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Infront Responds To Ducati

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It didn’t take long for Infront Motor Sports to respond to Ducati’s release today that they won’t be fielding a factory team in the World Superbike Championship in 2011. And for obvious reasons they’re not enamored with the notion of losing what has always been the series’ most high-profile team.

“We are disappointed and also a bit surprised at Ducati’s decision,” said Paolo Flammini, CEO of Infront Motor Sports, in the release. “Especially since we have been asked numerous times for a change in the regulations to bring about a better balancing of twin-cylinder 1200cc machines towards the four-cylinder 1000cc bikes, but it must be mentioned that last year, without the presence of a phenomenal Ben Spies, the Ducati 1198 would have dominated the championship with [Noriyuki] Haga and [Michel] Fabrizio, and it is therefore difficult for us today to comprehend this decision, which of course we must respect.

“Moreover the FIM Superbike World Championship can today boast the participation of six manufacturers in addition to Ducati, with Aprilia, BMW, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha and is therefore obliged to maintain a total balance in the regulations, without privileging one or other manufacturer in particular. We are, however, pleased that Ducati has confirmed its technical support for private teams that will be competing with its models in the 2011 championship and that the development of its new generation of hypersport bikes, in both homologated and Superbike race versions, will continue.”


Written by paulcarruthers1

August 27, 2010 at 5:51 pm

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Dead Man Jogging

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Yesterday morning my dilemma was one I usually face only on weekends: Do I make the 20-yard dash to get the paper from the driveway in my boxers or do I take my time, throw on some real clothes, and saunter out to pick up the daily news in attire that won’t get me on some list that my neighbors will find on the Internet?

Today’s dilemma is a bit different. Do I call a lawyer or let the royal screwing I got yesterday fade away like another bad memory?

Twenty five years and $61.94 later, I’m officially no longer the editor of Cycle News, America’s Weekly Motorcycle Newspaper. I’m not going to sit here and go into the gory details of the bloodshed, but let’s just say I left without “feeling the love.” Visualize the scene in Jerry Maguire… I placed my finger over my lips to quiet them and said, “You had me at F-off.”

Should I really have expected any different?

But life goes on and I start that new life today, with the burden of finding things like health insurance for the family, rolling-over the 401k, going through the boxes that contain 25 years of memories from a place I now can’t erase from my memory quick enough.

The support I’ve received from my friends, those in the motorcycle industry – and the crossover between the two as most in the industry I’m quickly finding out are my friends – has been incredible. Just do me one favor, when you see me at the grocery store unshaven in a white T-shirt, plaid shorts and flip-flops, don’t tell me “When one door closes, another one opens.” Yesterday the door hit me so hard in the ass, I’m writing this while standing up.

This weekend is a big one in motorcycling with the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix going on without me. I almost jumped on a plane and headed that way after all of this went down yesterday. But spending the weekend talking about getting the axe didn’t sound like a lot of fun. It’s also a big weekend here. My son “officially” starts his college life tomorrow and the school is welcoming the families for a weekend of seminars and other activities. I will be there instead.

But next week I’ll be back in the mix and will get my working life back in order. Which hopefully means I’ll be working again on something more meaningful than a blog page. Something that gets me out of these damn boxer shorts.

Thanks for your support, people. Will keep you all posted.

Written by paulcarruthers1

August 27, 2010 at 3:28 pm

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A World Superbike Without Ducati?

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Ducati and World Superbike. World Superbike and Ducati. The two went together like Ozzie and Harriet, Lucy and Ricky. Now it’s Tiger and Elin.

For the first time since the World Superbike Championship began in 1988, there won’t be a factory Ducati team in the series in 2011.  The announcement came today from Bologna.

“This decision is part of a specific strategy made by Ducati, the aim being to further increase technological
content in production models that will arrive on the market in the coming years,” said Gabriele Del Torchio, President and CEO of Ducati in a press release. “In order to achieve this objective, the company’s technical resources, until now engaged with the management of the factory Superbike team, will instead be dedicated to the development of the new generation of hypersport bikes, in both their homologated and Superbike race versions. “I would like to thank Nori [Haga] and Michel [Fabrizio], and all of the riders that have contributed to the great history of Ducati in Superbike, but above all the Ducati employees; it is their hard work and professionalism that has allowed us to achieve such important results. A big thank you also to all of the partners that have supported us, first and foremost Xerox of course. I would also like to acknowledge the Flammini brothers who have managed the championship for so long, and the FIM, the organization with which we have continuous, constructive relations.”

Ducati riders have won the World Superbike Championship 13 times since 1988, collecting 16 Manufacturer titles along the way. But they won’t collect either of those two titles this year, with both Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio suffering through seasons in which the pair have combined to win just two races (Haga won race two at Valencia; Fabrizio won race one at Kyalami). Althea Ducati’s Carlos Checa, meanwhile, is the top-ranked Ducati rider in the series in fourth place. Ducati says they will continue to support privateer teams in 2011.

