Month: November 2016

BSB – Hopkins returns to Moto Rapido Ducati for 2017 season

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American John Hopkins has secured his place on the 2017 BSB grid after signing a new deal to return to the Moto Rapido Ducati team for the forthcoming season.

The Californian, who has previously been a MotoGP podium finisher, came tantalisingly close to lifting the 2011 BSB crown in one of the most memorable season finales in history. ‘Hopper’ missed out on the crown to Tommy Hill by just 0.006s at Brands Hatch making it the closest ever championship title decider and is now gunning to be back in contention in 2017.

Hopkins had his first taste of the Ducati in 2015 when he joined the Winchester-based Ducati dealership run team mid-way through the season. He then went on to score the first ever podium finish for the Ducati Panigale R in the Championship as the team scored their first top three finish at Brands Hatch.

Hopkins said: “To be back with the Moto Rapido team and on the Ducati again is something I am really so excited about. I enjoyed last season but I never felt as comfortable on the Yamaha as I did the first time I rode the Ducati in 2015. It’s such a great bike to ride and it really suits my riding style; I certainly hadn’t had as much fun riding motorcycles in a while until I had my first laps on the Panigale in 2015.

“I love this team and they were always one of my first choices for the new season. We had a podium finish together in 2015 and I know that they have come on leaps and bounds with the development since then. During my time with them previously there were several occasions when we were in guaranteed podium finishing positions until we had some minor technical problems because so much was so new, but now this bike is the complete package.

“My hopes are extremely high for next season and it is going to be one of the most competitive seasons ever I feel. We say it every year, but with so many riders from the World Championship on the grid, some new riders and some of the established contenders it is a stacked field of world class riders for sure. Our aim and focus is to go testing and then be there right from the start.”

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New kit – BMW System 7 Carbon

BMW claims its new System 7 Carbon is set to become the new benchmark in terms of safety, versatility, and aerodynamic properties, and on paper it certainly looks promising.

An evolution of the hugely popular System 6, the System 7 Carbon can be converted from a full-face helmet to an open one by simply taking off the chin guard. No tools are required and it takes only a couple minutes to make the change. How good is that?

As the name suggests, the exterior shell is made out of carbon fibre and has reinforcement inserts. BMW claims the helmet will exceed all safety standards – some feat considering it weighs weighing just 1580 g or 1680g, accordingly to size.

The interior is made out of multiple EPS segments and different thickness foam padding to offer the best shock absorption and increased comfort. As is increasingly becoming the norm, the interior pads can be removed and washed.

The three-dimensionally curved MaxView visor promises to offer an excellent view in all weather conditions while also increasing the field of view compared to its predecessor. Other upgrades include an optimised aero spoiler, integrated sun visor, and an enhanced ventilation system.

The System 7 Carbon will be available in Black, Light White, metallic Graphite Matt and Silver as well as in Prime, Moto, and Spectrum Fluoro paint schemes.

Road racing – ­Lintin and Mercer line up for RC Express Racing in 2017

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RC Express Racing has announced that double Isle of Man TT Race winner Ivan Lintin will again spearhead the team’s assault on the International road races in 2017 where he’ll be joined by new team-mate Steve Mercer.

Having won the Bennetts Lightweight TT Race for the past two seasons, Lincolnshire’s Lintin will attempt to take an unprecedented treble of victories in the class around the Mountain Course.  This will be the Bardney-based rider’s third year with the team as the talented 32-year–old seeks to build upon his previous success.

Mercer joins the Bristol-based team having deputised for the injured Lintin at this year’s 2016 Ulster Grand Prix, who was recovering from injuries sustained in an incident at Oliver’s Mount. The Kent-based rider immediately demonstrated his adaptability on Kawasaki machinery, securing eighth and ninth in the two superbike races as well as setting his best ever lap around the high speed 7.4 mile Dundrod Circuit at a superb 131.423mph.

Ivan Lintin said: “The confidence that I have in the RC Express Supertwin and the overall performance of the bike and team, has shown with our dominance this season. Defending the title at the TT this year did carry some pressure, but having achieved that win I feel confident that next season will actually be somewhat easier. I am continually improving with the bike, strengthening my performance as a rider and I can only see us building upon our success in 2017 and more specifically dominating on the Supertwin.”

“It was disappointing that I couldn’t go for the treble at the Ulster Grand Prix but unfortunately the recovery to my injured finger was just not complete. We’ll certainly be aiming to put that one right next year..”

Steve Mercer said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be joining the RC Express Racing team for 2017. Having stood in at the last minute for Ivan at this year’s Ulster Grand Prix, there was an immediate connection with the entire team and with so much energy surrounding the operation, it made me feel very relaxed riding the bike, which showed with my results and lap times, including a personal best lap around Dundrod.”

“We struck up a conversation at the recent Macau Grand Prix and soon agreed a deal and it’s a great opportunity for 2017 to build myself as a rider with an aspirational, successful and growing team. If I can be part of this future growth and some of the plans that have been proposed, it makes this one of the most appealing periods of my racing career.”

