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Casey Stoner: I Miss Racing, But Not Enough To Return

Casey Stoner will not be returning to MotoGP any time soon. In an interview with the Italian magazine Vogue, Stoner said that he wanted to spend more time with his family, and experience life outside the paddock.

There have been a constant stream of rumors that Stoner could return to MotoGP almost since the day the Australian hung up his helmet. They have grown in intensity at several points in time, most notably when Honda announced that Stoner would be working for HRC as a test rider in 2013. HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto has made no secret that Honda would welcome the prodigal Australian back with open arms, and credible sources in Spain have reported that much work has been done to make a comeback possible, and to try to persuade Stoner to make a return.

News that Stoner was to attend the Austin round of MotoGP reignited a firestorm of further speculation that he could stage a comeback at some point in the future. That speculation was tempered by the fact that Stoner spent most of the weekend in Seattle, where he watched his friend Ryan Villopoto try to wrap up the 2014 Supercross title. Stoner made it to Austin on Sunday, where he paid a very low-key visit to MotoGP*, catching up with his former teammates.

If Stoner's brief trip to MotoGP was not enough to quash speculation on his return, an interview with the Italian edition of Vogue puts it beyond any doubt. Stoner made it very clear his priorities lay elsewhere. He wanted to spend more time with his family and experience life outside the paddock, he told the magazine. 'I miss some things, some sensations I felt when I was racing, but they're not enough to make me want to come back,' he said to Vogue. Among the things he missed were his team of mechanics, who followed him from Ducati to Honda. They were like his family to him, Stoner told Vogue.

If Stoner were to return, it might be in some form of managerial capacity, or helping young riders. Stoner has always pointed to the difficulties young Australian riders face when trying to break through internationally. The bodies governing Australian motorcycle racing were more of an obstacle than a help, Stoner said. He himself had been forced to leave Australia to pursue his career, moving to the UK to race where the legal age to start roadracing was 14. Stoner's point is borne out by Jack Miller: the current leader in the Moto3 standings also left Australia at a young age, and spent most of his youth racing in Spain and Germany, before entering Moto3.

* One thing Casey Stoner did while visiting Austin was sign some of Scott Jones' fabulous prints of the Australian riding. For more details on how to obtain signed prints, see Scott's website.

Casey Stoner will not be returning to MotoGP any time soon. In an interview with the Italian magazine Vogue, Stoner said that he wanted to spend more time with his family, and experience life outside the paddock.There have been a constant stream of rumors that Stoner could return to MotoGP almost since the day the Australian hung up his helmet. They have grown in intensity at several points in time, most notably when Honda announced that Stoner would be working for HRC as a test rider in 2013. HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto has made no secret that Honda would welcome the prodigal Australian back with open arms, and credible sources in Spain have reported that much work has been done to make a comeback possible, and to try to persuade Stoner to make a return.News that Stoner was to attend the Austin round of MotoGP reignited a firestorm of further speculation that he could stage a comeback at some point in the future. That speculation was tempered by the fact that Stoner spent most of the weekend in Seattle, where he watched his friend Ryan Villopoto try to wrap up the 2014 Supercross title. Stoner made it to Austin on Sunday, where he paid a very low-key visit to MotoGP*, catching up with his former teammates.

Kevin Schwantz Tests Suzuki MotoGP Bike, Randy De Puniet Matches Pace Of Open Bikes

Suzuki's MotoGP test team took advantage of the presence of the MotoGP paddock at Austin to plan a test directly after the Grand Prix of the Americas. Under the watchful eye of team manager Davide Brivio, the team planned to have test rider Randy De Puniet put in three days of testing at a circuit the team had not yet tested the bike at, in a bid to gather more data ahead of their return to the series in 2015.

Unfortunately for Suzuki, very heavy hail and thunderstorms made testing extremely difficult on Monday, leaving the track very dirty and much slower than it had been for Sunday's race. But testing resumed in earnest on Tuesday, with Randy De Puniet running through testing electronics and another back-to-back test of the two chassis options Suzuki has been working on. De Puniet racked up a total of 56 laps on Tuesday, eventually putting in a lap of 2'06.41. That is roughly on pace with the Open class Honda RCV1000R machines, though De Puniet faced much worse track conditions than the Open class machines due to the aftermath of the weather.

Also present at the test was Kevin Schwantz, the legendary American rider putting in 11 laps on the bike. Schwantz' best time was a 2'12.75, some way off the pace, but a respectable enough time for a fifty-year-old with only a few laps to get up to speed. Schwantz was also riding the Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000, preparing for the Suzuka 8 Hour race in July.

