Sykes tops time sheets at Phillip Island test

February 21st, 2012 No comments

Tom Sykes took his Kawasaki Racing Team machine to top spot on the combined testing sheets at Phillip Island, heading up all his rivals with mere days to go until the start of the new 2012 World Superbike Championship season.

Tom Sykes

Like many of his fellow riders, Sykes tested at Phillip Island last week and used knowledge gained during those sessions to help his set fast lap times this week. In the final analysis of the time sheets Sykes set the leading 1’31.648 lap time in the morning session today to stay above Carlos Checa and Jakub Smrz in the rankings.

Joan Lascorz was happy with his race pace on the second official Kawasaki Racing Team Ninja ZX-10R, and in setting a personal best of test 1’32.540 lap time he was eleventh out of 23 riders. The Spanish star is confident he can improve on that when the racing starts for real on Sunday February 26.

Pedercini Team Kawasaki regular David Salom had a tough test after confirming that he had broken his wrist in a recent test crash, only riding for a short time in each of the two morning sessions to save himself for the start of the season proper this Friday.

Local star and regular Pedercini Superstock force Bryan Staring rode the other Pedercini Kawasaki Superbike in these tests, as he will in replacing the injured Leandro Mercado for the opening race weekend itself. He finished twentieth on the timesheets but knows more is to come in true race trim.

The 14-Round/28-race season kicks off in Australia with two races on Sunday, February 26. The 4.445km-long Phillip Island circuit is a popular starting point for the season as February falls in the southern hemisphere’s summer season. So far, conditions have varied between mild and firmly hot, and a repeat of the recent dry weather would make for a perfect start to the season for all involved.

Tom Sykes: “We were fast this morning and also this afternoon in hot conditions, and we even improved our time compared to yesterday’s hot track conditions. Overall we did quite a bit more testing today and certainly stumbled across a couple of good things. At the end of the sessions we did 14 laps on race tires and it was very consistent, with the times coming easier than they were doing with previous settings. Honestly speaking, this is not one of my favorite circuits; in fact it is one of my least favorite ones, so I am happy that we are towards the front at this track because I know that the performance should increase at the other circuits. I do not want to get too carried away because I like to keep my feet on the ground, so we’ll keep working and see what happens on race weekend.”

Joan Lascorz: “We have a good rhythm but to do faster single laps is a little more difficult. I can put in a new tire but lap times are the same. I think it is a lot of things together, but every time we try anything else we come back to the same kind of settings. The bike works best in small, slower corners, in the fast corners and over the bumps it feels very hard. It turns very well in the slower corners but the line in the fast corners is critical. The plan for the first practice in Friday is more gas! But seriously, we will make a plan to find out the best settings for race weekend.”

Bryan Staring: “I am happy with it in general but I wanted to put in a bit better lap time. Some of the guys have been here testing for three days last week but I was not. The real important day is next Friday. I am happy with the motorbike but we can still improve a couple of small things. It is only on the one flying lap that I have not been able to do so well, but we put in a reasonable time. I think we are in a bit better position than the timesheets suggest. It is a good motorbike and I think we can do a pretty good job with it, I just hope to get a strong lap time out of it on Friday.”

David Salom: “The problem is that I have had a pain-killing injection to allow me to ride this morning, but after an hour the pain came back and it was too much. I did not try this afternoon. It is not necessary to try for another good lap time today but save myself for first practice on Friday. For the race I can run with the injections in my wrist but I am not sure how things will be. I hope for the best and aim for the best. After Phillip Island it is possible to have an operation on my wrist but it is not decided yet as I already have a pin inside the scaphoid from an old crash.”

Team Honda Australia unveils 2012 livery

February 20th, 2012 No comments

The Australian Superbike Championship factory Honda team held its team launch this past weekend at the Watermark Bar at Docklands in Melbourne, Australia in the lead-up to the World Superbike event at Phillip Island this coming weekend.

The Team Honda Racing riders, #27 Jamie Stauffer, #47 Wayne Maxwell and #34 Josh Hook all gave their thoughts on the season ahead before unveiling the stunning, bright red livery of their new model CBR1000RRs and the CBR600RR. It was their first opportunity to view their machines in the new livery and all 3 riders were keen to take a closer look.

Special guest at the launch of Team Honda Racing was World Superbike Rider Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea. Pleased to start the season at the Phillip Island Circuit, Rea spoke of his preparation for the 2012 season and wished the Australian contingent all the best for the year.

Team Principle Paul Free echoed the thoughts of Honda Motorcycles general manager Tony Hinton when he expressed his excitement at returning to the 600 Supersport category in 2012. Both Free and Hinton agreed it will be a very strong season for the new Honda CBR1000RR and the CBR600RR with such a strong and competitive rider line-up in Maxwell, Stauffer and Hook.

