If you live in the United States and like World Superbike racing, then we have good news for you, as the 2019 WorldSBK Calendar now includes Laguna Seca as a destination for next year.
After many indications that the World Superbike Championship would not be coming to the United States next year, after a contract dispute with the California track and Spanish racing series, that course has seemingly made a 180° turn.
Therefore, Laguna Seca will play host to the World Superbike series – sans World Supersport or Supersport 300 – during the July 12th-14th racing weekend.
Ever since the Superbike Commission – the rule-making body for WorldSBK – announced back in October that a third race would be added to the WorldSBK race weekend, we have wondered exactly what this would mean for the class, both in terms of championship points and qualifying position for the second WorldSBK race, held on Sunday.
On Tuesday, the FIM issued a press release containing the missing details for the coming season.
The new schedule impacts both qualifying and the races. The current two-stage Superpole has been abolished, replaced with a single Superpole session for the World Superbike and the World Supersport series.
It wasn’t that long ago that we were talking about the actions of Romano Fenati at the San Marino GP, where he reached out and grabbed the front brake lever of a competitor’s bike, while going over 120 mph.
The act saw immediate outrage in the MotoGP paddock. It led to Fenati being sacked by his 2018 squad, the Marinelli Snipers Team, and then booted from his 2019 outfit, the MV Agusta Moto2 team being lead by Forward Racing.
A two-race ban by the FIM Stewards also was handed down to the 22-year-old, which was later turned into a ban from racing for the rest of the year by the FIM. Soon afterwards, Fenati announced his intention to quit motorcycle racing all together, and the matter seemed finally at its conclusion.
Forever has been short-lived however, as rumors from the MotoGP paddock tip that “Naughty Fenati” will be back on the race track next year, returning for the 2019 Moto3 season with the same Marinelli Snipers Team…the same team that fired him earlier this season.
The Grand Prix Commission is to tighten the noose on electronics a little further, in an attempt to prevent cheating. The GPC today issued a press release containing the minutes of their meeting held at the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang.
There, they agreed restrictions on the ECU, agreed to limit riders in all classes to FIM homologated helmets, and increased the penalty for speeding in pit lane.
The two changes to the electronics are aimed at restricting the ability of teams to alter the data on the official ECU.
Once upon a time, disciplinary measures in MotoGP were simple. If a rider was felt to have transgressed the rules, they were hauled up before the Race Director and given a punishment, and that was just about the end of it.
Sometimes, riders appealed against those judgments, and sometimes, the FIM even found in their favor.
But times change, cultures change, social mores change. What was once regarded as acceptable is now frowned upon. Physical contact and riding with the intent to obstruct others became less and less acceptable. Suspected transgressions were examined more closely and judged more harshly.
Things are going poorly for Romano Fenati. His actions during Sunday’s Moto2 race at Misano, when he reached over and squeezed Stefano Manzi’s front brake, are having far-reaching repercussions.
On Sunday, the FIM Panel of Stewards penalized Fenati with a two-race ban. On Monday morning, he was sacked from his current Moto2 ride by the Marinelli Snipers Racing Team. On Monday afternoon, he also lost his 2019 ride with the MV Agusta Forward Racing Team.
More was to come on Tuesday. First, the Italian motorcycle federation FMI revoked Fenati’s racing license for all sporting activities in Italy. This also renders him ineligible to compete in any international or world championship events, as international racing licenses are also issued by the national federation, which in Fenati’s case is the FMI. He has been invited to a hearing on September 14th, at which he will have the right to representation by a lawyer.
Then, the FIM, the international motorcycling federation, summoned Fenati to the FIM headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, to explain his actions. In a press release, shown at the bottom of this story, FIM President Vito Ippolito summoned Fenati to the FIM to hear his side of the story, before considering further action against the Italian.
The Moto2 Championship doesn’t often make the headlines in the motorcycle racing sphere, but I bet you are hearing all about this weekend’s Moto2 race at the San Marino GP. For those who are late to the story, much is being said about an incident where Romano Fenati grabbed Stefano Manzi’s front brake lever, as the pair hurled down the Misano circuit at over 200 km/h.
Caught on camera, the incident in just one of several between the two riders during the Moto2 race this weekend, as Fenati and Manzi traded paint and hand gestures at several points of the competition, but the focus of the attention remains on the shocking act that Fenati took down the back straight of the circuit.
For the fans in attendance, and for those watching at home, you were witness to one of the most irresponsible events that can take place on a race track – an act that I would argue is tantamount to attempted murder on a motorcycle.
It therefore boggles the mind that at this point in time, Romano Fenati still has a license to race with the FIM, once his two-race suspension is completed.
The announcement of the MotoGP test dates in the middle of last week have given a hint of how the 2019 MotoGP calendar is to take shape.
The official announcement is not expected for another month or so – Dorna are still waiting for the F1 calendar to be published, to try to avoid direct clashes with the premier car racing series.
The F1 calendar will not have the same influence as it had in previous years, however: since new owners Liberty took over the series, they have moved the start time of F1 races to 3:10pm Central European Time, some 10 minutes after MotoGP has finished the podium ceremony.
The MotoGP test schedule sees three official tests taking place over the winter, though one of them is before the official winter break. The MotoGP field will be at Jerez on the 28th and 29th November for the first official test.
This basically converts the previous private test, which most teams attended, into an official one, forcing all of the teams to take the track together, and to an extent, improving the coverage of the test.
On Friday, the Hondas were looking pretty strong at the Termas De Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina. Dani Pedrosa led FP1, with Cal Crutchlow just behind him. In FP2, Marc Márquez opened a big lead over Crutchlow, with the rest some distance behind.
On Saturday, Marc Márquez looked just about unbeatable, despite his slip up in qualifying. Six tenths quicker than Johann Zarco, and effortlessly quick in a wet FP3.
Over a second quicker than his teammate Pedrosa in FP4, an advantage that was almost embarrassing. The portents were clear on Saturday night: this was Marc Márquez’ race to lose.
And that is exactly what he did, before the lights had even gone out. A combination of ignorance of the rules and panic meant he blew his chance of winning the race as soon as he jumped off his bike to try to restart it on the grid.
From there, he piled error upon error to make the situation worse. By the end of Sunday, he had managed to throw away any chance of salvaging points from the Argentina round, and run up a 15-point deficit to Andrea Dovizioso.
He had also managed to create a public relations disaster, though to be fair, he had more than a little help doing that.
Because of tire wear issues during Race 1, at the World Superbike season-opener at Phillip Island, Sunday’s Race 2 will include a mandatory pit stop, where riders can come in and change machines.
Due to the extra-abrasive conditions found at Phillip Island this year, these race change will also affect Sunday’s World Supersport race, as well.
Similar to the tire issues we saw in the MotoGP Championship at Phillip Island, back in 2013, Sunday’s race will include a mandatory pitstop before the end of the 12th lap for WorldSBK riders (after nine laps for WorldSSP riders), which will operate under the series’ flag-to-flag rules.
This means that riders will dismount their machine, and mount a new bike, fitted with fresh Pirelli race tires, in order to avoid the tire-wear issues found during Saturday’s race.
After announcing the 2019 FIM MotoE World Cup roughly a year ago, details have been slow to emerge about this electric motorcycle series, which will run in parallel to the MotoGP Championship.
Late last year we learned that Italian firm Energica had won the contract to supply MotoE with race bikes, which would be based off the Energica Ego production superbike, and now today we learn a little bit more about this fledgling series.
In a press event announcing Enel as the title sponsor (more on that in a minute), Dorna and the FIM laid out the basics for MotoE, in terms of teams, bikes, tracks, and race format.