In a separate press release, Suzuki also issued a video containing questions put to Davide Brivio over the team's test schedule. The video has been overtaken by events, however, as the video was shot at the Sepang tests, before the last-minute rule changes which saw factories which did not win a race in 2013 handed extra concessions. 

Testing concludes on Wednesday. Below is the press release issued after testing on Tuesday:


SCHWANTZ JOINS SUZUKI MOTOGP AT AUSTIN TEST

Team Suzuki Press Office – April 16.

Suzuki’s former World 500cc GP Champion Kevin Schwantz joined the Suzuki MotoGP Test Team for its test at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas this week.

The 1993 World Champion, who last raced a MotoGP machine in 2006, completed 11 laps of the 5,513m circuit with a best lap-time of 2’12.75.

Schwantz, who also tested the Yoshimura Suzuki Superbike team’s GSX-R1000s, said: “I went on the MotoGP machine after riding the GSX-R1000 Superbike and it felt like going from a 500cc to a 250cc bike; the MotoGP machine is so small and compact! The bike turns, accelerates, goes fast; it does everything and I had fun and really enjoyed it.

“With this bike you have power and braking so you brake and accelerate and the bike does all the rest. I think Suzuki should race now - the sooner the better! You can test a lot but in the race you really understand.

“After having ridden the MotoGP machine, I now appreciate much-more the GSX-R and I want to continue to work on that now to prepare for my race at Suzuka in July. So tomorrow I will only ride the GSX-R.”

With track and air temperatures much cooler than the weekend’s MotoGP second round – and with Monday’s opening day hit by heavy rain and dirty track conditions – Suzuki MotoGP Test rider Randy De Puniet completed 56 laps with a best lap-time of 2’06.41. The team spent a lot of time in the morning session testing new chassis settings and also adjusting the gearbox for the team’s first test on this new-for-them circuit.

Said De Puniet: “This was a new track for Suzuki but also I have not ridden the bike since February. We spend some time changing the settings and the gearbox ratios, then we continued to compare two different frames and we found again that the best one here was the one we choose in Sepang. And we confirmed it again that this is more-stable in the corner entry. In the afternoon we tested different electronic maps.

It has been not bad as first day here and I’m confident we can improve tomorrow. Hopefully the track will be cleaner.”

Suzuki MotoGP Test Team Manager Davide Brivio said: “A positive day on a completely new circuit for us. One of the main targets is to continue the development of the new electronics and also to collect useful information on this track for next year when we will be racing.

“We have done that today but also we could work on bike settings and chassis comparison. The lap-time is not bad for the first day and we are looking forward to improving tomorrow hoping that the temperature can go up a bit and the track will be cleaner.

“It was also very emotional to have Kevin Schwantz - everybody’s hero - riding our bike here. He was quite fast considering the conditions, so we’d like to thank Kevin for this gift!”


Davide Brivio's testing progress report:

Suzuki's MotoGP test team took advantage of the presence of the MotoGP paddock at Austin to plan a test directly after the Grand Prix of the Americas. Under the watchful eye of team manager Davide Brivio, the team planned to have test rider Randy De Puniet put in three days of testing at a circuit the team had not yet tested the bike at, in a bid to gather more data ahead of their return to the series in 2015.Unfortunately for Suzuki, very heavy hail and thunderstorms made testing extremely difficult on Monday, leaving the track very dirty and much slower than it had been for Sunday's race. But testing resumed in earnest on Tuesday, with Randy De Puniet running through testing electronics and another back-to-back test of the two chassis options Suzuki has been working on. De Puniet racked up a total of 56 laps on Tuesday, eventually putting in a lap of 2'06.41. That is roughly on pace with the Open class Honda RCV1000R machines, though De Puniet faced much worse track conditions than the Open class machines due to the aftermath of the weather.

MSMA Agree To Freeze Electronic Development Ahead Of 2016 Switchover

With the MotoGP series due to switch over to standard software for the spec Magneti Marelli ECU in 2016, there comes a point at which it makes no sense for the factories to continue developing their own electronics. There is, after all, little point in spending money on software which will be discarded all the way to the last race of 2015, especially as the factories will need to start work on the shared electronics package for 2016 and beyond.

GPOne.com is reporting that the factories have finally agreed a date for an electronics freeze to commence. From the 2015 Assen round of MotoGP, all development of factory software will be frozen, Ducati, Honda and Yamaha racing the rest of the 2015 season with the software they have developed up until that point. Ducati had initially opposed the software freeze, GPOne.com reports, but finally settled for the Assen date.

