Month: February 2016

WSBK – Rea claims second win at season opener at Phillip Island


Race Two at the season opener at Phillip Island proved to be another scintillating battle between the leading riders, with Johnny Rea again prevailing and securing another race won.
It was Rea’s team-mate Tom Sykes who got off the line strongly from pole position, followed closely by Rea and the rejuvenated Davide Giugliano, Michael Van Der Mark, who is riding the wheels off the ageing Fireblade and Ducati rider Chaz Davies.

Sykes looked strong and was giving a riding masterclass until he ran wide at Turn 4 on Lap 13, losing three places. Reigning world champion Rea needed no second invitation and dived into first place. However, his lead was short lived and Van Der Mark overtook the Ulsterman just one lap later.

Honda team-mate Nicky Hayden was also putting in a strong ride on the Blade, overtaking Sykes and Giugliano to move into fourth.

The leading group continued to push each other hard and on the penultimate lap Ducati rider Chaz Davies attacked race leader Van Der Mark and second placed Rea, taking the lead with a lap to go. Rea struck straight back at the Southern Loop, reclaiming first spot on the final lap but Davies was desperate for the win, climbing all over the back of the Kawasaki. Davies looked like he had the measure of Rea but lost the front pushing too hard into Turn 4 and crashed out.

That left Rea out in front to complete a splendid double win with Michael Van Der Mark behind him, followed by an excellent Davide Giugliano who managed to get past Nicky Hayden in the final series of turns.


WSBK – Rea wins photo finish in Race One at Phillip Island


Johnny Rea claimed the first win of the 2016 WSBK season after a sensational last lap of a drama-filled season opener at Phillip Island.

The reigning World Champion started the race behind  team-mate Tom Sykes, in pole position, and Ducati rider Davide Giugliano in second,but both ZX-10Rs got the best get away from the light and pushed each other hard as they entered the Southern Loop on the very first lap. They were joined by Ducati’s Chaz Davies, who managed to make a stunning start from ninth on the grid, Giugliano and Honda rider Michael Van Der Mark.

Sykes lead the group as the race unfolded, with the Ducatis squabbling among themselves, closely followed by Rea and the Flying Dutchman Van Der Mark. However, Sykes started to drop back after surrendering the lead to his team-mate, and was soon embroiled in a close fight with Hayden and the Yamahas of Lowes and Guintoli.

Rea continued to set the pace, leading Davies and a rejuvenated Giulgliano on the Ducatis, with Van Der Mark staying in contention on the Honda. However a mistake by Giuliano saw the Italian drop back, and  Davies and Van Der Mark continued push the Ulsterman hard. Rea stayed calm and kept his race rhythm going as those behind him continued to play cat and mouse with each other, and as the laps ticked down, Davies got closer and started to seriously pressure the Kawasaki rider, probing possible passes for a last lap attack.

With the last lap underway, Davies pounced down the hill from Lukey Heights, taking the lead just before the final corner, before Rea took the outside line and blasted around the Ducati through the final turn, the two bikes straightening up on the Gardner Straight with almost nothing between them. In the shootout to the line Rea’s bravery around the outside proved to give him the pace necessary to nudge the nose of the Kawasaki over the line first, separated from the Ducati by just 0.063 seconds.Van Der Mark claimed third, recording his fourth career podium in only his second season, and Giugliano finished fourth in his first race back after a serious injury. Sykes was disappointed to finish fifth after his positive start, but 2014 WSBK Champion Sylvain Guintoli delighted to be the first Yamaha home in sixth, an outstanding result for the YZF R1 in its first WSBK outing. Leon Camier carried through his incredible form from practice to end the race seventh on his MV Agusta, with Jordi Torres on his Althea BMW behind him in eightt ensuring there were six manufacturers classified in the top 10. Series new boy Nicky Hayden struggled to keep the pace in the latter stages of his debut and dropped back to ninth, whereas local hero Josh Brookes made up for a difficult qualifying session to come home 10th.

WSBK – Hodgson’s guide on the riders to look out for in 2016


Neil Hodgson is a BSB and WSBK champion and a commentator for BT Sport. He’s got his finger on the pulse in the MotoGP, WSBK, and BSB paddocks and his encyclopaedic knowledge of bike racing make him perfectly placed to preview the season ahead.

“This season promises to be a classic. Last year, the class was dominated by the best rider on the best bike. Johnny Rea was a class above his rivals, and he finally had the bike under him that matched his talent. There are no two ways about it, he’s rapid and consistent.

“This year the already-strong Kawasaki has been upgraded, and I expect it to be leading from the front again. The good news is that Tom Sykes is back. He was hurting last year – having a new team-mate come into ‘your’ team and win the title on ‘your’ bike will have felt like a massive slap in the face – but he’s come back strong in testing and is already on the pace. That’s good news for the team; there will be two riders on the same bike, both capable of wins, but my money’s on Rea. He’s simply the better rider.

