Month: January 2017

Review – Springfield Bike Show

Quick mooch around the Springfield Bike Show in Spalding at the weekend. Loved the Matchless, the tidy KR1S and the Suzuki SV650 in the MotoGP colours, courtesy of Wheels.

In fact Wheels were the only dealership exhibiting – shame really when you’ve got Ducati, Webbs, and Balderston on your doorstep. Same with clothing – Branded Biker was the only retailer there…

What was positive was the amount of people in the halls, the atmosphere and the number of bikes in the car park.

Road racing – Martin signs for Factory Honda squad

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The fastest man to never win a TT has signed to race a new Fireblade for the Factory Honda outfit.

Martin was in talks with Neil Tuxworth to ride for Honda last year, with Honda desperate to see Martin on their machinery in 2016. Sources close to Martin revealed that the star was told he could name his price, but it isn’t money that drives Martin and he told Tuxworth so. Instead of a fat pay cheque, Martin said he’d race for nothing, so long as he could race the RCV, the road-going version of Marc Marquez’s bike.

Tuxworth left and contacted HRC, but the answer from the Japanese factory was that a road racing RCV wasn’t a possibility. And thus the talks between Tuxworth and Martin broke down.

However, Tuxworth believes Martin is the perfect rider to partner John McGuinness and continued to push the maverick truck mechanic to sign for his Honda Legends road racing squad.

Martin said: Neil [Tuxworth] has been talking to me for a while about joining the team, but I had a lot of thinking to do before I committed and said yes. I spent a lot of time on my push bike to and from work, thinking about what to do. I didn’t want to grow old regretting not giving the Honda a go, and the more time passes since making the decision, the more time I’ve thought it is the right decision.

“Honda is a great team and the Fireblade has always been a weapon on the roads, so with the new bike, I‘m keen to give it a go. We’ve got a busy testing schedule coming up and I’ve put some other stuff off to make time. John [McGuinness] is the man, I’ve got massive respect for him and I’m looking forward to racing on the Fireblade against him.”

The deal will see Martin ride the new Honda Fireblade in both the Superstock and Superbike races at the TT, and is also set to compete at the North West 200, Ulster GP, Southern 100 and some Irish meetings in the coming year.

Signing for the Factory Honda teams means Martin will ditch the spanners and focus solely on riding the new Fireblade, which may just free enough head space to allow him to take his maiden TT win.

It’s a big ask though – the bike is unproven. Watch this space…

 

 

Road racing – Brookes to race Norton at TT

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Norton is set to field two Aussie riders at the 2017 TT after attracting the signature of Aussie Josh Brookes to the factory team.

Brookes joins compatriot David Johnson, and both riders will compete on the all-new SG6, derived from the recently launched V4 SS road bike.

Brookes returns to the TT following a year racing in World Superbikes and is no stranger to the TT. He claimed fastest newcomer at the TT in 2013 finishing a best place of seventh in the 2014 Senior race with his fastest ever TT lap, a staggering 129.859mph, set in only his second year at the Island.

After a two-year absence on the challenging 37.73-mile Mountain Course, Brookes is looking to build on his TT success on the new 230bhp Norton.

Speaking from his home in Australia, Brookes said: “Firstly I want to come back to the TT, after SMR said I couldn’t ride at the TT over the last two years I’ve been desperate to get back and race at the island. I like the history of the Norton and it will be so great to be a little part of the Norton story. It’s just something that interests me, and I’m really excited by the project. It’s always hard to predict results, especially around the island so I think it’s important that I let it come to me. I’ve not been for two years, and I don’t know how much the Norton bike has improved, but I hear great things about the bike.

“My first ever race at the TT was in the Superbike and I got a top ten, so let’s hope we are better than that at least, but realistically if we finish the races without a problem, and I’m in the 132mph club by the end of the fortnight then we’ll be celebrating.”

The SG6 is hand built at Norton’s Donington Hall factory and is currently undergoing a punishing development and testing schedule in the hands of two-times TT winner and Norton development rider, Steve Plater. The bike will feature the V4 Aprilia CRT motor with Norton’s own V4 engine being raced in 2018.

Former Norton Factory rider Ian Mackman joins the team as a race engineer for 2017, joining experienced Norton Race Manager Johnny Cusack in the team along with TT legend Mick Grant who will continue in his role as Senior Advisor adding his extensive TT experience to the factory squad.

Road racing – Martin makes shock return with Honda

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Guy Martin is making a shock return to the roads after signing a deal to ride the all-new Fireblade for Honda.

Honda had offered a ‘name your price’ contract last year, but the Lincolnshire maverick refused the offer, asking instead for a RCV213. Honda UK asked Japan but were unable to come to an agreement and the deal was dead in the water.

