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Major Upgrades Coming For Honda RCV1000R - But Not Until 2015

Honda's RCV1000R production racer is due to get some upgrades after all, but those upgrades are not set to come until 2015, according to reports on GPOne.com. The performance of the RCV1000R has been a source of some disappointment for the teams who stumped up the roughly 1 million euros a season the bike costs, as well as for the riders who have been hired to race the bike. After reports that a Honda test rider had lapped with 0.3 seconds of the factory RC213V machine, expectations of the bike were very high indeed. 

On the track, the RCV1000R has not got anywhere near the times expected of it. Comparing the fastest race lap of the fastest RCV1000R rider against the slowest RC213V rider shows an average difference of 0.730 seconds over the first five races of the season, four tenths more than Honda had managed with a test rider. Teams have complained, riders have been open in criticizing the lack of power, and the current teams have been eyeing the Open class Yamahas fielded by the NGM Forward team with some interest.

The Open Yamaha bikes look set to be the path which Honda has also chosen to follow, GPOne.com is reporting. The Honda production racer is to get the full RC213V engine, complete with pneumatic valves but without seamless transmission, from the beginning of next year. Using the RC213V engine in the production racer in 2015 will help Honda prepare for 2016, when spec software becomes compulsory for all MotoGP machines. Yamaha has already benefited from running the M1 engine in the Open class with Forward for much the same reason.

Though the RCV1000R will not get the seamless gearbox - that technology is too sensitive to be given away - pneumatic valves will remove the biggest weakness of the production Honda. All of the production Honda riders have complained of a lack of acceleration, and pointed to it as being the place where they have lost the most ground to the Factory Option machines. Pneumatic valves will allow for more aggressive cam profiles and greater valve opening, which will help to boost midrange power and torque. They also allow the engine to rev higher, producing more peak horsepower. For a fascinating breakdown on the benefits of pneumatic valves, see Kevin Cameron's explanation on the Cycle World website.

Work is to start on early versions of the uprated engine soon, and Honda have given RCV1000R riders Nicky Hayden, Hiroshi Aoyama, Scott Redding and Karel Abraham some suitable motivation for the rest of the 2014 season. GPOne.com is reporting that Honda is to bring a single, uprated RCV1000R to the last races of this season, most likely starting from Motegi. The bike will be given to the highest-placed rider in the standings, who will get to use it for the remaining races. His input will then help develop the 2015 version of the bike.

Below the difference in fastest race laps between the fastest production racer and the slowest factory bike:

  Fastest RCV1000R   Slowest RC213V  
  Rider Time Rider Time
Qatar Scott Redding 1:56.416 Stefan Bradl 1:55.937
Austin Scott Redding 2:05.996 Stefan Bradl 2:04.462
Argentina Hiroshi Aoyama 1:40.904 Stefan Bradl 1:40.093
Jerez Scott Redding 1:41.109 Alvaro Bautista 1:41.153
Le Mans Scott Redding 1:34.886 Stefan Bradl 1:34.017
Average   1:47.862   1:47.132
Difference 0.730

 

Honda's RCV1000R production racer is due to get some upgrades after all, but those upgrades are not set to come until 2015, according to reports on GPOne.com. The performance of the RCV1000R has been a source of some disappointment for the teams who stumped up the roughly 1 million euros a season the bike costs, as well as for the riders who have been hired to race the bike. After reports that a Honda test rider had lapped with 0.3 seconds of the factory RC213V machine, expectations of the bike were very high indeed. On the track, the RCV1000R has not got anywhere near the times expected of it. Comparing the fastest race lap of the fastest RCV1000R rider against the slowest RC213V rider shows an average difference of 0.730 seconds over the first five races of the season, four tenths more than Honda had managed with a test rider. Teams have complained, riders have been open in criticizing the lack of power, and the current teams have been eyeing the Open class Yamahas fielded by the NGM Forward team with some interest.

A Photog's French Adventure: Scott Jones At Le Mans, Race Day


Through a glass, darkly


#69, ready. Hayden would only last four corners, getting bumped off the track by Andrea Iannone on the first lap


The first laps of the MotoGP race were a real barn burner


Plate spinning


The Hondas were back in Moto3, but they had Jack Miller to deal with


Two in a row for Mika Kallio. We think this expression might be 'elated'.


