Riders and managers will be very busy this weekend at Brno, as negotiations continue for the open slots left on the 2015 MotoGP grid. The deals that saw Stefan Bradl leave LCR Honda for Forward Yamaha and Cal Crutchlow depart Ducati and head for LCR Honda have kicked negotiations for the remaining seats into overdrive. Forward Yamaha still has one seat open, with Aleix Espargaro set to join Maverick Viñales at Suzuki, a deal due to be announced in September. There are two Open class Hondas available, at Gresini and Aspar, with Scott Redding moving up to take the factory RC213V, and Hiroshi Aoyama set to lose his seat. Pramac Ducati has one seat available, now that Andrea Iannone has moved up to take Crutchlow's place in the factory Ducati team. And Aprilia will have two seats to fill when they reenter the class in 2015.
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.
With the announcement that Cal Crutchlow is to move to the LCR Honda team for 2015, making space for Andrea Iannone to move up to the Factory Ducati team, the beginnings of a MotoGP grid are starting to emerge for 2015. Both Repsol Honda seats are confirmed, as are both Factory Ducati riders and Valentino Rossi at Movistar Yamaha, with Jorge Lorenzo expected to announce a deal with Yamaha very soon. In the satellite teams, only Pol Espargaro is confirmed at Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, as is Crutchlow at CWM-LCR Honda.
With those names in place, we can start to draw up a list of who will be where, and who could be where for 2015. We have broken that list into three separate tables, based on the certainty of their deals: riders with confirmed contracts; riders and teams with deals that are expected to be confirmed very soon; and deals which are likely to happen, but are still not certain. The confirmed deals speak for themselves, those riders will definitely be on those bikes in 2015 (or longer - the contract date is in the last column of the table). The interest is in the expected and possible tables, where things are still far from certain.
Press releases issued after the two-day test for the World Superbike teams at Portimao:
Sykes ends official test at Portimao on top
Portimao (Portugal), Tuesday 22 July 2014 - The two day official DWO test drew to a close today at Portimao’s Autodromo International do Algarve with Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) the quickest rider thanks to his 1’42.719s lap time set this morning. The reigning champion and his teammate Loris Baz mainly focused on fine-tuning their ZX-10R as well as testing new items, whilst KRT EVO peer David Salom tried out new parts developed for what will be next year’s Kawasaki machine.
Tom Sykes: “It was a useful test. In the first day the track was not in perfect conditions but we managed to make some progress with the ZX-10R anyway. We started the second day a bit late, we had still some items to try but we had not enough time. Anyway we tried different geometries and improved the overall feeling on the bike. We could make changes that were impossible to do during the race weekends. The lap times were not our biggest concern but it is always nice to finish on top. Now I am going to enjoy the summer break back in the UK and hopefully sort out my hand/wrist problem. I feel we have the right package to be competitive in the final part of the season.”
Kawasaki's Tom Sykes leaves the two-day official World Superbike test with his authority firmly stamped on the WSBK field. The Yorkshireman was nearly a quarter of a second faster than Aprilia's Sylvain Guintoli, and nearly four tenths quicker than his teammate Loris Baz. Marco Melandri was six tenths off the pace of Sykes, with the Ducatis of Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies setting the fifth and sixth best times.
Neither Sykes nor Baz had much to work on besides further perfecting set up of the Kawasaki ZX-10R. The development work was handed to EVO rider David Salom, who spent time developing the 2015 version of the bike Kawasaki will race next year. Despite the rule changes coming next season, the Kawasaki is still more closer to a Superbike than an EVO bike, Kawasaki manager Guim Roda told German website Speedweek.
Silly Season Update - Ducati Confirmed, Suzuki Announcement Imminent, And Will Aprilia Be Back Sooner?
The Danish physicist and father of quantum physics Niels Bohr is reputed to have said "Prediction is hard, especially about the future." Just a few days after our comprehensive silly season update was posted, at the World Ducati Weekend event, Andrea Dovizioso, Andrea Iannone and Cal Crutchlow all confirmed they would be staying at Ducati for next season, throwing our predictions into disarray. None of the Ducati riders were leaving for Suzuki - or in Cal Crutchlow's case, a satellite Honda - meaning that the Japanese factory was forced to make a few adjustments to their plans. And not only Suzuki: since the Ducati announcement, more of the pieces of the 2015 MotoGP puzzle have started to fall into place. Time to revisit what we know so far, and what we expect in the next few days.
