Superbike World Championship, Great Britain (Donington)

Kawasaki Hat-Trick

Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea in Superbike, Kenan Sofuoglu in Supersport: the Kawasaki riders won all of the three races organized on the Donington circuit. Another no-fault for the greens.

The Races

Tom Sykes has been running after his first victory since the start of the season. It seems normal that the former world champion would get it on his home turf and favourite circuit. His success was logically preceded by a Superpole, the Brit still excelling when it comes to clocking up the fastest lap times. Six laps from the finish Sykes took control of the race by overtaking his teammate. Setting a pace so fast and regular, no-one succeeded in catching up the Kawasaki rider from then on. Behind him, Rea crashed for the first time this season. A fall at high speed in bend number three, caused by a tyre problem but happily leaving the leader of the championship uninjured, the proof being he beat Sykes the next day. The two Kawasaki riders dedicated their respective successes to the memory of Nicky Hayden, the American champion who died from his injuries in a tragic road accident at the beginning of the week while cycling in Italy. Finishing fourteenth on Saturday, on Sunday Krummenacher didn’t take the chequered flag. In Supersport, Kenan Sofuoglu clinched his third straight victory in a row, in a thirteen-lap race. Turkey’s untouchable rider was never worried from start to finish. His young team-mate Kyle Smith crossed the finish line in fourteenth place.

The Championship

Despite his first Did Not Finish of the season, Jonathan Rea remains the clear leader of the Superbike championship. The two-time world champion is still fifty-five points ahead of Tom Sykes in second place. The Brit took advantage of his victory and his second place, but also of fall Chaz Davies’ fall to chalk up a twenty-point lead over the Ducati rider. Randy Krummenacher, with twenty-seven points on the clock, stays still in sixteenth place. In Supersport, Kenan Sofuoglu has climbed back to second place in the overall standings. While he’s still thirty points away from Lucas Mahias, the Kawasaki rider is convinced he can catch him up. Kyle Ryde stays still in seventh place overall while Canducci is back in fourteenth position.

The Background

This year, the Superbike World Championship is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary. The first race of the competition was organized in 1988 on the Donington circuit and the WSBK caravan in Leicestershire was obviously a pretext for some celebrating. It also provided an opportunity for the younger fans to check out the history of the discipline … On 3 April 1988, it was a certain Roger Burnett who set out from pole position at the handlebars of his Honda. Of the twenty-five riders who were itching to go on the starting grid, Davide Tardozzi proved he was the most skilful and won the race. The Italian, now the Ducati MotoGP team manager, beat his fellow countryman Marco Lucchinelli on the line, while the late Joey Dunlop climbed to the third step of the podium under the acclamations of the public. The second round turned to the advantage of Lucchinelli who skilfully took advantage of Tardozzi’s fall. Fred Merkel, who won the world championship title at the end of the season, finished second in front of Dunlop. At that time, the overall victory was attributed to the combined results of the two races, and it was Marco Lucchinelli who was declared the winner of the first event in the history of the Superbike World Championship.


Andreas Mikkelsen to compete for Citroën at rally Italia Sardegna

Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team has changed its line-up for Rally Italia Sardegna (8-11 June), with the arrival of Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger in the no.9 Citroën C3 WRC.

At the halfway stage of the season, this mutually beneficial opportunity will enable the team take advantage of the experience of the crew that finished third in the 2016 World Championship. Meanwhile, the Norwegian duo will make their return to the championship’s top category in a 2017-spec World Rally Car.

Citroën Racing remains true to its policy aimed at identifying and developing talented young rally drivers, and shall honour its commitments. Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau will be back in the C3 WRC at Rally Poland (29 June-2 July).

When it returned as a works team in the FIA World Rally Championship, Citroën’s main target was to win rallies in normal racing conditions. Having scored one win, secured at Rally Guanajuato Mexico, this target has been partially achieved. The events of the first half of the season have nonetheless led to Citroën Racing studying the expansion of its driver line-up. Andreas Mikkelsen is therefore set to compete on behalf of the team on a one-off basis at Rally Italia Sardegna. Having finishing third in the 2016 World Championship, winning two rounds in the process, but without a WRC drive this season, the Norwegian will be making his first appearance in the Citroën C3 WRC. In order to prepare as effectively as possible, Citroën Racing will be organising a day of testing before the rally. Due to this one-off appearance, Stéphane Lefebvre will not be competing at Rally Italia Sardegna. The Frenchman will take part in recce for the event, before focusing on his next competitive outing at Rally Poland. In taking this opportunity to call upon an experienced, available driver, Citroën has restated its determination to be fully successful on its return as a works team in the FIA World Rally Championship.

