It could be argued that it is the form of racing that most emphasizes the skill of the rider rather than the technology and highly secretive advantages of the bike being ridden. In almost all other realms one machine is going to have an advantage over another in one regard and perhaps a disadvantage in another regard. The engines can be different configurations, the weights are going to be different, the power outputs are going to be different. Yes, the best riders still often rises to the top but often a limitation is the capability of the bike rather than the capability of the rider. An idea is often presented – most likely by a manufacturer – to build a series around one of their machines i.e. the Harley-Davidson XR1200R and the Honda CBR250 here in Canada. It often sounds like a great idea and a good promotion for the brand but there is a downside – the costs can really start to add up and the question inevitably asked is “did it sell any more bikes?” to which the answer comes back “probably not enough”. That isn’t to say that the manufacturers don’t keep trying.
For the spectator the racing can be very enjoyable. The bikes are all the same and therefore competitive so it is the skill of the rider that makes the difference- separates the 1st from the 2nd and 3rd if you will. BMW has run the Boxer Cup featuring the R1200S previously in both North America and Europe and they have just announced after a long hiatus that the series will be returning to Europe for a 2018 season. The bike utilized for the new Boxer Cup series will be the retro inspired rNineT Racer. To insure that all the bikes are identical, each race machine will be prepped by Motorrad Germany with a couple of upgrades, most significantly to the suspension and steering. The only item that individual riders will be able to change is the stickers on the bike. The Boxer Cup series is limited to thirty entries with a couple of spots left available for guest racers. Not only will the bikes be identical but the rNine T Racer also levels the playing field by putting a limit on knee and elbow dragging due to the protruding cylinders.
Start your engines and may the most talented racer win. If you are up for the series yourself you will need a racing licence from some FIM sanctioned body. Once you have that in your pre-race clammy hands, BMW will actually rent you a bike for the duration of the season. We do not think that your credit card will cover the deductible so read the fine print. Good luck!
Like current Canadian superbike champion Jordan Szoke, 39 year old Valentino Rossi is proving that racing isn’t just a young man’s game. The multiple MotoGP champion, and to many a living legend and greatest draw of any MotoGP event, has just extended his contract to race on a Yamaha for two more years as to include the 2020 season. The 2018 MotoGP season kicked off under the lights in Qatar this past weekend and to prove the point that age is relative and experience can’t be overrated, Rossi was on the podium having finished as the top Yamaha rider in third place.
The 2017 AMA Flat Track season didn’t turn out the way most of the participating manufacturers probably hoped that it would have. Indian Motorcycle was happy with the results but not so much the rest of them. The answer for the 2018 season to those woes has a lot to do with throwing money at the series in the form of contingency funds. The AMA just announce that with Ducati’s $180,000 contingency fund thrown into the pot, the total monies available to riders for the upcoming season is a whopping $2 million. The largest chunk is coming from Harley-Davidson who have pledged $562,500 towards the coffers of racers successful on either an XG750R (the newish liquid cooled Street variant) or the venerable XR750. This is the biggest single contingency offering in the history of AMA flat track racing.
Why the bucket loads of money? Keeping in the game. Last year was an almost total domination of the series by Indian Motorcycles. Many hopeful riders may think it necessary to ride one of the Indian race bikes to have a chance at victory or placing in the eighteen 2018 races. But with all that money sitting on the sidelines should a rider be successful on a Harley, Ducati, Kawasaki or Yamaha is sure to have some riders gambling that they can pull off a good race result and collect some of the cash on one of these brands. The other is exposure. Flat track is a growing sport. Barriers to entry are relatively low, the bikes are affordable and the tracks – well. they are made from dirt. Flat track is getting trendy exposure from the X-Games and that is a target audience every manufacturer would like to get a piece. So win on Sunday (and sometimes Saturday), sell on Monday.
Should you get an urge for a race effort yourself, there are a lot of rules to follow should you pass the checkered flag in a good spot – up to 10th for some brands. The rules are on the AMA Flat Track site. The 2018 AMA Flat Track season consisting of the Twins and Singles classes commences in Daytona this March with a TT race during Bike Week.
