News 5 Aug 2009

Racing Insider #109

Get up to speed on the world of motorcycle racing with our latest round-up of the sport including MotoGP; WSBK; ASBK; BSB; AMA SBK; Oz MX; Oz SX and X Games.

MOTOGP
With a couple of off-weekends for MotoGP, all eyes have turned on the 2010 silly season where riders are scrambling to find a seat in the premier class paddock before the music stops.

De Puniet suffered a broken ankle last weekend, but is now looking at Tech 3 Yamaha

De Puniet suffered a broken ankle last weekend, but is now looking at Tech 3 Yamaha

One man who will be particularly keen to resume racing again if he possibly can is Frenchman Randy de Puniet, who suffered a broken left ankle in a motocross training incident over the weekend.

It’s a shame for de Puniet to suffer the injury just one week following his British Grand Prix podium, but he has confirmed this week to British Motorcycle News this week that he’s in talks with Monster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha for next year.

The Yamaha is undoubtedly the most sought after ride in MotoGP at this point, with Queenslander Chris Vermeulen reportedly telling European press during the British GP that he would ride a YZR-M1 for free if it were to give him an opportunity of battling up front.

While CV is looking to move on from Suzuki if there is a more competitive bike available, Toni Elias has been in contact with the British-based team in a bid to keep his MotoGP dream alive since he’ll likely be replaced by Marco Melandri alongside Marco Simoncelli at Gresini Honda.

Another ex-Gresini Honda rider (come the 2010 season) is Alex de Angelis, who we reported will likely join Pramac Racing Ducati next year, while Mika Kallio is certain to re-sign for another season.

That leaves rookie Niccolo Canepa on the sidelines for the new year, but hopefully Ducati assists him in landing a World Superbike ride because he has shown glimpses of promise throughout the season in a very difficult series.

As for the long-awaited confirmation of Jorge Lorenzo’s future, you know as much as I do, which is nothing at all. It is believed that if he does make the move to Honda in then it would be to replace fellow Spaniard Dani Pedrosa on the factory Repsol team.

Pedrosa has had an injury-filled couple of years while retaining his status as one of the top MotoGP stars, although the rivalry between he and Lorenzo is believed to be too much for one pit area.

However, European reports this week have indicated that Lorenzo’s bargaining power has somewhat dropped in recent races after being twice beaten by current world champion Valentino Rossi in last lap stoushes, tempting Lorenzo to remain at Yamaha if there isn’t a large money deal on offer elsewhere.

The position of Lorenzo for next year has been a massive stumbling block in the 2010 silly season, with his team selection the first piece of the puzzle needing to be put in place before other uncontracted riders can finalise their details.

WORLD SUPERBIKE
Ten Kate Honda will likely downsize to two riders for next year, leaving either Carlos Checa, Jonathan Rea or Ryuichi Kiyonari to look for a new ride in 2010 if the rumours are to be believed.

The difficult thing about this team is that all three are competitive at times, yet very inconsistent over the course of a season. At this point you would have to say that Rea is the safest of the trio, and I’m not sure if he already has a two-year deal for next year or not.

Perhaps the biggest change in World Superbike next year could be the Stiggy Racing team switching to Yamaha after a long association with Honda in both Supersport and Superbike.

Stiggy has done a solid job in its maiden World Superbike season and Leon Haslam was the lead Honda man for quite some time, but it’s said that the support isn’t high enough from Honda and Yamaha is willing to support another team.

This would not only give the WSBK team a boost, but will hand the Supersport team a pair of YZF-R6s to further strengthen Yamaha’s recent dominance of the world championship.

AUSTRALIAN SUPERBIKE

Round four of the Woodstock Bourbon Australian Superbike Championship is finally upon us this weekend, where Motologic Racing’s Glenn Allerton will be hoping to extend his 10 point lead in the series over Team Joe Rocket Suzuki’s Josh Waters.

Allerton and Waters at the Sandown V8 Supercars round. Photo: IEG

Allerton and Waters at the Sandown V8 Supercars round. Photo: IEG

Waters and the TJRS team will be armed with the 2009 model GSX-R1000 for the first time this season, and we noted at the Sandown V8 Supercar round that the new bikes have a revised paint scheme.

Three-time ASBK champion Shawn Giles unofficially recorded the fastest lap in the test late last month at the Western Sydney-based circuit, but that test was staged without the Motologic squad of Allerton or teammate Wayne Maxwell in attendance.

There will be some new faces on the Superbike grid in the guise of former champion Marty Craggill in his comeback for TJRS, and double Endurance World Champion Warwick Nowland will be on track with an Oran Park 6-Hour supported YZF-R1.

Kawasaki Racing Team’s Kevin Curtain has been in good form of late and was also quick at the test, hoping to build upon his Superpole-winning form from Queensland in a bid to take his maiden victory on the lone factory ZX-10R.

Yamaha Racing Team has continued development on its big-bang YZF-R1s in the hands of brothers Jamie and Dan Stauffer, the siblings determined to return to the winner’s circle at a circuit they’ve both had success at in the past. Dan seems to be getting the hang of the new bike at this stage, while Jamie is still continuing to build confidence in it.

Other classes on hand for the weekend will include the Supersport title lead by YRT’s Bryan Staring, while the Superstock 1000, Superstock 600 and 125 Grand Prix/250GP-Mono classes will complete the two-wheel charge.

The Sidecars return to ASBK action for the weekend, too, while the Aussie Racing Cars will make their first ever appearance alongside the bike in an action-filled program of motor racing.

