The Pressure Of Contracts: Bradley Smith Explains How A New Tech 3 Deal Helped Him Ride Better

One belief common among motorcycle racing fans is that racers will ride harder while they are negotiating a new contract, only to slack off once the contract is in the bag. Ask a rider about this, and they deny it fervently, saying they have to ride just as hard after a new contract is signed as they did before. That their contract situation affects their performance is beyond question, though it is not as simple as it appears.

Bradley Smith is a case in point. Since the start of the season, the Englishman has known he has been riding for his place next year, with Yamaha and Tech 3 taking a seriously look at riders in both Moto2 and Moto3 to replace him. The pressure was starting to get to Smith, the Tech 3 man crashing rather too frequently, with the low point being the race at the Sachsenring. Smith crashed four times that weekend, twice on Friday, once on Saturday, and again in the race. It was a very tough weekend indeed.

So when Smith signed a new deal with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team ahead of the race at Brno, there was a palpable sense of relief. With this future secure for another year, he could get concentrate on racing again with a clear mind, and without the pressure of his results being judged every race. Over the course of the weekend at Brno, we asked Smith how he felt after his contract extension, and what effect he felt it had had on his results. His answers were revealing, and provide an insight into the pressure which all MotoGP riders must function under.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Failed records and new rules

MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.


Failed records and new rules

Back in the heady days of Marlboro Team Roberts domination, King Kenny Roberts had a favourite saying, which he would shout at full volume during the team’s frequent and legendarily messy victory dinners. Full of wine, joy and relief, King Kenny’s voice would boom around the dining room: “Who got fourth?” In other words, who cares who got fourth when his crew had won the race?

Well, everyone at Brno knew who got fourth. During the top three press conference – Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi – one journalist was polite enough to apologise for asking so many questions about Marc Márquez who, for the first time in his short but uniquely wonderful MotoGP career, had ridden past the chequered flag and straight back into his pit, with no reason to stop in the parc fermé.

Bridgestone Press Release - Shinji Aoki Talks Elbow Down In The Wet, And Testing Asymmetrical Front Tires

As usual, Bridgestone issued a post-race debrief with one of their senior managers after the race at Brno. Today's debrief is with Shinji Aoki, who discusses the performance of Bridgestone's wet weather tires on a fully wet surface, and the asymmetrical front tires they tested on Monday. Bridgestone also announced they will make the asymmetrical front tires available at Phillip Island and Valencia, two circuits which stress the left side of the tire far more than the right:

Czech Republic MotoGP™ debrief with Shinji Aoki

Wednesday, August 20 2014

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium & Hard; Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)

Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa won his first Grand Prix of the year at Brno last weekend, breaking the winning streak of his teammate Marc Marquez. For the second race in a row, second and third place went to the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP duo of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi respectively.

Conditions for the race were cool and dry, with a peak track temperature of 29°C recorded at the start of the race. The conditions yielded a very quick pace around the 5.403 kilometre circuit, with Pedrosa setting a new Circuit Record Lap time of 1’56.027 and the total race time in 2014 being three seconds quicker than the old record.

Round Number: 
11
Year: 
2014

Tom Sykes Signs On For Two More Years In World Superbikes With Kawasaki

Tom Sykes will be staying on with Kawasaki for two more seasons. Kawasaki today announced that the Yorkshireman has signed a contract to remain with the Japanese factory in World Superbikes for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. 

The announcement does not come as a surprise. Sykes has known great success with Kawasaki since leaving Yamaha after his first year in World Superbikes. All of Sykes' wins in the class have come aboard a green machine, and the Yorkshireman won his first World Superbike title with Kawasaki last year. Currently leading the 2014 championship by 44 points, his second successive title is within grasp. The Kawasaki ZX-10R remains a highly competitve package, and Sykes is a good fit inside the team.

Unlike many of his fellow WSBK riders, Sykes was never in the frame for a MotoGP ride. Sykes had shown little interest in making the jump to MotoGP, unless he could be on top-flight machinery. With all of the factory bikes tied up, and the satellite slots largely spoken for, there was little room for Sykes, even if he had been interested in a move. Instead, Sykes preferred to stay on in World Superbikes, and chase more WSBK titles.

Below is the press release issued by Kawasaki on the Sykes signing:


Tom Sykes To Remain With KRT For Two More Years

Health Issues Force Nico Terol To Sit Out Silverstone

Nico Terol has decided to sit out the Silverstone round of Moto2. After enduring a dismal year with a mystery ailment, Terol has been forced to withdraw and focus on locating the source of his problems, so that he can return to racing in full health.

Terol was expected to challenge for the title in 2014, after scoring three wins and one podium last season with the Mapfre Aspar team. But there had been warning signs of something amiss previously. In the middle of last year, Terol was suspected of suffering late onset lactose intolerance, exactly the same condition that affected Casey Stoner during the 2009 season. Treatment for that appears not to have had the desired effect, as Terol has suffered all this year with extreme fatigue and elevated testosterone levels.

The issue has now reached the point where Terol can no longer be competitive in his current condition. Terol and the Mapfre Aspar team have decided that the Spaniard should sit out Silverstone while undergoing a battery of tests to locate the source of the problem. Though the press release issued by the team speaks solely of Silverstone, it is not completely certain Terol will be back at Misano.

Below is the press release issued by the Aspar team:


Nico Terol to miss British Grand Prix

2014 Brno MotoGP Test Press Releases

Press releases from the MotoGP team after Monday's test at Brno:

Round Number: 
11
Year: 
2014

2014 Brno MotoGP Test Round Up: Honda And Yamaha Test 2015 Bikes, Others Test Themselves

Marc Marquez did not take kindly to finishing fourth on Sunday, that much was obvious from the test. He lined up at pit lane exit at precisely 10am, waiting for the track to open. As soon as it opened, he was away, the first rider to take to the track in a long way. When Jorge Lorenzo went fastest, Marquez seemed determined to catch him, finally leaving the test at the end of a long day at the top of the timesheets.

Testing is not really about who is fastest, though riders cannot avoid turning it into a competitive sport. It is more about carefully running through options and testing parts, selecting what works and what doesn't, trying new bikes and parts, and testing out set up changes which are too experimental or time-consuming to try on a normal race weekend. Riders are still trying to go fast, but they and the teams are more interested in comparing their own times, rather than the times of others.

The factory Honda and Yamaha teams had similar programs. Both had the latest version of their 2015 bikes for the riders to test, as well as minor modifications to their current set ups in search of a bit more performance for the end of the year. That Honda's 2015 bike is working should be no surprise: Marc Marquez topped the timesheets on the new bike, praising the work done so far. It is an improvement over the 2014 machine, and faster in the middle of the corner, though there are still a few areas that need work. It was good enough for Marquez to get under Cal Crutchlow's pole record from 2013, however. Would he like to use it for the rest of the season? Though the bike is faster, it would be too much of a risk using it for the rest of the season.

2014 Brno MotoGP Test Times, Final: Marquez Fastest, Ahead Of Lorenzo And Pedrosa

Marc Marquez put in a late push in the afternoon to top the post-race test on Monday, the Repsol Honda rider dipping under Cal Crutchlow's pole record from 2013. Marquez deposed Jorge Lorenzo at the top of the timesheets, though Lorenzo closed down the Repsol Honda man's advantage.

Rain fell late in the session, stopping activity for a while, and looked like preventing Valentino Rossi from going out on the 2015 version of the YZR-M1, but the sun burned off the rain and dried the track enough for testing to resume for the final hour.

Final times at the end of testing:

2014 Brno MotoGP Test Times At 1:30pm: Lorenzo Leads, Hondas Close Behind

Testing is underway at Brno, with the weather considerably better than it has been for the race weekend. Temperatures are higher, and clouds less frequent. Jorge Lorenzo leads the way as the riders shortly before the riders take a break for lunch, the Movistar Yamaha rider breaking into the 1'55 mark late in the morning.

