The end of the 2014 World Superbike championship, wrapped up last night at Qatar, has triggered a series of official rider announcements for 2015.
Two of the most anticipated announcements were made on Monday, with official confirmation that Jonathan Rea would be leaving Pata Honda to join the Kawasaki Racing Team in World Superbikes, while the seat he is vacating at the Ten Kate Pata Honda team will be filled by newly-crowned 2014 World Superbike champion Sylvain Guintoli.
Rea will line up alongside Tom Sykes, while Guintoli will be teammate to World Supersport champion Michael van der Mark.
The period since the MotoGP circus rolled up at Silverstone has been pretty frantic. Almost as soon as the teams and riders arrived in the UK, the negotiations over 2015 and beyond started.
The developments around Gresini’s impending switch to Aprilia triggered a further round of haggling and fundraising, with several teams and riders trying to cover all the possible permutations of the Honda RC213V becoming available.
The submission date for the Moto2 and Moto3 entries intensified the bargaining over rider placements, the field split into those who must pay, and those who will be paid. Time for a quick round up of all that has happened.
The most pressing problem in MotoGP at the moment is the situation around Scott Redding and the Honda RC213V being abandoned by Gresini. Where that bike goes depends on just a single factor: money. Aspar is interested in the bike, but cannot raise the extra money it would cost over and above the cost of a Honda RCV1000R.
Marc VDS Racing is in a desperate scramble to find the last 1.9 million euros they need to plug the gap in their budget if they are to move up to MotoGP. LCR Honda could perhaps find the budget to put Redding alongside Cal Crutchlow, and having two British riders would greatly please CWM FX, the British foreign exchange trading firm stepping in as a title sponsor.
Silverstone has all the makings of being a very hectic weekend for a lot of people. Not so much because of the weather – things are looking up compared to a week ago, with just a few drops of rain forecast for Friday, and dry weather for Saturday and Sunday – but more because of the goings on behind the scenes.
Thursday was the deadline for Moto2 and Moto3 entries to be submitted. The class looks to be oversubscribed again, with Dorna and IRTA left to whittle the entry list down to something of its present size.
Riders and managers will be very busy this weekend at Brno, as negotiations continue for the open slots left on the 2015 MotoGP grid. The deals that saw Stefan Bradl leave LCR Honda for Forward Yamaha and Cal Crutchlow depart Ducati and head for LCR Honda have kicked negotiations for the remaining seats into overdrive.
Forward Yamaha still has one seat open, with Aleix Espargaro set to join Maverick Viñales at Suzuki, a deal due to be announced in September. There are two Open class Hondas available, at Gresini and Aspar, with Scott Redding moving up to take the factory RC213V, and Hiroshi Aoyama set to lose his seat.
Pramac Ducati has one seat available, now that Andrea Iannone has moved up to take Crutchlow’s place in the factory Ducati team. And Aprilia will have two seats to fill when they re-enter the class in 2015. All that means a packed paddock at Brno.
The second day of the private test for the World Superbike teams at Phillip Island went very much as the first day did: with fast times, and a lot of crashes. The new surface was to blame for both: Leon Camier got half a second under the race lap record, but the on/off grip levels of the track saw him, and almost every one else, flung off their bikes at one point or another.
Camier ended the day fastest, the engine updates on his FIXI Crescent Suzuki improving the machine considerably, along with electronic updates for the bike. Sylvain Guintoli – the man Suzuki originally signed alongside Camier, but who jumped ship for the factory Aprilia ride – was 2nd, a tenth off the pace of Camier, proving that the Aprilia RSV4 still a potent weapon.
Johnny Rea put the Pata Honda into 3rd, with work continuing on ironing out the wrinkles with the HRC electronics, with both Rea and Haslam pleased with the progress made, though still aware of the task ahead. Marco Melandri was the fastest BMW man, though the Italian was wary of pushing too hard for fear of crashing, and adding further damage to his painful shoulder. Melandri did put in a long run on used tires, running a consistent string of laps around the 1’32 mark, a solid race pace.
While the Moto2 and Moto3 riders finish up their test at Valencia, on the other side of the world, the World Superbike and World Supersport riders are beginning the final run in to the season opener in 10 days’ time.
They started today with the first of two days of private testing, the first chance the riders get to see the resurfaced Phillip Island track. The overall reaction to the new surface was very positive, though the lack of rubber on the track caused a spot of mayhem in the morning, with several riders crashing out.