From that point on, the factories in the MSMA will concentrate their attention on the collaborative effort to develop the standard software to be used by all of the MotoGP bikes from 2016 onwards. Development is to be done via a common portal under the control of Dorna, with all of the factories contributing functionality and code for everyone to review and use.

The one detail missing from the electronics freeze is how that will be enforced, as GPOne.com points out. It is hard to see how a development freeze is to be enforced without each of the factories handing over their software to Dorna, but that seems like an inconceivable option for the factories.

With the MotoGP series due to switch over to standard software for the spec Magneti Marelli ECU in 2016, there comes a point at which it makes no sense for the factories to continue developing their own electronics. There is, after all, little point in spending money on software which will be discarded all the way to the last race of 2015, especially as the factories will need to start work on the shared electronics package for 2016 and beyond.GPOne.com is reporting that the factories have finally agreed a date for an electronics freeze to commence. From the 2015 Assen round of MotoGP, all development of factory software will be frozen, Ducati, Honda and Yamaha racing the rest of the 2015 season with the software they have developed up until that point. Ducati had initially opposed the software freeze, GPOne.com reports, but finally settled for the Assen date.

Scott Jones In Austin - Visions Of Texas, Part 2


The Ducati's getting closer. Could Dovizioso win a race this year?


Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?


Everything's bigger in Texas. Even the kerbs.


Body language


Up one week, down the next. There is still work to be done for Alvaro Bautista


Taking no prisoners


Bowing out


Let's roll


Stefan Bradl stepped it up a notch in Texas


Maniac Joe is finding his feet. So you better beware


Factory life is tough, but Crutchlow's adapting


Rabat, ready to rock


Fastest proddie Honda. Redding is impressing on his debut


Red McComb looked at a sketch of the tower on paper, and knew COTA had to have it


Bradley Smith. Taking care of business in Texas


If you'd like to have desktop-sized versions of Scott's fantastic photos, you can become a site supporter and take out a subscription. If you'd like a print of one of the shots you see on the site, then send Scott an email and he'll be happy to help.

The Ducati's getting closer. Could Dovizioso win a race this year? Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Everything's bigger in Texas. Even the kerbs.

Scott Jones In Austin - Visions Of Texas, Part 1


Goodbye, and thanks for everything


Sideways. Just because


Anything he can do, I can do better


In the eye of the storm


Benvenuto a Texas, Mattia!


Second race, and fastest production Honda. Not bad for a new boy, Scott Redding


Seamless gearbox inside


The Ducati train


Wayne Rainey, living legend


Rossi's boys. Romano Fenati on the Team Sky VR46 KTM


One fast German


Not as fast here as at Qatar, but Aleix Espargaro didn't test here beforehand


Dreaming of pneumatic valves


Americans. MotoGP and World Superbikes need more of them


Mnemonic: #68 is 2013, #29 is 2014


If you'd like to have desktop-sized versions of Scott's fantastic photos, you can become a site supporter and take out a subscription. If you'd like a print of one of the shots you see on the site, then send Scott an email and he'll be happy to help.

Goodbye, and thanks for everything Sideways. Just because Anything he can do, I can do better

Russian World Superbike Round Canceled Due To Political Situation Surrounding Ukraine

The Russian round of World Superbikes, due to be held at Moscow Raceway on 21st September, has been canceled. Citing the political iinstability caused by the situation in Ukraine, Dorna announced that the round would be canceled for this year, though the intention is to continue to run the race next year and for the rest of the contract. The situation surrounding Ukraine and the Crimea has made it impossible for several companies involved in organizing the Russian race to guarantee they can be ready in time for the race in September.

The press release issued by Dorna appears below:


WSBK Russian Round cancellation

Barcelona (Spain), Saturday 12 April 2014 - DWO and YMS Promotion have decided to cancel the WSBK Russian Round which was scheduled to be held at Moscow Raceway on September 21st 2014.

The current political situation affects the capabilities of a number of key partner companies essential to run the event.

Parties regret the decision, but are confident that the strong partnership between DWO and YMS Promotion will prevail.

It is a common intention to continue with the organisation of the WSBK Russian Round in 2015 and for the remainder of the contract period up to 2021.