YVES MATTONYves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal “After the first six rounds of the season, it would appear that the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT’s results have fallen a little short of the targets set at the start of the year. At the same time, Andreas Mikkelsen has been actively looking for a drive in the WRC’s top category. We have therefore come to an agreement for him to compete at Rally Italia Sardegna in one of our C3 WRCs. I think I can say that we are all delighted with this opportunity! Andreas has a fair amount of experience at this rally, which is not the case for us since the Abu Dhabi Total WRT didn’t compete in Sardinia last year. Given his limited preparation, Andreas won’t have a specific target for the rally. We’ll be just looking for him to drive at a pace that is consistent with how comfortable he feels in the car. We would like to thank the FIA and Skoda Motorsport for agreeing to this change and Stéphane Lefebvre, who is giving up his place on this rally. This is not a sanction of any kind, nor does it call into question our investment in the young drivers. The decision is merely intended to maximise Citroën’s chances. Stéphane accepted that it was necessary to put the team first in this case; he will still be in Sardinia to take part in recce and will then be competing at Rally Poland.”

Andreas Mikkelsen “It’s an open secret that I have been looking for a solution to keep competing in the top category of the WRC since the end of the 2016 season. I’m therefore very happy to be joining the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT at Rally Italia Sardegna. Citroën has an impressive competitive record in the WRC and I’m delighted to be able to work with a team like this. In winning the season’s opening gravel rally, the Citroën C3 WRC has shown it has potential and it seems to be making regular progress. I can’t wait to get my bearings in testing and then start working on preparing for the rally. I’ll no doubt be short of running time in the car at the start, but the main thing for me is to be back racing in the leading category in a strong team. I would like to thank everyone who has worked to make this opportunity possible.”

MotoGP World Championship, French Grand Prix, Le Mans 2017

Morbidelli Makes His Move

Victim of a fall in Spain while leading the race, Franco Morbidelli got back on the right track on the Le Mans circuit. Winner for the fourth time of the season, the Italian confirmed his status as leader of the pack.

The Races

Clocking up the best time in the race, Franco Morbidelli made a strong impression on the Bugatti circuit. Facing Tom Lüthi, seen as favourite on a circuit that the Swiss biker likes particularly well, the rider for Team Estrella Galicia 0.0 Marc VDS never gave up. On the contrary. Taking first place in the first lap, Morbidelli didn’t allow Lüthi to leave in the shade for long. The Italian set the pace through to the finish line to finally win with a lead of almost two seconds over Francesco Bagnaia. Alex Marquez finished fourth, at the foot of the podium after crossing swords with Tom Lüthi throughout the second half of the race.

In MotoGP, Jack Miller and Tito Rabat both finished scoring points. The Australian ranks eighth after a bad fall during the practice test sessions while Rabat took a well-earned eleventh place after taking the start from the last line of the starting grid. In Moto3 Kornfeil scored his first points of the season by finishing eleventh and Pulkkinen ranked twenty-third in a race reduced to sixteen laps.

The Championship

Of the four races he has finished this season, Morbidelli has never let victory slip from his grasp. In spite of his Did Not Finish in Jerez, the Italian now holds the first place in the overall Moto2 standings with a twenty-point lead over Lüthi. Alex Marquez continues to rise up the ranks. The Spaniard now occupies the third place at eighteen points from the Swiss rider. In MotoGP, Jack Miller has climbed back to tenth position while Tito Rabat has taken two places. He is now seventeenth after five events. Kornfeil has made it to the Moto3 championship standings for the first time. The Peugeot rider now occupies the twenty-fourth position.

The Background

If he hoped for a better result in the race, Jack Miller was talk of the town during the free practice sessions of the Grand Prix of France, the fifth leg in the MotoGP world championship. Clocking up the best time during the first day of the free practice sessions with a lead of more than one second over Marc Marquez and Johann Zarco, and third time in the aggregates for the first three free sessions, qualifying directly for Q2, the rider of Team Estrella Galicia 0.0 Marc VDS was also the victim of a highly spectacular accident during the FP4. Miller lost control of his Honda RC213V at the entry to the Dunlop chicane at over 200 km/h. His machine slid forward and then straightened up before racing outside the track.

 It was scary to see, Jack hit the wall at 190 km/h with barely enough time to jump off his bike before it was dislocated.

