2018 San Juan Villicum Round Up: What We Learned In Argentina

WorldSBK's South American adventure saw the history books once again rewritten by Jonathan Rea, with the Northern Irishman claiming a tenth consecutive victory. The world champion claimed a comfortable win on Saturday, the series' first ever race in Argentina, but after a weekend of cleaning a dirty and dusty track, it was the temperature that caused problems on Sunday.

With over 43°C temperatures on the asphalt, it was as slick a surface as many riders could remember, with overnight rain also washing away any rubber that had been put down on the surface. It was easy to make a mistake, and coming from the third row of the grid Rea certainly made his fair share in the early laps. Once on clear track, however, he was imperious and comfortably the fastest man on track. He used this advantage to charge down Xavi Fores and claim a historic double that broke the long-standing record of Colin Edwards (2002) and Neil Hodgson (2003) for most consecutive victories in WorldSBK.

Digging Deep

Rea had to earn the win though. The Kawasaki rider spent Saturday night in the throes of a stomach virus, and by race day morning he was weak and tired. Spending the afternoon hydrating and trying to stay as relaxed as possible, he was likely glad of the later race start time and the extra time to be ready for action.

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Provisional 2019 MotoGP Grid - 21 Riders Confirmed, Grid Almost Finalized

With the announcement that Takaaki Nakagami has signed for an extra year with the Idemitsu LCR Honda squad, the 2019 MotoGP grid is almost finalized. Nakagami's signing brings the total of confirmed riders up to 21 of the total of 22 entries.

The only rider left to be confirmed officially is Tito Rabat. The Spaniard's serious leg injury, sustained at Silverstone, has caused a delay, with his contract extension expected to have already come earlier. There is no doubt that Rabat will get the final seat, though it will probably have to wait until he is fit enough to return again.

Below is the official line up for 2019:

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Takaaki Nakagami Confirmed With LCR Honda For 2019

The LCR Honda team today announced they have agreed to extend their contract with Takaaki Nakagami through the 2019 season. The Japanese rider will continue to race a satellite spec Honda RC213V with the Idemitsu-backed part of the Italian team alongside Cal Crutchlow.

The anouncement was widely expected, as Nakagami has had a solid rookie season, and done more than enough to earn an added year. Honda are keen to support a Japanese rider in MotoGP, as are Dorna, and Japanese lubricant firm Idemitsu are happy to help back that side of the garage. 

Nakagami's signing brings the total up to 21 riders who have now signed a MotoGP contract for 2019. The only rider left to be confirmed is Tito Rabat, who is expected to continue with the Avintia Ducati team. 

Below is the press release from the LCR Honda team:


TAKAAKI NAKAGAMI TO CONTINUE WITH LCR HONDA IDEMITSU IN 2019

PRESS RELEASE: 16 October 2018 | Official Announcement

On the eve of the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi, the LCR Honda IDEMITSU MotoGP Team is delighted to announce that Takaaki Nakagami has extended his contract with Honda HRC for 2019 season. The 26-year-old born in Chiba will again ride the Honda RC213V thus completing HRC 2019 line-up for next year MotoGP World Championship.

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Interview: Bradley Smith, Part 3 - On Proving The Doubters Wrong, On 'The Feeling', And On Coming Back To MotoGP

When Bradley Smith speaks, he always makes it worth listening. His thoughtful, analytical approach to racing means you will always learn something, always be surprised by something he says. At Aragon, we spoke to the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider for the best part of 40 minutes, and dissected a lot of areas of racing.

In this, the final part of the interview, Bradley Smith explains how he finds motivation through what is one of the most difficult parts of his career, developing the KTM RC16 MotoGP bike, and being far from competitive. He describes the contrarian attitude, the wanting to prove people wrong, which drives racers to achieve what they do.

