MCN August 13 - sample issue
Free digital sample of the August 13th issue of MCN.
AUGUST 13, 2008 MOTOR CYCLE NEWS ❘ 5 www.motorcyclenews.com tests at Mugello 6 1 3 7 MCN REVEALS: DEC ’06 ■ First prototype breaks cover showing the basic frame and engine design. JUN ’06 New bike rumours from MCN’s man in the know... 1125 BUELL ULYSSES DUE FOR 2010 BUELL’S 2009 range has two notable omissions – the XB12S Lightning and XB12S Super TT have been discontinued as the new liquid-cooled 1125CR joins the air-cooled bikes in the streetfighter range. I’m predicting more of the air-cooled bikes will be quietly pushed out of the range, and the Ulysses is the last product line to stay solely air-cooled. The Ulysses is a personal favourite for Erik Buell, so I’m willing to bet he is working on an 1125 with Adventure Sport running gear as we speak... THE MOLE It’s not uncommon for dealers to take speculative deposits on new bikes, but with demand like that Triumph best hurry up and release the bike before dealers look silly. I’m reliably informed it’s due to lead the next part of Triumph’s 2009 model release at the Cologne show in October. 4 2 Rear angle of the RSV4 reveals many of the new bike’s secrets ■ 1. ROAD KIT – This pic clearly shows the quick-release numberplate hanger that’s likely to feature on the final production machine. Like the mirrors, it will pop off quickly for track use, though the LED taillight doesn’t appear to be the final version. ■ 2. WHEELS – OZ supply the current Aprilia RSV-R range, and these stylish, lightweight wheels with thin delicate spokes appear to be from the same firm. Given the top-level suspension and brakes on the RSV4, they’re likely to be top-spec forged aluminium rather than basic cast alloy. ■ 3. HEAT – Those blue stripes aren’t plasters, they’re simpletemperaturesensitive stickers. Their presence indicates Aprilia are conducting final checks to ensure that the rider and components aren’t subjected to excess heat from the engine and exhaust. ■ 4. EXHAUST – The massive silencer is likely to look like this, though the twin exits will probably have a shroud to tidy up the appearance. ■ 5. CHASSIS – Ohlins suspension and Brembo monobloc brake calipers are the last word in top-notch road com- 8 5 ■ An Aprilia insider leaks dyno pics of the new bike in reliability testing. OCT ’07 NEW BIG DAYTONA RUMOURS – AGAIN... ponents. Their inclusion here suggests Aprilia is pitching the RSV4 as a premium product – so expect a price tag approaching £15,000. ■ 6. DASH – Ducati has set the precedent for GP-spec instruments with its 1098, and for the first time our spy pictures show Aprilia has followed suit. The three lights at the top are likely to be ‘idiot’ lights, though a gear indicator is almost guaranteed. ■ 7. FRAME – The Aprilia’s alloy beam frame is very compact – the main frame rails hug the cylinders so closely that the engine side covers protrude significantly. The bike is very small overall – Aprilia’s pocketsized test rider looks in proportion to the rest of the bike! ■ 8. ENGINE – The 65° V4 is designed to be compact – the camchain for example only drives the inlet cam to keep the head compact. The exhaust cam is driven by a sprocket on the inlet. The massive clutch cover contains a slipper clutch, and the gearbox is a cassette design to allow fast removal and gear ratio swaps for track fiends without splitting the cases. ■ Former GP racer Alex Hofmann is spotted testing the WSB version. FEB ’08 TRIUMPH DEALERS DENY 675 TIGER – BUT STILL TAKE ORDERS! ■ Aprilia reveals the race bike at a dealer conference – in its own bodywork. I WAS amused to hear from a friend looking to buy a Tiger 1050 that his local dealer denied that Triumph would ever produce a Tiger with the Daytona 675 engine – but claimed to have taken 10 deposits for the bike! EVERY year a rumour about Triumph building a new big-bore sportsbike crops up – some more credible than others. A recent conversation with a man very close to Triumph brought a fresh rumour my way. He reckons some of the 2009-spec Daytona 675 prototypes seen coming out of the Hinckley factory are in fact bigger; like the GSX-R750, which shares most parts but with larger pistons to create an easy new model. My mole claims a capacity of around 900cc. JUN ’08 ■ The road bike – with headlights and other road kit – resumes testing. Is this 2009 Daytona 675 mule really hiding a 900cc motor? NEWS SHOCK VIDEOS FOR THE TROOPS ■ MULTI-MILLION pound ads warning Britain’s military of the dangers of riding bikes recklessly have been posted on YouTube. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said returning troops are more likely to die on the roads because they “don’t have the same safety parameters” as civilians. Watch the controversial clips at www.motorcyclenews.com AUGUST 13, 2008 MOTOR CYCLE NEWS ❘ 15 www.motorcyclenews.com 18 years old – and on an RC8! Apprentice plumber blows wages on superbike Learn to ride at Silverstone THEY can’t promise you’ll leave riding like Valentino Rossi, but the instructors at Silverstone’s new training centre can take you from learner to track day fiend. Silverstone has teamed up with BSM and a number of major manufacturers to launch a training centre at the famous racing circuit. The new centre will offer everything from the CBT to advanced training, with a view to encouraging riders The new centre will be open all year round – except for the three-week build-up to the Formula One Grand Prix – allowing people to either book courses or just have a go if they’re at the circuit for a racing event. Four full-time instructors are onboard and BSM are already looking to increase this by next spring to seven. Mike Loydall, BSM’s Head of Motorcycle Training, said: “We will have it staffed all the time so people can have trial sessions. On race days we will have instructors out there all the time saying: ‘come and have a go’.” Talks are also underway to create a motocross track near the rally school at the circuit, and with former KTM racer Laurence Wiltshire now Silverstone Sales Development Manager, they’re keen to get this moving. Wiltshire told MCN: “We want to take people from complete novices through to potentially competing on track.” BSM’s Group Training Officer, Chris Richards, said: “Riders may take their test on a Ducati Monster, but when they come back from the test we can then take them around the perimeter of the circuit on the other bikes we have here, so it’s like a test ride too.” Call 0845-300-3245 for more details. MV’S RETURN TO THE BIKE SHOW ■ MV AGUSTA will return to the International Motorcycle and Scooter Show at the Birmingham NEC this year, after a three-year absence. The firm, recently taken over by Harley-Davidson, has not been at a UK exhibition since 2005. Tickets for the show, from November 28-December 2, are on sale now from 0844-581-2345. ‘We want to take complete novices to potentially competing on track’ LAURENCE WILTSHIRE, SILVERSTONE SALES & DEVELOPMENT MANAGER towards track days or even racing. The CBTs are being taken on a Suzuki Van Van and then there’s the choice to move up to a Ducati Monster, Suzuki Bandit 650, Kawasaki ER6, or Harley Sportster 883, as Silverstone and BSM has allied itself with all of these major manufacturers. BIKE PARKING CHARGE PROTEST ■ LONDON bikers are planning a go-slow ride on August 22, to protest the introduction of bike parking charges by Westminster Council. The ride is scheduled to leave Hyde Park Corner at 9am. The RC8 isn’t Tom Weatherburn’s first sports bike either – he traded up from a Honda CBR600RR Weatherburn only had his first taste of the bike’s true potential last week during a trip to Birmingham. “I find it to test ride a bike on the dealers’ insurance,” he explained. “But I’ve owned KTM’s before so I was confident I would like it. I have been riding mopeds since I was 14, and traded-up at each opportunity.” Beside the RC8 he also owns a Thumpster dirt bike and a minimoto. The KTM isn’t the first sports bike Weatherburn has owned – he traded in a Honda CBR600RR to buy the RC8, which he got for thousands less than if he’d bought it on the mainland. The lack of VAT on Guernsey meant he paid significantly less than full price, funding it via a bank loan and trade-in. He does, however, pay £1,400 insurance. Weatherburn is an apprentice plumber and spends the majority of his wages on his bikes. He is hoping to compete in a hillclimb later in the year, and wants to experience track days, too. Both Weatherburn and his father Andy believe the system of allowing teenagers to ride scooters from the age of 14 has helped him develop a sensible attitude. The father and son duo also spent a day on an advanced rider course during their trip to Birmingham. “We never ride together at home,” Andy Weatherburn added. “The only time we do is when we come to the mainland.” ■ Know any superbike owners younger than Tom? E-mail us at mcn.news@ motorcyclenews.com laura.kennerley @motorcyclenews.com CHASE POLICE SUSPENDED ■ EIGHT Manchester police officers have been suspended from driving duties after a biker was killed during a 50minute chase. Alan Long, 54, died following the pursuit, which began after he failed to stop when signalled to do so by officers. Long collided with a VW Polo; he is the 25th person killed in six years in incidents involving the force. The Independent Police Commission is investigating the incident. OM Weatherburn is the envy of teenage (and many adult) bikers everywhere, as not only does he own a £10,695 KTM RC8 – he can legally ride it on Britain’s roads, despite being just 18! Weatherburn hails from Guernsey, where the law allows anyone aged 18 to ride unrestricted bikes – subject to passing a standard bike test. So while his counterparts on the mainland are forced to trundle around on 33bhp bikes, he can sail round the Channel Island on his 155bhp RC8 superbike. But the speed limit on Guernsey is 35mph, so T ‘It’s more fun to ride here than on Guernsey – the speed limits are higher!’ TOM WEATHERBURN easier and more pleasurable to ride over here. The speed limits here are higher and there is less traffic – Guernsey is so busy.” Because of his age he had to buy the bike without test riding it. “You have to be 21 A range of courses – from novice to expert – will be offered 20 ❘ MOTOR CYCLE NEWS AUGUST 13, 2008 PRODUCTS Unveiled: latest michael.carroll @motorcyclenews.com First look at the Italian firm’s expanded new range A LPINESTARS is gearing up to launch over 60 new products as part of the launch of its 2009 collection on September 1. The firm has focused on increasing the amount of textile clothing in its range and increasing the number of items designed specifically for women. Many of the clothes in the new range feature Gore-Tex and Alpinestars’ Drystar material, making them suitable for wearing all year round. Here are some of the key products from the new range. For more information see www.alpinestars.com 1 THE 2009 RANGE 1. S-MX 5 BOOTS £150 THIS is the latest evolution of Alpinestars’ successful S-MX range of sports boots. The S-MX 5 features double-injected, CE-approved, polyurethane protectors on the shins, ankles, and calf areas, plus a laminated lining incorporating cell-foam material to soak up impacts. Air vents are included on the heels, ankles and at the front of the boot to help keep your feet cool. Colours available include black, red and white or blue and white. The sizes covered range from 36-50. AN all-weather touring glove featuring a Gore-Tex insert and Thinsulate insulation to help keep your fingers toasty. The leather gloves feature carbon-fibre knuckle protectors, with synthetic suede fitted to the palms for grip. Colours available include black, red and black, and blue and black, with sizes ranging from S-3XL. 5. POLAR GORE-TEX GLOVES £100 6. ADVENTURE GORETEX PANTS £280 SPORTS jacket made from polyester with an abrasionresistant coating. It features Alpinestars own waterproof internal lining, soft elbow and shoulder protectors, plus space for a chest protector if desired. A removable, quilted lining is fitted for colder days, while the collar and cuffs are neoprene. Three colours are available: black, sand and brown, and the jacket comes in sizes S-4XL. 2. RICARD DRYSTAR JACKET £160 DESIGNED to zip straight to the Adventure jacket, these trousers feature CE-certified protectors in the knees and hips, along with multiple stitching on key seams. They are available in black only, in sizes ranging from S-3XL. 7. CR SUIT £550 3. ADVENTURE GORETEX JACKET £360 TOURING jacket featuring a Gore-Tex storm lining that comes with a lifetime guarantee. The jacket features multiple stitching on the main seams to prevent tearing, along with CEapproved soft protection on the elbows and shoulders, with space for a chest protector to be fitted. The Adventure jacket is only available in black, in sizes S-4XL. AMA Supersport nad Formula Xtreme racer Jake Zemke’s race suit provided the inspiration for this onepiece leather suit, which is constructed from 1.2-1.4mm leather with multiple stitching on the main seams. Shoulders and elbows are covered by GP protectors, with space for a chest protector in a compartment at the front of the suit. Colours include black, black and red, and black and blue, sizes vary depending on the colour you choose. The black-only suit is available in sizes 46-64, with sizes for the other colours ranging from 46-60. 2 8. VECTOR JACKET £390 4. TECH 7 SUPERMOTO BOOTS £260 EXPANDING Alpinestars’ ever-growing range of off-road kit is the Tech 7 supermoto boot, which features fully replaceable outer sole, heel and toe sections to extend their life. The leather boots have four aluminium buckles with memory settings and flex zones fitted to the Achilles tendon area. Sizes are from 40.5-47. The boots come in black, and white and grey. THIS leather jacket has been designed for sports bike riders and features tribalinfluenced graphics. It’s made from 1.2-1.4mm thick leather and features MotoGP-style shoulder cups on the outside, to complement the removable CE-certified armour on the inside. Other features include a racing hump on the back along. The jacket comes in black, black and red or black and blue colour options, with sizes available ranging from 46-64 for the black jacket, and 46-60 for the other colours. 3 AUGUST 13, 2008 MOTOR CYCLE NEWS ❘ 21 www.motorcyclenews.com Alpinestars range for 2009 4 WOMEN’S 2009 RANGE 7 1. STELLA ADVENTURE GORETEX JACKET £360 THE women’s version of the Adventure offers the same features (see left), but tailored for the female form. Sizes range from XS2XL, with the jacket being available in black only. compartment for a back protector, plus a removable thermal lining. The range of colours includes black, brown and beige, with sizes ranging from XS-2XL. the shoulders and elbows, and the seat and knees benefit from Kevlar stretch panels. Sizes available range from 38-50, with colours including black and cream. GIRLS’ version of the Adventure pants, designed to be zipped into the Stella Adventure jacket. Sizes available range from XS-2XL, with the only colour available being black. 2. STELLA ADVENTURE GORETEX PANTS £280 AN all-weather textile three-quarter-length touring jacket featuring CEcertified soft protectors in the shoulders and elbows, and Teflon coating for abrasion resistance. There’s a 3. STELLA MUNICH DRYSTAR JACKET £200 THIS retro-styled street jacket is made from 1.2-1.4mm leather and features multi-stitched seams for better tear resistance. A waist zip is fitted to connect to the Stella Tyla pants. Protection comes from CEcertified soft pads in the shoulders and elbows and space for a chest protector. Colours include black and cream, sizes from 38-50. 