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Brno Set To Continue As MotoGP Venue For 2015 And Beyond

MotoGP looks certain to be returning to the Brno circuit for 2015, after the local region of South Moravia guaranteed financing for the race for next year. In addition, talks are continuing to extend financing for the race beyond the 2015 season.

The race in Brno had been in doubt for some time now. The circuit, owned by Karel Abraham Sr, father of Cardion AB rider, has struggled to pay the sanctioning fee demanded by Dorna, despite being the best-attended round of the series (over 142,000 turned up to watch the race in 2013 at the spacious, wooded Czech circuit). The circuit has previously received funding from the Czech government, but that has been withdrawn.

Now, the South Moravian region has stepped in to guarantee the 2.5 million euro sanctioning fee. The event reportedly generates around 35 million euros in revenue for businesses in the area, and is an important contributor to the local economy. Keeping the MotoGP round at the circuit is key for the regional authorities.

The deal agreed guarantees funding for the 2015 round, but talks will continue for future races. Both Dorna and the circuit intend to sign a long-term deal to keep the race at the track.

Below is the press release issued by Dorna explaining the situation:


Brno closing in on fresh MotoGP™ race deal

The legendary Brno Circuit is set to remain on the MotoGP™ calendar for the coming years following negotiations between Dorna Sports, commercial rights holder of the FIM MotoGP World Championship, and officials at the venue this weekend.

The Czech event was first part of the series in 1965, while racing on the modern-day circuit took place from 1987. As MotoGP gathered at Brno for this year’s bwin Grand Prix České republiky, officials looked to secure the immediate future of the event. Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta met with Mr.Stanislav Juranek, Vice-governor of the South Moravian Region and Mrs. Ivana Ulmanova, CEO Brno Circuit, concluding that funding will soon be in place for at least the 2015 race.

Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports, declared: “I appreciate the decision of The Council of South Moravian Region and personal initiative of the South Moravian governor Mr. Michal Hasek to guarantee funding of the Czech Grand Prix in 2015. I must express my thanks to the vice-governor of the South Moravian Region, Mr. Stanislav Juranek, who informed me about the decision made by the Council. We also discussed the principle of securing the guarantee. The positive information I have received this weekend comes in complete contrast to the information we had received at Sachsenring and therefore completely changes the situation. I consider it to be very positive; it will now be necessary to discuss further steps with the Brno Circuit and with other partners. I cannot predict our final decision at this very moment, but I can assure all MotoGP fans and visitors to the Czech Grand Prix that our primary interest is to keep the MotoGP race in Brno as one of the traditional and highly appreciated events on the World Championship calendar. Further negotiations with regards to firm details of the co-operation with the South Moravian region will be held after the South Moravian assembly, which must approve the decision of the Council. We expect this to happen in the second half of September.”

Mrs. Ivana Ulmanova, CEO, Brno Circuit commented: “I highly appreciate Mr. Ezpeleta’s willingness to meet representatives of the South Moravian Region and accept their guarantee of the MotoGP race at the Brno Circuit. The previous statement we made to Dorna was influenced by the current uncertainty about funding a MotoGP race for 2015. I must express my thanks to Carmelo Ezpeleta for waiting on a final decision about the Czech GP until almost the last possible day. This gives us enough time to negotiate and finally to find a solution. We now have renewed positivity that we can guarantee next year’s MotoGP race. I hope that the effort we spend in keeping live the tradition of the Czech Grand Prix event will be the best evidence for Dorna Sports representatives that we are prepared to stay in the World Championship as a one of the best organised and most popular MotoGP events.”

MotoGP looks certain to be returning to the Brno circuit for 2015, after the local region of South Moravia guaranteed financing for the race for next year. In addition, talks are continuing to extend financing for the race beyond the 2015 season.The race in Brno had been in doubt for some time now. The circuit, owned by Karel Abraham Sr, father of Cardion AB rider, has struggled to pay the sanctioning fee demanded by Dorna, despite being the best-attended round of the series (over 142,000 turned up to watch the race in 2013 at the spacious, wooded Czech circuit). The circuit has previously received funding from the Czech government, but that has been withdrawn.Now, the South Moravian region has stepped in to guarantee the 2.5 million euro sanctioning fee. The event reportedly generates around 35 million euros in revenue for businesses in the area, and is an important contributor to the local economy. Keeping the MotoGP round at the circuit is key for the regional authorities.The deal agreed guarantees funding for the 2015 round, but talks will continue for future races. Both Dorna and the circuit intend to sign a long-term deal to keep the race at the track.Below is the press release issued by Dorna explaining the situation:Brno closing in on fresh MotoGP™ race deal

Circuit Of Wales Signs 5-Year Deal To Organize British MotoGP Round

The British Grand Prix is to move, if everything goes to plan. At a press conference held today, Dorna and the management of the Circuit of Wales announced that a deal had been reached that will see the track, to be built in Ebbw Vale in South Wales, will host the race for the next five seasons, with an option to extend the contract for another five years after that, until 2024.

The only problem is that the Circuit of Wales does not exist yet. The track is part of a £ 315 million project aimed at regenerating the Blaenau Gwent region, a once-prosperous region that has lost most of its employment since the coal and steel industries closed. The Heads of the Valleys Development Company have set up a scheme to create a major motorsports industry hub centered around an FIM and FIA homologated race track, capable of hosting world championship racing.

So far, however, the ambitious project has run into a series of delays. First, it faced problems over the purchase of common land needed to complete the project. More importantly, there are still major financial question marks hanging over the project. Michael Carrick, chief executive of the HVDC, has said that less than 10% of the project funds will come from public sources. So far, however, the HDVC has been cagey about investment from private sources, telling reporters only that talks with potential investors are ongoing.

