Chaos in Australia

Verstappen wins a chaotic Australian Grand Prix under very confusing circumstances. Hamilton finished P2 in a mixed day for the team while Alonso finished in P3 for the third time this season despite nearly being taken out of the race by Sainz in a dramatic restart towards the end of the race.

The race start. Image courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool

Lights out and Verstappen came straight across to cover off the advances of Russell, but his attempt was not successful. The reigning world champion did appear to exercise some caution with a slower exit from turn two. He seemed to be struggling.

Behind them, Leclerc had made a good start but Stroll was coming up close behind him. Leclerc turned into turn three but Stroll had taken the apex of the corner and tapped his rear right-hand side. Leclerc went for a spin and ended up in the gravel, ending his race prematurely. 

At the same time, Verstappen leaves enough gap for Hamilton to be alongside him into turn three. It was a brave move from the seven-time world champion but he makes it through the inside of Verstappen. There were a few complaints on the radio but everything was deemed a lap one racing incident.

The safety car was deployed with a Mercedes one-two. On the restart, Russell made sure he pulled a gap to his teammate and the now-frustrated Verstappen. Everyone got a clean lap with Hamilton and Verstappen closing gradually on Russell. The driver from Kingslynn was on the radio asking if he is to defend against his teammate or preserve his tyres but he was answered when they called him into the pits for a new set of hard tyres. Russell came out in P7 on lap 6, but just one lap later it would prove to be the wrong decision. 

Albon lit up the rear tyres into turns six and seven and spun straight into the barrier, projecting gravel all over the track. Albon was out and initially, the safety car was deployed. But the FIA needed time to get rid of the gravel on the track and brought out the red flag. 

This gave everyone a free choice of tyres before the restart but was unfortunate timing for Russell. They rolled out on the formation lap before lining up on the grid for the restart. Russell was down in P7 with work to do while Hamilton was in P1 with Verstappen alongside. 

Most drivers were on hard tyres so at the restart it was obvious they couldn’t get the immediate grip they wanted. Verstappen struggled again with the standing start but Alonso backed out of a move on the outside of turn one due to the lack of temperature in his tyres. 

Hamilton in front before Verstappen powered through. Image courtesy of Mercedes F1 Media

The lead for Hamilton wouldn’t last long though. On lap 12 Verstappen had DRS and a superior pace around the outside of Hamilton to take the lead of the race. Meanwhile, behind them, the other Mercedes made his way up into P4, past Gasly.

Sainz and Perez were also making their way through the pack. Sainz made turn three his new favourite overtaking spot but getting past Norris and then Tsunoda in consecutive laps. Perez used his extra pace to make it up to P13 before the next major incident.

Without warning, on lap 19, flames began to spit out the back of Russell’s car. Mercedes later suggested it was a power unit failure. However, Russell was able to safely stop at the end of the pitlane and get out of the car. This brought out a Virtual Safety Car and closed the pitlane. Therefore there were no changes of tyres for anyone and the race got back underway once the flames had been put out.

Perez continued his good form by making it into the points with a fantastic double move on Piastri and Tsunoda on lap 23. Piastri and Tsunoda had been battling for the majority of the race at this point, so when Piastri finally made the move on the Alpha Tauri on lap 29, the home crowd roared.

By lap 32 the race had settled into business as usual. Verstappen was setting consistent fastest laps, but Perez was able to make the most of DRS zones and get his name on the fastest lap board. Hamilton and Alonso then entered the fastest lap chat as they closed the gap to Verstappen.

At this point, the teams were considering a second stop due to potentially being on the hard tyres for 49 laps by the end of the race. The battle was mostly between Aston Martin and Mercedes trying to work out who would jump first. 

However, their questions were answered when, in a strange incident, Magnussen lost his rear right tyre. It appeared that on the exit of turn two, he just went too wide and hit the wall, losing his tyre and bringing out another safety car, and eventually the red flag two laps later. 

The third standing start of the day. Image courtesy of Red Bull content pool

It was all set up then for a two-lap sprint to the finish with everyone changing to soft tyres. It would be another standing start as stipulated in the rules. As the cars lined up on the grid it looked as though Verstappen was very far forward in his box. He was however his wheels were still on the line and therefore in the box.

Absolute chaos ensued at the restart. Verstappen got away well with Hamilton hanging on the P2. Behind the Sainz had made a good start but he hit the rear of Alonso in front causing the Aston to spin on the exit of turn two.

Behind them, Gasly locked up into turn one and ended up across the grass before getting back on the track. As he arrived on the track he didn’t see the car of his teammate on the outside of turn two. Gasly veered back to the racing line but collided with Ocon pushing both into the wall and out of the race. 

Perez also took a trip across the gravel but made it out safely, while at the back Sargent locked up into the back of De Vries. Both got stuck in the gravel and were out of the race. Unsurprisingly the red flag was deployed again but this led to some confusion about restarting for a fourth time.

With everyone back in the pitlane the clock was on lap 58 of 58, meaning only one racing lap left. Any laps behind the safety car count as racing laps so it appeared the race would finish behind the safety car, but the question was what order would the cars be in. 

At the British Grand Prix in 2022, the red flag came out before the cars had made it through sector one so they went back to the last known order of the cars, the grid. This was a similar situation. The red flag came out before Verstappen made it to turn five, meaning they didn’t have any timings for drivers after the restart and would have to go back to the order from the grid on lap 57. 

Once the crashed cars had been taken out of this grid order, it meant that Alonso was back up in P3 with Sainz in P4, Piastri in the points and Hulkenberg down in P8. This frustrated Haas as Hulkenberg was up in P4 after the carnage at the start. To rub salt in the wound for them, Sainz was given a five-second time penalty for causing a collision with Alonso. 

After a re-shuffle of the cars in the pitlane, they headed out on the final lap. At the end, the safety car peeled off and Verstappen took the chequered flag with Hamilton in P2 and Alonso in P3. Sainz attempted to create a small gap but with the cars bunched up he dropped to the back of the pack and out of the points. 

Only 12 cars finished the race and McLaren managed to capitalise on this with both cars getting points. Piastri was extremely happy to get his first points in F1 in his first home race and he gave plenty for the home fans to cheer about after a long race day.

We now wait until the end of April for the next race, but I imagine this won’t be the last we hear of the restart procedure for that time.

Ian Hutchinson: I Had Doubts Over My Comeback

There aren’t many people that I absolutely idolise in bike racing. Valentino Rossi, Carl Fogarty, John McGuinness and maybe Troy Bayliss but above all of them, Ian Hutchinson. The ‘Bingley Bullet’ nearly lost his leg numerous times and undertook every risk possible to make-sure he would be able to ride again. When I got the chance to interview this superhuman, I was delighted. So here it is, an exclusive with the 14-time TT winner himself.

