News 21 Oct 2009

Racing Insider #120

This week's action-packed Insider has news from MotoGP; ASBK; Super X; WSBK and BSB after a superb weekend of two-wheel action.

The 21st Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix was a memorable one for Aussie fans and Casey Stoner on Sunday.

The 21st Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix was a memorable one for Aussie fans and Casey Stoner on Sunday.

Another Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix is in the books, and what a weekend it was!

Casey Stoner did his home country proud to deliver his third Island victory in a row, stamping his authority on the 4.445-kilometre circuit once and for all as he beat defending world champion Valentino Rossi in a head-to-head battle of the titans.

I’d say Casey earned himself more than a few fans over that 27-lap duration on Sunday as he didn’t put a foot wrong, while The Doctor has placed himself in a position where he’ll very much likely win his ninth world title in Malaysia this weekend at Sepang.

The big news was the scary first lap crash of Jorge Lorenzo after clipping Nicky Hayden into Turn One, suffering injuries to his nose, but he was seen out in Cowes on Sunday night and will be on the grid come Sepang.

It was a brilliant weekend of on- and off-track action as over 50,000 fans turned up to spectate on Sunday, and Mother Nature saved the best for last as the rain finally disappeared for good and the sun was able to shine bright on race day.

The weekend summed up Queenslander Chris Vermeulen’s season, pushing to make headway on the Suzuki GSV-R, but not really getting anywhere as he battled in the lower half of the results sheet for much of his final home GP for at least the next two years.

But you can’t argue with Chris’ nature off the track as he’s a great guy, very down to earth and approachable to the fans, very much like Troy Bayliss in his prime. Can’t wait to see the #7 back here in green come the World Superbike round in February.

Another rider we’ll see in February is James Toseland, and it’s been confirmed that he’ll actually have his first ride on the Yamaha YZF-R1 next week, flying directly from Malaysia to Portugal for the post-season WSBK test at Portimao.

In speaking to JT, he’s surprisingly not really looking forward to going to WSBK, wishing that he’d been able to make the most of his time in MotoGP so he could have a crack at adding the premier class world title to his double Superbike crowns.

We’ve had loads of coverage throughout the event, with images still to come as we look forward to the final pair of races of the 2009 season at Sepang and Valencia.

By the way, there wasn’t much of a fuss about it over the weekend, but the Phillip Island round marked the 21st running of the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, with five of those being staged at Eastern Creek in New South Wales.

Tech 3 unveiled its new rolling chassis for the Moto2 bike on Saturday evening via email at Phillip Island, with testing set to get underway in the coming weeks while utilising a standard Honda CBR600RR engine as the teams await the official control engines from Honda. Moto2 really is starting to become a reality, much to the dismay of the diehard two-stroke fans. I’d say the 125cc category is the next to go four-stroke, but in what capacity, I don’t know.

Moriwaki is also over there in Japan developing its Moto2 contender, the MD600 prototype, with Shogo Moriwaki winning last weekend’s national 250cc Grand Prix All-Japan round at Motegi. I have a feeling that this bike is going to be the class of the field once a regular world championship team and rider get their hands on it.

The World Superbike Championship will be decided at Portimao in Portugal this weekend, where Noriyuki Haga will be hoping to hold on for Ducati Xerox and take his first title, while Ben Spies will be charging for Yamaha in trying to take the crown in his rookie season.

It’s going to be an all out war and Haga currently sits in the box seat, so it’s going to make for a thrilling finale in yet another big weekend of motorsport action as the MotoGP and World Superbike races take place on the same weekend (is it just me, or does that seem to be happening more often these days?).

Word from our good friends over at MCN in England is that Tom Sykes officially signed with the Kawasaki Racing Team to contest next year’s series alongside Chris Vermeulen on the ZX-10R, while BMW has since confirmed that Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus will be partners again on the S 1000 RR.

The news that Carlos Checa will be on a Ducati next year with Althea spells and end to its Supersport team I’d say, meaning that Mark Aitchison will be looking for a ride, but from what I know, his management are pushing for a Moto2 seat.

Checa will almost certainly be testing the Desmosedici GP9 next year in a move that will make sure his team has close ties with the Italian manufacturer, and if you’re a privateer team looking for a good package then it seems you can’t go past a Duc.

