The rumor that Rizla would be withdrawing its sponsorship from Suzuki in MotoGP has been rolling around the paddock for some time. The rumors started after Rizla announced that it would be withdrawing its backing from the Crescent Suzuki British Superbike team, which is part of the same program run by Paul Denning and Jack Valentine, who run the Suzuki MotoGP team.
While this speculation has been a common theme for paddock gossip since the latter half of 2008, the news that Rizla will be withdrawing its sponsorship from Suzuki’s MotoGP team is moving rapidly from the realm of speculation to the world of fact.
Italian magazine Sport Moto is reporting this speculation now as fact. According to them, Rizla will withdraw funding from Suzuki’s MotoGP team, cutting into the teams bottom line to the tune of 3.5 million euros per year.
It is impossible to talk about Rizla pulling out of Suzuki and not in the same breath talk about Suzuki leaving MotoGP. This possibility has been flatly denied both by Team Suzuki and MotoGP. The lost 3.5 million euros is a paltry sum to the factory team, with reports showing that it likely barely covered the salaries of Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi.
Ironically, the rest of the paddock may be relieved to see Rizla depart as a sponsor. Not because of the blow to Suzuki, but because it was widely felt in MotoGP that Suzuki had given Rizla a title sponsorship role at a rock bottom price. The paltry sum asked by Suzuki has dragged down the price that other teams could demand from sponsors for similar title sponsorship. Now with that sponsors precedent gone, teams in theory should be able to command more money for the title sponsorship advertising package.
Yamaha is reporting its first quarterly loss in over 4 years, with a fourth-quarter loss of $467 million (compare that to its profit of $41 million in the fourth-quarter of 2007). Since Yamaha gets nearly 90% of its revenue outside of Japan, the strong yen doesn’t help matters much either. The yen gained 17% against the U.S. dollar in the fourth quarter, thus eroding the value of overseas sales from their usually fat margins.
It should shock few people at that is point that in 2008, Yamaha lost customers in North America and Europe as would-be buyers cut recreational toys like motorcycles out of their budgets due to the…you guessed it…credit crisis and falling home values. In response to this, Yamaha is expected to cut the salaries of its executives by as much as 20% from February to December in order to hedge cut-costs and as a sign of unification within the corporation (a common act in Japanese corporations, GM take note).
Despite this litany of bad news, Yamaha’s shares were seemingly unaffected, and closed at 880 yen at the end of trading yesterday. Also, the stock has only dropped 5.6%t so far this year. Investors are either hopefully of Yamaha’s ability to weather the financial storm or saw this coming a mile away. We’re guessing the latter.
Loris Capirossi is ready and raring for another season in the MotoGP World Championship, one that will see him riding a heavily redesigned Suzuki GSV-R for his second year with the Japanese factory. The 2009 GSV-R will be a different bike all-together from the GSV-R of 2008. Capirossi and teammate Chris Vermeulen have both taken part in wind tunnel testing in Japan in order to redefine the optimal form for the 2009 prototype, with the results used by engineers during the testing embargo.
“The aerodynamics, engine and chassis are all-new, and I am expecting a lot from them because of the hard work that has been going on in Japan. I’ve got high hopes because of this!” says the Capirossi.
Rizla Suzuki had its ups-and-downs last year with only a few podiums last year. Hopefully with all of the time the teams has been spending in the wind-tunnel will payoff and we’ll see the boys in powder blue up-front dicing it up some more.
Suzuki has initiated a safety improvement campaign, which is not a recall…but kinda really is totally a lot like one…sorta. A safety improvement is not conducted under the United States Safety Act, but is carried out when a manufacturer voluntarily modifies or replaces a vehicle already out on the road. This one is in regards to a potential frame problem with the 2005 and 2006 GSX-R1000, which means it affects over 26,000 motorcycles.
The safety improvement is being conducted because cracking or breakage of the bike’s frame can occur in certain extreme situations where unusually high stress is placed on the frame. Repeated hard landings from hazardous maneuvers such as extreme or extended wheelies or other stunts may generate sufficient stress to cause this problem. If the frame becomes broken during extreme use, a crash could occur.
