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MotoGP 2012– A tale of three Champions...

The 2012 MotoGP season has seen some of the most spectacular action in recent years as ex-Champions Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo trade hard fought wins (4-3 to the Spaniard up to Assen) plus the added benefit of exciting scraps for podium positions from other members of the grid.


However it was an off-track move which has thrown a shadow over the on-track action so far…. that of Stoner’s announcement to a stunned press corps of his departure from the sport, at the end of the current season. The talented and often outspoken Aussie cited his retirement at the grand old age of 26 saying the sport had gone in a direction that doesn't interest him and that he no longer takes enough enjoyment from the sport which justifies the sacrifices necessary to be competitive at the top of the sport.

No sooner had this bombshell landed had speculation began on the World Champion's replacement – with both series leader Lorenzo and fan/sponsor/media favourite Valentino Rossi rumoured to jump ship to the Repsol Honda HRC squad. As a result Yamaha moved quickly to retain their prize rider Lorenzo, leaving Rossi with a possible get-out opportunity after eighteen months of underachievement at Ducati. This one will run and run….

Back on circuit British fans 'dare to believe' as home grown favourite Cal Crutchlow sits in a dizzy fourth in the blue riband class whilst the American

Dream looks set to be dying for Ben Spies after a crisis of confidence and some poor results. The fact that these two riders sit in a satellite (Tech 3) and full factory (Yamaha Racing) squad respectively and the obvious opportunity, has not been lost on the UK media and fans.

MotoGP now has a class-within-a-class, or to the detractors, a 'sideshow' – the new for 2012 CRT or Claiming Rules Team machines. With 'production' engines allowed in prototype chassis', this brave new world has angered purists but crucially boosted the ailing grid to respectable numbers and is host to some of the elder statesmen of thesport in the shape of Colin Edwards as well as some young pretenders hoping to impress.

One thing that has remained a constant for factory, satellite and CRT squads has been the tried and tested suspension of Öhlins – with all but two teams running this most established of equipment. Swedish equipment is also seen on 90% of the Moto2 and Moto3 squads with the latter undergoing radical changes, out goes the 2-strokes in the form of the 125cc machinery and in comes the new four-stroke 250cc single cylinder bikes. The distinctive sound of the two strokes have been replaced with the noise of a cloud of angry wasps at each GP.



WSB - The Veterans fight on!

As the World Superbike series reaches it's Summer break it has been the 'Old Boy Network' of GP refugees, Biaggi, Checa and Melandri, who continue to show the way to the 'young guns' in terms of race wins with eleven victories shared between them up to the Aragon round.

However two young lions in the shape of Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes have, with determination and consistency, raised their profiles to second and third in the rankings.

As the series celebrates its 25th anniversary the 'playing field' has never been more evenly matched with six winners from six different teams in the thirteen races so far.

The top nationalities in the standings are predominantly Italian and British and the organisers will inevitably be looking to widen the 'gene pool' as the series looks further afield (Russia in '12, India and Indonesia in '13).

For the guys in gold, Öhlins is the equipment of choice for nine out of the top ten riders in the standings as they look to continue their domination in this most successful of production bike classes.

Around the Territories...

The main National Superbike championships are still the breeding ground for future WSB and MotoGP champs and many have a huge divergence of support classes and participation.

The British Superbike series was won last year by home-grown hero Tommy Hill, pipping ex-GP hero John Hopkins by a hair's width 0.006 seconds in a Öhlins shod 1-2. Tommy continues to lead the series in '12 at the time of writing on his Swan Yamaha and has been rewarded with a shot at the prestigious Suzuka 8 hour in Japan with the original Sultan of Slide, Noriyuki Haga. You can read more about the BSB series here.

Once the most revered series in the world, the US AMA Superbike championship has fallen on rocky ground in recent years but there are strong signs of recovery with returning crowds, teams and great racing. At time of writing an Öhlins trio 'lock out' the top spots with 2011 Champ Josh Hayes leading Suzuki Yoshimura's Blake Young and his Graves Yamaha teammate Josh Herrin.

Getting Dirty

In the off road scene the Monster Energy Yamaha team has seen a promising World MX Championship campaign plagued by injury with high flying MX2-GP riders Zach Osborne and Arnaud Tonus both missing rounds. Osborne also had his 2011 season similarly ruined after a stunning start. Team boss Steve Dixon is a long time Öhlins expert, running a specialist MX suspension Centre in the UK.

In the massive Stateside Outdoor and SX races the Öhlins USA squad continues to progress as both a developmental and 'flag waving' exercise in the World's biggest MX market. Expect a full in depth feature on the team in the next edition of Performance...

Once the most revered series in the world, the US AMA Superbike championship has fallen on rocky ground in recent years but there are strong signs of recovery with returning crowds, teams and great racing. At time of writing an Öhlins trio 'lock out' the top spots with 2011 Champ Josh Hayes leading Suzuki Yoshimura's Blake Young and his Graves Yamaha teammate Josh Herrin.

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