“The good news for the series is that these two can be challenged. Chaz Davies finished the second half of last season in the form of his life, and he’s kept the momentum going into testing. The Ducati Panigale R is a good package, the team is proven and he’ll definitely be in the hunt.

“The Yamaha Factory squad has a good bike too. The R1 is quick – it dominated BSB last year – but it lacks the development at this level, and the team will be playing catch-up for the first few rounds. But once it finds its feet both Alex Lowes and Sylvain Guintoli will be up there. They’re both quick, and both former champions.

“Alex Lowes is definitely the one to watch. He’s fast and fearless, but he’s now matured as a racer and that combination means he’ll be towards the sharp end.

“And then there are the newcomers to the series – Josh Brookes and Nicky Hayden. Brookes is quick and a hard racer, and he showed his talent by winning last year’s BSB championship. If he can adjust to the BMW then he could cause a few upsets. And Hayden needs no introduction. He’s quality – he’s won a MotoGP crown – and he’s already looked quick on the Blade in testing. The bike may be old, but Hayden is driven with a desire to prove the doubters wrong, and he may win a race or two.”

MotoGP – Hodgson’s 2016 season guide


Neil Hodgson is a BSB and WSBK champion and a commentator for BT Sport. He’s got his finger on the pulse in the MotoGP, WSBK, and BSB paddocks and his encyclopaedic knowledge of bike racing make him perfectly placed to preview the season ahead.


I’m really excited about this season. Last year was the best season I can ever remember and it had everything – drama, rivalry, bitterness. Rossi, the veteran, went into the last race and still had a chance of winning. That was phenomenal. Then there was then whole feud with Marquez. Marquez won’t have liked that one bit, or the fact that he lost his crown. And Rossi will want to prove that he deserved the title and that he can still challenge for honours.

This season is going to be explosive. All the main protagonists are still there. And they all have the desire, and the hunger to win – Lorenzo, Rossi and Marquez. And that’s before you consider the rule changes.

The rule changes are going to mean really close racing, and I expect there to be a few surprise names at the front of the field in the first three races – Qatar, Argentina and America. These races could see some really unexpected results before the cream starts to rise to the top again.

In the past teams like Yamaha and Honda have been able to spend more money on sophisticated electronics but this year all the teams have to run the same ECU – the bike’s brain – and this will level the playing field. We’ve already seen Honda struggling to make the transition to the spec ECU and they’ve struggled to get a decent base setting in testing.

Then there’s the switch from Bridgestone to Michelin as the sole tyre supplier. At the moment the Michelin front tyre just isn’t as good as the Bridgestones were. There have been a lot of crashes during pre-season testing, and a fair few big ones, and a lot of riders have made mistakes. The fact that testing is limited means there’ll be a lot of riders who will still be learning how the tyres behave and the best way to ride on the new rubber.

I think Lorenzo will be the rider to beat. He’s strong and is able to lap quickly lap after lap after lap. He’s so smooth that I think his riding style will suit the Michelins more. Marquez on the other hand is very aggressive and he’ll struggler to get the tyre to work.

One of the riders to watch out for this year is Maverick Vinales. He was fastest on the final two days at Phillip Island, even though he’s not on the best equipment. May be his lack of experience with the old electronics and rubber means he’s able to adapt more to the new regulations. He’s definitely flying and I think he’ll finish in the top five. He’s definitely talented and I expect him to be the next ‘Alien’.

I think Scott Redding will do well this year too. He’s been on the worst bike on the grid for the last two years, simply because Honda have lost their way. Stoner and Marquez are talented riders, but they are the only ones who can get the bike to work. The way the engine delivers its power is just too aggressive, and it’s like the bike hasn’t been developed for the past two years. So automatically Honda are playing catch-up, and that’s without the new tyres or ECUs. Scott suffered with an underpowered  customer bike in his first season, and last season he just couldn’t make the Factory bike work. He’s aa talented rider though, and he’s gone fast straight away since he switched to Ducati. The bike seems to suit him and I expect him to be comfortably inside the top ten.

Cal Crutchlow is more difficult to read. He’s a grisly, hard rider and really determined, But I just feel that he’s on the wrong bike, and in the wrong team. He loves being an underdog, and he’s posted some impressively fast times in testing, but I think me may struggle for results.

Bradley Smith had an incredible season last year and by finishing top satellite rider he has justifiably earned the respect of the paddock. It’s a big year for him, what with so many Factory rides being up for grabs in 2017, and he’ll be pushing hard to secure a Factory seat. His times might have appeared disappointing in testing, but Bradley is never worried about posting a fast last time – he’ll be working on race set-up instead. He’ll definitely be up there.

