IODA Racing will field just Danilo Petrucci in MotoGP in 2014, leaving Leon Camier without a ride. Rumors of financial problems for the teams had been circulating for several days, but now IODA has confirmed officially that they are down to just a single rider.
The team will still be racing Aprilia ART machines entered under the Open regulations, but with just a single rider, progress will be slower. Danilo Petrucci has soldiered on with the team for the past two years, riding first the underpowered IODA machine using a stock Aprilia RSV4 engine, and then the Suter BMW which was quickly ditched by the teams which had been using it. Petrucci's patience has been rewarded with a much better machine in 2014, though the level of support Aprilia will be providing remains unclear.
Though the press release says that the team are working to find sponsorship to keep Camier on board, the Englishman will only be able to compete if he is effectively able to pay for his ride. If Camier cannot raise the funds, he will be forced to look for other options, but in a difficult market, those options are severely limited, and he could be forced to take a year out of racing.
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the first races of the 2014 season at Phillip Island:
The future of the IODA Racing project for 2014 is looking extremely uncertain. The Italian team, scheduled to race Aprilia ART machinery in the Open class in MotoGP this year, were absent from the first Sepang test, and it appears they will also be absent from the second Sepang test as well. According to reports on both the GPOne.com and Bikesportnews.com websites, a lack of sponsorship has left the team in financial difficulties, and thrown their plans for 2014 into disarray.
IODA's problems started at the end of last year, when they lost the sponsorship of CAME, the electronic gate and door manufacturer. Though they have signed both Danilo Petrucci and Leon Camier, without significant financial investment, the team could be in serious trouble making it to the end of the year. GPOne.com is reporting that Dorna has stepped in to help IODA make it to the Qatar preseason test, though only with Petrucci. More funds will be required if Camier is also to take part.
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after qualifying for the season opener at Phillip Island:
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the first day of practice at Phillip Island:
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.
Previews of this weekend's World Superbike season opener from the series organizer and some of the teams:
Press releases from the teams and series organizer after the final official World Superbike test at Phillip Island:
Dorna has revealed the pricing for its online video pass for the World Superbike championship. The price for a full season of coverage via the WorldSBK.com website is to cost €69.90, or around US $95. Included in the price is live access to all World Superbike races, as well as the ability to play them on demand after the race is over. There will also be access to a highlights package of each race, and rider interviews and exclusive features. There is also an archive of race and season reviews going back to 1993.
The online package is very similar to the one offered by Dorna for the MotoGP.com website, with suitably revised pricing. Since Dorna was handed the running of the World Superbike series by Bridgepoint, it was only a matter of time before WSBK would also be available via some form of online video streaming. Leveraging both the experience which they had gained in TV rights negotiations and in running the MotoGP.com video streaming platform, Dorna could put the World Superbike races online with relatively limited effort.
It has been a fascinating first day of testing at Sepang. And like all fascinating days, it has been long, tiring, and utterly inspiring. There were surprises, disappointments, and rumors confirmed and denied. It was, in short, a good day at the office.
Marc Marquez was fastest – it goes almost without saying – the 2013 world champion picking up where he left off. He was quick from the off, and put in a final burst of speed at the end of the day to open the gap on the rest, finishing with half a second advantage. Braking stability was the watchword for the Repsol Honda team, especially rear grip on braking and corner entry, with both Marquez and Dani Pedrosa working on a slightly revised version of the 2014 RC213V which both men had tested at Valencia last year.
Their main focus – like those of everyone on their first day back on a MotoGP – was just to get used to the speed again. The switchover had been toughest for Cal Crutchlow, the Englishman claimed. He had ridden a motocross bike for exactly one day, he said, spending the rest of his winter training on his bicycle. The speed differential between a 20-speed racing bicycle and a 6-speed Ducati Desmosedici is nothing if not cavernous.
The addition of the EVO category to the World Superbike class has had the hoped-for effect on the grid. From a modest entry list of 19 riders last year, the grid is up to a healthy 27 entries for 2014. The number of manufacturers has increased as well, up to 9, with MV Agusta, EBR (Erik Buell's latest venture) and Bimota all taking part, racing this year under the EVO banner. Bimota's entry is still provisional, subject to homologation of the BMW-based BB3 being approved.
The gamble of introducing a cheaper, lower-spec form of racing appears to have paid off, with 12 riders entered in the EVO category. Like the CRT class in MotoGP, the EVO category makes competing cheaper, with tuning restrictions closer to Superstock levels on engines, while chassis regulations remain the same as for the full SBK class entries.
The expansion in the World Superbike class has been partially at the expense of World Supersport, with teams such as Team Toth and Yakhnich using the opportunity to move up to WSBK. The World Supersport field is down to 23 entries, after years of fields of 30+ riders. The list of manufacturers in WSS is shorter, with just Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha and MV Agusta represented. The World Superbike and World Supersport entry lists are shown below.
The 2014 World Superbike rider line up:
With the 2014 MotoGP season about to get underway, at least one team is likely to miss the first test of the year at Sepang, from 4-6 February. Speaking to the official MotoGP.com website, new signing Leon Camier said that the plan was to skip the first Sepang test and only attend the second test, taking place at the end of the month.
The reason for the delay is simple. The IODA Racing team is yet to sign a contract with Aprilia to supply them with bikes, despite the season being close to starting. According to the Italian magazine Motosprint, IODA are still haggling over the price with Aprilia, though an agreement is likely to be reached. Both Aprilia and IODA have an interest in reaching an agreement: IODA, as they do not really want to spend another season on the Suter BMW, undeveloped almost since its introduction two years ago; and Aprilia, as the IODA team is the only team willing to take the ART machines, with PBM having only signed up to use Aprilia's engines.
The long wait for motorcycle racing fans is over. The winter test ban for the World Superbike ends today, and a number of teams will take to the track in Spain and Portugal over the next four days, weather permitting.
The World Superbike paddock is split between Portimao in Portugal and Almeria in southern Spain for the next few days, with Aprilia, Pata Honda and Ducati heading to Portimao, while Kawasaki and Voltcom Suzuki start at Almeria. Suzuki will pack up after two days at Almeria and join Aprilia, Honda and Ducati at Portimao until the 20th of January. The Yakhnich MV Agusta team will also be testing at Portimao, as will the World Supersport teams of PTR Honda and Mahi Kawasaki.
Kawasaki and Honda will be back in southern Spain in early February, with the factory Kawasaki team being joined by the Pedercini squad and Pata Honda for two days at Jerez. Everyone then packs up and heads much further south, to Australia, for the season opener at Phillip Island on 23rd February.
Below is the preseason testing schedule for the World Superbike, World Supersport and Superstock teams for the next few weeks:
The FIM released an updated entry list for the three Grand Prix classes yesterday. Though the list was not much changed from the previous version published in November, there were one or two notable changes. In the MotoGP class, Leon Camier was listed as the second rider at the IODA Racing team; in Moto2, Franco Morbidelli and Roman Ramos filled the last two vacant slots at Italtrans and QMMF respectively; and in Moto3, the winter signings of Ana Carrasco, Isaac Viñales, Scott Deroue and Enea Bastianini were added to the list.