VR46. A BFD.


The Le Mans ferris wheel, one of the better vantage points for watching MotoGP


Cal Crutchlow's head and hands go here


With Marc Marquez bumped down to 10th, the MotoGP race was pretty exciting for a while ...


... until Marquez recovered. At that point, Operation Clean Sweep resumed


What better way to disguise a bridge?


If you want to annoy Angel Nieto, ask Mr 'Doce mas uno' about his thirteen world titles. Then stand well back.


Corsi, Kallio, Salom. It would not end in that order.


Home Grand Prix can be tough, as Mike Di Meglio will tell you


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.

Through a glass, darkly #69, ready. Hayden would only last four corners, getting bumped off the track by Andrea Iannone on the first lap The first laps of the MotoGP race were a real barn burner

Things To Do At Donington World Superbike Round: Thursday, Day of Dreams, Saturday, Paddock Party

With just a single round of the World Superbike championship taking place in the UK, those involved in the series are making a serious effort to try to revive the glory days of British World Superbike races, which saw up to 100,000 fans flock to the events. The charity Riders for Health, the Donington Park circuit, and the UK-based team Voltcom Crescent Suzuki are all playing their part to try to create some more buzz around the event.

The World Superbike weekend opens with the Day of Dreams, organized by Riders for Health to raise money for motorcycle racing's favorite charity. For £15, fans will be able to purchase a ticket giving pit lane and paddock access, catch the World Superbike riders question and answer session and paddock show, get autographs from their favorite riders, and take part in a special Riders for Health pit walk, and get a close up look at the WSBK and WSS machinery. The day will end with a special auction for Riders for Health. For £95, a select group of people will also have the chance to put in some track time under the watchful eye of British legends Ron Haslam and Niall Mackenzie.

On Saturday night, there will be live music in the paddock show area, hosted by Crescent Suzuki. British performer RemedySounds will be playing live from 9pm, with the party kicking off an hour earlier. The event is open to all paddock ticket holders, which are available for £25 both online and at the circuit ticket office.

Below are the press releases with full details of the weekend's activities:


Day Of Dreams Will Open WSBK Weekend At Donington

World Superbike fans will have the chance to meet their SBK heroes and feel the thrill of riding the Donington Park race track at a brand new Riders for Health event.

Day of Dreams takes place on Thursday 22 May and is an opportunity for fans to go behind-the-scenes of SBK and meet past and present superbike stars ahead of the UK round of the Superbike World Championship.

The family-friendly day costs just £15 per person and includes paddock and pit-lane access, with the opportunity to get close to the incredible SBK bikes as crews prepare for the upcoming race, as well as the chance to meet the current stars of SBK at an autograph signing session.

Tickets can be purchased today by visiting www.donington-park.co.uk.

Fans looking for something extra special can join three-times British Superbike Champion Niall MacKenzie and legend Ron Haslam for half an hour of expert tuition on the Donington Park race track. It’s the chance to feel the thrill of riding on a world famous track, with two champions who know Donington better than anyone, just days before the British Superbike race.

Track time tickets cost £95 and include lunch in the paddock hospitality suite and entrance to all Day of Dreams events. These can be purchased by emailing katie.holmes@donington-park.co.uk.

Niall Mackenzie: ‘I’ve supported Riders for Health for a long time, and I think events like Day of Dreams are really special. You get the chance to experience the pre-race buzz that goes on behind-the-scenes, as well as raising money for a charity that really is helping to save lives.’

Day of Dreams will also include a Riders for Health auction, with resident SBK paddock show host Michael Hill running the stage. Fans will get the opportunity to bid on unique SBK memorabilia and experiences to really kick-start their weekend of racing.

Michael Hill: “I have hosted the main stage for Riders For Health a few times now at Moto GP both here and in Spain and it is always an honour to support them. This event will hopefully give fans a memorable look behind the scenes of WSBK as well as giving me an opportunity to introduce our current starts of WSBK, WSS to the crowd. I won’t say too much, but I have been working hard to get some very special guests on stage as well as some real stars of the future. I cannot wait to add this event to the other duties that I normally perform at each WSBK event around the world, and to do it at the only UK race makes it even more special. This event is not to be missed!”

