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.
With the Aprilia riders having an extra day of tests at Phillip Island, it should be no surprise that they sit on the top of the leader board for testing lap times. This extra day has cause some ire from other team managers who state that Aprilia’s actions are pushing up the costs of testing for everyone else. We think that’s a cheap excuse for the fact that Shinya Nakano leads Regis Laconi, who is back with Ducati, and that Aprilia’s Max Biaggi is in a not-so-distant third. Biaggi finished the day on a bit of a low note, having a relatively low-speed fall towards the end of the day. We’ll have to wait for the other teams to start their testing on Saturday before we can see how the grid is stacking up.
This week will be the last chance for teams to get some testing in before the World Superbike and Supersport Championship begins on March 1st. Accordingly, teams are flocking to Phillip Island for 4 days of testing, which will hold separate sessions for the two racing series.