News 7 Oct 2009

Racing Insider #118

Enjoy our weekly round-up of race rumours and speculation from around the globe, including MotoGP; Moto2; WSBK; ASBK; MXON; U.S. SX and Oz SX.

MOTOGP

Spies has been confirmed for MotoGP in 2010 - and will make his debut as a wild card at Valencia next month!

Spies has been confirmed for MotoGP in 2010 - and will make his debut as a wild card at Valencia next month!

The silly season is well on its way to winding down for the 2010 MotoGP World Championship, with Ben Spies finally confirmed alongside fellow Texan Colin Edwards at Monster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha and Spaniard Aleix Esprgaro this morning confirmed for Pramac Ducati as seen in the news section of MotoOnline.com.au.

It has been clear for a number of weeks that Spies was joining Tech 3, but the official confirmation is great news for him and I look forward to seeing if he can adapt to MotoGP as well as he did in WSBK as a rookie this season.

We won’t have to wait long to see how Spies will go on the YZR-M1 when he makes his Yamaha grand prix debut at Valencia in the season-ending GP next month, competing as a wild card on a factory test bike.

The decision came as kind of a loophole for him to get some extra test time on the bike since the testing regulations are strict these days, and it will be interesting to see if the ousted James Toseland can step up to beat his rookie replacement.

Espargaro’s announcement is a sign of just how quickly a career can turn around in motorcycle racing, as his 250GP team folded at the start of this year and then he was at home sitting on the couch when Pramac called him for a couple of replacement rides when Casey Stoner was out and Mika Kallio stepped into the factory effort.

A new team was announced this week by businessman Daniel Epp, who had previously fielded the Cafe Latte team in the 125 and 250 ranks, and he’ll have current 250GP leader Hiroshi Aoyama onboard.

We’ve also had the confirmation that Edwards will be back at Tech 3 and that Randy de Puniet has re-signed with LCR Honda, meaning the only current seat left for 2010 are those on the Scot Racing team, which is currently fielding Gabor Talmacsi.

News was revealed this week that Hayate Racing is looking to return with Yamaha engines, which will add another competitive seat, and we’re not sure if the FB Corse team will be entering the series with a three-cylinder or not yet.

Don’t forget, Aspar Racing is entering the series with Ducati and Hector Barbera, which will boost the 2010 series entrants up to a somewhat healthy 20 or so bikes next season if these new teams do pull through.

We’ve got the Phillip Island MotoGP round coming up next weekend, set to be a top weekend of GP action as the Rossi/Jorge Lorenzo title fight goes down to the wire in the closing stages of 2009.

We’ll have a full preview next week, but Casey Stoner’s superb return to racing has dispelled a lot of speculation and he’s a sure favourite to score his third AGP victory in succession.

Useless piece of information for the day: Ben Spies will switch back to number 11 for next year’s MotoGP title, because Alvaro Bautista will have the number 19 reserved on the Rizla Suzuki team.

MOTO2
The official list of accepted teams in the Moto2 category next season builds a fantastic base for a feeder class to MotoGP, with a number of past and present MotoGP teams to field GP2 outfits next season.

Tech 3, Gresini Racing, Pramac Racing, Hayate Racing Team, JIR, Team Scott, and Team Roberts have all received entries into the new category, along with a few existing 250cc teams, but having a platform for new riders to be developed directly by MotoGP satellite efforts will be great for the sport.

One thing to keep in mind is that we’re going to see Marco Simoncelli, Bautista, Aoyama and Barbera stepping up to the premier class next year, leaving the Moto2 class wide open for young talents like Bradley Smith and possibly Julian Simon to star in the new category.

It’s understood that Gresini wanted World Supersport series leader Cal Crutchlow on his Moto2 team next year, but a Yamaha option on his 2010 contract has meant that Gresini will have to continue searching for a new rider.

With all of these 250cc riders stepping into MotoGP, you’d have to think that the World Supersport class is looking more and more popular for the teams to pluck riders from.

WORLD SUPERBIKE
The Superbike World Championship is Noriyuki Haga’s to lose as we head into the final round at Portimao in Portugal, but as we’ve seen on many occasions this year, anything can happen and very likely will if Ben Spies and Yamaha have anything to say about spoiling Ducati’s chances.

Haga and Spies’ performances this year have made for a brilliant season as the veteran tries to hold back the rookie wonder, and we’ll sure miss it next season as Big Ben (as the commentators love to call him) moves on to MotoGP in a just reward that he’ll be pumped about.

Toseland will add star power to WSBK in 2010 with Yamaha

Toseland will add star power to WSBK in 2010 with Yamaha

Next year will see double world champion James Toseland return in place of Spies after the pair had a direct swap, while Yamaha has taken up its option with Cal Crutchlow and placed him on the WSBK team alongside JT.