Riders for Health CEO Andrea Coleman: ‘We’re really excited about returning to Donington Park and adding a brand new event to our calendar, and are grateful to Donington for all their support in staging Day of Dreams.’

All of the money raised from Day of Dreams will help Riders for Health ensure health workers in Africa have access to reliable, well maintained motorcycles and ambulance so that they can continue to transform health care for 14 million people.

For more information visit www.riders.org.uk/day-of-dreams.

Track Time Terms and Conditions

The track time will consist of two sessions with 25 people in each. Each session will include two 15 minute rides on the track. Donington Park has a noise restriction policy of 98 db.

In addition to the Riders for Health programme of events, the official WSBK Paddock Show arena will host the new look Paddock Shows throughout the weekend, including the Tissot-Superpole show on Saturday (immediately after the session) and the new look spectacular on Sunday (after WSBK race 2), featuring all the podium finishers from both WSBK races and WSS as well as all fastest lap winners and some special guests.

See you all there folks!


RemedySounds revs up at Donington with Voltcom Crescent Suzuki

Voltcom Crescent Suzuki is preparing for the only eni FIM Superbike World Championship round on home soil but the GSX-R will not be its only soundtrack this weekend as South Coast artist RemedySounds joins the team at Donington Park.

Alongside the on-track action of Round Five of the World Championship, Voltcom Crescent Suzuki will be hosting a live music event from the heart of the Superbike Paddock as RemedySounds, tipped as the UK's most captivating unsigned performer, takes to the SBK Paddock Show stage on Saturday night.

Recently completing his UK tour, promoting his debut album ‘Incredaboy’, RemedySounds has supported artists such as Chase and Status, Labrynth, Tinchy Strider and Katy B and performed over 300 shows in the last year alone. The award-winning loop pedal artist brings his raw vocal talent, skilful guitar playing and beat-boxing to the Donington circuit in support of the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki team alongside his S1mple Music Community cohort ‘Just Millie’. For more information please visit www.s1mplemusic.com or www.facebook.com/Remedysounds. The debut single ‘I’ll give you what you need’ can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdWTGffN7fM

The party will start from 20:00hrs on Saturday 24th May with RemedySounds on stage from 21:00hrs. Access is free to all Paddock Pass holders (weekend passes available for £25 online and at the circuit gates) and the event will be open to all teams and championship participants, so you never know who you might end up dancing with!

RemedySounds:

“The smell of petrol and things that go fast sit well in the RemedySounds camp. I feel very excited to be working with one of the best teams in the world at such a fantastic event and I am really looking forward to raising the roof of the SBK Paddock Show on Saturday night!"

With just a single round of the World Superbike championship taking place in the UK, those involved in the series are making a serious effort to try to revive the glory days of British World Superbike races, which saw up to 100,000 fans flock to the events. The charity Riders for Health, the Donington Park circuit, and the UK-based team Voltcom Crescent Suzuki are all playing their part to try to create some more buzz around the event.The World Superbike weekend opens with the Day of Dreams, organized by Riders for Health to raise money for motorcycle racing's favorite charity. For £15, fans will be able to purchase a ticket giving pit lane and paddock access, catch the World Superbike riders question and answer session and paddock show, get autographs from their favorite riders, and take part in a special Riders for Health pit walk, and get a close up look at the WSBK and WSS machinery. The day will end with a special auction for Riders for Health. For £95, a select group of people will also have the chance to put in some track time under the watchful eye of British legends Ron Haslam and Niall Mackenzie.

Andrea Iannone Given Penalty Point For Move During Qualifying

Andrea Iannone has been handed a penalty point for an incident during qualifying at Le Mans on Saturday. The Italian was deemed to have ridden dangerously after he rejoined the track at the Garage Bleu Esses almost directly beside Marc Marquez, who was on a flying lap. 

