Archive - News Item
December 20th, 2013
Casey Stoner is to continue as test rider for Honda in 2014. The Australian double world champion will once again take the track to help develop Honda's RC213V during the 2014 season, according to British publication MCN.
Stoner took up his role as test rider in the middle of 2013, after HRC's regular test rider Kousuke Akiyoshi broke his femur at a Japanese Superbike round. The Australian worked on the 2013 RC213V, as well as a rain-shortened test on Honda's RCV1000R production racer.
According to the report on MCN, Stoner's testing schedule for 2014 has yet to be fixed. It appears that Stoner will not be present at the special tire test put on by Bridgestone at Phillip Island, which all three factory teams will attend, but he will take on further testing duties at Motegi later in the season. If Stoner does miss the Phillip Island test, it would deprive fans of a chance to directly compare his lap times with those of current Honda riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.
Althea Racing Return To The Ducati Fold: Will Field Niccolo Canepa As EVO Entry In 2014 WSBK Campaign
The Althea Racing team is to switch back to Ducati from Aprilia for the 2014 World Superbike season. After their split with Ducati over development of the Panigale at the end of 2012, the Italian team are to return to the Bologna factory fold and race the Panigale in 2014.
They will do so on a different footing to their previous relationship with Ducati, however. Next season, Althea will race the Panigale 1199R as an EVO entry in WSBK, the subclass set up to allow a more affordable entry into World Superbikes. With WSBK looking set to switch completely to EVO rules in the next few years, having a strong partner to help develop the Panigale within the restrictions set by the EVO rules - basically, a Superstock-spec engine in Superbike-spec chassis - will help Ducati prepare for the future. Given how well the Panigale has performed in Superstock form wherever it has been able to use the Ducati ECU, the bike should suit the EVO rules well.
The signing of Niccolo Canepa to race the Panigale with Althea is indicative of how close the cooperation with Ducati is likely to be. Canepa has a long history with Ducati, having functioned as a test rider for the Italian factory for a number of years, and having won the Superstock 1000 title on a Ducati in 2007, and raced Ducatis for the majority of his career.
We are both proud and humbled to have been honored twice in the 2013 Silverstone Media Awards. MotoMatters.com was named Best MotoGP Blogger for the third year in succession, while our Twitter account @motomatters was also named Best MotoGP Tweeter. The awards are decided by popular vote, with MotoGP and F1 fans voting via the Silverstone Circuit Facebook page for their favorite racing-related publications and broadcasters.
MotoMatters.com was not the only repeat winner. The official MotoGP.com website took best website, British motorcycling paper MCN won best publication, British newspaper The Telegraph took best newspaper, and the BBC took best TV channel.
The list of riders taking advantage of the winter test ban to have surgery grows longer. This week, both Jorge Lorenzo and Sandro Cortese have gone under the surgeon's knife to have metal plates removed, in preparation for the 2014 season.
For Lorenzo, surgery was done to remove the metal plate put in to fixate the collarbone he broke first at Assen, then again at the Sachsenring. Lorenzo crashed heavily on a soaking wet track during the Thursday free practice session at Assen, breaking his left collarbone. After a dash by private jet to and from Barcelona to have his collarbone plated, he raced, finishing in 5th. At the Sachsenring Two weeks later, Lorenzo crashed again the force of the crash bending the plate on his collarbone, and he had surgery once again to replace the bent plate. This time, he did not race.
Lorenzo finished the rest of the season with a plated collarbone, but to allow his collarbone to return to full strength, the Spaniard decided to have the plate removed now. While he was having his collarbone plate removed, he also had surgery on his thumb, to clean up scar tissue left from an injury in 2010.
Just hours after the announcement that Ana Carrasco had signed with the RW Racing GP team for 2014 comes confirmation that Isaac Viñales is to take the place she leaves at Team Calvo. The 20-year-old Spaniard will join Jakub Kornfeil at Team Calvo, where both men will be racing KTMs. In a wry coincidence, Viñales will be joining the team vacated by his cousin Maverick, who became 2013 Moto3 world champion with the squad.