Can we expect an Ian Hutchinson championship win this year?

Yeah, I’m here to try and win races and we are doing a good job. We did a good job last year; last year I wasn’t really in the championship to try and win it so it was a surprise to be where I was. We need to put a bit more effort into being in the championship and to be in a position to win it this year. Unfortunately, we will have to miss a race for the TT but it’s a longer championship this year so hopefully I will gain back the points that I lose.

Do you like the new Superstock 1000 race format?

I think it could’ve been done a bit differently. We wanted more track time across the weekend and it’s something new, if back-to-back races brings in more interest in the Superstock class for the public then it’s a good thing. Either way we are getting more track time so it’s all good.

We’ve seen a lot of riders struggle on the BMW, but you seem to ride it effortlessly – how is that?

Well, I haven’t been on the bike in the Superbike class so that’s completely different but in the Superstock class it’s a fantastic bike and that has been proven by many riders. There’s definitely more challenge this year from Kawasaki and Suzuki, so we are having to work harder trying to improve the bike. On the roads it has a little bit of edge with regards to speed. Every now and then a bike seems to come along and work better in road racing and the BMW is in that position at the moment. I don’t really know what that one thing is because it doesn’t feel anything special compared to other bikes. The BMW has an easier throttle connection and control of power is definitely easier. All bikes are a bit of a handful around the TT with 200BHP so ‘easy’ might not be the word to use there but the power distribution is pretty good.

How do you adapt from Roads to Short Circuits?

My riding style in short circuits is smooth so I don’t make mistakes, so when I go to the roads then I can ride exactly the same as I do on the short circuits. Some short circuit riders are far more committed on short circuits so they might have to change a style whereas I’ve always been able to transfer and do both.

How do you physically prepare for Roads and Short Circuits?

The balance for me is that wherever and whenever you fall off you can get hurt and I don’t want to get hurt. I barely do anything special; I ride trials bike and I do a bit of motocross. I do stuff for fun really, not so much actual training.

How did you get engaged in bike racing?

Just through passing my test at 17. I did some trials riding when I was 15 and 16 and then got into road bikes, and then into racing.

After your crash at Silverstone 2010, did you ever consider your career over?

Yes, definitely. I worked hard to comeback and I had the doubts it would not happen. After 30 operations on your leg and the potential of losing your leg numerous times, then you have to think that it might be over. I just enjoyed winning so much before it and wanted that feeling back. Thats all I race for is that feeling of winning and I don’t like any other positions so that drove me on to be back where I wanted to be.

How are the Tyco team to work in?

They’re great to work with. I dont tend to want for many things but if I do want something they get in straight away. Everything seems to work very smoothly. They’ve been doing the roads and the British championship for a long time now, so they know what needs doing. The team doesn’t get flustered and it is a tiring job doing all the rounds in BSB and the roads. Obviously they do still get tired but they don’t seem to get down about it and if you’re getting the results then that helps as well.

Do you like a rivalry with someone in the class?

It’s all about racing and this year I’ve got Richard Cooper and Danny Buchan in the championship, both ex Superbike winners and podium finishers and both being Superstock champions. It makes it better for me to be beating people of that calibre; it isn’t like I’m just winning a support race, you’re beating people who were podium finishers in BSB last season.

Can we expect more fireworks between you and Michael Dunlop at the TT this year?

The rivalry is between first and second in any race wherever you go. I’m out there to win races and we need to concentrate on what we need to do and what we need to win.

When do you see yourself retiring? We see riders such as Michael Rutter who are in their 40s, will you get to that age?

I never think about it. It could have all come to an end seven years ago when my leg got squashed. I will just take each year as it comes; if I’m competitive and I’m having fun then I will carry on but if I was finishing 15th then I wouldn’t be doing this championship. So I just take each as it comes and if I’m enjoying it, I’ll continue.

Thank you to Gareth Davies of Full Factory Media and Photography for the image. For prints and canvasses, you can contact him here.

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Exclusive: Jason O’Halloran Q&A

Sum up your year so far.

It’s been a lot of hard work. We have all had our heads down and have been trying to figure out the new bike ever since we got it. The previous model had been worked on by the whole team – not just me – making it very easy to figure out. When you get a new bike, it isn’t just new for me, it is new for the team. You have to figure out how things work. The flyby wire was knew for myself and also for the team. We didn’t get a great deal of testing prior to the season starting. We had 4 days in Spain, the Donington Park test was wet and then, we had the first race.

We knew immediately what it was we needed to work on. The throttle feeling and throttle connection were main things. How the bike delivered its power: it has more power than last year, and we just needed to control that. As you’ve seen, every round we are getting closer.

Is the bike as good as you expected it to be?

As a road bike, I’ve done six days on it. From the previous model road bike to the new model road bike, it is such a step forward and it is a beautiful bike to ride. In BSB, we are restricted to some of the stuff that we can use, due to the rules. In a way, we lose some of the good stuff that Honda have done, and then we need to work in other areas. As a road bike – it is fantastic. As a BSB bike – we are restricted – so we are still finding a feeling with it.

Have you experienced any gearbox issues?

I haven’t had any gearbox issues on the new Honda all year. I’ve got no idea what happened with Guy Martin at the TT but from my personal experience, from my first ride on it up to now, I haven’t had any problems with it at all.

If you had the dry test, do you think you could have been there from the start?

We were, and still are, on the back foot. I don’t think any of us anticipated just how much work that needed to go into the bike to get it feeling how we wanted it to feel. I think we thought ‘OK, some parts are the same, others are different, so we will just have 4/5 days working on the bike and we will find a setting fairly quickly’. That clearly didn’t happen. I think that if the bike came earlier or if we had another five days testing, we would be five days further forward. We have made massive steps in a very short space of time.

Are you or your team co-operating with Red Bull Ten Kate Honda in WSBK?

I don’t have a massive amount of communication with them, the guys at Honda Racing UK might and the team itself might but I don’t have any personal communication with them guys. We use similar components, such as brakes, suspension, swinging arms and the chassis is pretty much the same. One difference is that they use Cosworth engines and we use our own engine people. I don’t know exactly what their issues are compared to what we have but as you’ve seen, we have Shane Byrne – a world class rider – on a very, very fast Ducati and we are able to be competitive with that. What we are doing here must be working.

Following the death of Nicky Hayden, have you been contacted regarding a ride?

