There’s a growing rumor (if not fact) that Pirelli won’t be supplying the World Superbike Championship with tires after the 2012 season, and a piece of that puzzle has come forth today as Infront Motor Sports (IMS) has announced that it will be accepting bids from tire manufacturers to exclusively supply the World Superbike & World Supersport Championships, the Superstock 1000 FIM Cup, and the Superstock 600 European Championship for the 2013-2015 racing seasons.
Tucked away in the Friday press release from the World Superbike Commission, along with other changes to the technical and sporting regulations, was the news that only sixteen bikes would be eligible to compete in Superpole qualifying. In the 2010 season, the fastest 20 riders during the qualifying practices competed to move on to Superpole 2 and 3 to vie for the pole position for the Sunday races.
With the lower numbers of entries this past season, many if not sometimes all of the riders gained entry into the first Superpole session. This coming, 2011, season, only the sixteen fastest riders will be in the first session of Superpole, with the slowest four getting knocked out of the running for Superpole 2 (allowing the fastest twelve to move onto Superpole 2).
After releasing a provisional calendar that left some venues to be determined, World Superbike has finally released its official schedule for the 2011 season. Leaving the European and Italian rounds empty back in October, we see Donington Park and Imola now official added to the roster. While the addition of the two historic circuits is certainly not the most surprising news, it atleast completes the WSBK calendar.
Yamaha’s factory-supported World Superbike team, Sterilgarda Yamaha, tipped part of it’s rider line-up last week when it announced that Marco Melandri would be making the move from MotoGP to WSBK. Now the Yamaha squad has released the name of its second rider, and we’ll give you a hint: it’s not James Toseland. Instead for the 2011 season, Sterilgarda Yamaha will be tapping into the young Irish rider Eugene Laverty, who is currently looking for a World Supersport Championship with the Parkalgar Honda squad.
Sultan of Slide Garry McCoy has been dismissed from the factory Triumph WSS team this week. While the team issued a press release saying that the move was mutual, McCoy tells a different story, and is quick to point out salary wasn’t the issue. Whatever the case may be, the late departure by McCoy means a tough road ahead for the Australian in finding a 2010 ride, and his best option seems to be Moto2.
After having five strong years, Stiggy Honda has announced that it will be withdrawing from the 2010 World Superbike and World Supersport Championships. Despite the team’s successes, their financial situation is the cause of their undoing, with Stiggy squarely pointing the finger at partner S2 Racing.
Ever since the concept of the Moto2 class was announced, there has been some tension between the Flammini brothers and the Dorna for stating the Moto2 racing class. The Flammini brothers run the World Supersport class, which is sanctioned to be the only Production 600cc World Championship Series by the FIM. Moto2 has been accused by some for possibly infringing on WSS’s domain, and when the Permanent Committee, consisting of Dorna and the FIM, announced that Honda was to supply engines to the Moto2 class that were loosely based on Honda’s road-going CBR600RR motor, this overlap seeemed even more pronounced. We believed at the time that there were substantial differences between the Moto2 class and the WSS production machines, and it would appear that Paolo and his brother Maurizio agree with us.
The last day of testing at Phillip Island has ended with Ducati on top of the time board. After losing Troy Bayliss to retirement last year, Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga have stepped up to show that they are ready to defend the Ducati crown. Fabrizio ended the day the fastest, with a time of 1’32.19 it was well under Bayliss’ winning lap time from last year’s race. Team mate Haga was not far behind, just fractionally ahead of new boy Ben Spies. The American took a second off his time from yesterday, on only the second day of riding at the track.
The rest of the WSBK field has found their way to Phillip Island for their last testing before racing starts, and a new Max is the man to beat. This time, it was German Suzuki man Max Neukirchner who was the fastest, just dipping underneath the time set by Max Biaggi by .09 seconds. The day was an eventful one, marked by crashes, with Fabrizio, Haga, Checa, and Corser all hitting the dirt and tarmac. Ten Kate Honda’s Carlos Checa was by far the worst. After his off, Checa was taken to hospital for examination after it became apparent that the crash caused him to have memory loss. He was later released from hospital, but his participation in testing tomorrow is doubtful.
The first batch of testing has concluded at Phillip Island. As before, Aprilia stands on top of the unofficial podium, but this time the fastest lap of the day was posted by The Emperor himself, Max Biaggi. Following behind him, by just a hundreth of a second, was Ducati’s Regis Laconi. Topping the World Supersport bikes was a former Kawasaki rider Anthony West, who repeated his performance from yesterday by setting the fastest lap of the day on his Stiggy Motorsports Honda.