News 12 May 2010

Racing Insider #19

Stoner to Honda? Bayliss coming back? Will Reed be ready? It's all here in today's action-packed Insider.

Is Australia's 2007 MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner on the verge of signing for the Repsol Honda team for the 2011 season? Watch this space...

Is Australia's 2007 MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner on the verge of signing for the Repsol Honda team for the 2011 season? Watch this space...

It’s the rumour that has been doing the rounds for months now, but the Italian press have now gone all in by claiming that Australia’s 2007 MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner has signed with Repsol Honda for next season.

It all began when Italian Livio Suppo left Ducati for Honda at the end of last season, reportedly claiming that he would indeed be chasing Stoner’s signature once his contract expires with Ducati at the end of this year.

The story clicked top gear when Casey’s father and manager Colin was on hand at Jerez’s most recent world title round in Spain a couple of weeks ago, meeting with Suppo according to those who were there.

While reports say that Stoner has in fact signed, I would say that they are a little premature, however I have no doubt that both he and HRC are in serious discussions.

Let’s face it, Dani Pedrosa has been in the factory team for something like five years and hasn’t won the premier class title, while Andrea Dovizioso is undoubtedly a talent, but not at the level of Stoner, Vale Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and co.

The big twist in the whole Stoner to Honda story is that fact that should he leave, Ducati will almost certainly strike on Rossi, however they’d want to have some serious dollars behind them if their attempts to get him are successful.

It would be a dream scenario for MotoGP though, having Stoner on a Honda, Rossi on a Ducati and Lorenzo on a Yamaha all vying for race victories. Hey, we may as well through Pedrosa on a Suzuki and we’d have a very solid line-up of factory contenders!

We’ll be following the story closely as it happens, so stay tuned…

Not one to be overshadowed by MotoGP in recent seasons, WSBK has its own mega news story today in the fact that Australia’s Troy Bayliss is very seriously considering a comeback to competition!

Bayliss told American website Superbike Planet (check out the news story here) that he is contemplating a comeback, the interview coming on the eve of a Ducati Xerox test at Mugello in Italy today.

Something tells me that Troy isn’t mucking around this time, and it’s plain to see that his competitive nature and desire to race motorcycles still lives on today.

With his Ducati test coming straight after a horror weekend for the Italian team at Monza last weekend, some have speculated that Bayliss could replace either Nori Haga or Michel Fabrizio this year, but that isn’t the case and this Mugello test has long been planned as part of Bayliss’ current test agreement.

Again, watch this space, but I for one would be absolutely pumped to see Bayliss make a comeback in 2011 after two years off – let’s just hope it’s a more successful one than Michael Schumacher’s Formula One return!

I know we’ve heard it all before (there should be a Mat Mladin comeback rumour coming up shortly, judging by previous rumour cycles), however the key this time is that it’s coming from the very well informed Superbike Planet and not the sometimes unreliable European press.

Plus, here’s some extra news for you guys: WSBK will be adopting on-board cameras next year for the television coverage. I’m not certain why they haven’t earlier, however it will be happening come 2011!

The news broke last week that Josh Waters will be heading to the United States next month following the Queensland Raceway ASBK round to take part in a test for the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama.

Suzuki Australia and the Americans have a close relationship, one that saw motocross and supercross young gun Matt Moss switch from the Aussie team straight into the factory AMA team for this season (although he’s been out with injury so far).

Waters has a great opportunity with the Yoshimura-run Suzuki squad, managed by experienced Aussie Peter Doyle, especially in an economy that’s seeing good rides harder and harder to come by.

It’s said that Waters’ test may see him line-up at the race in September if it’s successful, a move that would see him join regulars Tommy Hayden and Blake Young in the factory Suzuki team.

For those who don’t follow the AMA too closely, Rockstar Makita Suzuki is the team that both Mat Mladin and Ben Spies dominated the AMA series for over more than a decade.

The stats show just how strong the team is with 10 championships in the last 11 seasons since 1999, the only time they’ve lost being when Nicky Hayden won for Honda in 2002!

In other ASBK news, testing for the Queensland Raceway round will be staged early next week at the ‘Paperclip’, with many of the top teams and privateers in attendance before the upcoming race weekend.

KTM Australia today revealed that Tye Simmonds will be racing with the number seven plate for the remainder of the 2010 Rockstar Energy MX Nationals, honouring the late Andrew McFarlane.

It’s amazing how the team and McFarlane’s family have pulled together following the tragic incident at Broadford’s most recent round of the series, and the word is that the JDR Motorsport team will be presenting the McFarlane family with his race bike at Toowoomba this weekend.

There’s no doubt that emotions will be running high at Toowoomba, however the racing must go on and the series is shaping up to be a tight one as we inch toward the midway point.

If you see a difference in Jay Marmont this weekend as far as outright pace goes, keep in mind that he and brother Ryan now have their own motocross practice facility for the first time since their tracks were bulldozed last year and they’ve been getting plenty of quality riding time in.

There have been a lot of guys putting their heads down to get on with business in recent weeks, guys like Cody Mackie, PJ Larsen and Dan McCoy riding together around New South Wales and generally working hard on scoring the results they are capable of and rightly deserve.

Also guys, don’t forget our Toowoomba Tipping Competition here, as well as our Ringmaster Images contest where you have the chance to design and win your very own custom set of graphics here. It’s that easy!

We’re going to see the Hangtown season opener of the AMA Motocross Championship fire into life here in a couple of weeks on 22 May, but the big question is who will be the man come race time?

New Supercross champ Ryan Dungey is the current Lites champion in the outdoors so we know he will be strong, however the big question mark remains over defending 450 champion Chad Reed.

Reed has had an emotional few weeks after the birth of his first child, and then the passing of close mate Andrew McFarlane, so we’ll see where his frame of mind is once the gates drop. He definitely has what it takes to win, all going well though.

Check out these tattoos that Reed and fellow Aussie Michael Byrne got in memory of Sharky last weekend at the Vegas supercross finale.

Mike Alessi will be out in force on KTM’s new 350 SX-F, the Californian revealing this week that he’s coming out to contest Super X in Australia this year.

On the Australian front, Dan Reardon has joined the Valli Motorsports Yamaha team for the Nationals, being the second Aussie in two years after McCoy to part with the MotoConcepts team mid-season.

Other returning riders (from injury) for the Nationals will be Matt Moss, who is set to debut for Rockstar Makita Suzuki, Josh Grant, and more, if all goes according to plan.

Meanwhile, don’t forget that South Australian Brett Metcalfe finished third in the West Coast Lites Supercross Championship this year, so he’ll be one to keep an eye on when he steps up to the 450 for the first time outdoors this season.

Finally, James Stewart did confirm on his Twitter recently that he’ll be contesting a partial outdoor season at selected rounds, so that’s also sure to add some fireworks into the championship hunt.

That’s all for today, thanks for reading!

Could Troy Bayliss be returning for another shot at the Superbike World Championship? He was last crowned in 2008 - his final season of racing.

Could Troy Bayliss be returning for another shot at the Superbike World Championship? He was last crowned in 2008 - his final season of racing.