Smith also explains just what a rider is looking for from his bike. The Englishman gets into "the feeling", what he wants from his bike, and what that translates to out on the track. He talks about searching for, and not finding, that feeling from the KTM, and the pleasure at getting close to that feeling again, and posting competitive times.

Finally, Smith talks about what motivated him to take a test role, and why he wasn't ready to retire. What his objective is at Aprilia, and how he finds satisfaction from not just his own success, but in helping others. He also talks about wanting to make a comeback to racing, and how he hopes to follow in the footsteps of Toni Elias, who returned to MotoGP, before looking forward to the future, after his racing days are over.

Make sure you read part 1 and part 2 of this interview, though you don't necessarily have to read them before reading this final part.

Q: Three or four seconds used to be second or third, and now four seconds you could end up outside of the top ten.

Bradley Smith: Yes. That's what we're talking about. I think that's what's fun about GP racing at the moment.

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2018 San Juan Villicum World Superbike Race Two Result: Still With The Reverse Grid?

Twenty one laps to go, then it's a two week wait until the last race of the season. Argentina's Circuito San Juan Villicum gave World SUperbike two races on a fresh track, surrounded by a region rebuilt after the 1944 earthquake. 

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2018 San Juan Villicum World Supersport Race Result: Rain Cleaned Track Overnight

The first World Supersport race at the Circuito San Juan Villicum was nineteen laps of the four thousand two hundred and seventy six metre track and could help define who would be crowned champion. Rain overnight cleaned the track and left before it became a problem.

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Discovering The San Juan Villicum WorldSBK Track With Eugene Laverty

The Circuit San Juan Villicum has surprised everyone in the WorldSBK paddock this weekend. With the Andes Mountain range offering one of the most picturesque backgrounds in all of racing, this brand new facility has instantly added a unique circuit to the championship.

The 4.2km circuit has received positive feedback from the riders and teams, and Milwaukee Aprilia's Eugene Laverty offered us his perspective of the track.

“I think that they've done a really nice job with this track and I've been quite impressed with it,” said the Irishman. “It took a day to rubber the track in, but in FP4 it has really started to offer more grip and we could start to push on. Over the start finish line we're able to hold fourth over the start finish straight, it's a bit too slow an exit from the final corner with low RPM to need fifth gear for us, but we're back to first for turn one.

“There's a steep descent into this corner, like at Portimao, and it's tricky going into that corner, but coming around Turn 2 it opens up and we're into second and then through the kink we'll hold second gear even though some riders are able to get into third for it. It's really nice through the faster section as you take third and fourth gear through the sweeping corners, and it's similar to Misano into Turn 6 and 7.”

Passing spot

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2018 San Juan Villicum World Superbike Race One Result: Records, Records, Records

An anti-clockwise track, starting with a hill with a crest after the finish line, a couple of swooping corners, a kilometre run to a passing corner, some tight one-line-only corners, flip-flop, flip-flop and a couple of tight lefts to get back to the hill. Race one of World Superbike at Circuito San Juan Villicum would be twenty one laps with clouds looking on from the shadows of the Andes.

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2018 San Juan Villicum World Supersport Superpole Result: Constant Changes At The Top

World Supersport's Superpole started with the first session where thirteen riders would fight for two promotional spots, with Hannes Soomer and Hector Barberas the quickest of the slower riders in timed qualifying.

Hector Barbera opened the session quickest, but was knocked off the top spot by Hannes Soomer, but Loris Cresson and Christian Stange were on quick lapses the quicker riders pitted in. Stange sat behind Cresson down the fast kilometre-long back straight and used the extra speed to take the top spot before the mid-session break. 

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2018 San Juan Villicum World Superbike Superpole Result: Lap Record Set

Superpole for World Superbike at a new track means whoever is on pole position sets the lap record. The altitude saps a little power from each bike, limiting their ability to set speed records on the kilometre-long back straight. Michael van der Mark and Jake Gagne start Superpole one as favourites to progress to the join the ten fastest men for Superpole two.

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