Racing roundup: Sepang Test! Daytona 200! World Superbike! Ulster GP!

The moto-world is finally getting into gear after sitting around doing nothing for six weeks at Christmas. That means the Daytona 200 is just around the corner, and both World Superbike and MotoGP are about to get underway. There’s lots to talk about in the world of roadracing, starting with …

Quartararo the “winner” of Malaysian test

MotoGP teams were at the Sepang track for the first official test of the 2020 season, and it was definitely an interesting peek at what lies ahead this year.

The fastest rider over each day? Fabio Quartararo, the French rider who’s just signed a deal to move to the Yamaha factory team at this season’s end. For now, he’s riding with Petronas on a satellite Yamaha, and acquitting himself very well. Multiple podiums in 2019 might turn into wins in 2020 if he keeps it up.

However, it’s also worth noting that testing isn’t racing; the second fastest guy at end of the three days was Cal Crutchlow (for the LCR Honda satellite team). Crutchlow is fast, and has won races, but nobody’s ever depicting the tough-talking Brit as a potential champion, that’s for sure. So, while Quartararo’s numbers look good, they ultimately don’t matter once racing starts.

Alex Rins, who’s just re-signed with Suzuki, was third overall on the tests. Rins has the potential to also shake things up this year, but again, the real test will be when racing starts at Qatar.

Alex Rins could be a major force of disruption in MotoGP this season. Photo: MotoGP
Lorenzo’s back! (and didn’t rule out a wild card)

Remember when Jorge Lorenzo quit the Honda factory team and said he was going to travel the world, find himself, maybe live in a van for a few months and grow a ‘fro? Slight exaggeration, sure, but when Lorenzo quit Big Red’s factory MotoGP team, he made it sound like he was planning on taking life easy.

Well, Lorenzo’s doing anything but that. He was back on-track at Sepang as Yamaha’s newest-signed test rider. He didn’t fare very well in the standings, but again, this is testing, not racing, and most importantly, he said he felt well physically speaking. See a very interesting quote below:

… the focus is all on the development of the new bike.

“As for the wild card, I still can’t say much. We will see in the future. If I am competitive and I can take advantage of the opportunity then why not? I will do the wild card if I have the certainty of ending up in a position that matters, otherwise it’s useless to do it.

“Physically, I am well and when I ride the bike, I have no pain. I feel good.

So, Lorenzo’s talking the company man talk (“develop the bike, blah blah blah“) but he is also looking at doing a wild card appearance if he thinks he can be competitive? Wonder how Honda will feel about that, if he strips a few vital points away from his nemesis Marc Marquez this season?

Alex Coelho is headed off to the Daytona 200 next month.
Daytona 200 entry list published

The provisional entry list for the 2020 Daytona 200 has been uploaded, and you can check it out here.

There are a few notable entries (Josh Herrin, Josh Hayes, Michael Barnes), but mostly a list of American racers that aren’t well-known outside their series. This year, there’s only one Canadian listed: Alex Coelho of Saint-Basile-Le-Grand, Quebec, is riding a Kawi ZX-6R 636. What about Darren James, the BC rider who’s been the most regular Canadian attendee for the past decade? So far, we haven’t seen or heard anything about James attending, and he isn’t on the list.

Pat Barnes of Goderich, Ontario is also listed as attending on an R6, but he’s got an American flag by his name, so maybe he’s our second CanCon entry, maybe not?

Anyway, the 200 is nowhere near the event it used to be. It’s now sanctioned by the ASRA and not the AMA. And, it’s a 600 race now, not a full-on litrebike race. But it’s still interesting to see the amount of foreign entries in the 200, proving there’s still interest in what was once the most important roadracing event in the US.

Peter Hickman at the 2018 Ulster GP. Photo: Stephen Davison/Ulster GP
Ulster GP wants government money

You don’t hear much about it in North America, but real roadracing is on a bit of a sticky wicket. The money just isn’t there like it used to be. John McGuinness is allegedly looking for unpaid back wages from Norton, Michael Dunlop hasn’t been offered a Superbike ride in 2020, and smaller events like the Cock O’ The North race are either being cancelled, or kept on life support.

Now, it seems the Ulster GP is having money issues. The classic Irish street race experienced bad weather last year, which meant a lack of income from spectators, which in turn means there’s funding problems for the 2020 race—and organizers are hoping the government will help out. You can check out the full statement on the race’s website here, but perhaps the most ominous statement is “… If the sport is to survive and flourish it will require similar financial support from government that other sports receive.” But as the organizers also rightly point out, “Road racing is a part of Northern Ireland’s sporting culture and brings major financial benefits to the Province and local communities. Only a small fraction of the sums provided to many other major sporting events would make an enormous difference to events like the Ulster Grand Prix.

Let’s hope they figure out  how to keep the lights on, so to speak, and get the GP to its centenary celebration in 2022.

From a Pikes Peak podium in 2019, to a World Superbike wild card in 2020, Lucy Glockner (second from right) is working hard for the Wunderlich team.
Lucy Glockner get  WSB wild card

Lucy Glockner, who’s undisputably one of the fastest female riders in the world, has signed up for a World Superbike wild card.

Glockner’s been toiling in the trenches of European roadracing for a while now, and also had two great finishes at Pikes Peak in 2018 and 2019 (second overall last year).

Now, Glockner’s going to race the German WSB round, in August. It’ll be on top of a very busy year, with lots of other racing going on for her and her Wunderlich team, but it’s great to see Glockner going for the big show, and hopefully it’s a cracking race.

 

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