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William Dunlop to ride Yamahas for Temple Golf Club at TT 2018

Dunlop will compete in the RST Superbike, PokerStars Senior and RL360 Quantum Superstock classes on the YZF-R1M and will also ride a new YZF-R6 with additional support from Caffrey International in the two Monster Energy Supersport Races.

Last year, the Northern Irishman man was thrown a lifeline by former Mar-Train team owner Tim Martin after his 2017 plans fell through at the last minute. Dunlop borrowed Martin’s 1000cc Yamaha machines and after playing catch-up on his rivals for most of the season, he began to hit his stride at the Ulster Grand Prix.

The 32-year-old became the first rider ever to crack the 200mph barrier at Dundrod and was right on the pace in the Superbike class, but a freak injury away from the track forced him to give the showpiece races a miss.

By his own admission, Dunlop has endured a couple of lacklustre years and the multiple North West 200 and Ulster GP winner is determined to make amends this year, when a maiden victory at the Isle of Man TT is his top priority.

“The TT is the one I want most and that’s what our year will be built around,” Dunlop said. “I’ve got the full package this year and although I’ve always had a good Supersport package, over the last two years I have been given competitive big bikes but not the budget to run them properly.”

“Tim stepped in and gave me everything I wanted for the Ulster last year and the bikes were transformed, I wasn’t riding well but was still competing for pole position in qualifying so I knew then what I wanted for 2018.”

“To have my team and bikes ready to go in January takes away so much pressure. I’m mentally and physically in better condition than ever and looking forward to going testing,” he added.

Dunlop will contest the opening British Superbike rounds as he builds towards the major international road races. He will also participate in the annual Pro Test organised by Barry Symmons at Cartagena in Spain.

After spearheading the development of the all-new YZF-R1M throughout 2015, team boss Martin was cruelly denied the opportunity to reap the rewards in 2016 when Dan Kneen was injured at the beginning of the season, ruling him out of the North West and TT.

He took a sabbatical last year, but Martin’s desire to win is burning brighter than ever and in Dunlop, he feels he has a rider capable of beating anyone on his day.

“I have watched William from a distance for years and made no secret of the fact I think he is a natural talent with the potential to beat anyone,” he said.

“I’ve also spent a lot of time developing the R1M without turning the potential into results so the opportunity to put the two together and prove a few people wrong was just too tempting to resist.

“The R1M has been completely revamped since we were last on track and we have put together a good team with everything William asked for,” he added.

“I’m thoroughly looking forward to being back in the paddock and to finally working with William.”

 

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NI set to host World Superbike round at Lake Torrent circuit in Coalisland

The circuit is under construction currently on a former clay pits site.

A round of the series is set to be staged at the 2.2-mile county Tyrone course as early as next year.

It is believed a three-year agreement has been struck between the developers, Manna Developments, and Dorna, the owners of World Superbike.

World SBK executive director Daniel Carrera told the BBC: “It’s a very interesting project for us. We know the culture, the passion for motorbike racing in Northern Ireland”.

Jonathan Rea is the current three-time World Superbike champion and says it is “a dream” to race at home.

“It’s the icing on the cake – to go to my real home where I grew up riding and race in front of my home fans.

“It would be very well attended – it’s exciting to have a circuit back home to help bring on the next generation to the world stage.”

In addition to Rea, Toomebridge rider Eugene Laverty is also competing in the global championship at present, with Carrickfergus racer Andrew Irwin set to take in the concurrently run World Supersport championship for the first time this season. (BBC Bikes)

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KTM Introduces The RC 390 R

With a relentless commitment to developing lower capacity models with high levels of performance and a history of presenting hardcore ‘R’ models, KTM introduces the new RC 390 R taking inspiration from the new Supersport 300 category racing.

Limited to just 500 units overall, this new R version embodies the typical KTM READY TO RACE spirit and builds on the abilities and pure appeal of the KTM RC 390. Armed with a series of hardware upgrades, the KTM RC 390 R is also perfectly placed to suit extreme track riding use.

Fully adjustable WP suspension front and back was tailormade for this exciting new model, providing huge levels of adjustment in order to get the KTM RC 390 R perfectly set-up for both rider and riding conditions.