Ducati says the decision to stop racing on the factory level will help them “increase the speed and efficiency with which it transfers advanced technological solutions, currently tested in the prototype championship, to the production series.”

Without a factory team, Ducati says the technical support the privateer teams get will be increased with “more competitive machines and parts.”

Ducati is apparently miffed at the current rules, which they “has been interpreted as moving more towards competition between prototypes rather than for bikes derived from production machines. This has led to an increase in costs, both for the manufacturers and the teams participating in the championship. This picture does not correlate with the current worldwide economic situation, which has made the securing of sponsorship even more difficult. Ducati trusts that the work carried out by all parties will lead to improvement also in this area.”

With Ducati pulling its factory team from the series that will likely cost the grid two riders – though World Superbike’s grids aren’t exactly thin. And there was also talk that Colin Edwards was one of the riders in line to replace the current Haga/Fabrizio duo.

Now there’s speculation that all the Ducati money is going to support Valentino Rossi as he moves to the Marlboro Ducati team for the 2011 MotoGP World Championship, thus putting the World Superbike team on the chopping block.

Whatever the reasons, financial or simply Ducati taking a stand against the rules, they will be missed in a championship they have always fought for.

Written by paulcarruthers1

August 27, 2010 at 2:20 pm

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The Axeman Cometh

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A few months ago an acquaintance told me that it’s a recession when your friend loses his job and that it’s a depression when you lose yours. Well, I guess today can be called the first day of my depression. Funny, I don’t see it that way.

I haven’t actually lost my job yet. But if you’re a betting man, I’d recommend putting your money on the favorite, which in this case is Paul Is Out Of Work in the fifth. The axe will likely fall at 10 a.m. tomorrow as that’s when my meeting with “The Man” is scheduled. And I’m fairly certain this one won’t end in hugs and handshakes.

Let’s back up a minute here. Actually, let’s back up some 25 years. Fairly fresh out of college and working at a local newspaper chain in the beach community of Encinitas, California, I was married, living in a luxurious one-bedroom apartment and covering high school sports. At the time it was exactly what I wanted. A real job working for a real newspaper. Then I got the call.

I’d read Cycle News for almost my entire life. At least the part of my life in America. My father raced “a little bit,” winning a World Championship in 1969 and I’d grown up with the sport. My first race was in mum’s tummy and it went from there.  So the call came from the then-editor of Cycle News to see if I’d be interested in helping him with a freelance story in which I would fly to Northern California to cover an AMA National at Sears Point. As the Poms would say, I was “chuffed.” As a teenager from California would say, I was “stoked.”

This was big time. And I have to admit it came rather easy for me. Despite being thrown in the deep end, I sucked it up and got the job done. It helped that I knew the Wayne Raineys of the world and they knew me. I enjoyed the experience, stayed up all night writing my stories on a portable typewriter and flew back south the next day to my job of covering the Carlsbad Lancers and the occasional city board meeting.

Cycle News must have liked my work because I got a second call, this time to cover a big amateur motocross in Texas. This one was a bit tougher. You know… with a zillion kids, two zillion parents and 10 zillion races to watch. Again, I enjoyed it and again I got the job done.

In June of 1985 I started working full time at the old Cycle News offices in Long Beach, California, sitting at a desk with a typewriter (yes, a typewriter!) with no idea of what I was doing. Did I mention I started on a deadline Monday for the weekly publication? Again, I got the job done.

So here I am: 25 years later, feeling fresh, tanned, rested and ready after four days of furlough (my favorite definition is “a leave of absence from prison granted to a prisoner”) and missing a Monday deadline day at the Cycle News offices. It will mark the first issue that I haven’t had some sort of a  hand in producing in 25 years. I’m not a mathematician by any stretch of the imagination, but my little calculator here tells me that’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 1250 issues.

And those are 25 years I wouldn’t trade for anything.

So what are the chances of the boss man calling me in tomorrow, putting his arm around me, telling me how much I mean to the company, that this has just been some cruel joke for which he’ s sorry and let’s sit down and figure out how we can fix this mess? Ice to an Eskimo, condoms to the Pope… it ain’t happening.

So what’s next? Wonderful question. I’m quickly finding out how many friends I have in both life and the motorcycle industry – and not everyone knows yet. Hell, I don’t even know, do I? So if the axe falls somewhere between my hairline and my spine tomorrow morning, I’m hopeful that this isn’t the first day of depression. Simply the last day of it.

Stay tuned…

Written by paulcarruthers1

August 23, 2010 at 5:23 pm

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