News 4 Nov 2009

Racing Insider #122

Racing Insider features news and updates from around the world, this week including MotoGP; Moto2; ASBK; BSB; EWC; Oz SX and AMA SX.

Stoner will be going for three straight wins to round out 2009 this weekend.

Stoner will be going for three straight wins to round out 2009 this weekend.

We’re at the final round of the 2009 season this weekend in Valenica, the Spanish circuit set to host the MotoGP World Championship for one final time to wrap up the year.

It’s certainly been a closely contested year of racing with Vale Rossi engaged in a season-long battle with Fiat Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo, but if Casey Stoner can wrap up his year this weekend with three wins in a row for Ducati then that would be a great confidence boost for his campaign next year.

All eyes will be on new Superbike World Champion Ben Spies as he lines up on a factory Yamaha test bike direct from Japan, which is somewhat of an early test for the Texan before he takes over from James Toseland at Tech 3 Yamaha next week.

It’s been a long time between MotoGP drinks for Spies, but he’s more experienced in Europe now and will be eager to make an impact on debut for Yamaha in the premier class to kickstart his new challenge.

Other news for the weekend is that Aleix Espargaro is again to ride the second of the Pramac Ducatis alongside Mika Kallio, with Niccolo Canepa’s GP career ending a couple of races early due to his Phillip Island arm injury.

This weekend will also see the MotoGP careers of Chris Vermeulen and Toseland wind up for the foreseeable future as they get set for a WSBK return, while it’s not quite certain whether or not Alex de Angelis or Toni Elias will be back in MotoGP next season.

In off-track action, one of the more interesting happenings recently is the news that Yamaha engineers Andrea Zugna and Cristian Battaglia will be switching from Lorenzo’s garage to Repsol Honda next year, possibly taking vital technical information with them. Also, Lorenzo’s current telemetry analyst Carlo Luzzi is going to Andrea Dovizioso at HRC. Even worse for the Spaniard is that his team manager Daniele Romagnoli has decided to leave the team after Valencia too, leaving Lorenzo with an all-new crew to learn with in 2010.

Just to wrap up our MotoGP section, the news that Bridgestone has quit Formula One is one to take note of as the Japanese company was the control tyre supplier for the series, so let’s hope they don’t pull the pin on MotoGP after its contract finishes at the end of 2011.

It seems that the participation of the high profile MotoGP teams in the new Moto2 category next season isn’t as concrete as first thought, with selected teams admitting financial troubles as they search for sponsorship.

Lucio Cecchinello Racing won’t be fielding a team as once expected, while Gresini Racing is seemingly having trouble securing the funding it needs to hire a top rider and purchase the chassis from Moriwaki.

Even the Pons team that’s been chasing the services of Elias is struggling for sponsorship and it’s said that the team couldn’t guarantee the Spaniard a pay check if he were to sign on the dotted line.

British MCN reported this week that Mattia Pasini has signed for Gianluca Monitron’s JiR team to contest the series, most likely being partnered by young American former Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup winner JD Beach.

De Angelis is now expected to be riding for Tech 3 in Moto2, which would put him as an instant favourite for the title on competitive machinery.

I still have my fingers crossed that an Aussie is going to land a seat in Moto2, because it would make the category a whole lot more interesting for our country – a country which has a rich history in 600cc racing.

We’ve finally received an update on the 2010 ASBK calendar’s release, with the good news for series stakeholders being that it should be released this week from series promoter International Entertainment Group.

That’s all I know at this point, but I expect to have the full calendar tomorrow sometime, and if not, then it should arrive on Friday at the latest, which will finally shed some light as to what the series will look like next season.

The teams are continuing to take shape for next year as they search for funding, and the big rumour doing the rounds this week is that Motologic Racing has all but completed a deal to run Ducati machinery in 2010, although that hasn’t been confirmed by team owner Paul Free at this point.

Johnson and KTM will be at the Kings of Wanneroo this weekend against tough international competition.

Johnson and KTM will be at the Kings of Wanneroo this weekend against tough international competition.

Perhaps the best part of my conversation with Freebie was that he confirmed Motologic will definitely be racing next year, dispelling any thoughts that the team was on the brink of collapse due to a lack of sponsorship.

As for Aprilia and its RSV4, the word is that the Trinder Brothers will be running them with one or both of the Stauffer brothers onboard, but I’ve also heard that Jamie is considering a switch to Speedway in the UK – seriously.

The long standing speculation that KTM is entering the series with Evolution Sports Group is still alive and well, but either way, Shannon Johnson will be riding for the ESG team once again whatever the equipment used may be.

Current Kawasaki Racing Team rider Kevin Curtain has confirmed that he is looking to start his own ASBK team next season if the funding can be sourced, but what colour the bike will be is yet to be determined.

A more interesting note that I received this week was the fact that Yamaha would re-enter the Superbike class next year if they can get a sponsor for the effort, although that’s not much more than a consideration at this time.