The Russian round of World Superbikes, due to be held at Moscow Raceway on 21st September, has been canceled. Citing the political iinstability caused by the situation in Ukraine, Dorna announced that the round would be canceled for this year, though the intention is to continue to run the race next year and for the rest of the contract. The situation surrounding Ukraine and the Crimea has made it impossible for several companies involved in organizing the Russian race to guarantee they can be ready in time for the race in September.The press release issued by Dorna appears below:WSBK Russian Round cancellationBarcelona (Spain), Saturday 12 April 2014 - DWO and YMS Promotion have decided to cancel the WSBK Russian Round which was scheduled to be held at Moscow Raceway on September 21st 2014.The current political situation affects the capabilities of a number of key partner companies essential to run the event.Parties regret the decision, but are confident that the strong partnership between DWO and YMS Promotion will prevail.It is a common intention to continue with the organisation of the WSBK Russian Round in 2015 and for the remainder of the contract period up to 2021.

Riders Unhappy With Return Of 2013 Bridgestone At Austin

Bridgestone's decision to bring the 2013-spec medium compound rear tire to the Austin round of MotoGP has met with near universal displeasure among the MotoGP riders. The Japanese tire company was forced to revert to the 2013-spec tire, without the added heat-resistant layer, after a production issue with the 2014 tires meant that they were unable to bring enough of the new spec tires to the Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin.

That decision was cause for much disappointment among MotoGP riders. 'I'm not happy to use the old tire,' Valentino Rossi told the press conference. 'I don't like it. I want to use the new one, and what Bridgestone did this weekend, bring the old tire after we worked a lot on the bike to make it use the new tire, this is something that sincerely I don't understand.'

Reigning world champion Marc Marquez concurred with Rossi. 'I don't agree with it,' Marquez said. 'I don't understand, honestly. Some riders complained. Not many, but some, and now here we will have the 2013 [tire],' Marquez said. It was unlikely to be too much of a problem for the Honda, though, he added. 'We raced the hard tire in Qatar, and here it looks like it will be warm, so we will try to manage.' The hard tire had worked well at Austin last year, giving Marquez hope he would be able to use the harder rubber.

Jorge Lorenzo rejected suggestions that the switch to the 2013 tire was related to the bitter complaints the Spaniard had aimed at the new, 2014 tire at Qatar. The decision had not been made by the company he worked for, Lorenzo said. 'I will race the tire we have,' Lorenzo said. 'I have to work with whatever Bridgestone bring.'

Bradley Smith was the most outspoken of the riders with his criticism of the move. Using the 2013 tires would help clarify the situation for Bridgestone, Smith said, giving the tire manufacturer and the teams a better look at the old tire. 'The new 2014 tires are much better, especially in race conditions,' Smith said. 'So I think this will shut up some riders from whingeing.'

Smith later explained his veiled barb at Jorge Lorenzo, the only rider to have been so vocal in his rejection of the tires. While Lorenzo had put off working with the new generation tires, Smith had started adapting to the 2014 tires as soon as possible.

The reasons the 2014 tires, which lack the edge grip of the previous year's rubber, don't work for Lorenzo's style were self-evident, Smith explained. 'He [Lorenzo] relies on corner speed, relies on angle, relies on the Yamaha to ride with his style. He's perfected his style, and I can understand his frustration, because in the final six races last year, he finally figured out how to make the bike go faster than the Honda. Then you start the season and you find out your style no longer works.'

Smith was sympathetic of Lorenzo's plight. 'I rode for all of last year knowing my style didn't work. It killed me that it didn't, but I had to modify it.' The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider explained where his style diverged from Lorenzo's. 'I ride differently. I don't commit to the corner as early as he does, I don't carry the angle that he does for half of the time, and when I touch the throttle I pick up the bike a few degrees more than him, rather than keeping it on the angle. All those small details are where he's suffering,' Smith explained.

Testing had helped him adapt to the new medium rear, Smith said. 'I've figured out how to work [the new tire]. I did two extra days in Malaysia on those tires, where they decided, 'OK, we're just going to run the old tires, because that's what we're going to do.' I threw mine away, and said, OK, give me all the new ones and let me try to figure it out. It meant that I rode two seconds slower than they did, but I had two days more there. I also got the three days in Qatar that they didn't have, because when they rode in Phillip Island, they didn't test anything really on those tires, they had other tires. So I've had five days more experience on those tires than they have.'

That experience had ultimately benefited Yamaha's factory team, however. 'They were looking a lot into my settings, they looked a lot into tire temperatures and everything I was gaining because I have more information,' Smith said. 'I think that's what also helped a little bit towards Valentino's good performance in the race. But it's swings and roundabouts as well, I had their data to work with last year in many situations. I'm just happy that maybe for once, I've helped the factory team.'