Managing Director of Honda MPE, Mr Zenjiro Sakurai along with General Manager of Motorcycles, Tony Hinton and the marketing team at Honda were a testament to the strong and invaluable factory support given to Team Honda Racing, with marketing manager Glyn Griffiths even taking a leading role as MC for the launch.

Team Honda Racing will compete at the first round of the ASBK which takes place at the World Superbike Event February 24-26.

Althea Ducati returns to Phillip Island for final testing

February 20th, 2012 No comments

Having completed a three-day test session at the Phillip Island track only last week, team Althea Racing returned to the circuit today for the final official tests before the 2012 World Superbike Championship’s opening round gets underway this coming weekend.

Reigning champion Carlos Checa

In very warm conditions (air temperature 26˚C, track 50˚C in the afternoon) this morning, Althea Racing’s riders Carlos Checa and Davide Giugliano took to the track to work with their technicians to make final preparations with their Ducati 1198s. They worked mainly with the different tires made available by Pirelli; the team wants to fully understand how the rubber behaves under hot conditions, so as to be prepared if the track is at a similar temperature for this weekend’s races.

Although the team was not focusing on lap times, Checa, reigning SBK world champion, projected himself to the top of the timesheets, recording the fastest time of the day, a 1m31.9, during the morning’s session. The Spanish rider put in 71 laps in total and was the only rider to duck under 1m32 today, despite the 6kgs of extra weight that the Ducati machines are carrying this year in accordance with championship regulations.

Checa’s new teammate, Davide Giugliano, continued to build up feeling with his Ducati while working with his squad to refine settings in readiness for his first SBK races of the 2012 season. He suffered a small crash in the afternoon session but returned to the track almost immediately; timing was unfortunate however as he fell just as his pace was beginning to pick up and so lost valuable time as a result. Making a total of 59 laps today, Giugliano recorded his best time during the morning, a 1m33.3, when the track was significantly cooler.

Carlos Checa:
“I’m pretty happy. We’re still up there with the times, though it seems difficult to improve beyond that point. Today we continued to work on set-up, with the suspension and the electronics, trying to find the best compromise when it comes to performance. Tomorrow we still have a few small things to work on and we’ll look at the tires again of course as tire choice for this weekend’s races will be extremely important. So tomorrow we’ll get everything in line as much as possible and then our concentration turns to the first races of the season.”

Davide Giugliano:
“Unfortunately I crashed at the wrong moment this afternoon. If it hadn’t been for that, I believe I’d have been able to improve on my lap time. As a result of the crash we lost valuable time sorting the bike and so my best time was that set earlier in the day. Anyway I know I can do more tomorrow. I realize I have a lot to learn, in a short space of time, but I still have high hopes.”

Genesio Bevilacqua, General Manager of Althea Racing:
“I’m very happy with the work completed by the team today. We concentrated on minimizing the gap, considering the extra weight that the 2012 regulation has given us. Carlos, thanks to his expert knowledge of this track, seems to be able to hold his position at the top of the timesheets – today he has the fastest time with a small advantage over the competition. Davide is improving the feeling he has with his bike and hopes for a good day tomorrow and an improvement in his times. He seems happy with his bike’s potential. Tomorrow it should also be hotter and so we’ll have chance to test the tires in preparation for a hot race day this coming Sunday.”

Top-10 Times (day one):
1. Checa (Ducati) 1m31.9
2. Biaggi (Aprilia) 1m32.2
3. Melandri (BMW) 1m32.2
4. Rea (Honda) 1m32.3
5. Haslam (BMW) 1m32.3
6. Sykes (Kawasaki) 1m32.4
7. Guintoli (Ducati) 1’32m7
8. Canepa (Ducati) 1m32.8
9. Smrz (Ducati) 1m32.8
10. Lascorz (Kawasaki) 1m33.0

Swan Yamaha officially announces Haga signing

February 13th, 2012 No comments

Substantiated rumors had been flying throughout the Twitterverse for days, but today, Swan Yamaha has made official the signing of Noriyuki Haga for the 2012 British Superbike Championship season.

From Swan Yamaha:

Nori Haga contended the 2011 WSBK season with Pata Aprilia after Ducati pulled factory support following the 2010 season

The Swan Yamaha team has today (Monday) confirmed that World Superbike sensation Noriyuki Haga will be completing their line-up for the 2012 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship as he permanently replaces the injured Ian Hutchinson for the forthcoming season.