4. STELLA TYLA JACKET £300 CONSTRUCTED from a mix of cow and goat hide, the gloves feature a fulllength wrist cuff, along with Lycra flex panels on the fingers and wrists for flexibility. Sizes range from XS-XL, with colours available including black, white and cream. 6. STELLA TYLA GLOVES £50 5. STELLA TYLA PANTS £220 FEATURING a boot-cut design, these trousers are made from 1.2-1.4mm thick leather and are made to zip directly to the jacket of the same name. CE-certified soft protectors are fitted to GIRLS’ version of the new S-MX 5 sports boot, offering the same features as the men’s version, with polyurethane protectors on the shins, ankles, and calf areas, and multiple vents. Colours available include black or black and white, with sizes ranging from 36-44. 7. STELLA S-MX 5 BOOT £150 5 1 4 2 6 6 5 3 8 7 SPORT 62 ❘ MOTOR CYCLE NEWS AUGUST 13, 2008 Rossi and Stoner resume After Stoner’s allegations of Rossi’s dirty tricks campaign at Laguna Seca, MCN polls the opinions of four world champions ahead of this weekend’s GP in the Czech Republic matthew.birt@ motorcyclenews.com T was dubbed an instant classic, branded one of the most memorable dogfights in living memory and quickly became one of the most controversial too as Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi’s rivalry exploded at the Laguna Seca MotoGP round last month. A war of words began just minutes after the war on the track was won by Rossi, with a furious Stoner castigating Rossi for riding roughshod over his hopes of a fourth straight win. The accusations of Rossi’s aggressive tactics even saw Stoner claim he had lost some respect for the Italian, in an outburst that was universally condemned by fans. After the summer hiatus Stoner and Rossi resume hostilities in Brno this weekend, with memories of their epic US GP scrap still fresh in the mind. Rossi and Stoner’s Laguna masterclass was fittingly played out in front of legends like Kevin Schwantz, Wayne Rainey and Freddie Spencer. For those three, races like Stoner and Rossi’s classic were commonplace when they were at the peak of their powers, and all are well-qualified to dissect the I aftermath of Laguna ahead of this weekend’s 12th round in the Czech Republic. Triple world champion Rainey admitted he was disappointed with Stoner’s outburst, defending seventime champion Rossi’s riding: “I thought it was a great race. I also thought it was a clean race, they didn’t run into each other. I thought it was bad on Stoner’s side to say it was dirty racing. That guy should know better than to say that. The only spot on the whole race was his comments. Those are the races you should want to be a part of; at least he was part of that race. “Say what you want about Rossi – being an entertainer and a showman – but one thing I like, and I’ve always liked, is that he’s a racer and he likes to duke it out. He likes to race hard, fast and clean and that race was all those things. I thought Ston- ‘Stoner should know better. Those are the races you should want to be a part of’ WAYNE RAINEY er leaned on him hard going up that back straight, that was the only dodgy part of the whole race,” said Rainey. Schwantz was equally supportive of Rossi when he said: “I didn’t hear Stoner’s actual comments, but I heard some people say he was whining a bit afterwards. I say you always whine after you get beat in a big scrap like that. But to say you’ve lost respect for him…. bullsh*t.” Spencer added: “Yes, he was aggressive, but, he just came back at him immediately, which is what you want to do. That’s the quickest way to unsettle a guy, because he can’t get into a rhythm. Valentino knew that.” Spencer continued: “Valentino knows the horsepower difference. He knows the pace Casey could have run and in his mind I guarantee he knew what lines to protect as much as possible. And I don’t think he did anything as far as cutting him off or anything like that. “I have a lot of respect for Valentino, but like he said after the race to Casey: ‘That’s racing.’ A lot of times what happens is that a rider makes a mistake, like he did, it’s just frustration.” But Spencer refused to endorse Stoner’s scathing criticism of Rossi, and added: AUGUST 13, 2008 MOTOR CYCLE NEWS ❘ 63 www.motorcyclenews.com hostilities at Brno ‘ROSSI’S PERFECT RACE TACTICS’ VALENTINO ROSSI’S awesome Laguna Seca GP victory showed why he is regarded as one of the greatest riders in history. That’s the view of American GP legends Freddie Spencer and Kevin Schwantz, who watched in amazement as Rossi produced a virtuoso performance to defeat reigning champion Aussie Casey Stoner in a race regarded as one of the best in recent memory. Rossi, who signed a new two-year deal with the Yamaha factory outfit in Laguna Seca, confided in 1993 World Champion Schwantz on the night before the race, when the Italian questioned his chances of defeating Stoner, who had been in red-hot form in Laguna. “I said: ‘You’ve got to get in front of him somehow, you’ve got to make him pass you, you’ve got to make him work for it. Because if you just let him go, there’s no doubt that he’s fast enough to do it.’ Rossi didn’t formulate his race plan around what I said, but that’s what I said. And that’s what you saw,” Schwantz told MCN. “Sometimes the best bike doesn’t win, it’s the best rider. And you’ve got to make that guy work for it. Because up until now it’s been he (Stoner) makes a pass, he puts in a couple of good laps and he goes away. From a riders’ standpoint what I saw was just frustration, because as soon as Rossi would get in front Stoner would get right on his back wheel. You got to back up and back off, and as he runs wide, you’ve got to go underneath him with some momentum.” Spencer said Rossi’s display, which sets up a mouth-watering Czech GP in Brno this weekend, was near perfection. As an example of Rossi’s superlative race craft, Spencer pointed to Rossi’s line in turn two at Laguna. “If Stoner was going to pass him it was going to be on the outside. And he was out wide enough to where there was just no way. Stoner was forced to alter his line and his throttle pick-up, which disrupted his electronics. “Instead of getting to the apex and pinning the throttle, he’d be forced to open it twice which would force the computer to re-calculate. And the same thing going in turns three, four and five. “I guarantee Valentino worked on braking stability. When you’re racing against somebody on a faster bike, your braking and stability is very important so it doesn’t interfere with your direction changes. It was really perfection the way that Valentino approached that race.” Reigning champion Stoner claims he lost a little respect for seven-time champion Rossi after the Laguna Seca race “I think Casey overreacted to it. I think that more than likely, after he looks back at it and maybe settles down, he might have a different view. You would hope so. “That’s just racing hard and he wouldn’t feel like it’s dirty racing, because it’s not. And Valentino knew that Casey had momentum and he had to break that momentum. He had to do what he had to do. I would have done the exact same thing. I would have ridden as hard as I could, clean, and come back at him to frustrate him.” Former World and British superbike champion Neil Hodgson was also in Laguna Seca to witness the titanic tussle, and he told MCN he totally understood why Stoner had lost his cool after the defeat. Hodgson said: “I thought it was just clever racing, because he knew if he gave Casey two corners of clear track, he would get a gap and it wouldn’t be possible for him to stay with him. I could understand Stoner’s reaction after the race, because he wants to win. “I think people are all quick to judge on someone’s reaction; I’ve been in that situation where you get duffed up in a race a little bit and it doesn’t go according to plan and you spit your dummy out. But that’s what makes champions,” said the Lancastrian. Hodgson continued though to say that he was in awe of Rossi’s performance: “That’s what makes Rossi so special. Because when he has a bad weekend, he’ll still pull a wheelie over the finish line and somehow fight back the emotion that you know he wants to kick and scream. “Valentino’s been under a microscope for 12 years now, maybe even more so now at this level. But he doesn’t crack. He never cracks, he never shows that emotion. That’s why he wins these mental battles on a yearly basis against really tough opponents.” Hodgson said Rossi’s timing was perfect, not only in the race, but also for when it came, before the four-week summer break. “You just know Rossi’s been on holiday and been all relaxed. But Stoner has been reliving the race every night, thinking ‘I should have just let the brake off or I should’ve stuffed him.’ But I definitely don’t think it was dangerous riding. It’s what we want to see. I’m a fan just like the next guy and that’s what I want to see. The last thing you want to see is a procession.” Spencer also said his own respect and admiration had only grown for Rossi after his Laguna heroics: “I gained respect for Rossi and his determination that he wants that championship back. He needed to stop Casey’s momentum and he did what he had to do. It’s war, let’s face it.” Valentino Rossi won the battle of Laguna Seca. The war continues this weekend in Brno... ‘Sometimes the best bike doesn’t win, it’s the best rider. But he’s got to really work for it’ YAMAHA BOSS: “CASEY WILL COME BACK STRONGER” VALENTINO ROSSI’S Fiat Yamaha boss Davide Brivio believes Casey Stoner’s Laguna Seca disappointment will not have psychologically scarred the Aussie. If anything Brivio fears Stoner will now be even more motivated to defeat the Italian at Brno this weekend. Brivio told MCN: “Mentally Casey is very strong. He is a tough guy so I don’t think he is going to be psychologically damaged too much. But I think it [Rossi’s Laguna Seca win] was a very important moment in the season for us. Casey was on a run of three consecutive wins and a fourth in a row could have given him a massive boost. It was important we broke the momentum. Being 25 points ahead instead of 15 makes a big difference.” Responding to Stoner’s criticism of the seven-time world champion’s tactics, he added: “I understand his disappointment, but I did not see anything incorrect from Valentino. Even at the Corkscrew when he ran off, Valentino was just trying to stay on the bike and get back on the track, he was not trying to deliberately interfere with Casey. He was just trying not to crash.” DUCATI BOSS: “FANS WILL ALWAYS SUPPORT ROSSI” CASEY STONER’S factory Ducati team boss believes it was inevitable the reigning world champion would be lambasted for daring to criticise fans favourite Valentino Rossi. Stoner was unhappy with Rossi’s aggressive riding when the pair clashed during the epic US GP last month. And he didn’t shy away from voicing his opinions about Rossi, his comments drawing widespread criticism from fans. Stoner’s team boss Livio Suppo reckons people have a short memory though and that Rossi’s indiscretions are brushed under the carpet: “The problem is that if you complain about Valentino or say something against him then people are always going to think you are in the wrong. It has always been the same when people say something against him, the support has always been for him. “I think people have short memories though. People forget what Valentino was like in Turkey a couple of years ago when Toni Elias passed him. Valentino didn’t like it and he complained. All Casey did was the same.” SPORT FAST FIVE LEON HASLAM’S CREW CHIEF, CHRIS PIKE 66 ❘ MOTOR CYCLE NEWS AUGUST 13, 2008 Haslam was bolstered by his excellent Suzuka 8-Hour ride to make the changes necessary to take the win at Knockhill HM PLANT Honda Crew Chief Chris Pike is used to working with some of Britain’s top young talent, having been Jonathan Rea’s crew chief last year and working with former Airwaves Ducati man Leon Haslam for 2008. MCN caught up with him at Knockhill: 1 How much did your tyre choice have to play in Leon’s race two victory ? Over full race distance the best choice of tyre might have been full slicks. But we used the intermediate front to give Leon confidence in the early laps. I think it has been proven that it was the right choice. 2 3 4 5 Did you notice a change in Leon this weekend? He’s been a lot more relaxed this weekend, much more so than he has been all season. He puts a lot of pressure on himself. Do you feel there is less pressure on you and your team now that you’ve won? I put the same amount of pressure on myself, win or lose. I know what job I have to do, that’s what I’m paid for, and I always try to push myself to improve the bike and the rider. Will you change anything for Cadwell? We’ve got some new chassis parts to try there. We’ve got a new design for a linkage to get the shock working differently, but it’s our own design so we have to fabricate it first. So how confident are you for the next round? Leon is really good around Cadwell. We’ve had to race against him there and he’s been very impressive over the past few years. It will be good to work with him this time. Boosted by Suzuka 8-Hour performance, HM Plant man wins at Knockhill bad luck I’ve had this season, I’ll take it,” said Haslam. “The way it was looking I was thinking it was going to be another one of those weekends where everything goes against us, especially after the electronics failure in race one. The bike didn’t feel right going over the start line so I pulled the clutch in. I was trying to feed it out going down the right-left but there was no power. The next thing I know Shakey dived up the inside and sat me up. I ran wide onto a wet patch, then onto the grass and dropped it at about 5mph. “But then after the red flag in race two, when I had a good lead, I pulled into the pits and all I could think was, ‘it’s not going to happen for us again.’” The under-fire 25-year-old had been leading from the green light by over a second when the session was interrupted by a heavy crash between David Johnson and Tom Grant caused chaos at the first turn, Seat Curve. The restart was then shortened to a 20-lap dash, but with the HM Plant rider getting closer to the tailpipes of championship leader Byrne, Haslam looked to have discovered the form he showed at the end of last season, easily sitting at the top of the timesheets in all sessions over the weekend. The former WSB and GP rider looked more comfortable and confident than he has all season. “Riding in the Suzuka 8-Hour did me good,” explained Haslam, who is fourth in the championship standings on 199 points. “Out there we were riding with different suspension, tyres and riding position, but to be the quickest Dunlop rider, and even quicker than the guy who rides the bike week-in week-out, was a big confidence boost.” Refreshed from his Suzuka performance, Haslam arrived at Knockhill with a clear plan of attack for the short technical circuit: “We made some changes to the bike and sacrificed some of the performance on direction change to improve how we take the hairpin. It’s the most important corner on the track – it’s the only real place you can overtake and getting it right there gives you a massive advantage in the race. “We’ve not been able to pass people cleanly all season because I haven’t been comfortable pushing the bike that extra little bit, but this weekend we’ve been two or three tenths quicker in the final sector of the lap – that’s basically the final corner.” Haslam’s victory couldn’t have been timelier. With many teams looking to allocate their riding slots for 2009, Haslam showed no lack of conviction in saying where he wanted to be in 2009, the same place he has said since the beginning of the season. “I want to move to World Superbikes and I’ve been frustrated because I feel like I’ve been riding well but just haven’t been able to get the results,” he added. “I feel like we’ve turned over a new leaf this weekend and to get a win is a huge weight off my shoulders. My first intention is to go to WSB with HM Plant Honda if they make that move. If not, then I will have to consider other options, possibly with other Honda teams.” rob.hull @motorcyclenews.com U NDER PRESSURE Leon Haslam breathed a sigh of relief as all the bad luck and struggles of the 2008 season were swept away as he took his first win in HM Plant Honda colours at Knockhill last Sunday. Haslam benefited from a race two crash by leader Shane Byrne that resulted in a red flag and a declared result five laps shy of full race distance. Qualifying on pole at the 1.27-mile Scottish circuit, a suspected electrical failure put him out of contention for race one, but Byrne’s crash – the second at that corner to cause a red flag during race two – gifted Haslam his first win of 2008. “It wasn’t really the way I wanted to win my first race of the season but with all the ‘I feel like we’ve turned over a new leaf this weekend’ LEON HASLAM the Airwaves man fell heavily at the same corner. “I understand why Shane crashed because we both ran the intermediate front tyre and I had a moment the lap before,” added Haslam. “It was moving a lot and I locked the front going into the hairpin the lap before Shane went down.” BSB 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 TITLE TABLE Knockhill ROUND 8/12 GB GB GB GB GB GB GB GB GB GB 332 222 214 199 179 177 174 110 108 75 Byrne Crutchlow Sykes Haslam Camier Ellison Rutter Laverty Andrews Palmer DOUBLE RED Haslam finally delivers first win of the season AUGUST 13, 2008 MOTOR CYCLE NEWS ❘ 67 www.motorcyclenews.com Change of luck for Harris KARL HARRIS took his first podium of the season; reaping the benefits of Shane Byrne’s race two spill. The Rob Mac Racing Yamaha rider’s performance came off the back of a confidence-boosting wildcard ride in World Supersports at Brands a week ago, despite crashing out of the race. Harris, who ended race one in seventh, took to the third step of the podium in the second race to complete his best race weekend this season. And the former HM Plant Honda rider said it felt strange to get his most promising result of the year when he felt off the pace and had serious setup issues. The 27-year old Yorkshireman told MCN: “We’ve been the Friday winner every weekend – we always go well in practice but then have a nightmare during the race. “This weekend I don’t feel like I was riding at my best. ‘It was good to see Karl back to how we know he can ride’ ROB MCELNEA We had a real problem during practice getting the balance of the bike right. In the races it didn’t work into the hairpin. We tried everything, but every time I hit the brakes and went over a bump on the entry to a corner I couldn’t get the bike to settle. “So having a turn of good luck came as a bit of a shock, especially this weekend when we were struggling. But it’s about time our luck took a change for the better!” Harris’ team boss also saluted the change in fortunes after suffering his fair share of misfortune in 2008: “We’d had a tough weekend up until now as Knockhill’s not the easiest place to come to, especially with the conditions we’ve all faced. It was good to see Karl back to how we all know he can ride the bike. It’s great for Karl and the team to be on the podium. It gives us confidence ahead of our home round at Cadwell,” McElnea said. Potential WSB move decisions are putting BSB riders in limbo TALK of Airwaves Ducati and HM Plant Honda upping sticks and moving to World Superbikes has been rife for pretty much the entire season. And the ‘will they? Won’t they?’ saga continued this weekend at Knockhill, with nearly everyone in th BSB paddock expressing their own opinion. But for many riders in the championship it’s an agonising wait before putting pen to paper for a contract in 2009. The prolonged wait for an official announcement from two of the biggest players in the paddock is putting the majority of BSB riders’ plans on hold. Many of the main players this season haven’t hidden their ambitions to move to the World scene. Both Cal Crutchlow and Leon Haslam have openly said they don’t plan to be in in the series next year. Shane Byrne has been adamant from the beginning of the season that he wants to step up to WSB, and after impressing in his WSB wildcard role at Brands Hatch just over a week ago, Tom Sykes could be on a few World Superbike team bosses’ wishlists. So the question now is, if GSE Racing and Honda UK do decide to stay in BSB, who will be taking the vacant spots? Ultimately we could be looking at four seats in the three biggest teams freed up for next year, and as discussions for 2009 begin, there are racers waiting in the wings to swoop onto the scene. But with neither team prepared yet to divulge their plans for 2009, some could be hanging themselves out to dry if they delay on other offers and the two teams in question do move onto the world stage. PIT PASS Rob Hull Harris’ first silverware of ’08 boosts his confidence for Cadwell KARL HARRIS’ SEASON SO FAR... ■ Round 2, Thruxton 0 points People were tagging Karl Harris as a real title contender both pre-season and after an impressive build-up to the first race weekend of the season at Thruxton. But it all went horribly wrong from the beginning when he retired with a mechanical failure in race one and took the full brunt of Tom Sykes’ Suzuki in the face after a coming together between the Rizla rider and HM Plant Honda man Leon Haslam sent the GSX-R1000 spiraling out of control. ■ Round 3, Oulton Park 0 points Harris picked up two broken metatarsals in his right foot from the Thruxton crash, but opted to battle on at the next round of the championship at Oulton Park. Harris even cut the plaster off his broken foot himself before practice day. But it turned out to be the wrong decision as his lack of riding fitness caused him to crash twice, and consequently miss the re-scheduled Brands round as a result. ■ Round 7, Oulton Park 7 points The Rob Mac Yamaha rider looked to be in contention for at least a podium finish in the opening race at the next Oulton outing. That was until he looked to make a move for third place on Leon Haslam at Shell and ran slightly wide. Shane Byrne saw his opportunity to get underneath the Sheffield rider, but it ended up with Harris straddling the front mudguard of the Airwaves Ducati before sliding off the track. ‘We could see four seats at the three top teams freed up for 2009’ Shakey has said he’s really happy with his current team, and it would be almost unthinkable for him not to go to World Superbikes with GSE Racing if it chooses to do so. But he’s also got factory WSB teams courting him, including Xerox Ducati. But what about Honda? The question still lies over whether it will take either of its 2008 riders, so should Cal and Leon be looking elsewhere? HM Plant has said it wants to make a decision by the end of the month – so we’ll know soon – but it’s going to be a long month for everyone, not just for the two teams involved. Harris: 0, GSX-R1000: 1 Lowry eyes BSB after Ellison still looking for the win Knockhill BSS victory IAN LOWRY said he’s ready for the challenges of British Superbikes after taking his second win of the season at round eight of the British Supersport Championship. Lowry scored an impressive win a Knockhill that takes him within 37 points of series leader Glen Richards and moved him up one spot in the standings to third. And with a formal agreement to move up to the Relentless TAS Superbike team in 2009 dependent of his results, Lowry told MCN he was ready for the move. Lowry needs more wins to guarantee a BSB ride for 2009 “This win has felt like a long time coming,” he said. “We’ve been using the 2007 bike for the last couple of rounds, but this weekend we’ve used the K8 bike and got it working perfectly.” Lowry took the lead on lap six, dropping underneath Triumph-mounted Richards going into the final chicane. And by the time the rain started to fall on lap 23 causing the red flags to be waved and the result called early, the 21-year old Newry rider held a second lead over James Westmoreland. Ellison finished third in race one and fifth in race two on Sunday HYDREX Bike Animal Honda’s James Ellison scored another BSB podium finish on Sunday at Knockhill, but said he won’t be happy until he gets a win. Ellison finished third in race one and fifth in race two, to move within two points of Leon Camier in the fight for fifth in the title, despite crashing heavily during first free practice. “Friday was a write-off,” said the Kendal rider. “I couldn’t get my head around the track or the bike setup. It just didn’t click. With the new electronics system, we sat down with our suspension guy and worked out where we were going wrong. I just ended up making it harder by qualifying sh*t!” Ellison has had an impressive return to British soil in 2008 and team boss Shaun Muir admitted that with the results so far this season, James was a possible target for other teams. Ellison added: “Shaun has some good plans. If I stay in Britain then there isn’t anyone else who does a better job. In my opinion this team deserves factory backing and that’s something Shaun is working on for next year.” BSB confirm WSB rules for 2009 BRITISH SUPERBIKES governing body, the MCRCB – Motorcycle Racing Control Board – announced on Saturday that they had accepted the new regulation changes for 2009 to revert to FIM rules that are run in WSB. MCN broke the story three weeks ago that British motorcycle racing’s flagship series was set to change back to the WSB specifications. BSB Series Director Stuart Higgs told MCN: “We’re happy to announce that the MCRCB has accepted the proposal to have FIM rules in British Superbikes in 2009. “There will be a meeting in the next few weeks to cover a few small issues but otherwise everything is to go ahead as previously discussed.” Shakey is eager for a WSB ride, and wants to do it with GSE Tell us what you think www.motorcyclenews.com