Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 17 - Reviewing the Jerez World Superbike Test

It's testing season for all forms of World Championship motorcycle racing, and so there is plenty to talk about. The first of two special testing episodes comes from Jerez, after the World Superbike test held there recently, at which just about all of the teams were present. Steve English, now WSBK commentator for the international TV feed, is joined by Jensen Beeler of Asphalt and Rubber, to talk over all of the news from the test and give their impressions of what happened.

In the podcast, Steve and Jensen go through the main contenders for the 2016 World Superbike crown, and take a look at all of the main manufacturers involved. Naturally, all of the favorites are discussed, including WSBK rookie and former MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden.

Enjoy the show, and stay tuned, as we will be having a new show very soon, looking back at the MotoGP test at Sepang.

First Day of Private Valencia Test For Moto2 and Moto3 Teams - Favorites and Rookies Impress

Testing season is picking up now, with the Moto2 and Moto3 teams also taking to the track in greater numbers. Today, a large group of teams gathered at the Valencia circuit to prepare for the 2016 season, including some twenty Moto3 riders and eight Moto2 riders. The weather was far from ideal, with rain calling an early halt to proceedings, but the teams and riders still got in an average of forty laps apiece.

Though it was only one day, the times set - unofficial, reported by the teams to circuit staff, and therefore not entirely reliable - were reasonably fast. Outside of fastest man Johann Zarco in Moto2, the times were about a second off lap record. 2015 Moto2 champion Zarco was in a league of his own, nine tenths quicker than the rest of the pack. In the Moto3 class, it was another preseason favorite heading up the timesheets, Brad Binder setting the fastest time, though only by a narrow margin.

Behind the favorites, what impressed was the speed of the rookies. In Moto2, Danny Kent - more of a returnee than a rookie - was second fastest, level with former race winner and regular contender Jonas Folger, and four tenths quicker than Sandro Cortese. Kent's teammate Miguel Oliveira is taking longer getting up to speed, finishing nine tenths behind Kent, and 1.8 seconds behind Zarco.

2016 Aprilia RS-GP Gets First Shakedown At Aragon

With Ducati refining the already competitive GP15 into the Desmo16, and Suzuki bringing a seamless gearbox and new, more powerful engine for the GSX-RR, the battle among the manufacturers in MotoGP is getting closer. The one exception so far has been Aprilia, who soldiered on through 2015 with an uprated version of the ART machine, which was still based on the RSV4 production bike, while they worked on a brand new prototype.

That prototype has at last made its debut at the track. On Wednesday, Aprilia test rider Mike Di Meglio took the 2016 Aprilia RS-GP out for its first official spin. Di Meglio was performing a basic shakedown test, making sure that everything worked and there were no unexpected problems with the bike, giving Aprilia time to address them before factory Aprilia riders Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl get their first chance to ride the bike at a private test at Qatar, two weeks before the official IRTA test at the circuit. 

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The Easy Rider in Valentino Rossi

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.


The Easy Rider in Valentino Rossi

The nine-time champion hasn’t just changed his riding style to stay on top; he’s changed his whole lifestyle

I watched Easy Rider on the plane home from Sepang and thought about Valentino Rossi. There’s more than a tenuous link here, honest. Rossi would do almost anything to have been born thirty years earlier, so he could’ve been racing and generally having a good time in that wildest, most excessive of eras.

2016 MotoGP Calendar Finalized

The FIM have today at last finalized the 2016 MotoGP calendar. The two circuits which were still subject to contract, Brno and Jerez, have now had their contracts confirmed. The calendar is unchanged from the provisional calendar published between Sepang and Valencia last year.


FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix
2016 Calendar, 10 February

The FIM and Dorna are pleased to confirm that the FIM Grand Prix World Championship calendar published as provisional on November 2 is now final.

