The long-running dispute between Kevin Schwantz and the Circuit of the Americas has finally come to an end. Today, the circuit in Austin, Texas and the 1993 500cc World Champion announced that the two sides had reached an amicable settlement, and that Schwantz would act as motorcycle racing ambassador for COTA.
The split between Schwantz and the track emerged after Schwantz accused the then owner of the track, Steve Sexton, of agreeing a deal with Dorna to promote the race behind Schwantz' back, when Schwantz already had a 10-year contract to organize the Texas MotoGP round. Schwantz sued COTA to get the rights back from the circuit, and the circuit countersued for costs and fees. Schwantz had been involved in the circuit from its very inception, having acted as an advisor to Hermann Tilke, the German designer of the track. The Texan had worked tirelessly to bring the race to his native state, and when he fell out with circuit management, it was a blow both to Schwantz and to the circuit and the status of the race.
Schwantz was a prominent absentee at the first running of the Austin MotoGP round, despite having been instrumental in it coming about, and despite the presence of the Red Bull Rookies Cup, in which he also plays a prominent role. For 2014, Schwantz is to be the Grand Marshal for the race, and will help promote the event in the two weeks before the race happens.
Terms of the settlement were not agreed, but the changes appear to be part of a number of recent changes at the track, which have been undertaken to make both the facility and the events held there more attractive to the public and the locals. It also removes probably the biggest public relations problem facing both the track and the race. Having Schwantz on board and promoting the race is a major boost for all concerned.
The press release issued jointly by COTA and Kevin Schwantz appears below:
Kevin Schwantz joins Circuit of The Americas™ as motorcycle racing ambassador
AUSTIN, Texas (March 27, 2014) – Circuit of The Americas (COTA) and motorcycle racing legend Kevin Schwantz have amicably settled their legal differences and have reached a new agreement to collaboratively promote motorcycling racing at the Austin circuit and across the United States. Schwantz will serve as an official ambassador for COTA and work to promote the upcoming Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas MotoGP™ event set for April 11-13, 2014.
“Kevin is a great champion and partnering with him gives us an opportunity to learn from his deep knowledge, as well as continue to celebrate his accomplishments,” Circuit Chairman Bobby Epstein said. “Kevin and I have always shared the desire to see him be a part of COTA, and it's awesome to finally see it become a reality. A great American track and a great American champion in the same city can't be kept apart. As a result, casual riders, current racers, future stars and the fans all win.”
"I look forward to being the ambassador for two-wheel racing for COTA, especially as the 2014 MotoGP season begins and returns to Texas,” Schwantz said. “Grand prix motorcycle racing has been my life, and to help COTA market and promote that moving forward is exciting!"
As a COTA ambassador, Schwantz will play a prominent role in a variety of promotions for the upcoming Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas event in April, including media availabilities and fan activities. For example, Schwantz will serve as Grand Marshal for the MotoGP race on Sunday, April 13, and will lead the parade laps scheduled for COTA’s personal seat license holders on Friday, April 11, between grand prix practice sessions.
Additionally, COTA will work with Schwantz to raise money for an important charity he supports, the Simoncelli Foundation, which was established in memory of Schwantz’s good friend, Marco Simoncelli, a MotoGP competitor from Italy who will be inducted into the MotoGP Hall of Fame as a MotoGP Legend this May. Simoncelli died after an accident during the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix. Today through Friday, April 4, COTA will donate $1 for every ticket purchased for the Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas to the Simoncelli Foundation, a nonprofit organization supporting humanitarian projects that benefit the disadvantaged.
"I am thankful for COTA's support of the Simoncelli Foundation, a charity that's important to all of us who knew Marco personally and fans that followed his career," Schwantz added. “Marco was a great competitor and a very special friend. Now racing fans everywhere can honor his memory and help a cause important to Marco by purchasing a ticket to Austin’s MotoGP race."
Tickets for the Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas start at $39 and are available for purchase at http://circuitoftheamericas.com/motogp/. Children ages 12 and under receive free general admission with a ticketed adult.
Terms of the legal settlement between COTA and Kevin Schwantz were not disclosed.
About Kevin Schwantz
One of the most popular motorcycle racers of all time, 1993 500cc Grand Prix World Champion Kevin Schwantz is one of just 20 riders to have earned the status of MotoGP Legend.
