World Superbike in 2014 will be a very strange place with one of the last hold outs of the Flammini regime, and a man who left a very deep stamp on WSBK, gone from the paddock.
That man is, of course, American Steve Whitelock.
Whitelock's contract was not re-newed by "Dorna WSBK" (a phrase that still frightens us at a soul level). Former DuHamel tuner, HRC exec and one of the few people in racing that can have a conversation with Kevin Cameron and not simply reply "Wow. I'd never considered that" to everything "KC" says, Whitelock will be missed from WSBK.
WSBK has hired Whitelock's replacement and it's an interesting choice given that seemingly the entire planet expected them to slot in a middle-manager type from Barcelona.
Dorna hired Brit Scott Smart to be their WSBK technical director.
Scott brings a great deal to his new role--he is of course an ex-500 GP rider, and has been working as Michael Laverty's crewchief in MotoGP while also racing in BSB. Most of the technical crew in WSBK or MotoGP bring a special skill set to the game but the people who can do data-mapping, chassis development or build the intricate wiring harnesses needed in a modern WSBK and MotoGP are really "special". Scott has done all three, to a degree.
Of course Scott also brings a hugely impressive family lineage to the role--he's Imola 200/Ducati legend Paul Smart's son, thus making late GP legend Barry Sheene his uncle.
Our only contact with Smart came when he filled in as a television announcer for WSBK a few seasons back. There he proved to be a very capable analyst, one that had a laser sharp understanding of many facets of racing, from riding to technical to rules interpretation. Not only did he know this stuff, but could convey it in a way that made people who watch television understand it--no small feat.
Moreover, Smart is a freelance writer and files stories on RC car racing, another of his many interests.
There was a time in the late 1990s when Scott Smart was picked to be the next British legend in bike racing, following in footsteps of his father and uncle. That didn't happen, but Smart may have a huge impact on world championship racing yet.