Isaac Viñales had earlier signed a contract to race with the Go&Fun Gresini team in Moto3, alongside Niccolo Antonelli. However, as part of that deal, Viñales had been required to bring in a given quantity of financial backing. After he had failed to muster the necessary cash, Viñales had been left without a ride. In the end, the Spaniard found shelter with Team Calvo, giving him another chance in Moto3. Viñales had a solid season in 2013 riding the underpowered FTR Honda bike with Ongetta. He ended the year in 17th place in the championship, scoring a total of 47 points. His best finish in 2013 came at Valencia, where he took 7th ahead of Ana Carrasco.
Ana Carrasco will have a second season in Moto3. The 16-year-old Spaniard has signed a one-year deal with Dutch Moto3 team RW Racing GP to race their Kalex KTM in 2014.
Carrasco had a positive rookie season in Moto3, ending the year with points in two races, as well as scoring the best result for a female rider in 18 years when she finished 8th at Valencia. But her performance was overshadowed by her teammate at Team Calvo, where Maverick Viñales became world champion. Despite being teammates, the two were on very different bikes, Viñales racing on a fully-factory supported KTM, where Carrasco competed on the basic KTM Moto3 bike.
Team Calvo had expressed an interest in retaining the services of Carrasco for 2014, but to do that, she would have to being money to fund the ride. Carrasco had been raising sponsorship through a Spanish website, but it was not enough to get her seat.
On the same day that the Grand Prix Comission met to discuss new rules on penalty points and Moto3 chassis prices, the equivalent body ruling the World Superbike series - the Superbike Commission - also met to discuss a raft of new measures. The meeting was part of a series of ongoing talks between the teams, Dorna and the manufacturers to establish a new set of rules for WSBK from 2015 onwards. At this meeting, the Superbike Commission established a new time schedule for each World Superbike weekend, as well as continuing talks on homologation and technical regulations.
With Dorna now in charge, one of the measures taken was to attempt to standardize the sporting regulations between the World Superbike and MotoGP series. In practice, that means that both series will have a common set of procedures and flags, which should make it a little easier for TV audiences to understand the differences between the two, with only the technical rules being different.
A much bigger change for TV audiences is the radically changed schedule for race day, with racing moved to the late morning and early afternoon to avoid clashes with major sporting events such as Formula One, MotoGP and European soccer matches. The day will now start very early, with a warm up for the World Superbike class at 8:40am, followed by Supersport warm up at 9:05am. The first World Superbike race of the day is at 10:30am (was previously 12 noon), the Supersport race is at 11:40am (was 1:30pm) and the second and final World Superbike race of the day is at 1:10pm (was 3:30pm). For most of the rounds taking place in Europe, this means that the second World Superbike race will just be finishing as Formula One or other major sporting events start at 2pm. The hope is that fans of both motorcycle racing and Formula One will tune in for the WSBK races before F1, offering a full day of motor sports action for race fans.
At its final meeting of 2013, the Grand Prix Commission has agreed changes to the regulations for the three Grand Prix classes, mostly minor, but a couple with much wider implications. Changes were agreed to the penalty points system, to the procedure for restarting interrupted races, for protests and wild cards. But the biggest changes made were to the Moto3 class. The loophole which allowed manufacturers to charge what they wanted for chassis has been closed, capping prices in Moto3 even further.
The biggest change to the sporting regulations is the extension of the penalty points system, to allow penalty points to be carried across between seasons. In 2013, the first year the system was used, penalty points accumulated during the season were only valid until after the final race of 2013 at Valencia was over. This posed a problem for Race Direction, as Mike Webb explained to MotoMatters.com in an interview at Valencia. It meant that any points awarded at the final races of the season had less effect on rider behavior than those early on in the season, and points awarded in the final race were completely meaningless. In his interview with this website, Mike Webb had already suggested giving points a limited lifetime, allowing them to be carried over from one season to the next.