With less focus on all-day comfort, a new top yoke and handlebar kit allows a more extreme racing handlebar position and adjustable for riders of all sizes. Beautifully finished, its machined construction provides precision, strength and weight saving. The addition of CNC milled, foldable brake and clutch levers provide increased feedback at fingers and are designed to flick-up in the case of a spill, helping to keep the KTM RC 390 R READY TO RACE!

Other changes include a shorter intake trumpet to increase the overall efficiency of the KTM RC 390 R in race conditions and to create an engine characteristic with a slightly wider power band. Finished with new high quality graphics to display the intent of this new machine, the KTM RC 390 R will be available to order through official KTM dealers in Europe as well in oversea markets and will cost 8,500 euros, incl. German VAT.

SSP300 – READY TO RACE

Homologated for competition use, aligned with the current official motorsport rulebook, the KTM RC 390 R is also the perfect platform for top-level Supersport 300 racing with the addition of the SSP300 Race Kit.

Limited to just 50 kits per year directly through KTM Customer Racing and made specifically for the new R model, the additional SSP 300 Race Kit contains more than 230 individual parts and gives motorsport teams the ability to make and maintain the homologated version into a dedicated Supersport 300 contender.

The kit aligns with the international SSP 300 FIM regulations for 2018 and offers everything which is needed for competition, including a full titanium Akrapovič SSP300 EVO02 system with race ECU, STM slipper clutch, quickshifter, wiring harness, spare wheels, a huge selection of gearing options, increased cooling system and a full bodywork kit made from lightweight and strong materials, among many other detailed parts.

The kit costs 11,000 euros (MSRP), including German VAT, and is not compatible to existing KTM RC 390 CUP motorcycles or any RC specification before 2017.

With the new KTM RC 390 R, the lower capacity supersports market has a new performance benchmark. Combining this superior base model with the most comprehensive race kit and a professional service back up through KTM Customer Racing creates a truly READY TO RACE formula for Supersport 300 competition.

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Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing 2018 MXGP Team

Husqvarna Motorcycles are pleased to release the full imagery from the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing 2018 MXGP team shooting, featuring the duo of official team riders Gautier Paulin and Max Anstie.

Following a stellar season in which the Frenchman secured third in the 2017 MXGP World Championship standings and then went on to top the Nations Classification at the Motocross of Nations, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Gautier Paulin is fired up for more success in 2018.

Enjoying a solid rookie season of MXGP class competition that ended with the Brit claiming two emphatic moto victories at the 2017 Motocross of Nations, Max Anstie will be a strong asset for the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing squad alongside Paulin in 2018.

The 19-round-long 2018 FIM Motocross World Championship will kick off with the MXGP of Patagonia in Nequen, Argentina on March 3/4, 2018. 

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Jamie Coward joins Team Penz13 BMW Motorrad Motorsport

Coward enjoyed notable success at the 2017 Isle of Man TT Races including an 8th placed finish in the RL360 Quantum Superstock TT Race as well as podiums at the Southern 100 and Classic TT presented by Bennetts.

Coward will team up with Derek Sheils and Danny Webb in the Penz13 team for the 2018 roads campaign which will start in May in the Czech Republic at the ‘300 Curves of Gustav Havel’ meeting in Horice. The meeting is internationally known as the “small TT” and the team considers it the perfect track for Coward to prepare for the TT.

The team believes that with the same BMW S1000RR as Webb and Sheils, Coward has the ability to improve his lap times around the Mountain Course and achieve top ten results consistently.

Coward will also race in the Macau Grand Prix as a newcomer, which has always been on his bucket list.

Coward said:

”After a great season with Radcliffe Racing I felt confident that we could built on that for 2018 but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be so I am really pleased that the Penz13 team called. With their experience in international road racing as well as in the endurance World Championship I’m confident that they will provide me with the machinery to build on my experience and times to date.

He continued:

“I believe that 130mph+ is a realistic target and with Derek and Danny in the team we will complement each other well. I am really looking forward to testing the bikes in February when we hit the track in Cartagena for the first time.”

