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Samstag, 14. Januar 2017

JOE THOMPSON LINES UP WITH TEAM ILR FOR 2017 ISLE OF MAN TT RACES DEBUT

2017 will see Joe Thompson compete for Team ILR (Ian Lougher Racing) in his debut at the Isle of Man TT Races fuelled by Monster Energy.

Run by ten-time TT winner Lougher, Team ILR will field Thompson on ZX6R Kawasaki machinery, which carries additional backing from DynoBike Racing and Bid-Vest, in the two four-lap Monster Energy Supersport races. At 18, he’s set to be the youngest rider on the starting line at TT 2017.

The York rider’s career started out in motocross before moving on to the tarmac at the age of 11 where he went on to take numerous Aprilia Superteen race wins and lap records as well as winning every race he entered in the 600cc Elite Club Championship.

For the past two seasons, Thompson has competed at all the Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough race meetings where, riding for Repli-Cast Racing, he won all eight races he entered in 2016. This included claiming the Stu Reed Lightweight Trophy, previously won by Lougher and Chris Palmer, on a Moto 3 Honda as well as victory in the Phil Mellor Trophy race where he was on board a 250cc Yamaha.

Riding for Repli-Cast Racing, Thompson finished ninth overall in the 2014 British Motostar Championship scoring points in nine of the Championship races including a best finish of sixth at Oulton Park, a result he equalled in 2015 at Donington Park. For 2016, he moved into the British Supersport Championship where he scored points on numerous occasions.

In addition to the Isle of Man TT, Team ILR will also field Thompson in the 2017 British Supersport Championship and at the International North West 200. He’ll also contest the Oliver’s Mount race meetings once more, beginning with the Spring Cup National Road Races, on the 22nd-23rd of April, and, potentially, some Irish road race meetings.

Joe Thompson said:

“Racing at the TT is what I want to do, it is going to take a lot of years to learn and get right, but it's what we have decided to do and we will keep going until we get it right! My aim is simply to learn the course at race speed, learn what it's all about and learn what I need to do to be able to win a TT race in later years.”
 
“I have no goals for these first two years other than to enjoy myself. The roads are what I've always wanted to race on and after my success at my local road races (Oliver's Mount) we have decided to go to the roads while I am still young. I know what I need to do and none of this would be possible without all my great sponsors, team, my dad and all my friends, family and supporters.”

“I am really excited to start this new challenge”

Now that the new year is underway and with a full season ahead of us, what are you asking for from 2017?
I hope to have a competitive bike that works. I am really looking forward to the start of the new season. In the past, when I first arrived in MotoGP, which is six years ago now, it was on a Ducati. It was my favourite bike and to come back on a Ducati makes me really excited to start this new challenge.

How has it been for you to return to the MotoGP paddock?
It is nice to be back. I could speak about this for hours but when I went to World Superbikes it was because I didn't have a good option to stay in MotoGP. But it didn't work out like we hoped and in the end I had to leave the team, I couldn't stay there. During last season we saw that there was an opportunity to return to MotoGP with the Aspar Team and it is what I wanted. This is where I grew up, because I started in the World Championship at 15 years of age. I prefer to be in MotoGP, I think partly because I am more used to it.

As you will know, this won't be your first time on a Ducati - it was the bike you started out with in MotoGP, in 2011 and 2012. How much has the bike changed since then?
It is a different bike. Unfortunately during those two seasons the factory was immersed in making a complete change. During my first season the engine was still part of the chassis. Then in my season season we had an aluminium, normal chassis. So being in the middle of such a big change during that first season, the bike didn't work. This bike is very different, I feel good on it and have more confidence because I know how it will respond. That wasn't the case before.

What would you say are the strong points of the Ducati?
Ducati has always been a factory that produces strong engines, maybe that is the strongest point of the bike. But it is not easy to compare with the rest of the bikes because I have only had four days of tests and one of those was on the GP14. Also not all the riders were at Jerez. It is difficult to make comparisons right now. To me the bike is incredible but it is too soon to answer this question properly.

