Just two days ago we told you that Marco Melandri would be headed to the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati World Superbike team, replacing fellow Italian Davide Giugliano. That news has been publicly confirmed today, with Melandri set to join Chaz Davies on the factory WSBK team.
The move is a surprising return for Marco Melandri back into motorcycle racing, as the Italian took a hiatus during the 2016 season, after a less-than-amicable departure from the struggling Aprilia MotoGP team last year.
Melandri’s reputation as a racer, and perhaps his desperation to come back to motorcycle racing, comes with a price though, as the former 250GP World Champion is said to be forgoing a salary from Ducati Corse. Instead, Melandri is bringing his own money to the team, and likely has a performance-based pay schedule.
While the MotoGP grid is as good as settled, Silly Season for World Superbikes is in full swing.
With the Kawasaki riders’ contracts settled before the summer break, attention has turned to the other seats, most of which are up in the air. In addition, there could be some changes in machinery, with some teams eyeing a switch of manufacturers.
The biggest news – still unofficial, but widely believed to be a done deal – is that Marco Melandri is set to make a return to the World Superbike paddock, this time in the factory Aruba.it Ducati team alongside Chaz Davies.
Melandri has been angling for a ride ever since his departure from the factory Aprilia MotoGP squad, a move he had never wanted to make in the first place.
Over the past twelve months or so, he has been linked to rides with Yamaha, Aprilia, BMW, and Kawasaki in World Superbikes, and – possibly the most bizarrely inaccurate rumor to be published in a while – to a ride with BMW in MotoGP.
The fact that BMW have no intention of racing in MotoGP, and the break up with Melandri in 2013 so acrimonious that they would not have him back anyway is what made that particular rumor so entertaining.
The WorldSBK season goes on its annual summer break, with the championship suddenly poised on a much finer edge than was imaginable just a week ago.
Jonathan Rea’s dominance of the current campaign has been almost unparalleled. However, his run of 17 consecutive podium finishes to open the season is now over, and suddenly he faces a threat from within for his title defence.
This is because an engine issue left Rea on the sidelines in Race 2 at Laguna Seca, and suddenly his championship lead had been cut to 46 points. It is still a comfortable margin for Rea but suddenly doubt can creep into the “Team 65” side of the Kawasaki garage.
Tom Sykes’ win on Sunday marked a return to the winner’s circle for the former champion, and while he is still an outside bet for the title, he is at least back in realistic range of Rea.
This paints an interesting picture for the WorldSBK riders to consider while they rest over the next two months.
Episode 31 of the Paddock Pass Podcast comes to you from Misano, Italy where David Emmett joins Steve English for the recent World Superbike round. The two talk about the weekend’s racing, and catch us up with the general happenings of the WSBK paddock.
The obvious major topic of discussion is Jonathan Rea’s domination so far this year, as he leads Tom Sykes and Chaz Davies in the Championship standings.
Talk about the other “factory” teams also occurs, mostly looking at the differences of factory support in WSBK. This includes the plight of Nicky Hayden and the Honda Racing outfit, as well as the Pata Yamaha and Milwaukee BMW squads, who don’t have the same budgets and resources as Ducati and Kawasaki.
In addition to that, we think you will enjoy the conversation about Leon Camier and MV Agusta, both of who had great outings at the Misano round. MV Agusta is slowly making progress with its program, but the company’s financial difficulties put clouds over the Italian outfit’s future.
To finish things up, the guys also have a frank conversation about the difficulties riders have moving from WSBK into the MotoGP paddock.
Whether you are a regular follower of World Superbike racing, or just a casual observer, we think you will find this episode both highly insightful and entertaining.
As always, be sure to follow the Paddock Pass Podcast on Facebook, Twitter and subscribe to the show on iTunes and SoundCloud – we even have an RSS feed for you. If you like the show, we would really appreciate you giving it a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!
The Kawasaki World Superbike line up will remained unchanged for the next two years. On Monday morning, the Kawasaki Racing Team announced they had signed Tom Sykes to another two-year contract for WorldSBK.
Sykes will line up alongside Jonathan Rea in 2017 and 2018, as he has for this season and last. There had been a lot of speculation that Sykes could jump ship to Ducati, after the Italian factory had handed him a de facto blank check for his signature.
Sykes preferred to remain with Kawasaki, however, despite the animosity in the Kawasaki garage between the two riders.
Donington Park has become the personal playground of 2013 World Superbike champion Tom Sykes.
The Yorkshire rider has now claimed an incredible eight wins in a row at his home circuit, and after Sunday’s races Sykes explained how much it meant and also what it means going forward.
In this debrief, Tom Syke’s crew chief, Marcel Duinker, offers his insight into whether Sykes has an advantage at Donington Park due to his riding style.
Also of note this weekend was the addition of new riders to the WorldSBK grid, as for the majority of last year PJ Jacobsen was the sole American riding in the WorldSBK paddock, but last weekend the numbers swelled to three, with Cameron Beaubier joining the Superbike Circus.
The MotoAmerica champion aquitted himself well and we will assess what it means for MotoAmerica, having him race against some of the world’s finest.
Sometimes you get the bear, and sometimes the bear gets you. That was the case for Chaz Davies at Donington Park today, as the Ducati rider found his Panigale R race bike going up in flames during FP2.
An unknown mechanical issue forced Davies to pull off the track, and not long after getting his bike to a stop did flames started erupting out of his Ducati Panigale R.
The bike was a total loss, and the whole ordeal cost Davies a valuable time during the practice session, but at least Davies didn’t have to abandon ship at full-speed – like Colin Edwards did on the Aprilia RS Cube.