RC Express will commence their pre-season preparations with Spanish testing at the start of 2017. With a continued relationship on Kawasaki machinery for 2017, the team will open their campaign at Oliver’s Mount for the Spring Cup in April and the North West 200 in May followed by the Isle of Man TT in June.

For the complete 2017 race schedule please visit http://www.rcexpressracing.co.uk

BSB – Guintoli returns to BSB to spearhead Bennetts Suzuki title assault

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 Sylvain Guintoli will return to BSB for the 2017 season to spearhead Suzuki and Hawk Racing’s assault on the 2017 title, with Bennetts renewing its association with Suzuki for a third consecutive season.

The 2014 WSBK champion and former MotoGP pilot will return to the Suzuki fold to race the all-new GSX-R1000R, after riding for the Japanese manufacturer in the British Championship in 2009, when injury curtailed his title campaign.

Guintoli joins reigning Superstock 1000 champion Taylor Mackenzie in the new-look Bennetts Suzuki team, with a third rider soon to be announced.

Guintoli said: “I’m really happy to be back in British Superbikes. Even though it was short, I enjoyed my time in the series in 2009 with Suzuki. I had a really good start to the season on the GSX-R1000, with a win and three more podiums in four races, and I feel like I have unfinished business after that year.

“I’m now looking forward to working with Hawk and the Bennetts Suzuki team for 2017 and getting my first taste of the new GSX-R1000, and I’m sure we can fight at the front from the start.”

Team Manager Steve Hicken said: “Sylvain is a top rider and a great asset to the team and the championship. He’s proven his credentials on the world stage with a world title, and also on the British circuits too. We’re extremely confident that in Sylvain and the new GSX-R1000R we’ve got a package that can compete at the very front of races and challenge for the championship.”

 

WSBK – Rea dominates Jerez test

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After a week of testing at Jerez in Spain Kawasaki Racing Team riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes set impressive lap times as they shared the circuit with some of the main 2017 rivals and several top MotoGP runners. Riding the 2017-spec Ninja ZX-10RR, Rea set the fastest individual lap time of the tests on a dry track on Thursday, with Sykes the third fastest WorldSBK rider and the fifth fastest rider overall.

The Jerez test featured three dry days in the middle of the week, bracketed by two wet days on Monday and Friday. Neither of the riders took to the track on Friday 25, as conditions had deteriorated so much. Rea left Jerez with a track best of 1’38.721 while using a qualifying rear tyre, with Sykes setting a 1’39.461, again on a ‘Q’ rear tyre. Rea was even more pleased with the 1’39.5 lap time he set on race tyres than his best-of-test flying lap of 1’38.721.

Rea had completed his pre-planned schedule by Thursday afternoon but a crash for Sykes earlier the same day lost him some track time just as his crew had fitted all the most promising new parts and settings to his number one machine. He still managed to complete a fast lap time on his spare machine and enjoyed consistent pace over distance.

Rea, stated: “It has been a very successful test with three days of very consistent weather. We also got a morning of wet conditions in which we confirmed a few things, especially a new Showa rear shock.

“We did two race simulations on Thursday that we were very happy with. We can go into the winter in great shape and with a lot of confidence for next season. Having the new Ninja ZX-10RR has let us fix some of our weaker points, as our engine is a little bit stronger than before, with some extra RPM. That is always an added bonus. We can be optimistic for 2017.”

Pere Riba, Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea, stated: “Always in the winter time we try to follow all the items we have that Japan has prepared. Chassis engine, suspension, everything. We focused not to set the bike up for the racetrack; we focused to try out the parts. I know the potential of Kawasaki as a manufacturer, Johnny, the team, everybody, but still it has been so positive here. With a Q tyre we made a big, big step forward. With a race tyre our target was to improve the durability in the second part of the race. It seems like we have made another step. I can say that we reached our targets for the first part of the winter tests. We are very pleased to be in the shape that we are in and with all the information we have.”

A break in track action now begins for the team, with the winter test schedule restarting at Jerez in January 2017.

Road racing – Hickman shines in Macau again

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Macau is one of the highlights in the international road racing season – and this year’s race saw an intense three-way battle at the front of the field, a battle of three BMW racers.

The protagonists were last year’s winner Peter Hickman, his Bathams team-mate Michael Rutter and Martin Jessopp on the RidersMotorcycles.com BMW.

This trio secured a great 1-2-3 result for the S1000RR in Macau last year, and they dominated the race again this year. Hickman, Macau record winner Rutter and pole setter Jessopp were involved in an intense fight for the lead, changing positions several times and soon building a huge gap to the rest of the field. After 12 thrilling and dramatic laps on the Guia Circuit, Hickman crossed the finish line as the winner, just 0.533 seconds in front of second placed Rutter with third-placed Jessopp just 0.122 seconds behind Rutter and 0.655 seconds behind Hickman. The dominance of this trio was further proven by the fact that they had an advantage of 20 seconds over the rest of the field.

Race winner Hickman said: “I hadn’t seen the bike until practice on Thursday and with not having ridden a BMW since this time last year I was on a steep learning curve so to get the job done for the second year in a row is a brilliant feeling.”

