The second day of the Official Moto2 and Moto3 test at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto saw Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) storm to the top in the intermediate class, with Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) claiming P1 in the lightweight class – as both had done last week at the private test at the venue. The conditions allowed plenty of running once again, with the day warmer still and the field making the most of the southern Spanish weather.
In Moto2, Bezzecchi set the timing screens alight in the second session of Day 2 to set a new lap record. The Italian’s 1:40.448 was enough to beat an incredible performance from rookie Aron Canet (Aspar Team) by 0.262 on Thursday, with the injured Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) claiming an equally impressive P3.
Both Bezzecchi and Canet beat Remy Gardner’s (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) new lap record time set on Day 1, the Australian finishing P13 on the second day of action. Fourth on Thursday was the experienced Tom Lüthi (Liqui Moly Intact GP) as both the Swiss rider and Spaniard Jorge Navarro (Speed Up Racing) dipped below the 1:41 barrier.
“This second day has gone very well: I am happy because I have improved my time and my pace, but what I liked most is that I begin to understand the category, the laps, the tyres… We still have a lot to do, tomorrow I will try to complete a race simulation to see how I feel physically.”
Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) ended the day sixth fastest to finish 0.666 off Bezzecchi’s benchmark, but it wasn’t the day his teammate Jake Dixon would have been looking for. The British rider suffered a crash at Turn 2 in the second session which damaged his right-hand ring finger, the Moto2 sophomore will now miss Day 3 as he flies back to the UK for further medical checks.
Seventh fastest went the way of Tetsuta Nagashima (Red Bull KTM Ajo), with Italians Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP 40) and Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) next up, also finishing seventh tenths off top spot. Completing the top 10 was American Racing’s Joe Roberts, the American setting his best lap in the final session of the day.
One thing spotted in the EG 0,0 Marc VDS box was two extra bikes under Kalex covers for Augusto Fernandez. One of the two is expected to be testing Kalex’s 2020 chassis, something that Edgar Pons (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) tried on Day 1 and impressed with.
Ahead of the 2020 season-opening Yamaha Finance round of the Motul FIM Superbike World Championship at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit next weekend (February 28-March 1), the paddock has united to stage a charity auction to help out the victims of the recent Australian bushfires.
Five-time world champion Jonathan Rea has donated gloves and boots for the auction, with all funds raised going to BlazeAid, a volunteer-based organisation which works alongside rural families and individuals impacted by fires and floods.
Jonathan Rea in Melbourne today
Rea spoke about the bushfires at a media conference in Melbourne today, after the disaster struck a very personal note for the Kawasaki factory rider.
The family of Rea and his Australian wife, Tatia, owns a house just out of Bright in the heart of north-east Victoria, and for three weeks they watched from afar as the fires threatened their home, evacuations took place, and they saw farms and communities surrounding Bright ravaged.
Rea and his Australian wife, Tatia
“During the height of the fire, it got to within 5km of the house and Tatia’s parents were told to leave,” said Rea. “We were at home and keeping a constant eye on the emergency apps, and in the end we were very fortunate.
“It’s great the WorldSBK paddock is doing something, as it’d be easy to come here and then move on. Everyone has been sensational with their support.”
Rea is now the most successful WorldSBK rider of all time, topping all the key metrics: titles won (five), number of race wins (88), podiums (168) and fastest laps (67).
His dominance over the last five years has been profound, and the hard-nosed 33-year-old will now strive for six titles in a row against a manufacturer, machinery and rider base (both factory and privateer) that’s the strongest it has been during his reign at the top.
Competition for Rea will come from all quarters, including Spaniard Alvaro Bautista (Honda) who won the first 11 races in 2019 before Rea came home with a wet sail; Briton’s former MotoGP rider Scott Redding making his debut in the production series on a factory Ducati; his new teammate Alex Lowes; his old teammate Leon Haslam (Honda); Yamaha guns Toprak Razgatlioglu and Michael van der Mark; Chaz Davies (Ducati) and BMW duo Tom Sykes and Eugene Laverty.
Haslam, Bautista and Laverty are all past WorldSBK winners at Phillip Island (Bautista doing the double in 2019), so the anticipation ahead of round one is palpable.
“Phillip Island is the closest thing to a home round for me, so I always enjoy racing there,” said Rea. “There’s always expectation and nervous energy ahead of a new season, but I’m trying to take a more mature approach in 2020.
“Last year, I was super excited at the start of the season, but the wind was then knocked out of my sails a little bit in those first four races,” continued Rea, referring to Bautista’s early season dominance.
“Of course I’d love to leave Phillip Island with three race wins, but it’s a 39-race championship and it’s more important that I leave Australia healthy and with a platform for the rest of the year.
“More than ever, consistency is going to a vital asset in 2020. I’ll just continue to focus on myself, and after the first 4-5 rounds everyone will eventually find their place.
“I had to come from behind to win the 2019 championship, and that was a valuable lesson in just focussing on my own form and not worrying about everyone else.”
Rea showed them a clean pair of heels at the Jerez test in November
Final pre-season testing will be held at Phillip Island on February 24-25, and then the paddock reconvenes three days later for the real business of racing.
Rea heads into the test after strong testing form in Europe
“I’m going to focus on polishing the package during the test,” said Rea. “The last two years I haven’t nailed setup at Phillip Island, and the goal will be to finish up with a bike that turns naturally – which places less stress on the tyres.”
2020 Kawasaki Racing Team WSBK livery
There will be three WorldSBK races at Phillip Island: two 22-lappers at 3:00pm on Saturday and Sunday, and a 10-lap Sprint at midday on Sunday.