Marquez had complained about the move during the press conference, but Iannone had claimed that he had run out of brakes at the Chemin aux Boeufs chicane and cut across the sliproad. Marquez had responded to that suggestion by pointing out that if you've run out of brakes, you normally close the throttle across the sliproad, rather than accelerate. Race Direction appear to agree with Marquez' assessment.

Below is the press release on the incident:


FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix

Monster Energy Grand Prix de France - Decision of the Race Direction

On 17 May, 2014 during the MotoGP Qualifying 2 session of the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France, the rider #29 in the MotoGP class, Mr Andrea Iannone ran off the circuit and rejoined the circuit at a speed and in a position which caused danger to himself and another rider, and disrupted the progress of the other rider.

This is considered to be irresponsible riding and is therefore an infringement of Article 1.21.2 of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Regulations.

A Race Direction hearing was held with the rider in attendance.

The decision of Race Direction is to impose the addition of one Penalty Point to the record of rider #29 Andrea Iannone, according to Article 3.3.1.3 of the 2014 FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Disciplinary and Arbitration Code.

No appeal was lodged.

The decision of Race Direction is final.

Andrea Iannone has been handed a penalty point for an incident during qualifying at Le Mans on Saturday. The Italian was deemed to have ridden dangerously after he rejoined the track at the Garage Bleu Esses almost directly beside Marc Marquez, who was on a flying lap. Marquez had complained about the move during the press conference, but Iannone had claimed that he had run out of brakes at the Chemin aux Boeufs chicane and cut across the sliproad. Marquez had responded to that suggestion by pointing out that if you've run out of brakes, you normally close the throttle across the sliproad, rather than accelerate. Race Direction appear to agree with Marquez' assessment.Below is the press release on the incident:FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand PrixMonster Energy Grand Prix de France - Decision of the Race DirectionOn 17 May, 2014 during the MotoGP Qualifying 2 session of the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France, the rider #29 in the MotoGP class, Mr Andrea Iannone ran off the circuit and rejoined the circuit at a speed and in a position which caused danger to himself and another rider, and disrupted the progress of the other rider.

A Photog's French Adventure: Scott Jones At Le Mans, Saturday Edition


Engineering poetry in motion


Courage. Hayden's wrist is causing severe pain. Didn't stop him from nearly making Q2, though


Maniac Joe, on fire in France


It's not for want of trying, but Bradley Smith can't find the pace he needs


The Terminator is back


And Rossi's pretty good too


Sky - ground - Sky - ground


Le Mans - a riot of color on the track, a regular riot off the track


Alvaro Bautista is always at the whim of the Showa suspension. They're working well at Le Mans


Another good result for Ducati during qualifying. It's a good year for Andrea Dovizioso so far


If a job's worth doing, it's worth doing devastatingly


Work to do for Dani Pedrosa and Mike Leitner


On the brakes


Bradl's forearm is holding up well after surgery


Icons of motor sport

 


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Engineering poetry in motion Courage. Hayden's wrist is causing severe pain. Didn't stop him from nearly making Q2, though Maniac Joe, on fire in France

French MotoGP Round Secure Through 2021

France will continue to host MotoGP for at least another seven years. Today, Dorna announced that agreement had been reached to extend the contract with race organizer Claude Michy through 2021, adding five years to the deal which was due to expire after the 2017 round.

The new deal does not guarantee that the race will continue to be held at the Le Mans circuit, however, as the contract is with the organizer, who negotiates separate deals with the Le Mans track. The chances of it being moved elsewhere are slim, however. The two alternative circuits capable of hosting a Grand Prix in France are Magny-Cours and Paul Ricard. Both feature interesting layouts, but suffer with location, as neither are very close to large population centers. Paul Ricard is better situated, close to the French coast, and therefore with accommodation reasonably nearby. But Paul Ricard suffers the disadavantage of having all of its gravel traps replaced with hard asphalted run off, ideal for cars, but not so good for motorcycles. 

Below is the press release issued by Dorna on the new contract:


French Grand Prix contract extended to 2021

On the eve of the fifteenth successive edition of the Grand Prix de France held at the circuit of Le Mans, Claude Michy, promoter of the event, and FIM MotoGP™ World Championship rights holder Dorna Sports SL are pleased to announce they will extend their collaboration for a further five years, from 2017 to 2021.

