Archive - News Item

August 19th, 2014

Tom Sykes Signs On For Two More Years In World Superbikes With Kawasaki

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

August 18th

Health Issues Force Nico Terol To Sit Out Silverstone

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

August 17th

GPC Introduces The Quartararo Rule - Minimum Age Limit Scrapped For CEV Moto3 Winner

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.

Brno Set To Continue As MotoGP Venue For 2015 And Beyond

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

August 13th

Circuit Of Wales Signs 5-Year Deal To Organize British MotoGP Round

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.

Bradley Smith Retains Tech 3 MotoGP Ride For 2015

Bradley Smith is to keep his MotoGP ride with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team for another season. After a difficult start to the 2014 season, Smith's place in the MotoGP team had been in doubt, as this was the year when the Englishman had been expected to deliver. Smith had shown glimpses of his potential at a number of rounds, often being fast in practice. But several crashes and poor race results have seen Smith fall short on Sunday, when it counts.

Smith keeping his place is in part due to team boss Herve Poncharal keeping faith in the young Briton, who has raced for Tech 3 in Moto2 and MotoGP since 2011. But the lack of a suitable replacement was also a reason for Poncharal to retain Smith. Poncharal told MotoMatters.com at Assen that he had no interest in current riders in MotoGP other than Smith, but was looking to Moto2, and even Moto3. Credible reports suggested that Yamaha was keen on bringing Alex Rins in to MotoGP straight from Moto3, but Rins turned down the offer, preferring to go to Moto2 instead. Poncharal was also interested in Jonas Folger and Maverick Viñales, but Folger is in the middle of a two-year contract in Moto2, while Viñales elected to sign for Suzuki.

Below is the press release issued by Tech 3 on Bradley Smith's new contract:

August 11th

PBM Selling MotoGP Grid Slots, Focusing On BSB

The PBM Team is set to leave MotoGP at the end of the 2014 season, and return to the British Superbike championship. Owner of the eponymous team Paul Bird has decided to expand his presence in BSB to add a second team, and withdraw from MotoGP altogether.

Bird spoke to both the British publication MCN and the German-language website Speedweek about his reasons for switching to BSB. Most of the backing for the PBM team comes from British sponsors, such as Rapid Solicitors. Bird told MCN that their sponsors would rather see PBM in BSB, as a British team with British sponsors. But Bird also mentioned to Speedweek the difficulties of competing in MotoGP as a private team. Those problems had been there in 2012, when PBM first joined MotoGP, but the situation is worse now. Without factory backing, it was impossible to be competitive, he said.

Alex De Angelis Announced As Colin Edwards' Replacement At Forward Racing For Rest Of 2014

After the news that Colin Edwards would be taking early retirement comes news of his successor. As had been widely trailed, Alex De Angelis is to take Edwards' spot in the NGM Forward Racing team for the remainder of 2014, while Edwards will return to do a wildcard at Silverstone at least. De Angelis has been racing for the Tasca Racing team in Moto2 this season, his place will be taken by the Italian rider Riccardo Russo.

De Angelis will concentrate on riding the Forward Racing chassis, rather than the Yamaha chassis, while Colin Edwards will continue to work in an advisory role. De Angelis has previous experience, both in MotoGP and with Bridgestone tires, having spent two full seasons in the class in 2008 and 2009 with Gresini Honda, as well as replacing the injured Hiroshi Aoyama in 2010, and Ben Spies at Pramac Ducati for the Laguna Seca round of MotoGP. No doubt his experience in the class and with the tires played a role in Forward's choice.

Below is the press release issued by Forward racing making the announcement:


NGM Forward Racing and Alex De Angelis together in the second part of the 2014 season

The NGM Forward Racing Team announces that Alex De Angelis will race alongside Aleix Espargaro starting from the GP of Czech Republic on board of a Forward Yamaha.

August 8th

Colin Edwards To Enter Semi-Retirement Early: Will Race Indy, Silverstone And Valencia, And That's It?