Or so we thought. Now it seems Guy has agreed terms to ride a 2017 Fireblade at the TT, although no details have been revealed about which team he’s riding for – the Honda TT Legends team or the Wilson Craig team.

And after sitting out last season altogether he’s got a point to prove.

Dakar – Brit Sam Sunderland takes bike title

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KTM continued its Dakar Rally dominance with a 16th consecutive win and an all-KTM podium on Saturday (January 14) when Red Bull KTM factory racers Sam Sunderland of Great Britain and Matthias Walkner of Austria completed the 2017 event with a 1-2 finish, while Spain’s Gerard Farres Guell rounded out the top three.

It’s known as the toughest, most unpredictable race in the world, and Sunderland, who is the first British racer to win the Dakar in any category, went into the final 64 km timed special with a 33-minute advantage aboard his KTM.

Having led the race from stage 5, the 27-year-old held his nerve to take victory after almost 9,000 km travelled through Paraguay, Bolivia, and Argentina while battling with incredibly challenging conditions and difficult navigation.

Sunderland: “When I crossed the line my emotions really took over. I’ve had a lot of weight on my shoulders for the last six days. Now it feels incredible. I have to say thanks to my team, the bike has been great from start to finish. When Toby (Price) went out of the race it was a blow to the team, as he’s a good friend. Because of the strong bonds we have in our team it helped us to pull together and strive to do something special. There’s a lot of fast guys that have the potential to win this race, I think cutting out the mistakes was the key to this win.”

Alex Doringer (KTM Rally Team Manager) said: “The Dakar, with all of these weather conditions, heavy rain and muddy conditions, it was quite difficult for the team from a logistics point of view. I think for the riders, it was quite a different Dakar. There were not as many kilometers of special stages but it was intensive both physically and mentally. Sam did a fantastic job and he was very consistent.”

Sunderland’s Austrian teammate, Walkner, had a little more pressure in the closing stages from fellow KTM pilot Gerard Farres Guell, who finished in an eventual third position and Adrien Van Beveren who won the final stage.

Final Standings Dakar 2017 after 12 of 12 stages

1. Sunderland, 32:06:22 h

2. Walkner, +32:00 min (5 min penalty)

3. Farres Guell, +35:40

4. Van Beveren, +36:28 (1 min penalty)

5. Barreda, +43:08 (58:01 min penalty)

 

Racing – MSV adds Donington Park to portfolio

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Motor Sport Vision has added Donington Park to its portfolio after signing a deal to the Donington Park Estate for an initial 21-year period.

MSV, already owns Brands Hatch, Snetterton, Oulton Park, Cadwell Park and Bedford Aerodrome, and the move could signal a huge investment programme in the Leicestershire track, building on the work of the Wheatcroft family who initially developed the circuit into an iconic British motorsport venue that has hosted F1 and MotoGP.

MSV currently holds the commercial and running rights for the British Superbike championship and the BRDC British Formula 3 championship, while Donington Park currently hosts the British round of the World Superbike championship as well as BSB and BTCC.

New Metal – 2017 Triumph Street Triple

2017-triumph-street-triple-rTriumph’s 2017 Street Triple has broken cover, and the new bike promises to be bigger and better than ever.

The big news is its 765cc engine, with the increase coming as a result of increases in the bore and stroke on the iconic three-cylinder motor, with Triumph using a new crank, pistons, and barrels in its construction.

Three versions will be available – S, R and RS.

The R and RS get a TFT dash and slipper clutch as standard, while the RS also quickshifter and premium components, including fully adjustable Showa big-piston forks, a Öhlins TTX 40 shock, Brembo M50 four-piston caliper brakes and five riding modes.

The Street Triple R gets four riding modes and features separate-function Showa big-piston forks, a Showa rear shock and Brembo M4.32 four-piston calipers.

The base model Street Triple S receives just two riding modes, separate-function Showa forks, a preload-adjustable Showa rear shock and two-piston front brakes.

 

BSB – Brookes is back and gunning for second title

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 Josh Brookes is making a spectacular return to the BSB grid this year gunning for a second title as he is reunited with Yamaha in Anvil Hire TAG Racing colours.

Brookes celebrated a debut MCE BSB title in 2015 claiming an incredible 13 wins and a further ten podium finishes in his title-winning campaign with Yamaha against arch rival Shane Byrne before moving to the World Championship.

However, a move to the WSBK paddock and a jump to BMW machinery saw the Australian struggle to gel with the S1000RR and he jumped at the chance to return to Yamaha.

Brookes said: “I am happy to be back in BSB; it is all really positive for me as I have probably raced more years in this championship than any other so it is my most familiar territory. I am looking forward to coming back, racing on the tracks and meeting the fans again.