Add in World Supersport competition and round one of the 2020 mi-bike Motorcycle Insurance Australian Superbike Championship featuring four classes – Superbike, Supersport, Supersport 300 and the Oceania Junior Cup – and there will be a total of 15 races.
Buy your ticket and save
If you’re ready for fab adventure of the high-horsepower kind, book now for a weekend getaway at the World Superbikes next February 28-March 1 at Australia’s sensational Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit for the Yamaha Finance round. Book at https://tickets.worldsbk.com.au/
· Purchase a three-day General Admission ticket with Free Paddock Access just $125* Add on-circuit camping for $110* per adult for four-nights making a three day entry/four night camping ticket $235*
· Kids 15 and under, accompanied by a full-paying adult, are free for entry and to camp
· Want to upgrade to grandstand access and under-cover viewing? Opt for a Bar SBK ticket – three days for $265* giving access to three under-cover viewing areas at the circuit’s most thrilling corners – Doohan Corner, Siberia & Lukey Heights. Bar SBK ticket holders also get access to the exclusive grandstand at Doohan Corner, along with parking at Siberia & Lukey Heights and prime Superscreen viewing from each facility
*All ticket prices quoted are advance (more expensive at gate) and subject to Ticketek charges
** Kids 15 and under free to enter and camp, accompanied by a full-paying adult
Michael van der Mark and Toprak Razgatlioglu will spearhead Pata Yamaha’s WorldSBK challenge for season 2020.
Australian two-time World Supersport Champion Andrew Pitt has stayed with the team but with Alex Lowes’ moving to KRT, will crew chief for Dutchman Michael van der Mark.
Michael van der Mark
Toprak, after two seasons of real achievement as an independent rider in WorldSBK on Kawasaki ZX-10RR machinery has switched to Yamaha for season 2020. His previous crew chief Phil Marron has come with him to Pata Yamaha, keeping their connection strong as they move into the realms of official team racing on a machine which is all-new to both.
Winner of a race at Jerez last year, Michael van der Mark is back for his fourth year on the official R1, but this year there is a revamped cross-plane four-cylinder machine under his command. He has taken three career race wins in WorldSBK, part of a total of 29 podium finishes in all.
Michael van der Mark
A seasoned WorldSBK campaigner and very much in his prime at 27 years-of-age, Michael aims to be a more consistent winner and podium finisher in 2020, having already built up a good relationship with his new R1 in testing after three seasons racing the previous version. Here’s what van der Mark had to say when asked about season 2020.
2020 marks your fourth season as an Official Yamaha rider on the YZF-R1 – are you feeling ready for the new season?
Michael van der Mark: “Of course I’m ready! I’m looking forward to the new season with the 2020 R1 – which is not a completely different bike – but there are a lot of new parts and improvements that will help us. We need to keep making progress, and with this new bike, that for sure will enable us to make another step.”
So, what changes have been made to the new R1?
MVDM: “One of the improvements is the aerodynamics; it works much better for tall riders like Toprak and me. It is a lot more protective and I think we can get a little bit better top speed. Also, I think the fairing design has brought some other benefits, so again it’s a positive feeling. Together with Öhlins and our performance engineers we’ve made a good step forward to find grip – as it’s always been our main issue. Already last year we made a step and it was really important, I felt like we have found a really good direction and exactly what we are looking for. I don’t know any numbers, but this new bike feels a bit faster as well – that’s always nice!”
Michael van der Mark
You have a new crew chief this year in Andrew Pitt – a two-time World Champion in his own right. How is that relationship developing?
MVDM: “I knew Andrew a bit already because he was working with Alex [Lowes] and we always got along well. It honestly feels good, the communication is great and there’s a bit of a mix in the team now; I have some different guys on my side of the garage. I think it’s good to have some new ideas and styles of working, some new motivation and changes; also with Toprak joining the team. So at the moment things are good! From the first moment I worked with Andrew I really enjoyed it and we did some other stuff together as well. I like the way he works as an ex-top rider. He really understands the problems I have and what I am facing when riding the bike, but also the deep technical side he understands really well, so I’m really happy.”
What about your new teammate, Toprak?
MVDM: “I like him! With Alex the relationship was always great, but it’s also good to have Toprak in the team as a young up-and coming-kid. He’s fast right from the start and we’ve had some really nice battles in the past. I’m really looking forward to the season, I think we can have some good battles again and I’ll be working hard to make sure I’m on top! He’ll keep me on my toes, but that’s what everybody wants. His style is so different to mine, but that’s interesting to learn from as well.”
What is your target in 2020?
MVDM: “Win races. If we can win races then we can build a challenge to fight for the championship. Boom!”
At only 23 years-of-age, Toprak is a rider who can already beat the best in a fair fight and who is now looking to the new R1 to allow him to do that on a more consistent basis.
Already a star in his native Turkey and a protégé of compatriot and WorldSSP legend Kenan Sofuoglu, Toprak has made a swift transition to the latest Yamaha R1 after a five-year career spent with a rival manufacturer. Like Michael, Toprak was a Superstock 600 European champion before moving up inside the WorldSBK paddock.
He shared his thoughts about this coming season, the new bikes and possibilities ahead:
Welcome to the Yamaha family and Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team with Rizla. How is the experience so far?
Toprak Razgatlioglu: “It’s a different team and for me, the first time with an official team. I was used to being in a small team, and now coming into an official manufacturer team. I don’t know all the people in the team yet and always I say, for me it is not easy because everyone is different to work with. But already it’s feeling very good and I like it a lot. In the beginning, I was a little… scared! Because I don’t know the team and everything is new. But now I’m very happy and enjoying it. Like with the stoppies at the end of the test, I thought at the start, ‘ah maybe I won’t try because I don’t know if it will be allowed!’ But after one time, somebody asked me ‘can you do another stoppie?’ So then I say ‘OK!’ I didn’t know in the beginning if it would be OK because it was all-new but these are racing people – serious about their jobs – and they also want to enjoy it.”
What is your impression of the new 2020 Yamaha R1 – what are the strong points?
TR: “Again, the Yamaha a new bike for me but now I have the 2020 R1 – between the two I would say there is not a really big difference, just nice improvements. I feel like it is very easy to turn, really good at turning and with the power I am feeling much better. I’m learning that my new bike with Yamaha has a different character from what I rode in the past. After more laps, I feel much better. I’ve always liked Yamaha; my first bike was a PW50! I have ridden Yamaha bikes over many years – I ride a Niken on the streets at home – and now after five years on a different bike, I have come here and I’m very happy.”
You are working with Phil Marron again as your crew chief, is this important when you are inside a new team and with a new bike?
TR: “Yes we work together well and I am very happy. Because we worked together in 2019, he knows me and I feel this is very important because he understands what I need to go fast. Before, my crew chiefs understood me a little and I would just ride the bike, but in 2019 working with Phil, he understands me more and the result is different! I’m very happy because we’re coming together to this new team. For Phil and me it is new: a new team and a new bike. But now already it is a better feeling, but I keep saying, I need more time, more laps and after, it will be a much better feeling!”
Are you enjoying having a teammate for the first time? What are the good and bad points compared to being the only rider?
TR: “In 2019, I raced in a team alone in WorldSBK and I think for me it was very easy, because with just one rider if I had a bad session I didn’t feel very bad. After a good session, I would be very happy. And now, coming to Yamaha and the first time having a teammate it is different [by having someone to compare to] – but I am very lucky because he is a very good guy! I know on the track we are fighting hard but outside we are already friends, feeling is like brothers. I say ‘abi’ to Michael and normally to say ‘abi’ in Turkish means ‘big brother’.”
In 2019 you won your first races and made big improvements. What are your goals in 2020?
TR: “I think last year I said the same – to get a podium at Phillip Island. I need this and last year I tried! It was not possible, but this year I will try again. First race, first podium and try to have a good feeling to start. After that, I try my best always, we will see…”
Continuity can be key in many areas of racing but in 2020 the long-time leader of the Pata Yamaha team’s efforts – Paul Denning – has many new elements to help distil into one potent WorldSBK racing mix, ready to score consistent success at a higher level than ever.
“2020 marks the fifth season since Yamaha’s return to WorldSBK competition in 2016 with the R1 and we are excited to see the next step in our evolution.”. “Yamaha’s Official Team, operated in close partnership with Crescent Racing, has improved every year both in potential and result, made evident by race wins and third and fourth overall in the 2019 Championship. As we get closer to the top level, further improvements are of course more difficult to deliver, but to take the next step forward and challenge for the title must be the target.”
Denning is very much aware that changes have been made with one goal in mind – higher levels of achievement for all.
“Yamaha has continued to improve their development capabilities, the team has improved its structure, and now we also have the new 2020 R1 to help us challenge for victories,” said Paul. “Alongside this, at Yamaha we now have one of the most exciting rider line-ups ever seen in WorldSBK, as Toprak joins Michael to create a talented, young and aggressive team that we hope will allow us to meet our targets and to deliver highly exciting on-track action throughout the new season.”
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu joins Michael van der Mark in the Pata Yamaha squad
Now that winter testing in Europe has concluded, all eyes turn to the official pre-season test in Australia, between 24 and 25 February, which will give the best possible indication of how the new season could start for Pata Yamaha.
The test and then the first weekend of a new era for Pata Yamaha will take place at the same Phillip Island circuit, one that has been host to so many spectacular moments in recent and more historic WorldSBK seasons.
WorldSBK Yamaha Finance Australian Round, Phillip Island
The King of Every Kingdom Around the world on a very small motorcycle
With J. Peter “The Bear” Thoeming
Last time we left The Bear and Annie after they arrived in Marseilles in France with their XS1100 along with fellow Aussies Neil and Millie, and now they explore some more and head to Biarritz.
There were no laptops back in the day, and I discovered that even portable typewriters are heavy. Too heavy for spoked Suzuki wheels at least….
A major sort-out followed and we sent three large, heavy parcels back home. My typewriter went – sadly missed; I hate writing longhand.
Then we loaded most of the remaining heavy gear aboard the XS which hardly seemed to feel the difference. We were all breathing more easily as we buzzed off along the coast, over the classy motorway bridge at Martigues and on to Arles for an excellent lunch.
It is difficult to imagine how such flat countryside can be so beautiful, but the Camargue, with its waterways, stands of golden reeds and herds of white horses, looked lovely. With the mistral at our backs, we drifted through the meadows and occasional stands of umbrella pine down to Les Saintes Maries with its little chapel that attracts thousands of Gypsy pilgrims every year.
The town centre still felt quite medieval with its winding alleys and little shops, but a huge modern holiday development all around rather spoils it.
In the sandy campsite we did a little more maintenance work on the bikes and I couldn’t understand why it was impossible to get the rear brake disc of the XS back between the calipers after I had replaced the pads. Lots of headscratching later, it occurred to me that I’d refilled the brake fluid reservoir as well. Sure enough, I’d put in too much fluid. The spokes on the GS seemed to be holding. We tapped them every day now.
Morning in Toulouse. The fog was icy and thick, and never lifted.
There was still aggravation in our little party as personalities clashed, and Annie and I took the opportunity to spend a couple of evenings by ourselves in a comfortable bar by the harbour, drinking kir and gazing into the fire. The bar mascot, a dachshund, kept us company. He had a very simple way of indicating that the fire was getting too low—he would crawl right up into the brick fireplace and look out mournfully.
We moved camp after some days of this rather heavily touristed environment; our new home was ‘La Refuge’, a tiny place in the town of Vias. On the way, Neil once more puzzled the locals by asking where the war was when he meant the railway station. His rather good French always seemed to fail him when he had to differentiate between ‘gare’ and ‘guerre’.
We also met a young German woman on a Honda 400/4, who calmly informed us that she was going down to The Gambia to sell her bike. Carrying very little gear, she had been freezing in her leathers for the last three days. We gave her some lunch and wished her luck.
A bit of a wander along one of the canal towpaths in France.
Vias proved to be exactly what we needed – it was just a small wine and tourist village in the off season. With friendly people and the ‘Cafe de France’, where we became such good customers that the patron started buying us drinks, the place was cosy. If truth be known the free drinks were a result of his being unable to tell the difference between Australia and New Zealand. Every time we walked in he would burst into a big grin and say admiringly, “Ah, les All Blacks!”
We had a couple of barbecues on the beach and generally took it easy. Our bail bond insurance for Spain didn’t start for another eight days. I also had new tyres, Metzelers, fitted to the XS at the Honda shop in Beziers.
The rear wheel nearly reduced their mechanics to tears, and it took them three times as long as they’d quoted to replace the tyre. They swore they would never touch another XS 1100. I still don’t know why; I’ve replaced a rear tyre on that bike myself and it gave me very little trouble.
Feeling more relaxed, we continued to Biarritz via Toulouse. A sunny morning and pleasant lunch at the very beautiful mediaeval town of Carcassonne were followed by a freezing, impenetrable fog just outside Toulouse. With our heated handlebar grips, electric GloGloves and Motomod Alaskan suits we weren’t exactly cold—but we still couldn’t see. A campsite loomed out of the fog just in time.
We replaced a couple of dozen spokes by the side of the road.
Our flysheets were frozen stiff the next morning, and we had to thaw them out in the toilet block before we could fold them. The fog was still just as dense as the night before. We crept through Toulouse, visibility a few metres. To this day I have no idea what the place looks like.
An hour later, the fog lifted and we had the sunniest day of the trip so far. Our run that day through the hills of Gascony was nothing short of idyllic. This was the home of cassoulet, Armagnac and foie gras, substantial chalets peering out of the little copses, and the snowy slopes of the Pyrenees blinking away on the horizon.
I kept seeing signs all day advertising ‘Chiens Bergers Allemandes’ and my mind kept twisting the translation to German Dogburgers, possibly competition for the American fast food chains. They were only selling German Shepherds, of course.
In a little village just before our camp at St Sever, we passed a small church called Notre Dame du Rugby. Now that’s taking sports to heart.
St Sever is on the edge of the Gironde and lies peacefully in a wooded valley. Our petrol stove was acting up, giving only a low flame when it would burn at all. We consoled ourselves with a few drinks in the bar/tobacconist/newsagents/shop in the village. Even this out-of-the-way place had an electronic amusement machine, featuring little clowns breaking balloons. I was interested to see that the last ‘human’ score had been twenty, while the clowns by themselves often racked up 30-35. Clever little electronic clowns….
But France in autumn is certainly not always cold and wet.
It was cold again that night, but not unpleasant, and the next day we were nearly at Biarritz when the back wheel of the GS collapsed once more. Oh dear.
We located a Suzuki shop in Bayonne, but they claimed they couldn’t help until the next day. When we pointed out that this meant our sleeping by the side of the road, they gave us the name of another shop in Biarritz. After much pleading, the chap there agreed to rebuild the wheel for us, but he didn’t think there were any heavier spokes available. We had to face facts. There was little point in laying out more money when the spokes would only break again. We had to buy a cast wheel.
After an elaborate series of phone calls, our friend in the bike shop arranged for the other shop to stay open for us and to accept traveller’s cheques. Neil raced back to Bayonne, bought the wheel, raced back to Biarritz, had it fitted with our wheel bearings, tyre and tube; and we put the wheel back on the bike.
Hmm, this wheel appears to have disintegrated…
By now it was nearly 10 pm, and we had a great deal of trouble finding an open campground. Tempers flared. When we did find a site, we agreed that we must talk our frictions out.
Annie and I spent a relaxing day in Biarritz, where we picked up mail and had a picnic out on the beachfront rocks. Then we all got together for our bit of group therapy in one of the local bars. It emerged that Annie and I didn’t really think that Millie could cope with this kind of travelling, and that she found me too bossy and overbearing.
We thought she complained and niggled too much; she thought we didn’t listen to her enough. We adjourned after a bit of healthy self-criticism, and things did improve quite noticeably for a while.
Spain is next, and we discovered that Australian passports can be less than useless there.
16-year-old Oli Bayliss, son of three-time World Superbike Champion Troy, will make his debut in the World Supersport Championship at the Phillip Island 2020 season opener after being granted a wildcard entry to the event.
“2019 was a fun year, racing hard and improving, but now I need to step it up again if I want to finish better than 5th in the championship, and racing world supersport against the fastest 600 riders in the world is a great way to kick off the year. I’m lucky to be in the position I’m in with this wild card opportunity, having Dad to motivate me, Ben to build great bikes and to have seen how it all works with Tom (Toparis) racing a wildcard as my team-mate in 2018. So I don’t really feel any pressure. I know I’m fit enough to ride the extra laps that comes with racing both championships, and I just need to go out there, race the track and see how many points I can get!”
Oli Bayliss – TBG Image
Ben Henry’s Cube Racing will prepare the Yamaha YZF-R6 in-house at their Gold Coast based performance shop.
The norm’ for most wildcard entries is to lease a ‘factory’ engine but Henry will build a World Supersport spec’ engine for Bayliss himself.
Team owner – Ben Henry
“We’ve worked really hard back in the shop to build Oli a bike for world supersport, while also preparing for the ASBK season. In Australia, we can’t race with the same level of sensors and data gathering equipment as they can in the world championship, so we do a lot of set-up based on rider feedback, our own feeling from touching the bike as well as watching the way the rider and bike work together on-track, and I’m confident that we have a competitive package for Oli to get his first experience in the world championship. We’ve been in this position before with Tom Toparis, and while we don’t expect to win the race, it’s an incredibly valuable experience for a young rider, and we’re confident with our ability as a team, and with Oli as a rider to get the most out of the opportunity”.
Oli Bayliss – Image by Rob Mott
The major differences are to be found in the cylinder head and a higher specification slipper clutch than the standard unit allowed under ASBK Supersport rules.
There will be some other technical changes on the bike like the allowance for data logging equipment and of course the mandatory red ‘rain’ light must be fitted to the back of the machine for the World Supersport event.
“I’m pretty excited that in just his fourth year racing a road bike, that Oli will get to race in a round of the world championship. It’s another step in his steep learning curve, but he’s really enjoying racing bikes. His first year on a 600 in 2019 taught him a lot, not just about racing a bike, but communicating with the team, also learning what changes in settings have on the bike on-track. He’s really improved a lot and I think the biggest challenge for the weekend will be for Kim and I as we have to watch him on track twice as much! Right now he really wants to do it, he’s enjoying his racing and it’s a difficult one for me as when I ride with him on the track we have the best time ever, but when he’s on the track I feel like a really normal dad, as I get really nervous and I find it really difficult to actually watch him race. It will be his first international race and he’s pretty nervous and excited; it will be an experience and if he can grab a couple of points that will be even better. He has so much more experience than I had at the same age, as I didn’t start road racing until I was 22, he’s just turned 16 and basically he can nearly beat me on the track at the moment.”
It is hard to believe Oli is still only just 16-years-old – Image Rob Mott
Cube Racing will join the official two-day World Superbike/Supersport test on February 24-25 ahead of the March 1 race weekend.
– Sales volume: 280,099 motorcycles / + 7% compared to the previous year – Revenues: 1,520.1 mEur / + 4% compared to the previous year – EBITDA: 240.8 mEur / + 14% compared to the previous year – Free Cash Flow: 92.1 mEur / 6.1 % of revenues – Offensive with HUSQVARNA E-Bicycles in Europe – Integration GASGAS
Preliminary revenues and earnings in the business year 2019
The PIERER Mobility Group achieved in the business year 2019 record revenues in the amount of 1,520.1 mEur (+4.0%). This corresponds to an increase of 57.9 mEur.
The preliminary EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Tax) reached 131.7 mEur (+2.3%) after 128.7 mEur in the previous year.
The operating earnings before depreciation (EBITDA – (Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation) increased from 211.0 mEur to 240.8 mEur corresponding to an EBITDA margin of 15.8%.
The Free Cash Flow improved significantly and amounted to approximately 92.1 mEur compared to -16.7 mEur in 2018.
For the growth in the business year 2019 was invested around 121 mEur in product development and around 44 mEur in plants and infrastructure. All the key earnings figures refer to the continued operation of the Group (previous year excluding Pankl Group).
On December 31, 2019, the PIERER Mobility Group had 4,368 employees, 3,639 of which were employed in Austria. The Group forces the dual training within the framework of the KTM Academy. The aim is to increase the number of the apprentices – currently 160 – to 180 and further develop the employee training.
2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R
Market position expanded
In the past business year, the PIERER Mobility Group with its brands KTM and Husqvarna Motorcycles outperformed the overall market (-6.3%) in the key motorcycle markets (> 120cc) with a registration increase of +14.5% and expanded its market position.
With 234,449 sold KTM motorcycles and 45,650 sold HUSQVARNA motorcycles in the financial year 2019 the sales volume was increased by about 7% compared to the previous year. In comparison BMW sold 175,162 motorcycles and Ducati 53,183.
In Europe, the overall market grew by around 8.9% in the fiscal-year of 2019. In the same period, KTM succeeded in maintaining its high market share by around 12 %.
In the US market, which declined in the business year 2019 (-2.7%), KTM was successful in positioning itself. KTM increased its registrations by 3.6%, thereby raising its market share as of December 31,2019 to 9.7%.
In the most important future market for KTM, India, its registrations (brand KTM) in the fiscal year by over 35% in comparison with the previous year. The market share rose from around 4.5 % to around 7.3 %.
The 100% acquisition of Motorcycle Distributors Australia Pty Ltd. further strengthened the market presence in Australia and New Zealand. As a result of a market offensive, 15,343 KTM and Husqvarna motorcycles were sold in these important markets in the past business year.
KTM HQ have taken over the distribution of their own products throughout Australia – Jeff Leisk pictured
In the 4th quarter of 2019, a majority interest in the Spanish offroad brand GASGAS was acquired. With the acquisition of a market leader in trial motorcycles, we have succeeded in entering this segment.
Offensive in HUSQVARNA E-Bicycles
With the early and complete takeover of PEXCO GmbH, Schweinfurt/ Deutschland a further growth step was taken in the field of e-mobility and to participate in the attractive market growth in the e-bicycle sector. For the business year 2020 sales of more than 100 mEur are expected. For the mid-term, it is intended to become a significant player in this area.
Positive outlook 2020 – Striving for Market leadership in Europe
In the financial year 2020, the PIERER Mobility Group will continue to focus on organic growth in all core areas. The objective is to further expand market shares in the markets that are important for KTM and Husqvarna – despite the challenging market environment. As part of the industrial cooperation with GASGAS Motorcycles, to integrate the GASGAS motorcycle division into the Group as a third brand in order to achieve the market leadership in Europe.
The integration of the e-bicycle business (PEXCO) into the newly founded HUSQVARNA E-Bicycles is being pushed forward and implemented.
For the business year 2020 a revenue growth of 8 – 10 % is expected. As a result of the expansion into the electric 2-wheeler activities and the integration of the third motorcycle brand GASGAS, an EBIT margin between 6 – 8 % for the business year 2020 is temporary expected. Due to the operating earnings before depreciation (EBITDA), which remains at a high level, a positive free cash flow between 45 to 55 mEur is also anticipated for the business year 2020. A sustainable positive free cash flow between 3 – 5 % of sales is expected.
Yamaha has welcomed back three-time MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo to join the Yamaha Factory Racing Test Team programme with the aim to boost MotoGP development during the 2020 season.
“I‘m very happy to join the Yamaha Factory Test Team. I was always planning on staying involved in MotoGP and returning to the paddock, and I think this is a suitable role for me. I know the team and the M1 well. The Yamaha really suited my riding style, and it will be very interesting to ’meet up with my old bike again. Returning to Yamaha brings with it some good memories. We secured many podiums and victories, and three titles together, so we know where our strengths lie. I want to thank Yamaha for this opportunity, because this allows me to do what I love – riding motorbikes and pushing the limit – whilst enjoying a slightly calmer lifestyle than I did in previous years. I‘m very motivated to get to work and can‘t wait to start riding. I want to do my best for Yamaha‘s future, and I hope my riding experience will be helpful to Yamaha‘s engineers and riders to bring the title back to Yamaha.”
Jorge Lorenzo pictured here testing with Yamaha at Brno in 2014
Lorenzo made his debut in MotoGP with Yamaha in 2008 and spent nine years with the Factory MotoGP Team, winning all three of his premier class titles on the YZR-M1, in 2010, 2012, and 2015 respectively.
Starting from the MotoGP shakedown test to be held at Sepang next week, Lorenzo will ride the YZR-M1 and will also take part in other Official IRTA Tests and some private Yamaha tests this year, with the sole aim to help Yamaha‘s engineers with the 2020 MotoGP development.
Yamaha believe the Spaniard is the perfect man for the job as he is known for his smooth, precise riding and clear feedback. Lorenzo will be supported in his search for innovation by Silvano Galbusera who will Crew Chief for Lorenzo in the Yamaha Factory Racing Test Team.
So far, no wild card rides are planned for Lorenzo in 2020, but Yamaha is open to the possibility, should he decide to race again.
Lin Jarvis – MD Yamaha Motor Racing
“Of course, we are delighted to welcome Jorge back at Yamaha. When we knew that Jorge would stop his active racing career, we immediately started to consider making a proposal for him to join us. The statistics of his achievements with us in those nine years together speak for themselves. He is a vastly experienced MotoGP rider, who is closely familiar with the M1 and the people at Yamaha. We have come to know Jorge as a very precise and motivated rider, with flawless consistency and good technical insight: all the qualities you need in a test rider at this high level. Combining Jorge‘s experience, knowledge, and riding speed with experienced Crew Chief Silvano Galbusera is an important element in Yamaha‘s strategy to strengthen the Test Team, which aims to bridge the gap between the engineers and test riders in Japan and the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team.”
Wayne Maxwell has kicked off the 2020 ASBK season on a strong note, dominating the official two-day test at Phillip Island on board the Craig McMartin prepared Ducati V4R, after moving to the Italian marque for 2020 from Yamaha.
Maxwell and the new Ducati V4 proved a force to be reckoned with.
The Boost Mobile backed team worked through options with the K-Tech suspension over the two days and obviously made plenty of progress as Maxwell topped the test by almost seven-tenths of a second.
Wayne Maxwell – 2020 Phillip Island ASBK Test – Image by Rob Mott
Having been the only rider to dip into the 1:32s on Day 1, Maxwell topped off the two-day test as the only rider in the 1:31s on Day 2, with a 1:31.776, well clear of fellow Ducati rider Jones, who was next fastest with a 1:32.434.
Trevor Hedge caught up with Maxwell to pick his brain on the move to the Ducati, and his thoughts on how the season is shaping up.
Trevor Hedge: So Wayne, you put a lot of fast laps in and really set the pace over the duration of this test, you must be very happy.
Wayne Maxwell: “I’m super stoked, the Boost Mobile Ducati was excellent, Craig, Adrian, Dale, Greg and the team worked really well. We were also lucky to have James here from K-Tech HQ inEngland, with some updated K-Tech components. He was here with us, helping install and finding settings that worked on the bike, so I was really happy with that. Obviously again, this week exceeded my expectations, and has put us in a really good position to be in, right in the mix for the first race.”
Wayne Maxwell – 2020 Phillip Island ASBK Test – Image by TBG
Trevor: How does testing here relate to the other circuits we go to during the year? We know this is ‘your’ circuit, we could probably put you on a moped and you’d still go okay, but the pace you have set here is really, really fast, do you think it will translate to the other circuits?
Maxwell: “I first tried the bike at Wakefield, spent the whole day there and it exceeded my expectations immediately and didn’t really change anything that day. We’ve got some updates and have changed a few things, and I feel really confident. Wakefield has been a circuit which has maybe eluded me, and Troy is so strong there, while I haven’t been strong enough to get it over the line there as many times as I maybe should have.
