Wheelies 30 – 29. Michael van der Mark (-7)

We continue our second edition of Wheelies 30 with a young and promising rider. Michael van der Mark had the courage to risk everything and moved from Honda to Yamaha.

Given how bad Yamaha performed in 2016, this move could have been a career ending for Michael. Not only that is wasn’t the case, but the Flying Dutchman of the Superbikes has done a tremendous job throughout the whole outpacing Alex Lowes, his more experienced team mate.

While he performed extremely well in the Superbikes, his two appearances in the GPs with Monster Energy Tech3 Yamaha were lacklustre, but given the short time to accomodate with the M1, it is quite understandable.

If Yamaha raises the challenge next year in World SBK, Michael can be a good challenger for the unrivalled crown of Jonathan Rea. Who knows, maybe it’s about time to have another king in SBK.

 

Photo – Yamaha Racing

Jake Gagne to race for Red Bull Honda in 2018

After a disappointing 2017, marred by the tragic death of Nicky Hayden, Ronald Ten Kate, announced today the line-up for 2018. Therefore, Leon Camier and Jake Gagne will race for Red Bull Honda next year.

With Camier already announced from November, Jake Gagne is the big surprise. While everyone else expected Stefan Bradl to be named as the second rider, the young american won the contest and will make his first full season in the World Superbike series.

Gagne made the official debut at Laguna Seca having the unfortunate role to replace the late Nicky Hayden, who died in a tragic road accident in May.

Jake Gagne raced in three Superbike round. His best finish was a 11th place at Lausitzring in August. His overall consistency played an important in the decision making of Red Bull Honda.

The new Superbike championship will start in the last weekend of February. The inaugural round will take place at Phillip Island, in Australia.

 

Photo – Honda Racing Corporation

Wheelies 2017 – World Superbike Top 10

The World Superbike Championship had another thrilling season in 2017. Here’s our Top 10 Superbike racers.

1. Jonathan Rea

The wisest choice for #1 by a mile. The northern irish rider has demonstrated once again that he is probably the greatest rider to throw a leg over a bike in World SBK. His total domination combined with his nearly flawless season makes the rightful man to be placed at no. 1 in this top.

2. Kenan Sofuoglu

He may have lost the titles, but he definitely won a lot of hearts. With his never say die attitude, the turkish rider went on to fight for the world championship until the very last corner in Qatar. Sadly for him, he lost the battle against Mahias, but he definitely could have been the Superbike racer of the year if there was no Johnny Rea around.

3. Chaz Davies

After the amazing end of the 2016 season, Chaz Davies had the opportunity to fight for the first time in his career for the championship. In the early stages of this season, he was up there with Rea, but marred by inconsistency, his results dropped and his championship chance ran away. Maybe next year, Chaz!

4. Michael van der Mark

The Dutchman was by far the best rider out of the Ducati-Kawasaki quartet. Therefore, we can actually give him at least the honorific title of best the rest. At some points, he was outpaced by his more experienced team mate, Alex Lowes, but, overall he was the main rider of the Yamaha team. Definitely a champion in the making!

5. Lucas Mahias

Lucky champ or a well deserved one? Hard to say. Overall, 2017 was marked by consistent top three results. Although he unnecessarily crashed in several races, he kept his calm in Qatar and grabbed his first championship. It is yet unknow if he stays in the Supersport class to defend his title. If he chooses so, it’ll be very hard against a hungry for revenge Sofuoglu.

6. Alex Lowes

In football, Arsenal is the eternal fourth placed team in the Premier League. In the first part of the Superbike championship, Alex Lowes seemed to be destined to be the eternal fourth placed rider. All in all, his season was very good, even though, in the second half of the championship he was severely outpaced by his team mate, Michael van der Mark.

7. Leon Camier

Though he had many opportunities to show his skill and talent throughout the years with better machineries, Leon Camier demonstrated that he deserves to ride a very competitive bike. For 2018, he has an agreement with a falling Honda. In 2017, he was up there with the Kawasaki and Ducati riders in some races and he scored very well round after round. It’ll be interesting to see a mature Camier on a Honda. A championship combination? Why not!

8. Tom Sykes

His days at Kawasaki seem to be numbered. The results are not on his days and having Jonathan Rea as a team mate is not a good option if he ever wants to become a world champion again. Anyway, he won several races in a season where he was completely dominated by Rea.

9. Marco Melandri

His comeback in Superbike was not as good as he expected, but it wasn’t a very bad one either. A race win and some good racing action. Not an enormous collection for this season, but it might be a good start for 2018. An italian champion on an italian bike? The perfect dream for the team based in Bologna.

10. Nicky Hayden

Sadly, he is not among us anymore. Anyway, while he was alive, he had some good results given his bike. Unfortunately, Nicky Hayden’s career ended suddenly when he was killed in a tragic road accident in Italy. To never get yourself seriously injured while racing at 300 kmh+ and to die while riding your bicycle in your spare time. Life has its own ironic twists sometimes.

 

Photo – Motorcycle News

 

Loris Baz returns to WorldSBK alongside Althea BMW

It has been announced that Loris Baz will take part in the 2018 Superbike World Championship alongside Althea BMW Racing Team. This will mark his return in the World SBK after a three year break, period during which the Frenchman competed in MotoGP. 

Loris Baz made his debut in the WorldSBK back in 2008, in the European Superstock 600 class, winning the championship at the very first attempt.

He debuted in the premier class in 2012. Only 19 years old at that time, he impressed by winning the first race of the British round held at Silverstone.

Having demonstrated his talent right from his debut in the Superbike class, Baz did not disappoint in the following year, 2013, as he was a constant presence in the top 7, also adding a second career win, again on the Silverstone Circuit. Unfortunately, he missed the last 10 races of the season and finished 8th.

2014 was even better for the Frenchman, as he scored 9 podium finishes throughout the season and ended 5th overall.

His performances did not go unnoticed in the MotoGP paddock and Baz was offered a chance to perform on the World s biggest stage in 2015 alongside Forward Racing. He did well for a rookie, finishing the season as the 2nd best rookie (behind Maverick Vinales), with a best result of 4th.

2016 brought a change for Loris Baz as he moved to Avintia Racing, where he rode a Ducati Desmosedici GP14. He managed to race in only 14 races, missing the other 4 due to injuries. However, he mantained his reputation as a wet weather specialist as he finished 4th in Brno and 5th in Malaysia.

He remained with Avintia Racing in 2017 and rode a Ducati Desmosedici GP15. His teammate, Hector Barbera, was offered the GP16 model. However, Baz managed to end the championship ahead of Barbera (Baz finished 18th overall, while Barbera was 20th), but the team considered his results unsatisfying. As a result, he was not offered a contract for the 2018 season.

With the MotoGP grid completed, Baz started looking for a spot on the WorldSBK grid and he has now found it. The Althea BMW Racing Team has lined up on the SBK grid in 2017 with Jordi Torres and Raffaele de Rosa. Torres was a constant point scorer and finished the season 9th overall, having gathered 158 points.

photo credit – asphaltandrubber.com

Mahias wins World SSP Superpole as title rival Sofuoglu heads the second row

Superpole 1 

PJ Jacobsen and Sheridan Morais dominated the first session of the World Supersport Superpole on the Losail International Circuit in Qatar. The duo finished more than half a second ahead of the rest of the pack, securing their place for Superpole 2. P13-P26 on the grid will be filled, in the following order, by G. Rea, C. Bergman, L. Zanetti, A. Baldolini, K. Watanabe, S. Al Sulaiti, Z. Khairuddin, S. Hill, H. Okubo, M. Al Naimi, X. Cardelus, L. Epis, G. Scarcella and N. Calero.

Superpole 2

Having dominated the practice sessions on Thursday, Lucas Mahias stamped his authority on the Losail Circuit once again in the battle for pole position. The championship leader won the session, establishing a time 0.546 faster than the one managed by compatriot Jules Cluzel, who would start from 2nd. Joining them on the front row it will be Kallio Racing rider Niki Tuuli, the winner of the French round held on the Magny Cours circuit last month.

Kenan Sofuoglu impressed once again as the injured Turkish rider took P4 – thus keeping his slight chance at causing Mahias some problems in the championship. Alongside the reigning champion on the second row there will be Jacobsen and Morais, the riders that managed to progress from Superpole 1.

Federico Caricasulo, winner last timeout in Jerez, will open the 3rd row, with Luke Stapleford and Kyle Smith next to him in P8 and P9.

M. Canducci, C. Gamarino and Anthony West will form the 4th row on the grid.

The Supersport race will kick-off on Saturday evening, at 19:30 local time.

photo credit – worldsbk.com

 

Kenan Sofuoglu to race in WorldSSP final race

Turkish rider Kenan Sofuoglu, a 5-time World Champion in the Supersport class of the Superbike World Championship, has confirmed that he will take part at the last race of the year, which will take place this week-end in Qatar under the lights of the stunning Losail International Circuit.

On the 30th of September, Sofuoglu broke his pelvis and hip bones after a huge crash during the Superpole session of the French round. As a result, he missed both French and Spanish rounds. This allowed Lucas Mahias to take the championship lead from him.

By returning in Qatar, Sofuoglu keeps alive his chances to clinch his 6th title. Lucas Mahias arrives at the last round of the year with a 20-point advantage over the Kawasaki rider, with 25 up for grabs.

Kenan Sofuoglu will be crowned the 2017 Supersport World Champion if he wins the race and Mahias fails to finish in the top 10, or if he finishes 2nd and Mahias fails to score points.

Kenan Sofuoglu has clinched his previous 5 World Supersport titles in the 2007, 2010, 2012, 2015 and 2016 seasons. He is the most successful rider to have competed in the category.

photo credit – Moto Journal

Michael van der Mark will replace Jonas Folger at Sepang

After being absent in the last two rounds, Jonas Folger will also miss the Malaysian GP. Unfortunately, the german rider didn’t manage to cure his Epstein-Barr virus so far and he will most likely miss the last round of the season in Valencia as well.

Given this problem, Tech3 announced that Michael van der Mark will replace Folger at Sepang. van der Mark, aged 24, will finally make his MotoGP debut after being snubbed by Valentino Rossi’s return to action at MotorLand Aragon.

Initially, van der Mark was announced as the replacement rider for Rossi, but, given the italian’s sudden comeback, he was ruled out for the third spanish week of the season.

Michael van der Mark will make his MotoGP debut next week. The young dutch rider is currently riding for Yamaha in the Superbike series, where he is currently sixth in the standings.

 

Photo – Yamaha Racing

 

Jonathan Rea takes another double win at Jerez

Jonathan Rea won both races at Jerez, the guest of the penultimate round of the World Superbike Championship. Yesterday, in the first race the weekend, the northern irish rider had a great of luck after the mechanical failure Marco Melandri had on his Ducati.

Today, Rea dominated from start to finish. Though the second race was red flagged and had to be restarted after the incident in which Chaz Davies and Eugene Laverty were involved, Jonathan Rea kept his cool and after the restart he broke away from the pack and took another win.

With this triumph, he is the holder of a new record, as he became the man with the most podium finishes in the history of Superbike. Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies completed the podium, while, Tom Sykes fifth place brought another constructors championship to Kawasaki.

Jonathan Rea is already world champion for the third time. In the championship, he has a massive advantage over Chaz Davies and Tom Sykes who are now tied on points in the second place.

The last round of the championship will take place on November 3-5 at Losail International Circuit in Qatar.

 

Photo – Sky Sport

Federico Caricasulo wins in dramatic fashion at Jerez

The Supersport class had an amazing showdown at Jerez. After obtaining a well deserved pole position on the qualifying session on Saturday afternoon, Federico Caricasulo seemed to be the main favorite to win the race today.

Right from the start, Federico Caricasulo and Jules Cluzel battled for the lead. Behind them, Lucas Mahias needed a second place to clinch his first Supersport championship. Without Kenan Sofuoglu, who is injured, only Mahias and Sheridan Morais had mathematical chances to win the championship this season.

Caricasulo and Cluzel had a very dramatic fight throughout the race and in the end, Caricasulo came out victorious. The italian held the frenchman up until the last corner and took his second win of the season. Anthony West had another magnificent race and finished third.

Championship contenders, Lucas Mahias and Sheridan Morais finished finished fifth and sixth and the championship battle will go to Losail in two weeks time.

In the championship standings, Lucas Mahias extended his gap in front of Kenan Sofuoglu. To win his first world championship must finish the last round inside the top ten regardless of Sofuoglu’s result.

 

Photo – Yamaha Racing

Michael van der Mark to replace Valentino Rossi at Aragon

Following Valentino Rossi’s injury, Yamaha decided not to bring another rider at Misano. Unfortunately, the legendary italian rider will not be able to participate at MotorLand Aragon as well.

In a brief press statement, Michael van der Mark was announced as the replacement for Valentino Rossi for the third spanish round of the season.

Aged 24, Michael van der Mark is set to make his debut in the MotoGP. He is currently riding for Yamaha in the World Superbike Championship. The dutchman is currently 7th in the standings, with 135 points.

Michael van der Mark has won many titles throughout his career. He won the European Superstock Championship in 2012, two Suzuka 8H wins and the prestigious World Supersport Championship in 2014.

 

photo – Yamaha Racing