What is your main goal for this season?
That is a difficult question to answer in January. To put it simply, I would like to have fun out on track. When a rider is having fun, the results usually aren't bad. But right now it is hard to say what a good result is. First place is a good result, but in normal conditions that is a long way off. You could say eleventh place is a good result... but tenth is always better. And what if everybody really improves? Then maybe fifteenth would be a good result. Right now I just want to be happy in my racing and if that happens the results will be good.

LEE JOHNSTON TO RIDE WORLD SUPERBIKE SPEC HONDA MACHINERY FOR JACKSON RACING AT 2017 ISLE OF MAN TT RACES

Irish road racer Lee Johnston will line up for Jackson Racing at this year’s Isle of Man TT Races fuelled by Monster Energy, with the diminutive Irishman riding Nicky Hayden’s 2016 World Superbike spec Honda CBR1000RR.

The 27 year old will ride the Ten Kate prepared Fireblade that carried the 2006 MotoGP world champion to a World Superbike Race win last season at Malaysia and fifth overall in the Championship, in the RST Superbike and PokerStars Senior TT Races. He’ll also campaign Hondas in the RL360º Quantum Superstock and two Monster Energy Supersport Races.

Johnston made his TT debut in 2012 and won the coveted TT Privateer’s Trophy, riding Honda machinery, a year later. He was again Honda-mounted in 2014 when he took a best finish of fifth in the Superstock Race and a switch to BMW power in 2015 gave him his first TT podium with third in the Superstock Race. He recorded his best lap to date of 130.851mph in the race and backed it up by the same result in the SES TT Zero Race.

Winner of the 2014 350cc Classic TT, last season was ruined by leg injuries suffered in a crash at the Scarborough Spring Cup in April but he still had some fine rides on the Mountain Course with a brace of sixths taken in the two Monster Energy Supersport Races, eighth in the PokerStars Senior and tenth in the RST Superbike Race.

However, when his East Coast Racing team quit the sport at the end of the year the Fermanagh man was without a ride for 2017. The new deal though means Johnston will also have the new 2017 SP2 spec Fireblade available in stock trim but by opting to ride the 2016 spec ex-Hayden Honda he hopes to avoid any problems in finding a good set up with a brand new bike.

Jackson Racing has a wealth of experience at the TT with the Preston-based squad having previously run, among others, John McGuinness, Steve Mercer, Ian Lougher, Conor Cummins and Mark Miller. Former Manx Grand Prix outright lap record holder Alan Jackson jnr will again head up the team, with Johnston also contesting the North West 200, Ulster Grand Prix and Macau road races.

Lee Johnston said:

“I want to be back at the front again, winning races and I think this is the bike that can help me to do that. I had plenty of offers for this year and in the end it was all of the little things coming together that sealed the deal. We are getting help from Honda but with Alan and his team I can run my own choice of kit, bring some of my own people to work on the bikes and keep my own sponsors.”

“I was over in Holland last week at the Ten Kate workshop and they are super keen to be going back to the TT. Honda doesn’t bring out bad bikes and if the stocker is on the pace then we will have a go on it but realistically I should be winning a Supersport TT before I’m winning a superbike race. I hold the lap record on a 600 at the North West and the Ulster and I’ve won lots of races on that bike but I haven’t turned it into anything at the TT yet. I’m hungrier than ever and I just want to win more races than I did in 2016!”


Alan Jackson said:

“We’re not fazed by the challenge and we have run top road racers like John McGuinness, James Hillier, Ian Lougher and Chris Palmer on our bikes so we’re eagerly looking forward to Lee’s first test on the new bikes in March.  With Lee riding our bikes we think we’ve got a strong team with great potential and are keen to talk to potential sponsors and individuals who want to come on board.”

Tickets are now on sale and selling fast for the 2017 TT Races fuelled by Monster Energy.  There is limited availability for the Glencrutchery Road Grandstand race day tickets apart from Senior Race day, which is already sold out.
There are still TT Grandstand tickets available at Creg Ny Baa and the two Nobles Park, grandstands during qualifying and race days.
Grandstand tickets are also available by purchasing VIP or Platinum Hospitality tickets.

All tickets are available from iomtt.com or by phoning 00 44 (0)1624 640000.