While racing in a flannel shirt shows an incredible amount of style – and something we could really get behind with perhaps a sponsorship from Mark’s Work Wear – it isn’t the big story here. Should you be lacking a little race fix this winter head south of the border – although not very far south. The AMA has announced that there will be National Championship awarded in Snow Bike racing starting in 2018. The series has seven stops which as mention stay pretty close to the Canadian border (with the exception of a race in Lake Tahoe) as we do have the best snow.
The calender for the 2018 season is:
Dec. 9: Hill City, Minn.
Jan. 19-20: Eagle River, Wis.
Jan. 27: McCall, Idaho
Feb. 10: Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Feb. 24: Kalispell, Montana
March 11: West Yellowstone, Montana.
March 24: Diamond Lake, Oregon
It would look as though Yamaha has developed the ultimate in rally racing motorcycles – one that doesn’t even need to touch the ground. Think of the benefits! Unfortunately that isn’t the case. The Yamalube Yamaha factory race team is prepping for the 2018 Dakar which is just around the corner (and across stretches of Peru, Bolivia and Argentina). The great image is of team member Xavier de Soultrait aboard one of the WR450F rally bikes which will be promoting the “concept” Tenere 700 ADV middleweight during the event.
The 2017 season of AMA Flat Track didn’t turn out the way Harley-Davidson had hoped. It was suppose to have been a a rebirth of the great Harley-Davidson vs. Indian Motorcycle rivalry from back in the 1920’s and ’30s. It was a very long time ago but it was a good aspiration – this creation of an instant modern rivalry in what is one of the fastest growing motorcycle racing venues . Indian Motorcycle had come to the track with a new racing machine as had Harley-Davidson with a racing version of the Street 750 which was to take precedence over the venerable XR750. But it didn’t turn out to be the close and hard fought battle as Indian machines dominated the race series and the podium. But that was last year and last year’s battle. To encourage more participation Harley-Davidson has announced for 2018 the largest contingency fund in the history of AMA Flat Track with a total of $562, 500 up for grabs by privateer riders of either XG750R or XR750 race bikes. The 2018 Flat Track season commences in Daytona on March 15.
After all the hype that started the season, the 2017 flat track season became a somewhat one sided affair for the AFT Twins class as the campaign wrapped up at the Perris Speedway in California over the past weekend. Indian Motorcycle riders took the first three spots in the standings as Jared Mees, Bryan Smith and Brad Baker finished 1,2 and 3 for the season. The 4th and 5th spots were occupied by Sammy Halbert on a Yamaha and Jeffrey Carver Jr. on a Harley-Davidson XR750.
In the AFT Singles class rising star Shayna Texter placed third even though she had the most victories this season at 5 but missed points in six events. The season champion was Kolby Carlile followed by Brandon Price. Only 27 points separated the top three riders.
If in recent years you had forsaken MotoGP because the leader board seemed to feature the same names in the top five race after race, you may want to take a look now with 12 of 18 2017 season races being complete. After this weekend British GP at Silverstone the overall rider standings are:
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 183pts
Marc Marquez (Honda) 174pts
Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) 170pts
Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 157pts
Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 148pts
While some things change others continue to be the same as Rossi with this race became the first rider to ever start 300 MotoGP races.
Imagine if you will that you were a young superbike racer back in say, 1998. You had dreams of being a Canadian Champion, standing at the top of the podium, having a giant bottle of champagne sprayed on you, winking at the umbrella girls, lining up sponsorships for the next season…. basically just enjoying the adulation of the fans and industry. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Well there is good news and bad news about this scenario. If your name was Jordan Szoke, congratulations your dreams came true. Over the past weekend at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for the 12th time and for the 10th time in 12 years, Jordan was crowned CSBK Superbike champion. The crowning actually occurred after the first race of the weekend’s double header (he also won the second race just for good measure). While Szoke has ridden a BMWS1000RR to his last six championships, he has also won aboard a Honda CBR1000RR, Kawasaki ZX-10R, Suzuki GSX-R1000 among others.
Keeping Canadian riders informed and entertained since 1980.