News 5 Jun 2009

Racing Insider #98

In this edition of RI: All the inside info on sporting news from MotoGP; Moto2; World Superbike; Australian Superbike; and Australian Motocross.

Alvaro Bautista will certainly be in MotoGP in 2010

Alvaro Bautista will certainly be in MotoGP in 2010

The news broke this week that current 250cc Grand Prix star Alvaro Bautista is weighing up whether to sign a contract currently in place from Suzuki for 2010, or if he will hold out to see what other rides come up in the premier class.

Suzuki’s factory position would be a decent place to start his MotoGP career as it will be the only factory team permitted to sign rookies in 2010 (the others will need riders to go through their satellite teams first, but Suzuki doesn’t have a satellite team), although Bautista has another thing on his mind.

It’s reported that his current boss Jorge ‘Aspar’ Martinez is again working on getting a MotoGP team off the ground, this time with Yamaha and a fifth bike, and that’s what Bautista is currently waiting on.

If that scenario does take place, other riders linked to Suzuki are Ben Spies and Marco Simoncelli, but that pair also has strong ties with the Monster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha team.

With all of these riders linked to Suzuki it raises the question of who is out – Loris Capirossi or Chris Vermeulen? Hopefully CV can get on a competitive bike and make a fresh start, because he’s certainly got the potential to be a consistent front runner if he gets it right.

Good news for local fans at the upcoming Grand Prix of Catalunya next weekend will see Spaniard Sete Gibernau return to action after missing the most recent grand prix races after suffering a broken collarbone at Le Mans in France last month.

Gibernau will return to action at the circuit based near his home in Catalunya, which will also mark the return of the Grupo Francisco Hernando team in MotoGP after it sat out the Mugello round without the services of its star rider.

More good news for the local Spanish fans is that Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa will be back in action despite his hip injuries suffered at Mugello, fighting back once again to remain in the championship hunt.

Honda has been developing the RC212V in accelerated fashion after Dani missed much of the pre-season, and the development will continue as the bike undergoes subtle changes in order to allow both Pedrosa and Italian teammate Andrea Dovizioso to fight toward the front.

In 125cc Grand Prix news, Australian Glenn Scott almost had a wildcard ride for the Catalan GP, but unfortunately it fell through at the last minute and he’ll continue to focus on his Spanish domestic duties.

The Moto2 World Championship has constantly been making news headlines lately, and sources in Europe are now saying that French tyre manufacturer Michelin is in line to be the control tyre for the class should they put it up for tender.

Michelin was a mainstay in MotoGP for well over a decade before Bridgestone took over as the premier class tyre supplier for this year, but we may just see Michelin back in the game with Moto2 next year – with would leave Dunlop out in the cold with the 125GP class only after it has long been the tyre of choice in the 250s.

Hopper will be back for Stiggy at Misano

Hopper will be back for Stiggy at Misano

American John Hopkins will be back onboard the Stiggy Motorsports Honda at Misano in Italy on 19-21 June if all goes to plan, fighting back from severe injuries suffered at the Assen round back in April.

Hopper will be a welcome addition back in WSBK after only contesting one full round so far this year, and word from the Miller Motorsport Park round was that he’s feeling relatively fit and healthy for his comeback ride.

Speaking of Miller, basketball legend Michael Jordan was in attendance for the round and made quite a splash mingling with the Euro teams, although he’s a regular spectator at AMA rounds since he runs his very own Jordan Suzuki team in the States.

The global financial crisis has claimed the Hoegee Suzuki World Supersport team that was formerly fielding Barry Veneman, leaving a front-running GSX-R600 nowhere in sight at a world championship level.

Aussie Shaun Geronimi rode for the team at the beginning of this year but that deal fell through, and now the entire effort has folded due to a lack of sponsorship within the squad.

If you want to see an entertaining interview between World Superbike commentators from Miller, Jonathan Green and Ben Bostrom, directly after the race then check out and you’ll get a unique insight as to what the broadcasters are doing while we hear their voices at every round.

Bostrom was filling in for Aussie Steve Martin alongside Green at Miller as Martin was too busy winning the World Endurance round in Germany with Yamaha.

Another thing to keep in mind – Jamie Hacking’s result at Miller last weekend in race one was the best of the season for Kawasaki. Italian press are already reporting that should regular rider Makoto Tamada fight to regain form this year, Hacking is standing by ready to roll as long as the Japanese bosses approve, according to reports.

Some major shuffles are on the card within the Woodstock Bourbon Australian Superbike Championship paddock as former series champion Marty Craggill is set to swap the microphone for a set of handlebars and make a return to racing this year.

Craggill is in talks with Team Joe Rocket Suzuki’s Phil Tainton about competing on one of the team’s current 2008 model bikes, which will be sitting idle once Josh Waters and Shawn Giles step up to the K9 models for the rest of the season.

I spoke to Tainton this morning and he said it is a possibility, and the good news for Suzuki fans is that the team is well into preparing the 2009 bikes for Waters and Giles, with a shakedown run scheduled to happen at Winton in the coming weeks.

Trounson has split from Motologic Racing

Trounson has split from Motologic Racing

Other news has last year’s Privateer Cup winner Chris Trounson separating from the Motologic Racing team, although it’s believed that he will still be under the Procon Racing banner on a Honda CBR1000RR for the remainder of the series.

Trounson had a difficult weekend in the Queensland Raceway round, although no official announcement has been made by either he or the team as to why the pair have parted ways.

Want to know where the final round will be this year? After Calder Park’s cancelation and a possible breakdown in communication when we all thought the round would be moved to Winton, now it seems that a Phillip Island standalone round is on the cards once again.

A meeting at Queensland Raceway took place between shareholders within the Australian Superbike Championship, being members from Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki, factory rider Shawn Giles and privateer rider Brayden Carr, among others, all to speak about the direction of the sport for both this year and 2010.

All indications have the series downgrading to a lower specification of bikes for the Superbike and Supersport classes, effectively becoming Superstock bikes, while the current ’Stock classes will go to an even more production-based class.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here because it’s certainly not set in stone yet and there are many parties who need to agree and permit this move if it is set to go ahead.

Personally I’d like to see it, but in talking to IEG director Yarrive Konsky he said it’s not finalised at all yet and he isn’t certain if it will be, but the sources in the know say that this is a real possibility to further boost the grid numbers in the premier class and make the racing cheaper for all – both factory teams and privateers.

Australian motocross has been rocked by the sudden death of well known identity Bronte Holland yesterday, and I’d like to take this moment to express my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the well-liked Victorian. See Breaking News later for further information on his very sad passing.

Josh Hansen may be headed for Oz with Honda

Josh Hansen may be headed for Oz with Honda

There has been word that American Josh Hansen will be racing for Woodstock Honda Thor Racing in the final two rounds of the MX Nationals series, and if it does happen I would say that it’s a trial run for him to get a seat in this year’s Super X series.

Hansen has shown his talent on a dirt bike in the past but has had lacklustre results in the U.S. in recent years apart from his memorable win at X Games last year, but if he puts it together he could be a podium threat in Supercross.

The King of Supercross, Jeremy McGrath, will also be coming down under for Super X with Honda, and speculation over at FullNoise has had South African former World and AMA Motocross Champion Grant Langston also coming over for Super X – which is partly run by his good friend Chad Reed.

One rider who I’d like to see here is current AMA Motocross points leader Mike Alessi, because he has proven time and time again that he has what it takes in the outdoors, but Super X would be the perfect place for him to brush up on his Supercorss skills alongside Rockstar Makita Suzuki teammate Reed. And there is a chance that he will be coming.