The full race schedule for the 2017 Isle of Man TT Races fuelled by Monster Energy is as follows:

Saturday 3rd June             
1100hrs         RST Superbike TT Race
1400hrs         Sidecar TT Race 1

Monday 5th June               
1045hrs         Monster Energy Supersport TT Race 1
1415hrs         RL 360 Quantum Superstock Race

Wednesday 7th June                     
1045hrs         Monster Energy Supersport TT Race 2
1415hrs         Bennetts Lightweight TT Race
1620hrs         SES TT Zero Race

Friday 9th June                   
1015hrs         Sidecar TT Race 2
1230hrs         PokerStars Senior TT Race

Qualifying takes place from Saturday 27th May to Fri 2nd June between 1820hrs – 2050hrs

MCLEAN LINES UP TT RACES DEBUT FOR 2017

Talented Northern Ireland youngster Adam McLean will make his eagerly anticipated Mountain Course debut at the 2017 Isle of Man TT Races, fuelled by Monster Energy.

The reigning Irish Road Race 125/Moto3 Champion will contest both of the four-lap Monster Energy Supersport races on board a 600cc MSS Kawasaki and will also compete in the Bennetts Lightweight TT race riding the MJ Palmer/Hanna Performance ER6 650cc Kawasaki.

The twenty-year old bricklayer from Magherafelt, Northern Ireland is tipped by many to reach the highest echelons of the sport and despite his young age, he’s already recorded numerous achievements in a career that started back in 2006 on minimotos.

After a highly successful short circuit racing career, which saw him win the 125cc Newcomers, Clubmans and Adelaide Masters championships, as well as claiming pole position and finishing third as a wild card in the European Junior Cup at Silverstone, McLean had his first taste of the roads in 2015 when he made his debut at his local Cookstown 100 event finishing third in the Junior Support race and fourth in the 125cc encounter.

He took his first wins in the 125cc and Junior Support races at Kells and then, riding for Ryan Farquhar’s KMR Kawasaki team, added another victory to his CV in the Junior Support race at Armoy. McLean also made his debut at Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough with his results during the season seeing him win both the 2015 Duke Road race rankings and MCUI Newcomer of the Year awards.

In 2016, he won both the Irish and Ulster 125cc Road Racing Championships while his debut at the Southern 100 saw him claim fourth place in the Supertwin race and eighth in the Supersport race, where he lapped at an impressive 102.697mph.

He also made his debut at last year’s Ulster Grand Prix finishing sixth in the Supertwins race, less than three seconds adrift of race winner Dan Cooper, and 12th and 17th in the two Supersport 600cc races. Riding the Rod Lee Racing Triumph machine, he lapped the Dundrod course at 122.735mph on his way to beating numerous established riders including James Cowton, Robert Wilson, Michael Sweeney and Dan Hegarty.

McLean’s results have caught the eye of Nick Morgan who will supply a ZX-6R Kawasaki for the Supersport races at the TT, North West 200 Ulster GP, Southern 100, Scarborough and Irish road race events.

Adam McLean:
“Competing at the TT is something I've always wanted to do and when the opportunity arose to go this year I grasped it with both hands. I’ve already enjoyed going over to the Island to learn the circuit and I'm really looking forward to the challenge. As for setting goals, I just want to have fun and learn as much as possible. I'm still only twenty years old so I have time on my side and with the TT course being such an unforgiving place it's important not to take chances as a newcomer.”

“I'll worry about pressure, lap times and results in three or four years time when I know exactly where I'm going. The only goal I've set is to come away from the TT as the fastest newcomer in 2017. I'll have the best machinery possible and the right people around me so now I'm just looking forward to heading down Bray Hill. I'd also like to say a huge thanks to the TT organisers for the opportunity and their input so far has been fantastic, and also Carl Roberts who has been a huge help to me each time I've been on the island.”

“To be fighting in the top five would be a good result"

Now that the new year is underway and with a full season ahead of us, what are you asking for from 2017?
I am hoping that in 2017, from the sporting side, I can enjoy riding the bike and racing. I hope to be able to give everything as a rider and get the most out of every circumstance. I am not asking for results because I know that if I can squeeze 100% out of the bike and enjoy myself, the results will come.