Fastest man of the day was Eugene Laverty on the factory Aprilia, the Irishman circulating at lap record pace, but still a second off the pole record. Leon Camier put the Fixi Suzuki into 2nd spot, ahead of the Pata Hondas of Johnny Rea and Leon Haslam, while Marco Melandri ended the day in 5th. Carlos Checa did not ride, as the 2011 World Champion was suffering with a stomach bug.
Our apologies for being a bit late to getting with the program, as we should have started HRC’s SBK Classic Corners webisodes much earlier than this. While we play a bit of catch-up with the World Superbike team’s short videos series that focuses on the famous corners of the WSBK calendar, we treat you to the first circuit up in our queue, which is also the first race of the season: Phillip Island.
It doesn’t matter what you call Turn 12 at famous Australian track (e.g. Swan Corner if you abide by the marketing), because whatever name you use, the corner is one of the most important turns on the circuit, as the long left-hand sweeper is your entry onto the Phillip Island’s massively long front straight that seemingly drops into the Bass Strait, until you cross the start/finish line.
I have been fortunate enough to ride a track day at Phillip Island, and I can say that the circuit is easily my favorite course to ride with a motorcycle as it has a bit of elevation, gorgeous surroundings, and a good mix of technical turns and flowing bends. One of the Top 3 fastest corners on the track, Turn 12 is certainly harrowing to enter full-tilt as your tires are fading. Of course, you don’t want to hear me talk about it, so we’ve got Johnny Rea and Hiroshi Aoyama after the jump.
As is the custom with World Supebike racing and with Race 1 out of the way, the WSBK grid lined up to it all again. Treating fans to a double-dose of motorcycle racing, you would think that the second race would be a repeat of the previous, but it was anything but that. Exciting from the first lap to the very last, the 2012 World Superbike Championship was off to a great start with its season-opener at Phillip Island, Australia. Continue on for results.
Rumored to be headed to World Superbike, or at least a CRT bike in MotoGP, Hiroshi Aoyama’s 2012 season plans have finally been unveiled. Signing with the the Castrol Honda team, the former-250GP Champion will leave the MotoGP paddock to race next season in World Superbike, alongside new teammate Johnny Rea. The move means the displacement of Ruben Xaus from the Ten Kate Honda squad, which is hardly a surprise considering the Spaniard’s horrid season(s).
The announcement also adds further speculation regarding whether San Carlo Gresini Honda will run a solitary bike for next year, at he team has already confirmed a factory RC213V with Maro Simoncelli on-board. Honda has reportedly intervened on Gresini’s plans to run a second bike under the CRT structure, which makes for something interesting to chew on, as the CRT rules were created as a direct reaction to the major manufacturers’ influence over how MotoGP was run and headed, with Honda headlining that now failing initiative.
The name “Castrol Honda” in motorcycle racing is something that spans several decades, and for this writer conjures up the days when v-twins ruled World Superbikes. The battle in 2002 between Colin Edwards and Troy Bayliss is a season talked about when referencing “the glory years of World Superbike”, and I can still remember watching The Showdown at Imola, the final race of 2002 season, when Colin Edwards clinched the World Championship (did you just get goose bumps too?)…in fact it’s that race that got me hooked on motorcycles in the first place.
Taking that legacy into 2011, the newly reformed Castrol Honda team, campainged by Ten Kate Racing with factory Honda support, has quite a legacy to live up to…and the team knows it. Talking about what it means to wear the green, white, and red livery, Castrol Honda team members talk about the name’s past, and what they plan to accomplish this season while wearing the oil company’s banner. Check out their video after the jump.
Ten Kate Honda officially became Castrol Honda at the 2011 launch of the team in the UK today. Though Jonathan Rea and Ruben Xaus were confirmed as riders in November 2010, the return of a Castrol Honda team to World Superbike was kept pretty well under wraps until today’s launch. Naturally the livery is very different from last season, with the previous yellow-green color of previous sponsor Hannspree completely removed in favor of a Castrol green, red, and white and a bit of Honda’s wing logo.
“When our world championship racing adventure was first beginning, many years ago now, Castrol Honda was the one team in the paddock which everyone looked up to, whose professional and performance standards we all wanted to achieve. It is an honour for us now to be racing under this famous and historically successful banner and we are privileged to be following in the footsteps of the team we admired so much in the past,” said team manager Ronald ten Kate. The factory Honda team sponsored by Castrol won three superbike championships: John Kocinski, 1997, and Colin Edwards, 2000 and 2002.