So here we are, one week on from the World Superbike round at Phillip Island in Australia and despite all the pre-season hype surrounding the series - how it was going to be the best year ever and the best chance for a number of years for another British World Superbike Champion what do we have?...its as you were from last season! The large number of crashes and injuries to some of the front runners didn't help in anyway and detracted somewhat from the potential spectacle.
Even with a 6kg weight penalty Carlos Checa proved yet again at the age of 97 that he still has the desire to compete at the highest level, but for his impressive ejection out of race one, he would certainly have left PI a lot closer to Max Biaggi at the top of the standings.
Ah...Max Biaggi...and more importantly Aprilia...there is no way on God's earth that a WSB machine should be 10mph quicker than its rivals in any way, shape or form. it wouldn't surprise me if, yet again, Aprilia have found a loop-hole in the regs that allow them to run a full factory CRT bike this year - after all it is an Italian run championship!
This leads me on to a conversation I had in the week about World Superbikes and how it rests at the bottom of the list, for me, that includes BSB, MotoGP and Speedway. Only twice in the last 10 years has the WSB title not been won by an Italian team, Troy Corser and Alstare Suzuki in 2005 and James Toseland with Ten Kate Honda in 2007, the coverage is a little too Italian-biased at times too and with the rules always tending to favour the Italian marques it al becomes a little too biased, not that I have any problem with Italians in anyway, I just think it's too plainly obvious. It actually dawned on me last year that I don't really enjoy WSB as much as the other series I watch, although it's motorcycle racing - so naturally I still watch it!
Although all that said, congratulations to Tom Sykes on a fantastic opening round and finally showing the talent he quite clearly posesses and a big 'heal quick' to John Hopkins, Leon Haslam, Chas Davies and Eugene Laverty.
Testing continues apace in MotoGP, and in British Superbikes the Spring weather is bringing the bikes out for their first tests in anger with the Evo-spec machines.
In MotoGP the riders were out in Sepang again to follow on from the intial test at the beginning of February. It is becoming abundantly clear that Casey Stoner will be the man to beat again this season. Honda had to sit out day 2 of the test after a failure in one of Dani Pedrosa's engines caused all the units to be recalled to Japan for tests, leaving Ben Spies to top the time sheets that day.
With normal service resumed, the reigning World Champion picked up where he left off posting the fastest time of the weekend, hotly pursued by team mate Dani Pedrosa with a surprise appearance from Tech 3 Yamaha pilot Andrea Dovizioso finishing third. The best thing to come from the test is that the top 11 times were all with in 1.1 seconds which, hopefully, bodes well for the coming season! The most disappointing aspect of the test was the lack of progression from the Ducati Corse team, failing to build on the great debut of their GP12 in the first test.
I'm still happy to go on record and say that Valentino Rossi's tally of wins will not be added to this year - the competition has stepped up a level yet again and Ducati are struggling to match the might of the Japanese corporations. Casey will be champion again in 2012, but by a smaller margin.
I hope the next test in Jerez, from 23rd to 25th March brings positive news for the Bologna outfit to prove they have what it takes to run with the front teams because as it stands now they face being beaten by at least 2 satellite teams...
On the BSB front, testing has been carried out both at home and abroad over the last couple of weeks with all teams declaring themselves happy with the performances of both their bikes and their riders - even though there has been a spate of crashes from some of the Championship contenders, for whatever reason, thankfully all of them got up and walked away with little more than dented pride ahead of the official test at Snetterton later this month.
On a side note, it's going to be great to see the Sidecar outfits back where they rightfully belong as a support series to the British Superbike Championship. I've always loved Sidecars and really can't wait to see them out on track again.
Its a lull in racing after the early start of World Superbikes for the next couple of weeks but the excitement is mounting - I'm looking forwards to all the official testing that we have over the next two weeks and its only four weeks until both MotoGP and BSB begin in earnest...well...in Qatar and the over-sized Brands Hatch roundabout!
Thanks for reading.