Born to parents who ran a Texas motorcycle shop, Schwantz learned to ride at a very young age, and he soon began competing in observed-trials events, where he developed a fine sense of balance. Unsatisfied with the slow speeds in trials, he quickly moved on to hare scrambles, flat track and motocross racing, but following a bad crash at a 1983 supercross race in Houston he began road racing in the competitive WERA series.
Schwantz immediately earned a reputation for riding any motorcycle at the absolute limit, and in 1984 he caught the attention of journalist/racer John Ulrich, who arranged a test ride with Yoshimura Suzuki. That led to a spot on the team in the AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) national series the following year, and even an appearance in a Japanese race at Suzuka, where Schwantz finished second.
Schwantz continued in the AMA for the next two years, although Suzuki also sent him to Europe on several occasions for wildcard appearances in the 500cc Grand Prix World Championship. Upon winning the AMA’s season-opening Daytona 200 in 1988, Schwantz was promoted to Suzuki’s grand prix team full time.
The late 1980s and early 1990s are generally considered to be the Golden Era of grand prix road racing, in which Schwantz had epic battles with his arch-rival Wayne Rainey and other motorcycling heroes like Eddie Lawson, Wayne Gardner and Mick Doohan. Schwantz soon attracted a legion of enthusiastic fans who were inspired by his charismatic personality, his aggressive style aboard a bike that was often slower than those of the competition, and his propensity for spectacular crashes.
Between 1989 and 1992, Schwantz finished the season fourth, second, third and again fourth in the final standings, while Rainey collected a trio of crowns. Finally, Schwantz landed the 500cc World Championship in 1993. An injury-plagued title defense saw him finish fourth, and the Texan participated in the first three races of the 1995 season before announcing his retirement from grand prix racing, at which point his racing number, 34, was also retired from grand prix competition. This was the first time in the history of the sport that a rider had been so honored.
Currently seventh on the list of premier-class grand prix race winners, with 25 victories, Schwantz remains a favorite with the fans, many of whom have benefited from his riding instruction at the respected Schwantz School. He was named to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999 and the MotoGP Hall of Fame in 2000.
Still an active racer, Kevin entered the prestigious 2013 Suzuka 8 Hours with Yukio Kagayama and Noriyuki Haga, finishing on the podium. In June 2014, at the age of 50, Schwantz will return to the race with a special Yoshimura Suzuki “Legends Team” that will pair him with Satoshi Tsujimoto, with whom he finished on the podium in the 1986 Suzuka 8 Hours.
Kevin Schwantz Personal Information
- Birthdate: June 19, 1964
- Birthplace: Houston, Texas, USA
- Residence: Austin, Texas, USA
- Kevin Schwantz Racing Accomplishments
- First Grand Prix (500cc): 1986, Netherlands
- First pole position (500cc): 1989, Australia
- First fastest race lap (500cc): 1988, Japan
- First podium result (500cc): 1988, Japan
- First GP victory (500cc): 1988, Japan
- GP starts (500cc): 105
- GP victories (500cc): 25
- GP podiums (500cc): 51
- GP pole positions (500cc): 29
- GP fastest race laps (500cc): 26
- World Championships (500cc): 1 (1993)
- Last GP victory (500cc): 1994, Great Britain
- Last Grand Prix (500cc): 1995, Japan
- AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame - 1999
- MotoGP Hall of Fame - 2000
The Idemistu Honda Team Asia today issued a press release with a clarification on Takaaki Nakagami's disqualification after the Moto2 race at Losail. Nakagami's Kalex was found to be fitted with an illegal air filter during a technical inspection, as Race Director Mike Webb explained to the MotoGP.com website. Webb acknowledged that the error was entirely unintentional, and was a result of misinterpreting the technical rules.
Tady Okada, the former 500GP racer winner who now runs Idemitsu Team Asia, explained in the press release that they had failed to interpret the rules correctly. At the time the team took part in the first test, at the end of 2012, the foam air filter which is part of the HRC race kit was legal. The team fitted this part for testing, and continued to use the part throughout the 2013 season and the first race of 2014. However, for the 2013 season, the use of a standard paper filter was made compulsory, and the use of the foam filter was banned.