I feel a bit sorry for Tom Sykes after he has been overshadowed by Spies in what has been his rookie campaign too, but racing is a tough game and he is said to have found a new home on Kawasaki’s new-look WSBK outfit.

Kawasaki will have boosted factory support next year after pulling out of MotoGP and AMA Superbike this year, and Sykes will be joined by Queenslander Chris Vermeulen to make up a very formidable team after a quiet few years over at Team Green.

Now we’ll have to wait and see what the competitiveness of the ZX-10R is as a rider of Vermeulen’s calibre climbs aboard, but unfortunately it looks as though Broc Parkes is out of a job if Sykes does in fact sign.

I’d like to see Parkes partnered with Joan Lascorz in the World Supersport team if that’s at all possible, or even riding a Kawasaki in the British Superbike Championship, where he was a front runner earlier this year in a wild card ride.

Carlos Checa’s seat looks a lot safer at Ten Kate Honda now that Vermeulen and Toseland are out of the picture since they were favourites for the team, and there are still lingering rumours that Leon Haslam will join Max Neurkirchner at Alstare Suzuki after the team has had a horrible year with injuries and disappointment.

Aprilia also looks like it’s been left with Leon Camier as a prime candidate for its team alongside Max Biaggi in 2010, and he’ll be back on the bike at Portimao after a disappointing debut at Magny-Cours last weekend.

The deal for Camier to ride the RSV4 was that the Italian team has an option on him for next year if they want him, so it will be interesting to see if they go through with the deal.

AUSTRALIAN SUPERBIKE
Last weekend’s MRRDA Series round at Phillip Island had some surprise visitors during Friday’s practice session, with Motologic Racing and Team Joe Rocket Suzuki taking part in a last minute test before the upcoming final ASBK rounds.

No times have been advised or much information has come from the test, but any extra advantage is going to prove crucial at that circuit as we move toward crowning the 2009 champion after what has been a great season on track.

WORLD MOTOCROSS
It was yet another disappointing result for Australia at the 2009 running of the Motocross of Nations in Brescia, Italy, on Sunday, ending up seventh overall with a dream team of Chad Reed, Michael Byrne and Brett Metcalfe.

Tough luck spoiled Australia’s chances yet again after Reed scored second behind world champion Antonio Cairoli in the opening moto, but from there it was all downhill as he crashed in the first corner with Cairoli in the second moto and could only remount to ninth.

Metcalfe had 17-9 results on the Lites bike, while Byrne finished up with 36-38 results on the scorecard after a mid-air collision and crash ruined his hopes during the weekend.

It was a shame for the Aussies, but you can bet that next year at Thunder Valley in Colorado if we field our American-based riders again then we’ll be a sure bet for at least a podium placing – we always seem to say next year!

AMERICAN SUPERCROSS
The U.S. Open of Supercross to be held in Las Vegas this weekend is set to mark the sport’s return to indoor action, but all eyes and ears in the industry are on what Chad Reed will be doing next season.

It’s expected that we’ll all know what Reedy is doing by this weekend’s event, although I’m pretty sure he is set to ride a Suzuki once again at the U.S. Open event on Friday and Saturday night.

Many say he’ll be on a Monster Energy-backed Kawasaki, which fits in with his Monster Super X series back here in Australia, but we will wait and see before claiming anything concrete is in place.

AUSTRALIAN SUPERCROSS
That leads us to the fact that Reedy will have just one week on a new bike before the Monster Energy Australasian Super X Championship kicks off in Tasmania next weekend.

Speculation that he won’t be on the start gates in Tasmania still exists, but until we get confirmation from the series organisers then we expect that he’ll be there – new bike and all.

Will we see a 2010 YZ450F for Marmont or Boyd in Super X?

Will we see a 2010 YZ450F for Marmont or Boyd in Super X?

The move will leave very little testing time for him to get accustomed to a new brand of bike if he does indeed switch from Suzuki, but considering his dominance of the series last year then I’d expect Reedy could use the entire Super X series for testing if he pleases.

Hopefully we’ll know more this weekend, including the future of fellow Aussie Michael Byrne, who is also out of a ride at Rockstar Makita Suzuki for the 2010 season.

One more thing regarding Aussie Super X, I wonder if Yamaha’s Jay Marmont and Cheyne Boyd will be on the all-new YZ-450F later in the season? We know that the Serco team is using the new 250F, but it would be awesome to see the revolutionary 450 debut during the series.

Either way, we’ll be seeing James Stewart on the new bike come Brisbane for the season finale.

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