These delays mean that the circuit will not be ready to host the race in 2015, with some concerns that it could be 2017 before the first race can be held on the circuit. In the meantime, the Circuit of Wales will have to strike a deal with either Donington or Silverstone to host the race next year. A decision on where that race is to be held will be made within the next month, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta told reporters.

Silverstone put out a press release saying that the Northamptonshire circuit was sorry to lose the British round of MotoGP, but said it had no choice given the sanctioning fee being asked by Dorna. That, the statement said, was at an 'unsustainable' level, and that Silverstone were keen to continue hosting the race if agreement could have been reached over a lower fee.

There is also disagreement between Silverstone and the Circuit of Wales over the use of public funds to build the Ebbw Vale track. The Circuit of Wales is looking for substantial public investment, promising returns for the region in terms of tourism, employment and tax income. The experience of other circuits around the world confirms their projections: the Circuit of the Americas has calculated that the MotoGP race there generates around $50 million for the Austin region. The Brno race generates around 1 billion Czech crowns for the Moravian area. And the Aragon regional government claims returns of between 50 and 60 million euros from MotoGP at the Motorland Aragon circuit.

For further reading on the subject, see the list of links after the press releases. Above that are the press releases put out by Dorna and Silverstone on the announcement.


Dorna Sports and Circuit of Wales sign historic MotoGP™ agreement

The Circuit of Wales is set to host the British round of the FIM MotoGP™ World Championship until 2024 after agreeing a five-year contract with the option for further five year extension with the Championship’s commercial rights holders, Dorna Sports S.L. The collaboration will begin in 2015 with next year’s Grand Prix which could be staged at an alternative British venue.

The agreement will bring the British Motorcycle Grand Prix to the innovative new Circuit of Wales near Ebbw Vale. The development is a flagship for the regeneration of the Blaenau Gwent area in a project that includes a focus on youth employment, education, academy structures and an investment in motorsport, one of the UK’s key industrial sectors.

“Our agreement with Dorna is a significant landmark in the development of the Circuit of Wales,” said Michael Carrick, Chief Executive of the Circuit of Wales. “MotoGP is the pinnacle of global motorcycle racing and expectations within the series and of its millions of fans worldwide are for a truly world class event at iconic and state-of-the art venues. We look forward to meeting those expectations when we welcome MotoGP to Wales from 2016 and we are now working closely with Dorna and the FIM, MotoGP’s governing body, with regard to the 2015 British round of the MotoGP World Championship.”

Carmelo Ezpeleta, the Chief Executive Officer of Dorna Sport S.L., commented: “We are excited to be working closely with the Circuit of Wales after being involved with the project for more than four years. The commitment to MotoGP is obviously a catalyst to a wide range of exciting projects aimed at contributing to the regeneration of the area, while we work together with MotoGP governing body the FIM in relation to the full homologation of the circuit.”

Ezpeleta continued: “The commitment to youth, to employment opportunities for the area, to its academy plans – linked to our own FIM CEV Repsol series – and the general investment in motorsport infrastructure will ensure very exciting times are ahead for Blaenau Gwent and the surrounding areas.”

The Circuit of Wales is a £280 million project to develop a purpose-built hub for the multi-billion pound British motorsport industry around a state-of-the art track, Britain’s first purpose-built motorcycle Grand Prix circuit, with unrivalled facilities for visiting fans. Sitting on the fringe of the picturesque Brecon Beacons, the Circuit of Wales will be a major catalyst for business, leisure and tourism as it spearheads the regeneration of the Blaenau Gwent region.

The first phase of the multi-purpose development will be the construction of an international specification motor racing circuit and world championship facilities, hotel, commercial and retail complexes. The facility is designed to host international motorsport events and will be a centre for motorsport-related industries.

Plans include a 3.5-mile track that takes advantage of the natural flow of the unique topography of the area, an indoor academy training facility, motocross, trials and enduro venues, an international kart circuit and driver training facilities as well as a variety of leisure and cultural amenities.

The automotive park will be one of the world’s leading sustainable developments, targeting the growth of low-carbon industries and events. It will be a hub for research and development companies that are seeking to push the boundaries in environmental technology and energy solutions. The park will showcase the latest technologies that capture and generate energy for the facility.

The race academy and training facility to develop future Welsh and UK talent will work in unison with the motor racing circuit and with Dorna. Commercial, industrial and leisure developments will be at the heart of the project, providing opportunities for the growth of advanced engineering, technology, education and sustainable transport-related businesses.

Councillor Hedley McCarthy, the Leader of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, commented: “On behalf of the community in Blaenau Gwent, we are absolutely delighted that Dorna is bringing the British Motorcycle Grand Prix to the Circuit of Wales. The MotoGP series is an amazing championship that has provided a stimulant and confidence for the growth of infrastructure in a number of similar areas to ours around the world in recent years. We look forward to welcoming the teams, riders, officials, media and fans to Blaenau Gwent.”


Silverstone disappointed not to extend MotoGP contract

Having invested heavily in its circuit and facilities, specifically to host the FIM MotoGP™ World Championship alongside Formula 1®, and developed the British round of the series into a highly successful event, Silverstone is disappointed not to be extending its MotoGP™ contract with Dorna.

Richard Phillips, Managing Director of Silverstone Circuits Limited, said: “We have expressed our desire to keep MotoGP™ at Silverstone, but the event is not sustainable at the fee level Dorna was proposing. Any future deal had to make economic sense and sadly we reached an impasse. The Circuit of Wales obviously believes it can make the finances work.”

Looking at the immediate future for the British Grand Prix, Phillips added, “Should the Circuit of Wales project be successful, it is unlikely that it will be ready before 2017. A venue for 2015 needs to be agreed as soon as possible to avoid having a negative impact on the success of next year’s British Grand Prix. Silverstone remains the ideal venue to stage MotoGP™; last year’s record crowds are testament to the excellent British Grand Prix experience provided by Silverstone.”


The British Grand Prix is to move, if everything goes to plan. At a press conference held today, Dorna and the management of the Circuit of Wales announced that a deal had been reached that will see the track, to be built in Ebbw Vale in South Wales, will host the race for the next five seasons, with an option to extend the contract for another five years after that, until 2024.The only problem is that the Circuit of Wales does not exist yet. The track is part of a £ 315 million project aimed at regenerating the Blaenau Gwent region, a once-prosperous region that has lost most of its employment since the coal and steel industries closed. The Heads of the Valleys Development Company have set up a scheme to create a major motorsports industry hub centered around an FIM and FIA homologated race track, capable of hosting world championship racing.

Bradley Smith Retains Tech 3 MotoGP Ride For 2015

Bradley Smith is to keep his MotoGP ride with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team for another season. After a difficult start to the 2014 season, Smith's place in the MotoGP team had been in doubt, as this was the year when the Englishman had been expected to deliver. Smith had shown glimpses of his potential at a number of rounds, often being fast in practice. But several crashes and poor race results have seen Smith fall short on Sunday, when it counts.

Smith keeping his place is in part due to team boss Herve Poncharal keeping faith in the young Briton, who has raced for Tech 3 in Moto2 and MotoGP since 2011. But the lack of a suitable replacement was also a reason for Poncharal to retain Smith. Poncharal told MotoMatters.com at Assen that he had no interest in current riders in MotoGP other than Smith, but was looking to Moto2, and even Moto3. Credible reports suggested that Yamaha was keen on bringing Alex Rins in to MotoGP straight from Moto3, but Rins turned down the offer, preferring to go to Moto2 instead. Poncharal was also interested in Jonas Folger and Maverick Viñales, but Folger is in the middle of a two-year contract in Moto2, while Viñales elected to sign for Suzuki.

Below is the press release issued by Tech 3 on Bradley Smith's new contract:


Smith and Monster Yamaha Tech3 to continue long term partnership into 2015

Monster Yamaha Tech3 are pleased to announce that current British rider Bradley Smith will remain with the French squad next season having signed for a further year to compete in MotoGP aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1.

23 year old rider Smith initially joined the team in 2011 for his inaugural Moto2 season aboard the team’s self designed and built Mistral 610, having won races in the 125 cc class. After competing in the Moto2 class for two seasons and achieving some memorable results, such as fighting to a superb 2nd placed home podium at Silverstone in 2011 from 28th on the grid, Smith moved up to the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team in 2013. He accomplished a successful first year in the premier class which included three 6th place finishes and is currently in his second year, where he has achieved such honours as qualifying on the front row for the first round of the World Championship in Qatar. The British rider will continue into his fifth year with Monster Yamaha Tech3 in 2015 as he intends to resume challenging for the accolade of the leading satellite MotoGP bike.

Bradley Smith

"It’s difficult to explain exactly how I feel right now but I am just overly thankful to Yamaha and Herve as well as the whole Monster Yamaha Tech3 team for believing in me and enabling me to continue riding here for another year. I really do love working with this team plus the Yamaha YZR-M1 and it’s crazy to think that this well be our fifth year together although it still feels like the second! There’s been a lot of emotion in resigning so I’m really happy with the end result and that everything is finally sorted. Also, it’s positive mentally to have next year clear whilst going into the second half of this season. For me personally, it’s now time to start achieving and performing at my full potential, which I don’t believe we have seen yet. I know that with this team they can support me to get where I am capable of being and beyond plus furthermore, get the results that I need not only for myself, but for the sponsors and everyone involved in this elite operation. In addition, riding with Pol is great fun as it creates a strong atmosphere in the team and together we are very competitive which aids us in pushing as well as motivating each other in every session. For Pol and I to finish 5th and 6th is back where Monster Yamaha Tech3 deserves to be and everyone can expect more of the same in the next 18 months. I am very happy and look forward to the rest of the season as well being very excited for 2015."

Hervé Poncharal - Team Manager

"I am very pleased to announce that Bradley Smith will remain with the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team for one more year. We know each other well plus he is part of the family so this will be the fifth year of us working together and he will be the second longest serving Tech3 rider behind Olivier Jacque. This year has not been easy for him so far due to the high expectations after the winter test and the first race in Qatar. But he never gave up, so together with Yamaha and Tech3 we believe he is the best choice of rider for 2015. I believe that him and Pol are getting on really well together and will push each other the strong results. I am very happy to welcome Bradley back for one more year and I hope this agreement will not only help him to finish the second half of the year in a more relaxed state of mind, but also make things exciting for the MotoGP fans watching him."

Bradley Smith is to keep his MotoGP ride with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team for another season. After a difficult start to the 2014 season, Smith's place in the MotoGP team had been in doubt, as this was the year when the Englishman had been expected to deliver. Smith had shown glimpses of his potential at a number of rounds, often being fast in practice. But several crashes and poor race results have seen Smith fall short on Sunday, when it counts.Smith keeping his place is in part due to team boss Herve Poncharal keeping faith in the young Briton, who has raced for Tech 3 in Moto2 and MotoGP since 2011. But the lack of a suitable replacement was also a reason for Poncharal to retain Smith. Poncharal told MotoMatters.com at Assen that he had no interest in current riders in MotoGP other than Smith, but was looking to Moto2, and even Moto3. Credible reports suggested that Yamaha was keen on bringing Alex Rins in to MotoGP straight from Moto3, but Rins turned down the offer, preferring to go to Moto2 instead. Poncharal was also interested in Jonas Folger and Maverick Viñales, but Folger is in the middle of a two-year contract in Moto2, while Viñales elected to sign for Suzuki.Below is the press release issued by Tech 3 on Bradley Smith's new contract:

PBM Selling MotoGP Grid Slots, Focusing On BSB

The PBM Team is set to leave MotoGP at the end of the 2014 season, and return to the British Superbike championship. Owner of the eponymous team Paul Bird has decided to expand his presence in BSB to add a second team, and withdraw from MotoGP altogether.

