Milwaukee BMW endure “Tough” German WSBK round

Despite achieving their best result of the year at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz, Shaun Muir has said that it has been a tough weekend for the whole team. Brookes finished 7th in race two, whilst Abraham only finished race two in 15th place. We caught up with Josh Brookes, Karel Abraham and Shaun Muir, after their weekend.

Josh Brookes: We can get some more strong results

“It’s great to be back racing after the summer break, and I’ve been feeling good on the bike in the mixed conditions this weekend. Practice and qualifying weren’t too bad while the track was wet/dry, but then it dried in Superpole 1 and I struggled to make up quick lap times.

In Race 1 I just focused on doing the best I could, and the lap times were pretty consistent. I was catching Ramos towards the end which gave me extra motivation to push, but I couldn’t quite pass him. Race 2 was a big improvement, and we made progress in the morning warm-up. We wanted to try a few things with the swingarm, gearing and wheelbase, and they really worked. The bike was a lot more nimble and didn’t lose grip, and as a result we had a much better race.

We had glimpses of things to come on Sunday, and it was great to be in a proper battle again. I’m looking forward to racing at Magny-Cours, and I think if we can keep the bike in the performance margin we found this weekend then we can get some more strong results for sure.”

Karel Abraham: It was disappointing overall
“I was really looking forward to racing a World Superbike again after the summer break. Saturday didn’t go to plan as we had some technical issues in FP3, and in Superpole we could only do 2 laps and in difficult changing conditions.

In Race 1 I had an issue on the sighting lap with the electronics so I boxed to see if the guys could fix it, but unfortunately when I got to the grid the problem was still there and I had to stop the bike. We expected a dry track for Race 2 but then the rain started, and we had to adjust quickly for the changing conditions. I had a few issues with the rear tyre locking and grip, but I was still able to do consistent laps. It was good to get another point for the championship, but it was still a disappointing race overall.

I haven’t been to Magny-Cours for quite a few years, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. Hopefully we can learn from the running that we did this weekend and use it to make some progress for the next round.”

Shaun Muir, Team Principal: We was on the back foot from the off

“We started this weekend on the back foot due to our lack of testing. Josh and Karel had prior commitments that couldn’t be changed, and unfortunately without testing we are behind the guys we are chasing. Josh had an electronics malfunction which caused a high-speed crash for him in Practice, but the guys worked through the night to put the bike back together. On Saturday however we were greeted with wet weather, which made Superpole difficult for both riders. It was a real gamble of which tyres to choose, and with a few more laps they would both have qualified higher.

Race 1 was tough for both riders. Josh managed to work his way into the points in 14th and did the best he could with the time he’d had with the bike, but Karel had an electrical failure on the bike which meant he could only do 2 laps.

Race 2 was made difficult by the sudden downpour before the start, but it was an improvement for them both. Josh did well to secure 7th place and score more points, and he benefited from some useful development work in morning warm-up. Karel was able to cure the electronic problems from Saturday, lapping consistently as the track changed. He was also able to score a point in 15th, so overall it was good to secure both bikes in the points.”

Thanks to the Milwaukee BMW Team for the image, via Gold and Goose Photography
Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Milwaukee and Shaun Muir confirm Aprilia Switch, Savadori partners Laverty

Two Aprilia RSV4 bikes will be on the track in the 2017 & 2018 World Superbike Championships in the Milwaukee Aprilia Racing Team colours.

The agreement specifies that technical material and related direct assistance and support will be provided by Aprilia Racing, including bike development, which classifies Milwaukee as a Supported Factory Team.

This means that Aprilia Racing – the Piaggio Group racing department and technological point of excellence in the Italian motorcycle industry – is confirming its high level presence in the premier competition for factory derivative bikes, alongside its important efforts in MotoGP.

The goal is to compete at top levels in World Superbikes in order to emphasize the competitiveness of the Aprilia RSV4, capable of taking no less than seven World Titles (three Rider and four Manufacturer) between 2010 and 2014, proving to be the most victorious bike in recent World Superbike history.

