News 11 May 2009

Racing Insider #89

All the info from Queensland's ASBK test. Plus more news from ASBK; Moto2; WSBK; OZ MX; and the AORC.


The current crop of 250s will be joined by Moto2 600s which will be different to WSS

The current crop of 250s will be joined by Moto2 600s which will be different to WSS

Various well informed European media companies are reporting that Infront MotorSports, organisers of the Superbike World Championship, are satisfied with the rulings in the Moto2 World Championship, which is set to take over from the 250cc World Championship next year.

Moto2 will feature four-stroke 600cc engines, derived from the Honda CBR600RR production based engine that is used in World Supersport, although Infront are satisfied that since Moto2 will be using a control engine it won’t infringe on standing agreements that WSBK is to be the only production-based world series.

Since the bikes will use a complete prototype chassis and a specially developed engine, Moto2 should be quite different to the Supersport class and will be far more in line with what is already used in MotoGP racing.

The fifth round of the Superbike World Championship at Monza was a drama-filled affair on Sunday, with American rookie Ben Spies leading the opening race before running out of fuel on the final corner, handing the race victory to local hero Michel Fabrizio.

Ducati Xerox rider Fabrizio won ahead of teammate Noriyuki Haga, who extended his lead in the championship to 79 points in the process. Honda’s Ryuichi Kiyonari made it two Japanese riders on the podium after Max Biaggi was excluded after the race for cutting the chicanes.

Spies leads the Ducati duo

Spies leads the Ducati duo

Spies bounced back to win the second race of the day, this time with luck going his way as arch rival Haga crashed out on the third lap, allowing Spies to close the points gap back down to 54 points.

Fabrizio capped off his popular weekend with a second place in race two, while Kiyonari made it two podiums by backing up his third position again. Biaggi made up for his disappointment in race one to finish fifth in Aprilia’s home race.

Kawasaki’s Broc Parkes had a solid weekend with 10-13 results, while Karl Muggeridge finished his weekend with a crash after finishing a respectable 16th in the opening leg.

Troy Corser was involved in a horrific opening lap crash in race one and then crashed out of the restart on his spare bike, forcing him out of the weekend as he didn’t join the grid for race two.

South Aussie Brendan Roberts was also involved in the incident, sitting out the restart and the second race, but he is a chance to be back on the grid at Kyalami’s next round in South Africa.

German Max Neukirchner suffered a broken femur and three breaks in his lower leg and foot after he was collected by the crashed bike of Aussie Brendan Roberts, while Makoto Tamada and Tommy Hill were also involved in the spill.

Roberts was initially thought to have also suffered a broken leg, although that wasn’t the case after x-ray results came through and his injuries were diagnosed as severe bruising.

Crutchlow now has an 18 point lead in Supersport

Crutchlow now has an 18 point lead in Supersport

Rookie Cal Crutchlow has taken his second victory of the season in the Supersport World Championship, extending his points lead to 18. Second in the race was Spaniard Joan Lascorz, with Fabian Foret third.

Top Aussie was current world champion Andrew Pitt, with Garry McCoy next best in eighth position. Mark Aitchison was having a good ride until he crashed at the Parabolica, while Ant West also crashed out after struggling all weekend.

American Jake Zemke replaced countryman John Hopkins at Stiggy Racing Honda at Monza on the weekend, finishing Sunday’s races with 18-20 results after a difficult transition to world championship competition. It is expected that Stiggy will only take regular rider Leon Haslam to South Africa’s next round, before Hopper will be back for the U.S. round later this month.

A top rider in the States, Zemke’s performance was below expectations, but one thing that it highlights is the talent of Texan star Spies – he is certainly one of a kind and will be a mainstay in world championship racing for a long time to come.

WSBK tyre suppliers Pirelli introduced a new qualifying tyre at Monza on the weekend, with yellow lines featuring on the surface of the tyre in order to allow spectators to see when the riders are using the softer qualifying tyres that only last a few laps before they are worn out.

