This week's Racing Insider has exclusive news from MotoGP; Moto2; WSBK; ASBK; BSB; AMA SBK; Oz MX and AMA MX.
The news that Casey Stoner will be sitting out the next three rounds of the MotoGP World Championship came as a shocking surprise yesterday, finally giving in to the disastrous mystery virus that has affected him much of this season.
It will be interesting to see if the Australian former world champion improves after his break off of the bike, and perhaps he will recharge the batteries and see what the series is like from an outsider’s perspective.
This could reenergise (literally!) his campaign against Fiat Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, and you can bet that he’s now more determined than ever to win the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island in October.
One thing that will be interesting to see this weekend at Brno is Mika Kallio on Stoner’s Desmosedici, whether or not having a factory bike will be good enough to boost him up the order in the results sheet.
Likewise, Nicky Hayden. He’ll have the support and focus of the team this weekend, which might be enough to help him gain a slight advantage and work his way to a strong weekend.
Kallio’s replacement rider is perhaps the most interesting development for the weekend, with WSBK front-runner Michel Fabrizio again riding MotoGP as a replacement rider.
Fabrizio is recognised as a Superbike star these days, but many people forget the fact that he contested the series with WCM in 2004 and also finished 10th in a one-off ride on Gresini Honda at the Sachsenring in 2007.
Frenchman Randy de Puniet will try to ride his LCR Honda this weekend despite breaking his ankle motocross riding two weeks ago, but he’s an ultra fit guy and should be able to brave the pain for the weekend.
Another thing to take not of for this weekend is that all riders are now restricted to just five engines for the final seven races of the season, with a 10-point deduction handed for any rider who goes over his quota.
The teams have been preparing for this change in the regulation for the majority of the year, with speculation suggesting that selected teams will have to slightly detune their engines due to reliability reasons.
Looking for some silly season talk for 2010? How about Ben Spies on a Pramac Ducati alongside Mika Kallio? It has been said that the team is looking at Alex de Angelis, but in reality Spies would be a better option for the future and Livio Suppo has admitted he’s keen on Spies.
The question is whether or not Spies is keen on Ducati, because having the backing of Yamaha seems to be an ideal thing right now for him whether it’s in MotoGP or World Superbike.
American Colin Edwards is unlikely to switch to World Superbike racing with Aprilia as was previously speculated last month, the current Yamaha MotoGP rider very much likely to remain on Yamaha machinery next season in either MotoGP or WSBK. Edwards’ future depends on those of Lorenzo and Spies, whether they switch teams or not.
Hayden will remain with the factory Ducati Marlboro Team in the MotoGP World Championship next season if he wishes, according to European press reports.
The 2006 MotoGP World Champion has fit in well with the team alongside, also assisting in the sales of Ducati production bikes in the United States – a country very important to Ducati’s marketing strategy.
British rider Bradley Smith has been confirmed for the Aspar Moto2 team for 2010, stepping up from the 125cc Grand Prix category with the same team, although it’s yet to be announced what chassis the team will adopt with its Honda control engines.
Another rider who has expressed interest in Moto2 is Cal Crutchlow, the current World Supersport Championship leader who has stunned with his dominance at many rounds for Yamaha this year.
With 600cc four-stroke engines set to be used in Moto2, right now may just be the best bet for Supersport riders to try their hands at grand prix racing on competitive machinery.
A rumour circulating at Eastern Creek last weekend has Mark Aitchison also looking for a seat in Moto2, which would be a great thing to see an Australian rider back in the smaller classes of MotoGP.
Last weekend’s Australian Superbike Championship round at Eastern Creek was a very relieving upswing for our premier domestic road race series, where great racing was witnessed in front of record crowds at the Sydney-based venue.
Team Joe Rocket Suzuki’s Josh Waters has applied the pressure on series leader Glenn Allerton and Motologic Racing, setting up a thrilling second half of the season with just seven points separating the pair.
Other notable mentions for the weekend have to be Allerton’s teammate Wayne Maxwell, who set the fastest lap in race one and then scored second in race two to secure third overall for the round, and also CJC Racing privateer Craig Coxhell, who scored a podium in race one before struggling with the effects of the flu in the second.
Waters wasn’t the only rider on the new GSX-R1000 to shine on the weekend, with both Robbie Bugden and Shawn Giles also featuring amongst the front of the field at times throughout the weekend.
Yamaha’s intriguing form of 2009 continued as both Dan and Jamie Stauffer qualified on the front row before falling back through the field over a race distance, simply not getting the tyre life out of the R1s just yet.
Both of these guys are becomingly increasingly frustrated after coming off a few very successful seasons filled with victories, although Eastern Creek did mark a big improvement with their outright lap times throughout practice and qualifying.
As for the crowd on the weekend, IEG director Yarrive Konsky mentioned to me on Friday that if they didn’t get a crowd on that weekend after all the advertising they’d done then it would be doubtful they ever would, so he was a happy man come Sunday with the droves of vehicles waiting to get in at the gate and parked all around the circuit.
In fact, Geoff Arnold, the general manager of Eastern Creek Raceway, sent out an apology on behalf of the circuit regarding the long lines experienced for food outlets etc.
Arnold stated that it wasn’t anticipated the circuit would attract that many spectators, going on to congratulate the promoters on the event’s success in finally attracting a solid crowd to an ASBK round.
And on that note, we too here at MotoOnline.com.au must congratulate Konsky and his crew for the success of the Eastern Creek round as a whole. There are still refinements that can be made, but I think all would agree that it’s improving with each round as their experience grows.
The sideshows at the Creek included celebrity two-seat rides, stunt shows, first Australian laps of the BMW S 1000 RR, a show and shine, plus the Trade Alley display, which was a touch bare until Ducati and Western Motorcycles turned up on Sunday to cap it off with a range of nice bikes.
Last weekend’s Brands Hatch BSB round was a great one for Aussie Broc Parkes and the PBM Kawasaki outfit, finishing up the weekend with a trio of third places on the factory WSBK ZX-10R.
It’s the first time all year that Parkes has featured on the podium after what has mainly been a difficult world championship campaign, so it will be interesting to see if the results in BSB boost his confidence for a WSBK return.
Parkes’ success also has to bring up the question of how good the BSB series is compared to WSBK. While Broc is undoubtedly a very talented motorcycle rider, his equipment hasn’t enabled him to get the results he wants in the world championship, but he did an exceptional job at Brands in BSB competition.
Karl Muggeridge also made his BSB debut with HM Plant Honda, finishing with a best of fourth in race one of what was a three-race weekend, and he’ll be satisfied with that first out effort on the factory CBR1000RR.
Mat Mladin’s career is ticking down with just a couple of events left to run, and this weekend he’s almost certain to wrap up the title at Virginia International Raceway.
Mladin should have wrapped up the title at Topeka two weeks ago but instead sat out the round due to safety concerns, although VIR is a popular track on the AMA calendar and he’ll be sure to put in a solid performance there.
Victorian Scott Charlton has had a busy few weeks and is back in the States after contesting the Eastern Creek Aussie Supersport round last weekend, again riding for Aussie Dave Racing on a Suzuki in the Superbike category.
Meanwhile Aaron Gobert will be holding fort for team Australia in the Daytona Sportbike category, again adapting to the twin-cylinder Aprilia RSV amongst a class of 600s and a few Buells.
It’s not known if Damian Cudlin has landed a ride again at this point, although he sounded pretty confident after the Topeka round that he may get another seat in the AMA before the season’s out.
Big news was revealed over at Perth MX this morning that Craig Anderson will be contesting the 2010 season as co-owner in his own team, joining forces with Redmond Motorsport to form the alliance and build the 100% Racing team.
Anderson is a multiple-time national champion with a great history in the sport, although it’s uncertain at this point what equipment the team will be using in its inaugural year.
Another big announcement in Australian Motocross this week was the announcement of the Australian Motocross of Nations team, where we’ll be represented by Chad Reed in MX1, Michael Byrne in MX2 and Brett Metcalfe in MX3.
Reserve riders are Dan Reardon, Jay Marmont and Matt Moss, which is a very solid team that can hopefully rival the dominant American squad if things go our way for once this year.
Final Aussie Motocross news this week is that Dan McCoy has been riding his new KTM 450 that he’ll contest the Super X series on, with the 2010 models set to be released next week.
Nobody seems to be in a real rush to start testing for Super X with the huge break in between, but another thing is that many of our guys are trying to get together decent tracks for practicing and testing before they get down to work.
This weekend will see the AMA Motocross Championship head to Unadilla, with a retro theme happening to celebrate the circuit’s 40th anniversary of holding motocross events.
I always enjoy the retro theme when the AMA guys put the events on every now and then, with the American teams and all the riders always bringing out old school looks come race day.
The round will also mark the return of Kevin Windham for the first time this year after signing a Supercross-only deal for the season, so it will be interesting to see what results he can produce in what has been a fantastic season to date.
JGR Yamaha’s Josh Grant will miss the remainder of the season after his frightening X Games Super X crash, although the good news is that his ankle injuries aren’t going to affect his preparation for next year’s AMA Supercross series.
X Games standout Christian Craig will replace him on the team at Unadilla and the remainder of the season, the 18-year-old set to make his national motocross debut this weekend with the team.
Craig is actually the son of former factory Yamaha rider Mike Craig, so it’s great to see the next generation of young stars coming through the ranks once again out of the shadows of the famous fathers.
That’s it for today’s Insider. If you have more to say then get posting in our forum!