The result of a project intended to create a true racing bike that any enthusiast could have, the RSV4 astonished from its rookie season, winning a race in its maiden year and then racking up repeated championship wins in both the Manufacturer and Rider competitions (twice with Max Biaggi and once with Sylvain Guintoli). All this while the street version – obviously also characterized by an exclusive narrow 1.0 litre V4 – continued to win comparative reviews year after year with the best competitors in the world, both European and Japanese.

The team run by SMR, which boasts two British titles, will be able to count on a top shelf rider lineup: in addition to the 2015 Superstock Champion Lorenzo Savadori, who quickly drew attention this year in his rookie World Superbike season, Northern Irishman Eugene Laverty will be back in WorldSBK, 2013 runner up astride none other than an Aprilia RSV4.

Romano Albesiano – Aprilia Racing Manager:

“In Shaun Muir’s team we found a partner who shares our goals and who, after making a good name for themselves in the British championship, wants to get to the top of a world category.

Our agreement includes, in addition to providing bikes and materials, support from Aprilia Racing personnel to manage and develop the RSV4, a jewel of technology that will once again be able to show its worth, within a Factory Support type relationship.

The birth of the Milwaukee Aprilia Racing Team also marks Eugene Laverty’s return to WorldSBK, a rider who we know well and whose professional and personal qualities have our utmost respect. He will have Lorenzo Savadori working alongside him, a young rider in whom Aprilia has invested who has been part of our sports project for two seasons in which he won the Superstock 1000 title first and then drew attention in WorldSBK with an extremely positive rookie year.”

Shaun Muir – SMR Team Principal:
“For SMR, collaboration with Aprilia Racing for 2017 and 2018 means a real chance to fight for the win. Aprilia has a strong and victorious history in World Superbike and we are determined to continue on the same path. Having Eugene and Lorenzo on board makes this a dream team.

Without a doubt, Eugene is coming back to WorldSBK for one reason only – to win. Lorenzo, on the other hand, is the fastest rookie and a sure protagonist. I wish to thank Milwaukee, Gulf and all of the partners who are supporting our project.”

Eugene Laverty: We can be competitve straight away
“I’m excited to return to Superbike with Aprilia and the RSV4, a bike with which I took ten wins and second place overall in the championship. I hope to be able to pick up where I left off with those results, thanks to the support of Aprilia and a fantastic team like SMR. Everything is in place for us to be competitive straight away.”

Lorenzo Savadori: I am highly motivated
“I am very happy to continue my adventure in World Superbikes with Aprilia. This is another chance to achieve great results, with one more year of experience on the RSV4 for me. In a demanding rookie season I was already able to express a good performance level, learning a lot, both about race management and working in the garage, but I do not want to stop here. We will definitely be highly motivated at the start, with an ambitious project and a great desire to do well.”

Jason Chiswell – Vice President of Marketing Milwaukee Tools: This could be a new winning chapter
“At Milwaukee Power tools our vision is always to win and that same mentality is shared with the SMR team. We see the next year with Aprilia as being an exciting and a new winning chapter in our World Superbike program.”

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Credit to Gold & Goose for the images via Milwaukee BMW

Hayden back after ‘Fun’ Break, VDM returns from ‘Crazy Ibiza’!

The tenth round of the 2016 FIM Superbike World Championship, scheduled for September 16-18 at the Lausitzring, will mark the return to action for the Honda WorldSBK duo of Nicky Hayden and Michael van der Mark, who are eagerly awaiting to resume their WorldSBK season on a track where they recently had a two-day private test. But how did their summer go? What are they expecting from the last four rounds? Here is what they had to say about it.

Despite to the big WorldSBK break, it has been a pretty busy summer for you. How much are you looking forward to resume the season now?

NH “It has certainly been a big break. This is something I wasn’t used to. In the end it went faster than on paper, with the Suzuka test, the 8 Hour race and the Lausitrzing test. Now I’m looking forward to getting back into it because there are still eight individual races to go and we will be racing every two weekends.”

