Press releases from select Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the test at Almeria:
Testing for the Grand Prix support classes continues at Almeria, with a large chunk of the Moto2 field, as well as a selection of Moto3 riders at the Spanish circuit. The test sees both new bikes and new riders take to the track, with Kalex rolling out their 2014 chassis, while Honda is testing its brand new Moto3 bike.
Fastest Moto2 man of the day was Maverick Viñales, the Moto3 champion making a very strong impression and ending ahead of Mapfre Aspar's Jordi Torres, a man who won the Moto2 race at the Sachsenring this year. Xavier Simeon was third fastest, ending just ahead of of Sandro Cortese. Cortese tested both the 2013 and 2014 Kalex chassis, and was eight tenths quicker on the 2014 machine, according to Speedweek.com.
Among the Moto3 riders, Alex Rins set the fastest time, but with only the Hondas and Mahindras on track, there is little to compare it to. While Rins posted a 1'41.3, that is still over a second off the 1'40.1 Jack Miller is said to have set last week at the track on the KTM. The Hondas struggled with teething troubles, the test being a genuine shakedown, and the teams first contact with the bike. On Tuesday, the Hondas went out with the FTR chassis, the plan being to test Honda's own chassis either on Wednesday or Thursday, once the engine bugs have been ironed out.
Gino Rea's gamble to self-finance his 2013 wild cards has paid off. Yesterday, the young Londoner announced he would be contesting the full 2014 Moto2 season, in a one-rider team based in the USA. Rea has joined forces with the Austin, Texas based World Motors organization to create the World Motors Rea Racing team. The good news for both Rea and the sport is that the team has also attracted a sponsor from outside of the motorcycle industry. AGT is an induction lighting company providing professional lighting products to industry.
Rea will continue to race an FTR Moto2 machine, one of three FTRs which will be on the grid, with the NGM Forward team also racing the British chassis. The press release from Gino Rea and the AGT Rea team appears below:
AGT REA RACING SET TO COMPETE IN THE 2014 MOTO2 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP WITH GINO REA
AGT (American Green Technology) will back World Motors Rea Racing team in their entry to the 2014 Moto2 class of World Motorcycle Grand Prix (MotoGP) on a full-season basis with their rider, Gino Rea.
Ant West has been issued a retroactive ban by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and has had almost all the results for the last 18 months declared invalid. All of West's results between the Le Mans 2012 race and 20th October 2013 have been declared null and void, and will be scrapped from the official Moto2 results.
The retroactive ban goes back to a failed doping test at Le Mans in 2012. West had bought a supplement energy drink without checking the ingredients, and subsequently failed a drug test. The energy drink (Mesomorph) turned out to contain the banned substance methylhexaneamine, traces of which were found in West's urine. At the time, the FIM imposed a one month suspension on West, but the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) appealed against the leniency of the ban, and that appeal has now been partially upheld.
The Moto2 field for next season is even better filled than the Moto3 grid, with 35 entries for 2014. Like Moto3, the two men who fought for the championship have departed, leaving the championship wide open. The departure of Pol Espargaro and Scott Redding for MotoGP leaves Tito Rabat as hot favorite for the title, after the Spaniard had challenged for most of the season. Rabat has switched from the Pons team to join Marc VDS, where he is already off to a strong start, while teammate Mika Kallio has also showed strongly in preseason testing.
Strongest of all has been Tom Luthi, the Swiss rider having topped the timesheets at the Jerez tests so far. Dark horse in the Moto2 class is surely Nico Terol, who had a very strong end to the season after finally being diagnosed with lactose intolerance, a condition which had been troubling him all year. Since his successful diagnosis, Terol won two out of five races.
Testing has concluded for the Moto2 and Moto3 teams who headed south to Jerez after the final round at Valencia, the picture on the second day is very similar to that on the first day. Thomas Luthi continues to top the timesheets in the Moto2 class, destroying the pole record by seven tenths of a second, and proving he is very much in form. Tito Rabat grabbed second spot, the Spaniard drafted in to replace Scott Redding already proving to be a smart move by Marc VDS Racing, while Jordi Torres was third.
Sam Lowes confirmed his promise from the first day of testing, ending day 2 in seventh once again, and under a second off the blistering pace set by Luthi. After dominating Moto3, both Maverick Viñales and Luis Salom are finding it much tougher going in the Moto2 category, the step up from a 100 kg single to a 140kg four cylinder proving to be a major difference. Sandwiched between the two former Moto3 men is AMA champion Josh Herrin, all three men over two seconds off the pace of Luthi.
In the Moto3 class, Jack Miller continues to dominate the small group who gathered at Jerez. Miller ended the test four tenths up on Danny Kent, the young British rider finding his feet on his return to the Moto3 class. Karel Hanika is less than a tenth off the pace of Kent, demonstrating his readiness to make the leap from the Red Bull Rookies Cup.
In part one of our interview with Mike Webb, the MotoGP Race Director talked about the penalty point system and how it had worked in 2013. In the second part, talks about the tire debacle at Phillip Island. Webb explains what the teams were told about the rules and the penalties they would incur, and he discusses the incident on the exit of pit lane between Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo. He explains how Race Direction felt the dry flag-to-flag race went, and whether the situation could be handled any differently.
Webb also explains why penalty points are only handed out at the front of the race, while the battle mid-pack can be much fiercer than anything happening for the lead. Finally, Mike Webb casts an eye on the future, and explains the next steps towards improving safety, and improving communication with the riders.