The first major change to the 2014 MotoGP schedule has been announced. Though the dates remain the same, the order of the Asian flyaway triple header has been reshuffled, with Sepang moving from first of the three to last. The Grand Prix classes will now head to Japan first, for the Japanese GP at Motegi on 12th October, before heading south to Australia for the Phillip Island round a week later, on 19th October. The weekend after that the MotoGP paddock visits Malaysia, for the last of the three overseas races at Sepang on 26th October.
The change is unlikely to be the last. It is widely anticipated that the new track in Brasilia will not be ready for the Brazilian round of MotoGP on 28th September, and that the Motorland Aragon race, due to take place on 21st September, will be rescheduled for a week later. That decision will not take place for some time, however, as the Autodromo Brasilia Nelson Piquet will be given a few more months before the mandatory circuit homologation inspection.
Below is the updated, and still provisional, 2014 MotoGP calendar, with changes highlighted in bold. You can always find the latest, most up-to-date version including all changes on this page.
Erik Buell Racing have officially confirmed they will be competing in the World Superbike championship in 2014. Today, EBR announced that they will be fielding Geoff May and Aaron Yates in the WSBK class, racing Erik Buell's EBR1190RX, an 1190cc 72° V twin, which has its roots in the Rotax-built machine produced when Buell was still part of Harley Davidson. Both May and Yates are long-term veterans of the AMA Superbike series, May having already raced for EBR in the AMA in 2013.
The EBR team will be backed by Hero, the Indian motorcycle manufacturer which is a minority shareholder in the EBR manufacturer. As a small manufacturer, EBR will need all the help they can get from Hero, as the homologation quantities required to be accepted for World Superbikes are sizable. EBR must have already produced 125 units before offering the EBR1190RX for homologation for the WSBK series. They must have produced a total of 500 bikes by 30th of June 2014, and 1000 in total by the end of 2014. They then have to produce another 1000 by the end of 2015, averaging three bikes a day, a real challenge for a small manufacturer. They also have to sell these units, and though the EBR1190RX has been favorably received by the press so far, there is no official word on sales figures at the moment. For more details on the homologation process and how it affects EBR, see this story on Asphalt & Rubber.
One of the two final missing pieces of the 2014 MotoGP line up has been filled in. Today, the PBM team announced they would be back in MotoGP next season, with a two-rider team and additional help from Aprilia. The two riders will be Michael Laverty, who rode for Paul Bird's PBM team in 2013, and Broc Parkes, who has spent most of his career racing in World Supersport and World Superbikes.
Though the press release issued stated that the team will be racing 'PBM Aprilias', it is still uncertain exactly what Laverty and Parkes will be riding. Speaking to British site Bikesportnews, Laverty said that no decision had been made on whether they would be riding the full Aprilia ART package or the PBM chassis with an Aprilia engine. The team are due to test both packages back to back to assess development, and make a decision from there, Laverty said. What is clear is that Aprilia will be stepping up their support of the PBM team, after making a decision about the factory's future involvement in MotoGP.
Alberto Puig is to take on a new role inside Honda. Brought into HRC as advisor to Dani Pedrosa, the former 500cc race winner is to focus his efforts more on talent development for Honda, starting with the Asia Talent Cup.
Puig has a long and very successful history of spotting and developing talent. The Spaniard was the driving force behind the MotoGP Academy, the forerunner of Red Bull Rookies Cup, and before that, had worked with Telefonica Movistar in the Spanish championship. That work had produced a string of highly successful riders in various classes, including several world champions. Alongside Dani Pedrosa, Puig was responsible for Casey Stoner, Julian Simon, Bradley Smith, Joan Lascorz and Leon Camier.
Having Puig work in the Asia Talent Cup is a clever move for Honda. The Japanese company is keenly aware of the importance of the Asian market for its sales, and bringing on talent from the region will be a powerful marketing tool. HRC also has a long history of backing Japanese riders in Grand Prix racing, and after a relatively lean period for Japanese talent, having Puig help spot and develop them early should help bring more fast young Japanese riders into the sport.