When the news that Dorna would be taking over World Superbikes broke, there was a wave of outrage among fans, expressing the fear that the Spanish company would set about destroying the series they had grown to love. So far, Dorna have been careful not to get involved in debates about the technical regulations which seem to be so close to fans' hearts, their only criteria so far appearing to be a demand that bikes should cost 250,000 euros for an entire season. Yet they have already make one move which has a serious negative impact on the series: they are clamping down on video footage from inside the paddock.
There was some consternation - and there is still some confusion - about the situation at the first round of WSBK at Phillip Island at the end of February. Where previously, teams and journalists had been free to shoot various videos inside the paddock, there were mixed signals coming from Dorna management, with some people told there was an outright and immediate ban, with threats of serious consequences should it be ignored, while others were saying that they had heard nothing on the subject. That Dorna is determined to reduce the amount of free material on Youtube became immediately clear after the race weekend was over: in previous years, brief, two-minute race summaries would appear on the official World Superbike Youtube channel after every weekend. After the first race of 2013, only the post-race interviews were posted on the site. It is a long-standing Dorna policy to try to strictly control what ends up on Youtube and what doesn't. It is their most serious mistake, and one which could end up badly damaging the sport unless it is changed very soon.
This is a battle that has been going on inside Dorna, and many other major companies involved in motorcycle racing. It is about a fundamental change in the media landscape, a shift away from centralized control towards a diffuse and distributed form of media broadcasting, communication strategy and promotion. It is a shift that is permanent, affects the way in which sports are promoted and monetized, and radically alters the balance of power throughout all levels of the sport. The old hierarchies are dead, and trying to maintain them will merely end up crippling motorcycle racing.
With the 2013 MotoGP season due to start in just four weeks' time, it's time to take a trip down memory lane and get ourselves excited about this season's racing. To do so, over the next few weeks, we will be running an occasional series of shots by MotoMatters.com star shooter Scott Jones, taken at some of the rounds he attended last season. His stunning photos are a reminder of why we love motorcycle racing so much. Remember also to check out the special offers Scott has on signed photos, including riders such as Casey Stoner, Cal Crutchlow and Nicky Hayden. Not long to go now...
Marc VDS Boss Michael Bartholémy Interview: On Scott Redding, Livio Loi, And What Went Wrong With Ducati
As well as speaking to Scott Redding about his aims for 2013 at the Marc VDS launch in Belgium, we also had the opportunity to interview Marc VDS Racing boss Michael Bartholémy. The German-speaking Belgian had a lot to say on his expectations, not just for Scott Redding and Mika Kallio in Moto2 this year, but also of the high hopes he has for Livio Loi, the 15-year-old Belgian youngster who will be racing in Moto3 for the team.
But perhaps most interesting of all, Bartholémy talked openly about what went wrong in the team's negotiations with Ducati last year. Through the middle part of 2012, it looked as if Marc VDS Racing was in the running to be managing the Ducati Junior team, with Scott Redding on one of the two satellite Ducati Desmosedicis. It did not work out, leaving Redding racing in Moto2 for another season. Bartholémy explains why. The Marc VDS boss also gives his vision on the production racers likely to be introduced for 2014, and how they affect the team's plans for next season. The interview follows after the jump:
The Red Bull KTM team is following the trail blazed by the Repsol Media Service by supplying press release interviews with their riders. Today is the turn of young Malaysian rider Zulfahmi Khairuddin, who is racing in Moto3 with the Red Bull KTM team. Khairuddin has been making steady progress since ascending to the Grand Prix paddock, impressing many in 2012 by scoring a pole position and two podiums, his first podium coming at Sepang in front of an ecstatic home crowd.
Khairuddin is at the forefront of a move eastward for motorcycle racing, with increasing numbers of riders entering the series from the region. In the interview, the young Malaysian addressed the growing popularity of motorcycle racing in Southeast Asia, and talks about the challenges he faces coming from the region, among other subjects. A glimpse into the future, perhaps?
Below is the interview, issued as a press release:
"Malaysian people are starting to watch all the races on TV, even the rounds shown in the early hours.”
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Malaysia rider preparing for fourth World Championship season.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams at the end of the test at Jerez:
The return of rain and fog to Jerez meant that much of the final day of testing for both the Moto2 and Moto3 classes went to waste, with a depleted field taking to the track in the morning, before packing up and leaving in the afternoon. Jack Miller was the fastest man in the rain, the Caretta Technology RTG rider ending the day faster than Alex Rins on the Estrella Galicia KTM, and RW Racing's Jakub Kornfeil.
The teams now pack up and head home for a month, preparing for the final test in mid-March. They visit Jerez one more time between 18th and 21st of March, before flying out to Qatar for the season starter.