“But I’m confident and we’ve got a fast bike, so we’ll get Phillip Island out of the way and see how we shape up. We have some updates on the way with the electronics, now that’ we’ve had the ECU homologated, so it’s just step by step. We’ve got this bike and it’s good now, so we need to then start work on the new package as bits and pieces come through.”
Wayne Maxwell – 2020 Phillip Island ASBK Test – Image by Rob Mott
Trevor: So you’ve come from the other most evocative bike in the field, the cross-plane crank Yamaha, sounds great, feels great, and now you’re on the V4 – another bike the really stirs the senses – what’s the comparison between the two? Looking at your bike, the riding position looks so stretched out and flat, is that apparent when on the bike?
Maxwell: “I still don’t feel 100 per cent comfortable, we’ve just sent some foot pegs back to the guys from KH Engineering to make some different ones. I don’t know how all the other Ducati riders ride the bike like that elsewhere around the world, they must do yoga 30 times a week.
“I’ll just to try and get a bit more comfortable, this circuit isn’t so bad, but other places where you’ve got to climb over the top of it a bit more with faster changes of direction, the old body will tighten up and be no good at the end of the race unless we can get the riding position a little more comfortable. So we’ll get my feet out in front a bit and be nice and relaxed. It won’t make us any faster, but perhaps more comfortable and consistent over the duration of a race.”
Trevor: Get some foot forward controls so they aren’t slowing you down perhaps…
Maxwell: “That’s it mate.”
Wayne Maxwell – 2020 Phillip Island ASBK Test – Image by Rob Mott
Trevor: The Yamaha has always got out of the corner quite well, how does the V4 compare, and how does it compare to what you’ve ridden in recent years? Picking up the throttle on the way out of the turn etc?
Maxwell: “Picking up the drive it seems okay for sure, but that’s definitely not the strongest part of my riding, out of the stop-go corners, I’m more of a fast flowing sort of guy, that’s why Phillip Island is good for me. I managed to get out of the stop-go corners okay though here this week. It has really good grip with the K-Tech on the side of the tyre, and the V4 provides quite a flat and linear power. When I was a kid, my dad had a VFR750 and I always remember it taking off from home and having that V-Four sound, so it reminds me of being a kid and I’m loving it.”
Wayne Maxwell – 2020 Phillip Island ASBK Test – Image by Rob Mott
The first of today’s 4 x 25-minute practice sessions for Australian Superbike competitors got underway just before 0930 on what was a beautiful sunny morning at Phillip Island. The track temperature had just nudged past 30-degrees while the ambient was climbing past 20-degrees towards a forecast maximum of around 35-degrees expected later in the day.
Rear wheel going in the Ducati of Wayne Maxwell – TBG Image
All 16 riders present for the test were quickly out on track in that morning session but it was Wayne Maxwell again that dominated. The 37-year-old has obviously taken to the new V4 R Ducati very well indeed and wasted no time in setting a string of mid-high 1m32s right from the off. He then returned to the pits for some tweaks before heading out again to record a 1m32.608. Maxwell was clocked at 311 km/h through the speed trap by Computime in that session.
Mike Jones – TBG Image
Daniel Falzon also enjoyed the cooler conditions and shrugged off the soreness of recent arm pump surgery to get down to business, dropping in a 1m32.813 on his sixth lap of the morning.
Daniel Falzon – TBG Image
Mike Jones put in a 1m32.434s lap on his 13th and final lap of that opening session to finish on top and with Maxwell that made for a Ducati 1-2 at the top of the time-sheets. Something that might happen quite a bit this season one suspects…
Mike Jones – Image by Rob Mott
Ambient temperatures were nudging 30-degrees and the track temperature heading for 45-degrees when Superbike competitors took to the track for their second session today at 1130.
Max Croker – TBG Image
Falzon was quick out of the blocks again with another 1m32, a 1m32.958s which he then backed up with a 1m33.137. Bryan Staring put his quickest time of the week early on in the second session with a 1m33.063s to make it a Dunlop 1-2 at the top of the charts for the early part of that second session. Staring strung together a series of low-mid 1m33s in that 25-minute session.
Bryan Staring – Image by Rob Mott
Josh Waters started to make some progress halfway through the session after setting his fastest time of the week thus far, getting down to a few mid 33s.
Josh Waters – TBG Image
The YRT boys also got wound up as that second session drew to a close. Wagner dropping in a 1m32.792 and Halliday a 1m33.171, some new rubber had gone into at least one of those bikes. Conversely we believe Mike Jones worked on his pace while shod with used rubber in that session.
Mike Jones – Image by Rob Mott
Wayne Maxwell didn’t do many laps in that second session but headed out of the pits with a few minutes to run and then instantly went top with a 1m31.776. That is two-tenths under the ASBK qualifying lap record set by Jones here last October at 1m31.995… It’s fair to say he is already getting on pretty well with the Pirelli shod and K-Tech suspended Ducati V4 R…. Look out competition…
Wayne Maxwell – 2020 Phillip Island ASBK Test – Image by TBG
By the time the third and penultimate session of the two-day test got underway at 1330 the ambient temperature was registering 35.4 and the track temp 56.3-degrees celsius. Would the Dunlop boys come to the fore in the hotter conditions?
While the likes of Bryan Staring and Daniel Falzon did put in some quick times in that stinging heat on Dunlops, the man setting the pace was yet again, Wayne Maxwell. Maxwell put in a 1m32.279 then backed it up with a 1m32.603, followed by a 1m32.994, a 1m32.746, a 1m33.003 and then a 1m32.959 to cap that run off. He then backed off a little before resuming with a 1m33.182 and then returning to the pits.
Wayne Maxwell – 2020 Phillip Island ASBK Test – Image by Rob Mott
Mike Jones had been circulating a little off the pace, presumably working on used tyre pace, before then putting in a 1m32.903 to be second quickest in that session and Herfoss rounded out the top three with a 1m32.985 on the Michelin shod Honda ahead of Cru Halliday.