The Comprehensive Midsummer MotoGP Silly Season Update - Ducati, Suzuki, Aprilia, Satellite Rides, Moto2 And Much More
This year's silly season – the endless speculation about who will end up riding where next year – has not so far lived up to the expectations from the start of the year. With all four factory Honda and Yamaha riders out of contract at the end of 2014, real fireworks were expected in the battle to secure signatures. That bidding war never unfolded, and with Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa back with Repsol Honda, Valentino Rossi already signed up to Movistar Yamaha, and Jorge Lorenzo looks likely to finalize his deal – a two-year contract with some kind of option to depart after a year – before the season resumes again in Indianapolis.
But silly season has been far from a disappointment. Over the past couple of weeks, the jostling for the remaining seats in MotoGP has really taken off, with the promise of wholesale changes taking place up and down the grid. With the exception of Pol Espargaro, who is expected to remain at Tech 3 for the second year of his two-year contract with Yamaha, just about every other seat on the grid could see a new occupant. The arrival of Suzuki and, it now appears, Aprilia offers four new factory seats to vie for, opening up new opportunities for the current crop of riders. The upgrading of Honda's RCV1000R makes the production Honda a more attractive proposition. And there looks set to be an influx of young talent into the class. The 2015 MotoGP grid could look very different, once you look past the top four.
While the factory line ups at Honda and Yamaha will be unchanged for next year, the factory Ducati team is likely to sport two new faces for 2015. Although Cal Crutchlow has a year to go on his contract with the Italian factory, neither party is particularly happy with the arrangement. Crutchlow has never really got over the shock of just how poorly the Ducati turns compared to the Yamaha he left behind, and has found it hard to keep his criticism to himself. Ducati, in turn, are not enamored of Crutchlow's forthright manner of speaking, nor of his criticism of the bike. Crutchlow's results have also been a disappointment to Ducati, although the Italian factory must bear some of the blame, given the many mechanical and electronics issue the bike has suffered. Ducati point to the performance of both Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone, though conceding that the two Italians have already had a year on the bike. For anyone who rode the Desmosedici GP13, the GP14 is a huge improvement. For anyone who rode a 2013 Yamaha M1, it is a complete disaster.
Press releases from the World Superbike teams and series organizer after Sunday's incident-packed races at Laguna Seca:
Press releases from the series organizer and World Superbike teams after Saturday's qualfying at Laguna Seca:
Press releases from the World Superbike teams and organizer ahead of this weekend's round of World Superbikes at Laguna Seca:
Press releases from the series organizers, World Superbike and World Supersport teams after Sunday's races at Portimao:
Sykes pulls away and wins race 1 to extend points lead
Portimao (Portugal), Sunday 6 July 2014 - An enthralling 20 lap race 1 saw Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) emerge victorious at a cloudy and overcast Portimao to claim his 7th win of the season and the 21st of his WSBK career.
At the start it was Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea that took the holeshot, leading for the opening three laps before Sykes and Marco Melandri (Aprilia Racing Team) overtook him into turn one at the start of lap four.
By half distance the constant swapping of positions had allowed reigning champion Sykes to stretch his lead to 3 seconds, before seconds later the white flag was waved to indicate that rain was beginning to fall.
Behind the leader five riders that included Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team), Chaz Davies (Ducati Superbike Team), and Sylvain Guintoli, Leon Haslam on the second of the Pata Honda’s slowly began to close the gap, giving the fans a six rider group battling for the podium places.
Leon Haslam collided with Chaz Davies, both riders able to remount with Davies later retiring. Haslam eventually finished 11th.
Press release previews from the World Superbike and World Supersport ahead of this weekend's Portuguese round of WSBK:
Press releases from the series organizer and the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after Sunday's races at Misano:
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after qualifying at Misano: