Gulf Sport Edition 5
 
 

Welcome to this, the first 2017 edition of Gulf Sport.

The last couple of months have, by no means, been quiet, as our various sporting partners have all been busy - either preparing for the new season or, in the case of Manchester United, progressing their challenge for a season that seems to grow more exciting for them by the week.

But this edition is primarily focused on Gulf's exciting two wheeled programme, so we will go behind the scenes of World Superbike testing; will look at how this series offers huge opportunities for Gulf and Gulf businesses over the coming season and we will give you an exclusive preview of our new 1 minute World Superbike Promo Videos.

We also have an interview with Shaun Muir, team owner of the Milwaukee Aprilia team about how the team is shaping up for 2017 and his aspirations for the coming season, and how Gulf's Superbike programme is being used to help Gulf Businesses everywhere.

There is more to come. Expect an announcement about our WEC partnership for 2017 imminently and our activation plans around the world's top sportscar championship and the 85th running of the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours are already underway.

There is much to look forward to over the course of the 2017 season and the signs are that it is going to be a memorable year for Gulf in sport and we look forward very much to sharing it with you.

Best wishes for the sporting year ahead,

Vicki Kipling
Vice-President Marketing

For and on behalf of Gulf Oil International (UK) Ltd.

 
 

IN THIS EDITION

Gulf's two Superbike teams in action
Creation of new Gulf promotional videos
Manchester United continue to set records
Behind the scenes with Milwaukee Aprilia Team Principal, Shaun Muir

 
 
 

GULF'S NEW SUPERBIKE PARTNERSHIPS

IN ACTION

 

The exciting news for Gulf businesses – and Gulf Sport enthusiasts worldwide – is that for 2017 Gulf has two partnerships in the World Superbike Championship: Milwaukee Aprilia and Althea BMW.

News of Gulf's link up with Althea BMW Racing, broke back in November as the team sported its Gulf branding at the first Jerez Superbike test. The partnership continues Gulf's technical partnership with BMW's manufacturer-supported team in 2017, building on the first year with Milwaukee BMW.

 
 
 
 

The Italian-run Althea team was the most successful BMW outfit in World Superbikes last year, and maintains the same rider line up – Spaniard Jordi Torres and German Markus Reiterberger. They are looking to maintain their consistent top ten finishing and top five challenging position in 2017. To help achieve this they had various updates and new parts from BMW that they spent time trying out and comparing during the tests in Jerez and Portugal.

The team has an excellent pedigree in Superbikes – having been World Champions in 2011 with Carlos Checa, so Gulf should be well looked after with Althea's blend of experience and its desire to find success again in 2017 as BMW's sole team in the Championship.

Althea are also multiple Superstock Champions. The Superstock Category - which runs with the World Superbike Championship at many of the rounds - caters for the same bikes, but in a closer-to-showroom spec and Gulf branding and lubricants will also feature on Althea's challenge for a third Superstock title.

Gulf's presence in World Superbikes has a distinctly Italian feel to it. Milwaukee and the team behind it – Shaun Muir Racing (SMR) – broke into the World Superbike Championship arena last year and impressed with their professionalism – so much so that motorcycle racing's most successful manufacturer, Aprilia, offered them the role of full factory team. This will benefit SMR, Milwaukee and Gulf.

 
 
 

The team launched officially at the Jerez test, much to the approval of the world's top motorcycle sport journalists and riders Lorenzo Savadori – in his second season on an Aprilia SBK and Eugene Laverty – returning to superbikes after a spell in Moto GP – showed extremely well in testing.

With almost all of the leading teams present, Savadori set the second fastest time of the test, within a whisker of current World Champion, Jonathan Rea's Kawasaki. It was a similarly positive outcome to the subsequent test in Portugal with Eugene Laverty setting the second fastest time and Savadori the fourth fastest.

All in all, therefore the signs are looking positive for Gulf, ahead of the opening round of the Championship at Phillip Island in Australia on the 25th and 26th of this month.

 
 
 

SO WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN FOR GULF?

 

Well, firstly, two teams means that Gulf will have four bikes carrying Gulf branding into battle in World Superbikes this year. A look on the grid and at the transporters set up behind the pits will quickly show that Gulf has really arrived, in force, on the world motorcycle sport stage.

On-event it also means expanded opportunities for hospitality at World Superbike races in 2017 and 2018 as both teams come equipped with their own set ups for the European rounds and their own marketing/hospitality coordinators for the entire series.