The team's use of the foam filter went undetected in 2013, as neither Yuki Takahashi nor the man brought in to replace him, Aslan Shah, managed to score any points. When Takaaki Nakagami got on the podium during his first outing of the season, his bike was subjected to an automatic inspection by the technical scrutineers. The use of the filter was spotted immediately, and an automatic disqualification followed, the rules leaving no room for interpretation. ' In technical issues it’s black and white, it either passes the test or it doesn’t, and it didn’t pass, it’s not within the specification so there is no choice. It’s disqualification,' Mike Webb told MotoGP.com.
The team accepted the disqualification, but in the press release, they say their confusion stems in part from the wording of the rules, and the diagrams used to explain them. The diagrams issued by IRTA, the team claims, come from the papers supplied with the HRC race kit. The team believed that this meant use of the HRC race kit and foam filter was therefore still legal.
The press release issued by Idemitsu Honda Team Asia is show below:
Usage of a non-regulation air intake system at the opening round in Qatar
To those concerned,
The opening round of the 2014 Moto2 World Championship was held in Qatar on March 23 in 2014.
The team, under new team structure, has started out a great start since the winter tests at Valencia and Jerez in Spain on February to set out a victory at the first Grand Prix in Qatar.
The team, which established last year, has earned a pleasing first ever Championship points and the second place. But after the race a technical control detected Nakagami’s bike the use of a non-regulation air intake system. Then the team has been handed Nakagami’s disqualification.
We sincerely apologize for this consequence for Sponsors, our supporter and fans.
The statement which has been pointed, the team conflict with the breach FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Regulations 188.8.131.52.10. (Airbox: Only the standard airbox supplied by the official Supplier (including air filter and secondary injectors) may be used. No modifications, alterations or additions to this airbox is allowed, expect as described in Art 184.108.40.206.11 below). The fact is the team has used a Race kit (a sponge type air filter) which is sold by Honda Racing Corporation instead of an air filter of the air filter of the production machine Honda CBR600RR.
The team acknowledged that the sponge type of air filter from HRC Race kit was allowed to use according to the information International Racing Team Association (See following page within the framework of red).
The team followed the decision of the Race Direction to obliged to use the standard airbox supplied.
However, this regulation and the information from IRTA are conflicting and difficult to comprehend. Therefore, the team will suggest to ITRA to provide teams an understandable information.
The whole team staff work will make concerned effort. We would appreciate for your continued support.
Information from IRTA and its ART
According to FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Regulations, the airbox supplied by IRTA which may be used (See Art.1 and Art.2 in the framework of red).
Art.1: Diagram of the HondaCBR600RR air cleaner box
Art.2: Race kit parts (Art.1 in the framework of red) IRTA use the diagram of HRC Race kit parts
- HRC air cleaner of the HRC Race kit parts is a sponge type.
- Supplied product according to the Race regulations is a paper type of Honda CBR600RR
Art.3: The parts (Air filter) which was pointed -> Same diagram with Art.2
Context of the misunderstanding of the team
Arise from a lack of regulations understanding
- The regulations define to obliged to use a paper type air cleaner box form 2013.
- The team continued to use the HRC Race kit since tests in the end of 2012, at the time of the inauguration of the team.
Lack of the information from IRTA
- Replaced to Race Kit seems to allow to use HRC Race kit and the team in fact used.
- The diagram which IRTA used (Diagram from HRC Race kit) caused to bring about the mess.
- There is no parts number indication.
Suggestion to IRTA from the team
- The team will suggest to IRTA to add to write about description within the framework in red that ONLY air funnel is allowed to replace and write about parts number.
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.Finding his feet: Cal Crutchlow is still adapting to the Ducati Setting his sights on the future: Alex Marquez ready to roll The Ducati Desmosedici GP14: A work in progress
Penalties Galore: Takaaki Nakagami Disqualified For Illegal Air Filter, Penalty Points For Cortese And Simeon
Race Direction were busy at Qatar. Penalties were handed out for one incident during Moto2 qualifying practice on Saturday and two incidents during the Moto2 race on Sunday. Sandro Cortese and Xavier Simeon were handed one penalty point a piece, while Takaaki Nakagami was disqualified for using an illegal air filter in his Idemitsu Honda Moto2 machine.
