A new-look Moto Insider takes centre stage on MotoOnline.com.au this week.
Hello and welcome to a very special, albeit very late, edition of the Rac…ah, Moto Insider column. You will notice that the name has changed, but the content will remain the same and we do have a variety of reasons for the branding change – which is also the reason for the column’s late arrival today – that will be revealed over the next month or so. For now though, let’s get straight into recapping the latest happenings in the sport!
We’re midway through February right now and for Australian road racing fans, that means one thing – Superbike race action is just around the corner. Yesterday marked the official ASBK test at Phillip Island and it was the new-look Team Honda Racing effort that topped the time sheets with Wayne Maxwell and Jamie Stauffer respectively.
While Tuesday marked the final real test of the pre-season for the ASBK contenders, some have opted to remain in Victoria in order to take part in the Phillip Island Ride Day on Friday.
While you can find the report and times from yesterday in our Breaking News section, yesterday was our first opportunity to see what gear a lot of the main men will be wearing this year.
The big news is that Team Suzuki has ceased its relationship with Joe Rocket for this year, the team now wearing Arlen Ness this season. While the custom suits weren’t quite ready yesterday, it does mark the end of an era for the Suzuki/Joe Rocket partnership.
Josh Waters will switch helmet brands from AGV to Arai this season, and although he was riding yesterday, he was actually on 16.5-inch WSBK Pirellis instead of Dunlop’s ASBK control rubber. More on that later…
One cool thing to note for this season is that Troy Herfoss will make his Superbike debut using the number 17, which is a number lower than what he won the Supersport title with, but a very meaningful number since he used it very early in his racing career.
Hepburn Motorsports BMW’s Glenn Allerton was there on a freshly painted S 1000 RR, marking the first look at his colours for this year, and he’ll be trading the Spidi suit he wore yesterday (and during the 2007 season!) for an RST from what we understand.
Team Honda Racing has reverted to Alpinestars for Maxwell and Stauffer, the team surprisingly featuring very little Motologic branding – the company owned by team manager Paul Free. Honda also had a fresh new livery on its truck, the same one Free’s team used when it switched to Ducati for a single season last year.
Speaking of Honda, the team held its official launch at the Docklands in Melbourne today, continuing to set the benchmark when it comes to publicity in domestic Superbike competition.
An interesting rider to take part in yesterday’s test was Relentless Suzuki by TAS British Superbike contender Josh Brookes, making his first ‘official’ appearance on a GSX-R.
The team actually sent Brookes a nice package full of parts to set up a Superstock-spec bike so he could get some laps in during the off-season, and he has taken full advantage of it since Suzuki Australia has supplied a bike for him to practice on while at home. He’ll head to Europe to test in Spain in the next couple of weeks.
We’ve also had conformation this week that Aprilia will be back with i-Style The Natural Aprilia Racing, this year featuring a one-rider team of Queenslander Ben Attard – who announced his retirement mid-season in 2010!
As for Yamaha’s Supersport squad, they weren’t on hand yesterday since YRT had a private test at the Island on the ninth, so that left Team Suzuki’s Brodie Waters as the lone factory Supersport rider on hand yesterday. Other notable Supersport contenders who could challenge for the top positions that were there yesterday included Aaron Gobert and Nick Waters. Current series number two Christan Casella wasn’t at the test.
Just quickly regarding the YRT test, it was interesting to note that Andrew Pitt was there circulating on Kevin Curtain’s factory R1… We could leave it at that, but the truth is he was there as a journalist of sorts for Rapid Bikes magazine. It will be interesting to see what the experienced dual world champion has to say about Kev’s FX winner.
We mentioned earlier the fact that Josh Waters rode his regular ASBK bike equipped with 16.5-inch wheels and Pirelli WSBK-spec tyres, basically in order to get him comfortable on the tyres before he rides the Yoshimura GSX-R1000 next week.
Team Suzuki boss Phil Tainton told me the plan was to help Josh distinguish the difference between the Pirelli and Dunlop tyres before he first rides the full WSBK bike, and I think it’s a very smart idea from all involved. The question is, when was the last time we saw a factory Suzuki on anything other than Dunlop in Australia?
While writing a column for AMCN on Monday I realised just how strong the Aussie contingent is heading into this month’s season opener at Phillip Island, so we all need to get behind the likes of Waters, Bryan Staring, Troy Corser, Chris Vermeulen, Mark Aitchison, Broc Parkes and Mitch Pirotta come the race weekend.
Next week will see the official series launch of the Rockstar Energy Drink MX Nationals, to be held at Appin in New South Wales on the new ‘Bellbird Circuit’ that the Nationals will race on.
It will mark the first time we officially get to see all the new teams and rider line-ups in the flesh, and MotoOnline will be there to get the scoop on all things MX Nationals during the day.
I’m unsure if I mentioned this previously, but the Rockstar Motul Suzuki team will be Cody Cooper in the Pro Open class and Daniel McCoy in the Lites. As for Lawson Bopping, he’ll return to Pirelli Raceline Suzuki, this time in the Pro Open class after he had a successful state title run in NSW last year.
We’re hearing that Ryan Marmont has been on the gas since returning from his solid stint in the U.S. earlier this year. In speaking to his defending triple champion brother Jay, ‘Doggu’ has been just as fast as him despite having just little time on the 350 SX-F.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a big believer that the 350 will really suit Lites riders stepping up to the Open class more so than it’ll suit experienced 450 riders stepping ‘down’ to the 350.
World MX2 number two Ken Roczen’s form in his first ever 450 class AMA Supercross at Houston last weekend almost proved me right already…
With less than a month to go before the first round at Broadford on 13 March, the pre-season hype is about to reach boiling point and we can’t wait for the year to get underway.
That’s all for this week, thank you as usual for stopping by and remember, stay tuned for some exciting new developments in the world of Aussie motorcycling on the web! We’re working away in the background to make your experience better than ever before.