Pierre Terblanche Now at Norton Motorcycles

Pierre Terblanche & Stuart Garner at NortonLong a fixture in the Italian motorcycle industry, legendary designer Pierre Terblanche has now signed up with Norton Motorcycles UK to design for the returning British marque. You should know Terblanche from such bikes as the Ducati Multistrada (first generation), Hypermotard, and the entire SportClassics line.

Then there is his recent design work for Moto Guzzi with Miguel Galluzzi on the V12LM, V12X and V12 Strada concepts. That V12 concept project was done while working for himself as a consultant for Piaggio Group, owner of the Mandello del Lario manufacturer. In this case, though, Terblanche is a full-time employee of Norton and will work at the Donington Park factory right near the middle of England.

Terblanche started his career in advertising but soon landed a position designing for German carmaker Volkswagen in Germany. Shortly thereafter he worked under the also legendary Massimo Tamburini at the Cagiva Research Center in Italy. When Ducati was sold to a newPierre Terblanche's Moto Guzzi V12 Concept (lid open) owner group, Terblanche remained with them and continued working there – creating those aforementioned machines – until he departed the company in late 2007.

It was then that Terblanche started his own company and set upon work for many clients. He went beyond the motorcycle industry while consulting and, interestingly, did some design work for South African boat crafter Bobkat. You may also remember his work on a three-wheeled, hydrogen fuel-cell powered delivery vehicle known as the A Hi Fambeni.

Italian motorcycle aficionados have a very large part of their hearts reserved for Terblanche and the machines he turned from sketch to reality. Moto Guzzi may still use the V12 line of concept designs for a future production model, but the Pierre Terblanche and his Ducati SportClassicrecession may have put such a bold move on long-term hold for a while. Of course, a limited run might spur interest, but they would be wise to wait and see how well the V7 Racer moves in the near term. Terblanche did win a much-deserved design award from the prestigious Motorcycle Design Association for the V12 concepts shortly after they were revealed.

The path above could lead to some very innovative new bikes originating from the Norton factory. One question is whether he will be working on all-new ideas or if Terblanche will be taking his hands to the 961 Commando design, originally penned by Kenny Dreer. Either way, Stuart Garner has made an incredibly promising move here which may result in something historic, and it will certainly be fun to watch. Pierre Terblanche in the UK and working for Norton, what’s not to like?

Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com

Jorge Lorenzo to Use No. 1 Plate in 2011

jorge_lorenzo_no_1After a record breaking 2010 MotoGP season, Jorge Lorenzo earned the number 1 plate. Lorenzo confirmed today that he will be riding with the coveted number one plate, and revealed a logo which incorporates his initials J and L into the number 1 design.

“Today I can reveal my No 1,” said Jorge Lorenzo. “I am very proud because you have to work very hard to have the option to wear it. I have been lucky with my design because the No 1 works really well with my JL initials, maybe with different letters it would have been difficult to make it look right.”

Lorenzo won an amazing nine races in 2010 and earned a record breaking 383 points to earn the number 1 plate. In the MotoGP, riders have the choice to keep their numbers or to switch to the number one plate. Lorenzo will be the first Yamaha rider to carry the number 1 plate since Wayne Rainey used it in 1993. Lorenzo’s former teammate and current rival Valentino Rossi chose to keep his number 46 instead of switching to number 1 for all 7 of his premier class MotoGP titles.

Lorenzo says that he is proud to be wearing number 1 in 2011, but also promises that he won’t be forgetting his 99.


“I won’t forget my No 99 this season,” Lorenzo said. “It will be there somewhere on my leathers because No 99 is in my heart. It was a difficult choice to change my number but I have earned the right for this unique opportunity to wear it.”

Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com

Althea Racing Happy With Portimao Test

Carlos Checa at Portimao TestCarlos Checa wasn’t the fastest rider around the Portimao track during the first official testing session of the 2011 World Superbike season, but the Althea Racing team is happy with the results.

The WSBK riders only got one day with a dry track, as the second and third days of the testing session were plagued with a light rain. Checa was one of only a few riders who participated on all three days during the session, and was able to find a good rhythm around the wet track.

“We’ve worked well over the three days, it’s just been a shame about the weather,” commented Carlos. “It’s also a pity for Pirelli as I know they had brought us a selection of new tyre solutions and we weren’t able to test barely any of them. It was a useful track time after the long winter break but a great deal of the work that we had planned unfortunately didn’t get done due to the weather. It helps that my 1198 is very similar to the bike I was riding at the end of 2010 but there are a few things, like the electronics, that require more track time for me to be able to be truly confident. So we’re hoping for a positive and productive test at Phillip Island, a great track that I like a lot.”

Genesio Bevilacqua, the General Manager of Althea Racing, echoed Checa’s sentiments.

“This test has left us with a lot of work to do because, to tell the truth, we’d planned a lot of work and were only able to get part of it done here,” Bevilacqua said. “The positive thing is that the new elements in the team have had time to integrate and we’ve been able to ensure that everything is working well mechanically speaking. The team has worked really well and I’m very satisfied with that side of things. Considering that Carlos has had very little riding time over the winter, he understandably preferred to start a little cautiously. He needs to build confidence with the bike, but he nevertheless gave very positive feedback and this gives us confidence as he is an expert rider who has always provided us with very honest opinions. Even though we only got a little done, we’ve gained in confidence as a team, and this is important ahead of the opening round in Australia.”