The disqualification of Nakagami was the most far-reaching of the punishments. During the standard technical inspection after the race, Takaaki Nakagami's Kalex Honda was found to be using an illegal air filter. Under Moto2 regulations, only the standard filter supplied with the spec Moto2 engine may be used. Though the error by Nakagami's crew was believed to have been an honest mistake, the rule book is very clear. The Idemitsu Honda team appealed against the penalty, but their appeal was rejected.
The disqualification is a major blow for the Japanese rider, robbing him of a 2nd place finish and 20 valuable points. His removal from the standings move all those behind him up a position, putting Mika Kallio into 2nd and Tom Luthi into 3rd. Given how tight the Moto2 championship is likely to be, the points lost by Nakagami and gained by Kallio and Luthi could well play a significant part in the outcome.
Belgian rider Xavier Simeon was awarded a penalty point for an incident earlier in the race. Simeon went down in a first-lap clash with Josh Herrin, Johann Zarco and Alex de Angelis, and pushed Herrin in an altercation while the two were standing in the gravel. Simeon was judged to have acted in a way prejudicial to the sport, and awarded a single penalty point.
Yesterday, Sandro Cortese was also handed a penalty point for slowing down on the racing line in the last minutes of qualifying. The incident caused a collision between Cortese and Jordi Torres, with both men falling. Cortese was judged to have been at fault, and punished with penalty points. Cortese came off worst from the incident anyway, breaking a bone in his ankle.Race Direction were busy at Qatar. Penalties were handed out for one incident during Moto2 qualifying practice on Saturday and two incidents during the Moto2 race on Sunday. Sandro Cortese and Xavier Simeon were handed one penalty point a piece, while Takaaki Nakagami was disqualified for using an illegal air filter in his Idemitsu Honda Moto2 machine.The disqualification of Nakagami was the most far-reaching of the punishments. During the standard technical inspection after the race, Takaaki Nakagami's Kalex Honda was found to be using an illegal air filter. Under Moto2 regulations, only the standard filter supplied with the spec Moto2 engine may be used. Though the error by Nakagami's crew was believed to have been an honest mistake, the rule book is very clear. The Idemitsu Honda team appealed against the penalty, but their appeal was rejected.
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.Night becomes day for Cal Crutchlow Meet the new boss. Aleix Espargaro has blown everyone away at Qatar Valentino Rossi's led-lit helmet looks great under the floodlights
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.Here's to a colorful 2014 Winning is one thing. Defending, though ... It takes plenty of cat-herding...
After a week of debate and discussion, the Grand Prix Commission has finally reached an agreement on the Factory 2 class. It took many hours of phone calls, and full agreement was not reached until late on Monday afternoon, but the agreement contains some significant changes to the long-term future of the MotoGP championship. The Factory 2 proposal has been adopted in a slightly modified guise, with any manufacturer entering in the Open class liable to lose fuel and soft tires should they win races. But the bigger news is that the full MotoGP class will switch to use the spec software and ECU from the 2016 season, a year earlier than expected.
The proposals adopted by the GPC now lays out a plan for MotoGP moving forward to 2016. In 2014 and 2015, there will be only two categories - Open and Factory Option - with the set of rules agreed at the end of last year. The new proposal sees manufacturers without a dry weather win in three years to compete as Factory Option entries, but with all of the advantages of the Open class - more fuel, more tires, no engine freeze and unlimited testing. However, should they start to achieve success, they will start to lose first fuel, and then the soft tires. If Ducati - for it is mainly Ducati to which these rules apply, as they are currently the only manufacturer who are eligible at the moment - score 1 win, 2 second place finishes or 3 third places during dry races, then all bikes entered by Ducati will have their fuel cut from 24 to 22 liters for each race. Should Ducati win 3 races in the dry, they will also lose use of the softer rear tires which the Open category entries can use. If Ducati were to lose the extra fuel or tires during 2014, they would also have to race under the same conditions in 2015.
The concession is similar to that made for Suzuki after the engine durability rules were first introduced. Suzuki was struggling to last a season with just the 6 engines allowed at the time (now reduced to 5). As Suzuki had not won a dry race for several years, an exception was made for any manufacturer who had remained winless to use more engines. This is that principle, applied in reverse. Ducati is allowed to effectively run under Open category rules, to allow them to develop their engines, but once they catch up, they will be subject to an extra limitation, first of fuel, then of tires. The loss of fuel and tires will be applied and judged per manufacturer. In other words, if Andrea Dovizioso, Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Iannone achieve the 2 second places or 3 thirds between them, then they will all be subject to restrictions.