Fans’ favorite Haga is famous for his flamboyant riding style with much of his World Championship success in the past powered by Yamaha. Japanese ace Haga joins the MCE BSB Championship with the Swan Yamaha team following a record of 43 race wins in the World Championship, finishing runner-up in the title race on three occasions (2009, 2007, 2000) and securing third in the overall standings in an additional four seasons (2008, 2006, 2005, 2004).

Haga has already celebrated success on MCE BSB Championship circuits at World level including podium finishes at Brands Hatch, Donington Park, Silverstone and Assen as the Japanese contender prepares for his first full season in MCE BSB which gets underway at Brands Hatch on Easter weekend (6-9 April).

Haga said: “It is a new challenge for me to race in BSB and I am now ready for the new season with Swan Yamaha. I feel that after many years in the same series this will be a kind of restart to my racing career. BSB has grown a lot and I have big support from the fans in the UK, so I liked the idea of racing in the Championship. It will also be a return to Yamaha, where I spent so many years taking many wins and now I feel like I am going back to my family. I have won races with Yamaha before in the World Championship and now I hope that we can do it again in BSB. I don’t know several circuits in England and the BSB Championship but I will do my best to get results this year for the fans, myself and for Yamaha. We will start testing soon and I am very excited to get back on track as we have big ambitions for this season. Finally I hope that Ian Hutchinson can recover soon from his injury.”

Team Owner Shaun Muir concluded: “It was a difficult situation for the Swan Yamaha team when Ian (Hutchinson) was sidelined with just four weeks remaining before we begin our pre-season testing program. We then had to set out to find a replacement rider and the result for us could not have been better. We are absolutely delighted that Noriyuki will be joining us and we are now looking forward to welcoming him into the team. Noriyuki has such vast experience of racing a Superbike and during his career has always had a strong partnership with Yamaha and we are happy that we can continue that relationship this year. The Swan Yamaha team won the title last season and Noriyuki is really ready for the challenge of BSB and is coming to race here to win.”

Swan Marketing Manager Mark Alldred concluded: “We are thrilled to confirm the full team line up for the 2012 season after Ian’s unfortunate injury. We are delighted to welcome Noriyuki Haga to the team at this late stage. He has a fantastic pedigree at the highest level and will be a real contender for the championship this year. We have a great rider line-up at Swan Yamaha having signed two of the top riders in the championship. We wish them both the best of luck for the forthcoming season.”

John Hopkins can’t catch a break – breaks hand at Phillip Island

February 13th, 2012 No comments

John Hopkins has broken a bone in his right hand after suffering a corner-entry high-side crash on the first day of World Superbike testing at Phillip Island in Australia today. The Crescent Fixi Suzuki rider will fly back to the Sates tomorrow morning and see his hand surgeon immediately, before deciding if he will be able to return to Australia and race at the opening round of the World Superbike Championship on February 26.

John Hopkins:
“This feels so devastating because I was feeling really comfortable on the bike right from the start. I was running the 2011-spec bike with just small modifications to the engine and the new Yoshimura exhaust and hadn’t yet got on the full 2012 bike. But I felt that the GSX-R had already been improved in the areas it needed to be.

“The track conditions were not the best and we started the day a bit late because there were some damp patches around from the overnight rain. Having said that, it wasn’t the damp that caused the crash. I was on a used tire and probably on the last lap before pulling in. I exited turn one and might have been just a little bit too hot for the condition of the tire going into turn two, when suddenly the rear came round even before I got on the brakes. I was spat off and unfortunately came down on my right hand – the same one that is missing a bit of finger. The X-rays show that I have fractured a bone in the base of the hand near what’s left of my fourth finger.

“I will fly home tomorrow and see my hand surgeon, Doctor Chao, and we’ll decide what has to be done. I would say that my chances of racing at Phillip Island next week are very slim, but the important thing is to get the hand sorted correctly and be completely right before I race. It may be better to miss Phillip Island and then use the six weeks or so before Imola to get back to 100 percent – we’ll see. I want to say thanks to the Crescent Fixi team for all its efforts and sorry to Suzuki and all the team’s sponsors – we’ll be back and fighting for the podium soon.”

Jack Valentine:
“It is a bit more than unfortunate what happened to John today. We had a late start because of the overnight rain and a bit of sea mist this morning, but everything was going fine. John looked good on the bike. His lap times were right up there with the others and there were no problems with his finger. He was unlucky to high-side, but more unlucky to come down on his right hand. We’ll wait to see how he gets on in the USA tomorrow and although there is a possibility that he might race, I think we’d all rather that he got his injury sorted out properly and then return when he’s full and ready.

