News 15 Sep 2010

Racing Insider #37

MotoOnline.com.au's weekly gossip column is back at its best in this massive latest edition.

The atmosphere and on-track action at last weekend's two-plus-four ASBK round at Phillip Island was the best of the year to date.

The atmosphere and on-track action at last weekend's two-plus-four ASBK round at Phillip Island was the best of the year to date.

AUSTRALIAN SUPERBIKE
Last weekend’s Australian Superbike round at Phillip Island was a massive one alongside the V8s, with both the Superbike and Supersport guys rising to put on what was the show of the season so far.

Put simply, the on-track action marked the most spectacular of the year and it was a good time to do it as the core of motorsport-interested Australian corporate sponsors were on hand to watch their respective V8 teams go at it in the first endurance race of 2010.

While my pre-race prediction of Jamie Stauffer pulling through for a win for Ducati Motologic didn’t eventuate, he came exceptionally close and set the pace for much of the weekend in another step forward for the team.

But in the end it was Honda in a 1-2-3 podium sweep thanks to Demolition Plus GAS Honda Racing’s Wayne Maxwell, Cougar Bourbon Honda Racing’s Bryan Staring and Valvoline Superbike Team rider Glenn Allerton.

Considering Honda doesn’t field an official factory team in the ASBK, they’re getting great mileage out of the support they are giving and the teams are doing all they can to prove their might as the top Fireblade runners.

You couldn’t have scripted the second race any better if you tried on Sunday as the three favourites – Maxwell, Staring and Stauffer – got bad starts and had to work their way through the field, while Allerton, Scott Charlton and Shannon Johnson all did good jobs in making it a six-way fight for the lead in the early stages.

Staring just needs to steer clear of trouble at Tasmania’s season finale in November and he’ll wrap up his maiden ASBK title, adding it to the Supersport title he won in 2009 and the 125cc Grand Prix crown he captured in 2004.

In fact, if Staring is to do the deed, he’ll become the first rider in the history of the official Australian Superbike Championship to win three separate class titles including the premier class.

We also have to give it up to International Entertainment Group for shelling out the budget to secure live television for the final two rounds, which was an expensive exercise at $110,000, but a very positive exercise with excellent coverage and commentating by Aaron Noonan and Ken Wootton. Nice work, guys!

It’s now up to the teams and riders in the sport to take advantage of the live television and begin to improve strategies in a bid to attract the corporate dollar. Yes, live TV is great, but it’s only really worthwhile if we capitalise on it and market it for what it’s worth.

Dunlop’s control tyre was again a major talking point throughout the weekend with many suffering critical blistering and wear, even spitting massive chunks out when it came to the rear on the leading contenders.

Surprisingly, most of the top competitors utilised the older 190 profile tyre apart from Stauffer, who used the 200 to great effect but still did admittedly have some dramas on Sunday – albeit not as bad as the 190-equipped riders.

The big question now is, what are Dunlop and IEG going to do to rectify this problem for next season? Will there be a control tyre and if so, what level of tyre will it be?

We’ve put the question out there and haven’t received concrete answers at this stage, so we are basically in the same boat as just about everybody else in the industry at this point.

We’ll be sure to do some more digging this week and next to see if we can unearth any facts from the situation at this point.

All in all though it was a positive event in terms of exposure, and those who say the crowd doesn’t watch and/or enjoy the Superbikes at the two-plus-four events couldn’t be any further than the truth!

Yes, some people lose focus of the on-track action, but not anymore so than what they do when the domestic races hit the track alongside the international two-wheel races that are held at the Island every March (WSBK) and October (MotoGP).

In speaking to many drivers, fellow media representatives, team owners and select sponsors across the weekend, they certainly appreciate the added flavour that the bikes bring to the event.

In fact, Channel Seven commentator and V8 pit reporter Aaron Noonan commented to me just yesterday that the Superbike races were the best support events to call that have been alongside the V8 Supercars all year!

As for MotoOnline, we unveiled a revamped ‘Film Fest‘ at the event, so be sure to check out that. Make sure you watch the ‘Off The Wall’ film featuring Troy Herfoss and Jordy Burgess – it’s hilarious!

AUSTRALIAN SUPERCROSS
Can you believe Super X is just around the corner once again? It seems like Chad Reed wrapped up his second straight title just last week in the Australasian series, but in reality it was almost 12 months ago and a lot has gone on since then.

Perhaps the biggest news is that Reed will be on a new bike come Super X 2010, officially parting ways with Kawasaki last week and being spotted riding a Honda via a sneaky picture on his Twitter last week.

Not only have Reed and Kawasaki gone their separate ways, but he’s also split from longtime apparel sponsor Thor, which comes as a huge shock after so much success together.

The word is that Reed is on the verge of signing for KTM to spearhead its U.S. team that will be managed by Roger DeCoster next year after he recently left Suzuki, and I personally hope the pair are reunited after winning the AMA Motocross title together last year.

Either way, CR22 is going to be on al all-new bike and making his race debut on it at Super X for the third year in a row come next month, so he better get cracking if he’s to win a third straight title. Apart from his lack of motorcycle contract in place, there’s just one problem though… he’s still suffering from Epstein Barr virus!

Anyhow, people are still saying that there may be even more Americans coming out for Super X including Josh Hansen, and we can’t forget that current Super X number two Dan Reardon still hasn’t been confirmed for the series just one month out. I still have a feeling he’ll be on a Honda if the Cougar team can gather the budget required to field him for the season.