With Ducati now back as a Factory Option entry (but with the advantages of the Open category) they are once again free to use their own software, but with the extra fuel allowance of the Open category. This advantage will be offset if they are too successful, by the reduction to 22 liters of fuel. At Ducati's MotoGP launch in Munich last week, Gigi Dall'Igna had told the media that he believed 22.5 liters could prove to be a disadvantage at some tracks using the championship software. Even the latest, 2014 version would not allow them enough control to manage on that little fuel. Now, running their own software, they can manage less fuel. It also means that the Open entries will all be on the same, less complex 2013 software which they had been using throughout testing. The rule change also allows Suzuki to return as a Factory Option entry in 2015, and yet still enjoy the same benefits as the Open teams.
The much bigger announcement made in the FIM press release was that the introduction of spec software has been both approved and brought forward a year, to 2016. That spec software would be proposed was well known, as Dorna has made it clear that this was the path they wanted the championship to head down for the past four years. Carmelo Ezpeleta had tried to push the GPC to accept spec software at the time of the switch to 1000cc, at the start of the 2012 season. The factories rejected that idea, however, and Dorna introduced the CRT category instead, to help fill the grids which had dwindled to just 17 full time entries. The switch to a single ECU for the 2014 season helped persuade Ducati to make the switch to the new Open class, but the Japanese factories - and especially Honda - resisted any attempt to impose the spec championship software on all entries. HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto had threatened multiple times that Honda would pull out of MotoGP if the spec software were to be adopted.
Whether HRC has changed its position or not remains to be seen, but as the GPC proposal was adopted unanimously, it means that at least two of the three manufacturers in MotoGP approved adopting the spec software a year earlier than projected, starting in 2016, rather than a year later, when the current contracts between Dorna and the MSMA factories all expire. What could have persuaded the MSMA to accept the spec software proposal was the way the software is to be handled. All of the factories competing in MotoGP will have an input on the development on software, and be able to monitor progress. This could allow factories to still pursue some R&D goals indirectly with electronics, rather than being excluded altogether.
This does raise the prospect of software becoming too complex, but Dorna will be gambling on two things. Firstly, that as all code is visible to all of the manufacturers, no factory will introduce its most complex and advanced ideas, for fear of other factories copying the concept in their own road bikes. And secondly, because Dorna still controls exactly what actually goes into the software, they will still be able to reject ideas which they believe could drive costs up too much for private teams.
The question is, whether this agreement is the end point for discussions on the championship software for MotoGP, or whether this is a point along the road. In extensive discussions with key stakeholders in the rulemaking process, MotoMatters.com has been told many times that the final goal for Dorna and IRTA is to have a rev limit in place, and software which is simple enough for privateer teams to be able to learn quickly and use properly. Getting all entries to use the championship software means that it will become possible to enforce a rev limit simply and quickly. Reducing the complexity of the software could be a process which takes several years to accomplish.
The real victory of the agreement is that from 2016, MotoGP will have a single set of rules again. There will be one category, with everyone running under the same rules: spec software, 24 liters of fuel, 12 engines. As of 2014, the extra bike in Parc Ferme will disappear, the best Open bike only appearing in Parc Ferme if it gets onto the front row during qualifying or the podium during the race. From 2016, that question won't even be asked, as there will only be a single, MotoGP class again.
The full text of the press release from the FIM appears below:
FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix
Decision of the Grand Prix Commission
The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Ignacio Verneda (FIM Executive Director, Sport), Herve Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA), in an electronic meeting held on 18 March 2014 in Qatar, unanimously approved the following matters concerning the MotoGP class.
The Championship ECU and software will be mandatory for all entries with effect from 2016.
All current and prospective participants in the MotoGP class will collaborate to assist with the design and development of the Championship ECU software.
During the development of the software a closed user web site will be set up to enable participants to monitor software development and to input their suggested modifications.
With immediate effect, a Manufacturer with entries under the factory option who has not achieved a win in dry conditions in the previous year, or new Manufacturer entering the Championship, is entitled to use 12 engines per rider per season (no design freezing), 24 litres of fuel and the same tyres allocation and testing opportunities as the Open category. This concession is valid until the start of the 2016 season.