Michael Bartholemy,
Team Estrella Galicia 0.0 Marc VDS Manager

The Australian miraculously escaped with simple contusions to a hand and knee. It did not prevent him from immediately taking part in the qualifying session. Nor the next day, from winning a heroic eighth place

Solid as a Craig Breen!

Rally du Portugal (18-21 mai 2017) – Arrivée

After entering four C3 WRCs at a round for the first time, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT managed to get its full line-up to the end of Rally de Portugal. As has been the case on all their previous appearances this season, Craig Breen and Scott Martin were the team’s highest-placed crew, finishing fifth overall.

The competitors kicked off the rally on Thursday evening with the super special stage on the Lousada rallycross circuit. After a night spent in parc ferme, the cars headed north to reach the event’s first “proper” gravel stages, contested close to the Spanish border.

The gloves were off immediately, with half a dozen drivers involved in an incredibly close scrap for the lead. Kris Meeke and Craig Breen were more than playing their part in the show. For example, the Citroën drivers claimed a joint stage win on SS4, shared with Tänak. At the end of the morning loop, Kris was second, 5/10ths of the pace, whilst Craig was in fourth position, 1.4s behind the leader.

Stéphane Lefebvre, however, was no longer among the frontrunners. Due to a misunderstanding over a pace note, the Frenchman rolled on SS3. He managed to continue, but lost seven minutes on the leaders.

There were no signs of the fight at the front easing up on Friday afternoon, but the second pass on Ponte de Lima (SS7) proved costly for several competitors. Among them, Kris Meeke was forced to retire for the day after breaking the suspension in hitting a concrete block.

On the same stage, Craig Breen had to cope with a broken damper after hitting a rock that had wound up in the middle of the racing line. He only lost around ten seconds, but was unable to take advantage of the tyre strategy he had adopted with this very demanding stage in mind. At the end of the opening day, Craig held fifth place, 12.9 seconds off the lead.

On Saturday, further racing incidents resulted in the positions settling down. Unlike day one, when the stages were new for all the competitors, Craig Breen paid for his lack of experience on the roads of northern Portugal. During the morning, he managed to move up a place, but the gap to the leader increased to 46.2s.

The final stage of the day, Amarante 2 (SS15), proved to be particularly cruel for the no.8 C3 WRC driver. A mistake on tyre selection during service left him with the wrong compound for the conditions. He lost half a minute on the stage, dropping down a place to fifth overall.

On Sunday, the crews only had to complete four short stages – including two runs on the legendary Fafe test – to get to the end of the rally. Once again, Craig Breen had to adopt a more cautious approach, reflecting his lack of knowledge of the roads. Managing his pace perfectly, he completed the 349.17km of competitive stages to take fifth place, just as he did in Monte-Carlo, Sweden and at the Tour de Corse.

Stéphane Lefebvre made it to the end in thirteenth position. On the final two legs, he had to adjust his set-up and driving style to suit the conditions inherent with his running order. Conversely, Kris Meeke had an ideal road position since he had rejoined under Rally2 rules. Consistently setting times in the top 10, the Briton gradually regained his confidence and set the second fastest time on the event’s penultimate stage.

Kris ended the rally just behind Khalid Al Qassimi. The Abu Dhabi driver was making his first competitive appearance in the Citroën C3 WRC. Throughout the three days, he worked on acquiring new reflexes and adjusting the set-up, in order to make the car as easy as possible to drive.


“We came into this rally with relatively modest goals, asking our crews to ensure two cars to finish in the top 5. If you look at the final standings for this rally, you have to say in all honesty that we didn’t hit our targets,” admitted Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal.

“We can nonetheless take away some genuine positives. First and foremost, the performance of Craig Breen. On day one, when the stages were new for everyone, he managed to set some first class times. He was then able to manage his race to make it to the end in fifth place, without making any major mistakes. It seems that the work done in the last couple of test sessions is paying off. We can clearly see the benefits of the work put we have in and that confirms that we’re moving in the right direction,” continued Yves Matton. “The variety of surfaces faced this weekend helped confirm the priority areas we need to keep focusing on. The data gathered here will guide our approach during the next few test sessions. We should also highlight the reliability of our cars. All four of our C3 WRCs made it to the end of what is a very demanding rally, without any significant issues.”

The 2017 World Rally Championship will pass the halfway stage at Rally Italia Sardegna, held on 8-11 June. No pre-event test is scheduled beforehand, but the Citroën Racing engineers are confident in the potential of the C3 WRC on this rally.

“The performances and the satisfaction of the drivers on the opening leg mean that we can head for Sardinia with optimism,” concluded Yves Matton.