“I was exploring a lot of different possibilities but this deal was the best option for me. To be riding the Yamaha again is the icing on the cake; I know what it is like to ride, I found my rhythm with it before and I know it suits me. My goal is still the same and that is to maximise the potential and environment I am in. I won’t start focusing on other riders and what they are doing until the Showdown and hopefully we will be in a position to then focus on our main rivals.

“I think for me to win a second title would mean as much as the first because I have a constant hunger and desire for racing and remain as passionate as ever to leave Australia behind for the season to pursue a championship. I am always in search of results and improving on previous years. Every test, practice and qualifying session or the races I always approach with the same motivation and that is to try and beat the competition.”

Brookes becomes the tenth different race winner to feature on the 2017 grid with the countdown to the opening round at Donington Park (31 March – 2 April) continuing as the team prepare to embark on their pre-season testing programme in Spain.

 

 

Road racing – Lee Johnston to ride Hayden’s 2016 WSBK spec bike at TT

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Irish road racer Lee Johnston will line up for Jackson Racing at this year’s Isle of Man TT races, with the diminutive Irishman riding Nicky Hayden’s 2016 WSBK Honda CBR1000RR.

The 27-year-old will ride the Ten Kate prepared Fireblade that carried the 2006 MotoGP world champion to a World Superbike Race win last season at Malaysia and fifth overall in the Championship, in the Superbike Senior TT Races.

He said: “I want to be back at the front again, winning races and I think this is the bike that can help me to do that. I had plenty of offers for this year and in the end it was all of the little things coming together that sealed the deal.

“We are getting help from Honda but with Alan and his team I can run my own choice of kit, bring some of my own people to work on the bikes and keep my own sponsors.”

“I was over in Holland last week at the Ten Kate workshop and they are super keen to be going back to the TT. Honda doesn’t bring out bad bikes and if the stocker is on the pace then we will have a go on it but realistically I should be winning a Supersport TT before I’m winning a superbike race. I hold the lap record on a 600 at the North West and the Ulster and I’ve won lots of races on that bike but I haven’t turned it into anything at the TT yet. I’m hungrier than ever and I just want to win more races than I did in 2016!”

The new deal  means Johnston will also have the new 2017 SP2 spec Fireblade available in stock trim, but by opting to ride the 2016 spec ex-Hayden Honda he hopes to avoid any problems in finding a good set up with a brand new bike. He will also campaign Honda machinery in the Superstock and two Supersport Races.

Johnston made his TT debut in 2012 and won the coveted TT Privateer’s Trophy, riding Honda machinery, a year later. He was again Honda-mounted in 2014 when he took a best finish of fifth in the Superstock Race and a switch to BMW power in 2015 gave him his first TT podium with third in the Superstock Race. He recorded his best lap to date of 130.851mph in the race and backed it up by the same result in the SES TT Zero Race.

Winner of the 2014 350cc Classic TT, last season was ruined by leg injuries suffered in a crash at the Scarborough Spring Cup in April but he still had some fine rides on the Mountain Course with a brace of sixths taken in the two Supersport races, eighth in the Senior and tenth in the Superbike race.

Racing – Smiths Racing signs Hickman for roads and BSB assault

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Gloucester-based Smiths Racing BMW has signed 29-year-old Peter Hickman for the 2017 roads and BSB season.

Lincolnshire lad Hickman will be riding alongside fellow Yellowbelly Lee Jackson, who will also be racing a Smiths Racing BMW S1000RR in BSB.

Hickman said: “I have another new challenge to look forward to again this season and I’m relishing it aboard the Smiths Racing BMW. All the dealings I’ve had with the team so far have been fantastic and they are very easy to work with. I know the BMW well having ridden it in the past and we’ve been promised the right support from the factory in Germany, which will make a difference. I’m pleased to be bringing my own crew into the team which is a massive bonus so I’m really looking forward to the season in both BSB and on the roads with Smiths Racing.”

Hickman made his TT debut in 2014 for the Ice Valley BMW team, taking a best finish of eighth in the Superstock race while he also won silver replicas for 11th place in the Senior and 14th Superbike races, which were enough to land him the prestigious Newcomers Trophy – his fastest lap of 129.104mph remains the fastest ever lap recorded by a Mountain Course newcomer.

Continuing with BMW machinery in 2015, this time for Lee Hardy Racing, Hickman took fifth in the Superstock race, seventh in the Senior and eighth in the Superbike races to win three more silver replicas, improving his best lap to 131.626mph in the process.

A switch to the GBMoto Kawasaki team in 2016 saw him take an excellent fourth place in the Superbike race where he lapped at 132.465mph to become the fourth fastest rider of all time.

He also won two MCE BSB races last season on his way to winning the Rider’s Cup title as well as taking victory at the Ulster Grand Prix and defending his Macau Grand Prix title. Very much in demand as one of the sport’s great all-rounders, Peter returns to the BMW marque with which he’s enjoyed so much success in the past.