Hansen actually wrote this on Twitter today: “I might be going to Australia for two months…… Gold Coast anyone?”. If you want my guess, I’d say he’ll be alongside Billy Mackenzie on the 450 for Kawasaki now that Reed is officially off Team Green.

JDR Motorex KTM’s Tye Simmonds is over in the States at the moment after making the trip this week, setting himself up for next season when he’ll race in the U.S. full time with the team.

Something tells me that Simmonds and the KTM 350 SX-F are going to be really strong in Super X this year, and it’ll basically be the first time that we’ll get to see the 350 on track in a top level Supercross championship.

I’ve also been told that current MX2 World Championship rider Joel Roelants is looking for a place in Super X, which would be interesting for the young Dutch rising star.

We’ll have to see how that one pans out…

AMA champion Dungey will enter this month's Motocross of Nations as the favourite for Team USA.

AMA champion Dungey will enter this month's Motocross of Nations as the favourite for Team USA.

WORLD MOTOCROSS
The Motocross of Nations are now literally just around the corner and are setting up to be an absolute cracker come 26 September at Thunder Valley in Colorado.

The big faceoff between AMA champion Ryan Dungey and dual MX1 World Champion Antonio Cairoli is the standout news for the event, but you’d have to say the fast tracks in the U.S. will favour Dungey compared to the rougher, more technical, tracks that Cairoli is used to in Europe.

Don’t count Cairoli out though, because the guy can ride and will be eager to upset the Yanks on home soil.

South Australian Brett Metcalfe could shock for Team Australia judging by his AMA form this season, and he has plenty of MXoN experience up his sleeve to make an impact come race day.

Metcalfe and fellow Aussie 450 rider Jay Marmont are planning on hooking up to do some motos in the next week or so before the MXoN, which should be a massive help for the reigning three-time MX Nationals Champion.

As for Dean Ferris, we’re still waiting to see what 250F he’ll be on, but you can bet by now that he’s putting in some solid motos on the smaller capacity bikes after contesting the last two GPs in MX1 on a 450. We hope he’s on a Lites bike by now, anyway!

Speaking of Marmont, the first edition of his MXoN Travel Diary was a huge hit last week and the good news is that we’ll have another one uploaded tomorrow with plenty of great behind-the-scenes stories exposed.

We’ll be documenting Jay and the Aussie team’s preparation all the way up until the event, so stay tuned as the days clock by.

MOTOGP
Yamaha MotoGP boss Maseo Furusawa has told British Motorcycle News that his preference is to let Valentino Rossi test for Ducati at the Valencia post-season test, however it’s not as simple as just giving the Italian the okay to climb aboard the Desmosedici.

“From a contract standpoint he will not be allowed to test after Valencia,” Furusawa said. “It is not just between Valentino and Yamaha, we have a lot of sponsors and contracts and it is really difficult to convince all of the people who are involved in this issue.

“It is really difficult to allow Valentino to test at Valencia. My personal view is I am a fan of Valentino’s and I would release him to Ducati after Valencia. But as this moment I can’t say anything.”

Interestingly, reports out of Italy this week are that Rossi is seriously considering undergoing shoulder surgery to fix his troublesome injury that he received at the start of the year.

With a fixed shoulder and hopefully the confirmation that Aussie crew chief Jeremy Burgess is going to Ducati with him, Rossi looks as though he’s fully focussed on winning the title for Ducati in 2011.

This weekend is the Aragon round of the series in Spain, where the battle between Spaniards Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa will continue, and you can bet that tributes will be flowing for the late Shoya Tomizawa throughout the entire weekend.

As we reported earlier this week, don’t look for Loris Capirossi this weekend as he’s out with a hand injury – leaving a factory bike sit in the garage for yet another weekend of racing.

WORLD SUPERBIKE
Yamaha has confirmed its line-up for the 2011 Superbike World Championship, signing Supersport hotshot Eugene Laverty to join MotoGP star Marco Melandri.

In an all-new team, Laverty was confirmed late last week to be replacing ex-dual world champion James Toseland, while Cal Crutchlow was recently confirmed for MotoGP with Tech 3 Yamaha.

Laverty is currently placed second in World Supersport points on a privateert Honda, racing as Crutchlow’s arch-rival through much of his career in the British series and on the world stage.

Ten Kate Honda has re-signed Jonathan Rea for next season. It’s expected Rea will have a new teammate in place of German Max Neukirchner for next season. All indications are that Rea will go to MotoGP in 2012 if he has a strong season next year in WSBK.

Here’s an interesting rumour for you: Triumph is on track for a Superbike debut in 2012, perhaps having Luca Scassa as the development rider next year and also fielding him in World Supersport.

Want some other 2011 updates? Joan Lascorz has been penciled in to join Chris Vermeulen at Kawasaki (images released of the 2011 bike had his number and name on them!), Nori Haga and Michel Fabrizio are both waiting on a decision from Alstare Suzuki, which in turn is awaiting an answer from Leon Haslam, who could make a shock switch to BMW alongside Trouy Corser!

As for Aprilia, world champion-elect Max Biaggi is certain to stay, as is impressive teammate Leon Camier despite looking absolutely ridiculous as he squeezes onto the RSV4.

That’s all for this week, thanks for stopping by!

Eugene Laverty will step up to World Superbike with Yamaha in 2011 alongside Marco Melandri.

Eugene Laverty will step up to World Superbike with Yamaha in 2011 alongside Marco Melandri.

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