The above concessions will be reduced under the following circumstances:
Should any rider, or combination of riders nominated by the same Manufacturer, participating under the conditions of described in clause 2 above, achieve a race win, two second places or three podium places in dry conditions during the 2014 season then for that Manufacturer the fuel tank capacity will be reduced to 22 litres. Furthermore, should the same Manufacturer achieve three race wins in the 2014 season the manufacturer would also lose the right to use the soft tyres available to Open category entries.
In each case the reduced concessions will apply to the remaining events of the 2014 season and the whole of the 2015 season.
It has been ten days since Carmelo Ezpeleta announced to an unsuspecting world that a new category would be added to the MotoGP class to contain Ducati, the 'Factory 2' class. The change was to be ratified on Tuesday, 11th March, in a telephone meeting of the Grand Prix Commission, and Ezpeleta was confident that it would go through without too many problems.
Tuesday came and went, and no agreement had been reached. In fact, it has taken all week and much of this weekend for the situation to approach a resolution. Sources with knowledge of the situation have now confirmed that an agreement will be announced on Monday, allowing the rules to be set in place for the start of the season on Thursday, 20th March.
The precise details of the agreement are not clear, but the rules are unlikely to be very far off the proposal put forward by Dorna in response to complaints from the Open teams. The name looks set to change, the category no longer being called 'Factory 2', but merely as Open. According to the German language website Speedweek, the limits imposed by the Factory 2 status - reduction from 24 to 22.5 liters of fuel, and from 12 engines to 9 - will apply for each of the three Ducati riders separately, if they achieve a win, two 2nd places or three 3rds. The rest of the Open class rules - most importantly, not being subject to the Factory Option engine development freeze and free to test at any circuit they like - will remain in place.
The new system looks set to be applied only to the three factory-backed Ducati riders, Andrea Dovizioso, Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Iannone. All other Open teams will continue under the existing rules, as they use the less complex 2013 Magneti Marelli software, rather than the 2014 software which so far, only Ducati have expressed any interest in running. How the situation will change throughout the season is as yet unknown, with a meeting set to take place among the Open teams at the test after the Jerez round of MotoGP. A simpler solution would have been to simply force all of the teams - including Ducati - to run the simpler 2013 Magneti Marelli software, while development continued on the 2014 software. The 2013 software had not slowed Aleix Espargaro up on the Forward Yamaha, our source pointed out.
There appear to have been few concessions made to the MSMA under the deal. There were earlier rumors that Factory Option entries would be allowed switch to the Open class at any time during the season. However, given Honda's opposition to the spec championship software, the only team which this may have benefited is the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team of Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro. Speedweek suggest that the GPC has agreed to extend the deal to allow any team to retain Factory Option status and run their own software through 2017, an extra year after the original contract was due to terminate at the end of 2016. What is clear from all this, however, is that the days of factories developing their own software are numbered, and the spec software will be adopted soon enough. MotoGP is drawing ever closer to a single set of rules applying to all competitors equally, which has been the aim of Dorna, IRTA and the FIM all along.It has been ten days since Carmelo Ezpeleta announced to an unsuspecting world that a new category would be added to the MotoGP class to contain Ducati, the 'Factory 2' class. The change was to be ratified on Tuesday, 11th March, in a telephone meeting of the Grand Prix Commission, and Ezpeleta was confident that it would go through without too many problems.Tuesday came and went, and no agreement had been reached. In fact, it has taken all week and much of this weekend for the situation to approach a resolution. Sources with knowledge of the situation have now confirmed that an agreement will be announced on Monday, allowing the rules to be set in place for the start of the season on Thursday, 20th March.
Though it is still some years off, Valentino Rossi is laying the groundwork for his life after racing. The nine-times world champion yesterday announced the start of the VR46 Riders Academy, a program for nurturing young Italian racing talent during the transition into Grand Prix racing.
The academy will consist of offering training facilities to help young riders develop their talent. The riders will have Rossi's gym and his dirt track ranch at their disposal, and will also receive support and tuition from Rossi himself. The first entrants into the academy will consist of the Team Sky VR46 Moto3 riders, Romano Fenati and Francesco 'Pecco' Bagnaia, Moto2 rider Franco Morbidelli, and Luca Marini, Andrea Migno and Nicolo Bulega, all of whom will be competing in the Spanish CEV Moto3 championship. The academy is to be run by Alessio 'Uccio' Salucci, with other key people from Rossi's Tavullia circle.
