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Lone Wolf and whether 2012 will be of any vintage...


The economic travails of the European Union has no doubt dominated your breakfast table conversation over Christmas. No? More likely what to do with all the cardboard and wrappings accumulated during this period of excess when we can happily ignore coma-inducing news bulletins.

Well, now we're back in the real world there may be a couple of things worth thinking about. Two of the countries in the deepest financial doo-doo are Italy and Spain. And they just happen to be vitally important to both World Superbikes and MotoGP which operate out of those two countries and stage a disproportionate number of events there.


So what? Well the principality of Valencia has just told F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone that they can't pay him the £20.5m sanction fee to hold an event there this year because they haven't got the money. And over on Italy all horse racing has been abandoned because the government, which for some bizarre reason subsidises nag-racing, has turned off the tap. No money.

Fortunately, our form of racing is one hell of a lot less expensive than either of these - horses carry on eating even when they are not racing - but some racing circuits, like Portimao in the Algarve, will have difficulty making ends meet.

Back in the UK we have the good fortune to have some well-financed and professionally run tracks, mostly by MSV which is in the unique situation of also effectively owning the "content" ie the British Superbike series. But with some rounds attracting less than 10,000 paying linters, and no improvement e expected this year, it will be a struggle. Perhaps it is time the promoters reverted to two-day meetings rather than three.

And while on the subject of circuits there has been not a lot of news from Silverstone lately, other than they have now got planning permissions for their multiplicity of hotels, technology and business parks. Trouble is they can't afford to build them until new investment comes in. A potential investor, with whom they were having exclusive talks and thought to be the Qatar Investment Authority, has not yet shown their hand. Watch this space.

Apart from all that it promises to be a great year of racing with a lot of change and when British riders, at least in World Superbikes, can make their mark on the world stage. They certainly should.


There are so many people connected with MotoGP saying that the great Valentino is "far from finished" that you can bet your boots they all think he hasn't a cat in hells chance of winning back the world title. There's only one winner and that's Casey Stoner.

Trouble is, the great Italian is still Dorna's meal ticket while the taciturn little Aussie has the drawing power of Skippy matched only by Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Spies!

No, Rossi isn't finished and he has a habit of surprising everybody. Maybe a few finishes in the top three with the occasional win will be enough.



No column, it seems, is complete with some sort of review of the year. So here are reflections on British Superbikes:

Rider of the Year - John Hopkins. Any one who can come back from rehab, on circuits not ridden before and with a badly damaged hand, is a class act.

Ride of the Year - Tommy Hill. The last race - indeed, the last lap - was just about the most exciting ever. Rock on Tommy.


Duel of the Year - The Supersport battle between Alastair Seeley and Ben Wilson? . It went down to the wire and for fairing-bashing battles it took some beating

Launch of the Year - Simon Andrews attempt at a Snetterton moon shot.

Luckiest Rider of the Year - Michael Rutter who was taken out by Josh Brookes at Cadwell and emerged relatively unscathed, except for a couple of broken ribs that is!

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