This is not only better for the fans at the circuit to see who is on a soft tyre, but also for the commentators who will now be able to guide viewers through exactly what tyres the riders are on.

SBK continues to go from strength to strength in 2009, there’s no doubt about that.

Queensland Raceway was a hive of activity on Thursday and Friday last weekend, with the Yamaha, Suzuki, and Kawasaki factory-supported Australian Superbike Championship teams taking to the track in a two-day test in preparation for the upcoming ASBK double-header round at the end of this month.

Waters was one of the fastest at the Queensland ASBK test

Waters was one of the fastest at the Queensland ASBK test

There were no less than five guys in the 1:09 second lap times, with Team Joe Rocket Suzuki’s Josh Waters and Shawn Giles, Yamaha Racing Team duo Daniel and Jamie Stauffer, and leading privateer Craig Coxhell on his CJC Racing/Bisley Workwear Honda, all lapping in the nines.

Who set the fastest time with the unofficial timing is anyone’s guess as three of the teams mentioned above all told me that they believed their rider was quickest, although they weren’t 100 percent certain.

Kawasaki Racing Team’s Kevin Curtain wasn’t far behind, setting times in the mid 10s as he and Dave ‘Radar’ Cullen work on improving the ZX-10R.

Motologic Racing Honda teammates Glenn Allerton or Wayne Maxwell didn’t attend the test, with the team not set to ride at the circuit until the race weekend later in the month.

Yamaha rider Bryan Staring was best of the 600 Supersport riders on hand with a mid 1:11sec on his factory YZF-R6, and he was joined by Ben Attard in the 11s according to the team.

Supersport rookie Troy Herfoss dipped into the 12s on his TJRS GSX-R600 as the final factory Supersport rider at the test, although he will be driving back up there in the coming weeks to take part in a ride day to further acclimatise himself with the bumpy circuit.

Saturday saw Shannon Johnson and KTM continue to develop the RC8R race bike at Eastern Creek during a ride day, where the Victorian posted a very promising 1:33.2 on the twin-cylinder European Superstock-spec bike.

Johnson and KTM surprised with their pace on the bike as many factory ASBK riders and teams were in attendance for the AMCN AUStest that was held on Sunday, and it’s becoming more and more likely that Johnson and KTM could contest the ASBK after warming up in some club level series throughout the year.

Many would have seen the opening television show for the ASBK series on ONE last Friday night, and I have to give them props for airing the preview show for the series in place of what was supposed to be coverage of the abandoned Tasmanian round.

The show gave great insight to the series and provided many moments that could get the average sports fans into our domestic series, and if the series can continue to develop personalities and rivalries out of our stars then the ASBK could be on to a winner in the long term – especially when digital television expands and the entire country can view it.

Competitors at Lake Macquarie motocross club near Newcastle in New South Wales had some excitement on Sunday when current AMA Supercross number two Chad Reed turned up to run some practice laps on his factory Rockstar Makita Suzuki RM-Z450.

Reed was there with his multiple times Australian champion cousin Craig Anderson and current MX Nationals Pro Lites Champion Luke George, but don’t believe rumours that he’s riding at the MX Nationals at Toowoomba this weekend unless things change because he is set to fly back to the USA on Wednesday.

If you’re up in Queensland, go out and check out the Toowoomba round because it’s a rapidly growing series with great riders and is an enjoyable event for both fans and families.

The Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship will head to Blayney this weekend for rounds three and four of the series at Hobby’s Yards, although points leader Stefan Merriman remains in doubt following a shoulder injury suffered in the lead-up to the A4DE last month.

Merriman will be under pressure as our regular stars including A4DE winner Jarrod Bewley and Chris Hollis are only getting stronger, as are Anthony Roberts and AORC rookie Toby Price.

Go and check it out if you’re from around that area, you won’t be disappointed.