Riko Penzkofer, Team Penz13 BMW Motorrad Motorsport team manager said:

“From the beginning it was clear we want to enter the international road races with a 3-rider line up and when we heard of Jamie’s situation we contacted him immediately and put a deal together. His experience around the mountain course will also benefit the rest of the team and it is already looking like a promising season ahead.”

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Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Presents 2018 Colours

The two companies signed a five-year partnership agreement in the premier class of road racing in 2014, underlined with Movistar becoming the team‘s title sponsor. In the past four years, Yamaha and Telefónica Spain‘s shared values and passion for innovation laid the groundwork for success, resulting in a MotoGP Triple Crown in 2015 and the MotoGP Team‘s Title in 2016.

However, the focus of the 2018 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Presentation event was set on celebrating the start of the new season, rather than commemorating past achievements. Eager to take on the challenge to push the limits even further in 2018, the two companies unveiled a new team logo, that shows Movistar‘s new colour scheme, with a light blue “M”.

Masters of Ceremonies, Izaskun Ruiz and Dylan Gray, presented the launch event and soon welcomed the new Yamaha Motor Racing President andGeneral Manager of Motorsports Development Division, Kouichi Tsuji, to the stage for a Q&A session. He shed light on how Yamaha is working on pushing the limits, before it was Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director Massimo Meregalli‘s turn to discuss the 2018 preparations and how the team aims to rise to the challenges ahead.

The next guest speakers were nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi and former Moto3 World Champion Maverick Viñales, who are no strangers to pushing boundaries and breaking records.

Rossi is known to be Yamaha‘s most successful rider and is determined to further confirm his status in 2018, as he enters a sixth consecutive year with Yamaha Factory Racing since his return to the manufacturer in 2013. Moreover, 2018 will be his 13th season with the team since he first joined Yamaha in 2004.

Though the Italian had a strong start to the season last year – and briefly led the championship standings – two injuries sustained in separate incidents ultimately cost him a chance to fight for the 2017 title. Despite these misfortunes, the 38-year-old Italian secured six podiums in total, including a brilliant race win in the Netherlands. With a total of 115 Grand Prix victories written to his name, this year he‘ll be gearing up once more for his quest to secure a tenth World Title.

Viñales made waves on his first year with the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team. He joined the Factory Yamaha crew after gaining two years of experience in the premier class and was quick to make a name for himself as one of the key protagonists, securing third place in the overall rider standings in his first year with Yamaha.

The 23-year-old had a dream start to the 2017 season, taking two race wins at the opening rounds in Qatar and Argentina. He followed it up with a win in France to secure Yamaha’s 500th Grand Prix victory. Though the remainder of the season was more challenging for the Spaniard, he still graced the podium a total of seven times last year, which only left him hungrier to compete at the front of the MotoGP field again during the 2018 season.

Finally, the President of Telefónica España, Luis Miguel Gilperez, was also put in the spotlight towards the end of the 2018 team launch ceremony. He further highlighted the close bond between Yamaha and Movistar, before it was time for the main event.

During the unveiling of the 2018 Yamaha YZR-M1, a new soundtrack, created by Yamaha Motor Racing Srl and Yamaha Music Europe GmbH – Branch Italy, set the scene of the action to come this racing season. Rossi and Viñalesproudly presented their new bikes with a refreshed livery. Besides a revamped Movistar logo, the “Movistar M” design element on the bike is now white, making it blend in perfectly with Yamaha Factory Racing‘s aesthetics.

 

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SMR signs Dave Johnson for TT return

The newly-formed Gulf BMW Road Racing Team has signed Australian rider David Johnson. Joining the SMR team gives ‘Davo’ an opportunity to contest the 2018 Isle of Man TT Races fuelled by Monster Energy with a competitive package using the team’s former BMW World Superbikes.

Gulf BMW will also compete in the 2018 North West 200 road races and a select number of British Superbike rounds. The outfit will field BMW S1000RRs in the RL360 Quantum Superstock, RST Superbike and PokerStars Senior TT Races at the Isle of Man TT as well as the NW200 races, with podiums and a potential victory the primary goals.