Bridgestone's decision to bring the 2013-spec medium compound rear tire to the Austin round of MotoGP has met with near universal displeasure among the MotoGP riders. The Japanese tire company was forced to revert to the 2013-spec tire, without the added heat-resistant layer, after a production issue with the 2014 tires meant that they were unable to bring enough of the new spec tires to the Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin.That decision was cause for much disappointment among MotoGP riders. 'I'm not happy to use the old tire,' Valentino Rossi told the press conference. 'I don't like it. I want to use the new one, and what Bridgestone did this weekend, bring the old tire after we worked a lot on the bike to make it use the new tire, this is something that sincerely I don't understand.'

Colin Edwards Announces His Retirement: 2014 To Be His Last Season Racing

Colin Edwards has announced that he is to retire from motorcycle racing at the end of the 2014 season. The 40-year-old Texan told a shocked press conference that he had decided to hang up his helmet for good, after finding it increasingly harder to be competitive, and struggling to make the family sacrifices with children growing up.

Edwards seemed uncharacteristically at a loss for words as he made his announcement. The Texan has always been outspoken, and never afraid to speak his mind, yet this announcement was hard. 'I don't even know how to say it, I rehearsed it so many times,' Edwards hesitated. '2014 will be my last year racing motorcycles.' It was a tough decision to make, he said. He has been racing in Europe since 1995, and been away from his family an awful lot. With his kids reaching the age where they are becoming much more active, Edwards hinted that it was getting hard to keep missing big moments in their lives.

The biggest factor was his struggle to be competitive, however. After a difficult year on the Suter-BMW, then a slightly better year on the FTR Kawasaki, Edwards had high hopes for 2014. The return to a Yamaha M1-powered bike meant he would no longer have to fight a lack of horsepower, but Edwards could never really get to grips with the Yamaha M1 chassis. 'Preseason was a little tough, testing was a little tough. I wasn't really getting the results that I wanted, and I realized I had to really change my body, my style. 'Trying to do that was…I was like man I don’t know if I can do this,' he told the press conference.

The Texan had been thinking about retirement for a while - though he laughed off question from a French reporter, who he had told he would keep racing for a while just last week. 'If I'd have told you, you would have told everyone,' he joked. 'My wife hadn't asked me [about retiring] for a couple months, we had talked a little bit about it, and then finally last week she's like 'are you going to retire on Thursday?' and I said 'yes' and she said 'shit, I didn't want to ask!' because…my whole life has been racing motorcycles,' Edwards said.

Asked about the best memories of his career, Edwards immediately pointed to his 2002 World Superbike title, which he clinched in one of the most thrilling races of recent years. The battle came down to the final race at Imola, where he beat Troy Bayliss in dramatic fashion to take the race win and the title. Edwards also highlighted his wins at the Suzuka 8 Hour races in 2000 and 2001.

Colin Edwards started his professional racing career in 1992, racing a 250. For the following two years, Edwards raced for the factory Yamaha team in the AMA Superbike series. In 1995, he switched to World Superbikes with Yamaha, but did not make the impact he hoped. He switched to Honda for 1998 after sitting out most of the 1997 series with injury. Edwards scored his biggest successes with Honda, first on the four-cylinder RC45, then on the V-twin RC51, clinching the title in 2000 and 2002. He switched to MotoGP in 2003, racing the vicious Aprilia RS3 Cube, then jumping ship to ride a Honda in 2004. In 2005, he joined Valentino Rossi at the factory Yamaha squad, having his best season with the factory in 2006, where he came within a corner of winning the Dutch TT at Assen. Edwards remained in the factory team for 2007, before switching to Tech 3 in 2008 to make way for Jorge Lorenzo. Edwards stayed with Tech 3 until the end of 2011. For 2012, he switched to the Forward Racing team, where he has remained ever since.

The loss of Colin Edwards is a double blow for MotoGP. Edwards is one of just three American riders in the Grand Prix paddock, along with Nicky Hayden and Josh Herrin, meaning there will be fewer US riders on the grid next year. Most of all, though, Edwards' personality will be missed. Quick-witted, and with a colorful (if often unprintable) turn of phrase, Colin Edwards was one of the old school of riders who are not afraid to speak their minds. Edwards spoke freely, and without concern for his sponsors or his employers. His openness and lively turn of phrase made him massively popular with fans and press alike, his popularity more than compensating for the fact that he refused to toe the corporate line. 

Edwards will be sorely missed. We can only hope that other young riders will cultivate character and personality over corporate and sponsorship demands. Motorcycle racing is a highly individual sport, where much revolves around the personality of the rider. Without personalities, the popularity of the sport suffers massively.