“The positives are that both riders have already gelled really well with the bike. Hopper looked good right from the start and Leon got comfortable straight away. Leon ended the day really happy with the bike and he’ll carry on the work we’ve got to do and keep improving tomorrow.”

Checa and Giugliano set for pre-season testing

February 12th, 2012 No comments

Team Althea Racing landed in Australia two days ago with just enough time on its hands to make final preparations before testing gets underway at the Phillip Island Circuit tomorrow.

Althea Racing’s 2012 World Superbike Championship lineup, reigning Superbike Champion Carlos Checa and Superstock 1000
Champion Davide Giugliano, have taken their physical and mental preparation very seriously over the winter season and, despite the fact that last season’s racing concluded more than three months ago, both feel more than ready for the upcoming opening round taking place at Phillip Island later this month.

The team will however be making the most of the final testing sessions, which will see riders taking to the same track from February 13 to 15 and 20 to 21. Under the guidance of team manager Genesio Bevilacqua, the squad will make the most of the testing sessions, using the time to work on the setup of the Ducati 1198 bikes to ensure that the bikes, 6kg heavier this season, can be competitive in the opening races. Checa is looking forward to getting back to work with his trusted team of engineers and mechanics that guided him to championship victory in 2011, while Giugliano anticipates the challenge of racing in the Superbike category for the first time, supported by a team comprising both old and new technicians.

Both Checa and Giugliano will be riding the same Ducati 1198 as last year, updated in terms of suspension and braking systems, but the update that won’t help competitiveness is the extra 6kg of weight on the bikes, added in accordance with SBK regulations. This clearly won’t facilitate matters for the Althea men but both riders are nevertheless confident and enthusiastic as the countdown to the 2012 Superbike championship continues.

Crescent Suzuki announces Fixi as co-title sponsor and unveils new livery

February 7th, 2012 No comments

Crescent Suzuki has unveiled its new 2012 GSX-R and named bespoke Foreign Exchange Solutions company Fixi as co-title sponsor for John Hopkins and Leon Camier‘s 2012 World Superbike Championship title assault.

And, as the wraps came off the newly-liveried Yoshimura-powered GSX-R1000s at the company’s Verwood headquarters in Dorset this week, the squad – under the guidance of team manager Jack Valentine – was preparing to crate-up and ship to Australia next week for testing in the lead-up to the opening round of the 2012 World Superbike Championship at Phillip Island on February 26th.

Paul Denning – Team Principal:
“The team has done a stunning job to prepare the new GSX-Rs for this level of competition; the attention to detail is faultless and I think that this will be the most-advanced GSX-R ever to grace a racetrack. Yoshimura’s hard work and proactive attitude to engine development has also enabled us to be as well prepared for Phillip Island as we can be. John and Leon are ready, the team is very motivated; and we will put everything into competing at the best level we possibly can.

“I would like to thank Richard Wynn and his co-directors at Fixi for their continued and expanded support. I would also like to thank Ronald Kabella and the team at Motorex and all our partners for their commitment to Crescent Fixi Suzuki’s assault on the World Superbike Championship. Finally, thanks to everyone at new team partner Sign Language for completing the graphic-wrapped livery so expertly and quickly.”

Richard Wynn – CEO, Fixi Plc:
“Fixi provides bespoke, state of the art foreign exchange services to the institutional and professional marketplace and we are no strangers to Crescent, having supported them in the British Superbike Championship last year. Having our brand exposed globally is extremely good timing for us – we have offices in London, Chicago and more recently Singapore and, through our innovative technology, we are able to reach out to clients and partnerships in all the leading global financial centers.

“The World Superbike Championship offers us a wonderful opportunity not only to entertain our existing clients, but also to enhance our marketing strategy. Last year provided us with one of the most exciting finales any Superbike series has witnessed and we have no doubt that the Crescent Suzuki team will do a sterling job in representing our brand in the World Superbike Championship.”

Crescent Fixi Suzuki would like to thank all its additional 2012 sponsors and racing partners: Yoshimura, Motorex, Troy Lee Designs, Beta Tools, Sign Language, Unibox, ND Plugs, GB Racing, Goodridge, Ferodo, Tsubaki, PUIG, Valter Moto, Numax, Motec, Big Rock Holidays, Clinton Enterprises, Blue Chip, Data Pacific, DFDS, Flag Innovations, Draggin Jeans, Renthal, P1 Race Batteries, 3M, ACL Hire.

Jerman re-signs with GRANDys Duo

February 6th, 2012 No comments

Former Polish Supersport Champion Marko Jerman has agreed terms with the Suzuki GRANDys Duo team to contest this season’s Polish Superbike Championship aboard the team’s GSX-R1000.

