Island round almost a fortnight ago.

Both Troy Corser and Ben Spies flew out from Australia on Sunday, and I had the opportunity to speak briefly with Spies on arrival in the Middle East to see what his thoughts were for the weekend.

He basically said that he enjoyed Australia and Qatar was much different in his first visit to the country, but he has played the circuit on video games quite a bit and looks forward to getting out on track for his second ever WSBK event.

Judging by his performance at Phillip Island, even though he had a test there in the week leading up to the race, Spies will learn the track quickly and there’s every chance he’ll be battling for victory again come Sunday. We look forward to watching his progress.

Could Corser and BMW enter ASBK in the future?

Could Corser and BMW enter ASBK in the future?

Australian Superbike

One thing that has been racing through my mind since Woodstock Bourbon Australian Superbike Championship promoter Yarrive Konsky said he’d like to attract the likes of Troy Corser to compete in ASBK in the future like how Chad Reed comes home to compete in Super X (Racing Insider 42), was how could a scenario like this truly happen?

With Corser contracted to BMW and seemingly very happy with his decision to join the manufacturer, rumours are beginning to escalate that BMW might just launch an ASBK team in the next year, or two. With BMW’s fresh new image that has been lead by the new S 1000 RR Superbike, there’s every chance that the company could fund a team here in Australia – and with the likes of Corser onboard, they might be contenders from the word go.

But the team wouldn’t be created for just Corser, with the rumours circulating that BMW is looking at a two rider team that could create a new path for upcoming Aussies to enter onto the world stage if they do well on the domestic scene.

There are conflicting schedules between the ASBK and WSBK at this point, both racing and testing, but Konsky did mention that he was looking at ways to ensure the calendars don’t conflict. Does this mean the ASBK is headed toward a summer series? That scenario has long been rumoured, and in order to attract our international riders there’s only two options.

The first option would be to create a summer-based calendar that would allow the internationals to compete over the off-season (kind of like the New Zealand SBK series), which could work well for a number of reasons. That’s exactly why Super X is run from October to December, so Reed can compete in his American off-season.

Option two would be to schedule the ASBK rounds so that they aren’t on the same weekend as WSBK events. That last scenario would make it difficult to attract the leading internationals like Corser, because once the European season commences they are based over there almost all year.

This is all speculation at this point, but with Konsky’s quote of attracting the likes of Corser, and BMW’s rumoured entry building steam, we can only sit and hope that it all comes true.

Australian Off-Road

Defending AORC champion Chris Hollis will benefit from having Merriman competing

Defending AORC champion Chris Hollis will benefit from having Merriman competing

Speaking of world champions coming home to compete, the addition of Stefan Merriman in the Australian Off-Road Championship this year has proved to be a success already, not only for his Ballard’s Wellard Yamaha team, but for the series in general.

Having Merriman here will not only lift the game of our Aussie hopefuls, but bring an all-new credibility to the series as the international teams look on at the likes of Chris Hollis and Anthony Roberts, among others.

“There is some really tough competition within the Australian ranks so it was good to round out the weekend with another win,” Merriman acknowledged of the local talent. “I’m looking forward to the next event, I’m certain it will be just as challenging.”

Australia’s production of enduro champions looks likely to continue well into the future at this rate, and Merriman’s involvement this year is going to make our boys even stronger.

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