 

Colin Edwards has announced that he is to retire from motorcycle racing at the end of the 2014 season. The 40-year-old Texan told a shocked press conference that he had decided to hang up his helmet for good, after finding it increasingly harder to be competitive, and struggling to make the family sacrifices with children growing up.Edwards seemed uncharacteristically at a loss for words as he made his announcement. The Texan has always been outspoken, and never afraid to speak his mind, yet this announcement was hard. 'I don't even know how to say it, I rehearsed it so many times,' Edwards hesitated. '2014 will be my last year racing motorcycles.' It was a tough decision to make, he said. He has been racing in Europe since 1995, and been away from his family an awful lot. With his kids reaching the age where they are becoming much more active, Edwards hinted that it was getting hard to keep missing big moments in their lives.

Red Bull To Leave F1 And Buy MotoGP Series - Dorna Ousted As Bridgepoint Cashes Out

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As many of you will have spotted, this was in fact an April Fool's story. Though Red Bull owner Dieter Mateschitz has made vague threats to pull out of F1 over the new rules, as quoted in the Kurier story, there are no signs that Red Bull is looking to expand its presence inside MotoGP, beyond expanding the number of riders it backs. Red Bull's strategy continues to be to back individual athletes in motorcycle racing, as fans tend to follow riders rather than teams. However, that Bridgepoint will at some point sell its remaining stake in Dorna is a certainty. The question is, who they will sell it to, and at what price. Private equity firms are always seeking large returns on medium-term investments. Bridgepoint have owned Dorna now for 7 years, and so a sale is likely in the next two or three years. In the meantime, both the MotoGP and World Superbike series must be made as profitable as possible, which means cutting costs and raising revenues. The shift to pay-per-view broadcasting deals is possibly one strand of that strategy. Arguably, if Red Bull were to produce content and stream it free over the internet, it could help to grow the sport enormously, especially outside of the established markets. That is one area where Dorna's twin strategies - striking deals with PPV broadcasters, and expanding its online video offering - collide and conflict. Free, and freely shareable online content will remain a difficult subject for Dorna, unfortunately.

Now that April Fool's Day is over, we will once again focus on trying to ensure that all of the stories on the website are as accurate as possible. Normal service has now been resumed... 

Red Bull are poised to make two dramatic announcements over the next two weekends, MotoMatters.com can exclusively reveal. At next weekend's Bahrain F1 race, the Austrian energy drink firm will announce its withdrawal from the premier four-wheeled racing series at the end of 2014. A week later, at the Austin MotoGP round for which it is the title sponsor, Red Bull is to announce that it is to purchase Bridgepoint Capital's remaining stake in MotoGP, and take over the running of the series.

Sources in the private finance industry with knowledge of the situation say that Bridgepoint has been looking to rid itself of its motorcycle racing business for some time. The private equity firm had acquired 71% of Dorna in 2006, at the peak of MotoGP's popularity, reputedly for GBP400 million. Since then, they have seen the value of their investment drop, and have been looking to get their money back from the deal ever since. The sale of a 39% stake in Dorna to the Canadian Pension Plan Investment board was the first step in recouping their investment. That deal was rumored to be worth 400 million euros, or just over 70% of their initial outlay. Sources with knowledge of the situation say that Red Bull is to acquire the remaining 32% of Dorna for around 300 million euros, but with full control over the series.

That was a condition for Dieter Mateschitz, the Austrian billionaire owner of the energy drink giant, to pull his investment from F1 and take over control of world championship motorcycle racing. Mateschitz had been unhappy with the direction F1 had been taking for some time now, and the debacle at the opening race of the year had prompted the Austrian to drop the first hints that he would withdraw from the series entirely. Speaking to the Austrian newspaper Kurier, Mateschitz had said 'The point of F1 is neither to set new records for fuel economy, nor to allow people to have whispered conversations during a race.' He suggested that there were better ways to get a return on investment. 'GP2 partially provides more racing and fighting and almost equal lap times as F1 with a small fraction of the budget.'

But mention of the open wheel support series to F1 was merely subterfuge, MotoMatters.com has exclusively learned. For a sum equivalent to a little more than the annual budget of the Red Bull F1 team, Mateschitz is able to obtain not just a team, but an entire race series. What is more, MotoGP is a better fit for Red Bull's target audience than F1, fans being generally younger and more open to new experiences than the older, more staid F1 audience. Though Red Bull had refrained from sponsoring a team directly, the energy firm had been slowly extending its reach in motorcycle racing, backing more and more riders, as well as three MotoGP rounds.