If I was going to put my money on the table for the World Superbike title this weekend, I’d have to say that Nori will hold on for the title, but Big Ben will win at least one of the races and extend his Superpole record.

It seems as though all championships are going down to the wire in season 2009, and the Woodstock Bourbon Australian Superbike Championship finale is certainly shaping up as one of the best on record.

Just nine points separates the top three heading into the final round at Phillip Island late next month in six weeks time, with Oleon Motologic Racing Honda’s Wayne Maxwell seemingly the in-form man of the moment as he was fastest in practice, took pole, and won three from four races last weekend.

Team Joe Rocket Suzuki’s Josh Waters won the final race to capture an extra five points to climb to within two points of series leader Glenn Allerton, which is going to boost his confidence big time come race time at the final round.

It seems as though Allerton will be the one who’ll have to make an improvement if he is to hold on to his #1 plate for 2010, but a high-speed fall in the Hayshed on Friday didn’t do much to assist him in moving forward last weekend. If anybody can bounce back through sheer determination, you’d have to say that GA is the man who can do it.

The final race saw a couple of scary crashes with Chris Knox and Craig Coxhell, which brought out the red flag. Both are reportedly okay considering the size of the accidents, but it’s been confirmed Knox suffered a broken left thumb and some ribs, while scans for Coxhell have revealed there was no internal bleeding or anything, and his CJC Racing team expects him to be back for the finale.

Good news for the weekend was that both ASBK races were shown live on Ten/ONE HD’s telecasts, again boosting the sport’s awareness as the final few kinks continue to be ironed out for IEG.

An interested spectator at the Island GP round was HM Plant Honda’s Josh Brookes just weeks after wrapping up his rookie season in BSB, and speculation has him with offers for a number of top teams in the UK for 2010.

Every team from Yamaha to Suzuki have been said to be looking at him for his services, and you’d have to think that he’ll be the favourite for the title after getting a year under his belt.

Interestingly, Josh was happy to be home, but he said it felt like a wasted year in 2009, a year filled with controversy, yet that was all overshadowed in the end with a brilliant podium run.

The Super X podium was made up of Reed, Marmont (Winner) and Reardon in Tasmania.

The Super X podium was made up of Reed, Marmont (Winner) and Reardon in Tasmania.

The opening round of Monster Energy Super X, the Australasian Supercross Championship, was an absolute thriller of a night as Chad Reed debuted his Monster-backed Kawasaki against Australia’s best domestic stars.

CDR Rockstar Yamaha’s Jay Marmont came out of the weekend as the overall winner and series leader, remaining the only rider to win a Super X round overall apart from Reed, while Dan Reardon continued his U.S. Open form for Woodstock Honda.

Reedy’s third place after an annoying heat race crash was visually disappointing for him as he also injured his arm in the collision with another rider, but the pace of the Aussie regulars has certainly stepped up a notch.

Granted that Reardon and Jake Moss are American-based, but the likes of Marmont and Cody Mackie were doing great things on the night, and Mac Daddy’s final corner take-out from Reedy must have been devastating for him.

We’ve just had confirmation that Michael Byrne will be riding as a satellite rider for Woodstock Honda on a Rockstar Honda Racing bike, while Suzuki’s title sponsor has also switched to Rockstar recently. Add in CDR Rockstar Yamaha and MX RAD with Rockstar as the title sponsor and it really becomes a Rockstar field in Monster’s playground as the series title sponsor.

It’s going to be a full house at Honda when the King of Supercross, Jeremy McGrath comes down under, originally said to be for the Geelong round, but now it will be the Canberra and Parramatta rounds due to Truck racing commitments in the States.

It doesn’t look as though Jake Moss will be back after his disappointing broken arm on the night, which is said to be a complicated injury, but there hasn’t been too much said so far since he sorts out his 2010 deal in America. Watch this space.

His brother Matt was the man once again in the Lites, but he’ll have Kyle Cunningham to contend with this year, and both better watch out for multiple-time Supercross Lites class champion Ryan Marmont, who was third and on the pace last week. I was out watching Jay and Doggy ride yesterday, and they’re putting in the hard yards to make their mark in Super X this year.

Finally, what can you say about the live television package and overall look of the series – absolutely unbelievable for Super X in Australia. Well done to Global Action Sports and the entire industry on making it happen.

That’s all for this week – I’m off the test the 2010 Suzuki RM-Z250 and 450 Motocrossers in Victoria.