former motogp rider alex hoffman will be back on a bike in ’09 riding aprilia’s rsv-4. he’s currently testing the new bike in spain getting it in shape for its debut at one of the last rounds of this season. that’s all. move along.
in april, bmw motorrad unveiled their wsbk entry to the public and one of the big questions that went unanswered was who was going to be piloting its teutonic terror. several riders were linked to the german marque but all has been quiet on the homefront… until this week. bmw motorrad announced that ruben xaus will be leading its first foray into world superbike championship next season. the second seat is unknown at the moment, however, troy corser is rumored to be on the short list.
currently, xaus is a mediocre 7th in the championship halfway through the season. he’s been inconsistent and prone to kiss the tarmac which makes bmw’s choice a little baffling. i pity the logistics coordinator.
apparently xaus has been very interested in the project since its inception:
“When I met the BMW guys, I was very impressed by their commitment, their passion for racing and their ideas about the future. We discussed how the WSBK project was going and I realised that I wanted to be a part of it straightaway. It is not often that you get the chance to start a completely new project, but I am really looking forward to the challenge.”
the switch to bmw ends xaus’ 7 yr relationship with ducati in which he was rumored to be a top candidate for troy bayliss’ seat in the factory team as he was the 2nd ducati in the championship.
bmw along with xaus are looking to surprise the wsbk paddock with top 10 finishes in its first year of competition. with the deep pockets and deep talent i won’t be betting against them.
well, bmw motorrad’s superbike is no longer a rumor. today, they took the wraps off their 2009 world superbike entry, the s1000rr.
details of the bike are sparse. here’s what we know:
- engine is an 1000cc inline-4 allegedly with some special features, esp in the cylinder head (pneumatic valves?)
- suspension is handled by a conventional inverted fork (for compact packaging – uhhh, britten and motoczysz?); no mention of rear suspension layout
- expect a trick traction control system
sounds very japanese. as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…
the styling of the bike is reminiscent of aprilia rsv 1000r with the gaping central intake up front. it looks good but nothing special. i’m kind of disappointed that the rear subframe isn’t supportless, which as everyone knows adds 5hp :D
the “s” designation, which stands for supersports, marks a new category in bmw motorrad’s model line (will we see a 600 next? i hope so!). the s1000rr will be competing in the 2009 season of wsbk with help from alpha-technik developing the bike. bmw motorrad’s goals are very ambitious; they’ll be looking for top 10 finishes in the first year and challenge for podiums the next.
with the capital and engineering backing of one of the largest automakers in the world, the wsbk paddock will have to take the s1000rr very serious. along with the german marque’s entry, aprilia will also be competing with their rsv4. the more the merrier!!!
maybe nori haga was right when he prognosticated that world superbike racing will rival motogp. if the first two rounds are an indication of what’s to come, we’re in for a great season!!!
troy bayliss (xerox ducati) went out in style in the last world superbike at his home round of phillip island. he pretty much dominated the weekend. he qualified at pole with a record lap and then pretty much walked away from the field in both races.
but in no way were the races a snoozefest.
race 1 started with bang!!! literally for michel fabrizio (xerox ducati). he stalled his 1098rs on the line and mayhem ensued. fabrizio almost got away with it when an unlucky vittorio iannuzzo (pedercini kawasaki) smashed into the rear of the ducati. the collision was powerful enough to break the forged rear wheel yet gentle enough to remove fabrizio’s boot and not the entire foot.
the race was quickly red flagged which caused another incident at lukey heights between carlos checa (ten kate honda) and russell holland (df racing honda). apparently, as the field was slowing for the red flag holland made contact with carlos checa sending him and his bike tumbling. amazingly, 3 out of the 4 ill-fated riders (fabrizio, checa, and holland) made it back onto the grid for the restart. however, iannuzzo suffered a severe, career-threatening wrist injury.
phew! all that in less than one lap of racing.
imo, race direction should be blamed for the starting line debacle. riders were held for an unusually long time before the starting lights went out. i didn’t get a chance to count but it felt longer than the 5 seconds specified in the fim rulebook.
the restart went off without any drama and bayliss shot to the front and didn’t look back. the rest of the pack scrapped it out for 22 laps.
again like qatar, the alstare suzukis were blisteringly fast down the straight. max neukirchner was battling at the front throughout the race and finished in 5th position.
the ten honda’s also appeared much improved with checa and ryu kiyonari both in the top 10. since the honda’s are are still early in development i expect to see major improvement as the season progresses.
the sterilgarda ducatis showed that the factory boys a thing or two with ruben xaus pestering fabrizio for third (i know. amazing!). in the end, xaus managed a very respectable 4th place. in addition, max biaggi was running a wicked quick pace reeling in the distant bayliss until he overzealously binned it with 6 laps to go.
the “weakest” front-running team looked to be the yamahas. the r1’s still seem to be struggling for grip during the waning laps. even though troy corser snatched 2nd, he was riding on the ragged edge. furthermore, haga fell back to 8th after catching the front group. corser summed it up saying that “the bike wasn’t perfect and we were moving around a bit too much. we were going as fast as we could sideways!”
race 2 was a little less dramatic. as in the previous race, bayliss was untouchable.
corser didn’t do himself any favors by, first, false-starting and, second, crashing on the 5th lap.
checa impressed with his second place showing the true potential of the ten kate honda. they will be the team to watch.
the battle for the remaining of the podium position was fast and furious. biaggi, neukirchner, xaus, and nieto had a helluva time with one another. biaggi got the worst of it crashing hard at turn 1. he lifted the rear while braking and when it came down it was all over. xaus and nieto squabbled over 3rd as neukirchner couldn’t maintain the pace. there was no quarter given between the two spaniards as they banged fairings midcorner. courageous or stupid??? u decide… xaus was victorious and claimed the position in the last couple laps.
from what i’ve seen, the ducati’s are the bike to beat but they aren’t dominating. it wasn’t a runaway like i was expecting. while phillip island has been kind to ducati in the past, we saw that yamaha or honda not so far behind taking second spot while suzuki also showed its mettle. i don’t see fgsport or fim penalizing the 1200cc 1098rs… yet…
[it’s getting late so i’ll have that recap tomorrow. sorry :( ]
if u haven’t tuned in yet u’ve got a month to catch up… wsbk returns to the old continent in valencia, spain april 6th.
what a fantastic day of racing in the desert!!! so many things to cover…