It was confirmed last weekend that an Australian Superbike Open will feature alongside the L&H 500 V8 Supercar Championship Series round at Phillip Island on 11-13 September.

The announcement revealed that the Superbike category will have a pair of ten lap races for the weekend in what is claimed will be one of the richest motorcycle road races ever staged in Australia.

Since it is a non-points scoring race for this year, speculation has been mounting that Yamaha won’t be competing in the round, which would be a shame since the YRT squad is one of the largest in the ASBK paddock.

There hasn’t been confirmation that YRT won’t be competing yet though, but if they don’t then we certainly can’t blame them too much if they hadn’t budgeted for the event and the fact that it was only confirmed last weekend.

More news has been revealed in the form of the final round, set to be held at Phillip Island on 28-29 November, which will be the first standalone round of the year at the picturesque circuit and this news has finally been confirmed.

BRITISH SUPERBIKE

British Superbike will resume this weekend at Brands Hatch without Josh Brookes, who is on a two event ban, but Aussies will have former Supersport World Champion Karl Muggeridge to cheer on in the triple race format.

Also at the event will be Broc Parkes and his entire PBM Kawasaki World Superbike team, while South African Sheridan Morias will again be on the ZX-10R while regular rider Makoto Tamada recovers from yet another injury.

Good news for Brookes this week was that he underwent successful surgery to fix ligament damage in his thumb, but he will only have three rounds left in the season once he returns next month to prove his form in order to get another ride for next year.

AMERICAN SUPERBIKE
Ducati rider Larry Pegram won the AMA Superbike Championship round at Topeka in Kansas on the weekend, taking out both Saturday and Sunday races at the circuit new to the series.

Mladin has retired from AMA Superbike, but could we see him in ASBK again?

Mladin has retired from AMA Superbike, but could we see him in ASBK again?

The racing was somewhat overshadowed by two announcement by Australia’s series leader Mat Mladin, who sat out the weekend due to safety concerns with the track and the promptly announced his retirement from the sport.

Some thought that the six-time champ would be retiring from AMA competition only to move on to World Superbike, although we do keep hearing whispers that he may show up on a Bike Gear Warehouse sponsored Suzuki GSX-R1000 at selected Australian Superbike races.

It’s unclear if this speculation is true, but it would prove a good way for Mat to continue advertising his business and I’m sure he’d have a bit of fun doing it in his retirement from professional racing. Fingers crossed!

AUSTRALIAN MOTOCROSS
Jay Marmont wrapped up his second consecutive Australian Pro Open Motocross Championship at Coolum in Queensland on Sunday, the CDR Rockstar Yamaha edging out teammate Cheyne Boyd and fellow Yamaha rider Andrew McFarlane in the title chase. Marmont won the round to secure the title.

A first time series winner in the Pro Lites was Matt Moss, the Shift Motul Suzuki rider fighting back after a DNF at round one to take the championship from arch rivals Ty Simmonds and Luke George. Moss added the motocross title to his Supercross title that he won last year.

Bad news came in the form of George suffering a head injury and is still in an induced coma, but it’s positive that he’ll bounce back in time for the Super X series in a couple of month’s time.

The speculation that Marmont is on the verge of leaving CDR Yamaha just won’t go away, with reports last weekend indicating that he could be on the Troy Carroll Cool Air Racing team thanks to a large money deal on the table from Monster Energy.

It’s anticipated that TC’s team will take over the factory effort for Team Green next year with Monster support, and what better way to welcome the energy drink company to the team than by hiring the defending double MX Nationals champ?

Jay is a blogger here on MotoOnline.com.au, but he hasn’t let anything slip at this stage and is simply focussed on working through a good Super X season with Yamaha – ultimately not showing any signs of concern over his future.

One rider who is sorted for his immediate future is Dan McCoy, who has parted ways with the Cool Air team to join the factory-supported Team Coastal KTM squad, which is sponsored by Pacific Ink Tattoo and High Roller Energy.

McCoy returned his Kawasaki’s last weekend and will now take delivery of fresh new 2010 model KTMs next week in preparation for the 450 class in this year’s Super X title.

AUSTRALIAN SUPERCROSS

We had confirmation last week that current World Supercross Champion James Stewart will compete in the final round of the Australasian Super X Championship at Brisbane in December, but a shoulder injury has cast doubt over his participation in the round.

Bilko on his way to X Games gold. Photo: Dom Cooley/Shazamm/ESPN Images

Bilko on his way to X Games gold. Photo: Dom Cooley/Shazamm/ESPN Images

At this point it looks like it’s all systems go for Stewart, with the shoulder injury suffered during qualifying for the X Games SuperMoto race unlikely to force him out of the Super X race.

X GAMES
Speaking of X Games 15, which was held in Los Angeles, California, last week, Aussie Blake ‘Bilko’ Williams won gold in Freestyle Motocross along with silver in the Best Trick contest, with many believing he should have won gold in that judged event too.

Other winners at X Games included Josh Hansen in Super X, Ivan Lazzarini in SuperMoto, Todd Potter in Best Whip, while Ricky Carmichael and Ronnie Renner tied for the gold in Step Up.

The event was an intriguing once this year, especially in Best Trick where so many failed to land their tricks, including Travis Pastrana and his ridiculously difficult ‘Toilet Paper Roll’ that you can see here.

That’s all for now. Check back later for a photo wrap from the MX Nationals.

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