News 8 Sep 2010

Racing Insider #36

MotoOnline.com.au has another packed edition of the Insider column from behind the scenes of the sport.

Japanese rider Shoya Tomizawa was killed in a racing incident at Misano last weekend.

Japanese rider Shoya Tomizawa was killed in a racing incident at Misano last weekend.

MOTOGP
The death of Japanese up and comer Shoya Tomizawa has rocked the motorcycle racing industry this week, the incident taking place during last wekeend’s Misano round of the Moto2 World Championship.

There are simply no words to describe the loss that has happened to the sport, however the memories that have began to flow regarding the 19-year-old truly indicate that he was one of the brightest talents coming out of Japan – both on and off the track.

While we’re all aware of Tomizawa’s brilliant Qatar win to kick off the Moto2 era, which was a victory that came after his previous best result in 250GPs was 10th, it seems his personality off the track has left a huge mark on the grand prix paddock.

As many tributes have been flowing throughout the world, an interesting news story broke in Europe yesterday that Rimini prosecutor Paolo Giovagnoli has opened an investigation into Tomizawa’s death.

It’s reported that Tomizawa’s death is now being investigated with ‘unnamed people’ being looked into with a view to establishing whether the actions of track workers or circuit authorities may have contributed to his death. According to British MCN, under Italian law there is a possibility of manslaughter charge being levelled at anyone thought to be responsible.

While many mourn the death of Tomizawa and we certainly can’t change things now, watching a rider handled so poorly when being treated for such horrific injuries is an extremely hard thing to take. On the other hand, it would have been no doubt very difficult to be a marshal given the extent of the incident on the very dark day.

Should the race have been red flagged? Probably so, however we do have to remember that the decision makers in grand prix racing are professionals at their best, and it doesn’t need to be said that safety is paramount in any top racing series globally.

Perhaps the saddest thing regarding Tomizawa’s death is that he had only just re-signed with

In brighter news for MotoGP, Cal Crutchlow was confirmed for Tech 3 Yamaha in a two-year deal and he reportedly made waves in the European press last week by saying he won’t be another James Toseland…

Crutchlow has proven a top rider with his World Supersport title and also solid form in WSBK this year, but I honestly don’t think he is at the level of Texan Ben Spies. He may prove me wrong, but Spies is on track to become one of the MotoGP ‘aliens’ in my opinion.

Finally for our MotoGP section in this week’s insider, Loris Capirossi is likely to miss next weekend’s Aragon round of the series after undergoing surgery this week. The Italian suffered a badly damaged right hand in the incident on the opening lap with Nicky Hayden, but Suzuki won’t be replacing him for the round.

AUSTRALIAN SUPERBIKE
The Australian Superbikes are set to feature alongside this weekend’s V8 Supercars Championship Series at Phillip Island in Victoria, where the L&H 500 is set to take place come Sunday.

It’s going to be a crucial round for the championship in both Superbike and Supersport considering it’s the penultimate round for both classes, and it’s likely that all will be on the higher profile 200-size rear tyre in the Superbike class for the weekend.

All eyes are on Bryan Staring and Wayne Maxwell at the head of the championship ladder in the premier class, but my hot tip is to keep an eye on Ducati Motologic’s Jamie Stauffer on race day.

The dual ASBK champion was fast at the WSBK round to kick off the season, has been using the 200 tyre in recent races, and has a lot more development that has gone into the 1198R compared to when he finished on the podium in February at the Island.

It’s likely that Stauffer will be the lone factory Ducati rider at the Island since teammate Jordan Burgess is still recovering from a broken foot sustained in qualifying at Queensland last month.

On the other hand, Honda privateer Kris McLaren is due to return from injury after missing out on the Queensland round.

Everybody wants to know whether or not defending ASBK champion Josh Waters will make his awaited return with Team Suzuki after skipping Queensland, and we can confirm he won’t be after speaking to him this morning. Stay tuned for a full story in the Breaking News section…

FORMULA XTREME
Also taking place this weekend is the Australian Formula Xtreme Championship at Wakefield Park in New South Wales, where Kevin Curtain will be hoping to return to the winner’s circle after Beau Beaton stole his thunder at the most recent round at Eastern Creek.

Curtain is coming off a superb victory in the ASBK Supersport ranks from Queensland Raceway, while teammate Pat Medcalf is also gaining momentum to challenge him on the R1.