Q: Phillip Island. First of all, I've seen the sheet of paper that was passed out to all the teams …
Mike Webb: Several sheets of paper, unfortunately. It changed several times, we were forced to. There was Moto2 for a start, that changed several times, and the same situation in MotoGP, where we had a meeting with the tire supplier, and they told us, OK, this is how many laps the tire can safely do, our recommendation from the tire supplier is that how many laps the tire can do, now it's up to you to make a decision on the race. And that information changed, during Saturday and then after Sunday warm up, so we had three different instructions to the teams based on what the tire companies told us their tires were able to do. And the last one was of course after warm up on Sunday, which is a horrible time to change anything. I know I hated that whole thing, but it was forced on us.
While the MotoGP teams have packed up and finished for the year - with the exception of a couple of Open class teams, who will be testing at Jerez at the end of the month - the Moto2 and Moto3 have headed to Jerez for the first test of their 2014 season. The first test sees a host of new faces making their debuts. A gaggle of champions enter Moto2, with World Supersport champ Sam Lowes, Moto3 champion Maverick Viñales and AMA Superbike champion Josh Herrin entering the fray. In Moto3, Red Bull Rookies Cup winner Karel Hanika makes his first appearance in the world championship.
At the end of the first day, Thomas Luthi led the Moto2 class, though it was tight as ever at the front, with just over a tenth of a second covering the top three of Luthi, Jordi Torres and Mika Kallio. Sam Lowes made a very impressive debut, just four tenths off the time of Luthi. Herrin had a little more trouble adapting, ending the day 2.2 seconds slower than the fastest man of the day. Moto3 champion Viñales ended his first session under two seconds behind Luthi, but well ahead of the man he spent the year fighting the Moto3 championship with, Luis Salom, who was 3.4 seconds off the pace of Luthi.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after Sunday's races at Valencia:
I knew it was going to be a big day at Valencia when I found myself taking two hours to get into the circuit on Sunday morning instead of twenty minutes. After years of relatively light traffic on the back roads, I took a wrong turning and found myself on the main motorway going from Valencia to Madrid, which was packed with cars and motorcycles heading to the circuit near Cheste. The sun was shining, two titles were to be decided between five Spaniards, and that had brought the fans out in force. I was stuck in the middle of them, reminding myself once again that the best way - the only way - to visit a motorcycle race is on a motorcycle. These were big, big crowds who had come to see a show.
And what a show they got. The Moto3 race took a while to come alight, but once it did it was explosive. The first casualty was Luis Salom, the championship leader falling shortly after the halfway mark. It was his second unforced error in consecutive races, surprising given that Salom is the oldest and most experienced of the three men in the running for the Moto3 title. That left Alex Rins and Maverick Viñales, and with four laps to go, the battle started hotting up in earnest. Viñales was pushing, getting past Rins only to run wide and let the Estrella Galicia rider back through. He looked wild, off line, barely in control, and liable to crash out at any time. But he didn't, he held on, diving past Rins in the final corner to take the lead and leaving him nowhere to go. At Saturday's qualifying press conference, Rins predicted the Moto3 title would be decided in the last corner. He was right, though he had probably hoped that it would be him deciding it in his favor.
Viñales was the first deserved winner of the day, and the first title to be settled. Despite having the fewest wins of the three title contenders, the Team Calvo rider held his nerve, profited from the mistakes of Salom and Rins, and when it counted, pushed home his advantage. Before Motegi, he had given up on winning the Moto3 title, he said after the race. But when Salom and Rins crashed out, he believed it was possible. He had complained about his bike all season, that it didn't have enough power and he couldn't keep up with his two main rivals. At Valencia, his team had given him the best bike of the year, and Viñales had repaid them with a win and a title. After Viñales tantrums at the end of 2012, when he refused to race and walked out of his then team, he had looked to be more trouble than he was worth. But team manager Pablo Nieto had decided he was worth a second chance. At Valencia, Nieto's faith was repaid with interest.
2013 Valencia MotoGP Saturday Round Up: Of Pressure, Mistakes, Engines, And How To Win A Championship
After all the drama, the talk stops tomorrow. Two titles on the line, and five men to fight over them. On Sunday, there will be no talk of crew chiefs being sacked, of team bosses appealing for penalty points, of teams concocting dubious plans, of teammates, team strategies or team orders. When the red lights go out, and the thunderous roar of four-stroke racing motorcycles fills the natural bowl which cradles the tightly wound ribbon of tarmac that is the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, it is every man and woman for themselves, and the devil take the hindmost. Nearly a hundred young men and one young woman will take to the track on Sunday. Most have already had their dreams of glory shattered; three more will share that disappointment; only two will etch their names permanently into the history books.
Both the Moto3 and the MotoGP titles are still undecided, the winner of each race likely to be crowned champion. The Moto2 title is already decided, and going on the evidence of practice and qualifying, the race could be over within a couple of laps, Pol Espargaro hoping to top off his championship with a win in the final race in front of his home crowd. The HP Tuenti Pons rider has been fastest in every session so far, usually by a comfortable margin, so his objective looks well within his grasp. Others may try to prevent an Espargaro victory march, but it doesn't look like either Tito Rabat, Jordi Torres or Nico Terol will be able to do much about it. Espargaro has deserved his title, repaying the faith Yamaha put in him when they signed him to the Tech 3 MotoGP team at Qatar, before the very first race of the year.