Superbike World Championship Italy (Imola)

Sofuoglu in the roaring forties

Kenan Sofuoglu confirmed his return as leader of the pack on the Imola circuit. The world champion was the front runner in Italy, pocketing his fortieth victory in Supersport. Jonathan reinforced his place as leader in Superbike with two solid second two places.


The Races

The good news is that Kenan Sofuoglu has completely recovered from his injuries earlier this year. In Italy, the Kawasaki rider demonstrated his sparkling form by winning his second victory in two races after his success in the Netherlands a fortnight earlier. A success obtained at the end of a race stopped three times for various incidents, and finally reduced to eleven laps. Sofuoglu won with a lead of more than a second over Lucas Mahias. This is the fortieth World Superbike victory for the Turkish rider who has also made it eighty times to the podium in one hundred and nineteen starts. Victim of a fall at the beginning of the race, Kyle Ryde was less fortunate. Italian Canducci scored two points by finishing fourteenth. In Superbike, Jonathan Rea could not do anything against Chaz Davies at Imola. The two-time world champion had to settle for second place.

I might have stayed with him in the second heat if I had not made a small mistake. We lacked braking stability. The result of the weekend is nonetheless positive because we know that on this “stop and go” circuit Chaz is really good. I confirmed my position as leader in the championship, and that is the main thing.

Jonathan Rea

Finishing fourth on Saturday and third on Sunday, Tom Sykes suffered a good deal on the Italian track.

The heat hindered me because I had no feeling with my front tire. We were at the limit.

Tom Sykes

Randy Krummenacher chalked up thirteenth and fifteenth places on a difficult circuit.

The Championship

Even though victory was not to be his for the first time this season, Jonathan Rea nonetheless confirmed his place as Championship leader at Imola. Indeed, after the Italian race the Kawasaki rider had a seventy-four point lead over Chaz Davies. Now in third place, Tom Sykes is only one point behind the Ducati rider, who scored a twin-win in Imola. Randy Krummenacher stays in sixteenth place in the overall standings. In Supersport, Sofuoglu has climbed back to fourth place. The reigning world champion has a thirty-five point lead over Mahias, leader in the overall standings. Ryde is back in seventh position while Canducci has dropped to eleventh place.

The Background

For twenty years now, Total’s engineers have been working hand in hand with the engine manufacturers at the Kawasaki plant. Their collaboration started in MotoGP before focusing on the Superbike World Championship when the Japanese manufacturer decided to review the strategy of its commitment in motorsports. Today, the collaboration between the Elf brand and the Kawasaki plant also includes Supersport, Endurance and Motocross with the Bud Racing structure.

Since the late 2000s, we have started to develop a green lubricant associated with the Kawasaki image.  A new family of “lubes” has thus been created with products that obviously have the same qualities of Elf “lubes” in terms of performance and comfort.

Jean Thelamon, Total Lubricants

Synthetic technology products that meet the most demanding certification criteria with the added bonus of the “green lime” colour.

In addition to the attractive packaging, the variation in the colour of the oil that can be seen through the eye on the crankcase indicates to the user when it is time for an oil change.

Jean Thelamon, Total Lubricants

The Green Wind line of products has become an attractive range on new markets, such as the one in Thailand where some Kawasaki models are assembled.


MotoGP – Spanish Grand Prix

Marquez makes it on his home turf

After taking his first pole position in Moto2 on Saturday afternoon, Alex Marquez drove his point home by scoring his first victory in the Grand Prix intermediate class. A masterful win on his home turf.

The Races

In Argentina, Alex Marquez believed he was going to win his first Moto2 Grand Prix. For a long time hot on the wheels of Franco Morbidelli, the Spaniard unfortunately fell as he approached the finish after trying to overtake his teammate. In Jerez, for the first European race of the season, it was the Italian who crashed after being put under pressure by the younger of the Marquez brothers. From then on, nothing and nobody could prevent Alex from racing away to his first success in Moto2.

“It was a tough race because it was very hot,” said the Marc VDS rider.

“When I saw Franco fall in front of me I realized how fast an error could happen. So I dropped the pace a little because I was really on the edge with the front wheel, I just kept the distance with my opponents.”

In MotoGP, the two riders of Team Estrella Galicia 0.0 Marc VDS failed to score the points they hoped to take home. Jack Miller was the first to throw in the towel. While he was in eighth place, the Australian was hit by Bautista and couldn’t prevent himself from falling. In trouble due to the heat and the track’s lack of grip, Miller fell two laps later as he moved up from eighteenth to thirteenth place. Respectively finishing in eighteenth and twenty-sixth places under the checkered flag of the Moto3 race, Kornfeil and Pulkkinen have still to score their first points.