Another reason that this year will be so explosive is that so many contracts are up for renewal. There’s a saying in racing that you’re only as good as your last race, and as most contracts negotiations start after Round Four, this means everyone will be wanting to put themselves in the shop window and the first four rounds will be dynamite.

MotoGP – Vinales tops Day Two at Phillip Island

9e32a962-5aea-45bf-9804-5747ba3c7ebbSuzuki’s Maverick Viñales laid down the gauntlet and underlined his talent after topping topped the MotoGP™ test times on the second day of testing at Phillip Island.

The young Spaniard was the first rider under the 1’30 barrier in the afternoon and with the track getting more-and-more grippy with the sun out he swapped the lead many times before finally securing the top of the time sheets with an  excellent lap of 1:29.131 – nearly half a second faster than his best in last year’s race.

Viñales, who completed 79 laps, said: “Today I felt very good with my GSX-RR, confirming the positive feeling I had already yesterday even though it was in mixed conditions.

“Today we worked well in two ways; the first is the fastest lap, which gave me the first place, and the second is the approach we had with the development, improving little-by-little but consistently in every run, applying little improvements to the machine without any major change. This consistency gave me not only the fastest lap but also a very comfortable feeling with the pace.

“Of course the track was a contribution, let’s say. Here in Phillip Island I feel always confident, I like the track and I can express myself as I want, in any conditions. I’m happy to see that the machine is supporting me in this enjoyment, allowing me to be so competitive, I’m improving a lot in my capability to transfer my feelings to the team and they on their side are doing a great job supporting me and giving me good solutions for what I ask for. It’s a learning process for all of us and today’s result gives us an injection of enthusiasm.”

MotoGP – Redding makes a flying start at a wet Phillip Island


A rejuvenated Scott Redding is clearly enjoying on board the Ducati Desmosedici after posting the fourth fastest time on his first day of testing at the Phillip Island circuit.

In a day marked by bad weather with rain that has continuously alternating the sun without giving reference points to the team, Redding spent the morning session familiarising himself with the Michelin wet tyres before switching to racing clikcs as the track dried out.

He ended the day in an impressive fourth place after posting a time of 1:32.864.

The Brit said: “I did 41 laps but were not all that useful. We have done a good workout in the rain and we did a few laps in the dry. All thing considered we did two things we wanted to do although I would have liked to have more continuity instead of entering and leaving the pits because of the rain.

“The lap time was OK since we are still working on the bike and the conditions found today were not exactly the best. Rain tyres? I had a good feeling. The only problem for me was with aquaplaning because I somehow lost grip with the rear. But I must say that the feelings on the behavior of the new tyres is good.”

MotoGP – rain hampers first day’s testing at Phillip Island


Day one of the test at Phillip Island was affected by poor weather conditions, with intermittent light rainfall and strong winds, and maximum air and track temperatures of 23° C and 30° C, respectively.

Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa was the first rider to take to the track this morning, just over an hour into the session, with his teammate Marc Marquez—who celebrates his 23rd birthday today—following immediately afterward. Both riders were aiming to test the Michelin wet and intermediate spec tyres, which they had not tested before, and their electronics’ rain settings.

The day allowed a few laps in full-wet conditions, during which the riders received some positive feedback, both from the bike settings and the rain tyres. Marc managed to make one lap on the intermediates spec tyre, with which he set his best time. The track improved slightly toward the end of the session, but there were only few minutes with almost totally dry track and both Repsol Honda riders decided not to go out.

Pedrosa was happy with the wet conditions, but struggled as the track began drying out in places. He ssaid: “Today it rained almost all day—especially in the morning—and when I saw that the track was completely wet I decided to go out, because at this track you usually don’t have these conditions, due to the strong wind that always dries the asphalt quickly. The feeling was good and it was a positive run, because I did a few laps in these different conditions to test the bike, electronics and tyres at the same time. Everything was different from what we had before, so we have to go step-by-step. I would have liked to put in more laps in the wet, but eventually part of the circuit dried out and the track was neither fully dry nor fully wet. Some riders went out on slicks, but it was still raining a little and the conditions weren’t easy, so we preferred to stay in the garage. Instead, we’ll go back out again tomorrow to check everything if the weather improves.”

The Repsol Honda riders’ best efforts for the day were 1’35.354 on lap 18 of 20 for Marc on intermediate tyres, and 1’40.138 on lap 15 of 15 for Dani on wet tyres. Testing will continue for two more days.

Road racing – Suter two stroke to take on TT


Swiss racing motorcycle manufacturer Suter Racing has confirmed that it will make its road racing debut at this year’s Isle of Man TT races with its Suter MMX 500.

