Editor's Blog: Valentino Rossi, MotoGP's First Rockstar, At 40

I do not make a habit of marking the birthdays of motorcycle racers, but Valentino Rossi's 40th is worthy of an exception to my self-imposed rule. His 40th birthday is clearly a milestone, though any birthday can hardly be regarded as an achievement. To reach his 40th birthday, all Rossi had to do was keep living.

But of course, the fuss being made of Valentino Rossi's 40th birthday is not because of the age he has reached. It is because he reaches the age of 40 a few months after having finished third in the 2018 MotoGP championship, racking up five podiums and a pole position along the way. It is because the media, his fans, and Rossi himself regard that as a disappointing season.

It is because he enters his 24th season of Grand Prix racing, and his 20th in the premier class, the first year of a two-year contract which will see him racing until the age of 41 at least. It is because he is one of the leading favorites to wrestle the MotoGP crown from reigning champion Marc Márquez (15 years younger), along with Jorge Lorenzo (9 years younger), Andrea Dovizioso (8 years younger), Maverick Viñales (16 years younger).

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Rossi at 40: so many memories

Recounting memories of Valentino Rossi, who turns 40 on Saturday

Valentino Rossi celebrates his 40th birthday on Saturday, hoping against hope to become the first forty-something to win a world title since the 1950s, when grand prix racing was ruled by older riders who’d had their careers interrupted by the Second World War.

To give you some idea of Rossi’s advancing years, Britain had its first £1million footballer in February 1979, when Trevor Francis signed to Nottingham Forest. When he won his first grand prix in August 1996 the Spice Girls were number one.

The big four-oh isn’t the only major life landmark that Rossi reaches this year, because three weeks later, on 10th March, he commences his 24th world championship season. Only two riders have got close to that, Aussie great Jack Findlay, who raced 20 and a bit seasons from 1958 to 1978 and Brazilian Alex Barros, who raced 22 seasons from 1986 to 2007, having lied about his age to get his first grand prix licence to race in the 50cc class.

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Motorcycle Racing Is A Profitable Investment: Bridgepoint Sells Dorna To Itself

Motorcycle racing is a profitable business, it turns out. The leading UK financial paper Financial Times reported yesterday that Bridgepoint Capital, the private equity firm which owns Dorna, among many other assets, has hit upon a relatively novel way of paying out investors, by transferring the roughly 40% of Dorna which it owns between one Bridgepoint fund and another. 

The proposed sale is a result of a review carried out by merchant bankers Lazard at the end of last year, with the aim of fixing a value and finding potential buyers. According to the FT, several private equity firms expressed an interesting in buying Bridgepoint's stake, including former owners CVC. 

That sale is now off the table, it appears. Instead of selling Dorna to an outside party, Bridgepoint is now investigating setting up a separate, internal fund and moving it from one fund to another, paying its investors from the transfer between the two funds. The sale allows Bridgepoint to pay out Dorna's increased value to investors who put their money into the fund Bridgepoint set up to hold Dorna in 2008, after it had performed a similar maneuver between 2006 and 2008.

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Jonathan Rea Interview: The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Jonathan Rea has gotten the band back together in his attempt to win an unprecedented fifth WorldSBK title in 2019

You’re the man to beat until someone beats you, and Jonathan Rea is doing all he can to make sure his time at the top continues. While the four-time WorldSBK champion might reset his points at the start of every season, he doesn’t reset the core group of people around him. Crew chief Pere Riba, electronics specialist Davide Gentile, and mechanics Uri Pallares and Arturo Perez are all back together for a fifth season.

The goal remains the same for Rea in 2019: winning. But after rewriting the record books where does the motivation come from for the Northern Irishman? At the start of his Kawasaki tenure the motivation was clear – win a first title. Since than it’s been about staying on top and then the fear of losing was a force last year. For 2019 Rea seems relaxed and the motivation seems to be coming from a less cluttered life.

“My motivation hasn’t really changed,” said Rea. “I want to stay at the top. At one point last year I did panic that maybe my time was running out, but this year I feel like I can ride into the wave again and keep it going. When I found the right feeling with the bike last year I felt invincible. It wouldn’t have mattered if you brought a MotoGP bike to the track with the best rider in the world. I felt like I’d go out there and win.

