Two MotoGP Rounds Get More Practice Sessions

Written by J.C. Current, Courtesy of

MotoGP logo Several days ago the Grand Prix Commission informed MotoGP fans and the media of the decision to change the practice format at the final two rounds of the 2010 season. The three-practice format was used on a trial basis at the recent Gran Premio A-Style de Aragón and now will be utilized at both the Bwin Gran Prémio de Portugal and the Grand Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana – Estoril and Valencia, respectively. This new format was altered to accommodate two MotoGP practices on Friday and one on Saturday morning, with Qualifying Practice that afternoon. The cumulative time is the same as the current format; it is simply allotted differently. The decision was made mostly due to the overwhelming support that the new schedule configuration received from most everyone in the MotoGP Paddock at the Aragón round. The final product sends the 125GP riders out first on Friday and Saturday, followed by MotoGP and then Moto2. That order repeats both days with each class having, in total, three Free Practices and one Qualifying Practice each. Sunday’s plan remains the same with the Warm Up in the morning and the Main Event in the afternoon.

Simultaneously, another announcement was made regarding the primary tool of the MotoGP teams, the race bike. A new FIM logo rule has been handed down which requires teams to have a specified fuel pressure regulator on their machine which has been approved by the MotoGP Technical Director (Mike Webb, currently). The additional statute comes along with new limits to the amount of pressure and flow rate allowed in the fueling system. It is not overly restrictive – no team is running beyond these limits at present, but it does force teams to purchase and install the regulator per the specification. This rule was actually considered at the end of the 2009 to be implemented at the start of the 2010 MotoGP season; it was dropped without announcement before the first race was held. The rule has been updated a bit more this time, but it is written in the books now and must be followed. The political and strategic background of this seemingly small change is absolutely enormous; it is wrapped up in agreements between the FIM, Dorna, the MotoGP teams (IRTA), and the manufacturers (MSMA) – and it concerns control of the series itself.

The Grand Prix Commission is responsible for the content, meaning and intent of this announcement. The 18 September 2010 meeting from which it came was attended by Carmelo Ezpeleta (Chairman, FIM), Claude Danis (FIM), Hervé Poncharal (IRTA), Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA), Ignacio Verneda (FIM Sports Director) and M. Paul Butler (Secretary for the meeting). The decision was unanimous and the press release straight-forward.

Actually, this is a start towards a different MotoGP series. We will see much more of this in 2012 when the new displacement rule comes into effect. Perhaps the manufacturers will get pushed back a bit and the MotoGP grid will expand as racing at that level becomes a little less expensive.

Stealth Rider

Written by LeahStunts, Courtesy of

key_art_stealth_rider The man who originally brought sportbike freestyle to TV with Super Bikes! is at is again with Stealth Rider, a SpeedTV original series. Jason Britton, Tony Carbajal and Eric Hoenshell are the featured riders in the series which documents the behind the scenes creation of a stunt film, shot at iconic locations around the US. While clearly showcasing the rider’s skills on two and one wheel, the series also peeks into the life of a professional stunt rider, the pressures of the evolving sport, and the technical nature of capturing and portraying the sport on film.

The season will see stunts in locations such as the Vegas strip, in front of the White House and by the Golden Gate Bridge. The whole ordeal is doing the great service of getting sportbike freestyle in front of various different audiences. Beyond the audiences at home on the couch tuned into SpeedTV, the real-life audiences that experience the sport on location are sure to remember the riders and skills, which is important as stunting goes more and more mainstream. One goal of the series is to bring the sport to other demographics outside the core-sportbike freestyle enthusiast. Over the years the awe-inspiring skill and excitement has grown as riders push both their skills and they machine harder and harder. With hope and with series like Stealth Rider, any oil and gas enthusiast would be amply entertained by a half-hour of wheelies on TV.

Certainly a stunt riding pioneer like Jason Britton can appreciate the growing crowds and recognition stunting is beginning to garner. While the show is a fun watch in and of itself, the audience should also recognize the incredible milestone it is for stunt riders in general. To think these riders are enjoying a career riding and entertaining every day, traveling the country and the world and bringing never before seen skills to the public all because of a two wheeled machine. Check out the series on SPEED! every Wednesday 8P ET/PT and be inspired by the two wheeled machines we love so much.

Motorcycling for Old-Timers: A Low Blow from the DMV

Written by Tim Kessel, Courtesy of

As you may have read in one of my recent articles, I was hit with a big speeding ticket (Wake up Call). To make a long story short, I opted to take the DMV’s Defensive Driving Course to avoid the points on my record.  In my state, you can take the course online, so I gave it a try.  Predictably, much of the course was so far below the common sense line that it was subterranean.  However, I knew there would eventually be a motorcycle-specific section.

After a couple of hours of reading, watching online videos, and taking quizzes – there it was.  The section began by extolling the virtues of wearing helmets (I agree), watching for bad drivers (again, agreed), and keeping speed in check (well, two out of three ain’t bad).  Just when I was about to nod off, I clicked to the page entitled “Motorcycling Tips for Older Riders.”  What the heck?  Did the DMV read the date line on the ticket and write the section for me?

Well, here are the actual tips in the section, and my thought process while reading:

1. Get Eyes Checked: Vision clarity and peripheral vision diminish with age.
My thoughts… “Good point!  With better distance vision I would have spotted the Highway Patrol cruiser in time to hit the Brembos quicker!”

