As usual, the team to beat in the Endurance World Championship is the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT). Taking the 2013 title by a thin five-point margin though, SERT’s history of dominance in endruance racing is certainly being challenged. Biting at its heels are the factory teams from Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Honda — all of whom have strong teams for the 2014 season.
But the more things change, the more they stay the same — which applies equally well for the 2014 Suzuki GSX-R1000 which SERT will once again be campaigning in the EWC. The 2014 SERT Suzuki GSX-R1000 looks like almost a carbon-copy of last year’s machine, and we will just assume that they don’t want to change a winning formula.
At the helm of the SERT Suzuki GSX-R1000 are team regulars Vincent Philippe and Anthony Delhalle, who will be joined by Erwan Nigon and reserve rider Damian Cudlin. With 13 Endurance World Championship under its belt, SERT will look for its 14th title this year, and their title defense starts tomorrow with the Bol d’Or 24 Hour race at Magny-Cours, France.
As the end of the season approaches, the punishment which the riders have taken is starting to take its toll. With several riders out or moved, replacements are being sought to complete the season, or at least fill in for the next race.
In the MotoGP class, the knock on effect of Ben Spies’ extended absence means that a vacancy arose at the PBM team. With Michele Pirro unable to race in the overseas triple header, dedicating himself to testing for the remainder of the year, Yonny Hernandez has been moved to the Ignite Pramac squad for the last five races of the year, as was announced after the Misano test.
That meant that Hernandez’s spot at PBM needed filling, preferably by a rider with some kind of Grand Prix experience. That rider has now been found, and Damian Cudlin is to take the place of Hernandez at the next round of MotoGP at Aragon.
Whether your four-wheeled racing fetish comes in the form of NASCAR or Formula One (maybe you tick the box for “other”?), chances are that you are accustomed to the concept of a pitstop. The idea is a bit lost on motorcycle racing though, as most circuit-racing is done on a single-tank of gasoline, e.g. MotoGP, WorldSBK, AMA Pro Racing, BSB, etc. At road racing events, like the Isle of Man TT though, pitstops become again the status quo, but the nature of the TT fails to bring a certainly level of sophistication to the process — the same cannot be said for the World Endurance Championship.
We already showed you today the oddity of a motorcycle chasing down a headlight on a race track, and we’ll bring you another interesting video from the WEC: a bonafide well-choreographed motorcycle pitstop. Showing us here a nearly textbook refueling, tire change, and rider swap, BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent’s total time in the pitbox was 17 seconds (a few seconds lost to some trouble getting the refueling system hooked up to the bike). Not bad.
With riders Sébastien Gimbert, Damian Cudlin, Erwan Nigon, and Hugo Marchand finishing second in the FIM World Endurance Championship, and third at Le Mans (a crash by Gimbert two hours into the race took the team off its pole-setting pace, and dashed hopes for an outright Championship win), the upstart French team is representing its German brand well. Hopefully they will be back next year to give those boys at SERT another run for their money.
Despite multiple showers, MotoGP managed to dodge having wet any sessions for the Australian GP. With the weather always unpredictable at Phillip Island, concern on what was above quickly turned to concern on the track, as Jorge Lorenzo suffered a weekend-ending finger injury after a violent tankslapper sent the Spaniard to the tarmac in Turn 12. Out of the Australian GP, the incident all but assures Casey Stoner of clinching the 2011 MotoGP Championship at his home GP, and on his birthday no less.
The bad news continued for Yamaha, as Ben Spies announced that he would not race at Phillip Island as well, too battered and concussed from yesterday’s 167 mph get-off. Also a scratch was Australia’s own Damian Cudlin, who was filling-in for the injured Hector Barbera in the Mapfire Aspar Ducati squad. Cudlin’s second chance at riding a Ducati in a MotoGP race, the Australian also had to sit this race out because of injuries sustained during a T4 high-side on Saturday morning.
With the grid down to just 14 riders, the new front row consisted of Casey Stoner, Marco Simoncelli, and Alvaro Baustista. Lorenzo’s misfortune is an obvious boon to the Rizla Suzuki squad, who have found a new intensity these past few races. With Spie’s, and subsequently Yamaha’s, withdrawal from the Australian GP, Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa also got a boost, moving from the middle of the third row, to the outside of the second row. Teammate, and rival for third in the Championship, Andrea Dovizioso certainly can’t be pleased with that circumstance of that situation.
With all eyes on the picturesque island track, MotoGP fans eagerly awaited to see if a new World Champion would be crowned today. Continue reading to find out more.