Kawasaki pair do Battle in France

Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes (KRT) finished second and third respectively in the second 21-lap FIM Superbike World Championship race at Magny Cours, with Rea extending his championship lead over his team-mate to 48 points.

Rea has scored nine race wins on the latest Ninja ZX-10R so far this season and Sykes five, but despite being joined in a battle out front for much of the 21 lap contest – held in fully dry conditions – the late pace of Saturday race winner Chaz Davies also gave him a win on Sunday.

With both official Kawasaki Racing Team riders keen to add to their race victory tallies, especially after Sykes had been third and Rea fourth in Saturday’s opener, the front-running action was close and competitive between the riders who still occupy first and second places in the championship.

The conditions of race two could not have been more different from the wet and drying track encountered on Saturday. The dry surface allowed Sykes to post a new lap record of 1m 37.864 seconds, on lap three, as he rode away out front to try and gap the field.

The undulations and heavy braking areas of the 4.411km Magny Cours circuit provided many passing opportunities for Rea after he had caught up with Sykes, but Tom proved determined to hold onto his lead. He only surrendered it on lap 16 – temporarily to Rea and then finally to Davies. Rea re-passed Sykes with four laps to go and set about trying to reel in Davies. Rea had lost too much ground by that stage but still scored his first podium of the weekend in second place.

The top three riders were covered by just over 2.5 seconds at the end, with Sykes half a second from Rea across the line. After race two in France Rea has now scored 84 podium places during his career and Sykes 81. In the current championship standings, Rea has 426 points, Sykes 378 and Davies 345.

The next races in the championship will take place on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th October, at Jerez in Spain. The last round will be held at the Losail Circuit in Qatar, between 28th and 30th October.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “I tried to plan my pass on Tom because he is strong right now and he is hard to pass at the best of times. When I overtook under braking, unfortunately it let Chaz come past us. Then I had to try to pass Tom again but already the gap to Chaz was too much. Maybe I spent too much time behind Tom but he is riding so well. I am happy with my race because, today, second place was the best I could do and I am happy with the way I rode. We need to improve the bike set-up in some areas but all things considered I am happy with the result. It is a 48-point gap now and it is nice to extend the championship lead, if by one point after Lausitzring last time and by another single point here! Championships can be won by a point so every one of them is important. If we can just have a clean end to the season hopefully we can do the job.”

Tom Sykes, stated: “When I started the race the bike felt really good and it was quite easy for me to manage 1m 37 second lap times. Unfortunately, for the first time all weekend, our pace dropped and I am confused about this. I then struggled to carry corner speed so that is something for us to look at. On Friday we were very fast and consistent but we had some issues in the second part of the race today. We were more consistent over the whole weekend this time, however, and we are making steps forward. Unfortunately it is quite late in the season now but at least we are able to fight at the front and be somewhere close for the race win.”

Behind the official KRT riders, Roman Ramos (Team GOELEVEN Kawasaki) was 13th today and stand-in rider Matthieu Lagrive (Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) 15th. Gianluca Vizziello (Grillini Racing Team Kawasaki) went 17th but Saeed Al Sulaiti (Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) no-scored after retiring.

Kiko Giles

Honda pair suffer in Germany after Promising First Day

Round 10 of the 2016 FIM Superbike World Championship has drawn to a close for the Honda WorldSBK Team, with Michael van der Mark and Nicky Hayden finishing race two at the Lausitzring in eighth and tenth places, respectively. After being delayed a couple of times due to adverse weather conditions, the race got underway at 13:47 with a reduced race distance of 16 laps and was contested on a very slippery surface.

Michael van der Mark maintained his position at the start and, as the race reached its halfway point, he was sixth but under pressure from former teammate Sylvain Guintoli, who got past him two laps later. With three laps to go, the young Dutchman crashed out of seventh place at turn nine; despite substantial damage on his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP machine, he bravely re-joined the race to claim an eighth place at the line.

Nicky Hayden had a very difficult start from the front row of the grid and by lap three he had dropped down to 18th place. Although he was unable to find a competitive rhythm, Hayden made his way back to 11th place, before he was forced to run straight on at turn six on lap 11, when Alex Lowes crashed in front of him. After returning to the track in 12th position, the experienced American rode his way to a tenth place finish.

The next round of the FIM Superbike World Championship will take place at Magny-Cours in France in a fortnight’s time.

