Momentum for a technical shake-up in WorldSBK has increased, but the manner to instigate that change is a big question. As such, the Imola paddock was full of rumor and discussion about changes to the technical regulations for 2018.
With Kawasaki and Ducati having shared all but four wins since the start of the 2015 season, there have been calls to grant other manufacturers some avenues with which to improve performance. Discussions between the manufacturers took place once again in Italy to lay down a framework for the future.
No answers were forthcoming but with Yamaha and Honda having brought all-new Superbikes to the series in the last year, and struggled to compete with the front-runners, it is clear that the winds of change may be in the air.
For 2017, Aprilia increased its involvement with the Milwaukee Aprilia bikes built and prepared in Italy. The former title-winning marque has thus far failed to live-up to preseason expectations.
Assen had been earmarked as a key round for Honda in its search for competitiveness in WorldSBK. It passed with more confirmation that the team’s struggles will continue.
Nine points were all that Nicky Hayden had to show for himself at the end of a trying weekend at the TT Circuit of Assen. The Honda rider was able to show some signs of improved competitiveness at times during the weekend, but overall the same flaws of the Honda Fireblade have been exposed once again.
Reliability and inability to bring competitive upgrades to the table cost Hayden dearly at Assen. The week before the Dutch round, the team tested a new engine specification in Portimao and the American came away disappointed with a lack of progress.
While it has hardly been surprising to see Ducati and Kawasaki maintain their position as the dominant forces at play in WorldSBK, the battle for best-of-the-rest has been an interesting subplot for 2017.
Over the course of the opening three rounds of the campaign, the form of Honda and Yamaha has been marked by their stark contrast in fortunes.
Last year, Honda had been a podium and front-row regular as the season moved into the European swing, and Yamaha looked to be clutching at straws and looking for any positives they could find on their return to the series.
This year has seen their roles have reversed, with Yamaha consistently the best-of-the-rest and in position to fight for a rostrum finish. Honda on the other hand have had a disastrous start to the campaign with an all-new Fireblade.
Episode 48 of the Paddock Pass Podcast sees David Emmett and Steve English covering the recent the first two rounds of the World Superbike Championship, at Phillip Island an Thailand.
With Jonathan Rea dominating the first two races, the guys talk about the expectations at the opening rounds, and how the season is far from over for the other riders. Tom Sykes is looking to be in his best form ever, Chaz Davies is in the hunt, and Marco Melandri is showing his teeth…all of which is making for good racing.
The show also covers the World Supersport class, which has proven to be anything but predictable. With injuries, mechanicals, and crashes shaking up the leaderboard, the WSS title is still very much any rider’s to claim.
Before wrapping up, the lads talk about the Supersport 300 series, which begins at the first European round of the season, at Aragon. They tip who to watch, and what to expect from the racing, and surely hardcore race fans won’t want to miss the debut of this new series.
As always, be sure to follow the Paddock Pass Podcast on Facebook, Twitter and subscribe to the show on iTunes and SoundCloud – we even have an RSS feed for you. If you like the show, we would really appreciate you giving it a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!
Our trained World Superbike reporter, Kent Brockman, has his eye on the World Superbike Paddock, and is ever vigil for the next big
braking breaking story.
Submitting a lengthy preview of what to expect from the 2017 WorldSBK season, we have broken it up into two parts in order to
make more money whet your appetite ahead of this weekend’s season-opener at Phillip Island.
If you missed it, you can read Part 1 of his WorldSBK season preview here, other continue on for Part 2 of this opus. -JB
In an airplane hangar in Austria, Honda’s World Superbike team unveiled its wings…that is to say, the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team debuted in the energy drink’s Hangar-7 facility in Salzburg today.
As the name implies, Red Bull will be the title sponsor for Nicky Hayden’s and Stefan Bradl’s World Superbike title bid this year, on the updated 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP2.
This is the first time that Red Bull has been a title sponsor in the WorldSBK paddock, though the energy drink company’s livery can be seen on variety of bodywork throughout motorsport.
Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl had their first experience of the all new for 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP2 on the opening day of the Jerez test, and it was clear that there is still plenty of work to be done by the Ten Kate squad to get the bikes ready for the start of the season.
With the Phillip Island opener only four weeks away, the Dutch team faces a race against time to be up to speed for the start of the WorldSBK campaign. Both riders made it clear that it is very early days for the project, and as a result were unwilling to offer definitive opinions – though initial impressions were positive.
It didn’t take long for the other shoe to drop, and now it is official that Casey Stoner will race with HRC in 2011, after it was announced moments ago that the Australian would be leaving the Ducati MotoGP team. Perhaps the most unexpected development in this announcement is HRC’s intentions of keeping both Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso for the 2011 season.
The likely result of this will be a two-man Repsol Honda team, and a second single-bike team, which is likely to be sponsored by Red Bull. Rumors have pegged the continuance of a Pedrosa/Dovi Repsol Honda team, which puts Stoner on the single-bike Red Bull team. However, a Stoner/Pedrosa rumor has also persisted, and makes more sense given Dovi’s current Red Bull sponsorship. But at this point nothing is certain.