The French Grand Prix at Le Mans has one of the longest traditions of Grand Prix Racing in the FIM MotoGP™ World Championship calendar - Le Mans was first used for a Grand Prix event in 1969, when the 500 race was won by Giacomo Agostini and the circuit has been used for the MotoGP™ event for the last 14 years in succession, starting in 2000.

While the 2014 edition of the Grand Prix is set to deliver another great show in all three World Championship classes, Dorna Sports SL CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta met with Claude and Philibert Michy to agree on a new contract extension and ensure the French Grand Prix a slot on the calendar until 2021.

Claude and Philibert Michy stated: "The French Grand Prix is a key international event on the French sporting calendar and our close collaboration with Dorna Sports is instrumental in making it a success, so we're very happy to ensure the future of the French round of the World Championship."

"We have a great relationship with Claude Michy and PHA and the French Grand Prix has been steadily building on its success at such a legendary circuit as Le Mans," said Mr Ezpeleta. "We are pleased to continue to work with Claude until 2021 and maintain a key GP on the calendar," he added.

France will continue to host MotoGP for at least another seven years. Today, Dorna announced that agreement had been reached to extend the contract with race organizer Claude Michy through 2021, adding five years to the deal which was due to expire after the 2017 round.The new deal does not guarantee that the race will continue to be held at the Le Mans circuit, however, as the contract is with the organizer, who negotiates separate deals with the Le Mans track. The chances of it being moved elsewhere are slim, however. The two alternative circuits capable of hosting a Grand Prix in France are Magny-Cours and Paul Ricard. Both feature interesting layouts, but suffer with location, as neither are very close to large population centers. Paul Ricard is better situated, close to the French coast, and therefore with accommodation reasonably nearby. But Paul Ricard suffers the disadavantage of having all of its gravel traps replaced with hard asphalted run off, ideal for cars, but not so good for motorcycles. Below is the press release issued by Dorna on the new contract:French Grand Prix contract extended to 2021

A Photog's French Adventure: Scott Jones At Le Mans, Friday Edition


Marc Marquez, MotoGP's very own Maximilien Robespierre


He's back. The old Jorge Lorenzo is showing his mettle at Le Mans


Burning gaze marks Valentino Rossi's rekindled motivation


Arm pump surgery has not slowed Stefan Bradl


Australia's latest and greatest, Jack Miller


Up to speed: Pol Espargaro is a quick learner


Alpinestars, protecting even your ears


Nicky 'Hustle' Hayden


Dunlop? Michelin is more likely. Andrea Iannone will be fast whatever the rubber


It's been a long four races for Cal Crutchlow. And there's 14 more to come


41 plays peekaboo


Andrea Dovizioso is putting himself in the shop window


If he can stay on, Alvaro Bautista can be fast


They're back. Alex Marquez is leading Honda's Moto3 charge


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.

Marc Marquez, MotoGP's very own Maximilien Robespierre He's back. The old Jorge Lorenzo is showing his mettle at Le Mans Burning gaze marks Valentino Rossi's rekindled motivation

Silly Season's First Signing: Marc Marquez Signs Two-Year Deal With Repsol Honda

With the contracts of the four riders in Honda's and Yamaha's factory teams expiring at the end of 2014, real fireworks were expected when contract negotiations began for the 2015 season and beyond. But as the season progressed, those fireworks have turned into something of a damp squib, with it looking increasingly likely that the factory line ups will see little or no change for 2015.

The first contract has already been signed. Today, HRC announced that they have reached agreement with Marc Marquez for another two years, meaning that the 2013 world champion will stay with the Repsol Honda team for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Given Marc Marquez' perfect start to 2014 - four wins from four pole positions in the first four races - this comes as no surprise at all. Clearly, retaining the services of the reigning world champion and the man leading the championship was Honda's highest priority.

With Marquez signed, where does that leave the rest of the top four? At the moment, the signs are that the rider line up of the Repsol Honda and Movistar Yamaha teams will remain completely unchanged for 2015. Valentino Rossi's results have shown the improvement he had himself demanded, a combination of a better Yamaha M1 and renewed motivation from his gamble of swapping crew chiefs, replacing Jeremy Burgess with Silvano Galbusera. Rossi has already spoken of his desire to stay on for another two years, and getting a contract extension with the Movistar Yamaha teams looks to be a given. Rossi is fast enough to be competitive, and his selling power is a powerful marketing tool for Yamaha and their sponsors.

With Marquez under contract, Honda's need for a rider that can win championships is already filled. That means that Dani Pedrosa's seat looks safe in the Repsol Honda team, the Spaniard having proven that he can pick up the baton whenever Marquez falters, and is capable of pushing for a championship himself. Pedrosa is 8th on the list of all-time winners in the premier class, and has shown that he can win races and, more importantly, finish ahead of the Yamahas consistently. Team principal Livio Suppo has repeatedly expressed his support for Pedrosa, which makes his spot at Repsol Honda look secure. Marquez and Pedrosa are clearly a winning combination, so why change?

The biggest question mark at the moment is over Jorge Lorenzo. Lorenzo has, of course, expressed his desire to stay with Yamaha, but he is hotly sought after. Before the 2014 season began, HRC vice president Shuhei Nakamoto expressed a keen interest in Lorenzo, saying that he could be a strong addition to the Repsol Honda team. Since Lorenzo's disastrous start to the season, Nakamoto has gone quiet, the balance shifting in favor of sitting rider Pedrosa. 

That leaves Ducati. There are strong rumors from several sources that Ducati Corse chief Gigi Dall'Igna is keen to sign Lorenzo in the Ducati factory team, having worked with the Spaniard in the 250cc class with Aprilia. Dall'Igna is rumored to be willing to pay Lorenzo a very large fee to make the switch to Ducati. Whether Lorenzo will make the jump remains to be seen, however. The Yamaha is a proven entity, and despite the initial trouble the M1 is having with edge grip on the 2014 Bridgestone tires, and with less acceleration and fueling with the reduced 20 liter fuel allowance, Yamaha is still Lorenzo's best chance of becoming world champion. The choice for Lorenzo will boil down to ambition over financial rewards, unless Ducati can conjour up some significant improvements over the next few races. Lorenzo's decision is not likely to come until after the summer break.

Below is the press release from Honda, announcing Marquez' contract extension:


Honda Racing Corporation renew with Marc Marquez until end of 2016

Honda Racing Corporation is pleased to announce the renewal of the contract with 2013 World Champion, Marc Marquez, for a further two years.

The young Spaniard took the MotoGP World by storm winning the Championship in his rookie season last year. It was a priority for HRC to re-sign the young sensation who has won every race so far this season – all from pole position. Since joining the Factory outfit – the Repsol Honda Team – Marc has finished on the podium in all but two of his twenty-two MotoGP races. He’s taken ten victories, six second’s and four third’s. He’s also accumulated thirteen pole positions in the premier class.

He arrives at this weekend’s French GP leading the Rider’s Championship by 28 points after just four rounds.

Shuhei Nakamoto – HRC Executive Vice President:

“We are very satisfied to have reached an agreement to keep Marc in the team for a further two seasons. Of course as Honda we wanted to keep Marc in our family and he also wanted to stay with us so… it was natural to renew the contract even if it is very early in the season! He is enjoying a fantastic start to 2014 and even though he is still learning, his ability to absorb information and adapt to the machine is remarkable”

Marc Marquez:

“I am very happy to announce my renewal with HRC. I had always dreamt about being part of the Repsol Honda Team, and thanks to Honda the dream came true a year and a half ago. Everything happened very quickly last season, and I would have never imagined that I could achieve what we did. Becoming World Champion during my first season was another dream turned into reality. It is a great honour to be a part of the Honda family and I’m glad to remain with this special group of people for another two seasons”

Marc Marquez World Championship Statistics:

MotoGP:
Starts: 22
Podiums: 20 (10 x 1st, 6 x 2nd 4 x 3rd)
Poles: 13
Fastest Race Laps: 13
World Champion: 2013