I haven’t had any communication with Honda yet. Unfortunately, pretty much every WSBK race clashes with BSB. I don’t think it will happen. It may happen if we have a good year but at the minute it isn’t in my plans.

Do you have ANY plans beyond 2017?

I don’t have any plans at the moment. It’s very easy to start talking about next season when you start winning races straight away but as you’ve seen, it’s taken us a little bit of time to get going. I’m enjoying BSB. As much as I want to go to World Superbike, the route there seems more difficult than it has ever been, especially to try and find a competitive seat there. You’ve got guys from MotoGP coming back to WSBK making it more difficult for new riders to get there. Like I’ve said, I’m happy here in Britain. I think over the last couple of years, we’ve improved quite a lot. I think I’m getting close to being able to challenge for the championship. I really want to be BSB championship.

Talk about your comeback from injury.

I broke my femur and my hand pretty badly in 2915 at Thruxton. It was a very long road to recovery. I came back last year and got on the pace pretty much straight away – I qualified 2nd at Silverstone. The races obviously took a little bit longer, because I wasn’t as bike fit as I thought or hoped. I had a great year last year and I feel as good as I’ve ever felt with the bike. I feel at home with the bike.

Where can the Australian Superbike championship improve, so it produces more successful riders like in previous years?

It’s a real shame for Australian Superbike riders because the Australian Superbike championship, when I came through, was at a very high level. Some of the guys who are there now are winning and are actually of a very high level. They just don’t get the recognition that they deserve, for a number of reasons. The championship is quite small being one, and Australia’s physical location being another, as it is so far from Europe.

I don’t really know what they can do to improve it – I know the organisers are trying really hard to improve it but in he last few years, there has been two separate championships which has really, really hurt them (FX Championship and ASBK). Now all the main teams are in ASBK, I think it will improve. The teams that are in Australia, such as the Factory Honda and Factory Yamaha teams, are as good as what we have in the UK. The personnel, the equipment and the workshops are all as good as top BSB teams.

It needs a bit more coverage and a bit more money behind it, which will bring in more support. It is very difficult for them though, as the country is so big. You can’t follow it like BSB. You get to recognise some of the fans over here and you see the same faces. In Australia, they can’t do that because it’s so vast.

Do you think you can make the showdown again this season?

Yes. I think the showdown for us is a number one target and we are in that position at the moment. However, it only takes one dropped result or a crash and you’re out of it, because the points are so close. It is really important to keep bagging the results and hopefully, we can make it!

Thank you to Jason for his time and to Gareth Davies of Full Factory Photography for the images.

MotoGP German GP Preview: Honda’s Heaven

MotoGP arrives in Germany this weekend, for the ninth round of the championship, at the Sachsenring. Valentino Rossi reignited his championship hopes last weekend in The Netherleands, as he won at the Assen circuit for a 10th time, becoming the only rider to win 10 races across all classes at the circuit in Grand Prix. However, the Sachsenring is a happy hunting ground for Honda. They have won every race since 2010, with the last non-Honda win coming from Valentino Rossi in 2009. Marc Marquez is one to lookout for here, with his former flat-track experience coming in handy around a circuit which features seven consecutive left handers. He has won every race he’s been entered in at the circuit since 2010, making him a clear favourite to take honours once more.

As we approach the halfway point in the championship, Andrea Dovizioso and Ducati lead the championship standings. This is the first time since the 2009 Italian MotoGP that a Ducati has led the standings. It is also the first time ever that Andrea Dovizioso has led the championship in the premier class. His form around Germany isn’t anything too special, although a podium last year shows that perhaps he has found something at a circuit that is known for posing the threat of rain. Three podiums at the circuit since his career began in 2002 isn’t great but Dovizioso hasn’t finished outside of the top-five since we’ve been in Europe this season. Another solid result may sees him in proper title contention come the end of the ninth round.

Maverick Vinales comes to Germany off the back of a shambolic weekend at Assen, which saw the young Spaniard on the 4th row after qualifying, and on the floor during the race. He, like teammate Rossi, also suffered in Catalunya, making the previous two races his worst when you combine his points together. And if you’re expecting a Vinales victory in Germany, think again. He is yet to finish in the top 10 at the circuit in the premier class and hasn’t had a podium at the Sachsenring since his Moto3 championship year in 2013. Yamaha haven’t had a win since 2009 and with Vinales’ fragile state of mind following two awful events, he may be happier than others to reach the Summer break, to get his head together for the second half of the year.

Valentino Rossi showed us that there is life in the old dog just yet, with a superb victory at Assen. Using the ‘new’ Yamaha chassis has paid dividends to The Doctor, who slashed a 28-point deficit in the championship to just seven – three behind teammate Vinales. Rossi was only 8th at the track last year after the circuit dried out, with him ignoring his pit board. His most recent podium at the track came in 2015, when he was 3rd, making it the 11th podium for him at the circuit. Rossi hasn’t had back to back wins in MotoGP since 2009 at Catalunya and Assen, so he’ll be looking to update that particular statistic. Rossi’s last win at the Sachsenring was also the last time he qualified on pole at the track. If he does take back to back wins, he will be the second oldest rider to do so, after Les Graham in 1952, winning at Monza and Montjuic Park at the ripe old age of 41.

Reigning champion and Sachsenring specialist Marc Marquez slipped to 4th in the championship after Assen, despite finishing 3rd, achieving his 4th podium of the year. Marquez will be looking to surpass Valentino Rossi in premier class wins at Sachsenring, with both currently on four. He will also be hoping to become the first rider to take five straight wins at the German Grand Prix since Giacomo Agostini between 1967 and 1972 – although organisers were alternating the German Grand Prix between the Hockenheimring, Nurburgring Sudschleife and Nurburgring Nordschleife tracks. Marquez has not qualified on pole since the Americas Grand Prix five races ago. This is the first time since moving up to the premier class that he has gone five consecutive races without securing pole. Having said that, Marquez is yet to not start on pole at the German Grand Prix in the premier class.

Just when you thought Dani Pedrosa had rediscovered his old form and confidence, a 13th place at Assen suddenly questions it. He was 2nd in the series standings after Le Mans, but now finds himself 5th, although just 28 points off Dovizioso. The Spaniard is the only rider – other than Marquez – to win three or more consecutive races in the premier class at the track, and was the man who initiated Honda’s win streak at the venue. Pedrosa has seven premier class podiums at the track, although last year saw him yield just 6th. Dani Pedrosa’s 13th in the Dutch GP was only the 2nd time in his career that he’d finished in that position. The last time was at Welkom in 2001. The next race saw him finish 10th, at Jerez.