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KTM Press Release: KTM Launch Red Bull Factory And Red Bull Tech3 MotoGP Teams

KTM launched their 2019 MotoGP campaign at their factory in Mattighofen, Austria today. They introduced the Red Bull Factory MotoGP team, and the Red Bull Tech3 satellite squad. They issued the following press release after the launch:


2019 MotoGP is Go! Red Bull KTM race teams show new colours in Austrian unveiling

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2019 Jerez Moto2/Moto3 Private Test Day 2 Times: Lowes And Rodrigo Leave As Fastest

Sam Lowes has topped the timesheets at the second day of the private test for some of the Moto2 and Moto3 classes, the Gresini rider going over a tenth faster than Sky VR46's Luca Marini. Both riders improved their times from the first day by a significant margin.

Alex Marquez ended the second day as third fastest, and third overall. Nicolo Bulega was fourth quickest on Tuesday, but could not match the times set by Tom Luthi and Jorge Navarro on Monday.

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2019 Jerez Moto2/Moto3 Private Test Day 1 Times: Marini Leads Close Group

Ahead of next week's first official Moto2 and Moto3 test at Jerez, a few teams are gathered at the Andalucian circuit to prepare the 2019 season in the lower classes. Present are the Sky VR46, Marc VDS, Kiefer, Estrella Galicia 0,0, Gresini Racing, Dynavolt IntactGP, Italtrans, Idemitsu, CIP Green Power, and Speed Up teams, making use of the fine weather in Jerez.

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Sepang MotoGP Test: The MotoGP Bikes Up Close, by @colmobri


Valentino Rossi's Yamaha M1
David Emmett: The Yamaha M1 barely seems to change from year to year. In recent seasons, even the livery has remained almost identical. Yamaha's philosophy is one of evolution and refinement, and that is not always obvious from the outside. Despite the lack of outward change, there are some major changes to the 2019 Yamaha M1. Yamaha is continuing along the path of moving weight to the rear of the bike, and the bike has new chassis parts (including a new frame) to help with tire life. The biggest changes have been on the electronics side, optimizing the Magneti Marelli spec ECU software.

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2019 Sepang MotoGP Test Friday Notes: Quick Takes On All Six Factories At The Test

It was 7:30 in the evening, and we were standing on the porch of the Petronas Yamaha SRT hospitality chalet, talking to Fabio Quartararo about how his day had gone when the rain came. It was a brief, intense shower filling the air with the sweet scent that comes when rain falls after a period of intense heat. It seemed a somehow fitting end to one of the most intriguing MotoGP tests in years.

The weather had played a major role in the test, though this time, for all the right reasons. Normally, test days at Sepang are disrupted in the late afternoon by a heavy rainfall, leaving teams trying to cram as much work as possible into the mornings, and hoping that the track dries out in the afternoon. Every shower brings dust and dirt to the track, washing away some of the rubber laid down on the track, slowing the track down.

But not this time. There was a brief thunderstorm on Monday night, but that was the last rain to fall at the circuit until Friday night. Three full days of a dry track, the pace increasing as more and more rubber got laid down. It should hardly be surprising that Jorge Lorenzo's fastest ever lap of the circuit, set last year, should be broken. But that it should be broken by nearly six tenths of a second, and by six riders, is a sign both of just how good the track conditions were, and just how competitive the field is currently in MotoGP.

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2019 Sepang MotoGP Test Thursday Round Up: Ducati's Trick Parts, Yamaha's Revival, Suzuki's Speed, And KTM On The Right Road?

For fans of technological innovation, the first day of the Sepang MotoGP test had been something of a disappointment. There were very few clearly visible upgrades to the bikes on display on Wednesday, teams using the first day to get themselves accustomed, and focus on checking the engine choices made back at the November tests. There were one or two things going on, but they weren't obviously visible to casual fans.

Thursday was a much better day for MotoGP tech nerds. New parts started to appear, as factories started working their way through the list of parts they have prepared for the 2019 season. Suzuki debuted a new fairing, with a more Yamaha-like aero package, with wider wing surfaces and a slimmer side section.

Alex Rins was positive about the new fairing. "It gave me more support on the front, less wheelie, which is important for the speed. We are faster on the straight because of the fairing – it’s more aerodynamic. The front wheel is more on the floor." That was borne out by his lap times, the Spaniard finishing with the second fastest time of the day, and the second highest number of laps in 1'59, including a run of four in a row. This was pace, rather than just a single quick lap.

Hitting the holeshot

All eyes were on Ducati, however, as a mystery lever appeared on the top of the Desmosedici GP19's (and only the GP19) top triple clamp:

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