Checa and the Althea Racing team will get one more chance to test the Ducati 1198 before the start of the season on February 27th at Phillip Island. The second official testing session for the 2011 World Superbike season will be held a week before the start of the season in Phillip Island.

TIMES (Day 3): 1. Smrz (Ducati) 1’43.5; 2. Rea (Honda) 1’43.6; 3. Laverty (Yamaha) 1’43.7; 4. Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’43.7; 5. Checa (Ducati) 1’43.7; 6. Biaggi (Aprilia) 1’43.8; 7. Fabrizio (Suzuki) 1’43.8; 8. Guintoli (Ducati) 1’44.3

Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com

Bautista Has High Hopes for Sophomore MotoGP Season

Alvaro_bautistaWhen you talk about the MotoGP, you’re most likely talking about Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi, or Dani Pedrosa. But Alvaro Bautista is confident that he’ll be in the conversation this year. Bautista is about to embark on his second year in the MotoGP, and he is hoping to score some podium finishes this year.

Bautista won the 125cc championship in 2006, and scored 85 points during his rookie season last year in the MotoGP. His 13th place finish in 2010 was respectable, but Bautista believes that he can put himself on the podium.

“It’ll be a difficult year, but I have more experience with the bike and I’m sure everything I learnt last season will help me,” said the 26-year-old Bautista. “It’s true I’ll be the only rider in the team, but I have great confidence in Suzuki because last year we did a good job of evolving the bike and we’ll continue that this year.”

Bautista was never able to climb onto the podium last year, but he did score two fifth place finishes. Bautista will be returning with the Rizla Suzuki team, where he will be the only rider in the 2011 season.

“Last year I took two fifth places, which were great, but this year I’d like to aim to fight for the podium in some races,” Bautista said. “I think if we do a good job pre-season this could be possible. As the sole rider the factory we’ll work on what I ask them to, whereas if there was another rider he could perhaps suggest a different direction.”

Bautista will get his first chance to test his speed next week at the first official MotoGP pre-season testing session at Sepang.

“I cannot wait to get back on the bike,” Bautista said. “I’m looking forward to see what the guys have achieved at the Suzuki factory and what new things we have to test at Sepang. We know this year is going to be very hard work, but I’m not afraid of that and we’re all looking forward to the challenge. The whole team worked so well at Valencia, they were all focussed on the job we have to do and I can only see that getting stronger as we become a solid unit. We are all very motivated and now we need to get on the track and show what we can do – I’m excited and very positive about 2011.”

“I cannot wait to get back on the bike,” Bautista said. “I’m looking forward to see what the guys have achieved at the Suzuki factory and what new things we have to test at Sepang. We know this year is going to be very hard work, but I’m not afraid of that and we’re all looking forward to the challenge. The whole team worked so well at Valencia, they were all focussed on the job we have to do and I can only see that getting stronger as we become a solid unit. We are all very motivated and now we need to get on the track and show what we can do – I’m excited and very positive about 2011.”

Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com

MotoGP Pre-Season Testing at Sepang Starts Tuesday

motogp_ridersThe start of the 2011 MotoGP season is closer than you think. Sepang will host the opening testing session in just a few short days, signaling the beginning of the 2011 season. The MotoGP riders haven’t been on their bikes since the post-season test at Valencia on November 17th. But that doesn’t mean that the MotoGP riders and teams haven’t been busy.

Individual training programs, unofficial testing days, and the constant mechanical tweaking to their motorcycles have kept most of the MotoGP paddock busy over the winter.

If there is a favorite to win this year’s MotoGP championship, it has to be Jorge Lorenzo. Not only does the 2010 champion return in perfect health, but he also returns on his championship winning bike. Many of Lorenzo’s contenders this year are either recovering from an injury, or will be competing this season on a new machine. This definitely pushes the odds in Lorenzo’s favor.

We’ll see just how much the odds favor Lorenzo next week at Sepang, as the MotoGP riders take to the track. Most people will be watching Valentino Rossi, who will be riding a Ducati this year instead of his famed M1 for Yamaha. Rossi did some unofficial testing last week, and described his shoulder as “painful,” and “not very strong.” Rossi still has some time before the beginning of the season to recovery from his surgery, but he may not be at 100% at the Sepang test.

Dani Pedrosa is another MotoGP title contender who is recovering from an injury. Pedrosa says that Sepang will be a test of his collar bone strength, but that he is confident that he will be able to do some good work with the bike this weekend.

“I am encouraged, because November and December were tough, there were a lot of problems and I was not well, but as you start to improve and see that the feeling is better, you are automatically encouraged,” Pedrosa said. “I know that I will not be at 100% in the first test but if I can control the bike well I will be happy. For me this is like a personal test to see how I am.”

Casey Stoner will be dealing with a new bike at the Sepang test, but judging by his post-season tests at Valencia, his RC212V will be no problem for him at Sepang. The third Honda Repsol rider, Andrea Dovizioso, will also be returning in good health.

Ben Spies stepped up to the Yamaha Factory team after a fantastic rookie season in 2010. Spies is a rider that is full of potential, and with the Yamaha factory machine beneath him, he could be a force to be reckoned with this year.

The Sepang test will give the first indication of how riders are meshing with their new teams and their new bikes. It will show the progress of injuries, and will set the stage for an amazing 2011 MotoGP season. The three day Sepang session starts this Tuesday, February 2nd. The 2011 MotoGP season starts March 20th in Qatar.

Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com