Bird spoke to both the British publication MCN and the German-language website Speedweek about his reasons for switching to BSB. Most of the backing for the PBM team comes from British sponsors, such as Rapid Solicitors. Bird told MCN that their sponsors would rather see PBM in BSB, as a British team with British sponsors. But Bird also mentioned to Speedweek the difficulties of competing in MotoGP as a private team. Those problems had been there in 2012, when PBM first joined MotoGP, but the situation is worse now. Without factory backing, it was impossible to be competitive, he said.

There is also a financial motive for leaving. With both Suzuki and Aprilia joining MotoGP in 2015, grid slots are at a premium. Bird had tried to sell his grid slots for this season in 2013, without much success. At the time, he was rumored to be asking for 3 million euros for the two places, but the buyers, rumored to include Marc VDS Racing, were not forthcoming. Bird has more hope of finding a buyer this time around, though the asking price is now nearer to 2 million euros for the pair. PBM will not be selling them directly, but instead, will auction them off through IRTA, the teams association which handles all entries into MotoGP.

There were two reasons for Bird to sell his slots indirectly via IRTA, rather than dealing directly with Aprilia. The first was that he believed he would get more money for the slots by allowing IRTA to auction them, rather than trying to do it himself. The second was that he was not keen to deal with Aprilia directly, as felt the Italian factory had let his team down this year. "They [Aprilia] would rather talk to Dorna than to me," Bird told Speedweek. "Apart from that, they have given us zero help this year." Promises of assistances made over the winter and during the season had not been fulfilled.

The PBM Team is set to leave MotoGP at the end of the 2014 season, and return to the British Superbike championship. Owner of the eponymous team Paul Bird has decided to expand his presence in BSB to add a second team, and withdraw from MotoGP altogether.Bird spoke to both the British publication MCN and the German-language website Speedweek about his reasons for switching to BSB. Most of the backing for the PBM team comes from British sponsors, such as Rapid Solicitors. Bird told MCN that their sponsors would rather see PBM in BSB, as a British team with British sponsors. But Bird also mentioned to Speedweek the difficulties of competing in MotoGP as a private team. Those problems had been there in 2012, when PBM first joined MotoGP, but the situation is worse now. Without factory backing, it was impossible to be competitive, he said.

Alex De Angelis Announced As Colin Edwards' Replacement At Forward Racing For Rest Of 2014

After the news that Colin Edwards would be taking early retirement comes news of his successor. As had been widely trailed, Alex De Angelis is to take Edwards' spot in the NGM Forward Racing team for the remainder of 2014, while Edwards will return to do a wildcard at Silverstone at least. De Angelis has been racing for the Tasca Racing team in Moto2 this season, his place will be taken by the Italian rider Riccardo Russo.

De Angelis will concentrate on riding the Forward Racing chassis, rather than the Yamaha chassis, while Colin Edwards will continue to work in an advisory role. De Angelis has previous experience, both in MotoGP and with Bridgestone tires, having spent two full seasons in the class in 2008 and 2009 with Gresini Honda, as well as replacing the injured Hiroshi Aoyama in 2010, and Ben Spies at Pramac Ducati for the Laguna Seca round of MotoGP. No doubt his experience in the class and with the tires played a role in Forward's choice.

Below is the press release issued by Forward racing making the announcement:


NGM Forward Racing and Alex De Angelis together in the second part of the 2014 season

The NGM Forward Racing Team announces that Alex De Angelis will race alongside Aleix Espargaro starting from the GP of Czech Republic on board of a Forward Yamaha.

Alex will replace Colin Edwards who announced the retirement from racing competition but will continue to be a key figure in the NGM Forward Racing team.

Giovanni Cuzari

“I have always considered our team as a big family and Alex has already been part of our team. Moreover he has experience in MotoGP so I thought that he was the best rider to line up with our colours and I’m happy to give him this opportunity to return in the premiere class”.

Alex De Angelis

“It’s a dream come true for me to return in MotoGP. I was working on this project last year, when I was racing with this team. Racing the second part of the championship with the NGM Forward Racing Team on board of a Forward Yamaha it’s a great occasion and I’d like to thank Giovanni Cuzari for this opportunity as well as the Tasca Racing Team that released me. I know that it won’t be easy for me to be competitive from the beginning as we have no time test the bike before Brno, but we will give my best. I can count on a very good team and competitive package so I really look forward to it.”

After the news that Colin Edwards would be taking early retirement comes news of his successor. As had been widely trailed, Alex De Angelis is to take Edwards' spot in the NGM Forward Racing team for the remainder of 2014, while Edwards will return to do a wildcard at Silverstone at least. De Angelis has been racing for the Tasca Racing team in Moto2 this season, his place will be taken by the Italian rider Riccardo Russo.De Angelis will concentrate on riding the Forward Racing chassis, rather than the Yamaha chassis, while Colin Edwards will continue to work in an advisory role. De Angelis has previous experience, both in MotoGP and with Bridgestone tires, having spent two full seasons in the class in 2008 and 2009 with Gresini Honda, as well as replacing the injured Hiroshi Aoyama in 2010, and Ben Spies at Pramac Ducati for the Laguna Seca round of MotoGP. No doubt his experience in the class and with the tires played a role in Forward's choice.Below is the press release issued by Forward racing making the announcement:NGM Forward Racing and Alex De Angelis together in the second part of the 2014 seasonThe NGM Forward Racing Team announces that Alex De Angelis will race alongside Aleix Espargaro starting from the GP of Czech Republic on board of a Forward Yamaha.

