News 25 May 2009

Racing Insider #95

In this edition of RI: Edwards to Aprilia in WSBK?; Tech 3 gains popularity; Bayliss update; ASBK Superpole; BSB vs WSBK; Moss and George make up; RV the next RC?; and more!

Could Edwards be WSBK bound with Aprilia in 2010?

Could Edwards be WSBK bound with Aprilia in 2010?

News doing the rounds on many European websites and in magazines this week has Colin Edwards rejoining Aprilia for an assault on the Superbike World Championship in 2010 after it was revealed that the Texan had been in contact with team technical director Gigi Dall’Igna.

It’s believed that Edwards is feeling out his options for 2010 in case Tech 3 and Yamaha decide to replace him with a younger rider for the future, and that is possible with none other than Valentino Rossi pushing for Marco Simoncelli to join the factory satellite team, while Ben Spies would also be a very likely candidate should he raise his hand for a GP ride.

But as Rossi and current championship leader Jorge Lorenzo continue their successful run on the YZR-M1, it has somewhat made Yamaha’s contender the bike to be on with riders from all over the world interested in the team.

In fact, it could be said right now that a satellite Yamaha would be just as tempting as a factory bike from some of the other manufacturers for some (apart from the pay) because Yamaha does provide Tech 3 with a bike not too far from its factory Fiat team’s bikes.

I spoke to Troy Bayliss this morning about his MotoGP test on the Ducati Desmosedici, and while he did say that he would prefer a big-bang style engine in the bike rather than the current screamer, he enjoyed the test immensely and said he’ll be going back in July for another test at Mugello.

His V8 Supercar test with TeamVodafone had to be rescheduled because he was in Europe at the time of the originally planned test, so he’ll be getting behind the wheel of Jamie Whincup’s Ford on 11 June.

TB also said that he’ll have to remain in decent shape for the GP9 testing that he’s carrying out because three days on the bike is a big effort when you’re retired. That shouldn’t be a worry for him though, because he’s also in training for a mountain bike race in Italy when he returns to test in July.

Good times for Troy, indeed.

It was believed that Spies would swap roles with Edwards

It was believed that Spies would swap roles with Edwards

The speculation that Edwards is bound for Aprilia in WSBK is an interesting one because it was long thought that Yamaha would simply swap Spies for CE, although the link to Aprilia throws a spanner in the works – especially if the Italian manufacturer is keen to throw big dollars at the former double SBK champ.

One thing that remains to be known is what Spies thinks of all this. Would he even want to go to MotoGP right away if he doesn’t win the World Superbike title this year? Plus, he might also prefer the much more lax lifestyle in the paddock that WSBK offers.

For some reason in 2009 after always being a MotoGP fan through and through, WSBK has been getting much of my attention and also the attention of many media outlets around the world.

Sometimes I wonder why guys like James Toseland don’t just return to SBK to be competitive and to enjoy racing once again, because surely running up front in WSBK is more enjoyable than struggling for points in MotoGP!

The addition of Superpole to Australian Superbikes has caused mixed reactions throughout the industry after the report went into our Breaking News section on Friday.

While Saturday’s round 3a will be run under normal qualifying circumstances with two 30-minute sessions, the first two rows of the grid for the Superbike races on Sunday will be decided by the Superpole for those who qualified in the top eight for Saturday’s races – while the rest will go into a single eight-minute session. Confused yet?

In previous years the qualifying that was run for Saturday’s racing was also used for Sunday, which wasn’t a bad format considering the overall lack of time that is available for a double-header round.

The positive thing about having a new qualifying session for Sunday is that those who improve during racing on Saturday have the opportunity to improve their grid spot for Sunday.

As far as what possible negatives could be, I like the concept of a Superpole, but there could be traffic congestion in the eight-minute session for those out of the top eight if there were more entries, but with only 17 that shouldn’t be a factor.

Either way, new ideas are being tested and that can only be a positive thing for the sport in a bid to break the boundaries from the level that it was at for so many years, and 2009 is very much a learning year for many involved.

Camier has proven the pace of the BSB contenders

Camier has proven the pace of the BSB contenders

One of the more intriguing domestic races of the season is the British Superbike Championship round at Donington Park, which runs on the same Pirelli control tyres that are used in WSBK.

It’s in this round where we can see a true indication of where the BSB boys stack up to the WSBK field (apart from when selected BSB riders get wildcard rides), and lap times at Donington this weekend are proving quite good for the BSB brigade.

Despite a mainly wet round last year, Troy Bayliss posted the quickest lap in race one at 1:31.8, while the best so far this year in qualifying at the BSB round is a 1:31.0 by pole man Leon Camier.

Granted it was wet last year in the WSBK round apart from race one, but the race lap times tonight will give us a good indication of how good the BSB guys are in regards to the world’s best.

The rivalry between Matt Moss and Luke George in the Pro Lites at the Australian MX Nationals seems to have cooled somewhat after the weekend, but what an epic opening moto did their battle produce at Mackay yesterday when the pair went head-to-head for the round.

George barely got the upper hand in that moto and spoiled Moss’s hopes of going 1-1 for the round like he did at Toowoomba a week earlier, but it was Moss who won the following moto while George had to fight back from an opening lap crash to finish 12th.

Moss (pictured) and George had a titanic battle in Mackay

Moss (pictured) and George had a titanic battle in Mackay

The pair’s respect seems to have risen following that opening moto performance, but you can guarantee that the war of words staged in Toowoomba will still be in the back of their minds as the season progresses.

Also a shout out must go to CDR Rockstar Yamaha for taking a 1-2 finish with Cheyne Boyd and Jay Marmont, but also for Yamaha as a whole, with Andrew McFarlane rounding out the podium for MX Rad Yamaha to give the manufacturer its second clean-sweep of the podium in a row.

Is Ryan Villopoto the next Ricky Carmichael? That’s what many American message board users have been saying today after the three-times Lites class champion won on debut in the 450 class at Glen Helen on Saturday, beating out Mike Alessi and Josh Grant in what was a very youthful podium.

Australia’s Chad Reed finished fourth in his return to the class following a two-year layoff, which was pretty good after posting the fastest lap in qualifying and also proving he has the speed in moto two.

As for the other Aussies it was an up and down day where Michael Byrne scored 12th, Dan Reardon 17th after a solid 10th in moto one, and Jake Moss 27th overall following some mechanical problems in the TLD Honda team’s debut in the 450 class.

Brett Metcalfe scored seventh in the 250 class that was won by Ryan Dungey, making a good return to competition following his broken collarbone that he suffered early in the Supercross season.

One of the favourites for the 450 series, Jason Lawrence, didn’t start the races, instead sitting out following a few nagging injuries that had caught up with him during practice.

The nationals are actually shaping up to be an entertaining year under the new guidance of MX Sports, even with defending champ James Stewart sitting out the season since he signed with the Supercross-only L&M Yamaha team for 2009.

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