Mateschitz had reportedly been displeased at the way in which rival Monster had been expanding in to MotoGP more and more aggressively, snatching top riders away from under their noses. By buying both the MotoGP and World Superbike series outright, Red Bull controls the series completely. Though existing energy drink sponsorship deals will be allowed to stand, all bikes and riders will be obliged to carry the Red Bull logo on both leathers and fairings. The deal hits Yamaha most heavily, with Monster sponsoring both the factory team and Tech 3 satellite squad. Tech 3 is to be renamed 'Red Bull Tech 3 Monster',  a further blow to the US-based energy drink firm. 

The Red Bull takeover will also have far-reaching consequences inside of Dorna. With the F1 team to be disbanded, senior personnel are to be given key positions overseeing both the MotoGP and World Superbike series. The biggest change is the most controversial: Carmelo Ezpeleta, who has run MotoGP since 1992, when Dorna first acquired the sport through the former Banesto bank, is to be removed from MotoGP and sent to run the World Superbike series. In Ezpeleta's place, Mateschitz is to put F1 team principal Christian Horner, MotoMatters.com has learned. Though Horner has no experience of running a race series, the young Englishman is known to be a great organizational talent and extremely ambitious.

There will be major technical changes as well. Red Bull designer Adrian Newey is to take charge of the technical side of the series. The manufacturers are to be encouraged to focus on World Superbikes, one of the reasons Ezpeleta is to be placed in charge there, as Ezpeleta has long experience of managing the relationship with the factories. Newey is to focus on managing a new set of technical regulations, based around a tightly-controlled engine specification. MotoMatters.com understands that the bikes are to be powered by normally aspirated 1400cc four-stroke triples, to be housed in prototype chassis using spec electronics. Newey's long experience in F1 and with the engineering firms based in the UK's 'F1 corridor' is hoped to bring fresh blood into the series, managing costs while still presenting significant engineering challenges to frame builders wishing to get involved.

The sale could be good news for MotoGP fans around the world who currently have no access to the sport. MotoGP would be a keystone of Red Bull's promotional platform, featuring heavily on the Red Bull TV channel. Vast amounts of content would be released online, making it freely available to everyone with an internet connection. With fears that the many TV deals done with pay-per-view broadcasters could see the popularity of the sport take a nosedive, having a large amount of content freely available - and in easily sharable format, with strong Red Bull branding - should increase the profile of the sport.

Red Bull's acquisition of Dorna is the logical extension of the ever-greater reliance of motorcycle racing on energy drink sponsorship. Mateschitz is believed to see owning and running the race series as the best way to circumvent any attempts to regulate promotion of the highly caffeinated sugary drinks. By creating an overwhelming association between motorcycle racing and Red Bull, the Austrian billionaire is hoping that if the advertising of energy drinks is limited, the promotion of MotoGP will trigger subconscious associations with Red Bull, and maintain sales among the key younger demographic. The fear for MotoGP fans must be that if Red Bull decides to sell its share in Dorna once again, there will be no more sponsors left to invest in the sport. Motorcycle racing never really learned the lesson of the years of tobacco sponsorship; the takeover of the sport by energy drinks puts it right back where it started.