Leopard Moto2 And Moto3 Teams Complete First Private Test At Barcelona

The Leopard Racing team issued the following press releases after the first test of their Moto2 and Moto3 teams at Barcelona:

Year: 
2016

MotoGP in Indonesia - Probably Delayed Until 2018, Probably Not at Sentul

It is no secret that Dorna and the manufacturers active in MotoGP are keen to stage a race in Indonesia. The sport enjoys unrivaled popularity in the Southeast Asian country, and as one of the biggest markets for scooters and small capacity motorcycles in the world, Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki are desperate to race there. The burgeoning middle class in Indonesia also make it a key target market for European manufacturers such as Ducati, who have seen their sales explode in the region, albeit from a very small base.

Throughout 2015, Dorna officials met with senior figures in Indonesia, including the Minister for Youth and Sports, Imam Nahrawi, and the CEO of the Sentul Circuit Tinton Soeprapto, in an attempt to hammer out an agreement. So far, Dorna have a letter of intent signed by the Minister, and a preliminary deal which would see the race staged in Indonesia for three years, starting in 2017.

Funding Appears for Circuit of Wales - MotoGP at Track from 2018

The Circuit of Wales is edging ever closer to becoming a reality. BBC Wales is reporting that UK insurance giant Aviva will be backing the Circuit of Wales project, and providing funds to allow building work on the track near Ebbw Vale in South Wales to start. Construction will take some time, however, and Silverstone will continue to host the British round of MotoGP for the 2016 and 2017 seasons, the race only moving to the Circuit of Wales from 2018 onwards.

The news that Aviva is to provide financial backing for the Circuit of Wales still leaves many questions unanswered. It is not clear from the reports by BBC Wales exactly how much money Aviva will be putting into the track. The circuit needs £300 million in private investment, on top of roughly £30 million in public funding in the form of loans. Whether Aviva will be providing the full £300 million for the Circuit of Wales, or sufficient seed money for building work to start is unclear. 

Kawasaki and BMW Press Releases: European WSBK Testing Concludes at Aragon

The Milwaukee BMW and Kawasaki World Superbike teams issued the following press releases after their final private test in Europe at the Motorland Aragon circuit, before flying off to Australia for the tests and opening round of WSBK:

Year: 
2016

Suzuki Video - Viñales, Espargaro and Brivio Discuss Sepang Test

After the first test of 2016 at Sepang, Suzuki released a video featuring interviews with Maverick Viñales, Aleix Espargaro and team manager Davide Brivio. In the video, they discuss how they got on with the new 2016 GSX-RR Suzuki brought to the Sepang tests.

The biggest positive for both riders was the extra horsepower which the new engine had. For the first time, Maverick Viñales said, he had been able to follow Marc Marquez down the front straight, and not lose ground on top speed. The new seamless gearbox helped here too, improving the acceleration of the bike. Neither Viñales nor Espargaro were particularly enamored of the new chassis, however. Viñales ignored it altogether, while Espargaro spent time on it, especially on the last day. The two could not agree on the benefits of the chassis, Viñales saying the frame had grip but would not turn, while Espargaro said the bike was turning better than the 2015 item, but he had no grip.

Watch what the riders and team manager have to say for yourself below:

Marquez' Management Company Confirms Official Split With VR46 Merchandising

As we reported back in January, Marc Marquez has ended his agreement with Valentino Rossi's VR46 Racing Apparel company to produce and sell merchandising for the Spaniard and his younger brother. Today, official confirmation came in the form of a press release from his management company, Alzamora Communications. The agreement with VR46 RAcing Apparel has been officially terminated.

The ending of the contract is part of the fallout from the incident between Marquez and Rossi at Sepang, in October last year. That episode effectively destroyed any relationship that existed between the two riders, though it had been gradually deteriorating throughout the 2015 season. Rossi's accusations, both after Sepang and especially after Valencia, caused Marquez to lose any faith he may have had in Rossi, and made him decide to sever all business ties with Rossi and those linked to him. In addition to the merchandising deal, Marquez will also be ending his association with GP Rooms, the room rental business run by the Nieto family, after Marquez felt that they had taken sides against him.

The press release from Marquez' management company is below:


PRESS RELEASE

Barcelona, 8th February 2016

Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 16 - Reviewing the Yamaha Launch

The latest episode of the Paddock Pass Podcast is here, and though we are a couple of weeks behind on production, this one is definitely worth a listen. Neil Morrison and David Emmett both attended the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team launch in Barcelona, and afterwards, we looked back at the presentation and discussed what we thought.

As we were present at the launch, we also managed to record some of what the riders had to say. The podcast includes the question and answer sessions with Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo. We also caught up for an interview with Bradley Smith, and he tells us how he is preparing for 2016, and what he expects to achieve this season. Though the recordings are a couple of weeks old, they are all the more interesting in light of the recent Sepang test held last week. Enjoy the show, there are more coming soon.

If you don't want to miss out on these episodes as they are released, make sure you follow The Paddock Pass Podcast on Facebook and Twitter, or subscribe to it on iTunes or Soundcloud. Enjoy the show!

MotoGP Rules Update: Stewards Disciplinary Panel Confirmed, Tire Pressure Sensors Mandatory

As we reported on Tuesday, changes are to be made to Race Direction. At a meeting in Geneva on Thursday, the Grand Prix Commission decided to change the way disciplinary matters are handled by Race Direction. For this season, a separate body is to be set up to handle all incidents on track requiring disciplinary action. These issues have been handled by Race Direction until now, but the incident at Sepang between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez led to calls for such decisions to be taken away from Race Direction, to allow quicker decisions to be made.

From the start of the 2016 season, all disciplinary matters will be dealt with by a separate panel, consisting of three people. One of those will be Mike Webb, who as MotoGP Race Director is ultimately responsible for all aspects of the MotoGP race. Mike Webb will be joined by two stewards appointed by the FIM. Those stewards have yet to be appointed, and the press release issued by the FIM does not make clear whether the stewards will be appointed permanently, for a full season, or for each race individually. In the case of an incident which needs to be investigated by the panel of stewards, Mike Webb will hand over his duties as Race Director to a newly appointed deputy, Graham Webber.

Casey Stoner's Ducati MotoGP Test - Your Questions Answered

The return of Casey Stoner to Ducati as a test rider has raised more questions than it answered. Fans and media alike are in a state of confusion about his intentions, especially given the times he was setting on the Ducati Desmosedici GP15. What was he doing? Will he race again? When will he test again? To try to put this test and Stoner's role into perspective, here is what we know, what we think we know, and what we don't.

What was Stoner riding?

Casey Stoner spent all three days on the Ducati Desmosedici GP15. He did not test the GP16.

If he's a test rider, why didn't he test the GP16?

A lot of reasons. The GP16 is a brand new bike, and there aren't that many of them yet, so Ducati can't afford to have a test rider destroy one if they crash. The GP16 is not that different to the GP15, so there was plenty for Stoner to test which is transferable to the GP16. Stoner hadn't ridden a MotoGP bike in a year, and hadn't ridden a Ducati since 2010. He hadn't ridden Michelins since 2006, and MotoGP is now using a spec software. For this test, Stoner's aim was to get up to speed, learn and understand the Ducati and a 1000cc era MotoGP bike, complete with Michelins and spec software, and prepare himself for the next test, so that he can provide better input at the next test.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why Honda never take the easy road

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.


Why Honda never take the easy road

Honda’s RC213V engine is a wild thing, but this is not an unusual problem for them to solve. Here’s why…

Many people will tell you the most important things about preseason tests is lap times. These numbers are endlessly analysed by so-called experts attempting to predict the outcome of the new season, rather like weirdos trying to divine the future by reading the tealeaves in the bottom of their teacups.

It’s all a load of nonsense, of course. Individual preseason lap times mean nothing. If they did, Marc Marquez would’ve won last year’s MotoGP title.

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