MotoOnline.com.au looks back at the week in our sport from around the globe.
Hello and welcome to the fourth edition of Racing Insider for 2011. Can you believe it’s February already!? If last year felt like it went fast, this year feels like we’re on lap record pace already and man, has it been a good one to date.
While we here at MotoOnline are still in the States on our U.S. Tour 2011 doing a variety of cool things, this week marks the start of the official MotoGP pre-season at the Sepang test in Malaysia – a test we have been looking forward to since November last year.
Also just around the corner is the Aussie and World Superbike season openers at Phillip Island at the end of the month, so let’s get started with the latest Insider already!
Last weekend’s Oakland round of Supercross saw Aussie Chad Reed take his first podium for TwoTwo Motorsports, marking another significant milestone in the dual AMA and world champion’s career.
From what we’ve been seeing and hearing over here, many expect the series to become a two-horse race between James Stewart and Ryan Villopoto, however you can’t yet discount Reed – or Ryan Dungey for that matter – as the pair continue to gain momentum.
This weekend will see the series return to Anaheim for the PINK themed race of the season, and fingers crossed the dirt will be back to the usual Anaheim dirt after rain caused for a very slick affair at the season opener.
Alongside Reed we have Brett Metcalfe improving as he scored fifth in Oakland, and we are set to go do an exclusive interview with the South Australian this week before A2.
Don’t forget there’s also JDR/J-Star/KTM teammates Dan Reardon and Tye Simmonds in the 450 class, while Ryan Marmont is knocking on the door of a top five in the Lites.
This could very well be Marmont’s last race in the U.S. before he returns home to focus on the MX Nationals where he’ll partner Reardon on a 350 in his first full Open class season, however that’s yet to be confirmed.
In saying that, the first round of the East Coast Lites series takes place at Houston in Texas the weekend following A2, before the West Coast Lites return a week after that in San Diego. There is talk that Doggy will return to Australia in between rounds to get things sorted and then come back for San Diego.
Following that round there’s a massive seven race duration of East Coast rounds, the Seattle or Salt Lake rounds don’t clash with the MX Nationals, however the Vegas finale does clash with Murray Bridge’s fourth MX Nationals round.
By that time Marmont will be in full Motocross mode, so it’d be a huge task to return to finish out the Supercross season over here in the U.S. on the Lites bike.
While much of the talk is about Marmont, don’t forget that Reardon is also scheduled to return to Australia to partner him at JDR for the entire season aboard the 350 SX-F.
We saw Aussie Motocross and Supercross Lites Champion PJ Larsen out having some fun riding outdoors at Peris this morning, and he is looking fit and confident for the East Coast Lites series. I am sticking to my claims that he’ll be a contender this year, so we’ll have to wait and see!
Check back for a load of cool features and image galleries that we have been working on during the weeks over here, including a tour of the JDR Motorsports KTM team work shop and also a day in the life of a Race So Cal holiday client.
It seems like a long time coming, but we sure are pumped to see MotoGP resume in Sepang this week. Aussie Casey Stoner has continued his crushing form at Honda, while the field certainly seems like it’s tightened up for the new year.
Stoner’s new colours were revealed on Monday in Malaysia at Repsol Honda, while Yamaha has opted to wait until the second Sepang test before unveiling it’s new scheme – they are probably hoping a last minute sponsor comes along after Fiat’s departure!
However, we are hearing that they’ll be running a very special 50th anniversary colourway for the remainder of the test in order to complete some filming for Yamaha.
Just one final thing regarding Stoner, some predicted he’d regain his Red Bull sponsorship that he held before switching to Ducati in 2007 – he had to give it up due to Ducati’s partnership with Gatorade – but he in fact has not rejoined the Red Bull team.
Interestingly, Rossi has retained his Monster deal while Nicky Hayden also had to give up his energy drink sponsorship upon joining Ducati in 2009.
Both of Stoner’s teammates, Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso, both have Red Bull deals with large decals on their helmets…
Hopefully Valentino Rossi is still testing for Ducati rather than trying for outright pace as he sits 12th on the time sheets after day one, while teammate Nicky Hayden is 13th. Ducati has made major changes to the Desmo for 2011, so hopefully it pays off once they get it sorted.
Stay tuned all week for the latest news and times from Sepang as the test continues.
We received confirmation today that ASBK champ Bryan Staring will in fact compete as a wild card at Phillip Island this month, making his Pedercini Kawasaki debut before going on to focus on the Superstock 1000 class later in the year.
Interestingly, I’m told that Mark Aitchison was in at Pedercini for a meeting this week and he is hoping to secure funding to join the Italian-based team after losing his World Supersport seat at Kuja Racing to countryman Mitch Pirotta. Let’s hope Atcho pulls it off as he for sure has the talent to get good results.
Before we go, I think I’m possibly more excited for the battle between Staring and Josh Waters in their World Superbike debuts more so than the actual event itself at Phillip Island this year. Throw in the form of Troy Corser on the Beemer and consider Chris Vermeulen’s new ride on the ZX-10R and Australia could be in for a great weekend in Victoria!
So, Craig Coxhell and Cole Odendaal are confirmed for GAS Honda Racing, while Glenn Allerton will ride for Procon Racing (formerly ESG, which was formerly Procon) this season.
Procon has traded in its KTMs for a new manufacturer, and Allerton did test a BMW at the Island during a ride day last week back to back with his regular Fireblade. In some ways I do hope the team switches to BMW because it’d be nice to have an extra brand in the series after Coxhell announced he’ll revert back to Honda.
Teams have again been testing at the Island this week, although I’m not sure what ones exactly, but I’ll be sure to find out the information and post it up as news as soon as we find out.
There’s an official ASBK test planned for the 15th, plus some are riding with Yamaha on the 9th, so expect a great boost in domestic road racing content now the ball is rolling once again.
That’s all for this week’s Insider, thank you as usual for stopping by the read the latest info in the sport!