News 3 Feb 2010

Racing Insider #5 covers the world of racing from behind the scenes this week with news from ASBK; MotoGP; WSBK; AMA SX and Oz MX.

Supersport champion Bryan Staring could be FX-bound with YRT in 2010.

Supersport champion Bryan Staring could be FX-bound with YRT in 2010.

The first bombshell of 2010 dropped this week with news that the powerhouse Yamaha Racing Team would be leaving the Australian Superbike Championship in favour of Formula Xtreme for this season.

Yamaha will quit ASBK and turn its back on the Motorcycling Australia-sanctioned series promoted by Yarrive Konsky’s International Entertainment Group, joining Terry O’Neill’s FX series that’s to be permitted under the Australian Auto Sport Alliance governing body for the first time this year.

The news was confirmed in today’s Australian Motorcycle News after it was broken on various websites last week, but what does it really mean for domestic motorcycle racing?

It’s one thing for Yamaha to leave the ASBK for FX, but it’s a while new level when one of the world’s biggest manufacturers moves its factory effort to a series to be run under a new (for national level motorcycle racing) governing body in the AASA.

The question is, will it be the smart move for YRT? Time will tell, however don’t think it will be an absolute walk in the park for current national champions Bryan Staring, Pat Medcalf or Rick Olson while away from the remainder of the factory contingent as there are talented players in both series right now.

One thing that has been mentioned to me multiple times this week is that the contracts the YRT riders have signed are likely all based around the ASBK. Is this true? I don’t know, but it could throw the cat amongst the pigeons if one of them was thrown a last-minute ASBK offer. Unlikely to happen, but something to consider.

It would have to be a massive offer if one were to leave YRT if they had the opportunity, but I’d personally remain with Yamaha in whatever series they choose to compete in – you just can’t beat factory support. From a competitor’s outlook I know that the YRT guys will miss the competition from the remaining factory-backed riders who are staying in the ASBK, while likewise the ASBK contingent will miss the likes of Staring and co.

While YRT has taken its three national champions to FX, current Formula Xtreme overall champion Craig McMartin will focus on the Superbike class in the ASBK this year as part of the North Coast V-Twins team alongside Beau Beaton.

Looks like there’s going to be a very red flavour in the ASBK this year with Motologic, NCVT and Aluma-Lite all contesting the series with Ducati machinery.

Last week’s official ASBK test saw Jamie Stauffer fastest on debut from Josh Waters, Wayne Maxwell, Shannon Johnson and Glenn Allerton, as we know from our reports, images and interview with Jamie by now.

There have been varying reports on Dunlop’s D211GP Racer tyres since the test, although the common statement is that they have a surprising amount of grip to start with, but tend to drop off much quicker than the previous, more expensive N-Tecs did.

Judging by the times, where times of the top six or so were separated by less than a second, these tyres are going to make the racing closer than ever, which can only be a good thing for the sport.

Something to remember is that they’re going to handle the tighter tracks better than the Island, which is notoriously hard on rubber due to the heat-inducing long, fast corners.

There will be a whole heap of ASBK teams testing at the Island at least once more before the season commences at the end of this month, so if you’re planning to do a ride day then be prepared to ride with some of the country’s best.

Here’s some news for you: I hear that a new title sponsor for the 2010 championship is signed and sealed. There’s been no clue as to who it is, or what company it is, but I’d say there’s a chance it could be one of the minor sponsors from last year stepping up to the pole position sponsorship of the series.

Watch this space…

Hopefully once confirmed we’ll get more information on the television package for this year. Is it remaining on ONE, switching to Seven, or not going to be aired at all? For IEG’s sake I hope that it’s aired, however you just never know until it happens these days.

Speaking of never knowing, we now have confirmation that the season finale alongside the V8 Supercars at Symmons Plains in Tasmania will be held one week later than provisionally planned – update your diaries!

Wrapping up the Aussie side of road racing this week, how about the word that The 6 Hour will be held at Phillip Island this year? After a great success at Oran Park last year, sources suggest that the great race is heading south for run number two under the promotion of James Spence’s Circuit Breakers – let’s hope the speculation is correct.

The MotoGP World Championship will roar into life for the first time of the year this week at Sepang in Malaysia, with Fiat Yamaha set to launch its 2010 livery to kick start proceedings.