Ahead of competitive running in May/June, a busy test schedule is planned for early 2018 in Spain, which will be key for Johnson to dial in to the bikes and put himself and the team in prime competitive condition.

Mats Nilsson, Team Manager, Gulf BMW Road Racing team, said:

“SMR and Gulf Oil International have joined forces to deliver this exciting new project with the BMW S1000 RR, which has a proven winning record around the Isle of Man TT Mountain Course in both Superbike and Superstock trim. Both parties are currently in partnership with SMR’s WorldSBK team and this relationship has been developed with a view to a long-term roads campaign.”



“The Gulf BMW team is partnered by SGS, Feadship, Matseco USA Inc, Akrapovic and B&C Express. With a strong team effort and the level of support the team has attained over the winter, we are confident we can do our sponsors justice and also provide Davo with competitive bikes in both the Superbike and Superstock categories.”



“The team begin testing in Spain on 12th March, which will be a very important period for us. We know what the bike is capable of and what Davo can do, so we are looking forward to some track running and to the beginning of the new Gulf BMW road racing campaign.”

Dave Johnson said:

“I’m very excited to be back racing on a BMW with the full technical support of SMR and BMW Motorrad Motosport. The bikes will be as good as they can possibly be, and I am confident this package can push me to the next level at the TT.”



“We also have the exciting challenge of the North West 200 before the TT. It will be my first competitive outing on the Gulf BMW so there is a lot of preparation to do, but I can’t wait to see what the team can do.”



“We have a full testing program scheduled in early 2018 so we will definitely hit the ground running come first practice at the 2018 TT races. I did my fastest lap on a BMW at the TT in 2015 [131.595mph] so this year with factory spec bikes will be a big year for me, and I will make it count.”

 

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Zero Motorcycles invests in UK market for 2018

Zero Motorcycles, the global sales leader in the electric motorcycle market, is continuing to build its presence in the UK with the appointment of a new country manager for 2018, as well as a new 1400m2 warehouse in the Netherlands to supply most spare parts within 48 hours.

To support the development of the ever growing Zero dealer network, the Californian company has recently opened the new, factory run, European headquarters in the Netherlands that has the capability to supply most new bikes and spare parts within 48 hours. The facility is staffed by a technical team providing support and advice for the European dealer network, while new country manager Dale Robinson provides direct support for the UK market.

He said: “Zero has a lot of experienced motorcycle industry professionals working for them and know what’s needed to create a great customer experience. The bikes themselves are pretty much maintenance free but when spares are required, we have between 80-85% availability for parts for current models. We’re also working closely with British insurance and finance companies, to develop a range of competitive financial products for purchasers of Zeros, making electric motorcycles more competitive than they have ever been before.”

Dale, who is an experienced motorcycle industry professional and classic superbike racer, added: “I think that electric bikes are a way to get new people into the motorcycle industry. They make instant power and are clean and silent. There’s no drama with them. The key to getting more people on board is to get them to try the bikes out – no one has come back from a test ride without a smile on their face! All of our dealers have at least two demo bikes and we’ll be planning a small tour of try out days throughout the year, starting with the Ace Café in London in February.”

Zero will be running a series of demo days at locations around the UK throughout the year, while all UK dealers have a range of bikes available for prospective riders to try out. Test rides can be arranged via the Zero Motorcycles website: https://www.zeromotorcycles.com/eu/demo-rides

 

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17-In-A-Row For KTM at Dakar

Having covered nearly 9,000 km of the most challenging terrain through Peru, Bolivia and Argentina, Toby Price brought his KTM machine home for a podium finish, placing third having battled to the end following his return to competitive riding at the event. Antoine Meo placed an impressive fourth with Gerard Farres Guell in fifth. Laia Sanz was 12th overall having concluded yet another incredible ride, although it was Matthias Walkner who capitalized on his navigational skills to take the victory.

Walkner, who entered the final timed special stage of the rally with a healthy 22-minute lead over his nearest competitor, has unquestionably put in a champion’s performance at this year’s event – the 40th edition of the Rally Dakar. The former FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion has ridden intelligently from the very first stage, finding the right balance between out-and-out speed and error-free navigation. Stage 10 was again a game-changer in the rally, when 31-year-old Walkner ended the day with an almost 30-minute advantage over his nearest competitors.

