February 20th, 2014
As the 2013 World Superbike season ended, the question was how the series, now owned by Dorna, could once more fill the grids. With some races rewarding every finisher with points, while the cheaper Supersport and Superstock championships raced with full grids, it was clear that more seats were needed.
One part of the solution was the new EVO class. Essentially Superbikes with Superstock engines, EVO bikes are much cheaper and, from 2015, will be the standard specification of all bikes, and over a third of the full-time entries in 2014 are EVO bikes, with familiar riders taking some of the seats. Another part of the solution was the addition of several new and returning manufacturers to the series. Alongside Ducati, Aprilia, Honda, BMW, Suzuki and Kawasaki, we now have MV Agusta, Buell and, hopefully, Bimota bringing the number of marques to nine.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the final day of testing at Jerez:
Previews of this weekend's World Superbike season opener from the series organizer and some of the teams:
Times at the end of day 3:
Times at the end of Day 3:
The Repsol Honda team have released the following press release, confirming that Marc Marquez has broken his leg in a training crash. No surgery will be needed on the leg, but Marquez will miss the Sepang test, and possibly the Phillip Island test as well:
Marquez to miss Malaysia Test
MotoGP World Champion, Marc Marquez, has broken his fibula during a dirt-track training session in Lleida, west of Barcelona, yesterday afternoon.
Marc was immediately taken to the Universitario Quirón Dexeus Hospital where Dr. Xavier Mir treated the spiral fracture of the distal third of his right fibula. After carrying out a CT scan and X-ray, Dr. Mir confirmed, “The results showed no ligament damage or dislocation and no need to proceed with surgery. I expect he will need 3-4 weeks to fully recover”
Catalunya Radio is reporting that Marc Marquez has broken his right leg in a training accident. According to well-informed radio journalist Damià Aguilar, Marquez suffered a crash while riding at his dirt track facility not far from his home in Cervera in Catalonia on Wednesday.
The accident – if confirmed, which seems likely – means that Marquez looks set to miss the second Sepang test at the end of this month. The 2013 world champion is reported to have broken his right fibula in the crash. That injury means he will be unable to train for at least 15 days. However, in most cases, a broken fibula can be fixed quickly and relatively well by inserting a titanium plate. With the start of the season still four weeks away, Marquez should be reasonably fit for Qatar.
Marquez has led something of a dirt track revival recently, building his own training track not far from his home. Dirt track is in favor with riders, as it teaches throttle control and allows them to keep race fit with relatively limited risk. Motocross, the other favored form of training, offers other risks due to the number of jumps and uneven terrain. However, Marquez' facility is said to be large enough for the riders to reach relatively high speeds, and crashing at such speeds can still result in serious injury, as Marquez has reportedly just found out.
Cirjesa, the body which runs the Circuito de Jerez just north of the Spanish city, and GCJ, the company which organizes the events at the circuit, are under investigation by the Spanish tax authorities and the Spanish organized crime unit for tax evasion. According to reports in the regional Diario de Jerez newspaper, the investigations center around unpaid tax over undeclared income from ticket sales to general admission areas during races, including the MotoGP rounds in recent years.
Both the police and tax authorities have spent the last six months investigating the existence of a second, clandestine set of accounts which are alleged to include the missing income. The alleged fraud was made possible because the general admission areas (the so-called 'Pelousse') are accessible without having an assigned seat number, paying spectators sitting on the grass anywhere around the hillsides overlooking the circuit. Suspicions had been raised by the fact that the number of spectators in the general admission areas seemed to be larger than the numbers officially reported. But without numbered seating, it was impossible for anyone outside of the circuit organization to know the actual numbers of paying spectators.
Press releases after the second day of testing at Jerez for the Moto2 and Moto3 teams:
In the Moto2 class at Jerez, the battle continues between Interwetten's Tom Luthi and Marc VDS Racing rider Tito Rabat, with Rabat's teammate Mika Kallio giving chase. Luthi was strong all day, and though Rabat put in a late charge to head the final session, he fell just under a tenth short of the time of the Swiss rider.
The top of the Moto2 timesheets showed a good spread of nationalities. Behind the Swiss leader, Spaniard in 2nd slot and Finn in 3rd, Japanese rider Takaaki Nakagami grabbed 4th, veteral Italian - or more properly, San Marinese - Alex de Angelis bagged fifth, and the young British rider and World Supersport champion Sam Lowes snagged sixth spot. Lowes is adapting very quickly to the Moto2 class, despite having to deal with a lack of electronics and radically different tires.
Series tire supplier Dunlop added a note of interest to the proceedings today, announcing that as of this year, they will be marking the tire compound visibly at this year's races. This will make it possible for fans to easily identify which riders are on the soft, which on the medium and which on the hard compounds from now on. The soft tires will have black lettering on a yellow background, medium will have black lettering on a silver background, and hard will have yellow lettering on a black background.
Aki Ajo's teams have a firm grip on the Moto3 class on the second day of testing at Jerez. Jack Miller ended the day on top of the timesheets, well inside the pole record set by Alex Rins in May last year. Miller's teammate Karel Hanika grabbed second spot, the Red Bull Rookie Cup champion of 2013 making an outstanding debut in the class. Rounding out the top three was Danny Kent on the factory Husqvarna, an operation which is also run by Aki Ajo.
Though Miller's time was out of reach of the rest, over a third of a second quicker than the chasing mob, the group that followed was close. Karel Hanika was strong all session, Danny Kent putting on a late charge to challenge Hanika at the end of the session, ending the day just a thousandth behind the Czech rider. Italian Romano Fenati of the Team Sky VR46 squad was another four thousandths behind Kent, and his teammate Pecco Bagnaia was another two hundredths behind Fenati.
Alex Marquez was the first Honda rider, the NSF250RW showing distinct signs of improvement. Marquez ended the day just six tenths behind Miller, with Efren Vazquez and the French prodigy Fabio Quartararo a couple of hundredths behind.
Testing concludes on Thursday.
Press releases from some of the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of testing at Jerez:
In the Moto2 class at Jerez, battle was rejoined once again by the two strongest men of the season so far, with Marc VDS Racing's Tito Rabat coming out on top this time. Like Jack Miller in Moto3, Rabat was on record pace, just a few hundredths off the pole record set by Stefan Bradl in 2011. Tom Luthi was forced to settle for 2nd, despite having led for a good part of the day, ending a quarter of a second behind the Spaniard, and a third of a second ahead of Rabat's teammate Mika Kallio.
Sam Lowes continues to make a strong debut in the Moto2 class, ending the day as 4th fastest, just ahead of the other impressive rookie Maverick Viñales, while Takaaki Nakagami was 6th, just behind Viñales. The two Mapfre Aspar riders Nico Terol and Jordi Torres, so fast at Valencia, were well down the order at Jerez, Terol 17th and 1.6 seconds down, Torres all the way back in 30th.
After the World Superbike series wrapped up their testing in Australia, on the other side of the world the Moto2 and Moto3 riders took to the track at Jerez for the second of their three preseason tests. It took a while, though, as the day started of with a track still wet from overnight rain. Track conditions had improved markedly by lunchtime, and a very full grid were soon posting very fast times indeed.
Australian Jack Miller was the fastest of the bunch, getting within a few thousandths of Luis Salom's race record set last year, and ending comfortably ahead of Isaac Viñales, the man who took his cousin Maverick's slot at Team Calvo. Danny Kent put the Husqvarna into 3rd spot, the young Briton half a second off the pace of Miller. Niccolo Antonelli, who had dominated at last week's test in Valencia, set the 4th fastest time, fractionally behind Kent but a quarter of a second ahead of fellow Italian Romano Fenati.
Efren Vazquez was the fastest Honda rider, with Racing Team Germany starting to take on some of the development of the new Honda NSF250RW now that Alex Rins has been forced to miss the test for surgery on his wrist. His replacement, the young French talent Fabio Quartararo made exactly the kind of impression many had hoped, blitzing to 11th, just behind the more experienced Alex Marquez.