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.
2013 MotoGP season review (Part 1)
This is going to sound corny as hell – I believe the biggest winners of the 2013 MotoGP World Championship were the fans. MotoGP had had a dark few years of tedious racing, working itself into a technical tangle, just like Formula 1.
A combination of engineering changes and 250-derived riding styles had developed beautifully balanced bikes, which, when ridden by inch-perfect ex-250 riders, could do the same lap times from lights-out to chequered flag. Valentino Rossi’s former crew chief Jeremy Burgess referred to these races as “procession races”, and he was right (as he usually is).
The biggest change in 2013
Alberto Puig is to take on a new role inside Honda. Brought into HRC as advisor to Dani Pedrosa, the former 500cc race winner is to focus his efforts more on talent development for Honda, starting with the Asia Talent Cup.
Puig has a long and very successful history of spotting and developing talent. The Spaniard was the driving force behind the MotoGP Academy, the forerunner of Red Bull Rookies Cup, and before that, had worked with Telefonica Movistar in the Spanish championship. That work had produced a string of highly successful riders in various classes, including several world champions. Alongside Dani Pedrosa, Puig was responsible for Casey Stoner, Julian Simon, Bradley Smith, Joan Lascorz and Leon Camier.
Having Puig work in the Asia Talent Cup is a clever move for Honda. The Japanese company is keenly aware of the importance of the Asian market for its sales, and bringing on talent from the region will be a powerful marketing tool. HRC also has a long history of backing Japanese riders in Grand Prix racing, and after a relatively lean period for Japanese talent, having Puig help spot and develop them early should help bring more fast young Japanese riders into the sport.
Marc Marquez has been back briefly to the operating theater today, where he has undergone surgery to improve his breathing. The reigning world champion was admitted to the Dexeus hospital in Barcelona, where he had an operation to correct a deviated septum, which had hampered his breathing through his nose. Marquez is one of a few riders who uses the nasal plaster strips to keep the nostrils open (see photo below). These strips are said to aid breathing through the nose, and with Marquez suffering a deviated septum, he may have had some benefit from the strips.
The septum is the mixture of cartilage and bone which separates the two nostrils, and if the septum becomes enlarged - a common occurrence after injury - then breathing through the nose can be more difficult. The surgery Marquez underwent is aimed at making the nasal cavity larger, and removing any obstructions, to help him breath more easily. Marquez will have to take a week of rest, before returning to the busy schedule of a world champion, which has included trips to Japan and Monaco. The press release from the Repsol Honda team appears below.
The FIM today issued a press release confirming the 18-month ban imposed retrospectively on Ant West for using banned substances. The Australian has had all of his results scrapped, between 20th May 2012 and 19th October 2013. That includes the two podiums he scored at Sepang and Phillip Island at the end of 2012, meaning that Gino Rea moves up to 2nd at Sepang, and Hafizh Syahrin will be awarded 3rd place (and his first podium), while Marc Marquez takes 2nd at Phillip Island, and Scott Redding adds another podium to his tally to take 3rd.
The official FIM Press release is shown below:
Doping - Decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the case of rider Anthony West
The FIM has taken note of the Award handed down on 22 November 2013 by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in the case of rider Anthony West, participant in the 2012 FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix in the Moto2 Class.
On 20 May 2012, Anthony West underwent an anti-doping test conducted by the FIM at the 2012 French Grand Prix. The urine sample obtained from Mr West revealed the presence of a stimulant (Methylhexaneamine) prohibited in competition under the FIM Anti-doping Code in force.
Press releases from some of the World Superbike teams after the test at Jerez:
It's been a busy time for motorcycle racing in the south of Spain. With the winter test ban about to commence, and now in force for both MotoGP and World Superbikes, the teams are heading south to get some development work done while they still can. For the World Superbike and MotoGP Open class teams, their destination is Jerez, while Moto2 and Moto3 are at Almeria, in Spain's southeastern corner.
At Jerez, Suzuki has just wrapped up a test, and Yakhnich Motorsport are taking the MV Agusta F4RR out for its first spin. The Jerez test was Eugene Laverty's first opportunity to ride the GSX-R1000, after the Irishman had signed for the Crescent Suzuki team, who have swapped title sponsors from Fixi to Voltcom. The move is a step down from the full factory Aprilia team for Laverty, but it is a long-term investment for the Irishman. Speaking to German language website Speedweek.com, Laverty explained that he believed that it was easier to move development on a project forward with a smaller group of people than inside a large organization.
Though most of the contracts were settled some time ago, there were still a few question marks on the 2014 MotoGP grid. The official entry list released by the FIM today answers some of those questions, but the answers it gives may yet turn out to be wrong. The list features 11 entries to be run under the Factory rules, which means 20 liters of fuel, 5 engines per season and the freedom to use proprietary software on the spec Magneti Marelli ECU. The remaining 13 bikes will be run as Open entries, which gives them 24 liters of fuel and 12 engines per season, but forces them to use the Dorna-controlled spec software on the Magneti Marelli ECU.
The 2014 season looks set to follow the pattern established in 2013, with Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo likely to dominate. Of interest is the fact that Marc Marquez has been entered with number 93, rather than the number 1 which the world champion is allowed to use, but this may yet change before the start of the season. Marquez would dearly like to retain 93, but Honda is keen to see him run the number 1 plate.
The FIM today announced the provisional entry lists for the 2014 season in all three classes. Despite the loss of Maverick Viñales and Luis Salom, who are moving up to Moto2, the Moto3 class looks like being another thrilling and close race to the end of the year. Alex Rins and Jack Miller are currently the hot favorites for the title, with Rins' Estrella Galicia teammate Alex Marquez likely to be a candidate too, after his outstanding rookie year in the series. Miller's Red Bull KTM teammate Danny Kent will also be aiming to battle for the championship, the British youngster having stepped back to the Moto3 class with the express purpose of winning the championship.
