World Superbikes

Imola Returns In Finalized 2009 World Superbike Championship Calendar

The FIM today announced the official and final version of the 2009 World Superbike calendar. The announcement both confirmed some sad news and provided some excellent news for racing fans.

The bad news is that Brands Hatch, the biggest motorcycle race in the UK, and arguably the largest motorsports event in the country, is now officially off the calendar. Its absence is a result of an argument over sanctioning fees between FGSport (or as it is now called, Infront Motor Sports) and MSV, the body which organizes BSB and is run by Jonathan Palmer, which owns both Brands Hatch and a number of other major race circuits in the UK. The arguments may ostensibly be over money, but a whiff of politics hangs over the decision, with the Flammini brothers wanting a great deal more money than last year, while Palmer refusing to pay any more than he did last year. The loss of Brands is a major blow to race fans, both in terms of the circuit - which is a beautiful track, in a rather idyllic wooded area, and in terms of the event. Attendances at Brands were huge, rivalling even the numbers seen at Spanish MotoGP rounds.

The good news, however, is that Vallelunga has been dropped in favor of Imola. There had been rumors that this was to happen, as the track was dangerous and difficult, with a tight section added on in haste to make it eligible for FIM sanctioned international races. And as Vallelunga was thought to be included primarily to draw in Max Biaggi's fans from his native Rome, with Biaggi now a regular part of the series, the need for a round near Rome has been obviated.

The return of Imola sees one of the classic race tracks back on the calendar. Imola has been the site of some classic battles, both in the Grand Prix series and in World Superbikes, but perhaps none have been so famous as the final round of the 2002 World Superbike series, when Colin Edwards beat Troy Bayliss to win the championship.

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Aprilia Testing, Day 2: Superbike, 125 and 250 Riders Times From Valencia

Aprilia's test continued today at Valencia, with the main attraction being Marco Simoncelli being given a run on Aprilia's RSV4 World Superbike machine. The Italian was immediately quick, and matched the time set yesterday by Shinya Nakano. But Nakano was even quicker, taking a second off the time he set yesterday, and matching the fastest lap set during the World Superbike round held here in April of this year.

In the 250 class, Alvaro Bautista was fastest again today, although Gabor Talmacsi equaled the Spaniard's time. Meanwhile, in the 125 class, it was Julian Simon who was quickest, over half a second ahead of his Aspar team mate Bradley Smith. Smith was also slower than Andrea Iannone.

The smaller classes will now pack up and go home for the winter break, as the test ban starts on December 1st. But before that, the MotoGP riders will take to the track in Jerez and Phillip Island.

1Shinya NakanoAprilia1'35.3
2Marco SimoncelliAprilia1'36.3
3Alex HofmannAprilia1'37.3
250 cc
1Alvaro BautistaAprilia1'38.1
2Gabor TalmacsiAprilia1'38.1
3Mike di MeglioAprilia1'38.6
125 cc
1Julian SimonAprilia1'40.5
2Andrea IannoneAprilia1'41.0
3Bradley SmithAprilia1'41.1
4Sergio GadeaAprilia1'42.0


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Aprilia Superbike, 125 and 250 Riders Test Times At Valencia

While the MotoGP teams are warming up ready for the final test of the season, either at Jerez for the official IRTA test or in Phillip Island for the private test for Suzuki and Kawasaki, Aprilia was rolling out its equipment for all of the classes it will be contesting this year at Valencia.

Shinya Nakano and test rider Alex Hofmann were testing Aprilia's RSV4 World Superbike weapon, Nakano setting a time about a second slower than the times set at the World Superbike race here in April, while Hofmann was a good deal slower, but likely to be much busier actually testing equipment, rather than setting lap times. Meanwhile, Alvaro Bautista was quickest of the 250 riders, with Bradley Smith fractionally faster than his Aspar team mate Julian Simon on the 125s.

But there were two other noteworthy visitors at the test in Spain. The first was the British Maxtra team, rolling out at one of the first public appearances of the bike. The team, which is being run by British GP legend John Surtees, features an engine tuned by Aprilia's and KTM's former engine guru Jan Witteveen, and despite Michael Ranseder being pleased with the bike, saying "you can ride the bike very cleanly, but I have to get used to the bike, as it's so different to anything else I've ever ridden," the Maxtra team did not release lap times.

The other prominent visitor was Marco Simoncelli. Simoncelli did not ride today, but he will be out on Tuesday. Not on his Gilera, though, but rather aboard the RSV4 superbike. The ride is not a test, however, but just a reward for winning the 250 World Championship. Simoncelli has unfinished business in 250s and MotoGP, and is not yet ready to head off into World Superbikes.

Times from Monday's test at Valencia:

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Aprilia Unveils Official Livery

We had already posted pictures of the brand new Aprilia RSV4 World Superbike machine from the test which took place at Portimao, after the final round of WSBK (pictures here). But now, Aprilia have unveiled the official livery that Max Biaggi and Shinya Nakano will be running next year. The color scheme is Aprilia's traditional red and black, but this time, without any of the white which was used on the old RSV Mille bike. Italian site has the scoop, but here's a taster:

Aprilia RSV4 Superbike

See all of the pictures over at


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Want To Be A Race Mechanic? Ten Kate Are Hiring!

Everyone - well, almost everyone who reads this site regularly - dreams of one day perhaps making into the paddock of either MotoGP or World Superbikes, and being able to earn their living surrounded by the most exciting racing motorcycles in the world. The opportunities to make that leap are few and far between, and when they do come along, they are often surrounded by uncertainty.

So when an opportunity does arise, it is a pleasure to be able to alert eager readers to their chance to make it into the world of elite motorcycle racing. And now, just such a chance has come up.

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World Superbike Post-Portimao Test Times

Testing after the final round of World Superbikes at Portimao threw up a few interesting surprises. The first is that Shane Byrne was quick right off the bat, but as Shakey won the British Superbike championship aboard a very similar bike this year, he might be regarded as having a head start. The second surprise was that Ben Spies was so fast. Spies has changed bikes and tires, and so setting such a fast time after just two days of testing is fairly impressive.

Perhaps the most interesting time was the one set by Max Biaggi aboard the Aprilia. The RSV4 is a brand new bike, and the difference between the drawing board and the track can be monumental, as so many factories have found to their peril. So far, it looks like Aprilia have got it right.

The next round of testing for the World Superbike riders is to take place at Kyalami, South Africa, from 10th to the 12th of December. 

1. Shane Byrne (Ducati) 1'43.6

2. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1'43.9

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World Superbike Testing Notes And Sounds From Portugal, Tuesday

Some of the World Superbike paddock got to head straight off on vacation - at least once their hangovers from the end of season party subsided. But for a few hardy souls, and a bunch of series rookies, work started on Monday, after the annual journalist blagfest which sees writers from selected magazines - some former racers, some just very lucky and very scared - ride the world's trickest production bikes around the spectacular Portimao track.

The busiest part of pit lane is outside the Aprilia garage, where people are crowded round the newest entrant to the World Superbike paddock. The bike has has one or two teething troubles, occasionally refusing to start, but since getting underway, Max Biaggi has been lapping at speed.

The other easy-to-spot garage in the otherwise quiet pit lane is the Yamaha Motor Italia box, where rookies Ben Spies and Tom Sykes are making their debut aboard the Yamaha R1. The interest in the Yamaha pits is twofold: On the one hand, there's the biggest name American to join a World Championship since Nicky Hayden went to Repsol Honda, and a promising and very talented young British rider at his side. On the other, there's the brand new, long bang, cross-plane crankshaft R1, currently decked out in skunkworks-style black carbon fiber, and looking like it's been rolled freshly out of Yamaha's Racing Department workshops.

There's plenty of other new faces here, too. Shakey Byrne is circulating on the Sterilgarda Ducati and is looking what the Brits are calling "proper fast". Eugene Laverty has taken over the seat vacated by the tragic death of Craig Jones, and kept warm by double AMA Formula Extreme champion Josh Hayes, and is learning his way around the bike and the circuit. 

Another newcomer is the Australian Ant West. West has left a disastrous season aboard a disastrous Kawasaki MotoGP bike behind him and is circulating on the Stiggy Motorsports Honda Supersport bike.

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