BSB – Giugliano set for BSB debut with Tyco BMW

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TAS Racing has announced the signing of Italian WSBK hard charger Davide Giugliano, who will be partnering Christian Iddon in the Tyco BMW line-up for the 2017 BSB season.

The 27-year-old Roman finished seventh in this season’s World Superbike Championship after claiming five podium finishes and brings a wealth of experience to the Tyco BMW team – 14 WSBK podium finishes overall as well as winning the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup crown in 2011.

The Italian said: “I’m very happy to be joining the Tyco BMW team for my first season in the British Superbike Championship. I have ridden on some of the British circuits already during my time in World Superbikes, and am looking forward to testing and racing on the others next year.

“BSB is a very popular championship with big crowds and I know the British public is passionate about their racing; a bit like the Italian supporters, so I’m hoping to gain many fans with Tyco BMW next season. I know having raced against the BMW S1000RR it is a strong package with a lot of potential, so I’m looking forward to getting started and showing what we can do in BSB.”

Team Manager Philip Neill commented: “I don’t know Davide yet on a personal level but as world number seven it’s clear he is a very talented motorcycle rider and we would like to welcome him to Tyco BMW and to BSB for 2017.

“We do have some work with new tracks to learn and, of course, we need to ensure Davide feels comfortable on the S1000RR as soon as possible. However, there is huge buzz of excitement throughout the team and we cannot wait to start this new chapter in TAS Racing history.”

BSB – TTC joins McAMS Yamaha to launch title assault with Ellison and Laverty

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The BSB grid will feature a new Yamaha supported team for the 2017 season with James Ellison and Michael Laverty joining forces at McAMS Yamaha.

McAMS, a 24/7 Motorcycle Accident Management Service, has featured in the paddock since 2014 and for the forthcoming season has increased its presence by announcing a new partnership with Team Traction Control (TTC) who is making its debut in the premier class after several successful years in the Supersport class.

Ellison is reunited with Yamaha, a manufacturer where he has previously celebrated plenty of success, including finishing second with them in the 2009 title chase and most recently finishing fourth in 2013.

The multiple race winner finished third in his 2016 campaign and will be gunning for his first MCE BSB crown next season.

Laverty meanwhile narrowly missed out on the cut for the Showdown this year, but has previous experience with Yamaha machinery and is confident of coming out fighting when the season gets underway at Donington Park next April.

The team will also continue to line up in the Dickies British Supersport Championship alongside its MCE BSB commitments as defending champion Tarran Mackenzie brings the number one plate to the team for his title defence.

Ellison said: “This is a new challenge for me. I have raced with Kawasaki for three years and now to return to Yamaha is something I am really excited about. I feel that the Yamaha suits my style and we finished second together in the 2009 season so we have good memories to build on.

“We all know how strong the series is so I had to go for what I thought was a championship-winning package and I strongly believe that the TTC Team with the might of Yamaha behind them is exactly what I need to deliver the title.”

Laverty said: “The R1 is a fantastic motorcycle, it’s a bike built for the race track in many ways! I have very fond memories of my previous tenure on Yamaha machinery in 2011, the DNA of the R1, both in terms of power delivery and chassis performance suit a smooth rider, something that is well aligned to my natural riding style.

“I will have a great team in my corner; working with PJ (Pete Jennings) as my crew chief again is great as we worked together at Swan Yamaha in 2011 so the plan is to pick up where we left off making the transition as seamless as possible.

“BSB is currently tougher than ever, I believe I have put myself in a fantastic position ahead of the 2017 season on one of the ‘plum’ seats. Shakey and Leon Haslam were the top dogs in 2016; they remain on the same machinery next season so it is fair to assume they will again be the guys to beat. I am now looking forward to the challenge ahead.

“We want to be aiming for that level from the start of the season; I am looking forward to the change and as a team we will be doing everything possible over the winter to come out and hit the ground running to fight for podiums from the opening round.”

 

 

New metal – Norton V4 RR breaks cover

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The wait is finally over – Norton has unveiled its V4 RR superbike.

The bike is powered by a 1200cc, 72° V4 producing a claimed 200bhp, and is based very closely to the bespoke manufacturer’s TT racebike.

Norton is determined that this is the bike which will reaffirm its sportsbike credentials, and to this end the company has given the V4 RR a sophisticated in-house electronics suite including traction control, wheelie control, launch control and cruise control, and this is augmented by a six-axis inertial measurement unit. There’s also a state-of-the-art 7in high-definition display that includes a rear-facing camera; an up-and-down quickshifter and datalogger.

This attention to detail continues the chassis, with the single-sided swingarm boasting a fully adjustable pivot point while suspension is handled by Öhlins NIX30 forks and an Öhlins TTXGP rear shock.

Fairings are carbon fibre, regardless of finish, and production is strictly limited to just 250 bikes.

The V4 RR will cost £28,000, but if that isn’t exclusive enough, there is also a higher spec SS model, which will set you back £44,000. This will be even rarer and just 200 bikes will be produced.