Moto2:
Starts: 32
Podiums: 25 (16 x 1st, 6 x 2nd, 3 x 3rd)
Poles: 14
Fastest Race Laps: 7
World Champion: 2012

125cc:
Starts: 46
Podiums: 14 (10 x 1st, 4 x 3rd)
Poles: 14
Fastest Race Laps: 9
World Champion: 2010

With the contracts of the four riders in Honda's and Yamaha's factory teams expiring at the end of 2014, real fireworks were expected when contract negotiations began for the 2015 season and beyond. But as the season progressed, those fireworks have turned into something of a damp squib, with it looking increasingly likely that the factory line ups will see little or no change for 2015.The first contract has already been signed. Today, HRC announced that they have reached agreement with Marc Marquez for another two years, meaning that the 2013 world champion will stay with the Repsol Honda team for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Given Marc Marquez' perfect start to 2014 - four wins from four pole positions in the first four races - this comes as no surprise at all. Clearly, retaining the services of the reigning world champion and the man leading the championship was Honda's highest priority.

Dovizioso And Crutchlow Complete One-Day Test At Mugello

While the World Superbike riders were busy at Imola, Ducati's MotoGP team was making use of their freedom from testing restrictions to try out a few things ahead of the Italian round at Mugello. Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow were present for the factory Ducati team, as was official test rider Michele Pirro, while Andrea Iannone was circulating on the Pramac bike. The two factory men had a new chassis to test, according to GPOne.com, though the frame was not radically different to the item they have raced so far. The new chassis did have a greater range of adjustment, something which the factory felt was needed as their riders had been operating at the limits of the current frame's adjustment. 

The riders also worked on set up, ahead of the race in two-and-a-half weeks' time, as well as testing some electronic strategies. Cal Crutchlow also tested a new braking solution, using ducts to cool the calipers. The ducts were a response to braking problems which Crutchlow suffered at Jerez, where he lost all braking power in the early laps of the race, before being forced to pull into the pits. The ducts are clearly visible in the photo below. The times set by Dovizioso and Crutchlow were respectable, Dovizioso three tenths of his qualifying time at last year's race, which was good enough for the front row, while Crutchlow as three tenths slower than his teammate.

Also present was Aprilia, in the guise of the ART Open class machine. In the saddle was Max Biaggi, the former 250cc and World Superbike champion taking to the track after an absence of well over a year. Biaggi tested the ART with carbon brakes and Bridgestone tires, describing it as 'a different bike to the RSV4', the machine which he became World Superbike champion on before retiring. The Italian posted 41 laps, with a fastest time of a low 1'53, according to GPOne.com.

The press release from Ducati appears below, underneath official photos from the test.


Note the air scoops directing cool air to the brake calipers


Ducati Team complete one day of testing at Mugello in preparation for Italian GP

Today saw the Ducati Team conclude an intense day of testing at Mugello in preparation for the Italian Grand Prix, which will be held at the Tuscany circuit in three weeks’ time.

Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow took advantage of good track conditions and favourable weather to search for an ideal set-up for the race, but also to try out some new electronic strategies. Further tests and checks were also carried out on the braking system of Crutchlow’s bike, after the problems the British rider encountered at Jerez.

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1’47.9 (67 laps)

“It’s always important to do a test at Mugello before the race, and in any case we had some new set-ups to try. It was interesting: nothing revolutionary, but in any case these were tests that will be useful for the future bike. I set some good times, but when your adversaries are not present, you mustn’t give them too much importance. In any case we are quicker than last year. Towards the end of the day I crashed at turn 4 when I lost the front. Luckily I was unharmed, but I feel sorry for the mechanics who will now have to work a bit more this evening, because tomorrow we’re all leaving for France.”

Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team #35) – 1’48.2 (55 laps)

“Today was a day we had some things to try. I tested something different to my team-mate and to Andrea Iannone, but we went back towards the base setting of the Ducati and it felt a bit more comfortable. It was a good working day with quite good weather so we are happy to leave here confirming the direction for Le Mans and looking forwards to the weekend.”