Colin Edwards To Enter Semi-Retirement Early: Will Race Indy, Silverstone And Valencia, And That's It?

Colin Edwards will contest only three more MotoGP rounds in the 2014 season. The Texan is to race at Indianapolis, Silverstone and Valencia, before hanging up his helmet. From Brno, Alex De Angelis will take Edwards' place, and Edwards will race as a third rider for the NGM Mobile Forward Racing team in the UK and at the last race of the year.

Edwards' final year in MotoGP has not gone according to plan. The Texas Tornado had hoped that the arrival of the Yamaha Open class bike at Forward, to replace the Kawasaki-powered CRT machine would spark a revival in his fortunes. When Edwards finally got to ride the Open class Yamaha, however, he found to his dismay that he could not get on with the Yamaha chassis, and was unable to get the bike to turn. He had pinned his hopes on the arrival of a chassis from FTR, but financial problems for the British chassis manufacturer meant he was left to struggle with the Yamaha frame until Mugello. When a new chassis did arrive, fresh from the drawing board of now ex-FTR designer Mark Taylor, it did not see Edwards drastically improve his pace.

Long before the new chassis arrived, Edwards had already made the decision to retire. At Austin, Edwards told the media that 2014 would be his last season in World Championship motorcycle racing. His plan, he said, was to see out the year, and then retire, possibly taking up some kind of testing role. That everything might not proceed to plan became apparent a few races later, when rumors emerged at Jerez that Forward boss Giovanni Cuzari was considering replacing Edwards early. Cuzari denied those rumors, but as the season proceeded, it was clear that the Texan was not scoring the results which he and the team had expected. Further rumors emerged over the summer break, that Colin Edwards would not finish all of the races left in 2014, with De Angelis taking his place. Edwards denied those rumors, but the situation remained very unclear.

It had confused even the two principal players involved. Over a series of meetings between Edwards and Forward boss Cuzari, the pair have been involved in thrashing out some form of resolution. The picture that emerges is that at the moment, Edwards will race at Indianapolis on Sunday, and be replaced for the remainder of the season by De Angelis. Edwards will race at Silverstone and Valencia, but on a third bike alongside Aleix Espargaro and De Angelis. Those two races are important to Edwards, as the Texan is massively popular with British fans, and regards the UK round as his third home race. 

In an interview with the MotoGP.com website, Edwards clarified what he could. "We're still figuring it out," Edwards said. "Honestly, I won't be in Brno, but for sure that I know of, [I will be at] Silverstone and Valencia, 100%. Other than that, we're just playing it by ear, we'll see what happens." He was still committed to the Forward Racing team, and was focused on developing the new chassis built by Forward. "[I'm] still working with the guys, still trying to get this new chassis to work," Edwards said.

Forward boss Giovanni Cuzari explained that the idea was to give Edwards a new role in the team. "We are looking to make a new kind of job with Colin," Cuzari told MotoGP.com. That meant replacing Edwards at the next round at Brno, but it did not mean the team was abandoning Edwards. "I am for sure not leaving the rider, because I can never forget what Colin do for me in these three seasons, and also I can never forget that Colin has a lot of experience that we need for our team and for our future."

In the future, Edwards could turn his hand to developing young American talent. With both Edwards and Hayden absent at Brno, the MotoGP grid will be without an American rider for the first time since the 1980s, the period when the US dominated Grand Prix racing. The US is currently desperately short of talent, and with the domestic series in disarray, it is not clear where fresh young blood is to come from. The situation is so dire that Dorna are in talks with the FIM and Wayne Rainey to set up a North American championship, and open up a new series to develop US talent. With Edwards already running his Texas Tornado Boot Camp dirt track school, there would be an obvious place for Edwards to play a role.

Colin Edwards will contest only three more MotoGP rounds in the 2014 season. The Texan is to race at Indianapolis, Silverstone and Valencia, before hanging up his helmet. From Brno, Alex De Angelis will take Edwards' place, and Edwards will race as a third rider for the NGM Mobile Forward Racing team in the UK and at the last race of the year.Edwards' final year in MotoGP has not gone according to plan. The Texas Tornado had hoped that the arrival of the Yamaha Open class bike at Forward, to replace the Kawasaki-powered CRT machine would spark a revival in his fortunes. When Edwards finally got to ride the Open class Yamaha, however, he found to his dismay that he could not get on with the Yamaha chassis, and was unable to get the bike to turn. He had pinned his hopes on the arrival of a chassis from FTR, but financial problems for the British chassis manufacturer meant he was left to struggle with the Yamaha frame until Mugello. When a new chassis did arrive, fresh from the drawing board of now ex-FTR designer Mark Taylor, it did not see Edwards drastically improve his pace.

Lorenzo Confirmed At Movistar Yamaha Through 2016

Jorge Lorenzo has signed a new two-year deal with Yamaha. The 2010 and 2012 world champion will stay with the factory Movistar Yamaha team in MotoGP for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

The deal had been widely expected, as the two sides have been in serious negotiation since Assen. With both the Repsol Honda and factory Ducati full up, Lorenzo had few other options, and it was simply a matter of contract details between Yamaha and the Spaniard. It was widely rumored that Lorenzo was looking for a single-year deal, or an option to leave early, but the announcement makes no mention of that. However, Spanish media are reporting that a compromise was reached in the form of an option for both sides to terminate the contract a year early, at the end of 2015.

Lorenzo's signing completes the factory line ups of the three manufacturers already in MotoGP. Suzuki are expected to announce their line up for 2015 as well, consisting of Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales. Attention will then turn to Aprilia, and their return to MotoGP, which is mooted to have been brought forward a year to 2015.