Among the riders currently viewed as outsiders, Miguel Oliveira features strongly as a contender after a very strong year on the Mahindra. Jakub Kornfeil moves up to take the bike vacated by 2013 Moto3 champion Maverick Viñales, while much is expected of the new Team Sky VR46 squad of Romano Fenati and Francesco Bagnaia, the team set up by Valentino Rossi and with former Ducati man Vitto Guareschi as team manager. There will also be a lot of attention for Karel Hanika, the Czech youngster making the move up from the Red Bull Rookies. Hanika is rated very highly in the Moto3 paddock, and his testing times have already shown promise.
After the test at Valencia, Marc Marquez was asked by journalists what he was going to do over the winter. His answer came back quick as a flash: 'First I will do a lot of interviews.' Marquez was all too keenly aware of the media exposure his championship would bring.
He had already done his first big interview, speaking to journalists last Tuesday in a teleconference organized by the ever-industrious Indianapolis Motor Speedway press office. In the interview, Marquez talks about winning the championship at the first attempt, aggressive riding by himself and by Jorge Lorenzo, what Honda needs to do to improve the 2014 bike, and the mental strength he learned after the eye injury he suffered at Sepang in 2011.
The transcript of the press conference appears below:
2013 RED BULL INDIANAPOLIS GP TELECONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
2013 MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez, Nov. 12, 2013
THE MODERATOR: Welcome, everyone, to the Red Bull Indianapolis GP teleconference. We are very grateful and privileged today to have the new Moto GP World Champion, Marc Marquez, of the Repsol Honda Team. Marc won the title by finishing third Sunday at the Grand Prix of Valencia, edging Jorge Lorenzo by four points. I could spend the next 15 minutes reading off a list of Marc's accomplishments, but I'll try to keep it brief.
A little bit of background. Marc is 20 years old. He's from Spain. He's the youngest premier class World Champion in history. He's the first rookie to win the premier class world title since American legend Kenny Roberts in 1978. Marc won six races this season, a rookie record. One of those wins came in August at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP at IMS, and he finished on the podium in 16 of his 18 starts this year. Marc has won three world championships in the last four seasons. He's won the 125cc title in 2010, the Moto2 title in 2012 and the MotoGP World Championship in 2013. Oh, by the way, he also led testing today. His 2014 season is already underway. He led test today at Valencia.
With the MotoGP season now officially ended, riders are taking the opportunity to have various medical niggles sorted out ready for 2014. Last week, Dani Pedrosa had the metal plate removed from his right collarbone, and on Sunday, Nicky Hayden had a screw removed from his right wrist.
Pedrosa's surgery brings to a close a painful chapter in his life. The plate which has just been removed was inserted on his right collarbone after his clash with Marco Simoncelli at Le Mans in 2011. Pedrosa was reluctant to have surgery on his his right collarbone, as he was only just starting to recover from surgery on his left collarbone, which he had injured at Motegi in 2010. The operation to fix that injury had seen screws compress the artery leading down to his left arm, causing a loss of feeling during racing. The clash with Simoncelli took place just weeks after an operation to resolve the Thoracic Outlet Syndrome which had resulted from the previous injury.
With the plate in his right collarbone removed, Pedrosa will need two weeks of rest before starting physical rehabilitation. The recovery period should give his collarbone time to heal, and for bone growth to fill in the holes left by the screws, restoring his collarbone to full strength.
2013 Valencia Post-Race Test Day 3 Round Up: Ducati's Hope, Espargaro's Improvement, And Hayden's Honda
The rain that threatened didn't come, to both the relief and the despair of everyone at the MotoGP test in Valencia. After 18 races, three flyaways and two days of testing, there were plenty of folk who had been secretly doing rain dances so they could pack up and go home early. As much as we all love MotoGP - and given the number of people who have to work second jobs to be able to afford to be there, love is the only explanation - the season is long and tiring, and testing is necessary, but a real grind to both do and watch. There were a lot of jealous looks at the empty space where the Factory Yamaha trucks had stood, the team having upped sticks and left at the end of Tuesday.
There were plenty of people who were happy to ride, though, and people who had things to test. Pol Espargaro was delighted to be back on the bike, and continued his impressive debut on the Tech 3 bike. Aleix Espargaro continued work on the NGM Forward Yamaha FTR, while Hiroshi Aoyama and Nicky Hayden continued to ride the production Honda. At Ducati, a mildly despondent Andrea Dovizioso continued to turn laps, while new signing Cal Crutchlow learned about the grind that riding for Ducati can be, testing lots of things that don't appear to make much difference to the bike. Crutchlow remained positive, pointing to the fact that even though the experiments had failed to produce a blistering lap time, the fact that his feedback was the same as Dovizioso's and the other Ducati riders, it would prove useful in the search for improvement.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams which stayed on for the third and final day of testing at Valencia:
Honda today issued a press release containing comments from the press conference held by HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto and Repsol Honda Team Principal Livio Suppo. The press release appears below:
End of season debrief with Shuhei Nakamoto and Livio Suppo
After another Triple Crown season, HRC’s Executive Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto and Team Principal of the Repsol Honda Team, Livio Suppo, took time out of their busy testing programme to speak to the World’s media to evaluate the 2013 season.
It has been another stellar season for the Repsol Honda Team, HRC’s Factory outfit. They won all three titles - Rider, Constructor and Team - with rookie Marc Marquez being crowned World Champion in the final race of the season and teammate Dani Pedrosa taking third in the Championship. Marc took Honda’s top result eleven times, and Dani was Honda’s top points-earner seven times and a Honda rider finished on the podium in every race this season.
Shuhei Nakamoto - HRC Executive Vice President