News 2 Sep 2009

Racing Insider #113

This week's Racing Insider has stacks of insider news from MotoGP; WSBK; ASBK; BSB; AMA SBK; Oz SX and World MX.

MOTOGP

Hayden took a shock podium for Ducati at Indy, but is he in danger of losing his seat for 2010?

Hayden took a shock podium for Ducati at Indy, but is he in danger of losing his seat for 2010?

I have to start this edition of the Racing Insider by congratulating Nicky Hayden on taking a podium placing for the first time on the Ducati Desmosedici at his home grand prix in Indianapolis last weekend, something that nobody really thought was possible after the first couple of races of the season.

In fact, I bet Ducati was expecting a pretty lacklustre run while Casey Stoner sat out a few rounds recovering from his illness that has ruined his MotoGP season, so it’s nice to see somebody else actually score a result for the Italian manufacturer.

And while it was a solid result for former world champion Hayden, we can’t ignore the performance of Alex de Angelis, who scored his first ever premier class podium after showing good form throughout the weekend on his satellite Gresini Honda – coming at a time when his MotoGP career is all but over it seems.

In the winner’s circle it was Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo who took full advantage of a crash by Valentino Rossi to slash The Doctor’s series lead in half from 50 down to 25 points, which suddenly makes this season exciting again.

Arguably the quickest rider in Indy was Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, until he crashed out early in the race to deny him his second U.S. victory of the season, but it’s refreshing to see Dani and Honda back where they belong up front.

Most of the talk again at Indy was the off-track silly season speculation, with Lorenzo confirmed to be staying at Yamaha alongside Rossi in the factory team, taking less money for what is believed to be a 100 percent equal deal equipment-wise.

Interestingly, Lorenzo has only signed a one year deal in hope of gaining yet another pay rise for the following year, which is probably a good decision for the Spaniard considering his improvement rate.

This left Ducati searching for more riders to fill the place they hoped Lorenzo would take, and a shocking revelation was that Loris Capirossi got offered a seat at Ducati again before he decided to remain at Rizla Suzuki for another season.

Nobody is quite sure what is going on at Ducati right now, but they’re either hoping to replace Stoner or Hayden for the new year – Stoner if he doesn’t return as some rumours say, or Hayden if Stoner remains.

The latest turn of events leaves them with an offer for Pedrosa, despite Honda announcing at Brno that a deal with Dani was done, and it seems that one of the biggest snags at Honda is that there’s a clause in the contract that Alberto Puig isn’t allowed in the garage anymore.

It is difficult to tell if Dani would be competitive on the Ducati, but could you imagine him and Stoner in the same pit area together in the same team? I’m betting some fireworks would explode, for sure.

Who knows where any of this leaves Hayden if Pedrosa does sign and Stoner returns as expected, but hopefully he will be able to remain in MotoGP if he is unexpectedly replaced at Ducati.

Queenslander Chris Vermeulen was confirmed last week to be out of Rizla Suzuki, and we’re hearing that he’s a possibility for LCR Honda if his priority of gaining a seat at Tech 3 Yamaha falls through, and he is determined to prove he has what it takes in the premier class.

It’s straight onto Misano this weekend just one week following Indy, and there are expectations that there will be further announcements regarding 2010 early in the weekend as decisions are made.

Getting back to Indy for a minute, it was deemed a great success for everybody involved as the on-track racing action was surrounded by loads of sideshows including laps by Kevin Schwantz on his Lucky Strike Suzuki RGV500 from 1993, while King Kenny Roberts completed laps at the popular Indy Mile dirt track race much to the delight of many MotoGP paddock insiders and fans.

WORLD SUPERBIKE
This weekend will see the Superbike World Championship roar back into life at the Nurburgring in Germany, with series leader Noriyuki Haga back to fitness in order to try and defend his series lead from rookie sensation Ben Spies.

It’s going to be a battle royale to the end of this season between these two as Yamaha takes on Ducati, while we can’t forget that Michel Fabrizio will be right there with them battling for victories.

Parkes became a dad in the summer break

Parkes became a dad in the summer break

One man who won’t be in action is Alstare Suzuki’s Max Neukirchner after a testing crash has kept him on the sidelines, but the good news for Aussies is that Karl Muggeridge is ready to roll as a replacement rider on the GSX-R1000 – just one week after he rode the factory HM Plant Honda in BSB.

Another rider on the sidelines is Ruben Xaus, and his place will be taken by long time BMW rider Richard Cooper alongside Troy Corser, and those two will have plenty of pressure at the home race for BMW.

Kawasaki’s Broc Parkes has become a father since the Brno round before the summer break, so congratulations to him and let’s hope he can continue his podium form that he found at the Brands Hatch BSB round.

In World Supersport it looks as though Jason O’Halloran is out of a ride at Althea Honda since he wasn’t featured in the pre-race press release, so we’ll have to wait and see where he shows up next.

Speaking of Althea Honda, we hear that Mark Aitchison is looking good for a competitive ride in 2010, but it’s yet to be confirmed whether he’ll remain in World Supersport or if he’ll get a dream Moto2 ride. Watch this space.

AUSTRALIAN SUPERBIKE
Last weekend’s Australian Superbike Championship round at Mallala was an exciting one, with Wayne Maxwell, Glenn Allerton and Josh Waters all proving their might and ability to win races given the correct situation.

The trio were a step above the rest in South Australia and Maxwell has suddenly made this series a three-horse race, which could prove interesting come Phillip Island’s final two rounds.

The Australian Superbike Open is next on the cards and will be an interesting weekend of testing combined with racing, and you can bet that the pace will be faster once the guys go back for the championship rounds – pretty much because of more track time and a greater determination when points are on the line.

Shannon Johnson will be debuting in the Superbike class with a Fireblade at the Open, but first he’ll have the Victorian titles to contest on the bike this weekend at the Island, as will a number of top privateers throughout many classes in the ASBK series.

The Evolution Sports Group team continues to grow and the results are improving, as are those of Craig Coxhell and the CJC Racing effort – both boosting their respective categories in a bid to match the factory outfits.

Bugden has been impressive on the K9 GSX-R1000

Bugden has been impressive on the K9 GSX-R1000

One rider who is really impressing since getting his hands on the K9 model Suzuki GSX-R1000 is Team Joe Rocket satellite rider Robbie Bugden, who has bounced back with great form at Eastern Creek and Mallala.

Shawn Giles suffered a bout of arm-pump at Mallala, and he told me on Sunday in between races that he is still fighting to regain peak fitness since he isn’t able to run anymore since his leg injury suffered at Queensland last year.

The series is shaping up nicely at this stage and the politics that were surrounding the sport earlier this year are slowly fading away, with the focus again turn toward the brilliant on-track action.

If you’re looking for information on 2010, sources have said that the next Road Race Commission meeting will decide many regulations for the new year, which will be interesting to see when the time comes. We’ll keep you posted.

BRITISH SUPERBIKE
I don’t have much news from BSB this week apart from the fact that Australian Josh Brookes will be back in action for HM Plant Honda at Croft next weekend, and he has three rounds left to erase his bad boy status and get back down to business with some solid results – which he is more than capable of.

It’s been a difficult season for the Aussies in BSB after the struggles of Brookes and devastating injury of Glen Richards as both were expected to shine on the factory Honda team, although you can’t argue that they don’t have what it takes because both have proven their speed.

O’Halloran was expected to challenge the factories until his former SMT Honda team revealed it had a lack of funds, effectively ruling him out of the series and ruining his season over in the UK.

Some better news has come in the form of Billy McConnell in Supersport, who sits just two points out of the series lead behind veteran Steve Plater with three rounds remaining on the calendar.

AMERICAN SUPERBIKE

Mladin will wrap up his career this weekend in New Jersey

Mladin will wrap up his career this weekend in New Jersey

This weekend will see an end of an era when Mat Mladin competes in his last ever AMA Superbike race at New Jersey on Sunday, already crowned the champion in his final season of competitive competition.

It will be interesting to see if Mat will choose to go out in style with a couple of race wins, or if he’ll just cruise it to finish of his career and return home to a new life with his family and business here in Australia. Hopefully he turns it on one last time and takes victory!

Endurance World Championship regular Damian Cudlin is expected to make his AMA Superbike debut on the Celtic Racing team in place of Michael Laverty, who has World Supersport duties to attend to this weekend, so that will be interesting to see how he goes after a rollercoaster season in the States in the Daytona Sportbike category.

AUSTRALIAN SUPERCROSS
The announcement that Monster Energy Drink has signed on as the naming rights sponsor for Australian Super X is a real coup for the sport in this country, and yet another aspect that draws our sport in line with the American series, which is the pinnacle of supercross racing.

Monster has made a massive impact in its infancy in Australia since its release last month, and it’s almost certain that the brand will be sponsoring a Kawasaki team this season or next.

Teams are testing and preparing for the season that starts in just over one month’s time, but the big question is whether or not Chad Reed will be lining up depending on if he gets a deal signed in such a short amount of time.

The word is that he is very close to inking a deal with Honda in the States and that will transfer into him riding a Honda here if he gets enough testing done in time, but it will be a shock to see him leave Suzuki after such a successful season together this year.

Will Reed be back for Super X in 2009? It depends on his ride for next year

Will Reed be back for Super X in 2009? It depends on his ride for next year

We will see, but if Reed isn’t on the starting gates come Tasmania’s opening round, it will blow the championship wide open – which may not be a bad thing in the grand scheme of things. I think I’d actually like to see CR on a limited Super X schedule, enabling more of a battle for the series while still giving us the opportunity to see Reed on home soil.

Speaking of Honda in Australia, the announcement that Ford Dale will be returning to Serco Yamaha in the Lites class next year came somewhat as a surprise yesterday, mostly because he was having a very solid season with Honda on the 450 until injury forced him out. With Yamaha’s new YZ250F at his disposal, Dale may be a real threat for the title next season.

WORLD MOTOCROSS
Confirmation came this week that the Monster Yamaha motocross team will be featuring David Philippaerts and Gautier Paulin in the MX1 and MX2 classes respectively in next year’s world championship, with no mention of Kiwi Josh Coppins in the press release.

There have been rumours that this season would be Coppins’ last, but I haven’t yet seen any official confirmation of his retirement at this point – excuse me if I missed it somewhere along the line.

Antonio Cairoli was crowned world champion in his rookie season in the MX1 class last weekend for Yamaha, but next year will see him in orange onboard a KTM and we can confirm that he’ll be defending his title on the new 350cc instead of a 450, which will be extraordinary to watch.

That’s all for this week, thanks for reading.

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