Testing will be hosted over two days on Thursday and Friday this week, where we’ll get a chance to see all the new riders and teams in action for run number one of the year.

I’m excited about this year. One reason is that I can’t wait to see Casey Stoner back at full strength on the big-bang Ducati Desmosedici, but I’m also intrigued to see is Vale Rossi can hold off determined teammate Jorge Lorenzo for another season as the young Spaniard continues to build experience.

Then there is the curious case of Dani Pedrosa, will he ever live up to the talent he showed in the tiddler classes? Other than that it’s Nicky Hayden who will need to step it up to beat rookie American Ben Spies, while we can’t forget Colin Edwards.

Confirmation came just yesterday that Garry McCoy will be back in MotoGP this season with Italian squad FB Corse, taking on the difficult role of being a development rider on a private team with an all-new manufacturer, although he does seem happy to be on board.

McCoy was actually offered his job back with Triumph last week, believe it or not, reportedly being offered double the salary to rejoin the BE1 Racing team, but it too late after the damage had already been done.

We’ll see Gazza and the team in action later this month in Europe, where the FIM will be on hand in order to confirm the three-cylinder meets MotoGP regulations.

Round one of the Superbike World Championship is just around the corner in little over three weeks time, with the British invasion set to shine after impressing at the recent Portimao test.

It’s going to be an action-filled week at the Island in the lead up to the race weekend as the top teams come out early to test and get set up for the new season.

With the season just around the corner it’s actually been surprisingly quiet on the WSBK front, however there’s no doubt that this season is shaping up as a good one on paper.

One rider who we’ll be stoked to see in action at the Island will be former double Supersport World Champion Andrew Pitt, who will debut with the Reitwagen Racing team on a BMW S1000 RR.

The word is that the bike won’t be 100 percent finished and developed for round one, but he’ll be on the grid and pushing hard to impress in front of his home crowd.

It’s hard to believe that we are now well into the 2010 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, and Rockstar Makita Suzuki rookie Ryan Dungey is leading the points.

What’s even harder to believe is that both defending champion James Stewart and 2008 champ Chad Reed are out injured following their controversial coming together at Phoenix two rounds ago.

Dungey is a surprise leader of the AMA Supercross points so far this year.

Dungey is a surprise leader of the AMA Supercross points so far this year.

Reed was immediately ruled out and most likely won’t be back for the entire season due to a devastating hand injury, while Stewart rode through the pain to third at Anaheim 2 before discovering a break in his scaphoid during the following week.

Stewart needs to be extremely careful with his rehabilitation this time. The scaphoid is a bone that’s notoriously hard to heal, even ending the careers of greats such as Ricky Johnson and ex-500GP champion Kevin Schwantz back in the day.

Let’s hope he gets it all sorted, but it does make you stand up and realise just how great the likes of Jeremy McGrath and Ricky Carmichael were to race their way through illustrious careers with just minimal injury overall.

While we are on the subject of AMA Supercross, check out this YouTube video series that Honda Red Bull Racing’s Andrew Short has been doing this season. I personally think it’s cool to see behind the scenes, something that I’m hoping more racers both here in Australia and abroad will start doing to build their fan bases.

Man, it feels like this Australian Motocross season is taking forever to come around in the lead up to the 2010 MX Nationals.

Riders are now hard at work following the Christmas period directly after Super X wrapped up, with any nagging injuries most likely healed and motivation to succeed right up there again now the batteries are charged.

But despite the series being just over a month away for the opening round at Wodonga, we’re still waiting confirmation from Suzuki and Honda as to who’s riding for their factory teams this season.

We’re also waiting for this highly speculated television coverage that’s supposed to be a done deal, but that part of it will all come in good time when WEM finalises it with returning series sponsor Rockstar Energy Drink.

Coastal KTM’s Dan McCoy went to the USA on Monday for a few weeks of riding in California, taking his own suspension and purchasing a 450 SX-F to ride while he’s there. Don’t forget he scored multiple Pro Open podiums during the second half of 2008 last time he did a full season of the nationals, so he’ll be one to watch as the underdog yet again.

Either way, it’s going to be a great season and I’m looking forward to our expanded coverage that we’ll be putting in place for the off-road scene this year.