November 15th, 2013
WSBK Rules Update: Testing Restricted, Superpole Scrapped, MotoGP Qualifying And Penalty Points Adopted
The World Superbike championship remains in a state of flux, despite the good news emerging today about the 2014 grid (Feelracing taking on the Ducati factory team, MV Agusta expanding into World Superbikes, and Michel Fabrizio joining Grillini). The Superbike Commission met at Valencia to agree further rule changes to the series for 2014, as part of the push to revitalize the series. Some of the rules are cost-cutting measures, others are aimed at making the series a more attractive TV package, while some are aimed at providing a more homogenous set of basic rules between the World Superbike and MotoGP series.
Ducati today announced that Feelracing is to run its World Superbike program for the 2014 season. Feel Racing has a long and successful history with the Italian factory, and after a couple of seasons away with Althea and Alstare, Ducati is has returned to the team which brought them success in previous years.
The press release issued by Ducati appears below:
Ducati announces its World Superbike program 2014
- Official factory team to compete in 2014 World Superbike Championship
- “Ducati Superbike Team” structured in collaboration with Feelracing
- Ernesto Marinelli confirmed as Superbike Project Director. Serafino Foti to be Team Manager
Borgo Panigale (Bologna, Italy), 15 November 2013 – Following the announcement of the official 2014 Ducati World Superbike riders, Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano, Ducati now defines its team structure in preparation to contest the 2014 World Superbike Championship series with the Ducati 1199 Panigale.
In part one of our interview with Mike Webb, the MotoGP Race Director talked about the penalty point system and how it had worked in 2013. In the second part, talks about the tire debacle at Phillip Island. Webb explains what the teams were told about the rules and the penalties they would incur, and he discusses the incident on the exit of pit lane between Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo. He explains how Race Direction felt the dry flag-to-flag race went, and whether the situation could be handled any differently.
Webb also explains why penalty points are only handed out at the front of the race, while the battle mid-pack can be much fiercer than anything happening for the lead. Finally, Mike Webb casts an eye on the future, and explains the next steps towards improving safety, and improving communication with the riders.
Q: Phillip Island. First of all, I've seen the sheet of paper that was passed out to all the teams …
Mike Webb: Several sheets of paper, unfortunately. It changed several times, we were forced to. There was Moto2 for a start, that changed several times, and the same situation in MotoGP, where we had a meeting with the tire supplier, and they told us, OK, this is how many laps the tire can safely do, our recommendation from the tire supplier is that how many laps the tire can do, now it's up to you to make a decision on the race. And that information changed, during Saturday and then after Sunday warm up, so we had three different instructions to the teams based on what the tire companies told us their tires were able to do. And the last one was of course after warm up on Sunday, which is a horrible time to change anything. I know I hated that whole thing, but it was forced on us.
While the MotoGP teams have packed up and finished for the year - with the exception of a couple of Open class teams, who will be testing at Jerez at the end of the month - the Moto2 and Moto3 have headed to Jerez for the first test of their 2014 season. The first test sees a host of new faces making their debuts. A gaggle of champions enter Moto2, with World Supersport champ Sam Lowes, Moto3 champion Maverick Viñales and AMA Superbike champion Josh Herrin entering the fray. In Moto3, Red Bull Rookies Cup winner Karel Hanika makes his first appearance in the world championship.
At the end of the first day, Thomas Luthi led the Moto2 class, though it was tight as ever at the front, with just over a tenth of a second covering the top three of Luthi, Jordi Torres and Mika Kallio. Sam Lowes made a very impressive debut, just four tenths off the time of Luthi. Herrin had a little more trouble adapting, ending the day 2.2 seconds slower than the fastest man of the day. Moto3 champion Viñales ended his first session under two seconds behind Luthi, but well ahead of the man he spent the year fighting the Moto3 championship with, Luis Salom, who was 3.4 seconds off the pace of Luthi.
Race Director Mike Webb Interview, Part 1: On Penalty Points, Precedent, Jerez, Sepang And Whether Motorcycle Racing Is A Contact Sport
It has been a busy year for MotoGP Race Director Mike Webb. Since taking on the job of ensuring that MotoGP events take place safely and efficiently, stepping into the shoes vacated by Paul Butler at the start of the 2012 season, Webb has faced some tough decisions and unusual situations, his second year in the job even more eventful than the first.
In response to criticism over the warning system in 2012, a new penalty points system was introduced to allow for harsher penalties for persistent offenders. There were several high-profile incidents involving Marc Marquez in his rookie season, including a clash with Jorge Lorenzo at Jerez, a touch which severed the traction control sensor of teammate Dani Pedrosa's Honda and caused Pedrosa to crash, and the situation at Phillip Island, where the new asphalt at the circuit caused the tires to degrade much more than the two spec tire manufacturers had expected, requiring last-minute adjustments to the race schedule on the fly.
We spoke with Mike Webb extensively at Valencia, on the Thursday evening before the race, covering the above subjects and more, and reviewing his second year as Race Director. In the first part of the interview, Webb talks of whether motorcycle racing is a contact sport, how the penalty system has worked out, explains why Marc Marquez was not given points at Jerez, why Jorge Lorenzo wasn't penalized for the touch at Sepang, and of changing perceptions.
Q: You're at the end of your second year in the job of Race Director. Was it easier than the first?
2013 Valencia Post-Race Test Day 3 Round Up: Ducati's Hope, Espargaro's Improvement, And Hayden's Honda
The rain that threatened didn't come, to both the relief and the despair of everyone at the MotoGP test in Valencia. After 18 races, three flyaways and two days of testing, there were plenty of folk who had been secretly doing rain dances so they could pack up and go home early. As much as we all love MotoGP - and given the number of people who have to work second jobs to be able to afford to be there, love is the only explanation - the season is long and tiring, and testing is necessary, but a real grind to both do and watch. There were a lot of jealous looks at the empty space where the Factory Yamaha trucks had stood, the team having upped sticks and left at the end of Tuesday.
