2014 Silverstone MotoGP Preview - Yamaha Territory, Racing At Home, And The Future Of The British Grand Prix
Since the beginning of the season, as he racked up one victory after another, Marc Marquez faced the same question over and over again: can you keep on winning? And over and over again, Marc Marquez gave the same answer: one day, he would not win. On that day, he added, it would be important to think of the championship, and get on the podium if possible.
That day came 10 days ago, at Brno. After struggling all weekend with a lack of rear grip on his Repsol Honda, Marquez couldn't match the pace of his teammate Dani Pedrosa, and the two Movistar Yamahas of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi. Fourth was all that Marquez could manage.
The measure of a champion is not just how he wins, but also how he handles defeat. As Marquez rolled back into his garage after the race – a rare occurrence indeed, this the first time Marquez finished off the podium in his MotoGP career – there were no tantrums, no anger, no shouting. He patted his mechanics on their shoulders, sat down in his seat, and immediately started analyzing the defeat he had just suffered with his team. This was clearly not an experience he was keen to replicate any time soon. If any doubt still lingered, the eagerness with which he attacked the official test at Brno on the Monday after the race quickly removed them.
The factory Ducati team eschewed the official IRTA test at Brno last week, in favor of a private test in Misano. There, Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow got to work on the Desmosedici GP14, with Dovizioso continuing to work on the new developments of the bike, while Crutchlow focused on finding a base set up with the machine. After the test, Ducati issued the following press release:
Ducati Team wrap up two-day test at Misano
Today saw the conclusion of two days of testing organized by the Ducati Team at Misano World Circuit in preparation for the Grand Prix of San Marino and Riviera di Rimini, scheduled for the Italian circuit on September 14th. Present at the test were the factory Ducati riders, Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow, as well as Andrea Iannone of the Pramac Racing Team and test-rider Michele Pirro.
Dovizioso took part in one and a half days’ testing at Misano, concluding his test schedule early this afternoon, while Crutchlow only went out on track in Monday’s sessions, before returning to the UK to undergo checks on his left shoulder, which was still painful after his crash during the Czech Republic GP at Brno two weeks ago.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1’33.91 (116 laps)
Interview: Nicolas Goyon, Pol Espargaro's Crew Chief, On Developing The Yamaha M1 To Exploit The Strengths Of Moto2 Riders
Many MotoGP followers, both inside and outside the paddock, were sceptical when news leaked that Yamaha had signed Pol Espargaro to a factory contract early in 2013. A year later, and halfway through his first MotoGP season, that scepticism has been replaced with admiration. The younger of the two Espargaro brothers is the best satellite rider in the championship standings, and has been competitive from the start of the season.
Yamaha clearly had a plan with Pol Espargaro. The riding style which young racers develop in Moto2 is very different from the style which came from the 250cc class. Where Moto2 racers use a sliding rear tire to help turn the bike into the corners, the 250 two-strokes rewarded riders who could brake early and carry as much corner speed as possible. The Yamaha YZR-M1 has been primarily developed around the 250cc style, but as riders schooled in the Moto2 class enter MotoGP, Yamaha realized they will have to adapt their bike to this new generation of young riders. By signing the reigning Moto2 champion, Yamaha have started to seriously examine how the new intermediate class is affecting MotoGP bike development.
Leading this development has been Pol Espargaro's crew chief, Nicolas Goyon. The Frenchman has been a data and electronics engineer in MotoGP since 2003, the first year in which the class switched over fully to four strokes. With the departure of Daniele Romagnoli, who followed Cal Crutchlow to Ducati, Goyon was given the role of crew chief to MotoGP rookie Espargaro. Since then, Goyon has been working with the Moto2 champion and Yamaha to explore how the Moto2 style can be made to fit to the Yamaha M1. We spoke to Goyon after the Brno test, to ask him about how he had adapted the bike and the feedback Pol Espargaro was providing.
MotoMatters.com: We know what the Yamaha style is to be as smooth as possible and to carry as much corner speed as possible and not upset the bike. That means braking in a straight line, keeping your wheels in line as much as possible. A few times, Pol Espargaro has been riding in more of a Moto2-style. First of all, why did he decide to do it, and did he talk to you about it?
Nicolas Goyon: Yes, of course. This is one direction Yamaha wanted to try, and obviously, Pol is the first Moto2 world champion working with Yamaha, and so Yamaha is really interested in this new style. We realize that all the Moto2 riders, the new generation of riders, they have a specific style, one we all know, they have the elbow on the ground, their bike is shaking from the rear on braking. Pol is really the first guy with this style working with Yamaha.
The Silverstone circuit issued the following press release, containing a list of activities going on this weekend at the British Grand Prix:
MotoGP™ rider appearances top off a fantastic weekend of entertainment at the British Grand Prix
The FIM MotoGP™ World Championship returns to Silverstone this weekend (28-31 August) for the Hertz British Grand Prix. Five Brits – Bradley Smith, Cal Crutchlow, Scott Redding, Michael Laverty and Leon Camier – will line up on the starting grid alongside legends of the sport including Marc Márquez, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, who will all be pushing for maximum points in front of the passionate Silverstone crowd.