As many of you will have spotted, this was in fact an April Fool's story. Though Red Bull owner Dieter Mateschitz has made vague threats to pull out of F1 over the new rules, as quoted in the Kurier story, there are no signs that Red Bull is looking to expand its presence inside MotoGP, beyond expanding the number of riders it backs. Red Bull's strategy continues to be to back individual athletes in motorcycle racing, as fans tend to follow riders rather than teams. However, that Bridgepoint will at some point sell its remaining stake in Dorna is a certainty. The question is, who they will sell it to, and at what price. Private equity firms are always seeking large returns on medium-term investments. Bridgepoint have owned Dorna now for 7 years, and so a sale is likely in the next two or three years. In the meantime, both the MotoGP and World Superbike series must be made as profitable as possible, which means cutting costs and raising revenues. The shift to pay-per-view broadcasting deals is possibly one strand of that strategy. Arguably, if Red Bull were to produce content and stream it free over the internet, it could help to grow the sport enormously, especially outside of the established markets. That is one area where Dorna's twin strategies - striking deals with PPV broadcasters, and expanding its online video offering - collide and conflict. Free, and freely shareable online content will remain a difficult subject for Dorna, unfortunately.Now that April Fool's Day is over, we will once again focus on trying to ensure that all of the stories on the website are as accurate as possible. Normal service has now been resumed... Red Bull are poised to make two dramatic announcements over the next two weekends, MotoMatters.com can exclusively reveal. At next weekend's Bahrain F1 race, the Austrian energy drink firm will announce its withdrawal from the premier four-wheeled racing series at the end of 2014. A week later, at the Austin MotoGP round for which it is the title sponsor, Red Bull is to announce that it is to purchase Bridgepoint Capital's remaining stake in MotoGP, and take over the running of the series.Sources in the private finance industry with knowledge of the situation say that Bridgepoint has been looking to rid itself of its motorcycle racing business for some time. The private equity firm had acquired 71% of Dorna in 2006, at the peak of MotoGP's popularity, reputedly for GBP400 million. Since then, they have seen the value of their investment drop, and have been looking to get their money back from the deal ever since. The sale of a 39% stake in Dorna to the Canadian Pension Plan Investment board was the first step in recouping their investment. That deal was rumored to be worth 400 million euros, or just over 70% of their initial outlay. Sources with knowledge of the situation say that Red Bull is to acquire the remaining 32% of Dorna for around 300 million euros, but with full control over the series.That was a condition for Dieter Mateschitz, the Austrian billionaire owner of the energy drink giant, to pull his investment from F1 and take over control of world championship motorcycle racing. Mateschitz had been unhappy with the direction F1 had been taking for some time now, and the debacle at the opening race of the year had prompted the Austrian to drop the first hints that he would withdraw from the series entirely. Speaking to the Austrian newspaper Kurier, Mateschitz had said 'The point of F1 is neither to set new records for fuel economy, nor to allow people to have whispered conversations during a race.' He suggested that there were better ways to get a return on investment. 'GP2 partially provides more racing and fighting and almost equal lap times as F1 with a small fraction of the budget.'But mention of the open wheel support series to F1 was merely subterfuge, MotoMatters.com has exclusively learned. For a sum equivalent to a little more than the annual budget of the Red Bull F1 team, Mateschitz is able to obtain not just a team, but an entire race series. What is more, MotoGP is a better fit for Red Bull's target audience than F1, fans being generally younger and more open to new experiences than the older, more staid F1 audience. Though Red Bull had refrained from sponsoring a team directly, the energy firm had been slowly extending its reach in motorcycle racing, backing more and more riders, as well as three MotoGP rounds.

Bridgestone To Bring 2013-Spec Tires To Austin For MotoGP

Bridgestone is to bring its 2013-spec tires for the MotoGP race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Production delays meant that the Japanese tire manufacturer was unable to guarantee a full allocation of the 2014 spec medium rear tires with the heat-resistant treatment being supplied to all of the MotoGP riders. Research and inspection of data from 2013 showed that there would be no problem with the tires without the heat-resistant treatment, and so it was decided to supply everyone with the 2013-spec medium rear tires.

The alternative to this would be having two different specifications of the medium compound available to the riders in Austin. A Bridgestone spokesperson told MotoMatters.com, 'Bridgestone felt this was a better option than having riders end up with non-heat resistant and heat-resistant tyres in the same compound option at a race weekend.' The 2013 tires will only be used at Austin, however, resulting from a production issue. 'This is a one-off situation, the 2014 specification slicks will be offered at all other venues,' the spokesperson said.

The announcement will be welcome news to the Movistar Yamaha and Monster Tech 3 Yamaha teams. All four riders have struggled with the reduced edge grip produced by the heat-resistant layer in the 2014-spec tires, Jorge Lorenzo being perhaps the loudest critic of the change. It is no magic bullet, however: the Austin circuit proved to strongly favor the Honda riders in 2013, and though the addition of the seamless gearbox should level the playing field a little in Texas, the layout will likely still benefit Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, rather than Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.

Real progress may come at Le Mans, when Bridgestone will be bringing a modified medium rear for the MotoGP riders. That tire still uses the heat-resistant treatment to prevent problems with the tire under high temperatures and difficult conditions, but a modified process restores some of the edge grip. The same process was applied to the hard rear tires at the end of last year, and the change was given a positive reception, turning the hard rear tire into a viable race option at some tracks.

Bridgestone is to bring its 2013-spec tires for the MotoGP race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Production delays meant that the Japanese tire manufacturer was unable to guarantee a full allocation of the 2014 spec medium rear tires with the heat-resistant treatment being supplied to all of the MotoGP riders. Research and inspection of data from 2013 showed that there would be no problem with the tires without the heat-resistant treatment, and so it was decided to supply everyone with the 2013-spec medium rear tires.The alternative to this would be having two different specifications of the medium compound available to the riders in Austin. A Bridgestone spokesperson told MotoMatters.com, 'Bridgestone felt this was a better option than having riders end up with non-heat resistant and heat-resistant tyres in the same compound option at a race weekend.' The 2013 tires will only be used at Austin, however, resulting from a production issue. 'This is a one-off situation, the 2014 specification slicks will be offered at all other venues,' the spokesperson said.

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