Revelation of 2017, Frenchman Johann Zarco will be seeking to repeat the feat he achieved last season, pinching the victory from home-hero Jonas Folger on the run to the line on the last lap. Although some may say that Zarco will not win a race, don’t be so sure. He’s led three races this season, the same as Valentino Rossi. Zarco has finished inside the top two in his last two Moto2 appearances, however, his only other podium comes from 2011 in the 125cc class. 14th at Assen was his worst finish of the year and the first time he had finished outside of the top 10. Zarco will be out to make amends in Germany.

The next two riders in the championship are Pramac Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci, with Jorge Lorenzo in behind. Petrucci has shown some incredible pace in the run into the mid-season, with two podiums from the last three rounds. Jorge Lorenzo on the other hand finished just 15th at Assen and has one podium less than Petrucci. Lorenzo has never won at the Sachsenring and hasn’t been on the podium there since 2014. Petrucci crashed out whilst leading last year – his best result is 9th from 2015.

Cal Crutchlow’s late surge in the final few laps at Assen saw him finish 4th, moving to 9th in the championship. Seven points behind him is Jonas Folger, who suffered his first DNF of the season at Assen. Both riders finished 2nd in their respective races at the Sachsenring last year. Cal has finished every race he has entered in Germany during his MotoGP career, with his only non top-10 finish coming in his rookie year, with 14th in 2011. Folger on the other hand has only 1 podium to his name at the track, which was last year. A German rider hasn’t won the German Grand Prix in the premier class since Edmund Czihak in 1974. This was also the last time a German won a premier class Grand Prix.

Jack Miller and Alvaro Bautista are next along in the championship. Miller took his best result of the year last time out, with 6th. The Australian was also a race leader in last year’s German Grand Prix, before dropping to 7th. He won the Moto3 race there in 2014. Bautista was running strongly at Assen before crashing. It was the Spaniard’s 4th crash of the year during a race which has resulted in him retiring. Apart from his rookie MotoGP year, he has finished in every premier class German Grand Prix, with a best of 5th in 2013. He finished 10th last year, on an Aprilia.

Scott Redding and Loris Baz are separated by just two points coming into the ninth round of the championship. Redding was riding well until his penultimate lap crash at the chicane last weekend. Loris Baz however, took a hard-fought 8th place – his best finish of the year. Redding was marginally beaten to the podium at the German Grand Prix last year, finishing 4th, whereas Baz is yet to score points in the country in MotoGP. He has never had a top 4 in the country at any circuit throughout his racing career.

Andrea Iannone showed something of a return to form last time out at Assen, with 9th place, riding as high up as 6th at one point whilst also setting the fastest lap of the race until Redding bettered it. Iannone has been 5th at the Sachsenring for the previous three years and if it was to happen again this year, it would be his best result on the Suzuki. Former Suzuki rider Aleix Espargaro is right behind Iannone in the championship. A run of mechanical gremlins were discontinued at Assen, with the Aprilia ace taking his first top-10 since Jerez in early May. Since returning to the premier class in 2012, Aleix has scored points in every German GP.

Tito Rabat is level with Aleix Espargaro on points, however he is yet to have his first top 10 of the year. The Spaniard is improving, although the Sachsenring is a track which he has never had a podium at across his career. Hector Barbera is next up in the championship in 18th. He achieved his best result of the year as Catalunya but dropped to 16th at Assen last time out. This was the first time since last year’s Japanese GP that he has actually finished a race outside of the points. The Spaniard qualified a sensational 2nd last season at the track, finishing 9th in the race – equalling his career best at the circuit in the premier class.

Karel Abraham achieved his first top 10 in MotoGP since Valencia 2012 last time out, equalling a career best finish of 7th in the MotoGP category. He has finished every race he has started in Germany in the top class, with a 5th place in Moto2 in 2010. Pol Espargaro follows him in the championship in 20th, although he achieved his best result of the year at Assen last weekend. His best finish at the Sachsenring in MotoGP was a 7th in 2014, although he has 1 podium from Moto2 in 2013.

Alex Rins made a name for himself at Assen for all the wrong reasons, by getting in the way of Danilo Petrucci. Rins crashed out of 2nd place at the German GP last year in Moto2, but was 3rd the year previous. He has one win, back in 2013 in Moto3. Suzuki as manufacturer haven’t won at the circuit since Kenny Roberts JR in 1999, although that was prior to the current layout.

Brits Bradley Smith and Sam Lowes bring up the rear of the table as far as full time riders are concerned. Both failed to finish last time at Assen. Smith was 13th in last year’s race in Germany, whereas Lowes failed to finish his Moto2 race. The last British premier class winner at the German Grand Prix was Barry Sheene in 1977.

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Everquip Racing’s Road to the British Superbike Paddock

Image courtesy of Gareth Davies of Full Factory Photography. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter, so follow for all the awesome pictures.

It is one of the most incredible stories surrounding a team formation in recent years. A business owner from Hornsea on the picturesque Holderness Coast took a huge risk in backing a certain rider in British Supersport last season – admittedly knowing little about the world of motorcycle racing. From tears and cheers to heartbreak and despair, as well as the graft and hardwork, Everquip Racing formed to become a full-time team in the British Supersport championship in 2017, with South African star Bjorn Estment as their rider. But the journey undertook to get to the championship is simply incredible. This is how Everquip Racing came together to be part of one of the most competitive championships in the world.

Stuart Everard, one of the owners at Everquip Garage Equipment, has been in business for over two decades. Carl Crisp, a former racer, is a Director at Everquip, along with Lyndon Blackburne. However, unlike Stuart, he has a fond interest in motorcycle racing.

The Hornsea bike event of 2015 would be the start of the interest in the world of bikes and bike racing. Thousands of people from the area and elsewhere descended onto the event, leaving Stuart thinking, ‘if only the event had a sponsor’.

Meanwhile, South African Bjorn Estment was thinking the same thing, this time however, it was about himself. Estment has been one of the stars of tomorrow for the last couple of seasons but he has never been allowed to showcase the talent that many know and believe he has. Due to his lack of interest in the sport, Stuart Everard reluctantly sponsored Bjorn, who at the time was riding for East Coast Construction – the same team that Lee Johnstone brought success to from the road racing scene.

On the return to the 2016 Hornsea Bike Event, Everquip sponsored the festival. Bjorn was also in attendance, with his bike at the time (a Triumph). This was the first time that Stuart had personally met Bjorn. Instantly impressed with the South African’s ability to charm people and his determination to succeed in the motorcycle racing world, conversations instantly became serious. Everard recalls having a few pints at Cadwell Park last season and falling off his much loved van, laughing about going full time for 2017. The subject was discussed but no promises are made.

I first learnt about Bjorn’s lack of ride at the Hornsea bike event last year but told him to go to Donington Park. The South African joined Fred Clark on the circuit commentary throughout the weekend, announcing that there was discussion about coming back to the British Supersport Championship. Everard, during a journey from Knockhill to Sheffield, told me that he wanted Bjorn to take a step back from racing at Donington Park, to reset more than anything. To get a taste of the action, Everard and business partner Carl Crisp went along to Assen, The Netherlands; one of the most iconic circuits of all time. As well as getting an idea about the effort, he was getting an idea about branding and what it takes to become a successful team in BSB.

In typically Dutch weather conditions, British Supersport qualifying began. The track was drying and times were getting quicker and quicker. Suddenly, Estment went top, which was half expected as the drying conditions helped all out on circuit. However, nobody who crossed the line after him could beat the South African’s time. In their first proper weekend together as a team, Estment and Everquip were staring down the barrel of pole position. Although Mason Law and David Allingham would pip Estment to pole, it was a stirling effort which nonetheless put him on the front row of the grid at what I dubbed last year as “The Cathedral of Dreams”. Everard recalls the moment in his own words:

I remember being in the pit garage thinking that this could be something really special. What I did not expect was the reaction of the team. Grown men crying in the garage, I’m thinking ‘what the hell am I getting myself into here?’. When I saw how much work went into Bjorn and how much passion there was in the team, I thought, ‘this is what I want to do next year’.

The season would come to a sticky end at Brands Hatch, with a 14th place and DNF. Tempers ran high, with fallouts amongst various different team personnel. But this wasn’t enough for the team to break up and dissolve. An announcement was made on the Saturday of the meeting that the team would be a full time feature in 2017. The emotional connection and bond had become too strong.

When MarTrain Racing announced their immediate withdrawal from motorcycle racing, it became the perfect opportunity to buy a motorbike which had proven success. The bikes and the spare parts were snapped up and the formation of Everquip Racing was underway. A Michael Dunlop engine was snapped up and now it was finally happening. Along with the purchase of the parts required to actually go racing, branding became important. Racking up the views on Facebook and Twitter, the team was gaining respect and presence in the paddock. Their launch was made in front of over 500 people in Hornsea, where it all began in 2015, from a local businessman wanting to do good for his community.

Then, the real racing began. Testing in Cartagena was far from a lads holiday. A fuel leak almost caused a major disaster for the team but thankfully they avoided the calamity. Bjorn then arrived at the first race of the season where he crashed the bike straight away. However, it would be more pressing circumstances that would act as a wake up call for the rookie team.

But the frightening prospect is overcome by Bjorn’s passion and drive to succeed. “The inspiration that Bjorn carries with him makes the whole team pull together to do well”, said Everard, as we now arrived back on the English side of the border. “I’m not into bikes but I’m passionate about Bjorn. The thrill of racing and excitement to the point where you feel sick compared to wanting to do well and get podiums is the best. The sheer balance is incomparable”.

Not many riders have been given the massive opportunity that Estment has. But, that said, he doesn’t take that for granted at all. A life long supporter of MotoGP superstar Valentino Rossi, Estment always has a spec of fluorescent yellow on his leathers. If you’re privileged enough to experience the Everquip Racing Hospitality Unit, then you will notice a yellow piece of flooring surrounded by grey and orange. The yellow is Bjorn, whilst the grey and orange around him is the team. Estment is incredibly grateful for the team but also for the backing that saved his career. He is a real team player. So many riders have struggled with sponsorship over the years that has restricted their efforts to grow, like Luke Jones for example. You just need a break and Estment has got that. Likewise, the team have got Estment, one of the biggest stars in motorcycle racing to come.

Here is what Bjorn had to say about working with the team and the opportunity he has been given:

As a rider you literally grow up hoping, dreaming and believing that one day you will get the opportunity so many strive for and few are fortunate enough to be given. Few are presented with an opportunity to achieve success and greatness in ones given passion!

My said ‘passion’ is motorcycle racing and at the the back end of 2016 (arguably one of the toughest seasons) I was thrown a life line of great proportion with the chance to run with the full backing of market leading inspection pit and garage equipment company, Everquip Garage Equipment ltd. This chance/opportunity that I have been given is a remarkable turn of events after previous campaigns and seasons where due to many limiting factors, I could only show flashes of skill and potential that many believe I posses. After years of hard work, dedication, desire and a relentless will to achieve and get to where I believe I should belong, Everquip Racing have given me a much needed chance and I am eternally thankful to them. I will not let them down! Also, a massive shout-out to Total Building Services, Pro Air conditioning and pulse engineering – my loyal personal sponsors who have supported me through the tough times and the good times.

Looking back at what seems like a whirlwind season already, I believe we have achieved so much in such little time. We as a team can be proud of our debut effort in British Supersport, and we’ve delivered a number of solid results which potentially, could’ve been even better had Lady Luck been on our side at moments along the way.

We have made our presence known and felt as a team and provide consistent entertainment to many friends, fans and followers. I believe we are well liked as a group and an asset to the British Superbike paddock! I certainly believe we will be a force to be reckoned with in the very near future with a run of circuits that play right into our strengths.

My father once said and continues to say to me, “We see so far because we stand on the shoulders of giants”. Everquip are mine and my boys giants and together, as a unit, we will dream. We do believe and we will certainly achieve.

We hope you all come along for the ride, support us and enjoy the roller coaster that is Motorsport, motorcycle racing and more specifically, British Superbikes

The team have a great working atmosphere however. Having experienced the whit and banter of mechanics Derek Rhodes (lead mechanic) and Mark Hill when they gave me lifts from Dunfermline to Knockhill and back throughout the weekend, the team oozes drive and positivity. Mark is also a sponsor of the team, with MHP Exhausts. The food is all cooked by Stuart’s wife Andrea, alongside Jane Gough and Sarah Kennedy, who, after spending sometime with them both and other members of the team on Sunday evening, really pushes for success and strides for the best. The team is everyone’s first concern. Ryan Estment, Bjorn’s brother, is Team Manager, whilst Joe Bolton is a third mechanic. James Grantham is a loyal sponsor of Bjorn’s, who attends all rounds with the team. The only thing Stuart believes is missing, is a data technician.

Sponsors besides Everquip are Michael Barraugh Steel, Pneumatic Engineering, Watts Mix and Total Building Services. Without these sponsors, racing would not be made possible and it goes again, down to the will to give Bjorn and the Everquip Racing Team a big break.

The team have massive plans. There’s discussion of buying a the new Yamaha 600cc machine, as well as progressing through the British Superbike paddock, remaining with Bjorn. Everard admitted that it is a steep learning curve and that he “wishes he knew more about bike racing”. He said he “regrets not getting into bikes sooner, but I always wanted to work in F1 driving the trucks”.

“When he wins, there will be a huge party! We believe in becoming successful so much that we will keep going until we achieve that goal. Resilience is so important. The risk and the stress is far greater than I had imagined but it’s that edge-of-the-seat aspect that makes us want it more”.

From not knowing much about motorcycle racing to being fully immersed in it, Stuart Everard hasn’t just embraced the BSB culture with welcome arms but he’s allowing someone to go all the way. The transformation of the team is absolutely remarkable. They could never have imagined being so successful, so soon – with 6th place at Oulton Park being their last result following Bjorn’s frightening accident in Knockhill qualifying.

It’s an inspirational journey. A journey that has seen tears of joy and moments of anger unite a team together for them to set off in achieving one, end goal. In the words of Stuart Everard coming through Newcastle on Monday morning after the Knockhill weekend: Allowing someone to fulfil their dreams is one of the most amazing and satisfying experiences and it is an honour to do something for a lad who simply wants to ride his bike and win.


Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Josh Brookes Evaluates his TT Return

Image courtesy of Martyn Wilson, of Pitlane Photography

Having had two years away from the Island, Josh Brookes returned to Snaefell Mountain Course, achieving his best finish to date with 6th in both the Lightweight TT and the Senior TT, for Kawasaki and Norton respectively. Besides the results, the Australian sensation spoke to me about his experience whilst over on the Isle of Man, particularly with how he adapted to riding such a vast range of machinery. He also talks about how mental and physical strength can be pushed to the limit when track time is limited.

How would you sum up your Isle of Man TT experience?

It was a frustrating couple of weeks. The weather wasn’t very kind. I kept thinking that the top guys such as Hutchy and Dunlop wouldn’t be too bothered because they’ll use their experience and they’ll only need 6-8 laps. After that, they’re in their rhythm, they’re in the groove, they know the track and the bike is sweet. However, I think they were spending a lot of time trying to set their bikes up the way they wanted them so they probably wanted more laps too.

In any case, for me, I wasn’t really looking to make a lot of changes to the bike because I was happy with the way it was working. I just needed laps for myself and get calm within the circuit. Having two years away meant that it was very difficult to remember how deep you went into each corner at what speed to make it through, not necessarily which corner was up next. It’s very difficult to explain to people who haven’t ridden the bike or the circuit. Even if you have done either of them, it is still very hard to grasp exactly what it is that you lose. Lots of people think that you’ve forgotten the track so you go slower.

However, although you might know the corners coming up and the sequence, the problem is that you’re trying to remember from the last time. You may get into a corner at 150 km/h but when you arrive and brake a little bit too late, that’s because you thought you could get to a certain point that you were at last time. You have to ride slower and then build up to it; obviously, it’s a long way round and a lot of corners so it takes a long time to remember the whole circuit and the succession of approaches and exits. It’s a little bit like a new CD. You won’t know what song is coming up next but once you’ve listened to CD over and over again, you anticipate the song coming on and sing word for word when the song does come on.

As the week goes on and you get more practices, you know what’s next and feel relaxed and kind of prepared for what is coming next. Having so few laps in practice determined my success I think. Considering all that, I had a really good race and to come 6th in the Senior TT with the bike and the first time I’ve ridden it and after all the problems regarding the weather, it was a great finish. I’m pleased and proud with everything I’ve done.

It’s not just knowledge either, you do adjust too. Your body acclimatises to the experience. At the Sulby Straight, you know that on a Superbike, you can go flat out right to the end on any bike. However, it takes about eight laps before you dare do it. Even though you know it can be done, things are going passed your head at that speed and your self-preservation kicks in. Even if the bike isn’t much better and you’re not much better, it makes it easier to ride at that speed than what it did before.

Was returning to the TT harder than when you first went?

It was harder when I first went, for sure. Don’t get me wrong this year was still hard and I was surprised. It did give me a lot more respect about what I was able to achieve in the first year. The first year wasn’t actually a very good year either. The first day was wet. The second day, my teammate was killed. The third day was wet. We was quite late into the week getting any form of practice then as well, which emphasises even more the success of this year and of my debut year. Even then, I set my fastest lap during the race, which at the time was the newcomers lap record. I didn’t realise at the time what I had done. So, coming back this year was almost like being newcomer all over again. When I was building the feeling up again, I thought ‘wow’, because I must have been going through the same feelings I went through as a newcomer because it’s very difficult to learn. It wasn’t as hard as learning it for the first time but it wasn’t an awful lot different.

In the 2013 Superstock race, I pitted with a chain issue which forced me to retire. In the Senior TT, there was a fault with the electronics and I didn’t carry on. The only full race I got was after three days of practice and a condensed load of laps. I didn’t recognise it was such an achievement until now, having had two years off, where I can really appreciate that year because it was my first time. Coming back this year felt like I was re-living that same process. I felt completely at ease with my knowledge and feeling of the track by the Senior TT.

It must have been hard to adapt to so many different bikes around one of the most difficult circuits in the world?

No, not really. The Honda that I raced wasn’t too bad. I had rode the CBR 600cc bike to third in the World Supersport championship behind Andrew Pitt and Jonny Rea, with a win at Donington Park that year and because the bike is relatively similar to how it was then, it wasn’t too difficult. What realistically should’ve been three new models hasn’t worked out. I hopped on a bike that felt like my own.

Also, the difference between a Supersport, Superstock and Superbike, as varied as they are, isn’t too much. Therefore, it isn’t too hard to adapt. It feels different but it is something that riders have to be able to do. To be a good rider, you have to have a certain amount of adaptability. I found it more difficult with the lightweight. The speed, the weight and the gears were so different. It was also a bike that I’d never ridden before – I only had two laps to qualify it and then raced it. I think I rode the bike well. Again though, the start of the race was slow because I just needed more time with the bike. It’s the kind of bike where you need to use every single inch of road to really make it work. It’s not physically difficult to ride because the engine in the bike is lighter.

One thing many people don’t understand about motorcycle racing in general is weight. The weight of a 1000cc bike on scales may be the same as a 600cc, however, the gyroscopic weight is massively different. Therefore, as a rider you have to adapt and try and control that gyroscopic weight so then, a 600cc feels really easy to ride. However, the 650cc is on weight, heavier but the gyroscopic weight makes it easier to ride than a 600cc bike because it had a two cylinder crank, so it’s narrower and feels so much better to ride.