To me, the biggest shame is that I’d like to see Bryan Staring on a Superbike, especially if he manages to clinch the Supersport title this year, and at this point it’s not clear what he’ll be doing.

Add Glenn Allerton, Wayne Maxwell, Curtain, the Stauffers, Ben Attard and more to that list of factory riders who don’t have anything signed for next year and you have a lot of negotiations going on behind the scenes in the lead up to the season finale.

For now though, this weekend’s Kings of Wanneroo race is set to be a big one as Jonathan Rea and Andrew Pitt are the biggest names from the world championship who are visiting, taking on KTM’s Shannon Johnson and Yamaha’s Dan Stauffer as the top domestic stars.

There are a host of international stars making the trip over including ex-MotoGP rider Jeremy McWilliams on a second factory RC8R, MSS Discovery Kawasaki BSB rider Simon Andrews, Tas Suzuki teammates Ian Lowry and Alastair Seeley, and even TT star Guy Martin.

My money’s on SJ and the RC8R at this point, depending on what spec bikes Rea and Pitt have to use for the weekend.

BRITISH SUPERBIKE had an update on the future of Josh Brookes this week, where the former Aussie Superbike and Supersport champ explained that he’s currently fielding offers from both British Superbike and World Superbike teams.

Brookes copped a load of flack this year after a number of crashes and collisions (not entirely all his fault), but you can’t argue with his podium performances as a rookie and he’ll be a good bet for the title next year if he is to remain in BSB on a top bike.

A long time Honda man, Brookes is expecting to remain with the factory HM Plant team, although there have been indications that Yamaha and Suzuki have shown interest in his services.

Brookes’ teammate Glen Richards is likely out of the HM Plant team for next year, already set to ride a Phase One Yamaha at the Qatar round of the Endurance World Championship alongside James Ellison this month.

As stated in our Breaking News section, Richards’ ride comes at the expense of fellow Aussies Damian and Alex Cudlin, both of whom are back in Australia and haven’t yet announced if they’ll be riding another bike at the finale for 2009.

The weekend will mark the return of Warwick Nowland on a Honda, while new world champion Steve Martin is set to wrap up his successful season with YART in good form once again.

Last weekend’s Perth round of the Monster Energy Super X series was one of the most exciting of the season so far despite being an indoor event, with plenty of room on the floor and good dirt on offer for the track builders to work with.

Speaking of the track, check out this blog from Super X track builder American Jason Baker regarding his efforts in building each and every track for the 2009 series:

McGrath (J) will be in Super X at Canberra this weekend.

McGrath (J) will be in Super X at Canberra this weekend.

To see Dan Reardon win was an exceptional result after what has been a solid few weeks for him since scoring a podium result at the U.S. Open of Supercross last month, and with the Perth victory he took over the point lead for the series.

There has been some disappointment regarding the minimal coverage of the Lites class on television, especially the lack of an opportunity for the second and third place finishers to have a podium speech, but all in all the series is in good stead for year number two.

What concerns me more is the fact that there looked to be many empty seats in the Burswood Dome last Saturday night, although I admit that I wasn’t actually at the event to give my full comment.

This weekend mark’s Canberra’s round of the title chase, also marking the halfway point in the series after what has been an enthralling opening few rounds to date as our locals step it up against Reed.

Don’t forget, rookie standout Todd Waters will be back in action for Woodstock Honda this weekend, and seven-time AMA champ Jeremy McGrath will also make his 2009 debut for the team.

Interestingly, on the same weekend that Reed was beat at home, his arch-rival James Stewart lost his King of Bercy crown in Paris on the same weekend, where Justin Brayton made a stellar debut for JGR Yamaha. Speaking of JGR, I wonder what Cody Cooper is up to for 2010?

Granted, Stewart didn’t take part in the final night’s final, but it’s not too often that you see the names Reed and Stewart off of the top step of the podium in international events.

The biggest news for Aussie fans this week came when Matt Moss revealed right here on that he’ll be riding for the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team in the USA next season, most likely riding the West Coast Lites Supercross Championship for the team.

Both Moss brothers have the potential to be worldwide stars in the years to come, with Matt and brother Jake already proving to have the speed needed and are quickly gaining the consistency required to be title contenders year in, year out.

Reardon also was confirmed for MotoConcepts on Yamaha’s new YZ450F, getting his big break in the Open class over there in America, and he’ll start testing in December following the conclusion of Super X in Oz.

It’s yet to be known whether or not Ty Simmonds will head to America as he has long planned, but you can bet that the 17-year-old will definitely be  a starter over there in the years to come.

In some sad news, Racer X is reporting that Christian Craig has suffered a broken back while testing in California with his new Troy Lee Designs Honda team, undergoing surgery to stabilise the injury. It’s a devastating break for a very promising young rider.

That’s a wrap for this week, thanks for reading.