News 8 Jun 2009

Racing Insider #99

In this edition of RI: Roberts to Moto2; Donington licenced; Moto2 on 250GP pace; Scott top Aussie in Spain; Hacking confirmed; Donald's devastation; AMA SBK and MX news; and more.

Today’s Racing Insider will be a shorter one than usual, not only because it’s a long weekend here but also because there simply wasn’t much racing action going on over the weekend, which means that there was also a lack of news getting about. But Friday will mark number 100 of RI, which is set to be a huge milestone in’s existence. Here’s the news:

Team Roberts will likely be in Moto2 next season

Team Roberts will likely be in Moto2 next season

Some of the best news coming through late last week and gaining steam over the weekend was that it has been revealed that American Kenny Roberts has submitted an entry for the Moto2 World Championship for 2010, the legendary former world champion rejoining the series with his team following a two-year hiatus from racing.

Roberts had previously ran Suzuki and Yamaha 500cc Grand Prix efforts as team manager in the early 1990s before forming his own team and manufacturing his own equipment, but that deal folded at the end of 2007 after the team struggled to maintain the funding to run a competitive MotoGP effort in the switch to 800cc engines.

At that point Roberts was running an in-house chassis with a Honda RC212V engine, which makes the new Moto2 series the ideal option for Roberts to compete in as teams are permitted to use prototype chassis with the 600cc production-based Honda control engine that will be supplied by Dorna.

Roberts is currently waiting to finalise a deal that would see the American team secure funding from Las Vegas casino and hotel, the MGM Group, and his goal for the team would be to develop upcoming U.S. talent in a bid to prepare them for MotoGP success.

The final entries for the Moto2 class will be announced at the Grand Prix of Catalunya in Spain on 12-14 June, and it’s expected that Team Roberts will be a definite on the entry list as one of the most high profile teams on the grid.

Cycle News spoke to King Kenny about the team’s Moto2 aspirations right here, and I for one can’t wait to see them back.

Good news for British fans this week is that the FIM has renewed the licence for the Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit, confirming that the British Grand Prix will go ahead. FIM circuit inspector Claude Danis completed an inspection of the circuit and approved the changes that have been made to the run-off areas in between McLeans and Coppice, enabling the race to go ahead as planned in July.

The Moto2 bikes continue to set a cracking pace in Spanish ‘race testing’ before they enter the world championship next year, with the latest round of the domestic CEV series taking place at Jerez on the weekend where Moto2 riders Dani Rivas and Aleix Espargaro set times right there near 250cc Grand Prix record pace.

Espargaro set the best qualifying lap with a 1:43.257, which is just slower than Alex Debon’s pole time of 1:43.028 at the world championship round at the beginning of May.

In the race it was Rivas who was quickest on the Blusens BQR Honda, lapping with a best of 1:43.343, which was just 0.005sec slower than the fastest race lap of the 250GP set by Alvaro Bautista – also the lap record.

In other CEV news, Glenn Scott was top Australian in the 125cc class with a very solid eighth place, while Blake Leigh-Smith made his debut for the season in 13th and Andy Lawson Jnr didn’t finish.

Hacking will be back in WSBK for Misano and Donington Park

Hacking will be back in WSBK for Misano and Donington Park

As mentioned in the MotoGP section, Donington Park’s licence to hold world championship events is also good news for World Superbike as the series is scheduled to hold its British round later this month, and stay tuned for wild card entrants into the series because it’s likely we will see a few more Aussies on the grid from the BSB championship.

Also, my prediction in Friday’s edition of Racing Insider that Jamie Hacking could be back on the Kawasaki in World Superbike rang true soon after when a press release confirming his participation in both the Misano and Donington rounds came through just hours later – and it’s still a possibility he could be on the bike for longer than that if he scores good results according to European sources.

The Isle of Man TT was supposed to take place over the weekend but was delayed until Monday due to heavy rain and strong wind that lashed the circuit. The weather also delayed a trip by Valentino Rossi, who was set to complete a lap of the circuit on a Yamaha R1.

But for Aussies the big news may have already happened when Victorian Cameron Donald made history during practice last week, becoming the first ever rider to lap the historic circuit at 131mph during Superbike practice. His dreams of backing up his victorious effort last year went pear-shaped the following day however, as a crash in Superstock practice ruled him out of the event with a dislocated shoulder, which is a huge shame for Cam as he was very much hoping to upset Honda’s anniversary year at the TT.

Road America in Wisconsin marked the sixth round of the American AMA Superbike Championship, with Australia’s six-time champion Mat Mladin scoring his ninth race win of the season in the wet on Saturday before Larry Pegram won on Sunday, which was Ducati’s first victory since 2005 in AMA Supers.

That most recent win for Ducati came in the hands of Eric Bostrom at Mid Ohio, but even longer ago was Pegram’s last Superbike win – way back in 1999 at Willow Springs!

This year’s championship may be Mladin’s to lose, but it is definitely shaping up to be an exciting one along the way even if Mat has dominated the majority of the races so far.

Former AMA Superstock Champion Aaron Gobert had a highlight of his season so far by topping the timesheets in the wet weather warm-up on Saturday before crashing out of the race, but he bounced back on Sunday to finish 12th. David Anthony was eighth on Saturday and 10th on Sunday, while Trent Gibson made his AMA debut with 21st on Saturday and 17th on Sunday.

In the 600cc Daytona SportBike class Damian Cudlin finished with a fifth in the wet on Saturday and 17th in the dry on Sunday, just one week after racing world endurance for Phase One Yamaha in Germany.

Mladin has been having fun with his Twitter account over the weekend - and winning at Road America!

Mladin has been having fun with his Twitter account over the weekend - and winning at Road America!

On another subject to do with AMA Superbike, check out what Mladin had to say via his Twitter profile over the weekend regarding any possible move to World Superbike next season (grammar unchanged):

I am a 37 yr old man who enjoys every day with my wife and 2 girls more than any race win. i don’t care to travel the world to race.

for some reason people still ask me this question. i dont see race wins as success. if i can be a good dad i have succeeded.

besides, WSBK would b 2 easy. if spies can win so easy, than whats the big deal? Go there 2 race Ben. Already done that. I love the USA.

Mat also then went on to upload this next Tweet, just for a joke (we presume!):

I sent resume to KR re Moto 2 class for 2010. He said he wants young Americans. How about an old Aussie. Goes hard and will ride 4 food ;-)

Good stuff there, Mat! Love it.

Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Mike Alessi took his second round victory in a row in the American AMA Motocross Championship at Freestone on Saturday, winning ahead of Andrew Short and our very own Chad Reed to extend his overall points lead.

Australians had a strong weekend with Dan Reardon sixth and Michael Byrne seventh overall in the 450 class, while Jake Moss also featured amongst the top 10 in moto two to make it four Aussies in the top 10 – have we ever had such a strong array of talent in the AMA?

Alessi’s Suzuki teammate Ryan Dungey made it a sweep in the 250 class for Suzuki, while South Australian Brett Metcalfe was top Aussie in that class with fifth overall as he continues to regain fitness after sitting out much of the motocross season.

That’s all for now! And I said up the top that it was going to be a short one…