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.
American race fans will see a familiar face during next weekend’s World Superbike races at Donington Park, as its has just been announced that MotoAmerica’s Cameron Beaubier will be ridng with the Pata Yamaha factory team.
Cameron Beaubier will be filling in for the injured Sylvain Guintoli, who fractured his ankle during the Superpole session at the Imola round – an injury that is taking longer to heal than expected.
While it’s bad news for the Guintoli, the move is a boon for Beaubier, as the weekend will likely serve as a public audition for the young American in the World Superbike paddock.
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.
It’s very easy to jump to quick conclusions during the early stages of a season. Momentum swings from one bike to another, and while some riders are ascending, others are having an off weekend.
However, the third round of the Superbike World Championship has definitely shown that Chaz Davies and Ducati are the form package at the moment.
The Welshman and the Italian bike claimed their first wins of 2016 in Aragon, but having been in the thick of the fight for five wins in the opening six races, their pace has not been in question.
What had been in question was top speed. While the Ducati MotoGP bike is a verified rocket, the WorldSBK specification Panigale R has traditionally struggled to keep pace with the Kawasakis on straights.
In the opening rounds we saw this when Davies was easily overtaken by Rea in both Australia and Thailand. Last weekend the tables were sensationally turned.
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!
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!
Setting the fastest time on the opening day of the season put smiles on the faces of everyone in the Pata Yamaha garage, but the rest of the weekend wasn’t quite as smooth.
While Sylvain Guintoli converted his opening day speed into strong race finishes, the challenge facing the team is clear: getting the most from the YZF-R1.
As with any racing Yamaha, the key to generating speed and performance from the R1 is corner speed. Watch the bike on track and it’s very similar to what you can expect when you look at Jorge Lorenzo in MotoGP.
Yamaha riders need to carry corner speed and momentum at all times and be as smooth as possible.
Jonathan Rea leads the field after an incident-packed second day of testing for the World Superbike class at Phillip Island. Warmer weather and intense testing saw several riders take some serious tumbles, with a couple of riders suffering significant injury.
Fabio Menghi fell and fractured a hip in the morning, while Josh Hook crashed in the afternoon and dislocated his shoulder, and fracturing his greater tubercle (top of the bone in the upper arm). The crashes and subsequent clean-up meant that much of the afternoon session was lost, as marshals tried to clear the track.
The second day of testing did throw up the intriguing prospect of a nicely mixed field. Rea topped the morning session on the Kawasaki, while Sylvain Guintoli was quickest in the afternoon, on the Pata Yamaha. The top four overall times were set on four different bikes, less than a quarter of a second separating them.
With the World Superbike season almost upon us, the WSBK grid is at Phillip Island for two days of testing, ahead of the first event of the year which starts this weekend.
Rain disrupted practice for WSBK, just as it had for MotoGP last week, though the consequences were less severe. The rain and track conditions saw a few people fall – some, such as Karel Abraham, quite hard – but everyone will be fit to start testing again tomorrow.
With the start of the season so close, most of the work being done was on set up for the weekend, and it was once again the Kawasakis who came out on top, especially during the afternoon session.
Tom Sykes ended up on top of the timesheets, much to the delight of the Kawasaki man, who has historically not fared well at the circuit.