These elements of the bike make it feel easier to ride but you have to take more risks, because to make it work. It was a bit of a rock and a hard place really. As I was learning the bike and willing to push the limits with the track, I got quicker but unfortunately, you need to go from the first lap. As soon as you get the tap on the shoulder, the quick guys are off and that’s when experience, skills and track knowledge comes into play. I feel I’ve always been stereotyped as a risk taker but actually, I think that’s inaccurate. I feel more reserved and calculated than most other people; my riding style in earlier years may have promoted the idea from a spectator point of view as, “Wow! He’s on the edge!”, whereas I’d look at that and think that’s how that bike needed to be ridden at the time. A bit like Marc Marquez with the Honda. I feel like I only take risks when I’ve calculated them and I believe that it is that approach that keeps me safe on the roads.

Did the difficult weather make it more physically and mentally demanding?

The problem was that when I did get laps, it was all on one day. Instead of doing five laps, having a night to sleep it off and coming back the next day to talk about it and let it all sink in and digest the information before having another go, I was like “missed yesterday, missed the day before, missing tomorrow” and suddenly, I had 9 laps in one day. After that, my head was absolutely fried. I needed the laps, yes, but I didn’t dare do another one! I was physically fatigued, my mental ’data’ was completely maxed out. There’s no more room for information. Even if I did another lap, I wouldn’t have gained anything. This year, the TT was a fight against time.

Does skill alone win you a TT or do you need a lot of experience?

My riding skill is as good as everyone above me and my learning skills is pretty strong – being fastest newcomer in 2013 proves that. Riding different bikes means that I can also adapt and that has been a consistent trend throughout my career. At the end of the day, it does come down to experience. That’s what I needed more of.


Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Rossi Writes Records in Thrilling Dutch TT


Valentino Rossi took his first win of the 2017 MotoGP season after a thrilling Dutch TT at Assen. Pole-sitter Johann Zarco pitted to change to wet tyres after the rain began to fall, ending his hopes of a GP victory. A late surge from Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso saw them go head to head with Marc Marquez, whilst Danilo Petrucci’s race win challenge was thwarted by Alex Rins on the final lap, after the Spaniard failed to get out of the Italian’s way whilst being lapped at turn 7.

The race started with Johann Zarco taking the hole-shot down into the first turn, with Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi slotting in behind. Petrucci dropped to 4th whilst Alvaro Bautista careered down the outside, into 5th place. Championship leader Maverick Vinales was mired in 11th place, failing to make up ground off the line.

Having waited and weighed up the situation, Valentino took the lead with 15 laps to go, from Johann Zarco. The two would tangle at turn 4 however, with Rossi running wide, giving the French sensation half a chance to take the lead back. As Zarco went for the inside line, Rossi swooped around the outside, colliding with Johann, who was then under attack from Marquez and Petrucci.

Danilo got passed Marquez and Zarco, before catching up with Valentino. With 8 laps to go, the front four started to telescope together as the rain came, lubricating the circuit enough for the likes of Zarco, Rins, Hector Barbera and Jorge Lorenzo to come in to change.

Meanwhile, out front with just 5 to go, Petrucci took the lead on the inside on the run back towards the pits, leaving Rossi vulnerable to a Marquez and Dovizioso attack.

Petrucci and Rossi pulled away however and at the chicane one lap later, it was the Yamaha rider who got under Petrucci’s Pramac Ducati, which would be how it stayed until the end of the race.

Rossi took the win despite Petrucci closing right in on The Doctor rider through the final chicane. It was his 115th win and his 10th at the Assen track. Completing the podium was reigning champion Marc Marquez, who put a stunning pass on Britain’s Cal Crutchlow at Ramshoek, leaving the newly re-signed LCR Honda rider 4th, ahead of Andrea Dovizioso, who is now the championship leader after Maverick Vinales crashed out.

Rossi’s victory meant that he set another record in his career. The Italian now has the longest winning spell of any rider in the history of the Motorcycle Grand Prix World Championship. He also became the first rider in the history of the sport to take 10 victories at more than one European circuit – excluding the TT. It was his 224th podium and the victory also meant that Yamaha took their 16th premier class win at the circuit.

The next race in this sensational season comes from the Sachsenring, this coming weekend. the circuit has been a happy hunting ground for Honda in recent years and Marquez is yet to lose a race there since 2010. Rossi trails series leader Dovizioso by 7 points.

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Reid Joins Tyco BMW in Superbike Deal

Image courtesy of Bournemouth Kawasaki 2016


Andy Reid has joined Tyco BMW following a test at Kirkistown on Monday.

Reid has been out of a ride in 2017, having won races in British Supersport for the previous two seasons, firstly with Keith Flint on the Team Traction Control Yamaha and then on Pete Extance’s Bournemouth Kawasaki.

The hard-charging tattoo artist from Belfast will make his debut in the British Superbike championship at the Snetterton 300 circuit this weekend, hopefully alongside his new teammate Christian Iddon, who is still recovering from a nasty arm injury sustained at Knockhill.

“I’m just delighted to have been give this opportunity by TAS Racing and Tyco BMW to finally join the British Superbike grid, said Andy, making his first British Superbike racing appearance of the year.

“I’m coming in as a rookie with a clean slate, so I’m coming with an open mind and ready to learn from an experienced team. They are a team I have always admired and yeah, I’m pretty excited if I’m honest.

“It will be a steep learning curve, but again I have confidence in my ability to learn, but I also know it’s not all about week one; this is a work in progress and I can’t wait to get started, explained the 23-year-old.

Reid was runner-up in the 2014 National Superstock 600 championship behind World Supersport rider, Kyle Ryde.

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko


Alan Carter on the 1986 British Grand Prix and his Moving Personal Life

In 1983, Alan Carter of Halifax became the Motorcycle Grand Prix World Championship’s youngest ever winner, after a thrilling ride in the 1983 French 250cc Grand Prix – a weekend that will be remembered as a contrast to Carter’s emotions. In a time when the north of Britain had been seemingly forgotten about, there were big hopes. Sadly, Carter was never allowed to fulfil his massive potential and due to a number of reasons, never became the World Champion that he and us fans know he should’ve become. In an incredible interview held at Knockhill on Sunday evening where I spoke to Alan himself, he recalls the tragedy that rocked the family as well as the infamous 1986 British Grand Prix, which proved worth fighting for in more ways than one.

In 1986, I raced on a Cobas, built by Antonio Cobas. He was an incredible engineer but the biggest problem we had was that the team couldn’t speak english. I’d had the same team for the previous three seasons but when I went to Cobas in 1986, I ended up with a team full of Spaniards. Looking back on it now, it was funny and brilliant but obviously at the time it was stressful and annoying. They also liked a couple of bottles of Rioja during their Siesta times. That wasn’t very useful because when they came back, none of them could remember what they had tightened up and what they hadn’t, so I spent most the time on the floor after my bike seized up!