MVDM“To be honest, we still had a long summer break after Suzuka. Luckily enough we were able to do a two-day test at Lausitzing, which for us has been really important. Now, of course, I cannot wait get back on track.”

When not on track, where did you mostly spent the break? Were you able to relax?

NH “For me it was mostly about being at home with no real exotic trips. I tried to stick to the program and follow along with training. I spent some time in my own bed and with friends and family, which is always nice.”

MVDM “In the sun! My girlfriend and I have been a couple of days to Spain before the private test at the Lausitzing and, immediately after that, we went to Ibiza and stayed there for 11 days.”

Did you train hard during the break?

NH “Fortunately, at home in Kentucky we have a good group of guys who live around here, mostly racers, who I can get out and train with, have fun with while trying to push each other.”

MVDM “I slowed down a little bit during the break. Not that I did nothing, just not on an everyday basis. Since I came home I resumed my usual daily training programme.”

What’s the funniest, weirdest or unusual thing that happened to you during the break?

NH “Some of you might not know, but there was a chance I could get back in the saddle on a MotoGP at Silverstone. Jack Miller’s team (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) wasn’t sure he was able to ride, so they asked me to come along. It wasn’t decided until Thursday, after he had his last scans. It would have been like jumping straight into the fire pit after not having ridden the bike for the whole year, but I thought ‘why not’. I would have been locked in front of the TV anyway, so I might as well have done the real thing. Honda Motor Europe was totally behind it and of course the Ten Kate guys gave me their blessing, but luckily for Jack it turned out he was okay: he’s a buddy of mine and I’m a big supporter of his, so I was happy for him.”

MVDM “Without a doubt, the funniest thing was to see all the crazy people in Ibiza!”

How does it feel to enter the upcoming round with already some work done, set-up and gearing and good knowledge of the track?

NH “I look forward to the next race! We got to ride at Lausitzring a few weeks ago not only to test a couple of items, but also to reacquaint myself with the WorldSBK-spec Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP after racing at Suzuka. It was good also to reunite with the team, learn the track and get ready for the last part of the season.”

MVDM “It was really important for us, because given the new weekend schedule there is less time available for setting up the bike. Our Fireblade is not well set up for the Lausitrzing track and the weather during the test was good, so we could put in a lot of laps and gather a considerable amount of data.”

Of the four rounds ahead, which is the one that you’re looking forward to the most?

NH “I’m looking forward to them all! Haven’t been to Magny-Cours yet, but I know Jerez and Qatar like the back of my hand. After the first nine rounds things have sort of got to the point where everything flows the right way with the team, the championship and the bike; there are still, though, some things I want to learn and try in order to be at my very best.”

MVDM “I’m looking forward to Qatar. It’s always a special round or me. It’s the season finale and we race at night under floodlights, something we don’t get to experience anywhere else.”

Does this last leg feel like a sort of mini season on its own?

NH “I don’t know about that, really. In some ways I was thinking, had it been like Nascar or BSB – where there is a sort of playoff at the end of the season – with the situation we’re in now things would have been quite exciting for us! It wouldn’t have been any easier but just something exciting. But I’m looking forward to it nevertheless!”

MVDM “Well this year has gone really quick, but I think these last four races are crucial to achieve fourth place in the championship standings. If we think about it this way then yes, this is going to be a sort of mini season with 4th place as the final goal.”

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Aruba.IT Ducati Back to Action after ‘Too Long’ Summer break

As the summer break comes to an end, the WorldSBK championship is ready to resume action at EuroSpeedway Lausitz (Germany), home of the tenth round of the season. The German track is the only novelty in the 2016 calendar and will host the production-based series for the first time since 2007, when Troy Bayliss took a win for Ducati in Race Two.

Both Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano had a chance to get acquainted with the 4.255 kilometer track at the end of July with a two-day test, concluded with positive feedback. The Welshman and the Italian, who are currently third and fourth in the championship respectively, are keen to restart on the same positive course that saw both of them step on the podium and fight for the victory until the checkered flag in Race Two at Laguna Seca. Action will resume at 10:15 (CET) on Friday for the first free-practice session.