Colin Edwards will contest only three more MotoGP rounds in the 2014 season. The Texan is to race at Indianapolis, Silverstone and Valencia, before hanging up his helmet. From Brno, Alex De Angelis will take Edwards' place, and Edwards will race as a third rider for the NGM Mobile Forward Racing team in the UK and at the last race of the year.

Edwards' final year in MotoGP has not gone according to plan. The Texas Tornado had hoped that the arrival of the Yamaha Open class bike at Forward, to replace the Kawasaki-powered CRT machine would spark a revival in his fortunes. When Edwards finally got to ride the Open class Yamaha, however, he found to his dismay that he could not get on with the Yamaha chassis, and was unable to get the bike to turn. He had pinned his hopes on the arrival of a chassis from FTR, but financial problems for the British chassis manufacturer meant he was left to struggle with the Yamaha frame until Mugello. When a new chassis did arrive, fresh from the drawing board of now ex-FTR designer Mark Taylor, it did not see Edwards drastically improve his pace.

August 7th

Lorenzo Confirmed At Movistar Yamaha Through 2016

Jorge Lorenzo has signed a new two-year deal with Yamaha. The 2010 and 2012 world champion will stay with the factory Movistar Yamaha team in MotoGP for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

The deal had been widely expected, as the two sides have been in serious negotiation since Assen. With both the Repsol Honda and factory Ducati full up, Lorenzo had few other options, and it was simply a matter of contract details between Yamaha and the Spaniard. It was widely rumored that Lorenzo was looking for a single-year deal, or an option to leave early, but the announcement makes no mention of that. However, Spanish media are reporting that a compromise was reached in the form of an option for both sides to terminate the contract a year early, at the end of 2015.

Lorenzo's signing completes the factory line ups of the three manufacturers already in MotoGP. Suzuki are expected to announce their line up for 2015 as well, consisting of Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales. Attention will then turn to Aprilia, and their return to MotoGP, which is mooted to have been brought forward a year to 2015.

Below is the press release from Yamaha announcing the deal with Jorge Lorenzo:


Yamaha and Jorge Lorenzo Confirm New Two-Year Agreement

August 6th

Stefan Bradl Confirmed At Forward Racing For 2015

As had been widely anticipated, Stefan Bradl has signed with the NGM Forward Racing team for the 2015 season. The German had been forced to look for a ride after losing his support from HRC, Honda providing a major part of the backing for Bradl at the LCR Honda team. Although LCR were keen to retain the German, without financial support from HRC, that would have been a costly business. With HRC backing Cal Crutchlow, Bradl was left to look elsewhere.

The 2011 Moto2 champion will switch to NGM Forward for 2015, where he will help lead development of the Forward Yamaha. That bike - a Yamaha M1 engine in a chassis built by Forward and designed by ex-FTR chassis guru Mark Taylor, running under the Open class rules - has shown promise in the hands of Aleix Espargaro at the Sachsenring, when the Spaniard tested it during practice. Having a rider of Bradl's caliber should help make the project more competitive. Bradl was keen to have a competitive ride for next season, after losing the LCR Honda seat, and the Forward Yamaha is one of the very best seats available.

August 2nd

The Next Piece In The MotoGP Puzzle: Cal Crutchlow To LCR Honda In 2015

It looks like Ducati will get their all-Italian line-up after all. Both GPOne.com and Speedweek are reporting independently that Cal Crutchlow will be leaving Ducati to join LCR Honda for the 2015 season. Officially, Crutchlow had until 31st July to exercise his option to leave Ducati, but it appears that Ducati management agreed to an extension, while negotiations continued with Honda. An agreement was reached late last night, Speedweek is reporting, with one of the main points of contention being the payoff Crutchlow would receive from Ducati for leaving.

A week ago, Crutchlow announced that he would be staying with the Italian factory at the World Ducati Week event. Since then, however, the situation changed, with Crutchlow's manager Bob Moore reaching agreement with Ducati management to explore further options. That led directly to the release of Crutchlow to join LCR.