Perhaps the biggest battle to watch will be in the FX600 category, where Curtain’s Yamaha Racing Team teammate Rick Olson has been challenging his experienced teammate every inch of the way.

The FX series has already announced its calendar for 2011 and you can see that in our Breaking News section, which bodes well after a solid inaugural year running under the AASA governing body this season.

Italian Marco Melandri is WSBK-bound for 2011 with Yamaha.

Italian Marco Melandri is WSBK-bound for 2011 with Yamaha.

WORLD SUPERBIKE
While Cal Crutchlow has been confirmed for a MotoGP ride with Tech 3 Yamaha, former 250GP World Champion and MotoGP runner-up Marco Melandri has been confirmed as his replacement at Sterilgarda Yamaha in WSBK.

It’s a dream ride for Melandri in many ways after a frustrating few years in grand prix racing, so let’s hope he can get his career back on track and once again gain the results we know he is capable of.

Interestingly, it’s speculated that Melandri will be joined at Yamaha by management guru Davide Tardozzi, who left Ducati’s factory team for BMW this year. That would make for a very strong combination in blue for 2011.

Next season will see Jakub Smrz return to Ducati in an all-new Liberty Racing Team that’ll be based out of his home country in the Czech republic.

Speaking of next season, we’re hearing the series will expand to visit Sepang in Malaysia as one of the early rounds of the season.

AUSTRALIAN MOTOCROSS
There’s an interesting news story breaking in Australian motocross right now, with road race promoters Australian Road and Track Rider Promotions announcing this week that they are expanding to run a motocross championship.

The ARTRP already runs the Australian Formula Xtreme Championship and Australasian FX Superbike Championship, run without Motorcycling Australia and sanctioned under the Australian Auto Sport Alliance (AASA) governing body.

ARTP’s Terry O’Neill has confirmed that the Australasian FX Motocross Championship, scheduled to run over a single round at the Winton Motocross Circuit in Victoria on 19 December, does in fact have Australian championship status and will feature two hours of coverage on free-to-air television on SBS Speedweek, before it’s to be replayed on FOX Sports.

The reason that they can run the event as an Australian championship is because it’s not run under an MA permit, which is basically the same situation that road racing is experiencing with two top level championships at the moment.

For the motocrossers out there who don’t know, Yamaha’s factory road race team already competes in the Formula Xtreme series while all other factory-supported teams contest the official MA-sanctioned Australian Superbike Championship.

What’s it mean to the sport of motocross? Well, it essentially means that MX Nationals winners Jay Marmont, PJ Larsen and Josh Cachia may not be the only senior ‘Australian Motocross Champions’ crowned in 2010 and beyond…

Stay tuned for more in a news story that we are currently working on.

On a final note for this week, don’t forget that this weekend will see the Red Bull X-Ray event out at Picton in New South Wales featuring the likes of Robbie Maddison and X Games gold medallist Cam Sinclair amongst a host of Australian motocross racers in head-to-head duals. The best part for spectators is, it’s free!

Interestingly, Red Bull has hinted that there will be a ‘very special guest’ at the event, so I look forward to seeing who that may be.

AMERICAN MOTOCROSS
Pala Raceway will emerge as a meeting place for many Aussies this weekend when the AMA Motocross Championship wraps up in California on Saturday afternoon.

Australian Motocross of Nations representative Jay Marmont is over there already and will attend the American launch of the Yamaha YZ250F in California this week, but he won’t be racing this weekend – instead saving himself for the MXoN.

MX Nationals runner-up Billy Mackenzie will also be on hand, however his scheduled appearance on Chad Reed’s factory Kawasaki KX450F is in doubt after he broke his collarbone at Steel City last weekend. Before his injury, BillyMac impressed with the fourth quickest qualifying time and proved the pace in Australia is super quick at the moment.

Also back in the States for the weekend will be MX Nationals promoter Kevin Williams, and Kawasaki team manager Troy Carroll among others.

That’s all for this week, thank you for stopping by once again!

Will there be more 'Australian Motocross Champions' crowned other than Jay Marmont, PJ Larsen and Josh Cachia in 2010? The FX series says yes.

Will there be more 'Australian Motocross Champions' crowned other than Jay Marmont, PJ Larsen and Josh Cachia in 2010? The FX series says yes.

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