2. Keep A Greater Following Distance: Reacting to a hazard may take twice as long for a rider in middle age (40-54) and three or four times longer after 55.
My thoughts… “Ouch! At least I’m still years away from that that ominous 55 benchmark.”

3. Avoid Complicated and Congested Roads: Input overload makes it difficult to process information accurately.
My thoughts… “You can have your congested roads – just give me miles of twisties with no patrol cars.”

4. Pay Attention to Blind Spots: Traffic research shows that older drivers do not check blind spots as well as younger drivers.
My thoughts… “Blind spots? I’m just glad not to have a bald spot.”

5. Keep Fit: Riding a motorcycle can be physically demanding and without training, people begin losing muscle mass around age 30.
My thoughts… “For your information, I bench press more and run farther than I did when I was thirty.”

6. Choose a Friendly Motorcycle: Choose a motorcycle with large dials and easy-to-read symbols.
My thoughts… “Now that’s just rude.”

So there you have it – the DMV’s tips for those of us with a little grey at the temple.  That’s all I can write for now.  The shuffleboard tournament is about to start.


2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 and GSX-R750 Unveiled

Sketch reveals all-new Gixxer on the horizon!

Here it is, the first new sportbike released from Suzuki since the introduction of the revamped GSX-R1000 in 2009. It’s a new GSX-R600, which will again share its platform with the 750cc version to also be sold in 2011.

This sketch wasn’t released officially by Suzuki, but our industry mole confirms it is indeed a sketch of the bike that will be formally unveiled on October 5 at the Intermot show in Germany.

Because Suzuki is tight-lipped about its upcoming new products, we weren’t able to get any meaningful details out of them. But an inside source has confirmed it has a new engine and is not just a rehash of the existing motor, presumably with a few more horsepower. The aluminum perimeter frame is also all new. It’s a safe bet Suzuki has managed to pare off a few pounds from the 432-lb wet weight of our 2009 Gixxer, the porkiest of the 600s and 22 lbs heavier than the class-lightweight CBR600RR.

The GSX-R600 and GSX-R750 receive a ground-up redesign for 2011. The production bike will look nearly identical to this sketch.
The GSX-R600 and GSX-R750 receive a ground-up redesign for 2011. The production bike will look nearly identical to this sketch.

The GSX-R600/750 last received a ground-up redesign back in 2006, then was nicely updated for the 2008 edition. Given the typical Japanese four-year model cycles for sportbikes, we were anticipating a new Gixxer for 2010, but the tanking economy forced Suzuki to postpone its introduction until 2011.

Visually, the biggest change to the GSX-R is its nose, now boasting a narrower, vertically stacked headlight arrangement that mimics that of the GSX-R1000. Four angular intake slots ram air into the airbox and helps provide a distinguishing snout. This sketch indicates a tall windscreen – taller than most sportbikes – but a screen of that height might not make it to the production bike.

The X pattern of the side fairings draw from the previous bike but are less pronounced. Flush-mount rear turnsignals are placed within the tailsection, while the front signals will almost assuredly be placed in the mirrors like previous Gixxers.

Many components are exactly what we’d expect from a GSX-R, including radial-mount front brakes and lightweight thin-spoke wheels. We’ll also assume another edition of a slipper clutch, a newer iteration of S-DMS, the power-mode selector, and adjustable footpegs. And, like its 1000cc brother (and Kawasaki ZX-6R, we expect to see a Showa BPF fork. The 4-into-1 exhaust system follows the styling lead of the previous Gixxer but is unique to the 2011 model.

Tune in to on October 5 for full details about the new GSX-R600 and GSX-R750. It will be a big news day, as we’ll also be able to share info about the all-new Kawasaki ZX-10R!

By Kevin Duke, Photography by Suzuki, Courtesy of

2010 British Superbike Preview: Silverstone

Written by Dan Evon, Courtesy of

bsb_silverstoneThe British Superbike moves on to the second round of the BSB Showdown this weekend at Silverstone. Tommy Hill and Ryuichi Kiyonari were neck and neck heading into the showdown, but Hill took two podium finishes at Croft, including one race win, and now sits 27 points ahead of Kiyonari.But Hill isn’t the only person to distance himself from King Kiyo. Kiyonari’s dissapointing weekend at Croft dropped him from being tied in first, to third behind Laverty.

Kiyo knows that the pressure is on for him to score big this weekend, and has his bike aimed straight for the top spot.

“I feel that there is less pressure on me now compared to before Croft as we have nothing to lose, but I want to win the races at Silverstone,” said Kiyonari. “We raced the new track at the World Superbike Championship round and now I know the circuit and we have made some big improvements with the HM Plant Honda since then, so we should be fast. I am just going to try my hardest and push as hard as I can to win. I am not happy unless I am first and after Croft we need to fight for victories as I want to win the championship.”

Kiyonari needs to gain some points if he wants to get back into the title fight, but he also needs to finish ahead of Josh Brookes if he wants to hold on to his third place spot. Brookes is just one point behind Kiyonari. Michael Rutter and Alastair Seeley are further adrift.

But besides the top 6 title fighters, there are plenty of other BSB riders who want to save face for the season with race wins at Silversone. James Ellison, who took a second place finish and a race win last year at Silverstone, has high hopes for this weekend.

“I am really looking forward to Silverstone. It’s one of those circuits that should really suit my style as it is fast and flowing and although it is not the same layout, I won and took a second place there last year so I am looking for a repeat performance.