WSBK

Nicky Hayden – godspeed Kentucky Kid

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The racing world is in mourning after learning the sad news that Nicky Hayden has succumbed to injuries suffered during an incident while riding his bicycle last Wednesday.

Nicky passed away at 19:09 CEST this evening at Maurizio Bufalini Hospital in Cesena, Italy. His fiancée Jackie, mother Rose and brother Tommy were at his side.

Throughout his career Nicky’s professionalism and fighting spirit was greatly valued and carried him to numerous successes, including his childhood dream of being crowned MotoGP World Champion with Honda in 2006.

As well as being a true champion on the track, Nicky was a fan favourite off it due to his kind nature, relaxed demeanour and the huge smile he invariably carried everywhere.

Nothing says more about Nicky’s character than the overwhelming response expressed by fellow racers and his legions of fans over the past few days. Jackie and his family are truly grateful for the countless prayers and well wishes for Nicky.

The ‘Kentucky Kid’ will be sorely missed by all that ever had the pleasure of meeting him or the privilege to see him race a motorcycle around a track, be it dirt or asphalt.

The racing world says goodbye to one of its dearest sons. Rest in peace Nicholas ‘Nicky’ Patrick Hayden.

 

WSBK – Hayden in ‘serious’ condition after training crash

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Nicky Hayden remains in a very serious condition in hospital after a bicycle accident while training in Italy.

The 2006 MotoGP world champion was reportedly hit by a car between Tavoleto and Riccione, south of the seaside resort of Rimini and rushed to a local hospital with severe head and chest injuries. However, the severity of his injuries led to the medical team deciding to fly him to the Bufalini hospital in nearby Cesena, one better equipped to cater to serious head injuries.

Hospital staff describe Hayden’s condition as ‘very serious’ and he has now been moved to intensive care.

Hayden was in the region training following last weekend’s fifth round of the WSBK series at nearby Imola.

The Kentucky Kid raced for the factory Honda and Honda  MotoGP teams before switching to WSBK in 2016, finishing the season in place.

 

 

 

 

 

WSBK – Davies does the double at Imola

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After winning Race 1 in a dominant fashion, Chaz Davies did the double at Imola (Italy), giving the factory Ducati squad its fourth WSBK success in a row at its home race.

The Welshman, who took pole position on Saturday, had to work his way up the field from ninth position today, based on the new 2017 grid regulations for Race 2, and got off the blocks quickly at the re-start – the red flags interrupted the race after only two laps.

Davies then progressively climbed his way up the ranks, closing the gap from provisional leader Sykes on the Kawasaki ZX-10R.

The Welshman then took the lead on lap 8, and eventually pulled away to win with a four-second advantage on his rivals.

Davies said: “What a weekend! For the first time this year I feel we’ve been the benchmark from the beginning. We were able to find our rhythm on Friday, and it sort of snowballed from there.

“The team has done an awesome job, the bike worked superbly in both races, in different conditions, but today it was quite interesting. We got mixed up at the first start, but after the re-start we got a good launch and I was able to make some good moves that put us in a good position. Sykes’ pace was strong, so I had to put my head down to hunt him and, once I caught him, I was able to set my own pace and that was good enough. Thanks to all the Italian fans for showing up this weekend, their push was something special.”

Ernesto Marinelli, Superbike Project Director, said: “Once again, Imola coincided with a really emotional weekend. Chaz rode two flawless races, and we dedicate the wins to all the Ducatisti who flooded the circuit and showed their passion, and also to all the boys at home who allowed Chaz and the team to finalise the job. To win at Imola is incredible.”

WSBK – Ducati dominates Race One at Imola

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The factory Ducati team enjoyed a day to remember in front of its fans at Imola as Chaz Davies once again proved to be the man to beat at the Italian track.

The Welshman, who secured pole position in the morning while showing an unmatched pace, never looked back after the start and finished with a seven-second advantage over his rivals when, with six laps to go, the race was red-flagged after Eugene Laverty’s big crash.

The race was declared, and with the results based on the positions from the previous lap, Ducati had two riders on the podium with team-mate Melandri enjoying his first WSBK podium at Imola .

Race winner Chaz Davies said: “It’s been a perfect weekend so far. I think this track really suits me and the Panigale R. We’ve made good steps forward under acceleration this year, and it was a big help here with the tight chicanes. Also, this layout helps me to take advantage of the strong points of my riding style. I kept controlling the gap from Rea, looking after the tyres, and the bike felt really consistent. It was a lonely race, but not an easy one.

“Tomorrow’s going to be different, starting from the back. We need to keep it clean and be patient. We can still improve something on the electronics side, but clearly we won’t make any big changes. Thanks to all the ducatisti for their amazing support today!”

Team-mate Marco Melandri said: “To step on the podium in front of the home crowd is amazing, but it wasn’t easy out there today. From this morning, we had some issues. I still didn’t feel at 100 percent under braking, and under acceleration I had to shut the throttle often while upshifting, without being able to fully take advantage of our power.

“Nonetheless, Chaz was really fast, especially in the third sector, and while trying not to lose contact with him I made some mistakes. After a few laps, with less fuel in the tank and a lighter bike, we improved. I was ready to fight against Sykes and in general I expected to battle against the two Kawasakis, but we didn’t take advantage of our full potential and I want to do better tomorrow.”

WSBK – Laverty escapes injury in huge Race One off at Imola

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Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty emerged unscathed from a dramatic, and fast, racing incident during Race One at Imola.

Saturday’s Superpole sessions were promising for the Milwaukee Aprilia rider, with Laverty qualifying an encouraging P6 after going straight to Superpole 2 from Free Practice.

Laverty made a good getaway and quickly took fifth place, and although he couldn’t manage the pace of the top four he ran well in the middle of the field, enjoying battles with the Ducati of Fores and the MV Agusta of Camier.

As his pace dropped Laverty fell into the clutches of the Yamahas of Van der Mark and Lowes, defending well against both until a late move from Lowes resulted in a contact of the bikes.

Laverty’s bike suffered a broken front brake line and he was unable to slow as he approached Turn 17 – he managed to jump from his bike at high speed and avoided a collision with the wall, while his bike burst into flames on impact.

Laverty said: “I was optimistic at the start because the bike was feeling good, but I started losing pace after about 7 lap and I was moving backwards. I tried hanging in, and just before the crash happened the bike started to feel good again.

“We didn’t have much rear grip today. It was good at the start and then went away, but then it came back in the middle of the race which was strange. That’s something we need to look closely at, at times I felt I could really push but it was disappointing to see other guys coming past.

“I’m OK after the crash and I thought it would hurt me more, but my gear did its job and I’m ready to get on the bike again tomorrow. It’s hard to know how tomorrow will go, obviously there are positives to take from today but we have to analyse where we’re struggling.”

Laverty visited the Medical Centre for precautionary checks but has been deemed fit to race on Sunday.

WSBK – Davies urges Rea to ‘cut the crap’ and let the racing do the talking

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The war of words from Assen’s fallout between Johnny Rea and Chaz Davies continues with the Ducati rider telling Rea to ‘cut the crap’.

Davies has issued a lengthy statement, apologising for his tirade against the reigning world champion in Parc Ferme, but also calling for the Kawasaki rider to stop playing games and to focus solely on riding.

Davies said: “Now that the dust has settled on the Assen WSBK weekend I’d like to bring into context the events that unfolded during the Superpole session on Saturday afternoon. I don’t feel like all the facts were obvious at the time so I think it’s necessary to provide the full picture.

“Firstly, I hold my hands up and apologise for my choice of language. I’m sorry it came across on live TV and to whoever it may have offended. While I’m sorry for my choice of language, I’m not sorry for addressing the issue in the way I did. I don’t need to detail that this sport is dangerous and there isn’t much more dangerous than a rider touring on the racing line. Add a touring rider into the path of other riders during the last lap of Superpole and it’s another level of #Sh*tsAboutToGetReal.