As well as the breathtaking on track action, which includes MotoGP™ and the highly-competitive Moto2™ and Moto3™ classes, Silverstone has lined-up a packed schedule of entertainment for the whole family, throughout the weekend.
Another hallowed name is to make a return to the Grand Prix paddock. At Silverstone, Dakota Mamola, son of famed former 500 GP winner Randy Mamola, is to replace Nico Terol. Terol is absent due to illness, the Spaniard suffering a mystery metabolic disorder which is causing extreme muscle fatigue. While Terol undergoes treatment, Mamola will take his place, with Terol hoping to make a return at Misano, two weeks after Silverstone.
Mamola has been racing in the Spanish CEV Moto2 championship with the GRT racing team. The 19-year-old is currently in 11th place, having scored 18 points at two races at the Motorland Aragon circuit. In 2013, Mamola raced in the European 600 Superstock championship, ending in 19th place with 28 points. The youngster has been receiving technical support from Aspar in the CEV, so he is a natural choice to replace Terol.
Under normal circumstances, Scott Redding would already know exactly where he will be racing in 2015. He has a contract with HRC and Gresini to race with the Go&Fun Gresini team, which puts him aboard the factory option Honda RC213V next year, replacing Alvaro Bautista. Up until a few races ago, the only question mark was whether Redding would continue to run Showa suspension and Nissin brakes, which come as part of a lucrative sponsorship deal for Gresini, or whether the team would switch to Ohlins and Brembo, like the factory Honda team.
In the past couple of weeks, that situation appears to have changed. Ahead of the Brno round of MotoGP, rumors emerged that Gresini was struggling to raise the funds for 2015. Title sponsor Go&Fun is alleged to be having financial problems, with Andrea Iannone's manager Carlo Pernat telling reporters at Brno that Iannone has yet to receive the money for the helmet sponsorship deal the Italian signed with them. There are now doubts that Go&Fun will be able to afford to continue the sponsorship of the Gresini Honda team for 2015, despite having a contract with the Italian team for 2015.
Jeremy McWilliams is to make a return to Grand Prix racing at the ripe old age of 50. The Northern Irish racer is to ride the Brough Superior Moto2 machine at Silverstone as a wildcard.
It will be McWilliams' first Grand Prix since 2007, when he rode the ill-fated Ilmor, which was withdrawn after just one race due to a failure to raise sponsorship. Since then, McWilliams has been active in both the US and Ireland, racing in the XR1200 championship which serves as a support race to the AMA, and racing on the roads in Northern Ireland. Before leaving Grand Prix racing, McWilliams had a long career in both the 250cc and MotoGP classes. His most memorable rides were with the QUB TSR-Honda in 250s, aboard the Aprilia 500cc twin at the start of the century, and riding the Proton KR bike in MotoGP. McWilliams won the 250cc race at Assen in 2001 aboard the Aprilia.
One belief common among motorcycle racing fans is that racers will ride harder while they are negotiating a new contract, only to slack off once the contract is in the bag. Ask a rider about this, and they deny it fervently, saying they have to ride just as hard after a new contract is signed as they did before. That their contract situation affects their performance is beyond question, though it is not as simple as it appears.
Bradley Smith is a case in point. Since the start of the season, the Englishman has known he has been riding for his place next year, with Yamaha and Tech 3 taking a seriously look at riders in both Moto2 and Moto3 to replace him. The pressure was starting to get to Smith, the Tech 3 man crashing rather too frequently, with the low point being the race at the Sachsenring. Smith crashed four times that weekend, twice on Friday, once on Saturday, and again in the race. It was a very tough weekend indeed.
So when Smith signed a new deal with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team ahead of the race at Brno, there was a palpable sense of relief. With this future secure for another year, he could get concentrate on racing again with a clear mind, and without the pressure of his results being judged every race. Over the course of the weekend at Brno, we asked Smith how he felt after his contract extension, and what effect he felt it had had on his results. His answers were revealing, and provide an insight into the pressure which all MotoGP riders must function under.
MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Failed records and new rules
Back in the heady days of Marlboro Team Roberts domination, King Kenny Roberts had a favourite saying, which he would shout at full volume during the team’s frequent and legendarily messy victory dinners. Full of wine, joy and relief, King Kenny’s voice would boom around the dining room: “Who got fourth?” In other words, who cares who got fourth when his crew had won the race?
Well, everyone at Brno knew who got fourth. During the top three press conference – Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi – one journalist was polite enough to apologise for asking so many questions about Marc Márquez who, for the first time in his short but uniquely wonderful MotoGP career, had ridden past the chequered flag and straight back into his pit, with no reason to stop in the parc fermé.