Official times after the final day of testing at Jerez for the Moto3 class:
With the 2013 motorcycle racing season about to kick off just a few hours from now, with World Superbikes about to take to the track at Phillip Island, Dorna and the FIM had a few official appointments to confirm before the season starts. Today, the FIM officially announced all of the people in charge of both MotoGP and WSBK. MotoGP's Race Direction sees two changes, with Franco Uncini promoted to FIM Safety Officer, and Loris Capirossi joining Race Direction as the riders' representative. Danny Aldridge has been confirmed as Technical Director, after taking over in the role from Mike Webb last year. In the WSBK paddock, Gregorio Lavilla joins Race Direction as Dorna Representative
Below are the press releases from the FIM announcing the changes:
FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix
Decision of the Permanent Bureau
The Permanent Bureau of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix, comprising of Messrs Vito Ippolito, FIM President, and Carmelo Ezpeleta, Chief Executive Officer of Dorna Sports, met on 20 February 2013, in order to designate the following composition of the 2013 FIM Grand Prix Race Direction:
Press releases from some of the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the second day of testing at Jerez:
Maverick Viñales took control of the Moto3 class on the second day of the test at Jerez, lapping under the 125cc record on a day which saw much better weather than the rained out first day. Viñales did not have it easy: fellow Spaniard Alex Rins got within six thousandths of the time of Viñales, setting the 2nd best time on Wednesday. Luis Salom completed a Spanish and KTM clean sweep, the Red Bull KTM man three tenths behind Viñales.
The three Spaniards were clearly faster than the rest, Jonas Folger the best of the chasing group, getting within a second of the JHK T-Shirt LaGlisse rider on his Mapfre Aspar Kalex KTM. The Mahindras continued to perform well, Miguel Oliveira setting the 5th best time, ahead of a surprisingly strong Juan Guevara, the Technomag CIP rookie grabbing 6th spot on the TSR Honda.
The weather cooperated in the afternoon at least. The sun finally burned off the last remnants of fog in the bottom section of the track some time after noon, allowing everyone to set a competitive time. The rain looks set to return on Thursday, threatening to bring the three-day test to a premature end.
Times from day 2:
The FIM today announced that Franco Uncini has been appointed as FIM Grand Prix Safety Officer, replacing Claude Danis, who retired from the post at the end of last year. Uncini, the 1982 500cc World Champion with Suzuki, has long been working in the paddock as the riders' representative on matters of safety, advising both riders and Dorna in the Safety Commission. Uncini was already a member of Race Direction, the body charged with overseeing that Grand Prix race weekends proceed according to the rulebook.
The official FIM press release announcing Uncini's appointment appears below:
Franco Uncini appointed FIM Grand Prix Safety Officer
Following the retirement of Mr Claude Danis, the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) has appointed Mr Franco Uncini FIM Grand Prix Safety Officer and circuit inspector. Claude Danis was a member of the FIM Road Racing Commission (CCR) from 1991 and Chairman of the CCR from 1993 to 2010. From 1999 onwards, he was also FIM Representative in the Grand Prix Race Direction. The FIM warmly thanks Mr Danis for his long career at the FIM and for playing an active part in the huge improvements made in recent years with regard to safety, a paramount aspect of our sport.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after a (rather fruitless) first day of testing at a wet and windy Jerez:
At a wet, windy and miserable Jerez, the Moto3 riders had their second opportunity to prepare for the 2013 season. On Tuesday, their time on the track was most spent on working a wet set up, rather than pushing the development of their Moto3 machines.
The conditions saw a reversal of the dry weather tests at Valencia last week, in many different respects. At Valencia, Spanish riders on KTMs had dominated; in the wet at Jerez, English-speaking riders on Honda-powered bikes took charge. Top of the pile was Ambrogio Racing's Danny Webb, who led from the start, and then put on a late charge in the afternoon on his Suter Honda, heading up his teammate, the South African Brad Binder. Australian Jack Miller took 3rd spot, riding an FTR Honda for Caretta Technology RTG. Zulfahmi Khairuddin was the first non-English speaker, and first KTM, the AirAsia rider finishing ahead of Luis Salom, Jonas Folger and Maverick Viñales, the three men who had led for much of the Valencia test.
In difficult conditions, several riders crashed, chief among them the rookies. Livio Loi, Florian Alt, Francesco Bagnaia, Philipp Oettl and Matteo Ferrari all took a trip to the gravel trap, though there are no reports of serious injury.
Testing continues tomorrow and Thursday, with hope that the conditions will improve before the teams pack up on Thursday evening.
Analyzing the Valencia Moto3 Preseason Test: The Threat of a Spanish Fairy Tale, The New Engine Manufacturer, And Real Hopes for a Shy Girl
A new Moto3 season is about to start and, even if it is obviously too soon to talk about favourite contenders for the final crown, watching the fastest riders on the track and examining lap times can give an idea of how 2013 may play out in the smallest class. After three days of testing at the Ricardo Tormo racetrack -with nicer weather everyday- it is clear that KTM is a step ahead again. But lap times are not everything and these test sessions brought some other interesting facts. Preseason is always a time for hopes, wishes and nice words, as you can conclude from the quotes of riders and teams. Spanish riders have finished as the three fastest on lap times, but we cannot forget, as many of the Spanish sports newspapers do –fortunately not the motorcycle magazines-, Valencia is a home track for them, and things may turn out quite differently at a track outside of Spain. As experience has proved in the past, the start of a season may be quite different to its end.
As many expected, Maverick Viñales looks like being the strongest rider for the upcoming season. The Spaniard was the fastest rider in almost every session and his compatriots Alex Rins and Luis Salom followed him in the final standings. However, does this mean the season will be doomed to be a Spanish fairytale? Of course, it won't be necessarily that way. There are some other quick riders, such as German Jonas Folger, new Aussie hero Jack Miller, last season's biggest Italian surprise Romano Fenati or Great Britain's youngest hope John McPhee. If we talk about technical surprises, the newborn Mahindra-Suter project has showed a great potential on its first serious outing.
Press releases from some of the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the three-day test at Valencia: