Archive - News Item
September 2nd, 2014
Donington Park is to host the British round of MotoGP in 2015. The Leicestershire circuit has reached agreement with the Circuit of Wales to host the British Grand Prix while the Welsh track is being built. The Circuit of Wales was in talks with both Donington, which hosted the British Grand Prix from 1987 until 2009, and Silverstone, which hosted the race from 2010 until this year, but agreed more favorable terms with Donington.
The deal is a little more complicated than most contracts with racetracks. Dorna has a contract with the Circuit of Wales to host the race for the next five years, but the Circuit of Wales is yet to be built. Construction on the ambitious project has yet to be started, and the project is still a long way short of the money it needs for completion. While the Head of the Valleys Development Company continues to work on completing the facilities, the Circuit of Wales needed to comply with its contract with Dorna and provide a venue to hold the British Grand Prix. The Circuit of Wales held talks with both Donington Park and Silverstone, but Silverstone wanted too much money to host the event, citing very high costs to run it. Unwilling to 'subsidize' the event, as they put it in the press release, Silverstone refused to drop their asking price. That left Donington Park as the only alternative.
At Silverstone, the provisional testing calendar for the winter of 2015 was agreed. Preseason testing for the 2015 MotoGP season will take place at the usual locations, starting with the post-race test at Valencia, and continuing at Sepang and Qatar for MotoGP, while Moto2 and Moto3 go to Valencia and Jerez.
The 2015 season gets underway on the Monday after the final race of 2014 at Valencia, the MotoGP bikes testing from Monday through Wednesday. After the traditional winter test ban in December and January, testing will once again resume at Sepang, on 4th February. The MotoGP teams return to Sepang for the second test on the 23rd of February, before heading to Qatar. The dates of the Qatar test has not yet been fixed, as it depends on the date of the opening round of MotoGP at Qatar. That race will either be on the 15th or 22nd of March, but the date cannot be finalized until the Formula One series draws up a calendar. The Qatar test will take place a week before the race at the circuit.
Alex Marquez is to join Marc VDS in the Moto2 class. The Spaniard has signed a two-year deal with the Belgian racing team to compete on their Kalex Moto2 bike for the next two seasons. Marquez will join Tito Rabat at Marc VDS to form a Spanish dream team in Moto2, with Rabat once again challenging for the title, while Marquez gets up to speed.
The Marquez announcement will likely be the first of many in the weeks leading up to the Aragon entry deadline. Both Jack Miller and Alex Rins will also be leaving Moto3, with Miller widely rumored to be moving up to MotoGP, and Rins off to join the Pons team with Luis Salom. However, there were whisperings at Silverstone that Miller may not be going straight to MotoGP after all. LCR's new British sponsor is believed to want a British rider on the production Honda. In that case, Miller would go to Moto2 with the Pons team. Whether that would mean Sito Pons would expand his team to three riders is unclear, but with a title sponsor now on board, that could be a possibility.
The popularity of Moto2 and Moto3 continues unabated, both among fans and among racing teams. Silverstone was the deadline for teams to submit their requests to be considered for grid slots in the two support classes for MotoGP in 2015, and the entries massively outnumbered the available spaces on the grid.
There were entries for 47 riders in Moto3, and 45 in Moto2, all competing for the 32 available slots in each class. The selection committee of IRTA, who decide who will be given the places on the grid, then selected a total of 33 teams who will be awarded grid slots. Those teams now have until Aragon to submit a list of the riders they will have under contract for 2015, and the bikes they intend to race next season. They will also have to pay a deposit to ensure their entry for next season.
The Aragon deadline will trigger an early round of negotiation for 2015 in the junior classes, which have traditionally not signed riders until very late on in the process. With teams required to submit a list of both riders and bikes, they will have to secure contracts, at least provisionally, with riders and with machinery manufacturers. The rider list submitted will not necessarily be the final 2015 line up for both classes, but it will be very close.
No Points Compensation For Loss Of South African World Superbike Round - Three Rounds Left In 2014 Championship
The loss of the South African round of World Superbikes, when the safety improvements to the Welkom circuit could not be completed in time for homologation, meant that the WSBK calendar had lost two rounds from its 2014 calendar, with both South Africa and the Moscow Raceway event having been scrapped. Two rounds meant the loss of two World Supersport races and four World Superbike races, a total of 50 points for WSS and 100 points for WSBK.
The loss of those points left both championships much closer to being decided. Tom Sykes leads the World Superbike championship by 44 points with 150 points stil at stake, while Michael van der Mark is even closer to the World Supersport championship, leading Jules Cluzel by 53 points with just 75 points left. The teams, but most especially the riders, felt that they had had a chance to try to reopen the championship races taken away from them.
Dorna, the teams, the manufacturers and the FIM tried to find a solution to this quandary. Various proposals were made, including adding an extra round at another track, adding extra races on the existing three weekends left, and scoring double points at one of the last rounds. Finding a track willing and able to host a round of World Superbikes at very late notice was a non-runner from the start, leaving only an extra race or extra points.
Another hallowed name is to make a return to the Grand Prix paddock. At Silverstone, Dakota Mamola, son of famed former 500 GP winner Randy Mamola, is to replace Nico Terol. Terol is absent due to illness, the Spaniard suffering a mystery metabolic disorder which is causing extreme muscle fatigue. While Terol undergoes treatment, Mamola will take his place, with Terol hoping to make a return at Misano, two weeks after Silverstone.
Mamola has been racing in the Spanish CEV Moto2 championship with the GRT racing team. The 19-year-old is currently in 11th place, having scored 18 points at two races at the Motorland Aragon circuit. In 2013, Mamola raced in the European 600 Superstock championship, ending in 19th place with 28 points. The youngster has been receiving technical support from Aspar in the CEV, so he is a natural choice to replace Terol.