The VR46 Riders Academy offers much optimism for the future of Italian racing, after a couple of years of poor results. The Italian federation FMI has also been focusing on supporting and nurturing young riders, running teams in both Moto3 and Superstock championships. The hard work of the FMI is starting to pay off - Fenati rode for Team Italia for the past two seasons - and with Valentino Rossi throwing his weight behind the project, progress should be much faster. The VR46 Riders Academy is loosely modeled on the former Grand Prix Academy, run by Alberto Puig, which has since morphed into the Red Bull Rookies Cup. Like that program, the VR46 Academy offers support to riders in every aspect of their preparation: riding, physical training, and mental preparation.
Below is the press release from the VR46 Riders Academy:
VR46 Riders Academy
Valentino Rossi and his men open their doors to young two-wheels talents.
An Italian academy for young Italian rider.
Tavullia, March 13, 2014 - VR46 Riders Academy is the new headquarters for the training and growth of young quality Italian riders. This was announced by Valentino Rossi that, with VR46, for the first time, makes available his experience and knowledge gained over many years of career.
The new talents of the VR46 Riders Academy will grow in Vale’s “gym", company and "Ranch", and right here, Vale will develop, for each of them, challenges on the track and exercises to enhance their qualities. The academy has six talents from Tavullia: Franco Morbidelli, Luca Marini, Andrea Migno, Nicolò Bulega , Romano Fenati and Pecco Bagnaia. The riders are trained together, but with specific programs prepared according to the different physical and psychological attitudes.
The VR46 Riders Academy has an experienced team. Alessio Salucci manages the relationship with the Teams, Alberto Tebaldi is responsible for logistics and external relations, Luca Brivio for the operational management of the riders at the CEV, Carlo Casabianca for the physical preparation, Claudio Sanchioni for the contractual aspects and Barbara Mazzoni for the secretarial and administrative services.
Racing is not just a matter of talent. For this reason, in addition to a very intense and focused physical and psychological preparation, VR46 Riders Academy is committed to ensuring both the best possible support and service – thanks to world-class chief technicians and mechanics - and a future as much as possible fitting with the characteristics of each pilot.
Salucci and Tebaldi recruited sponsors and Teams, appropriate for the characteristics of each rider. Franco Morbidelli will participate in the Moto2 World Championship with the Team Italtrans, Luca Marini and Andrea Migno will be part of theTeam Aspar for the CEV, together with Nicolò Bulega rider for the Team La Glisse. Fenati and Bagnaia run in Sky Racing Team VR46 for the Moto3 World Championship, the team created for the most talented riders of the two-wheels Academy.Though it is still some years off, Valentino Rossi is laying the groundwork for his life after racing. The nine-times world champion yesterday announced the start of the VR46 Riders Academy, a program for nurturing young Italian racing talent during the transition into Grand Prix racing.The academy will consist of offering training facilities to help young riders develop their talent. The riders will have Rossi's gym and his dirt track ranch at their disposal, and will also receive support and tuition from Rossi himself. The first entrants into the academy will consist of the Team Sky VR46 Moto3 riders, Romano Fenati and Francesco 'Pecco' Bagnaia, Moto2 rider Franco Morbidelli, and Luca Marini, Andrea Migno and Nicolo Bulega, all of whom will be competing in the Spanish CEV Moto3 championship. The academy is to be run by Alessio 'Uccio' Salucci, with other key people from Rossi's Tavullia circle.
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.
Cardus, from Barcelona, contested in the Spanish CEV Buckler championship before competing as a wildcard in the 125cc world championship several times and riding half a season as a substitute in Moto2 in 2010. The Spanish rider then undertook three full time seasons from 2011 to 2013 in the Moto2 World Championship aboard various chassis to point scoring finishes.
Cardus will begin with the Tech3 Racing Team on Tuesday 11th March, 2014 at the three day Moto2 pre-season test at Jerez, Spain.
“Firstly, I want to say that I am really happy about having the possibility to ride for the Tech3 Racing Team, but of course it is not the ideal way to get a ride with Alex being injured. I want to wish him the very best with his recovery, and I hope to see him racing soon. I am excited to ride the Mistral 610 at Jerez this week, and will try my best in assisting the team. Thank you to the Tech3 Racing Team for the opportunity.”