The Suzuka 8-Hour endurance race is more than just a stop on the FIM Endurance World Championship, it is the battle ground for bragging rights between the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers.
It is not uncommon to see the Big Four stacking their factory-backed teams with their top talent from MotoGP, World Superbike, and other domestic series, in addition to their local Suzuka experts. This year will be no different.
For Honda, this means recruiting its factory WSBK boys. Yes, Nicky Hayden (along with Michael van der Mark) will join Takumi Takahashi on the factory-backed MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO team at the 2016 Suzuka 8-Hour. Boom goes the dynamite.
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.
“That’s why we line up on Sunday.” This was a throwaway comment from Nicky Hayden made during his MotoGP title winning campaign of 2006. The American was referring to the fact that anything could happen over the course of a race, but on Sunday he showed again that the true reason why racers line up on Sunday is to win.
Hayden claimed a stunning maiden WorldSBK victory in difficult conditions at the Sepang International Circuit this passed weekend. For Hayden, having waited ten years for a vicotry, it was clear in the aftermath just how much it meant for The Kentucky Kid to finally win again.
Four rounds into the WorldSBK season we have seen three different race winners, two manufacturers vie for the title, but unfortunately one man proving the dominant force.
After eight races it’s hard to imagine Jonathan Rea’s title defence having gotten off to a better start, but it’s happened, despite his lack of comfort with the new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. The Northern Irishman has not been comfortable with his new mount.
The much discussed “low inertia” engine has clearly taken some of the edge off Rea’s confidence in the bike. With a different engine braking characteristic, it has forced him to adjust his riding style to get the most from the machine.
Rea has a very natural style while on a race bike, it is something that has been similar on everything he has ever ridden. Whether it’s a Supersport, Superbike, or even a MotoGP machine, Rea has been able to ride in the same way. He’ll continue to adapt to the new bike and mould it to allow his style to flourish.
Good clean racing or overstepping the mark? That was the question being asked on the Sunday night in Thailand, after a thrilling race long duel between Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea.
For many the sight of Sykes fighting tooth and nail and refusing to cede the win to his teammate was something that was hoped for, but not expected this year.
The Kawasaki teammates fought a war of words over the winter, but after Rea’s dominant title victory last year, many expected something similar this year.
While Rea has walked away with 95 points from the first four races, the message from Sykes in Thailand was clear: You’re not going to have it all your own way this time around!
Not since Max Biaggi hung up his Grand Prix leathers and headed to World Superbikes has a rookie generated as much excitement as Nicky Hayden.
The American is adamant that he can compete at the front in World Superbike this year, and already you can see the fire and determination in him to succeed.
For much of the last five years, Hayden was saddled with uncompetitive bikes in MotoGP, but already his demeanor in the Ten Kate garage is that of a man keen to get back to winning races.
The fire that led him to Europe 13 years ago is still burning, and now he feels that he has the package available to show his speed once again.
The first race of the 2016 World Superbike season is in the bag, and the second round of racing is coming to us from Thailand later this week. This gives the Paddock Pass Podcast crew plenty to talk about from the World Superbike paddock.
Episode 19 has the extra treat of an interview with Ronald Ten Kate, the man behind Ten Kate Racing, which is running Honda’s factory WSBK effort.
He and David talk about the team’s progress in the off-season, how things are shaping up in the garage with Nicky Hayden and Michael van der Mark, and what is ahead on the road.
If you are a World Superbike fan, you won’t want to miss this excellent show from the Paddock Pass Podcast boys. David event gets the intro right…almost.
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!