Davies: I’m confident and motivated

“We had a long summer break, but I’ve always stayed active and I feel more than ready to get back to racing. Physically I feel good, and I think we’ve made a clear step forward in the last couple of tests in Lausitz and Misano. In both, I got the feeling I was looking for and left the track happy, but racing is always different. The Lausitz track is quite challenging and bumpy, so it will be crucial to work well on the setup. It’s a new track for everyone, so it’s impossible to make predictions, but I’m confident and motivated.”

Giugliano: The track is too bumpy

“We’ve been inactive for almost too long and, despite having trained on a bike almost everyday between motocross and motard, I can’t wait to get back on my Panigale R. We head to Germany with high goals, and first of all we want to further stretch the positive streak that saw us claim a podium throughout the last four rounds. The Lausitz track is too bumpy and it is not among my favorites in terms of layout, but we’re ready to give our best after collecting some important data during the tests. Misano has some characteristics in common with Lausitz and, during our last test there in August, we found a good balance and left with positive feedback.”

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Pata Yamaha prepare for demanding EuroSpeedway Lausitz

Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team will be back to full strength and its original line-up as the 2016 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship restarts at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz in Germany later this week. Sylvain Guintoli returns to action alongside Alex Lowes at the 4,265m circuit, after the championship took a two-month-long break from racing over the summer.

While WorldSBK has not witnessed wheels turned in anger since Laguna Seca, Lowes has been far from resting. Competing, and winning the Suzuka 8Hours with the Yamaha Factory Racing Team in late-July, he then went on to re-join his victorious endurance teammate Pol Espargaro in the Monster Energy Tech3 Team, substituting for injured countryman Bradley Smith in two consecutive MotoGP races at Silverstone and Misano. Lausitzring will herald his third race in as many weeks but the British rider, who turns 26 on Wednesday, remains as determined as ever to get back to the day job, utilising the experience and skills honed aboard the multiple machines to deliver on the WorldSBK-spec YZF-R1.

Germany will provide Guintoli with his first race weekend since the qualifying accident at Imola forced him out of competition. Having spent the past four months concentrating on his rehabilitation and fitness, the Frenchman has been back on track aboard his road and race YZF-R1’s as he prepares for his return. His most recent outings have seen the 34-year-old reacquaint himself with the Pata Yamaha team at two private tests, allowing the opportunity to both learn the Lausitz layout and test his fitness against his familiar Magny-Cours circuit. Guintoli is confident that he can return to the sharp end for the final four events in the 2016 calendar, starting with the Brandenburg track this weekend.

The Lausitzring EuroSpeedway is located in eastern Germany, close to the Czech and Polish borders, lying approximately 65kms north of Dresden and 135kms south of Berlin. The anticlockwise layout houses 13 corners, 7 left and 6 right-handers and while the overall landscape is flat, the twisty circuit provides a unique experience for the riders. WorldSBK last visited the circuit in 2007, with Noriyuka Haga taking a race win, a further podium and setting the lap record of 1’38.622 on his Yamaha YZF-R1. Lights out for 2016’s two 21-lap races is scheduled for 13:00 local time on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th September.

Lowes: We had a good test in Germany last month

“Lausitz is a new track for me and most people in WorldSBK but I’m looking forward to this weekend and getting back on the YZF-R1. I think it’s going to be a difficult race for everyone, as it’s a technical track with some tricky sections but we had a good test there last month. My goal for the final four rounds is to up our game a bit and finish the season well so I’m looking forward to getting started.”

Guintoli: It is not the most exciting track

“Obviously I have been out of competition for a few months now so I’m really looking forward to getting back into the mix and getting stuck in. You can’t replace racing – there is nothing that gets anywhere near the feeling it gives you to compete and to race so I am very much looking forward to this weekend. Hopefully I can rebuild my speed quickly, find the feeling with the YZF-R1 and enjoy the end of the season. I think everyone agrees that Lausitz is not the most exciting track and is very bumpy but we have to do the best we can there to get a strong result.”