There were plenty of people who were happy to ride, though, and people who had things to test. Pol Espargaro was delighted to be back on the bike, and continued his impressive debut on the Tech 3 bike. Aleix Espargaro continued work on the NGM Forward Yamaha FTR, while Hiroshi Aoyama and Nicky Hayden continued to ride the production Honda. At Ducati, a mildly despondent Andrea Dovizioso continued to turn laps, while new signing Cal Crutchlow learned about the grind that riding for Ducati can be, testing lots of things that don't appear to make much difference to the bike. Crutchlow remained positive, pointing to the fact that even though the experiments had failed to produce a blistering lap time, the fact that his feedback was the same as Dovizioso's and the other Ducati riders, it would prove useful in the search for improvement.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams which stayed on for the third and final day of testing at Valencia:
Honda today issued a press release containing comments from the press conference held by HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto and Repsol Honda Team Principal Livio Suppo. The press release appears below:
End of season debrief with Shuhei Nakamoto and Livio Suppo
After another Triple Crown season, HRC’s Executive Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto and Team Principal of the Repsol Honda Team, Livio Suppo, took time out of their busy testing programme to speak to the World’s media to evaluate the 2013 season.
It has been another stellar season for the Repsol Honda Team, HRC’s Factory outfit. They won all three titles - Rider, Constructor and Team - with rookie Marc Marquez being crowned World Champion in the final race of the season and teammate Dani Pedrosa taking third in the Championship. Marc took Honda’s top result eleven times, and Dani was Honda’s top points-earner seven times and a Honda rider finished on the podium in every race this season.
Shuhei Nakamoto - HRC Executive Vice President
Marc Marquez has started 2014 the way he finished 2013: as the fastest MotoGP rider in the world. The newly-crowned world champion started the day off quickly and continued to improve, posting a fast time to extend his lead over the rest of the field. Marquez spent his day riding the 2014 prototype, and working on fuel consumption for the Honda RC213V.
Bradley Smith took an impressive second place, though the time he set was in qualifying trim with little fuel in the tank and pushing as hard as he could. He ended just three tenths behind Marquez, and a quarter of a second ahead of Stefan Bradl on the LCR Honda. Dani Pedrosa was 4th fastest, over seven tenths slower than his Repsol Honda teammate, while Alvaro Bautista was the last of the satellite Hondas, just under a second off the time set by Marquez.
MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
A changing of the guard in MotoGP
That was quite a weekend in all kinds of ways. But most of all it was a changing of the guard. As Marc Márquez rode his victory lap at Valencia, cheered all the way by the frenzied Spanish crowd, Valentino Rossi rode back to his pit for the last time to be greeted by Jeremy Burgess. When JB and VR started working together at Jerez in December 1999, kid genius Márquez was six years old and had just started motocross.
You can imagine the atmosphere in both pits was somewhat different: complete joy at Repsol Honda, sad goodbyes on one side of the Yamaha garage, the inexorable rise of the young warrior and the gradual, inevitable demise of an old warhorse.
A history of success
2013 Valencia Post-Race Test Day 3 Times 2:30pm - Marquez Leads Smith And Bradl, Espargaro Impresses
Times at 2:30pm:
2013 Valencia Post-Race Test Day 2 Notes: Hayden's Honda, Edwards On The FTR, And The Brothers Espargaro
The track was a lot busier on Tuesday at Valencia, after the halfhearted beginning to MotoGP testing on Monday afternoon. A group of well-rested riders took to the track to get prepared for the 2014 onslaught, and take the first steps on the road to a new season. Some familiar faces, some new faces, but also a couple of new bikes, with the Yamaha FTR machines run by Forward Racing making their debut on the track, and Nicky Hayden getting his first taste of the Honda RCV1000R.
The times set by the brand new Open class bikes hardly set the world on fire, but that was to be expected given the fact that this was the first time either of them had seen serious use in the hands of Grand Prix riders. 'Don't forget that Casey [Stoner] did just five laps in Motegi with that bike,' Honda principal Livio Suppo told me. 'It's really just a first shakedown with the riders.' That point was illustrated by Scott Redding, who has a problem with the wiring loom of the Gresini RCV1000R, and had to wait while they fixed that problem. It was probably for the best, as Redding is still struggling with injuries to his arm and back. The problems is worse in left handers, which Valencia has in abundance. By the end of the long left of Turn 13, the pain had become almost unbearable, Redding said.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the second day of testing at Valencia:
The Fixi Crescent Suzuki team today issued the following press release, confirming Eugene Laverty as their second rider for the 2014 World Superbike campaign:
Laverty to spearhead Crescent Suzuki attack in 2014
Crescent Suzuki is delighted to announce the signing of this season’s eni FIM Superbike World Championship runner-up Eugene Laverty to lead the team’s assault on next year’s title fight.
The 27-year-old Irishman will join the team with immediate effect and will participate in the team’s final test of the season at Jerez on the 25th and 26th November, where he will get his first taste of the Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R. Prior to the test, Laverty will be at the ‘Motorcycle Live’ show on Saturday 23rd November at the NEC in Birmingham as a guest of Suzuki UK, where he will make his first official appearance as a Suzuki rider.
Laverty won a staggering nine races in 2013 and headed to the final round of the season with a chance of the championship, where - despite winning both races – he narrowly missed out on the title. The Irishman brings with him a wealth of experience gained throughout many different championships in his career including British 125cc Championship, MotoGP™ 250cc division and twice runner-up in the World Supersport class.