Bridgestone Press Release - Shinji Aoki Talks Elbow Down In The Wet, And Testing Asymmetrical Front Tires
As usual, Bridgestone issued a post-race debrief with one of their senior managers after the race at Brno. Today's debrief is with Shinji Aoki, who discusses the performance of Bridgestone's wet weather tires on a fully wet surface, and the asymmetrical front tires they tested on Monday. Bridgestone also announced they will make the asymmetrical front tires available at Phillip Island and Valencia, two circuits which stress the left side of the tire far more than the right:
Czech Republic MotoGP™ debrief with Shinji Aoki
Wednesday, August 20 2014
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium & Hard; Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa won his first Grand Prix of the year at Brno last weekend, breaking the winning streak of his teammate Marc Marquez. For the second race in a row, second and third place went to the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP duo of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi respectively.
Conditions for the race were cool and dry, with a peak track temperature of 29°C recorded at the start of the race. The conditions yielded a very quick pace around the 5.403 kilometre circuit, with Pedrosa setting a new Circuit Record Lap time of 1’56.027 and the total race time in 2014 being three seconds quicker than the old record.
Tom Sykes will be staying on with Kawasaki for two more seasons. Kawasaki today announced that the Yorkshireman has signed a contract to remain with the Japanese factory in World Superbikes for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
The announcement does not come as a surprise. Sykes has known great success with Kawasaki since leaving Yamaha after his first year in World Superbikes. All of Sykes' wins in the class have come aboard a green machine, and the Yorkshireman won his first World Superbike title with Kawasaki last year. Currently leading the 2014 championship by 44 points, his second successive title is within grasp. The Kawasaki ZX-10R remains a highly competitve package, and Sykes is a good fit inside the team.
Unlike many of his fellow WSBK riders, Sykes was never in the frame for a MotoGP ride. Sykes had shown little interest in making the jump to MotoGP, unless he could be on top-flight machinery. With all of the factory bikes tied up, and the satellite slots largely spoken for, there was little room for Sykes, even if he had been interested in a move. Instead, Sykes preferred to stay on in World Superbikes, and chase more WSBK titles.
Below is the press release issued by Kawasaki on the Sykes signing:
Tom Sykes To Remain With KRT For Two More Years
Nico Terol has decided to sit out the Silverstone round of Moto2. After enduring a dismal year with a mystery ailment, Terol has been forced to withdraw and focus on locating the source of his problems, so that he can return to racing in full health.
Terol was expected to challenge for the title in 2014, after scoring three wins and one podium last season with the Mapfre Aspar team. But there had been warning signs of something amiss previously. In the middle of last year, Terol was suspected of suffering late onset lactose intolerance, exactly the same condition that affected Casey Stoner during the 2009 season. Treatment for that appears not to have had the desired effect, as Terol has suffered all this year with extreme fatigue and elevated testosterone levels.
The issue has now reached the point where Terol can no longer be competitive in his current condition. Terol and the Mapfre Aspar team have decided that the Spaniard should sit out Silverstone while undergoing a battery of tests to locate the source of the problem. Though the press release issued by the team speaks solely of Silverstone, it is not completely certain Terol will be back at Misano.
Below is the press release issued by the Aspar team:
Nico Terol to miss British Grand Prix
Press releases from the MotoGP team after Monday's test at Brno:
Marc Marquez did not take kindly to finishing fourth on Sunday, that much was obvious from the test. He lined up at pit lane exit at precisely 10am, waiting for the track to open. As soon as it opened, he was away, the first rider to take to the track in a long way. When Jorge Lorenzo went fastest, Marquez seemed determined to catch him, finally leaving the test at the end of a long day at the top of the timesheets.
Testing is not really about who is fastest, though riders cannot avoid turning it into a competitive sport. It is more about carefully running through options and testing parts, selecting what works and what doesn't, trying new bikes and parts, and testing out set up changes which are too experimental or time-consuming to try on a normal race weekend. Riders are still trying to go fast, but they and the teams are more interested in comparing their own times, rather than the times of others.
The factory Honda and Yamaha teams had similar programs. Both had the latest version of their 2015 bikes for the riders to test, as well as minor modifications to their current set ups in search of a bit more performance for the end of the year. That Honda's 2015 bike is working should be no surprise: Marc Marquez topped the timesheets on the new bike, praising the work done so far. It is an improvement over the 2014 machine, and faster in the middle of the corner, though there are still a few areas that need work. It was good enough for Marquez to get under Cal Crutchlow's pole record from 2013, however. Would he like to use it for the rest of the season? Though the bike is faster, it would be too much of a risk using it for the rest of the season.
Marc Marquez put in a late push in the afternoon to top the post-race test on Monday, the Repsol Honda rider dipping under Cal Crutchlow's pole record from 2013. Marquez deposed Jorge Lorenzo at the top of the timesheets, though Lorenzo closed down the Repsol Honda man's advantage.
Rain fell late in the session, stopping activity for a while, and looked like preventing Valentino Rossi from going out on the 2015 version of the YZR-M1, but the sun burned off the rain and dried the track enough for testing to resume for the final hour.
Final times at the end of testing: