Friday, February 5

APRILIA WILL RACE SUPERBIKE

It’s now official: there will be Aprilias on the 2016 Superbike World Championship grid.  The riders are Grand Prix winner and ex- MotoGP rider Alex de Angelis and Lorenzo Savadori, reigning 1000 Superstock championship winner.
Both are confirmed to start the opening round at Australia’s Phillip Island at the end of the month.
The news was confirmed at the eleventh hour, by team IodaRacing, with just three weeks to the island kick-off.    
Alex DeAngelis won at Phillip Island in 2011.  It was the Moto2
race at the Australian GP meeting.
San Marino’s De Angelis was hurt in a serious accident at last year's Japanese GP at Motegi and spent eight days of hospitalisation in the intensive care unit at the Dokkyo University Hospital of Mibu.  He was riding an IodaRacing Aprilia Racing Team machine.
This year he and his new Italian team-mate, Savadori, will be riding the Aprilia RSV4 RF, the bike that won the last two races of the 2015 campaign in the hands of Catalan rider Jordi Torres and England's Leon Haslam. 
Their first track time on the RSV4s will be at the final pre-season test at Phillip Island from February 22-23, just days before the 2016 season start on February 26.
Alex De Angelis said: “My current physical condition is as yet unknown.  Since the crash I’ve not ridden and the test before Phillip Island will also be important for that reason. I can’t fully contract my biceps and so I don’t have much strength in my right arm.  It’s all a question of time.”  
De Angelis who has tasted victory at Phillip Island in the past, winning the Moto2 race in 2011.
“In the test I’ll get my first taste of a Superbike, which I’ve never tried before. I’m sure that IodaRacing have a greater chance of doing well in World Superbike as opposed to MotoGP and I hope to get back into the top positions, which I haven’t been able to do for a while and I miss it.
“The Aprilia was a winning bike at the end of 2015 and we will have to see what the difference is now after the other marques have been working over the winter.  I expect and hope that Aprilia won’t just prove a supplier but also an integral part of the team.
“I regret not having been able to test over the winter, but it is what it is and we’ll use the first couple of races as a test and make progress as soon as possible.”

Lorenzo Savadori.
Lorenzo Savadori is thrilled to race in the top class and said: “I’m very happy, because these few months have been quite challenging given the news has only just arrived, but I’m glad I waited and happy to continue my career with Aprilia.  I’m also happy to work with IodaRacing, who have so much experience and come from MotoG, just as I am to have Alex De Angelis as a team-mate for the same reasons.  The goal is to learn as much as possible, it will be the first time on a Superbike for me and I don’t know the Pirelli slicks, which are a big change. I’ll give 100 per cent to learn everything. 
"Phillip Island as a track isn’t somewhere I know well, the last time I rode there was in 2010 on a 125 and everything will be completely different.

 I want to thank everyone who has helped me to get here, and special thanks to Aprilia, my manager Lucio Pedercini and to the team for the opportunity.”

Wednesday, January 20

AUSSIES OUT IN FORCE FOR SUPERBIKE OPENER

'Team Australia' will be out in force for the opening round of the 2016 Motul FIM Superbike and Supersport World Championships at Phillip Island from February 26-28.

Jed Metcher will race a Kawasaki ZX-10R at Phillip Island. 

(Photo: Russell Colvin).
A total of 10 local riders - five full-timers and five wildcards - will line up across the two production-based world classes, with Mike Jones (Ducati) and Jed Metcher (Kawasaki) making one-off appearances in World Superbike alongside Josh Brookes (BMW Motorrad) and Josh Hook (Kawasaki).

In World Supersport, former Moto2 winner Anthony West (Yamaha), Kane Burns (Suzuki) and Mitch Levy (Yamaha) will join full-timers Glenn Scott (Honda), Aiden Wagner (MV Agusta) and Lachlan Epis (Kawasaki).

Metcher was also a wildcard at the 2015 World Superbike round, and he's banking on a local test at Phillip Island on February 8-9 to ignite his 2016 assault. 


Mike Jones will be Ducati-mounted at 

Phillip Island.

Kane Burns will line up on a GSX-R600 at 
Phillip Island.  (Photo: Russell Colvin).

Meanwhile, Jones will be making his debut in the category following a breakout 2015 which saw him clinch the Australian Superbike Championship and also win races in the Australasian Superbike Championship against much tougher opposition.

Moreover, Jones will also be making his debut for the all-new DesmoSport Ducati team co-managed by three-time Superbike World Champion Troy Bayliss, so the attention will squarely be focussed on the extremely talented 21-year-old.

"The wildcard ride is awesome – but also a slightly scary proposition at the same time," said Jones. "When I first got the ride with DesmoSport to compete in the Australian Superbike Championship the WorldSBK wildcard wasn't really on the agenda, but then Troy (Bayliss) got the idea and it's just snowballed from there.

"The exposure for the team at Phillip Island will be great, especially with Troy's massive presence in the paddock, and my goal is to learn as much as I can from the other riders and see where the results take me. Top 15 is always a goal, and a top 10 finish would be awesome."

West's return to World SuperSport comes after a six-year break, in a class where he won races on Yamaha machinery way back in 2007.  The Queenslander has also produced some stirring rides at Phillip Island in the past, especially in the Moto2 ranks, and in 2015 was a substitute rider in the MotoGP race.

West's Yamaha will race under the 'Green Tea X50' banner in a team owned by Steve Trinder Jnr, the son of former Aussie road racing star Steve Trinder.

Ant West will be calming himself with Green Tea at Phillip Island.


"I am looking forward to getting on a bike that has all the potential to win the WorldSSP race at Phillip Island," said West.  "The whole team is committed to making it a successful outing, and it's extra special because I'll be riding a machine that is Aussie built with a major Aussie sponsor."

In the 2009 World SuperSport race at Phillip Island, West finished third, just 0.153secs behind race winner Kenan Sofuoglu.

Meanwhile, Burns and Levy impressed in separate national supersport titles in 2015, and the former also showed sizzling form in the support races at the 2015 Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix.

Mitch Levy first came to attention as a teenager
with some scintillating rides on Honda
classic bikes at Phiillip Island.

 “World SuperSport is my dream and it’s coming true, so I’m  super excited to get out there to give it my best shot,” said Levy who comes from the northern New South Wales coastal village of Hat Head, near Kempsey.

The World SuperSport race will be held over 18 laps on February 28, while the traditional double-header Sunday format for WorldSBK has been jettisoned in favour of one race each day, with both 22-lappers to be held at 3:00pm on February 27 and 28 respectively.

World Superbike will still practice and qualify Friday and Saturday, but Superpole has been moved up to Saturday to run from 12.30pm prior to the 3:00pm Saturday race.


The World SuperSPort race at Phillip Island will be held over 21 laps at 1:20pm on Sunday, while the two 22-lap WorldSBK races are scheduled for 3:00pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Kiwi Rider readers who wish to attend the Motul Superbike World Championship opening round should contact Michael Esdaile: 027 495 4510 or michael@takeme2.net



Wednesday, January 13

MAGEE JOINS GP LINE-UP AT SHEENE FESTIVAL

Kevin Magee, once described as the most talented Australian since the late Gregg Hansford, is joining the international line-up of former Grand Prix stars at the Barry Sheene Festival of Speed from March 18-20.

The event, now in its 11th running, will again be held at the former world championship grand prix circuit, Sydney Motorsport Park, Eastern Creek.

In addition to Magee, the event will be graced by three times world champion Freddie Spencer, 1993 World 500 Champion Kevin Schwantz, four times world champion Kork Ballington, New Zealand legend Graeme Crosby and the late Barry Sheene's best mate, Steve 'Stavros' Parrish (See more here ). 


The Yamaha YZR500 V4 two-stroke grand prix machine that Kevin Magee will demonstrate at the 2016 Barry Sheene Festival of Speed on March 18-20.

Magee will be riding a Yamaha YZR500, almost identical to the machines he raced in the World 500 Championship for Team Roberts in the 1980s.  

After racing a 750cc Ducati Pantah for Victorian Bob Brown in Australian Superbike racing, Magee got his international break riding for the Moriwaki Engineering team in the 1985 Coca-Cola Suzuka 8-Hour race in Japan.  He was entered as co-rider with Australian Superbike legend Rob Phillis on a Honda CBR750-powered machine.  During the race, Magee was regularly dicing with Texan Kevin Schwantz, who was also having his international debut - as team-mate to Graeme Crosby in the Yoshimura Suzuki team.

Crosby and Schwantz ultimately finished third in the 1985 8-Hour, won by Wayne Gardner and Masaki Tokuno on a factory RVF750 Honda, while Magee and Phillis battled home for a ninth place finish.

A year later Magee raced the Suzuka 8-Hour as team-mate to Michael Dowson in the Warren Willing managed Marlboro Yamaha Dealer Team.  They finished runner-up to Gardner and Dominique Sarron, on an FZ750 Superbike, beating Schwantz and Japanese rider Satoshi Tsujimoto by a lap.

At the end of that year, Willing persuaded Yamaha to bring a second YZR500 Grand Prix two-stroke to Australia for the 1986 Swann Insurance International Series.  Kel Carruthers looked after the bike raced by regular GP rider Rob McElnea while Willing oversaw the preparation of the second bike, which was raced by Magee.

Despite having never raced a 500cc two-stroke GP machine, Magee won two of the six races on the GP machine - the second race at Surfers Paradise and the second race at Oran Park.  Both circuits are now real estate developments...

Those performances were enough to see Magee get three 'wild card' rides in the 1987 World 500 Championship.  He crashed in the Japanese GP, qualified second fastest at Assen and finished tenth in a rain-lashed race, then finished third at the Portuguese GP at Jarama.

In addition, he scored a last gasp win in the 1987 Coca-Cola Suzuka 8-Hour race in Japan with Martin Wimmer, after Kiwi Garry Goodfellow and Japanese rider Katsuro Takayoshi had led for the last four hours on a Yoshimura Suzuki.

Magee on the YZF750 factory Yamaha on his way to winning the Coca-Cola Suzuka 8-Hour in 1987.

This was the first time Yamaha had won the Suzuka 8-Hour and that, along with his GP wild card results, was enough to score him a place in Kenny Roberts Lucky Strike Yamaha team in 1988.  Both he and Wayne Rainey were hampered by Dunlop tyres that lost traction in the latter stages of races but at Jarama on April 24, 1988, Magee started the 500cc GP from pole position and after he and Eddie Lawson got clear of Wayne Gardner's Honda, they raced head to head for the win, Magee snatching it by half a second from the American.

It was his finest hour in GP racing.

The following year he struggled to get near the podium, four fourth place finishes his best results.  He was on the 'outer' with team boss Roberts after the USGP at Laguna Seca when he had pulled up at the end of the race and proceeded to a burn-out for the crowd.  

Magee had earlier looked to have third place sewn up but on the last lap his Yamaha started to burble and pop on corner exits, a sign of fuel starvation.  Perhaps frustrated with that, or his rear Dunlop, Magee proceeded to do his big burn-out.

On the cool-down, American Bubba Shobert was congratulating Eddie Lawson on his third place finish on the unruly NSR500 Honda, did not see Magee and ran smack into the back of the Yamaha.  Shobert suffered severe head injuries and although he made a full recovery after months of rehabilitation. He never raced again.

Shobert was a hugely popular rider in the USA and close friends with Kenny Roberts.

Kevin Magee battles fellow Aussie Wayne Gardner at the 1989 USGP at Laguna Seca...


Magee sustained a broken ankle.  (See 1989 USGP video here ).

At the end of the 1989 season, Magee joined the Lucky Strike Suzuki team. After a fourth place finish in the opening GP in Japan, right behind Kevin Schwantz, Magee was flung from the RGV500 Suzuki V4 in the next race, at Laguna Seca, in the same spot Shobert had collided with him the year before.

Magee was flung high in the air and came down on his head.  Fortunately, his Shoei helmet spread the impact load across its shell, absorbing most of the energy of the smash.  But Magee still suffered a serious head injury with a blood clot.  He was kept in an induced coma for many days and did not race again that year.

Following that he raced the first two GPs of 1991 for Suzuki, contested the Suzuka 8-Hour for Yamaha after earlier having signed for Kawasaki Australia, and raced a Yamaha to fifth place in the Malaysian 500 GP.

In 1992 he contested the All-Japan 500 Championship for Yamaha, finishing second to fellow Aussie Daryl Beattie and also raced four-strokes in selected races.  In 1994 Magee joined the Martin Adams owned Smokin Joe's Honda team in the AMA Superbike Championship racing an RC45.  The team had severe handling problems with the V4 Honda that year and Magee was 'let go' at the end of the season.

Since then he has been a TV commentator for FOX Sports in Australia.

The Barry Sheene Festival of Speed on March 18-20 will mark his first time on a Yamaha YZR500 since Shah Alam in Malaysia on September 29, 1991.