Jeremy Burgess overseeing the Michelin rubber for Penrite Honda at the ASBK Test – Image by Rob Mott
Dunlop runners Bryan Staring and Daniel Falzon were sixth and seventh in the hot conditions, Staring the quickest of the pair in that session with a 1m33.122.
One man left nursing his wounds after the session was Aiden Wagner who went down at MG Hairpin and headed to the medical centre nursing a very sore left hand after smacking it hard on the tarmac in the tumble. He headed off for x-rays to check out what was broken but will be racing round one either way as he only needs to use the clutch once per race.
With the track temperatures heading yet further northwards past 60-degrees, and most of the teams having worked through their testing plans, many of the riders packed up after that penultimate session. Those sitting out the final 25-minute practice session included Wayne Maxwell, Daniel Falzon, Max Croker and the injured Aiden Wagner.
Daniel Falzon – Image by Rob Mott
Troy Herfoss though was amped after just watching his wife Emily come second in a major bicycle race in Torquay, live on his phone only minutes before he went out of pit-lane for the final session. A 1m32.497 on his first flying lap followed by a 1m33.443 to the 2018 champ.
Jeremy Burgess overseeing the Michelin rubber for Penrite Honda at the ASBK Test – Image by Rob Mott
Mike Jones then dropped in a 1m32.517, Bryan Staring his best of the two-day test with a 1m32.603, and Josh Waters a 1m33.141 on the 2017 model GSX-R1000 he is testing here this week.
Josh Waters – TBG Image
The Mildura based three-time Aussie Superbike Champion was left somewhat high and dry when the official Suzuki Team pulled the pin after last season, but is putting the finishing touches now on his own privateer team after securing some out-of-industry sponsorship that will enable him to compete this season. He improved his time further in the dying minutes of that final session to end the two-day test seventh quickest with a best of 1m33.052.
Josh Waters – Image by Rob Mott
Herfoss though topped that afternoon session ahead of Jones and Staring with Waters fourth. On combined times Herfoss was third quickest across the two days of testing with a best of 1m32.497, only a gnat’s whisker behind second placed Jones. Both of those men though seven-tenths behind pacesetter Maxwell which might have them worried ahead of the season opener here at Phillip Island late next month…
Troy Herfoss – Image by Rob Mott
Matt Walters would be pretty happy with a 1m33.278 while Lachlan Epis put in a very impressive best lap of 1m33.477 in that final session to round out the top ten on combined times.
Matt Walters – TBG Image
Matt Walters ended the test in ninth just behind eighth placed Cru Halliday.
Jed Metcher used Ohlins suspension on the opening day of the test to use as a benchmark indicator for himself before today switching to YSS suspension as he evaluates and considers the Thailand produced components for his 2020 Australian Superbike campaign. The Victorian finished the test 14th on combined times with a best of 1m34.438, just ahead of Sloan Frost.
Jed Metcher evaluated Thai made YSS suspension today at Phillip Island – Image by Rob Mott
NextGen BMW and Glenn Allerton did not really seem to find their feet at all during the two-day test. Hopefully they can look at their data and find some direction ahead of the next test. They ended the test 13th quickest with a best of 1m34.192.
Norton Motorcycles in administration for unpaid taxes
Norton CEO Stuart Garner has had three of his businesses placed under the administration of the BDO Accounting Group which have been tasked with overseeing Norton Motorcycles, along with Garner’s Donington Hall Estates and Priest House Hotel.
This does not guarantee that Norton Motorcycles will be wound up, yet, but as reported in The Guardian, Norton’s own accountants noted the following themsevles in the most recent set of official company accounts.
“[Norton is] dependent on the future financial support of its bankers and its creditors … a material uncertainty exists that may cast significant doubt on the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”
The appointment of administrators follow Norton being pursued by the British Government over unpaid taxes that saw Garner and Norton representative recently called before the courts to try and prevent a winding up order being issued by HM Revenue & Customs.
Lee Causer, for administrators BDO
“Our job is to determine and execute the most appropriate strategy as swiftly as possible to protect creditors’ interests, bearing in mind the need to minimise distress for all parties. We are currently assessing the position of each of the companies in order to conclude upon the options available to them and the most appropriate way forward.”
What does this mean for Norton owners?
If Norton fail to get up again what will this mean for the few owners that actually took delivery of their machines from the latest incarnation of the company?
There can be no concrete answers on that score but one would predict that, initially at least, values will tank downwards quite comprehensively, before then slowly recovering back towards somewhere in the middle ground. If the experience of Bimota owners is anything to be guided by, that is how the situation might play out from here…
That is if of course if the company is actually wound up and production ceases, and that fate is still yet to be officially decided by the beancounters…
Those people who have put significant money down as a deposit on a new motorcycle, that is yet to be delivered by Norton, could be in an even worse position.
Norton at the TT
Norton’s Australian distributor James Mutton
“It’s obviously a very sad day for the brand as although we have had no official news from anyone at Norton Uk or Stuart Garner, it appears that one of the most iconic brands in motorcycling has been unable to survive the current pressures on the industry.
“Australian and New Zealand customers that have placed deposits for new models with their local dealer will be able to receive a full refund for orders, however we are not sure what is in line for those that placed orders prior to our distribution with the factory directly.
“We will obviously do our best to put those customers in touch with the correct people in the UK. In regards to existing norton owners, we still have good stock of servicing parts, and will still be operating to ensure our customers are looked after.
“Ultimately we hope a larger brand with more experience will come in and continue the brand, however this is purely speculation and we have had no official correspondence.”