Below is the press release from Yamaha announcing the deal with Jorge Lorenzo:


Yamaha and Jorge Lorenzo Confirm New Two-Year Agreement

Indianapolis (USA), 7th August 2014

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Jorge Lorenzo are delighted to announce that they have signed a new two-year agreement that sees the Mallorcan complete the Movistar Yamaha line up for the next two seasons.

The agreement realises Lorenzo’s wish to continue his premier class career with Yamaha, extending the relationship from seven to nine years. Both Yamaha and Lorenzo are confident that the partnership has the potential to deliver a third title and will continue to work towards this goal.

Lin Jarvis, Managing Director, Yamaha Motor Racing

“I am very happy we have reached an agreement for Jorge to continue as a Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider. The new agreement extends Jorge’s seven-year partnership with Yamaha. He started with us as a rookie back in 2008 and together we achieved many great results including 31 GP victories and two MotoGP Rider World Champion titles in 2010 and 2012. The 2014 season has been a tough one for Jorge so far but I am hoping that the confirmation of this new agreement will give him the peace of mind to be able to focus 100% of his energy on the remaining races. Last year we saw what he was able to do when the going was tough and he was fighting back from mid-season injuries so we know that the potential is there for a strong second half to the 2014 season. For 2015 and beyond we have no doubt that Jorge will be a strong title contender and we will do our very best to provide him with the materials and the support he needs to be able to realize our shared ambitions.”

99 Jorge Lorenzo

“I am very happy to finally be able to make this announcement. It is a relief to be able to now completely focus on the remainder of the 2014 season in the knowledge that our relationship will continue for the next two seasons. It has always been my wish to continue my career with Yamaha; I strongly believe we can fight for a third title together. This season has been very challenging after a difficult start, however we will continue to take it race by race, giving 100% until Valencia. I want to thank Yamaha for their continued belief in me and all the Yamaha fans around the world who continue to support me. After the summer break I’m excited to be back at Indy with my team and focused again on riding.”

Jorge Lorenzo has signed a new two-year deal with Yamaha. The 2010 and 2012 world champion will stay with the factory Movistar Yamaha team in MotoGP for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.The deal had been widely expected, as the two sides have been in serious negotiation since Assen. With both the Repsol Honda and factory Ducati full up, Lorenzo had few other options, and it was simply a matter of contract details between Yamaha and the Spaniard. It was widely rumored that Lorenzo was looking for a single-year deal, or an option to leave early, but the announcement makes no mention of that. However, Spanish media are reporting that a compromise was reached in the form of an option for both sides to terminate the contract a year early, at the end of 2015.Lorenzo's signing completes the factory line ups of the three manufacturers already in MotoGP. Suzuki are expected to announce their line up for 2015 as well, consisting of Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales. Attention will then turn to Aprilia, and their return to MotoGP, which is mooted to have been brought forward a year to 2015.Below is the press release from Yamaha announcing the deal with Jorge Lorenzo:Yamaha and Jorge Lorenzo Confirm New Two-Year Agreement

Stefan Bradl Confirmed At Forward Racing For 2015

As had been widely anticipated, Stefan Bradl has signed with the NGM Forward Racing team for the 2015 season. The German had been forced to look for a ride after losing his support from HRC, Honda providing a major part of the backing for Bradl at the LCR Honda team. Although LCR were keen to retain the German, without financial support from HRC, that would have been a costly business. With HRC backing Cal Crutchlow, Bradl was left to look elsewhere.

The 2011 Moto2 champion will switch to NGM Forward for 2015, where he will help lead development of the Forward Yamaha. That bike - a Yamaha M1 engine in a chassis built by Forward and designed by ex-FTR chassis guru Mark Taylor, running under the Open class rules - has shown promise in the hands of Aleix Espargaro at the Sachsenring, when the Spaniard tested it during practice. Having a rider of Bradl's caliber should help make the project more competitive. Bradl was keen to have a competitive ride for next season, after losing the LCR Honda seat, and the Forward Yamaha is one of the very best seats available.

The second seat at Forward remains unfilled for the moment. With Aleix Espargaro set to depart for Suzuki next year, the team could look to Moto2, where Dominique Aegerter or possibly Mika Kallio could move up, or possibly Alex De Angelis, who is due to substitute for Colin Edwards at Brno and the three flyaway rounds this season. 

Below is the press release from Forward Racing announcing the Bradl deal:


NGM Forward Racing signs with Stefan Bradl for the 2015 season

The NGM Forward Racing is pleased to officially announce an agreement has been reached with Stefan Bradl that will see the 24 year old German rider racing in the NGM Forward Racing Team on board of a Forward Yamaha for the 2015 season.

Giovanni Cuzari, team manager

“It’s with great pleasure that we welcome Stefan Bradl in our team. We believe that Stefan is a strong rider and our package suits his riding style very well and we look forward to start this new cooperation. Moreover, Germany represents an important market and it’s important to have a strong German rider in our line up”.

As had been widely anticipated, Stefan Bradl has signed with the NGM Forward Racing team for the 2015 season. The German had been forced to look for a ride after losing his support from HRC, Honda providing a major part of the backing for Bradl at the LCR Honda team. Although LCR were keen to retain the German, without financial support from HRC, that would have been a costly business. With HRC backing Cal Crutchlow, Bradl was left to look elsewhere.The 2011 Moto2 champion will switch to NGM Forward for 2015, where he will help lead development of the Forward Yamaha. That bike - a Yamaha M1 engine in a chassis built by Forward and designed by ex-FTR chassis guru Mark Taylor, running under the Open class rules - has shown promise in the hands of Aleix Espargaro at the Sachsenring, when the Spaniard tested it during practice. Having a rider of Bradl's caliber should help make the project more competitive. Bradl was keen to have a competitive ride for next season, after losing the LCR Honda seat, and the Forward Yamaha is one of the very best seats available.

The Next Piece In The MotoGP Puzzle: Cal Crutchlow To LCR Honda In 2015

It looks like Ducati will get their all-Italian line-up after all. Both GPOne.com and Speedweek are reporting independently that Cal Crutchlow will be leaving Ducati to join LCR Honda for the 2015 season. Officially, Crutchlow had until 31st July to exercise his option to leave Ducati, but it appears that Ducati management agreed to an extension, while negotiations continued with Honda. An agreement was reached late last night, Speedweek is reporting, with one of the main points of contention being the payoff Crutchlow would receive from Ducati for leaving.

A week ago, Crutchlow announced that he would be staying with the Italian factory at the World Ducati Week event. Since then, however, the situation changed, with Crutchlow's manager Bob Moore reaching agreement with Ducati management to explore further options. That led directly to the release of Crutchlow to join LCR.

Crutchlow is the latest in a long line of victims claimed by the Italian marque. Marco Melandri was the first to leave, departing early from a two-year contract of struggling miserably in 2008. Valentino Rossi sat patiently through his two seasons at Ducati, seizing the opportunity to return to Yamaha as soon as he could. And now Cal Crutchlow, courted by Ducati for a long time in the belief that he could solve their problems, has also departed. Crutchlow has struggled all season long, both with a string of mechanical failures, and with trying to adapt his riding style to the difficult Desmosedici.

The switch to Honda is hardly unexpected. Crutchlow came very close to signing for LCR Honda last year, but only last-minute intervention by Ducati swung the deal towards the Italian factory. HRC are known to view Crutchlow favorably, and with a large British sponsor on board - CWM World, a financial services company - having a British rider makes a lot of sense. Crutchlow will have to adapt his style once again, moving away from the smooth style he learned at Yamaha, and riding more aggressively. He should at least be able to carry some corner speed again, something he was renowned for on the Yamaha but was impossible on the Ducati.

Crutchlow's departure makes life significantly easier for Ducati. The relationship between the two parties became strained from quite early on, with Crutchlow's forthright manner not always fitting well inside the tightly-controlled corporate communications culture of Ducati. The factory had also signed Andrea Iannone for 2015 with a promise of factory support. Iannone, who has had some strong results this season, was unhappy with the arrangement, but the Ducati deal was his best option. Ducati can now offer Iannone what he wants, which is a seat in the Ducati factory team alongside Andrea Dovizioso.

With Crutchlow at LCR Honda, and Iannone and Dovizioso at factory Ducati, that opens up a seat at Pramac Ducati. Eugene Laverty has been in previous talks with the Pramac squad, though the Irishman is also believed to be in the frame for a slot at Aprilia, who will be buying out the PBM team for 2015. The Pramac team has also shown an interest in Stefan Bradl, who is making way for Crutchlow at LCR Honda. But Bradl's most likely destination is the Forward Yamaha team, where team manager Giovanni Cuzari has two slots to fill, with the retirement of Colin Edwards, and the almost certain departure to Suzuki of Aleix Espargaro. Alex De Angelis is to be drafted in to replace Edwards at certain select rounds this season - Brno, which comes a week after Indianapolis, and the three flyaway rounds of Motegi, Sepang and Phillip Island - and is a candidate to take the second seat at Forward. 

Jack Miller's name continues to do the rounds, though it now seems more likely he will head to Gresini, rather than LCR. Miller will take the production RCV1000R at Gresini, with Scott Redding moving up to the RC213V vacated by Alvaro Bautista, as Redding's contract decrees. Next year's production Honda will be a very different kettle of fish to this year's bike, however, with Honda supplying the engine from this year's satellite bikes, minus the seamless gearbox. 

Once the paddock reconvenes at Indianpolis this coming Thursday, even more will become clear. By then, Jorge Lorenzo should have renewed his deal with Yamaha, and several other of the open seats should be filled. The only satellite seat with a question mark hanging over it is the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha seat currently held by Bradley Smith. Who will fill that is very much up in the air.

It looks like Ducati will get their all-Italian line-up after all. Both GPOne.com and Speedweek are reporting independently that Cal Crutchlow will be leaving Ducati to join LCR Honda for the 2015 season. Officially, Crutchlow had until 31st July to exercise his option to leave Ducati, but it appears that Ducati management agreed to an extension, while negotiations continued with Honda. An agreement was reached late last night, Speedweek is reporting, with one of the main points of contention being the payoff Crutchlow would receive from Ducati for leaving.A week ago, Crutchlow announced that he would be staying with the Italian factory at the World Ducati Week event. Since then, however, the situation changed, with Crutchlow's manager Bob Moore reaching agreement with Ducati management to explore further options. That led directly to the release of Crutchlow to join LCR.Crutchlow is the latest in a long line of victims claimed by the Italian marque. Marco Melandri was the first to leave, departing early from a two-year contract of struggling miserably in 2008. Valentino Rossi sat patiently through his two seasons at Ducati, seizing the opportunity to return to Yamaha as soon as he could. And now Cal Crutchlow, courted by Ducati for a long time in the belief that he could solve their problems, has also departed. Crutchlow has struggled all season long, both with a string of mechanical failures, and with trying to adapt his riding style to the difficult Desmosedici.

KTM To Enter MotoGP In 2017 - And Is That Bad News For World Superbikes?

Yet another manufacturer is to enter MotoGP, it was announced yesterday. KTM is to join Honda, Yamaha, Ducati, Suzuki and, most probably, Aprilia in MotoGP, with KTM moving up to the premier class in 2017, a year after the new regulations take effect and Michelin takes over as single tire supplier.

The news was announced by KTM CEO Stefan Pierer, in an exclusive interview with the German-language website Speedweek. In that interview, Pierer set out the approach KTM will take to MotoGP, which will be a departure from the more traditional route of the other manufacturers in the class. The idea is not to enter as a factory team, but to build a bike and make it available to customer teams, much as they currently do in Moto3. 