The spectacular 580cc two-stroke motorcycle was launched globally in September 2015 at the Airforce Center Dübendorf and the company has developed 99 racing motorcycles, and the manufacturer has confirmed it is in talks with two former TT winners as it searches for a rider to pilot the bike.

Ex-GP rider and CEO Eskil Suter commented:“A launch of this nature with a limited run of motorcycling would ordinarily not be spectacular but the fact that the Suter has a 580cc two-stroke engine evokes almost hysterical emotion with the association of the wild days of 500cc Grand Prix racing where legends like Kenny Roberts, Eddie Lawson and Wayne Gardner, just to name a few, regularly fought thrillingly for podiums and against crashing. The furious power explosion of the former two-stroke bikes was still memorable to real fans and is considered the golden age of motorcycle racing.”

He continued: “However, these motorcycles were never readily available. Suter has awakened this charismatic era with the MMX 500 bringing those GP bikes back to life in a modern context. We are equipping the MMX 500 engine with high-end components, of which one could only dream of back in the days of 500cc racing, including an electronic fuel injection, for example, and counter-rotating crankshafts.”

Eskil Suter is convinced that his bike can perform well against the Honda, BMW and Kawasaki superbikes. He commented: “Suter has built up knowledge and understanding on the specifications in recent years, by constructing modules, complete motorcycles or as supplier to all Grand Prix classes.”We have a phenomenal good power to weight ratio. She drives like a bicycle with rocket propulsion.”

“In collaboration with a renowned university we have found solutions to adapt the delicate exhaust construction and get it under control”, said Eskil Suter. “and that’s the reason why we want to go to the toughest road race in the world. For us this is the perfect testing ground. The Senior TT, over six laps of the 60km long Snaefell Mountain Course, is just something for the toughest guys among the racers. I’m known indeed to be quite fearless,” said Eskil Suter, “but the TT is now something where I would definitively prefer another let go first as a rider.”

“We are currently negotiating with two former TT winners,” confirmed Suter’s Marketing Director Phillip Soutter. “We want an experienced rider and the best suited to us would be an old TT-warhorse.”

Road racing – Dunlop rejoins Hawk Racing for 2016 campaign


PACEMAKER BELFAST 06/06/14: Michael Dunlop on the Hawk Racing BMW superbike at Governor’s Corner during the Pokerstars Senior race at the 2014 Isle of Man TT

Leicestershire based Hawk Racing has confirmed that Michael Dunlop will race for the team on the roads for the 2016 road racing season.

Eleven time TT Race winner Dunlop, 26, will again ride the BMW S1000 RR Superbike on which he dominated the 2014 TT Races, which included a Superbike and Senior TT double.

Dunlop’s 2015 TT campaign started in controversy after he sensationally walked away from the Milwaukee Yamaha team, citing the then new Yamaha R1 as being uncompetitive and ditching the bike and the team for a BMW S1000RR. However, his campaign was hampered by an injury sustained in the opening race of the meeting, the RST Superbike Race but he still went on to record his fastest TT lap – 132.515 – which is the second fastest lap in TT history, on the final lap of the PokerStars Senior TT to finish fifth.

The Ballymoney man will also race for the team at the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix as well as campaigning the team’s Superbike in several BSB rounds, including Silverstone and Oulton Park, as a wild card entry.

Michael Dunlop was delighted with the move. He said: “I’m coming back to win again. I gave it my best last year but the Superbike crash wasn’t the best preparation for the Senior. My last lap at the TT reminded everyone what I can do and with these boys behind me I’m ready to race properly again.”

Hawk Racing Team Manager Steve Hicken was equally confident of renewed success. He said: “We’re delighted to have Michael back on board for 2016. We know what we have to do to get him back on the top step on the Isle of Man and with a proper lead time to prepare this year we’re looking forward to helping Michael achieve his ambitions.”

Road racing – Arai launch new limited edition TT lid

Arai 1


One of the highlights in the Arai range is undoubtedly the introduction of the new limited Isle of Man TT Races helmet, and the helmet manufacturer has just launched this year;s limited edition TT lid.

As a result of Arai’s exclusive license and official partnership, Arai is the only helmet that carries the world famous official TT logo as part of the helmet design and once again worked his magic.

As well as the famous three-legged symbol (the ‘’Triskelion’’), the words ‘’Ellan Vannin’’ which is the Manx-language name of the Isle of Man have been used on every design, and these features once again these form an integral part of this new 2016 design.

The very first Isle of Man TT 2016 helmets will be available in the Arai village on the first TT practice day on Saturday 28 May from the Arai service centre in the Isle of Man TT paddock. From then on, the Arai Isle of Man TT 2016 Limited Edition will be available through all European Arai dealers.