First out of the gate this morning was Marc Marquez, eager to get to work on the grip problems which plagued him during yesterday's race, and saw him finish off the podium for the first time since 2012. Marquez is currently third fastst, just behind his teammate Dani Pedrosa, the man who won the race yesterday. Both Repsol Honda riders have a 2015 version of the Honda RC213V, and both have already put in laps on the bike. The bike is visually very similar to the 2014 machine.

Leon Camier was an early crasher, coming of just ten minutes after the session started. he was unhurt, but the bike needed significant repairs to be able to continue. Loris Capirossi has been out riding the Open Honda, and he will be testing the Forward Yamaha later today as well. Kenny Noyes is also testing the Avintia bike, as the American rider has strong ties with Kawasaki, who he races for in the Spanish championship. Noyes is taking his time to get up to speed, currently over three seconds behind regular Avintia rider Mike Di Meglio.

2014 Brno MotoGP Post-Race Press Releases

Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after Sunday's race at Brno:

Round Number: 
11
Year: 
2014

2014 Brno Moto2 And Moto3 Post-Race Press Releases

Press releases after Sunday's races at Brno:

Round Number: 
11
Year: 
2014

2014 Brno MotoGP Sunday Round Up: Breaking The Streak

The hot-hand fallacy finally caught up with Marc Marquez. His amazing streak of consecutive wins stays at ten, the Spaniard being beaten for the first time this year. In his twenty-ninth race in the MotoGP class, Marquez and his crew finally failed to find a good enough set up to win, or even make it onto the podium. The Repsol Honda man has only missed out on the podium twice before, once at Mugello last year, when he crashed, and once at Phillip Island, when he was disqualified from the tire fiasco race.

Defeat had been waiting in the wings for Marquez for a while now. Look solely at the points table, and his dominance looks complete. But go back and look at his winning margin, and his advantage has not looked quite so large. Of his ten wins, only two were by a considerable margin: one at Austin, where he has always been better than the rest; one at Assen, where rain created large gaps. His advantage at Argentina and Indianapolis was 1.8 seconds, at Jerez, Le Mans and the Sachsenring under a second and a half. Marquez could only eke out victory at Qatar, Mugello and Barcelona, races he won by a half a second or less. At most races, Marquez was winning by a slender margin indeed, lapping on average just five or six hundredths of a second quicker than his rivals. It was enough, but it was really not very much at all.

Marquez' slender advantage over his rivals was a sign of just how close they really were. Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa had all come close to beating Marquez, and in the case of Pedrosa at Barcelona, Marquez had been forced to delve deep into his bag of tricks to beat his teammate. Marquez' talent may have loaded the dice he was rolling, but eventually they would fall another way. "People said winning was easy for me," Marquez told the Spanish media, "but I know how hard it was."

GPC Introduces The Quartararo Rule - Minimum Age Limit Scrapped For CEV Moto3 Winner

The minimum age limit for the Moto3 class is to dropped for the winner of the Spanish CEV Moto3 championship. In a meeting at Brno, the Grand Prix Commission approved a proposal for the winner of the CEV Moto3 to be allowed to compete in the Moto3 world championship the season after winning the CEV. 

The rule change will mean that Fabio Quartararo, the young Frenchman currently leading the CEV Moto3, will be allowed to start in Moto3 in 2015. The Frenchman is currently 15, and does not turn 16 until 20th April. If this rule had not been changed, then Quartararo would have been forced to miss the first two races of the 2015 season. 

The official justification for the rule change is that the CEV is now a championship run under the auspices of the FIM, and therefore has a higher status than a normal national championship. The level in that championship is clearly high, as demonstrated by the results of Jorge Navarro in Moto3, drafted in to replace Livio Loi.

2014 MotoGP Championship Standings After Round 11, Brno, Czech Republic

MotoGP Championship standings for round 11, 2014

2014 Brno MotoGP Race Result: About The Streak

Race report follows.

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