“Towards the end of Superpole 2, rider #65 set an incredible marker with his first lap on the new Pirelli qualifying tyres. These tyres aren’t exactly qualifying tyres, they’re called a pre-qualifying tyre and according to Pirelli should be “good for around three fast laps” rather than the typical single flying lap you’d usually see from a true qualifier. #65 rolled off the gas immediately after his first flying lap. That’s pretty normal when you know you’ve got everything out of your package, which, judging by his lap time, he seemingly did.

“I completed my first flying lap. The lap went OK, but I didn’t feel like I perfected it and I assumed it was probably not good enough for the front row of the grid. So, I pushed on for another bite at the cherry with a second lap. I crossed the line at the end of my first flying lap, 19 seconds after #65 completed his lap. 19 seconds is quite a large gap. For example, a full lap of cruising is, on average, about 15 seconds slower than an on-pace lap.

“So, for me to catch up the full 19 seconds in less than half a lap, is quite exceptional. Add to that the fact that #65’s slowest ‘pit in’ lap of the entire weekend was 18 seconds slower than a full on-pace lap (1’54 vs 1’36), yet at the end of Superpole 2 somehow he managed to lose 19 seconds in the opening 40 seconds of a full 96 second lap.

“In Moto3, the percentage determined to be “cruising” is 10%. Applying Moto3 rules, losing just 4 seconds would have been enough for #65 to incur a grid penalty. I wonder what penalty would have been handed down for 19 seconds?

“My second lap was underway and at the second intermediate split I was 0.051 (51 thousandths of a second) outside of my previous lap, a gap that I would definitely call ‘in touch’ to improve my own lap time. I saw #65 as I exited turn 5 onto the back straight, he took a long look over his shoulder through turn 6 and with that I expected him to move well aside on what is a seriously fast part of the circuit.

“As I threw my bike into into turn 7, #65 was mid corner, just wide of the ideal racing line. I’m talking a bikes width but no more, definitely far from off line. In that situation you don’t know what the rider ahead is thinking or which way he’s going as he hasn’t clearly shown which part of the track he’s heading for. He stayed on that line which then on corner exit turns into what is exactly the ideal line, where the natural line is to drift out to 3/4 track width before bringing it back to setup the entry for turn 8.

“I had already backed out of committing to turn 7 at the very last split second on corner entry as I could see what was about to unfold. That foresight and slight lack of commitment at the speed I was carrying gave me the time I needed to be able to pick the bike up on the early part of corner exit and give enough room to avoid what could have been a massive accident. #65 again looked behind, the opposite side to where I was and I felt the need to wake him up to the severity of what just happened. I hit him on the arm as I passed and hurtled some gestures his way.

“Fast forward a couple of minutes into Parc Ferme and once I saw #65 I made the Italian gesture of a pinched together thumb and fingers, translated as “what the hell were you thinking?”.

“I expected a different reaction to what came. #65 went straight on the defensive saying he hadn’t seen me, claiming he was off line anyway, why was I on the outside of him, I shouldn’t have been anywhere near him. It was a good attempt at turning the situation around to put the blame on me.

“There was everything but a simple apology, which, had it have arrived straight away, would had instantly diffused the situation. At that point I tried to put across the severity of the situation, but his arrogance was off the scale. I threw the regrettable profanities at him and finally, after heated exchanges, he begrudgingly offered his hand as an apology.

“As far as I was concerned it was too late and I didn’t feel like it was genuine, so I declined. He was happy to tell the media that is was good to see me frustrated. If you get your kicks from putting other riders’ lives in danger, good for you. My reaction was genuinely not informed by any kind of frustration other than at what I perceived as dirty riding.

“Race Direction took the matter into their own hands (without any intervention from me or my team) and decided that a three-place grid penalty was sufficient. Quite honestly, I’d have preferred to see an immediate admission of fault over the penalty that was handed down.

“After the incident, another rider who was on his ‘in lap’ and saw everything unfold confirmed exactly my thoughts that #65 was looking over his shoulder with intent from early in his in lap.

“At turn 5 it’s very easy to glance across the circuit to all the way through turns 2, 3 and 4 to see which riders are coming. #65 stayed well off the gas, taking another look over his shoulder during turn 6 (seconds before the incident) which unfortunately wasn’t broadcast on the replay, but is shown on the full Superpole 2 session video on the WSBK website (20min 52secs into the full Superpole 2 session video).

“I saw this look behind on track and then again on the full video clip when I was called to Race Direction – it was clear for all of us to see. #65 knew I was coming and endangered both of us with his underhand games.

“Of course, he will deny this, but the facts, video and Race Direction penalty prove otherwise. #65 knew I would abort my lap, but, if I had have committed to turn 7, there’s a strong chance neither of us would have made the grid. I’d expect fairer play from a novice, let alone a double world champion.

“Mistakes do happen. I’ve unintentionally held up others before and have always held my hands up to those kind of mistakes. However, with the facts that were in front of me, I’m absolutely certain there were no coincidences on this occasion. On track it’s usually clear what is or isn’t intentional – I had the same situation last year with my team mate Davide Giugliano in Thailand. However, then I recognised it as an honest mistake and he was quick to admit fault. A number of riders messaged me on Saturday to say they have, at various points in the past, had the same issues – if #65 sees you as a threat he’s willing to play those cards.

“So, I have this message for #65 – you’re a good enough rider without these games, so cut the crap and lets continue to put on the show that is entertaining fans of WSBK, mano a mano. I enjoy the battles, the intense rivalry and hugely respect your ability/achievements, but I strongly believe on this occasion you just took it way too far. Let’s get back to old fashioned hard and fair racing at Imola.”

WSBK – Rea wins photo finish Race Two at Assen

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Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea celebrated his 200th series start in style after crossing the line by the narrowest of margins at Assen – just 0.025 seconds separated the Ulsterman and team-mate Tom Sykes as the reigning champions secured another double Dutch success.

Rea made a strong start, cutting through the field from ninth on the grid and taking the lead early on. However, the strong winds caused him to run wide, brining him back into the clutches of his team-mate Sykes.

Sykes continued to push hard, shadowing Rea, though never looking capable of passing him. However, he got superb drive through the final chicane, catching Rea and almost passing him on the drag to the line.

The win was Rea’s 11th at Assen since he started his WSBK career and his third double at this 4.542km circuit since he joined Kawasaki in 2015.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “It has been an incredible weekend of racing. I have been especially happy with Superpole yesterday because the lap I made then was maybe the best lap I have ever made on a bike. I am really proud of that. Of course the race wins were really nice to take away. Today was a race of two halves. In the first half I raced hard until I got a warning so in the second half I just managed things to try and be safe and bring her home. I had a little bit left at the end but the biggest problem was the wind today. I was pulling a gap but then I had a huge front slide in T11, and my foot came off the peg, at mid-race distance. I decided just to ride and save something for the last laps after that. I had a big wobble coming out of 11 again near the end and I then just tried to be clever in the last lap and cover the last corner. My line was probably not the fastest way around there but it covered any move up the inside and I made it to the line first.”

It was an important day of statistics for Rea, as he also secured his 45th WSBK career win and his 30th individual race win for Kawasaki.

In the championship Rea now leads by 64 points, from his team-mate Sykes, with Chaz Davies third on 111 points and second race faller Marco Melandri on 97.

The next races in the series will take place on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th of May, at the Imola circuit in Italy.

WSBK – Rea wins Race One at Assen

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Jonathan Rea claimed the Race One win after a day of controversy at Assen.

The Ulsterman was caught up in a war of words with Ducati’s Chaz Davies in Parc Ferme, with the title rivals exchanging candid views about a coming together in qualifying – the Kawasaki rider was convinced he had left Davies enough room; Davies adamant that Rea had ruined his hot lap. Race Control sided with the Welshman, judging Rea had impeded the progress of a rival while he had been setting a fast lap, and thus imposed a penalty demoting him to fourth.

Tensions were still simmering on the grid for the start, with Davies still seething about Rea’s ‘lack of sportingness’.

As the lights dropped, Davies, Sykes and Rea made strong starts, with Davies doing most of the early front-running.

The pace was fast and Rea set a new lap record, over a second faster then the previous one, on lap three, with a 1’34.880 as he caught Davies, shadowing the Ducati rider for lap after lap.

Rea eventually pounced, only to be re-passed, and after a close battle, managed to edge back into front with two laps to go. However, the drama was not over as Davies was forced to stop trackside on Lap 20 with an electrical issue.

Rea crossed the line to take the win, his tenth at the Dutch track, with team-mate Tom Sykes claiming second and Ducati’s Marco Melandri taking over third spot.

Rea said: “That one was really nice because the more wins you get on a certain track the more pressure you feel to repeat it. I am not sure why I click so well with Assen but it seems to be working. It seems like our bike was working very well in the faster sections of the track, and Chaz was fast out of T5 in acceleration. I could maintain the lap time as we were to-ing and fro-ing at certain parts of the track, but I was strong in the back section, where it counts for passes. I had good pace at the end and I wanted to go through then and make a gap. But every time I put my nose in front there was a big block pass into the last corner. It was, honestly, very unfortunate for Chaz at the end and it is never a good way to lose points. But it was important for me that that bad luck happened to him when he was behind me because at that point of the race I was trying to make my rhythm and go away.”

WSBK – Rea looking forward to more success at Assen

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This weekend sees WSBK visit one of the most iconic venues on the calendar – TT Assen Circuit in Netherlands, known to all as The Cathedral of Speed.

Reigning world champion, and current series leader, Jonathan Rea is hoping that he can continue the run of form that has given him a strong lead in the early part of this year’s campaign.

The Dutch track is the Ulsterman’s favourite circuit and he is hoping that he can continue the run of form he has enjoyed on Dutch soil over the years – since joining the WSBK class full time in 2009, Rea has had 12 podium finishes, with no fewer than nine race wins, including double wins in 2010 and in the last two years, 2015 and 2016 on the Kawasaki.

Rea also has another reason to look forward to the weekend – Race Two on Sunday will see him make his 200th race start.

Rea said: “I’m really excited to go to Assen as it’s a circuit that typically I’ve been very strong at in the past. I really enjoy the layout and nature of the track. Sunday at Assen will also mark my 200th career WSBK race start so that, in itself, is something I’m both proud and excited about.

“The Assen weekend always falls around this time of the year and history has shown that the weather can play a part, so it’s important to be fast in both the wet and the dry. I’m excited for whatever condition arrives. It’s always a great feeling riding in front of the passionate Dutch fans, who always turn out in force.”

WSBK – resurgent Davies takes Race Two win at Aragon

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The Ducati team took its first win of the season in Race 2 at Aragon thanks to a brilliant performance by Chaz Davies.

The Welshman bounced back from a nasty crash in Race One to claim his sixth victory at the Spanish track and 21st of his career.

Starting in tenth position, Davies quickly stormed through the field, already joining the leading group on the third lap. Davies and teammate Marco Melandri then stalked race leader Johnny Rea until lap 12, when Davies pounced to take the lead.

As in Race One, the final laps resulted in a spectacular series of passes between the leading protagonists, with Melandri climbing to second position before eventually falling away. Davies on the other hand continued to dice with Rea several times before making the decisive move at the last chicane to take the win.

Chaz Davies said: “The whole weekend has been difficult, from start to finish, so it was really important to cap it with a win, especially after yesterday’s disappointment. We were confident our bike would be fast at Aragon, but it wasn’t easy at all out there today and our main rivals seem relatively comfortable so we know there’s still work to do in many areas.

“Today we suffered a bit with grip early on. Also, the wind was really strong. It kept pushing me away from corners and in the last lap I got caught by a gust going into turn 5 and I missed a backshift, going a bit wide, but we still managed to finish in front. We’re competitive but it’s still not enough, so we need to keep working to improve.”