Jeremy McWilliams is to make a return to Grand Prix racing at the ripe old age of 50. The Northern Irish racer is to ride the Brough Superior Moto2 machine at Silverstone as a wildcard.
It will be McWilliams' first Grand Prix since 2007, when he rode the ill-fated Ilmor, which was withdrawn after just one race due to a failure to raise sponsorship. Since then, McWilliams has been active in both the US and Ireland, racing in the XR1200 championship which serves as a support race to the AMA, and racing on the roads in Northern Ireland. Before leaving Grand Prix racing, McWilliams had a long career in both the 250cc and MotoGP classes. His most memorable rides were with the QUB TSR-Honda in 250s, aboard the Aprilia 500cc twin at the start of the century, and riding the Proton KR bike in MotoGP. McWilliams won the 250cc race at Assen in 2001 aboard the Aprilia.
Tom Sykes will be staying on with Kawasaki for two more seasons. Kawasaki today announced that the Yorkshireman has signed a contract to remain with the Japanese factory in World Superbikes for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
The announcement does not come as a surprise. Sykes has known great success with Kawasaki since leaving Yamaha after his first year in World Superbikes. All of Sykes' wins in the class have come aboard a green machine, and the Yorkshireman won his first World Superbike title with Kawasaki last year. Currently leading the 2014 championship by 44 points, his second successive title is within grasp. The Kawasaki ZX-10R remains a highly competitve package, and Sykes is a good fit inside the team.
Unlike many of his fellow WSBK riders, Sykes was never in the frame for a MotoGP ride. Sykes had shown little interest in making the jump to MotoGP, unless he could be on top-flight machinery. With all of the factory bikes tied up, and the satellite slots largely spoken for, there was little room for Sykes, even if he had been interested in a move. Instead, Sykes preferred to stay on in World Superbikes, and chase more WSBK titles.
Below is the press release issued by Kawasaki on the Sykes signing:
Tom Sykes To Remain With KRT For Two More Years
Nico Terol has decided to sit out the Silverstone round of Moto2. After enduring a dismal year with a mystery ailment, Terol has been forced to withdraw and focus on locating the source of his problems, so that he can return to racing in full health.
Terol was expected to challenge for the title in 2014, after scoring three wins and one podium last season with the Mapfre Aspar team. But there had been warning signs of something amiss previously. In the middle of last year, Terol was suspected of suffering late onset lactose intolerance, exactly the same condition that affected Casey Stoner during the 2009 season. Treatment for that appears not to have had the desired effect, as Terol has suffered all this year with extreme fatigue and elevated testosterone levels.
The issue has now reached the point where Terol can no longer be competitive in his current condition. Terol and the Mapfre Aspar team have decided that the Spaniard should sit out Silverstone while undergoing a battery of tests to locate the source of the problem. Though the press release issued by the team speaks solely of Silverstone, it is not completely certain Terol will be back at Misano.
Below is the press release issued by the Aspar team:
Nico Terol to miss British Grand Prix
The minimum age limit for the Moto3 class is to dropped for the winner of the Spanish CEV Moto3 championship. In a meeting at Brno, the Grand Prix Commission approved a proposal for the winner of the CEV Moto3 to be allowed to compete in the Moto3 world championship the season after winning the CEV.
The rule change will mean that Fabio Quartararo, the young Frenchman currently leading the CEV Moto3, will be allowed to start in Moto3 in 2015. The Frenchman is currently 15, and does not turn 16 until 20th April. If this rule had not been changed, then Quartararo would have been forced to miss the first two races of the 2015 season.
The official justification for the rule change is that the CEV is now a championship run under the auspices of the FIM, and therefore has a higher status than a normal national championship. The level in that championship is clearly high, as demonstrated by the results of Jorge Navarro in Moto3, drafted in to replace Livio Loi.
MotoGP looks certain to be returning to the Brno circuit for 2015, after the local region of South Moravia guaranteed financing for the race for next year. In addition, talks are continuing to extend financing for the race beyond the 2015 season.
The race in Brno had been in doubt for some time now. The circuit, owned by Karel Abraham Sr, father of Cardion AB rider, has struggled to pay the sanctioning fee demanded by Dorna, despite being the best-attended round of the series (over 142,000 turned up to watch the race in 2013 at the spacious, wooded Czech circuit). The circuit has previously received funding from the Czech government, but that has been withdrawn.
Now, the South Moravian region has stepped in to guarantee the 2.5 million euro sanctioning fee. The event reportedly generates around 35 million euros in revenue for businesses in the area, and is an important contributor to the local economy. Keeping the MotoGP round at the circuit is key for the regional authorities.
The deal agreed guarantees funding for the 2015 round, but talks will continue for future races. Both Dorna and the circuit intend to sign a long-term deal to keep the race at the track.
Below is the press release issued by Dorna explaining the situation:
Brno closing in on fresh MotoGP™ race deal
The British Grand Prix is to move, if everything goes to plan. At a press conference held today, Dorna and the management of the Circuit of Wales announced that a deal had been reached that will see the track, to be built in Ebbw Vale in South Wales, will host the race for the next five seasons, with an option to extend the contract for another five years after that, until 2024.
The only problem is that the Circuit of Wales does not exist yet. The track is part of a £ 315 million project aimed at regenerating the Blaenau Gwent region, a once-prosperous region that has lost most of its employment since the coal and steel industries closed. The Heads of the Valleys Development Company have set up a scheme to create a major motorsports industry hub centered around an FIM and FIA homologated race track, capable of hosting world championship racing.