Gulf guests will have the chance to see two different teams in action in the garages and have an even better understanding about what it takes to put these mighty machines on the grid of a world championship race.

And, of course, if the hopes of podium finishes over the course of the season are realised, it will result in greater exposure for the Gulf brand on TV and in the Media as a whole.

 
 
 

PRODUCTS

 

As our links with the teams are not merely for sponsorship, but are also technical partnerships, Gulf products will be in evidence in the race garages of both teams. Lubricants of various different kinds, Gulf brake fluid and various spray and cleaning products will all ensure the bikes both run well and also look good.

Gulf's Syntrac 4T Superbike oil will now feature both World Superbikes on its packaging. The 10W-50 will feature the Althea BMW on its labels, while the 15W-50 version will feature the Milwaukee Aprilia. As well as being top quality products the visual appeal, on the shelves, should therefore be enhanced for 2017.

 
 

MERCHANDISE

 

New ranges of Gulf merchandise for both teams are currently in production – from hats through T-Shirts to jackets. There will also be full ranges of team clothing for both Milwaukee Aprilia and, as modelled above by their engineers, for Althea BMW. Gulf businesses, therefore, will have an exceptional selection of clothing and accessories to choose from this season.

It also might make it very hard to decide whose team gear to wear, if you are fortunate enough to get to one of the rounds of the championship!

 
 

TEAR IT UP GLOBAL PROMOTION

 

With a greater amount of lead-in time than last season, Gulf Oil International has already launched a series of major promotions based around World Superbikes.

Two B2B promotions are offering trips to watch the Gulf bikes in action and visit the factories of the manufacturers. One trip is centred around Italy's Misano round of the Championship with a trip to the Aprilia factory and a second, later in the year will visit BMW and the German SBK round at the Lausitzring.

Gulf's global consumer promotion "Tear It Up" is also in its final stages of planning and will feature a VIP trip to the final race of the World Superbike Season in Qatar, together with a number of money-can't-buy opportunities with the teams and race organisers.

 
 

PREVIEW TO THE FIRST TWO ROUNDS

 

The 2017 season kicks off over the weekend of February 25th/26th at the Australian race track of Phillip Island, situated some two hours drive from Melbourne.

It is a spectacular venue, with long straights, changes of elevation and corners of all types, which really challenge the riders. The track is located by the edge of the Ocean and the main straight seems to dip down almost into the sea itself.

Phillip Island will be well attended with a large, enthusiastic and knowledgeable crowd - especially on race day Sunday, however, two weeks later, on March 11th and 12th, in Thailand, the series will experience one of its biggest crowds of the season.

 
 

With Thailand having one of the world's largest motorcycling populations, the second round at the Chang International Circuit will attract close on 100,000 spectators.

The heat and humidity in Thailand will probably be unsurpassed over the course of the rest of the season. They combine to make the riders' task that much more difficult as the state of the track can be heavily affected by the temperature of the surface, as well as the pure physical effort needed to race in such conditions.

 
 

WORLD SUPERBIKES
HOW THE RACE WEEKEND WORKS

 

Each round of the World Superbike Championship features two races – one on each day of a two-day race weekend.

Championship organisers, Dorna, have devised a race weekend format that is designed to keep interest at its maximum on both days.

Practice – which is usually on Fridays – determines the top twenty riders. The fastest ten will automatically progress to Superpole 2, the following day.

They are then joined by the fastest two riders from Superpole 1 – which comprises the tenth to twentieth fastest riders from practice.

Superpole determines the starting order for both of the weekend's races – one on the same day as the Superpole sessions and the second on the following day.

Points are awarded for the top 15 finishers in each race and they ultimately determine the champion for the season.

 
 
 

CAMERA, ACTION, GO!

 

The links in this article will take you to Gulf's new promotional videos for the 2017 World Superbike season.

Shot on location by expert motorsport director and cameraman, Patrice Knanec and Guillaume Devynck, the new videos are spectacular. The portray the dynamism and excitement of the sport as well as being up close and personal with Gulf's two superbike partners, Althea BMW and Milwaukee Aprilia.

Both videos make great use of on-board footage, shot on action cams, like the one seen below on the nose of the Jordi Torres' Althea BMW, which provide both fantastic Gulf branding and also give a feel for what it takes to ride one of these amazing motorbikes at speed.

 
 
 
 

The filming took place over the two days of testing at the Jerez circuit and both teams and riders were incredibly cooperative in allowing the Gulf crew to film on track and behind the scenes, as illustrated here with Patrice (below, right) fixing an action cam onto the Aprilia, watched by rider, Eugene Laverty, (left) and team principal, Shaun Muir.

 
 
 
 

There will also be some excellent interview films carried out with the riders and the team bosses from both Milwaukee Aprilia and Althea BMW that will become available for use in the coming weeks, as well as a Gulf video that covers both teams together. The first two films are available to download from the Gulf Extranet.

 
 
 

RECORDS FALL

AS UNITED'S RUN OF

FORM CONTINUES

 

Manchester United have set many records over their long history – including a record-equalling 12th FA Cup win last season – but they recently set the latest a the long line, by becoming the first English Premier League Team to reach the 2000 points mark, with their recent win against Watford.

Anthony Martial and Juan Mata scored in a 2-0 victory, which meant that Gulf's sporting partner achieved the milestone after 949 Premier League games.

United are only one of six teams who have played in the Premier League in every season since it came into being in 1992 and, with three points for a victory but only one point for a draw, they have averaged more than two points per game over this period.

The win against Watford also stretched United's unbeaten run in the Premier League to 16 matches – the longest current unbeaten streak of any club in any major league in Europe and the Red Devils' longest run since 2013.

United's next win in the Premier League would be their 600th, which would also be a first in EPL history. Their great sequence has seen them move closer to one of the top four places that would see United qualify for the Champions League and though they currently lie sixth, they are now only 2 points off third place.

Manager Jose Mourinho still feels there is room for improvement, "Sixteen league games unbeaten is an amazing record, but it would be the perfect record with two or three fewer draws at home. We have an amazing record of being unbeaten, but we should have more."

 
 
 

UPCOMING MANCHESTER UNITED FIXTURES

 
 
 

EUROPA LEAGUE

 

Manchester United vs Saint-Etienne - Old Trafford - February 16th

Manchester United vs Saint-Etienne - Stade de l'Abbe-Deschamps - February 22nd

 
 

ENGLISH FOOTBALL LEAGUE CUP

 

Manchester United vs Southampton - Wembley - February 26th

 
 

FA CUP

 

Manchester United vs Blackburn Rovers - Ewood Park - February 19th

 
 

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

 

Manchester United vs Bournemouth - Old Trafford - March 4th

Manchester United vs Southampton - St Mary's Stadium - March 12th

 
 
 

ONE TO WATCH

 

EFL League Cup Final 26 February – Wembley.
Manchester United vs Southampton.

Gulf's Football partner have secured the honour of featuring in England's first domestic cup final of the 2016/7 season. United will take on fellow English Premier League team, Southampton at the famous Wembley Stadium, hoping to both win the trophy and become the first team of the year to secure their place in European competition for the 2017/18 season – as the winning team is guaranteed a place in the Europa League.

With an important European match against Saint-Etienne earlier in the week and the ever-present demands on the team of United's current strong challenge for one of the coveted top four Premier League places, it will be interesting to see if manager Jose Mourinho chooses to rest some key players or whether he selects his strongest starting line-up for the match.

Regardless, the attention of football fans around the world will be firmly on the outcome and it will certainly be a game worth tuning in for as Southampton are a match for any team if they play at their best.

 
 
 
 

BEHIND THE SCENES...

with Shaun Muir
Team Principal Milwaukee Aprilia Team

Gulf Sport caught up with Shaun Muir after the unveiling of the 2017, Gulf-supported works Aprilia bikes and he spoke candidly about his hopes for this season and beyond and gave an insight into what makes him tick. Here are some of the highlights of the interview.

Q What do you hope to get out of your testing programme?

A It's all about shakedown for the riders and getting everyone together. It's not just about the riders on track, it's about the team mechanics familiarising themselves with the new environment and integrating Aprilia Engineers with our SMR (Shaun Muir Racing) engineers – dovetailing those together. It's also about the new relationship between the crew chiefs for Lorenzo and Eugene which is new to them and also working with the electronics engineers from who come from Aprilia Racing directly.

There are a lot of new faces, a lot of new people and new positions – it's like the first day of school.

Q It's your second year in World Superbikes – what are your expectations for this year?

A We've got two riders who are capable of challenging for the podium – and I always say if a rider is capable of challenging for the podium, the win could be there at some point. If you start the season with a good pre-season testing, then you get to the first two flyaway rounds and you're fortunate to get some strong results, by the time you get to Europe, you could find yourself in first, second third or fourth in the championship. Effectively that shapes the way for the rest of the year.

My personal goals are both riders in the top five (of the championship).

 
 

Q World superbikes is a top flight championship and clearly to become competitive takes a lot of work

A It does. It's a package of two halves. You've got the operational expertise and you've got the technical expertise. To make that leap forward into the world scene brings a whole host of operational & logistical nightmares like shipping 5 to 6 tonnes of freight all over the world from each event, moving 25-30 staff from event to event and on the flip side of that you've got the technical staff that are preparing bikes that are capable of winning on all of those circuits.

This needs a lot of experience - that we haven't had - but which Aprilia as a company has many years of experience of. So we're dovetailing two parts of the business - Aprilia and SMR - and hopefully we will find that the ingredients are good enough that we can take up the challenge.

Q So what makes you want to own a world superbike team?

A Well personally I've built the business up from being an ex-racer and my ambition has always been to bring riders through with me as I've grown my business. There's a real, for me, personal kudos in doing that, but mostly it's all about building the team – not just about myself. I've got myself and a crew of engineers, chief engineers, managers and hospitality VIP catering staff behind the scenes that all make the team what it is.

My personal goals? I enjoy being at the end of organising it all. I've been British Champion - and I now want to be World Champion - as a team owner. I think that's within our grasp under this new set up.

Q There's obviously a lot of passion there. What does quality mean to you?

A Quality is one of our watch-words. You go back to our workshops in the UK, in Guisborough and it's like an operating theatre. We start with a pristine workshop. We start with putting good working ethics into all of the guys that work for us. They understand that it's got to be absolutely 100% effort all of the way. We have many staff who have come to us and only lasted a very short period of time because they can't raise the bar to work to the level that we expect them to work at.

Equally so, when you join forces with Aprilia Racing - who are steeped in a history of World Champions and especially in the history of World Superbike Racing - that brings quality in its own right and there's a lot of flair in there. You've got the UK attitude to working and you've got the Italian flair – bring that together and the quality that comes out at the other end of that is that we're winners and they're winners. You can't win without having a lot of quality behind you.

Q What does having Gulf with you again mean?

A I think the key factor for us here is that Gulf want to be involved in two-wheel motorsport. Bringing Gulf into the worldwide scene and into the public eye with Aprilia Racing, with SMR and with the Milwaukee Aprilia Race Team means that you're into such a high level that you couldn't have come in any higher.

For us, we look at quality, we look at the iconic name of Gulf, we look at the relationship we've started and this will continue with the fact that we will put wins behind that. And that winning mentality is there, we want to bring everyone through together as a joint venture partnership so that we are all winners together.

Q So away from the track – what do you do?

A Well I've got a wife and four children. A spot of skiing and golf and that's about it! But seriously, you've got to be very careful separating your working life and your personal life. For me, I'm very fortunate that my wife is a two wheeled motorsport fan as well. My kids ride motorbikes around our fields, so I'm very fortunate that I get my weekend passes signed out without too much duress!

Q The bikes look fantastic – if they go as good as they look, then it has the makings of a really interesting season

A We had some good coverage today (from the launch). We said that we would do a nice simple opening and we'll unveil the bikes. The public were open mouthed when we opened the doors today, when they saw the beautiful bikes being unveiled, I think they can see there is a high level of expectation. I think the championship organisers have recognised that we're a great addition to this paddock – it was Milwaukee's first year in Superbikes last year, it was Gulf Oil's first year in Superbikes last year – I think we've had our baptism of fire, we passed our apprenticeship year 1, and we're now going to compete with the big boys in years 2 and 3.

I think everyone is urging us to get that first podium – and let's try and build from there.

THE FULL INTERVIEW is available to view on YouTube:

 
 

IF YOU CAN'T BE THERE IN PERSON...

 

Catch the English Premier League on TV just about everywhere. This season it is now being broadcast on China's CCTV channel - but check out the official website of the league: www.premierleague.com and of Manchester United: www.manutd.com for details of Europa League and English Football League Cup games.

World Superbike action can be followed on the official World Superbike Championship Website: www.worldsbk.com (which also offers video coverage of the Superpole and both races, by subscription) and on Eurosport, either on the TV channel, where available, or through their Eurosport websites.