While the World Superbike riders were busy at Imola, Ducati's MotoGP team was making use of their freedom from testing restrictions to try out a few things ahead of the Italian round at Mugello. Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow were present for the factory Ducati team, as was official test rider Michele Pirro, while Andrea Iannone was circulating on the Pramac bike. The two factory men had a new chassis to test, according to GPOne.com, though the frame was not radically different to the item they have raced so far. The new chassis did have a greater range of adjustment, something which the factory felt was needed as their riders had been operating at the limits of the current frame's adjustment. The riders also worked on set up, ahead of the race in two-and-a-half weeks' time, as well as testing some electronic strategies. Cal Crutchlow also tested a new braking solution, using ducts to cool the calipers. The ducts were a response to braking problems which Crutchlow suffered at Jerez, where he lost all braking power in the early laps of the race, before being forced to pull into the pits. The ducts are clearly visible in the photo below. The times set by Dovizioso and Crutchlow were respectable, Dovizioso three tenths of his qualifying time at last year's race, which was good enough for the front row, while Crutchlow as three tenths slower than his teammate.

Loris Capirossi On New Tire Supplier: Intermediates To Return, Allocation To Increase Slightly In 2016

The tire allocation for MotoGP is set to be expanded when the new tire supplier takes over from 2016. The numbers of tires supplied to each rider will be increased by one or two tires per rider, and each rider will have the option of three different compounds front and rear. But perhaps the most welcome change will be the return of intermediate tires to MotoGP, for use in practice conditions which are too dry for rain tires, but too damp and dangerous for slick tires to be used.

The expansion in number and compounds was a contributory factor in Bridgestone deciding to pull out of MotoGP, the series safety officer Loris Capirossi told MotoMatters.com. 'We started talking with Bridgestone in the middle of last year to understand the situation, because as everybody knows, the contract finishes at the end of 2014,' Capirossi said. 'We told them the situation is like this, we have to try to modify that part, we have to try to increase a little bit the number [of tires], we have to try to make the intermediate tire, just some points. Like Carmelo [Ezpeleta] said, we were talking and talking, but in the end Bridgestone decided to stop.' Capirossi expressed Dorna's gratitude to Bridgestone for agreeing to extend the contract for a single year through 2015. 'We talked to Bridgestone again about continuing for one more year, because it is important for us to work on [the tire situation]. Bridgestone understood our situation, and decided to stop at the end of 2015,' the Italian said.

There are three main candidates to replace Bridgestone, Capirossi said. 'We are already talking officially with Dunlop and Michelin. We are talking unofficially with Pirelli also, but we haven't received an official request yet. That [process] is still going on until the 22nd of this month. Then the process will be closed on the 22nd, and Dorna and the MSMA will decide what is the best way to go.'

Capirossi ruled out any return to open tire competition, as well as any radical shake up of the tire supply regulations. 'We don't want to change the rules,' the Italian said. 'It will still be a mono tire rule. We don't want to make 100 types of tire.' The new tire supplier would have to put considerable effort into development, however. 'When you start working with a new supplier, it's difficult, because we have to work really hard in the beginning to try to find the best solution for everybody. We have asked [the candidates] for many things, for development we asked for a lot of tests. We are just waiting for their answers, for their plans, so we can start to work.'

That work will be an intensive exercise for whoever is awarded the initial contract, especially in the run up to 2016. 'We will have to prepare 100 different types of tire to start the development, to find the best solution, the best tire working for all of the bikes, like Bridgestone did in the last couple of years. This is the target we wanted to follow,' Capirossi told MotoMatters.com.

Though Dunlop, Michelin and Pirelli have all expressed an interest in becoming official tire supplier, Michelin is widely tipped as the favorite to win the contract. The French company has stepped up its test program recently, with riders testing Michelin's 16.5" slicks in Italy and France in recent weeks.

The tire allocation for MotoGP is set to be expanded when the new tire supplier takes over from 2016. The numbers of tires supplied to each rider will be increased by one or two tires per rider, and each rider will have the option of three different compounds front and rear. But perhaps the most welcome change will be the return of intermediate tires to MotoGP, for use in practice conditions which are too dry for rain tires, but too damp and dangerous for slick tires to be used.

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