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

MotoGP’s Loss is World Superbike’s Gain

Eugene Laverty is now confirmed to line up on the WSBK grid in 2017 with the Shaun Muir Factory backed Aprilia team, although his teammate has not yet been confirmed. I actually already knew that Eugene was off to WSBK after Assen, when two very reliable sources based in Italy told me that a deal had already been done, but we didn’t know who with: Ducati or Aprilia. When Marco was confirmed at Ducati, it became clear Eugene would be on the Aprilia. And do you know what? I CAN’T WAIT FOR HIM TO RETURN!

His performances in MotoGP have been nothing short of admirable this season, on a Ducati that is somewhat ancient compared to everything else. A stunning 4th place in Argentina and a 6th at Brno are the Irishman’s season highlights thus far. He hasn’t only improved a little bit this year either, he’s made a massive step change from back of the field runner, to top 10 challenger over the winter break. Laverty hasn’t crashed too much, but there is only so much you can do when nobody wants to sign you. Therefore, I’m happy to see Norge make the dramatic switch to WSBK.

Eugene is not in MotoGP to make numbers up; however, he isn’t in MotoGP to win races as he isn’t on a factory bike. He has the talent to win races, and I believe he could do it on the Yamaha, Ducati or Honda, as his talent really does go that far. But if that isn’t recognised then why should Eugene stick around? He doesn’t deserve to be held back just because he isn’t given the equipment needed to win each weekend.

In WSBK, the 30-year-old already knows the majority of the circuits, with the exception of Buriram and EuroSpeedway Lausitz (if they keep them on the calendar), so he will not need to learn any circuits. The Aprilia is a very fast bike and with full factory support, it could be a threat to the Kawasakis and it is that what makes Eugene a worthy WSBK rider; because finally he will be able to showcase to us all that he has endless talent on the right bike.

It’s not just the fact that Eugene is going to WSBK, it’s the fact that finally, we have a big name going over there to inject some much needed support for the series which once saw over 120,000 people pour through the gates. I’m not suggesting that Eugene will suddenly takes us back to the glory days of the 1990s and early naughties, but he will bring a battle, which will then go on to create a great spectacle, giving World Superbikes a new life.

At the end of the day, MotoGP wouldn’t do the Irishman any good by staying on a bike that is two years old. If he stayed for two seasons, then he would be 32 and without a ride come the end of his two year contract, which isn’t where he deserves or needs to be. It takes a lot of bravery to say ‘I’m not staying in MotoGP, and OK, I might not return but I want to win again’, and if WSBK is his only option then so be it. He will be a challenger for the title; runner up in 2013, race winner a year later on a very uncompetitive Suzuki, he has what it takes to make the championship exciting!

Also, Laverty’s addition to the championship adds to the raft of talent that WSBK organisers are currently lapping up. We have what looks like a double champion to be in Jonny Rea, plus a former champion in Tom Sykes; we have 2011 World Supersport champion Chaz Davies, and former MotoGP race winner and 250cc champion Marco Melandri; 2011 Moto2 champion Stefan Bradl also joins 2006 MotoGP champion and 2002 AMA Superbike champion Nicky Hayden. Pata Yamaha will have the 2013 BSB champion Alex Lowes and 2014 Supersport champion Michael Van Der Mark. Not to mention Leon Camier and his BSB title in 2009 if he stays with the MV Agusta. On top of that, if they all stay in WSBK, we have Sylvain Guintoli, the 2014 champion, Markus Reiterberger, the double IDM champion, Josh Brookes, the 2015 BSB champion and Davide Giugliano, the 2010 European Superstock 1000 title winner. When you add all of that together, plus more that I haven’t mentioned, you are looking at more than 20 titles on the grid! So, as they say, ‘one man’s junk is another man’s treasure’. Just in this case, MotoGP’s loss is World Superbikes’ gain!

For more feature articles, breaking news, build ups and race reviews as well as live text commentary on WSBK, BSB and MotoGP, follow us on @PitCrew_Online. You can also follow me @MotoGPKiko for all things two-wheel related.