News 29 May 2009

Racing Insider #96

In this edition of RI: Spies for WSBK again?; Stoner and Rossi favourites for Mugello; Gresini in for Moto2; ASBK safety; BSB drama; AMA MX new era.

Stoner and Rossi will be favourites Mugello this weekend

Stoner and Rossi will be favourites Mugello this weekend

It’s been a pretty interesting week in MotoGP as we head towards the Grand Prix of Mugello this weekend, which is going to be the point in the season where we see whether or not Casey Stoner has what it takes to win his second world championship this year.

In fact, the battle between Casey and Valentino Rossi at Mugello is going to be superb, simply because Casey is fighting for Ducati’s supremacy and Vale is the man at what is his home circuit on the calendar.

The wildcards for this weekend are Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo, although the Spaniards will be hard pressed to top either Stoner or Rossi at this particular circuit simply because it’s Ducati’s test track and who knows how many laps Rossi has done around there.

If either Pedrosa or Lorenzo this weekend I think that will be the time when we truly stand up and note them as legitimate championship threats, because it would simply be unbelievable if one of them steps up – and I hope they do.

Speaking of Pedrosa and Lorenzo, what ever happened to that rumour from the Motegi GP in Japan that has Jorge moving to Repsol Honda? It’s certainly blown off the radar at this point, so I’ll see what we can find out.

The Moto2 World Championship remains in its building stages for 2009 and news has come to hand this week that Roberto Rolfo has been testing with the Blusens BQR Honda team at Jerez, setting a lap time that was just one second off the 250cc Grand Prix record at the Spanish circuit.

It was quite a surprise to see Rolfo back on a GP bike, but his pace was good and the Moto2 class has sparked much interest from those in WSBK – especially those who are struggling to find rides but have 250cc experience, like Rolfo and Fonsi Nieto.

The Gresini Honda team has all but confirmed that it will field two bikes in Moto2 next year, which is great news and forms a fantastic platform for a MotoGP development squad.

I expect many of the Honda-supported MotoGP teams to run satellite Moto2 teams, but it’s a shame that the sing engine supplier rule essentially limits the opportunity of a team like Tech 3 or Pramac Ducati to enter the category. We’ll have to wait and see for the final result.

And want an interesting bit of news? Registrations close for the 2010 series today, meaning that teams will have to commit without seeing the entire technical regulations, although I expect an extension.

Is Spies about to re-sign for Yamaha in WSBK?

Is Spies about to re-sign for Yamaha in WSBK?

Ben Spies is undoubtedly the favourite for this weekend’s round of the Superbike World Championship at Miller Motorsport Park in the USA, but it must be noted that he didn’t actually compete on the WSBK circuit during the AMA round last year even though it was held on the same weekend.

News has filtered through this week that Spies is beginning to sort out his contract details for 2010 with Yamaha, but it’s not exactly clear whether or not he’ll be negotiating for a WSBK ride or a MotoGP ride. For some reason I feel he will stay in WSBK – he just looks like he’s enjoying the series too much to leave so soon.

World Supersport is debuting at Miller this weekend, but it’s a real shame that there are no top flight AMA wildcards or guest riders in the class for their home round even though there’s no AMA round running at the event this year.

One person to watch out for though is Melissa Peris, who’s the fiancé to factory Yamaha AMA Superbike star Josh Hayes. Can’t wait to see him as the umbrella boy on the grid.

International Entertainment Group has implemented safety lights for this weekend’s third round of the Woodstock Bourbon Australian Superbike Championship, an admirable addition to the series after Judd Greedy was tragically killed in a racing incident at Tasmania’s previous round after being struck by other motorcycles while down on the circuit.

Granted it was an extremely devastating and unavoidable racing incident that happened very early in the race when the accident occurred so that particular accident wasn’t anybody’s fault, but it is great to see advancements in safety within our sport and I’m confident that this trail run will be widely accepted.

The problem is that when riders through almost every discipline of motorcycle racing see the yellow flags they usually just take it as though they can’t pass, and hardly any of them ever visually slow down because of fear that the rider behind is going to catch – rule clarifications are needed in this point and need to be pushed at rider’s briefings in my eyes.

This weekend’s double-header kicked off yesterday with Josh Waters topping the timesheets on a circuit he is incredibly good at, but Honda was never able to test there so keep an eye out on reigning champ Glenn Allerton to improve as the weekend progresses.

If you’re from up that way, get out there and support the series – you definitely won’t be disappointed in the on-track action and the series could do with a massive boost right now.

Brookes is under pressure in BSB

Brookes is under pressure in BSB

The incident between Josh Brookes and Sylvain Guintoli last weekend at Donington has caused major uproar in the UK between fans, media and teams, even to the point where it has overshadowed the victory of James Ellison – who scored his first ever BSB victory!

Airwaves Yamaha has come out swinging with zero testing on the big-bang YZF-R1 and you can be assured that Yamaha must be absolutely stoked since GSE took over the factory team this year and has been so dominant after Yamaha has had a horrible last few seasons (GSE won the series last year with Shane Byrne and Ducati).

Take the Brookes/Guintoli whichever way you please, but we here at hope that he gets it all together and can prove his talent once and for all overseas because he’s certainly had a hard time in 2009.

The Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Championship will continue at Hangtown this weekend, with Aussie hero Chad Reed contesting his second round of his comeback ride this season and looking to build upon his experience gained in the opener last weekend.

CR would have put in a big effort through the week, so hopefully he can get up there and mix it with the American prodigies like Ryan Villopoto and Mike Alessi. Also expect Jason Lawrence to be in the mix if he comes back, oh, and Josh Grant.

The young guns really are putting on a show as the new faces of AMA Motocross.

One thing that I would have liked to see was Jake Moss on a 250 this year to continue building on his Supercross form, although don’t discount him on the 450 just yet as he probably needs more time to adapt to it right now after limited testing.

Also in the mix is Dan Reardon and Michael Byrne, both who are back after missing the end of the Supercross season (Byrne missing the second half due to injury), so us guys from down undah have plenty to cheer for over there this year.

That’s all for now. Check back throughout the weekend for breaking news from throughout all the series happening worldwide, but we’ll be live from Queensland’s ASBK round.