At long last, the FIM and Dorna have released a calendar for the World Superbike and World Supersport classes for 2014. The calendar features fourteen World Superbike events, but it is still very much a provisional list, with three of the fourteen still subject to contract, and the final race still marked as to be confirmed, with neither the location nor the country known.
It’s been a busy time for motorcycle racing in the south of Spain. With the winter test ban about to commence, and now in force for both MotoGP and World Superbikes, the teams are heading south to get some development work done while they still can.
For the World Superbike and MotoGP Open class teams, their destination is Jerez, while Moto2 and Moto3 are at Almeria, in Spain’s southeastern corner.
At Jerez, Suzuki has just wrapped up a test, and Yakhnich Motorsport are taking the MV Agusta F4RR out for its first spin. The Jerez test was Eugene Laverty’s first opportunity to ride the Suzuki GSX-R1000, after the Irishman had signed for the Crescent Suzuki team, who have swapped title sponsors from Fixi to Voltcom.
After making the announcement that MV Agusta would return to the World Superbike Championship this year, the Italian team has announced its sole rider for the 2014 season: Claudio Corti.
Seeing his spot in MotoGP with the NGM Forward taken by Aleix Espargaro, Corti returns to the WSBK paddock, and will field an MV Agusta F4RR this year with the factory-backed Yakhnich Motorsport team.
True to his words at EICMA earlier this month, Giovanni Castiglioni has brought the iconic MV Agusta name back to World Superbike racing. MV Agusta Reparto Corse’s return to WSBK will be in partnership with the Yakhnich Motorsport Team, as Russian businessman Alexander Yakhnich is said to be financing the racing effort.
For those that may not instantly recognize the Russian name, Yakhnich Motorsport is the organiser of World Superbike’s round in Russia, and the outfit was the team behind Sam Lowe’s World Supersport Championship this year on a semi-factory Yamaha YZF-R6.
The World Superbike championship remains in a state of flux, despite the good news emerging today about the 2014 grid (Feelracing taking on the Ducati factory team, MV Agusta expanding into World Superbikes, and Michel Fabrizio joining Grillini).
The Superbike Commission met at Valencia to agree further rule changes to the series for 2014, as part of the push to revitalize the series. Some of the rules are cost-cutting measures, others are aimed at making the series a more attractive TV package, while some are aimed at providing a more homogenous set of basic rules between the World Superbike and MotoGP series.
The biggest change – and the change that will be mourned the most – is the loss of the current three-stage Superpole qualifying format. Instead of having three Superpole sessions, with the slowest riders being dropped after each session, World Superbikes is to adopt a system similar to MotoGP, where the fastest riders in free practice go straight through to the second and decisive qualifying session, the rest having a second chance in a first qualifying session.
There is a lot of fascinating news coming out of this week’s EICMA motorcycle show in Milan: the boom in smaller capacity motorcycles, an upgraded Fireblade, a massive push from MV Agusta, but the show is also making headlines which will affect motorcycle racing as well.
Today at the EICMA, during a presentation on Aprilia’s future plans, Piaggio CEO Roberto Colaninno announced that the Italian manufacturer is aiming to make a return to the MotoGP class as a factory entry in 2016.
With BMW Motorrad pulling the plug on its World Superbike racing effort, and letting the BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK team disband, speculation has been rife as to where riders Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies would land for the 2014 WSBK season. We already know that Chaz will join Davide Giugliano at Ducati Corse next season, but what about Marco?
Well according to the Italian this week, Melandri will fly the Tricolore with Aprilia Racing for 2014 — presumably taking Eugene Laverty’s spot in the factory-run team. Lapping around Jerez on an RSV4 at the end-of-the-season WSBK test, Melandri’s move is perhaps not a shock for anyone following World Superbike, and the announcement already makes him a favorite for the championship next season.
News has dropped that the Michael Jordan Motorsports (MJM) team will not be returning to AMA Pro Racing next season due to the fact that the National Guard would also be ceasing its involvement with the domestic motorcycle racing series (the Army National Guard was the chief sponsor of Michael Jordan Motorsports, and was also the title sponsor of the AMA Pro SuperBike class).
Talking to RoadRacingWorld on Tuesday, MJM’s Kreig Robinson confirmed that the National Guard’s lack of renewal with DMG stemmed from AMA Pro Racing’s waning TV viewership and dwindling event crowds.
With sponsoring AMA Pro Racing no longer making smart business sense for the National Guard, Robinson said he had little to argue with in regards to the National Guard’s decision.
Ducati has announced its World Superbike lineup for the next two seasons. For 2014 and 2015, Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano will race the Ducati 1199 Panigale for the Italian factory, though details of the team structure are still pending. Testing is due to start for Davies and Giugliano at the end of October, initially with the Ducati test team.
After Alstare split from Ducati after the final round of 2013, there has been much speculation on who would take over the running of Ducati’s World Superbike squad. It is believed that it will come down to a choice between Feel Racing, who ran BMW’s WSBK entry in 2013, and have a long association with Ducati, or an internal Ducati team. The internal team is rumored to be the preferred option at the moment.
After just one year of a two-year deal, Alstare and Ducati have agreed to terminate the contract between the Belgian Alstare team and the Italian Ducati Corse World Superbike effort. Today, the two parties made it known that they would not be continuing their collaboration, citing financial problems at Alstare and the loss of a major sponsor as the reason.
The split has long been expected, as Alstare team boss Francis Batta had made no secret of his unhappiness with the collaboration between his team and Ducati, not to mention the performance of the Ducati 1199 Panigale RS13.