The Ducati will be your fourth different MotoGP bike. After your four-day test in November how would you describe it?
The first time I rode the Ducati GP16 it felt easy to handle, in inverted commas, compared to other MotoGP bikes I have ridden. I really like the character of the engine, it is very smooth. I also really like the electronics. I think it is a bike with a lot of potential. It is hard to compare with other bikes because my references have changed over the years as I have gathered experience. On the Suzuki I learnt a lot about MotoGP but it had a different character. I think the Honda is the most similar but the Ducati chassis handles better and it is lighter, I like it more. For me, of all of the bikes I have ridden, I think the Ducati is well balanced.

After your first laps on the bike you will ride in 2017 do you think you will have to change your riding style?
It is hard to answer that right now, I need more laps on the bike. In the tests we have done so far we have learnt something new each time, improved, and raised the bar. I still don't know where I need to improve or where I am at the limit already.

You finished 2016 with a string of top ten finishes; do you think you can keep the run going at the first race of 2017 in Qatar?
I think 2016 was a season of steady growth. The bike arrived in time for the first race and the more we worked on it the more it improved, which allowed me to get results. The base we start from in 2017 is ready to race, we don't need to develop it so it will be easier when we go to each Grand Prix. We can focus on the set-up or tyre performance. I think the objective is to be more prepared and I am confident we can score better results than the ones we finished last season with.

Do you dare to make a prediction for 2017?
I think it will be a fun season, with so many rider changes; especially at the start as riders get used to their bikes, encounter problems, get over them… then there are the tyres, which were decisive last year. If we can get the most out of what we have there is no reason why we won't be up there fighting. To be fighting in the top five would be a good result. It will be difficult but I think it can be a realistic objective.

Seeley to race the NW200 with Gearlink Kawasaki

Gearlink Kawasaki is very pleased to announce their plans for the Vauxhall International North West 200 in 2017. They have signed multi NW200 winner Alastair Seeley to race their Kawasaki ZX-6R at the event between the 7th and 13th May.
 
Alastair has won an incredible 17 North West 200 races and will be hoping to extend that tally in 2017. Alastair topped the medal table in 2016 and became the most successful rider ever at the famous Northwest circuit.
 
Alastair Seeley - "I am looking forward to joining the Gearlink Kawasaki team again on the record breaking ZX-6R.
 
Everything I asked from the team in 2016 was given to me, the same again would be nice and repeat results would be awesome!
 
My crew chief Arron will once again get the bike dialled in like in 2013 and last year and hopefully that will mean we can pick up where we left.
 
I'd like to thank Michael and Norma again for this opportunity at one of my favourite races."
 
Team owner Michael de Bidaph - "We are both delighted to have Alastair competing at the NW200 on our Supersport bike again this year.
 
Whilst we realise the competition will be tough to beat, having Alastair back on board will give us our best chance to repeat the results from 2016!"

Althea Racing meets up at the Sagittario racetrack

On Tuesday 10 January, the members of the Althea Racing team came together at the Sagittario circuit (in Latina, Italy), for a technical meeting and more besides, with a day entitled ‘Run&Fun’.

The day gave all the riders and technicians working for the Althea structure the chance to enjoy a meet-up, also useful in terms of planning the upcoming season’s racing activity, as well as the opportunity to spend a few hours on track and get to know each other better, in the case of the team’s “new entries”.

The official SBK riders, Jordi Torres and Markus Reiterberger, were present at the track together with Superstock rider Marco Faccani. Julian Puffe was unable to attend due to a personal commitment. Raffaele De Rosa, winner of the STK1000 title with team Althea in 2016, was also on hand and took part in the day, still in close contact with the Italian team, which will shortly define its plans for him.

The young riders from the Althea “academy”, managed by Michel Fabrizio, were also in attendance. Both Sander Kroeze and Kevin Zannoni, of the MF84 Pluston Althea team, enjoyed a great day alongside the more experienced riders. The meeting, planned by Genesio Bevilacqua and designed to cement his structure’s team-spirit, proved to be very useful for everyone prior to the 2017 racing season, one which promises to be intense and compelling.

Having held the necessary technical meetings, the riders headed out on track for some motard training, before battling it out with a little unofficial racing. A short film was put together during the course of this informal and enjoyable day. Team Althea invites all of its fans to click on the link, to get to know the riders and experience the unique setting of ‘Run&Fun – winter 2016/2017’.