Our World Superbike silly season round-up from three weeks ago is now 3 for 3, as Alstare Suzuki has announced the signing of Michel Fabrizio to its “factory” team, replacing the departed Leon Haslam. The announcement is a homecoming for Fabrizio, who raced for Alstare’s European Superstock team back in 2003, but the Italian rider has a ton of work ahead of him as Suzuki’s support for the WSBK team is still highly questionable. Fabrizio got his first taste of the Alstare Suzuki GSX-R1000 World Superbike while testing at Magny-Cours last week, his first time back on an inline-four, after riding an v-twin all these years.
After yesterday’s announcement that rider Leon Haslam would be released from his contract at Alstare Suzuki because of a lack of factory support, the Alstare Suzuki team announced today that it would be fielding only one rider in World Superbike next year. Alstare will continue to work with Suzuki, but it’s unclear exactly how much support the Japanese factory will be giving the team.
With Haslam’s departure, it can be deduced that Suzuki’s involvement won’t be on par with the rest of the factory teams, but remains none-the-less. Although no rider has been named for the 2011 WSBK season, Alstare says we can expect an announcement in that regard during World Superbike’s last stop at Magny-Cours this weekend.
Much of the talk about Valentino Rossi and his injuries have centered on the Italian’s leg, which was broken with a compound fracture at Mugello earlier this year. Despite causing Rossi to miss several races, the Italian’s biggest physical concern hasn’t been his leg, but instead his shoulder, which he injured in April while motocross training. The shoulder has been a lingering issue for Rossi ever since his return at Brno, which culminated this weekend with the Fiat-Yamaha team actually having to setup the M1 at Aragon to work around the injury.
With a lackluster performance this weekend, not to mention a disappointing return to GP racing in general, Rossi announced after Sunday’s race that he was considering having his shoulder operated on after the three fly-away races (Motegi, Sepang, and Phillip Island), which would effectively mean that the nine-time World Champion would miss MotoGP’s last two stops at Estoril and Valencia. MotoMatters has once again done a superb job of transcribing Rossi’s interaction with the media on the subject, which adds some context to this development (read the transcript here)
This announcement is a big bombshell for the Yamaha camp, which could see its star rider, if we can still say that, again vacating from the team to heal his injuries. However again reading between the lines of the Italian, Rossi’s revelation this weekend has about as much to do with an injured shoulder as it does with putting pressure on Yamaha to release him from his contract in time to test the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 at Valencia.
Noticeably absent from the silly season slogging has been the factory Suzuki MotoGP team. Although we know that Suzuki intends to stay in MotoGP for at least one more season, despite a continued tradition of mediocrity, very little other information has come forward. Perhaps at the top of the rumor heap is the speculation that Rizla Suzuki will potentially field only one bike in the 2011 MotoGP season, electing not to replace Loris Capirossi who has been linked to the Pramac Ducati team.
Under the lights of the Indy Mile, where motorcycle racing began for the Kentucky-born MotoGP racer, Nicky Hayden has signed a two-year contract with Ducati Corse for the 2011 & 2012 seasons. Not the biggest surprise in the paddock, Hayden’s contract renewal has never really been questioned this season as the American started the season off with series of strong finishes and continues to be a strong brand ambassador for Ducati in the United States.
Hayden will be joined the next two years by former teammate Valentino Rossi, the pair rode for Repsol Honda in 2003, with Hayden finishing the season 5th in his rookie GP season.
As expected, Ben Spies and Yamaha have announced that the current World Superbike Champion and MotoGP rookie will move up to the factory Yamaha team (noticeably not called Fiat-Yamaha in the press release) for the 2011 season. Spies’ move to the factory squad has lovingly been referred to as the “second worst-kept secret in MotoGP,” right after Rossi’s departure from the Fiat-Yamaha team to Ducati Corse.
Hinting at his move yesterday, Spies had made good on his promise to announce something during the Indianapolis GP weekend. “We’re delighted that Ben will join the Factory Team for next season,” said Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing. “Ben has shown great promise in his first ten MotoGP races. He has learnt rapidly and recorded strong results, including a well-deserved podium finish at Silverstone – impressive for someone in their first full season.”
Another one of the worst-kept secrets in the MotoGP paddock is the graduation of Ben Spies from the Monster Tech3 Yamaha team to the factory Yamaha squad. With Valentino Rossi now officially out of the Yamaha picture, Spies’ opening in the factory squad is finally vacant.
With Spies testing the 2011 Yamaha YZR-M1 at Brno two weeks ago, more fuel was added to the fire that an announcement from the Texan was imminent. Dodging an official statements during Thursday’s pre-race conference at Indianapolis GP, Spies still all but confirmed where he would be for next season.
The latest news to come out of Indianapolis this week should be painfully obvious for loyal MotoGP fans, but we have to cover it none-the-less. Expected to announce renewing his contract with Ducati Corse before Sunday’s race, Nicky Hayden will sure up his 2011 MotoGP placement in-front of a home crowd this weekend.
There really hasn’t been any doubt this year that Hayden would end up anywhere other than Ducati, especially the strong season the American has shown with a bevy of Top 5 finishes. As Ducati has now officially crossed-their-heart-hope-to-die signed Valentino Rossi for reals now (do you see what we did there?), it can announce its intentions with Hayden, and officially bow-out of the 2010 MotoGP Silly Season.
No it’s not Victory Day, nor Valentine’s Day, and not even the next showing of the Vagina Monologues, the countdown to V-Day in the motorcycle world is the day that Valentino Rossi announces his move to Ducati in MotoGP racing. Slated to occur at Brno during the Czech GP because of a gentlemen’s agreement, Valentino Rossi’s announcement will be the crack in the doors that opens the flood gates of other announcements. Like a line of domino’s strewn about the MotoGP paddock, Rossi’s plans for 2011 are the tipping stone that sets the rest of the paddock in motion…and we’re sure he’d have it no other way.
UPDATE: Ducati will be unveiling to the public its 2011 Ducati 848 Superbike EVO, which will have a $1,000 cheaper “Dark” variant as well.
Get ready Ducatisti, a new Ducati model is coming in two weeks. To be launched at Laguna Seca’s Ducati Island during the GP weekend, Ducati is tight lipped as to what the new model could be. In our invitation to the event, we are told only that the unveiling will be “hosted by four very excited guests to whom this new model means quite a lot.” The unveiling will be at 1pm on Saturday, and we’ll be there with our cameras.