Crutchlow is the latest in a long line of victims claimed by the Italian marque. Marco Melandri was the first to leave, departing early from a two-year contract of struggling miserably in 2008. Valentino Rossi sat patiently through his two seasons at Ducati, seizing the opportunity to return to Yamaha as soon as he could. And now Cal Crutchlow, courted by Ducati for a long time in the belief that he could solve their problems, has also departed. Crutchlow has struggled all season long, both with a string of mechanical failures, and with trying to adapt his riding style to the difficult Desmosedici.

August 1st

KTM To Enter MotoGP In 2017 - And Is That Bad News For World Superbikes?

Yet another manufacturer is to enter MotoGP, it was announced yesterday. KTM is to join Honda, Yamaha, Ducati, Suzuki and, most probably, Aprilia in MotoGP, with KTM moving up to the premier class in 2017, a year after the new regulations take effect and Michelin takes over as single tire supplier.

The news was announced by KTM CEO Stefan Pierer, in an exclusive interview with the German-language website Speedweek. In that interview, Pierer set out the approach KTM will take to MotoGP, which will be a departure from the more traditional route of the other manufacturers in the class. The idea is not to enter as a factory team, but to build a bike and make it available to customer teams, much as they currently do in Moto3. 

That bike will be a 1000cc V4, housed in a tubular steel trellis frame. The bike will have suspension from KTM subsidiary WP, as supplied with the Moto3 machines. Design work has already started on the V4 engine, and it is due to be tested on the dyno for the first time in May 2015. The complete bike will take to the track at the end of 2015, with 2016 being used to complete development of the bike, ready for the 2017 season. Pierer told Speedweek that wildcard appearances in the second half of 2016 are a definite possibility. The bike will be available to interested teams at a price of around 1 million euros, Pierer said, as that is the price at which Dorna has been trying to get the manufacturers to supply MotoGP bikes.

July 31st

Phakisa Freeway Round Of World Superbikes Canceled, Qatar Confirmed

The 2014 World Superbike calendar has been updated once again. The South African round of WSBK has been canceled, after the Phakisa Freeway track failed homologation. Work was being carried out on the circuit to allow it to meet requirements, but the work will not be finished on time. Dorna and the FIM are looking at finding a replacement for the dropped South African round, but at such short notice, and with attendance at WSBK events being disappointing, that will be difficult.

While the South African round was canceled, the Qatar race was confirmed. The racing at Qatar is to be held at night under the floodlights, just as MotoGP is. As this is also the last round of the season, the traditional awards ceremony will also be held in Qatar, though it will be held on the Monday after the race, rather than very late at night.

The cancellation of the South African round does not have direct consequences for the World Superbike championship chase, but it could have an effect for World Supersport. With just three rounds to go now, Pata Honda rider Michael van der Mark has a 53-point lead. That means that the Dutchman needs to score just 2 more points than Jules Cluzel, the man in second place, to clinch the title.

Below is the official press release from the FIM and Dorna on the 2014 World Superbike calendar:

July 30th

Red Bull To Back Repsol Honda Team From 2015

Red Bull is to make its long awaited return to sponsoring a team in the MotoGP class. The Austrian energy drink giant has announced that they will expand their sponsorship of the Repsol Honda team for 2015 and 2016, with the Red Bull logo appearing on the team's Honda RC213V machines for the first time.

The move is a major step forward for Red Bull. The energy drink firm withdrew from the premier class in 2002, at the start of the MotoGP era, after having sponsored the WCM team, then racing Yamaha YZR-500s as the Red Bull Yamaha team. Since then, Red Bull's strategy has been focused on individual riders rather than teams, with its focus switched to Honda. Red Bull backed Dani Pedrosa, Marc Marquez, Stefan Bradl, and when they were at HRC, Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden. The Austrian energy drink logo had appeared on the LCR Honda machine at some of the US rounds of MotoGP, but so far, they had held off on backing a team full time.

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