Infront Sports and Management boss Paolo Flammini gave an informal “Media Talk” this morning at the Magny-Cours venue in France, prior to the 14th and deciding round of the 2012 eni Superbike World Championship.
Flammini was addressing the recent announcement that both the MotoGP tour and World Superbike series would now be managed by Dorna Sports, the current controlling group for the Grand Prix (MotoGP) World tour. U.K. based Bridgepoint, a private equity investment firm, owns the marketing and production rights for both of the World Championship road racing touring series.
Since the announcement early this week that Bridgepoint had decided to put both their properties under the Dorna management umbrella, there has been no further information available regarding their plan.
Typically, the two Championships have competed for support from Manufacturers and sponsors, and developed their own farm systems for young racers. Everyone involved in the Superbike series is worried that they will be moved to “second class” status through this new “umbrella” Management plan.
“I want to clarify our position,” started Flammini in the packed meeting room in the Magny-Cours tower. “We will do whatever is necessary for the good of the Superbike series. We want the World Superbike Championship to continue, and to be a strong product. We have always looked for success and stability with World Superbike.”
While everyone involved in the series appreciated that Flammini was willing to discuss the future of the Championship, it seemed clear that no direct communication has occurred explaining the future direction and make-up of World Superbike. This weekend in France marks the completion of the 25th season of World Superbike activity, while the G.P. tour is much longer running, dating back to post-WW II Europe.
“When you open a company to investment, there are lots of things that can change, you can use more power – this is not a problem,” explained Flammini, likely referring to the reality of working with investors. “As long as reorganization is good for the World Superbike Championship, we will push for this good.”
“Many people wonder about the 2013 season. Our calendar is published, and tomorrow the Superbike Commission meets to work on the technical and sporting details – most of this is already established, but there may be some small changes, like not stopping races for the rain. We will work on these things, and see what happens.”
As far as the structure of the new management team for World Superbike is concerned, Flammini explained that “nothing is decided yet; we will discuss this in the next few weeks. We will see what solutions we can find. The two Championships will remain separate; this is according to the release from early this week.”
Flammini wound up his well-received but brief talk by reminding us that “this is not a formal Press Conference. Let’s have fun today with our races, with our new Champions on the track.”
Speculation is strong in the paddock that Flammini team will not be involved with the series in 2013, even though their work and product is well regarded. Many involved think that Dorna’s recent struggle with Manufacturer support, currently centered on rules disputes with major Dorna supplier Honda, have lead to the decision to combine management of the two tours. For instance, the Dorna Moto2 class uses custom chassis and spec Honda power plants, similar to the World SuperSport support class product on the Superbike tour.
Honda recently announced stronger support in 2013 for their Netherlands-based Ten Kate Superbike squad with the CBR1000RR, including re-signing star rider Jonathan Rea. It had been rumored that Rea might move to the premier MotoGP class with the Dorna G.P. series next year. Meanwhile, Honda has indicated that a forthcoming engine design could serve as power plant for both MotoGP (prototype) and Superbike (street-based) class competition.