The problems started in Belgium. I was sat behind Sito Pons in 2nd, with Donny McLeod 3rd. I thought that I’ll just wait behind him and pass him on the last couple of laps and take the win. Unfortunately, my bike went onto one cylinder so my plan went out the window. I should’ve come out of the Belgian Grand Prix 1986 finishing at least 2nd, but I actually finished fifth, not too far off Dominique Sarron in 4th. I came away from there extremely pissed off.

What happened now was that I trained like crazy for Silverstone: I was going to win the British Grand Prix. We used to have Thursday practice which wasn’t timed and then Friday and Saturday practice which was timed. To us though, Thursday was timed, as we had someone doing it ourselves and then find out where we was. When I came back, I saw that I was top of the time-sheets. I was absolutely buzzing!

On the Friday, I went into the first turn – off the back of a 5th gear Woodcote back then – and the bike seized up and chucked me off. The crash bashed me up a bit and obviously knocked my confidence, even though I was a professional. I had a pretty poor qualifying but luck was on my side, because it absolutely threw it down on race day, by that point I thought a win was guaranteed.

After about five laps, I took the lead but the rev counter had stuck to about 7,000 RPM. We used these Tony Dawson rev counters which were good when they worked but in reality they were a bit hit and miss. So now, I’m racing a two stroke which has a very narrow power band and can only change gear through listening to the engine because my rev counter had become irrelevant. Because I was focused on the engine, it took the edge off my performance so me and Dominique Sarron swapped places a few times. On the final few laps, I started to catch Sarron again and people said that I probably wouldn’t beat him, although I thought I could. 2nd place at the time didn’t mean anything to me because I wanted to win so much.

I started to reel him in and closed down the gap, which was approximately 2 seconds. As I came out of Stowe corner, I knew that if I had a chance of winning, I needed to get a good run. When I arrived at Club corner, time was running out but I was still a believer. I got on the power a fraction early, the rear came round on me and I crashed out of 2nd place in the British Grand Prix. It was all my own fault and there’s no questions about that.

Amongst all of the panic and the pandemonium and confusion, I picked the bike up and the only damage to it was the clutch lever. I managed to wedge the clutch lever back – like you can – so I could rejoin. I only needed to use it once to start the bike because I still wanted to finish. Everything was going fine until this marshal came along. Obviously he was concerned because I was at the side of the track and he didn’t want me to be taken out by someone who might crash like I did. However, he came up to me and knocked my arm, which then knocked the clutch lever which made me f*****g livid! I went to throw a punch at him and completely lost the plot! I ran back to the bike and tried restarting it but I didn’t realise that I was trying in sixth gear, so it wouldn’t go anywhere. I ran 50m with it but I was absolutely exhausted. I was 45 minutes into a Grand Prix so I just put the bike down and collapsed at the side of the circuit and that was it. It was all over.

I finished 17th in the world championship that season. It was the same year that my brother, Kenny, killed himself and his wife. He was my manager, my best mate and my best friend. He was World Pairs Speedway Champion with Peter Collins in 1983, he was a double British Speedway Champion in 1984 and 1985, winning the 1984 championship with a broken leg. He was controversially excluded in 1982 from the Los Angeles event which ended the year. He clashed on track with eventual champion Bruce Penhall. It was the best racing I’ve ever seen.

All in all, I felt robbed at the time. I knew I could’ve and probably should’ve gone on to win world championships but it wasn’t to be. I was on a short list of four riders for a factory NSR Honda. The others were Dominique Sarron and Carlos Cardus – I can’t remember the other guy. It’s been hard for me though. My brother killing himself after he murdered his wife, my mum killed herself at 15 and I’ve buried my daughter. I urge anyone to read my book and see for themselves just how hard it’s been.

I think me and my brother were very poorly managed by my dad, who was like a cross between a gypsy and something out of a Guy Ritchie film. However, if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have ever raced. He was the best motorcycle coach there ever was; I raced for Kenny Roberts and he was shit compared to my dad. I wanted to let people know – through writing a book – why I never became a world champion. People need to read it to get the full insight but also because it will make them appreciate life a lot more and open their eyes.

You can buy the thrilling and compelling book from Amazon, here

Misano WSBK: What We Learnt

World Superbikes soared back into life at Misano last weekend. With an attendance across the three days of 68,000, it would be fair to say that WSBK is slowly bringing fans back. The other Italian round saw attendance reach 75,000 across the three days and whilst it has a long way to go before the numbers of 10-15 years ago are met, we can only hope that this incline continues.

Marco Melandri was the rider who took Ducati to their first win at Misano since Carlos Checa in 2011. He became the first Italian rider to win on a Ducati at Misano since Frankie Chili, way back in 2004. Melandri proved to the doubters that despite being mired down in 4th in the standings, he can still, and will still, win races. Although teammate Chaz Davies didn’t start, there’s the well known phrase that starts like, “to finish first…”.

Michael van der Mark demonstrated that he has gelled with the Yamaha. Despite being caught by championship leader Jonathan Rea, his tyre delimitation cost him a podium at the very least. Keep your eyes on the Dutchman, who has found a bit of confidence with the Yamaha. Could he be the rider to take the manufacturer to their first win since Portimao 2011, with Marco Melandri.

Something else we learnt was that Jonny Rea is beatable. I can hear you all screaming at me saying, ‘well we know that’, but what I mean is, even when his main rival was out, he didn’t win. The two Italian rounds are the only circuits at which he has not won at this season, so Carluccio’s is definitely off the ‘date-night’ options for him.

We also learns that despite plans for a controlled ECU to make racing closer, Jordi Torres’ BMW was more than capable of sticking it to the leaders in the 2nd outing. The Spaniard led for part of the race and with just three laps to go, retired due to a technical problem. World Superbike fans can hope and pray that this wasn’t a flash in the pan and that actually, this could be a big turning point, where we see more than just Kawasaki and Ducati dominating. Yamaha are edging closer, BMW aren’t far behind and we’ve already seen MV Agusta and Aprilia make strides. Give Honda until next year to be competitive and we might have an almighty brawl at the top of the championship tree.

The final thing we learnt was that Misano would stay on the calendar until 2020. The circuit has been on the calendar ever since it’s introduction in 1994 and has seen some top notch races. 2001 race one with Troy Bayliss and Ben Bostrom going head to head and in 1998 when both Hondas went at it for a double victory.

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

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