Having held his nerve and on reaching the finish of Saturday’s 14th and final stage in eighth position, Walkner took the 2018 Rally Dakar victory and became the first Austrian motorcycle rider to do so – a well-deserved, historic achievement.

Matthias Walkner: “It’s unbelievable – I can’t describe how it feels. This year’s Dakar has been so difficult, easily the toughest rally of my career. Navigation has been tricky pretty much every day. At the beginning of the race, all the top guys were so close with not much time between us. I just tried to keep on doing well each day without making any mistakes. Things were so tight right up to my stage victory. After that I aimed to finish each day safely and get to the end of the rally without losing my advantage. Luckily the tactics worked out and I’m here at the end now as the winner and it feels unreal. Thank you to my team and everyone that has supported me – we did it!”

Finishing as runner-up on the final stage, Toby Price did everything he could to close down the gap on the riders in front of him. Playing catch up following an unfortunate navigational error earlier in the rally, Price’s speed in the final stages of the event was phenomenal. His results secured third place in the overall standings, an amazing feat considering the 2018 Rally Dakar is the Australian’s first competitive outing since injury forced him out of the 2017 event.

Toby Price: “The final stage is over and it went really well. I’m happy to get to the finish line; that was always the main goal right from the start. I tried to push today to make up the time on Kevin (Benavides) but halfway through I knew five minutes was just too much and so I just aimed for a safe finish. To finish the Dakar is an achievement in itself, to come away at the end of this year’s race with a podium is unbelievable, especially after the year I’ve had. The whole team have come together and worked so hard, none of us could do it without them. I’ll concentrate on the 2018 season now and try to get a little stronger and come back here next year looking for the top-step.”

Similarly to his teammate, Antoine Meo’s 2017 season has been plagued with injury. Coming into the Dakar the Frenchman’s goal was simply to get to the finish. Two stage wins and a successful rally later, Meo has placed an impressive fourth overall, a great achievement considering the difficulty of this year’s event.

Antoine Meo: “I am so happy to complete the race in one piece. Today (Saturday) was difficult, not because of the length of the stage but because we had to wait around a bit and it was hard to maintain concentration. I tried to push early on, but after making a small mistake I caught a truck in an awkward part of the track and lost some time stuck behind him. I had a couple of crashes this year but nothing too bad. I’m happy with how things have gone and would like to thank the team for getting us through it this year.”

Laia Sanz never ceases to impress. Despite two big crashes on the closing stages of the race, the Spaniard gritted her teeth and kept on going. Always close to the top 10, Laia eventually completed the Dakar in 12th overall. The multiple Enduro World Champion was over the moon with her performance.

Laia Sanz: “I am so happy to get to the finish, I am really pleased with my position too – it has been a very tough rally. I had two big crashes, which luckily didn’t cause too much damage to me or the bike. I am exhausted now but feel good because I am here, safely at the finish. I want to thank all the team for their help and now it’s finally time to relax.”

Pit Beirer (KTM Motorsport Director): “It goes without saying that winning the Rally Dakar for the 17th consecutive time is an incredible achievement for KTM. I’d like to congratulate Matthias on his first victory at the event in what was an exceptionally tough race. This result is a testament to the hard work of everyone involved, from our R&D department in Mattighofen, to the team on the ground in South America, and I’m proud that it has paid off yet again, especially with the new KTM 450 RALLY machine. Our warriors have certainly delivered, and now we can celebrate and enjoy the stories of this year’s race.”

Final Standings Rally Dakar 2018
1. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 43:06:01 h (1 min penalty) 
2. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, +16:53 min 
3. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, +23:01 min 
4. Antoine Meo (FRA), KTM, +47:28 min (1 min penalty) 
5. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP), KTM, +01:01:04 h 
Other KTM 
9. Daniel Oliveiras Carreras (ESP), KTM, +02:37:20 h 
12. Laia Sanz (ESP), KTM, +02:56:02 h (2 min penalty)