That bike will be a 1000cc V4, housed in a tubular steel trellis frame. The bike will have suspension from KTM subsidiary WP, as supplied with the Moto3 machines. Design work has already started on the V4 engine, and it is due to be tested on the dyno for the first time in May 2015. The complete bike will take to the track at the end of 2015, with 2016 being used to complete development of the bike, ready for the 2017 season. Pierer told Speedweek that wildcard appearances in the second half of 2016 are a definite possibility. The bike will be available to interested teams at a price of around 1 million euros, Pierer said, as that is the price at which Dorna has been trying to get the manufacturers to supply MotoGP bikes.

This would be KTM's second foray into MotoGP. The first attempt was an unmitigated failure, when the Austrian company built a V4 machine for Kenny Roberts' Team KR in 2005. That engine was known for being too aggressive, and suffering badly with underdeveloped electronics. Since then, Pierer emphasized, KTM's engineers had learned a lot about rideability and smoother power delivery. Furthermore, with all MotoGP entries to use spec software from 2016, the issue of software development had also been removed from the equation. The engine for KTM's RC16 (as the MotoGP bike is to be known) is being designed by Kurt Trieb, the engineer who developed the Moto3 powerplant which is dominating that championship.

The interview with Stefan Pierer contains a few aspects which are worthy of note. The first is the refusal to enter as a full factory team, as the other manufacturers have done. This is reminiscent of BMW's strategy, of supporting private teams but not taking part directly. That strategy has been extremely successful for BMW, the German manufacturer able to send out press releases boasting of the success of BMW privateers, without having to take responsibility for their failures. By concentrating on motorcycle design and production, KTM can keep their costs down, while still receiving both the R&D and marketing benefits of participating in MotoGP.

The more interesting aspect of the announcement is the way in which development is to be subsidized. The KTM RC16 is not only to be sold to MotoGP teams, but a cheaper version is also to be sold as a glorified track bike to private individuals. 'Cheaper' is a relative term here: where the full MotoGP version will have a price tag of a million euros, the retail bike will cost in the region of 150,000 to 200,000 euros. It will not be available as a street legal version, as the restrictions imposed on street bikes make it impractical to produce such a high-performance machine. The combined problems of producing a bike which complies with Euro 4 emissions standards and in sufficient quantities to homologate the bike for World Superbikes make that an impractical project, Pierer told Speedweek. It was better to aim at wealthy, dedicated individuals looking for an exclusive high-performance bike. Pierer estimated they should be able to sell at least 100 units of such a machine, which would represent a large proportion of any MotoGP development budget.

One of the reasons given by Pierer for going down the track-only route for the RC16 does not bode well at all for the World Superbike series. The discussions about safety have taken on ridiculous proportions in some EU countries, Pierer told Speedweek, especially after a streak of good weather had produced a string of motorcycle fatalities. There is a lot of pressure on bike manufacturers, and discussions are going on at the EU in Brussels about the possibility of imposing performance restrictions. There have even been calls from some quarters to ban so-called superbikes, Pierer said. KTM saw it as their responsibility to keep motorcycle performance within strict limits, he added. 'Anything with over 200 horsepower has no place on public roads,' Pierer told Speedweek.

Leaving aside the absurdity of the argument - it is virtually impossible to extract maximum performance from any sporting motorcycle on a public road; most fatal accidents occur at speeds a very long way below the maximum of the bike involved; the majority of motorcycle accidents are caused by other vehicles - Pierer's statements point to a significant threat to WSBK. Superbikes have become ever more extreme over the past twenty years, a factor which has played a major role in the decline of their popularity. The original Ducati 916 produced 114 bhp in 1994. This rose to 122 bhp with the 996, and 123bhp with the 998, which was sold until 2002. From 2003, the 999 produced 150bhp, which was then replaced by the 1098. The 2009 Ducati 1098R produced 180 bhp, and the current top-of-the-range Ducati Panigale 1199R is quoted as producing 195bhp. In the space of twenty years, power outputs have risen by over 70%. As power outputs have risen, sales have declined, the performance of such extreme bikes becoming less and less relevant on public roads which are more and more heavily policed, despite improvements in engine response and handling.

By dropping the RC8 and replacing it with a bike which will not be eligible for homologation, KTM has effectively abandoned the World Superbike championship. If the EU or another major motorcycle market imposes performance restrictions - or bans large capacity sportsbikes altogether - then the viability of WSBK in its current form is called into question. The current identity crisis facing WSBK could become a lot worse.

Yet another manufacturer is to enter MotoGP, it was announced yesterday. KTM is to join Honda, Yamaha, Ducati, Suzuki and, most probably, Aprilia in MotoGP, with KTM moving up to the premier class in 2017, a year after the new regulations take effect and Michelin takes over as single tire supplier.The news was announced by KTM CEO Stefan Pierer, in an exclusive interview with the German-language website Speedweek. In that interview, Pierer set out the approach KTM will take to MotoGP, which will be a departure from the more traditional route of the other manufacturers in the class. The idea is not to enter as a factory team, but to build a bike and make it available to customer teams, much as they currently do in Moto3. That bike will be a 1000cc V4, housed in a tubular steel trellis frame. The bike will have suspension from KTM subsidiary WP, as supplied with the Moto3 machines. Design work has already started on the V4 engine, and it is due to be tested on the dyno for the first time in May 2015. The complete bike will take to the track at the end of 2015, with 2016 being used to complete development of the bike, ready for the 2017 season. Pierer told Speedweek that wildcard appearances in the second half of 2016 are a definite possibility. The bike will be available to interested teams at a price of around 1 million euros, Pierer said, as that is the price at which Dorna has been trying to get the manufacturers to supply MotoGP bikes.

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