Press releases from some of the teams after the final test of the preseason at Phillip Island:
Testing concludes with Bautista the man to beat in Australia
Alvaro Bautista has laid down the law in Australia, the law being that the Ducati Panigale V4R is the bike to beat at Phillip Island. After dominating the first day of testing, Bautista went on to top the second day too, putting nearly a quarter of a second over his rivals.
Tom Sykes ended the test as second fastest, the BMW S1000RR clearly a competitive motorcycle in the right hands, and a tenth faster than the Kawasaki ZX-10RR of Leon Haslam. Haslam finished just ahead of his teammate and reigning champion Jonathan Rea, while Marco Melandri was the fastest Yamaha, the GRT Yamaha rider finishing fifth quickest.
Randy Krummenacher topped the second day of WorldSSP testing at Phillip Island, extending his domination of the test. Bardahl Yamaha teammate Federico Caricasulo finished the test in second spot, a couple of tenths behind Krummenacher. Raffele De Rosa put the MV Agusta into third spot, four tenths slower than Krummenacher.
The teams will now have a couple of days' rest, before reconvening for action on Friday morning, when the 2019 WorldSBK season kicks off in earnest.
Below are the combined times from both sessions today, as well as the times from each session separately:
Alvaro Bautista has made his mark on the first day of the WorldSBK at Phillip Island, the Aruba.it Ducati rider blitzing the field at the final test before racing starts. Bautista was aided by the fact that the wind picked up in the afternoon, making it hard for anyone to improve their times, but he used the speed of the Ducati V4R to his advantage to top both sessions.
Randy Krummenacher leads the way after the first day of the final test for the World Supersport class before the season kicks off next weekend. The Bardahl Yamaha rider put in a late charge to edge past his teammate Federico Caricasulo at the end of the day. Jules Cluzel made it three Yamahas in a row at the top of the timesheets.
Lucas Mahias, now riding a Puccetti Kawasaki, was fourth fastest after the first day, four tenths slower than Krummenacher, and just ahead of Raffaele De Rosa on the MV Agusta F3.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
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.