March 11th, 2014
The Repsol Media Service issued a press release today containing an interview with 2013 MotoGP champion Marc Marquez, as he prepares to defend his title. In the interview, Marquez discusses recovering from the injury he sustained during practice, gives his view of the preseason so far, and makes a prediction for the upcoming season. The press release appears below, as does the video of the interview:
"Defending the title is a new challenge for me"
Reigning MotoGP World Champion analyses the start of the upcoming season, as he continues his recovery from a fractured fibula.
The countdown continues for Marc Marquez as he awaits the first race of 2014 in Qatar. The reigning MotoGP World Champion sat out the recent Malaysian and Australian tests due to a fractured fibula, and acknowledges that he will be at less than 100% for the season opener, but is confident about participating. The Repsol Honda rider talks about how he approaches his sophomore season in the premier class, in which he faces the difficult challenge of defending the title.
So, who is to blame for the three-class farce? When the 'Factory 2' regulations were first announced, fans and followers were quick to point the finger of blame at Honda. With good reason: HRC has made a series of comments about the way everyone except HRC have interpreted the Open class regulations. Honda thought it was their duty to build a production racer, so that is what they did. The fact that it is hopelessly uncompetitive against the Forward Yamahas – 2013-spec satellite Yamaha M1s running the 2013-spec Open software – led to suggestions from Honda that what Yamaha was doing was unfair. When Ducati announced that they would also be switching to the Open category, Repsol Honda team principal Livio Suppo was quick to denounce the move, saying it would drive costs up for the Open class teams. It was easy to put two and two together, and come up with HRC putting pressure on Dorna to impose a penalty on Ducati, for fear of them exploiting the benefits of the Open class.
Those putting two and two together appear to have come up with a number which is not as close to four as they thought, however. The proposal for the new 'Factory 2' category did indeed come in response to pressure, but the pressure was not so much from Honda, as it was from the other Open class and satellite teams. They objected to Ducati coming in to the Open class at the same time as the new, radically updated and expanded version of the spec Magneti Marelli software was introduced. This version has vastly more capabilities than last year's version, as well as the mildly updated version used at the Sepang 1 test. The 2014 software was created by Magneti Marelli based in part on the input from Ducati, offered at the request of Dorna. Honda and Yamaha were also asked to contribute, but apparently refused.
The Open teams lack the experience and the staff to fully use the capabilities the 2014 software offers. If they chose to use it, they risked going slower, rather than faster. Ducati, on the other hand, has plenty of electronics engineers they can put to work optimizing every aspect of the new software. Put the complex software together with extra fuel Ducati is allowed under the Open class, and their performance is much more in line with the factory Yamaha and Honda teams than the Open teams. This was an unfair advantage, the Open teams said, and complained to Dorna.
Ricky Cardus is to replace Alex Mariñelarena. The Spaniard will take the place of the Tech 3 Moto2 rider, during the long period of convalescence which Mariñelarena must endure after a heavy crash at Paul Ricard. Below is the press release from Tech 3 on the replacement:
Ricky Cardus announced as Tech3’s Moto2 replacement for Mariñelarena
Ricky Cardus will replace Tech3 Racing Team’s Alex Mariñelarena for the temporary future. The Spanish rider will replace Mariñelarena until he has fully recovered from his recent injury and is fit enough to compete in the Moto2 races.
Mariñelarena was involved in an incident during a private test at the Paul Ricard circuit, South France for Team Tech3 Racing on the 27th February. He suffered a heavy fall which knocked him out of consciousness and placed into a medically induced coma by the medical staff at the Saint-Anne Hospital in Toulon.
After nearly one week of deep sleep, Mariñelarena awoke from the coma on the morning of Wednesday 5th March, 2014. The recovery process is now underway for the 21year old Spanish rider, but the date of his return is as of yet unknown.
The Ducati MotoGP team today held their launch for 2014 at the Audi forum in Munich, where they presented their new livery for 2014. Below is the press release issued for the launch, as well as photos of their 2014 MotoGP bike:
Ducati Team presented at the Audi Forum in Munich
- Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow will take part in the MotoGP World Championship with the Desmosedici GP14 in Open configuration
- Ducati Team sporting programmes and Desmosedici GP14 technical content presented at Audi Forum
- The new GP14 livery to be revealed in a second event at the Audi Zentrum in Eching, in the “pre-night” before tomorrow’s Audi Annual Press Conference in Ingolstadt
Munich (Germany), Monday 10 March 2014: The Ducati Team for the 2014 MotoGP World Championship was presented today in an original location in Germany. Confirming the close ties and synergy between the Bologna-based manufacturer and the Audi Group, the official presentation of the Ducati Team was held at the Audi Forum inside Munich Airport.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the final day of testing at Qatar:
Aleix Espargaro has stamped his authority on the final day of the test for non-factory teams at Qatar, blitzing to a remarkable time of 1'54.874 on the Open Forward Yamaha, less than two tenths off the pole position set by Jorge Lorenzo at last year's race. Aleix led an Espargaro 1-2 and a Yamaha clean sweep, ending just ahead of brother Pol on the Tech 3 Yamaha, and fifteen hundredths ahead of the second Monster Tech 3 Yamaha of Bradley Smith.
It was not all good news for the Espargaro brothers, however. Pol crashed towards the end of the evening, falling heavily and breaking his left collarbone. The Spaniard is flying to Barcelona tonight and will undergo surgery to fix the collarbone, in an attempt to be fit for the season opener which takes place in two weeks' time. Pol was not the only rider to crash; both Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista had offs, though neither rider suffered any injury.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams at the second day of the final test at Qatar:
After the Yamahas took the honors on the first day of the Qatar MotoGP test, on Saturday, it was the turn of the Hondas to shine. Alvaro Bautista set a fast time early on during the test, which was good enough stay at the top of the timesheet for the rest of the session. Stefan Bradl grabbed the second spot behind the Go&Fun Gresini Honda of Bautista, the LCR Honda man three tenths slower than the Spaniard. Aleix Espargaro once again led the Yamaha charge with a late lap, but though he came within a tenth of the time of Bradl, he was nearly four tenths off the pace set by Bautista.
Bradley Smith led the Monster Tech 3 team, just behind Aleix Espargaro but once again frustrated at not being the fastest Yamaha. Once again, however, Smith's pace was consistently fast, posting a lot of laps in the high 1'55s and very low 1'56s. Tech 3 teammate Pol Espargaro was 5th, a quarter of a second behind Smith and seven tenths off the pace of Bautista, while Andrea Iannone was the first of the Ducatis on the timesheet, the last rider to get within a second of the time of Bautista.
While their factory counterparts are on aircraft heading back from Phillip Island, everyone not on a factory team (that's factory, small F, not Factory Option, capital F capital O) have spent the day at their own test at Qatar. As always, the first day back at the desert track means a horribly dusty surface, which led a large group of riders to sit out the first hour or so of the test. Once the more eager of the riders - none more so than Danilo Petrucci, keen to get back on a bike for the first time after the winter layoff - had cleaned the track a little, and the track had cooled after the sun had gone down, the full pack headed out for the final test before the season started.
It came as no surprise to see Aleix Espargaro topping the timesheets a the end of the day. The NGM Forward rider has been fast all pre-season, Espargaro extracting every last ounce of performance from the Forward Yamaha, taking full advantage of the softer rear tire made available to the Open class machines (and now nicely color-coded to make tire choice more visible.) There is however no more mention of FTR in the Forward garage, the bikes appearing as Forward Yamahas on the entry list, and Colin Edwards admitting to Motorcycle News that he did not expect to see a chassis from FTR this year. The rumors of unpaid bills appear to have some weight behind them, despite the official denial issued by FTR in February.
Bridgestone is to introduce an improved method of marking slick tires for 2014. A new system of color-coding will make distinguishing between the various options much easier for fans to identify who is using which tire. The four different compounds which could potentially be available at each round (two for the Factory Option category, two for the Open category) are identified using four different colors: red for hard, black (or no stripe) for medium, white for soft, and green for extra-soft. Below is the Bridgestone press release explaining the color-coding system:
Bridgestone introduces new slick tyre marking system for 2014 MotoGP™ season
Friday, March 7 2014
From the first race of the 2014 season, Bridgestone will employ a new colour marking system for its MotoGP™ tyres to make it easier for spectators to see which front and rear tyre options each rider is using at a given time.
MotoGP Rule Change Imminent: 'Intermediate' Category To Be Added Between Factory Option And Open Classes
The CRT-replacement Open class in MotoGP is causing an even bigger shake up of the class than was expected. The outright speed of the Forward Yamaha at the first two Sepang tests provoked a testy response from Honda, who claimed it was entirely against the spirit of the rules. Then came news that Ducati was to switch to an Open entry, giving them the freedom to develop their engines and use more fuel, in exchange for giving up their own ECU software. This provoked an even angrier response from Honda, Repsol Honda team principal Livio Suppo telling the MotoGP.com website that they were unhappy with the introduction of the new ECU software Magneti Marelli brought to the second Sepang test, which was much more sophisticated, though it was not used by the teams.
It seems Honda's complaints have not fallen on deaf ears. Today, in an interview with Spanish sports daily AS, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta announced that a third, intermediate category is to be introduced for 2014. The new category, which Ezpeleta dubbed 'Factory 2', will see Ducati start the season under the full Open regulations: 24 liters of fuel per race, 12 engines per season, not subject to the engine development freeze, unlimited testing, and a softer rear tire, in exchange for using the spec championship software managed by Magneti Marelli. However, should Ducati win a race, or take 2 second places, or 3 third places, then they will lose some of their advantage. Fuel will be reduced from 24 to 22.5 liters, and the engine allocation will be reduced from 12 to 9 per season.
Press releases from the teams, Bridgestone and Dunlop at the end of the three-day tire test at Phillip Island:
The five factory MotoGP riders and four Moto2 men have wrapped up the test at Phillip Island. The nine riders worked their way through the Sisyphean task of testing the vast mound of tires Bridgestone and Dunlop brought to the test, to assess compounds to be used in the race in October. The weather was very mixed on the final day, making for a more accurate reflection of the conditions likely to prevail during the race, after two days of hot, Australian summer on Monday and Tuesday.
Jorge Lorenzo was fastest man on the day, as he has been throughout the test, though the focus on the final day was on race simulations. Lorenzo did almost complete race distance at a very constant pace, though his teammate Valentino Rossi was faster over a shorter, half race distance run. Dani Pedrosa was forced to cut his race simulation run short with neck pain, brought on by having spent six of the past eight days testing a MotoGP bike. Cal Crutchlow also had to call an early halt to his race simulation, as his front tire suffered problems at the end of 17 laps. The front tires were not an issue at the race last year, this tire test having been called because of issues with the rear tire.
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.
Why the door was left Open for Ducati
Dorna’s Open plan is to get all the factories using their software to make MotoGP racing closer and safer. Open this, Open that, Open the other; that was all everyone was talking about at Sepang last week.
Aleix Espargaró ended the test at the sharp end and ahead of three of the four Factory-spec Yamahas on his Open-spec YZR-M1. It will be a huge thrill to have Espargaró battling up front, putting a few factory noses out of joint.
The even bigger deal at Sepang was Ducati deciding it’s no longer a factory team but is instead an Open team. Honda and Yamaha are raging about this because the whole point of the Open regs was to give poorer privateer teams a helping hand, not to help one factory outflank the others.
It is finally official. Yamaha have today announced that they have signed a five-year deal with Spanish telecommunications company Movistar to act as title sponsor for the factory Yamaha team. The deal will see Movistar branding appear prominently on fairings, leathers, team uniform, team trucks, etc, and the team be called Movistar Yamaha MotoGP.
The deal had been rumored since the start of the year, and had been confirmed unofficially last week, when Movistar presented its TV schedules. But the formal announcement came only today, when the Spanish firm unveiled the price structure for its pay-per-view offering in Madrid. The contract had been a long time in the making, as a conflict over fairing space with sponsor Monster, who had signed a two-year deal with team at the beginning of last season. According to reports in Spanish magazine Solomoto, appearing on the US website Sport Rider, Yamaha Racing boss Lin Jarvis had flown to the US to help settle the deal with Monster. This was key, as Movistar is both offering much more money than Monster - the Sport Rider report claims it is twice as much - but the deal is also for a longer period, stretching for five years, while the Monster contract expires at the end of this year.