Gixxer 1000 owners should take their bike down to the local Suzuki dealer for an inspection for cracks. If no cracks are found, a frame reinforcement brace will be attached to the frame using bolts and epoxy adhesive. Should cracks be found during the inspection, the frame will be replaced with a new frame that has the reinforcement brace installed. The campaign began on January 21, 2009. Owners may contact Suzuki at 1-714-572-1490.
There’s a certain irony to this article that we can’t quite place our finger on…
Michelin is set to retire the tried and true track-oriented Power Race with the new Power One tire. Details are still thin, since the tire will be officially released to the world in March, but we do know that the One is the result of three years of work, more than 35,000 track laps, and will come in slick and treaded form. Michelin reports that it uses eight new technical solutions in the manufacturing of the Power one, including a new compound housing.
Expect the tire to come in three different compounds: A (soft), B (medium), and C (endurance). Slicks will be immediately available in 16,5” and in 17″ form in 2010. There is also talk of a rain and supermotard version of the tire.
UPDATE: Two more full bike shots added to the gallery.
MCN has spotted Ducati’s shows some pieces from Ducati’s common parts bin, as well of a couple that appear to be unique to this bike only. This bike is expected to be one of the four new models that Ducati will be releasing over the course of this year, in preparation for the 2010 model year. Continue reading to see the rest of the spy shots.
According to Visordown, the 2009 Kawasaki ZX-RR was showing a serious lack of reliability during tests at Eastern Creek last week. The reliability is such an issue that Kawasaki is waiting until the end of the month, when it tests again at Phillip Island, before making a decision. If there’s any doubt then the bikes won’t find their way onto the grid, whether in factory or privateer trim.
Bridgestone has finally signed the agreement with Dorna Sports making it the only tire supplier for MotoGP for the next three seasons. Last season saw for Michelin dwindle as Bridgestone became the favorite shoe in the paddock, so much so that Dani Pedrosa jumped ship mid-season, leaving teammate Nicky Hayden behind who was not given the same option to switch to Bridgestone. The agreement comes about as Dorna tries to further reduce cost and make closer wheel-to-wheel racing. Continue reading for more.
The weather has been grim around the Portimao race track in for the past few days. The last day of World Superbike Championship official testing at Portimao was once again affected by adverse weather conditions, and thus the absolute best times of the entire test were largely set on the second day, leaving Shane Byrne as the new track best pace setter on his private Sterilgarda Ducati. American Ben Spies posted the second fastest lap time over all, showing that he has not only to race in World Superbike, but perhaps MotoGP as well.
Yesterday, Honda announced that they would be cutting back on their motorcycle racing program, most notably withdrawing their factory team from the Suzuka 8 Hour race. Additionally, motocross and other off-road events will be dropped in order to cut costs, but we’ll miss Suzuka the most. The 8 Hour Suzuka race is a big deal for the Japanese Four. Each year Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki rope in their top riders from around the world to compete in the prestigious race, much to the chagrin of the riders who are usually enjoying their off-season time. Last year the race was won by Carlos Checa and Ryuichi Kiyonari.
Honda’s withdrawal does not mean that there will be a lack of Hondas on the grid. Only the factory team won’t race this year, but the Honda spokeswoman told the press that they would still help the remaining Honda privateers.
The one piece of good news from the announcement was confirmation of Honda’s commitment to MotoGP. Honda “won’t quit the MotoGP,” she said, adding that though Honda would be scaling back its support for motorcycle racing in general, the one series this would not affect would be MotoGP.
Victory describes the Core as the following:
“Core is a concept motorcycle designed and built by the Victory Motorcycles Industrial Design team to show what a performance cruiser of the future could look like. It consists of only the essentials: engine, frame, wheels and front suspension — no rear suspension. Its unique cast aluminum frame was made by pouring molten aluminum into a sand core, which was removed when the casting was complete.”
In other words, the future will be filled with huge displacement bikes that have no suspension, a wood seat, and be air-cooled…not to mention produced by century old techniques. Someone should remind Victory that time moves forward, not backwards. Never-the-less, we find the Core to be aesthetically pleasing to look at, and would gladly take it around the neighborhood to setoff car alarms.
Sometimes you have to express yourself by making a motorcycle, and this is what the Core is. We can appreciate that.