The Championship

Despite his first Did Not Finish of the season, Franco Morbidelli has kept his first place in the Moto2 championship standings with eleven points ahead of Tom Lüthi. Alex Marquez has gained two positions and moved up to fourth place. The Spaniard is only ten points behind the third place, Portugal’s Oliveira. In MotoGP, Miller was unable to make it to the fourth top ten he hoped for. He’s now twelfth in the overall standings, five points from Petrucci and Redding. Rabat also lost a place, and is now nineteenth.

The Background

Since last year, Alex Marquez has made good progress.

“He’s a hard worker,” says Emilio Alzamora, manager of the Spanish brothers.

“Marc is more talented, but Alex has always gone his own way by trying not to stay in the shadow of his brother. He has enormous willpower and works really hard.”

After two tough first Moto2 seasons, the former Moto3 World Champion passed a milestone last winter.

“The new Kalex chassis suits him much better,” says Michael Bartholemy.

“He feels the front wheel more and starts his races much better. Last year, he struggled for the first few laps with a full fuel tank. Now he feels more comfortable, more aggressive and confident.”

All that he needed was to come through with a win. Which he did masterfully and on his home turf.

“I couldn’t have dreamt anything better,” grinned the youngest of the Marquez family, who dedicated his first success in Moto2 to Roser, his mother.


Superbike World Championship, Netherlands

Rea in Another Realm

With seven victories in eight races, Jonathan continues to dominate the 2017 season, head and shoulders above the pack. In Assen, the defending world champion won twice in front of his teammate, Tom Sykes. In Supersport, Kenan Sofuoglu scored his first success of the year.

The Races

“I’m really happy with this new twin win,” said Jonathan Rea at the Assen circuit in the Netherlands, host of the fourth leg of the Superbike World Championship. “There’s always a lot of pressure when you arrive on a circuit where everyone is waiting to see what you can do. Overcoming that pressure and winning is an enormous satisfaction. I love this track and its fast curves suit our bike down to the ground.” While he was able to take advantage of Chaz Davies’ technical problems to win on Saturday, the Kawasaki rider’s victory the next day was only due to his own efforts. To score the twin-win, Rea had to surpass himself to resist Tom Sykes in the last chicane on the Dutch circuit. Finishing twice in second place, Sykes also had an excellent weekend, especially since physically he is still not quite up to scratch. Finishing in eleventh and fourteenth place respectively, Randy Krummenacher scored points at the finish of both races. In Supersport, Kenan Sofuoglu finished his first race and won his first victory of the year at the end of a race in which he seemed to go it alone. “I was very tense,” says the world champion. “The season started off very badly for me, but after this first success I’ll be a little more relaxed for the rest of the season.” Seventh place for Canduci and twelfth for Ryde completed the tally for the Kawasaki riders.

The Championship

By scoring the 45th win of his career in the Superbike World Championship, and the 30th flying the Kawasaki flag, Jonathan Rea is head and shoulders above the pack in the overall standings. The Brit now has a 64-point lead over Tom Sykes, who has snatched second place in the championship from Chaz Davies. Krummenacher is in sixteenth place with twenty-one points. In Supersport, Sofuoglu took advantage of his first points to finally make it to the overall standings in ninth position, just ahead of Canduci. Kyle Ryde occupies fifth place, five points away from the Italian Rolfo in third place.

The background

Of all the riders on the Superbike World lineup, Tom Sykes is undoubtedly the biggest brakeman. “That’s always been one of my qualities and one of my strengths,” said the Kawasaki rider. “It’s an advantage for overtaking when you’re fighting it out in a group, especially when you have a very fast bike at the end of a straight.” On the other side of the coin, a rider who brakes very hard often has more difficulty coming correctly out of turns. “We’re still looking for a very stable bike,” said Marcel Duinker, the chief engineer for the former world champion. “And that sometimes penalizes the overall agility of the machine.” To brake hard, a rider must also have a strong front tire and an engine that does not have too much inertia. But this year, with the new technical regulations, it is no longer possible for engine manufacturers to modify the crankshaft counterweight settings. “And they are quite heavy from the outset,” explained Duinker. “And that makes the bike push on the brakes at the entry to a corner. We’ve come back to the same problem we had in 2015, and we’ve got to look for new settings to help Tom make the most of his riding experience.”