The 2010 Champion, who contested World Supersport races in 2011, will be joined at selected races by Andy Meklau on the team’s Yoshimura-equipped superbike.

Marko Jerman:
“I am glad that the Suzuki GRANDys team invited me again to ride for them in 2012. We co-operated in 2010 and it was a great experience. The team is very professional and the people in Poland are very kind and friendly so I am certain that we will have a great season together again this year.”

Jacek Grandys, Team Manager:
“I’m happy that Marko accepted our invitation to co-operate in 2012. We celebrated together the Polish Supersport Championship title in 2010 and now we would like to repeat that success in Superbike. Despite his young age, Marko is already a very experienced rider. He won the Alpe Adria Cup and last year he took part in the World Supersport Championship.”

Marko Jerman Career History:
2011: World Supersport
2010: Polish Supersport Champion, Alpe Adria Supersport Champion, 2nd place European Supersport Championship
2009: 1000 Alpe Adria Superstock Champion
2008: 1000 Superstock FIM Cup
2007: 1000 Superstock FIM Cup
2006: 1000 Superstock FIM Cup
2005: 1000 Superstock FIM Cup
2004: 6th place European Supersport Championship
2003: 2nd place Alpe Adria Supersport Championship
2002: 250cc Alpe Adria Championship
2001 125ccm Alpe Adria Championship
2000 125ccm Alpe Adria Championship

Staring to replace Mercado at Phillip Island WSBK

February 2nd, 2012 No comments

Bryan Staring

Former Australian Superbike champion and current Team Pedercini Superstock 1000 rider Bryan Staring will fill in for Leandro Mercado at the opening round of the 2012 Superbike World Championship season at Phillip Island on the last weekend in February. Mercado will miss the first round after sustaining a fracture of his right radius in a crash on his supermoto bike. The 19-year old former AMA Pro Supersport competitor sustained the fracture during a crash in a training session last week in Argentina. On Monday, Mercado underwent surgery to speed up his rehabilitation. He will be back for the second round at Imola, Italy on April 1.

Staring, who, in December, re-signed to race for Kawasaki in the Superstock 100o class, participated with the Superbike squad last year as a wild card in the first round of at Phillip Island, finishing with a fifteenth and a seventeenth place in the two races.

Leandro Mercado:
“I’m really disappointed because I won’t be able to participate at the Phillip Island races as it could be my Superbike debut. I was eager to compete in Australia hoping to obtain good results. I know the whole team worked extremely hard to prepare my bike for the first appointment of the season and now I’m forced to miss out on the race. Starting from next week, with the help of my doctors, I’ll start intensive rehabilitation to make sure that I’ll be in top condition for the second race in Imola.”

Yamaha MotoGP Test Report: Sepang

February 2nd, 2012 No comments

Ben Spies

Yamaha Factory Racing Complete Successful Test at Sepang


The Yamaha Factory Racing Team today completed the first test of the 2012 MotoGP season at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. Riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies spent the three track days working to develop the base set up of the 1000cc YZR-M1 ahead of the second Sepang test in one month’s time. The riders and engineers focused on the balance of the M1 chassis along with improving the electronics package to gain the optimum performance from the increased horsepower. New Bridgestone tires were also assessed ahead of the upcoming race season. The times from today’s final session saw Lorenzo slot in as the second-fastest rider, 0.59 seconds behind Casey Stoner. Teammate Spies wrapped up in fourth position, 0.88 seconds from first.

The riders will now return to the USA and Spain respectively while the engineers return to Japan with the valuable data to make the next steps forward in development. The team will return in four weeks’ time to test the work done.

Jorge Lorenzo, 2nd, 2.00.198, 35 Laps
“I’m really, really satisfied, I have improved on my best record here in Sepang. We tried a lot of things; some have been a lot better, especially one major improvement. We also know where we have to improve in the future. The electronics are not perfect yet, we still need to make it smoother but the bike has so much potential we are very optimistic. The Yamaha engineers have worked really hard so they have done a good job. I made my best time today at midday which is the hardest time with the conditions so it was pretty good. Let’s see what we can do when we come back.”

Ben Spies, 4th, 2.00.495, 16 Laps
“It’s been a good test, we’ve got a lot of things accomplished, we’re definitely moving in the right direction with my bike. I tried the Yamaha test rider’s bike today which had a slightly different set up to make a fair comparison with mine. I made a small mistake, losing the front but that’s testing; it can happen when you’re working out the good and bad. All in all it’s been great and I’m really happy and looking forward to coming back and seeing what’s new.”


Positive start to 2012 for Crutchlow and Dovizioso

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