Van Der Mark: I really wanted to finish

We had a nice dry warm up, in which we tried a couple of changes which gave us a bit more grip and I definitely felt better on the bike compared to yesterday. When it was time to race, race direction decided it was better to wait given the amount of rain that was falling. It was the right decision as there was basically no visibility at all. I got a good start to the race but the track was very slippery and I couldn’t lean as much as I wanted. After a couple of laps, I saw Giugliano crashing out of the race and I immediately thought about the championship situation, because the priority was to stay upright. Then, with three laps to go I simply locked the front and crashed. I really wanted to finish the race so I picked up the bike and rode two laps with barely any front brake. These are very important points for me, so all in all I’m not too disappointed.

Hayden: I will try to make up for it at Magny Cours

Warm up went very well, but obviously the conditions changed for the race and it ended up not being my best day. I didn’t have a good race at all and I apologise to the team. Yesterday I did a silly mistake very early during FP3 in the wet so I had no data from the session for these type of conditions. This really put us on the back foot, especially in the early laps. Eventually I started to feel better but on the main straight, when I caught Lowes, he ended up crashing in front of me and by instinct I released the brakes for a split second and ended up running off. Given how the track is, when I returned to the track I had lost almost 15 seconds and a couple of places. Still my performance in the wet was not good and I will try to make up for it in Magny-Cours.

A win and crash for both Kawasaki riders in Germany

After experiencing very different fortunes on the first race day at the Lausitzring Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes once again posted a contrasting set of results on Sunday. Rea convincingly won a wet 16-lap race this time around but Sykes finished 12th, after falling and then restarting from the back of the field.

As the KRT duo lined up for the start of race two, scheduled for 13.00 CET, the heavens opened and the start was delayed to allow for a change to a wet race set-up. Another delay came after standing water and visibility issues came to light on the sighting lap. The eventual start of the race, at 13.47, was for a 16-lap contest and not the planned 21.

Both official Kawasaki riders made good starts in the rain but before the first lap was finished Sykes had slid off under braking, one of many fallers in the tricky conditions.

Rea took his chance to lead with both hands and pushed on at a fast pace, one that none of his peers could match in the wet conditions. He was to win by almost ten seconds, even slowing up on the final straight to celebrate his ninth win of the year.

Sykes set about moving back into the points scoring positions with great determination and pushed to the very last to make sure he got every available point after his early stroke of bad luck.

In the championship Jonathan leads with 393 points from Tom’s 346, making for a points differential of 47. Kawasaki are now 99 points in the lead in the Manufacturers’ Championship.

The next round takes place at Magny Cours in France, with race days on 1st and 2nd October.

Jonathan Rea: I got my head down from the start

“It feels like probably the most important win of my career so far. I felt that after yesterday and Laguna our backs were against the wall. In morning warm-up I began to feel good with the bike again after we had made some positive set-up changes. When we saw the rain coming on the grid we had to completely change to a wet set-up. It was one of those positions that with me leading the championship I had a lot to lose – but a lot to gain as well. I took my chance and put my head down from the start. I really felt good with the bike so I have to thank all my crew because last night my bike was not in a great way. They worked really late, and meticulously, to make sure the bike was perfect. To reward them with this result means I am really happy. So this is for my mechanics that have worked so hard and also for Pere and Paolo, who gave me such a good wet bike set-up.”

Tom Sykes: At least the points gap has come down

“I think it was probably a rider issue for my crash today, as the bike set-up was not working well and I think I overstepped the mark in the first race. We need to find a small set-up improvement in the dry but much more in the wet. That is not so good in one respect but I also know I can win races in the wet. It is just finding the correct balance and feedback for the rider and at this moment I do not have it in those conditions. I am sure we can find it. In #racing everything is possible and everything turns on its head so fast. Yesterday I was 26 points from the lead and today 47. The positive is that over the last three races the points gap is now at 47 but three races ago it was at 71. We still have three rounds remaining.”

Other Kawasaki riders found both good and bad luck in the wet conditions that arrived for race two. Roman Ramos (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) was ninth, which puts him 14th in the championship after ten rounds. Anthony West (Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) was looking good for a very strong finish until he fell from fifth place, on lap seven. West is 17th in the series. Gianluca Vizziello (Grillini Racing Team) was pipped on the line by Sykes and finished 13th. Neither Dominic Schmitter (Grillini Racing Kawasaki) nor Saeed Al Sulaiti (Pedercini Racing Team) finished the second race.

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!

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