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Scaphoid Surgery Forces Lorenzo To Skip Sepang Test

Jorge Lorenzo has had successful surgery to fix his fractured scaphoid, but the surgery means he will miss the Sepang test. The Spaniard had a titanium screw inserted to hold the broken scaphoid together, but the recovery period needed means he will not be fully fit in time for the start of the Sepang test, and Repsol Honda and Lorenzo have decided to skip Sepang and focus on the Qatar test at the end of February.

Despite the surgery, Lorenzo will be present at the launch of the Repsol Honda team in Madrid, to be held on Wednesday, 23rd January. 

Lorenzo's accident puts Honda in a difficult situation for Sepang. Marc Marquez is still recovering from major surgery on his left shoulder, to fix a chronic problem of dislocation. Though Marquez' recovery continues apace, he is far from full fitness, and has not been able to train the way he normally would. Cal Crutchlow is still recovering from a massive ankle injury which he suffered at the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island last year. Though he is cycling, he still has some pain while walking, and so his condition is far from 100% for the test.

With Lorenzo out, Marquez far from fit, and Crutchlow questionable, HRC will have limited testing resources to rely on. Stefan Bradl will be present as HRC official tester, and Honda could elect to use one of their Japanese test riders. Whether they will hand some of the work to Crutchlow's LCR Honda teammate Takaaki Nakagami remains to be seen: unlike Crutchlow, Nakagami is contracted to LCR rather than HRC. However, Nakagami did finish the Jerez test as the fastest rider.

If there is one saving grace for Honda, it is that much of the engine development work has already been done for 2019. A new engine spec was tested at both Valencia and Jerez, together with a different air intake system, aimed at boosting power. Jerez and Valencia are tracks which show up the deficiencies of engines, and so the focus for HRC has switched to the chassis, and especially the front end of the bike. This is where Marquez will struggle to do much work if he still has pain in his shoulder, though Crutchlow may fare better with a painful ankle.

No doubt we will learn more at the Repsol Honda team presentation in Madrid on Wednesday. The press release on Lorenzo's surgery appears below:


Lorenzo completes operation on scaphoid

Jorge Lorenzo sustained a broken left scaphoid while training, the Majorcan then undergoing successful surgery to repair the break.

While continuing his preparations for the 2019 MotoGP™ World Championship, Jorge Lorenzo suffered a fall while riding just outside of Verona, Italy. After multiple checks, it was unfortunately confirmed that the five-time world champion had sustained a broken scaphoid.

Lorenzo elected to have surgery on the injury, a titanium screw inserted via a minimally invasive technique. He will remain in hospital for 24 hours for further observation. Four days rest will give the injury sufficient time to heal from the operation and physiotherapy can then begin.

Due to the nature of the injury, Jorge Lorenzo and the Repsol Honda Team have elected for Lorenzo to miss the Sepang Test to focus fully on his recovery. His aim is to return fully fit for the Qatar Test, February 23 to 25. He now heads to Madrid for the 25th Anniversary Repsol Honda Team launch on January 23 alongside Marc Márquez. The event will be streamed live here.

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2019 MotoGP Calender Confirmed - No Changes Made

The FIM today officially confirmed the 2019 MotoGP calendar. There were no changes made to the provisional calendar released in September last year. There will be 19 races, starting in Qatar on 10th March, and ending in Valencia on 17th November. There will be tests after the race at Jerez, Barcelona, and Brno, while the first test of 2020 is expected to take place after Valencia.

There could be an extra test in the schedule, to be held directly after Silverstone. If the new Kymiring circuit in Finland is finished on time, the riders will head to Finland at the end of August to try the new circuit, and generate important data for Michelin.

The official calendar appears below:

Date Grand Prix Venue
10 March Qatar* Losail International Circuit
31 March República Argentina Termas de Río Hondo
14 April Americas Circuit of The Americas
05 May Spain Circuito de Jerez
19 May France Le Mans
02 June Italy Autodromo del Mugello
16 June Catalunya Barcelona - Catalunya
30 June Netherlands TT Circuit Assen
07 July Germany Sachsenring
04 August Czech Republic Automotodrom Brno
11 August Austria Red Bull Ring - Spielberg
25 August Great Britain Silverstone Circuit
15 September San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli
22 September Aragón MotorLand Aragón
06 October Thailand Chang International Circuit
20 October Japan Twin Ring Motegi
27 October Australia Phillip Island
03 November Malaysia Sepang International Circuit
17 November Comunitat Valenciana Comunitat Valenciana - Ricardo Tormo

* Evening race

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Jorge Lorenzo Fractures Left Scaphoid In Dirt Track Accident - Surgery On Monday

Just days before the Repsol Honda team launch in Madrid on Wednesday, Jorge Lorenzo has suffered a wrist injury. The Spaniard fractured his left scaphoid in a training accident while riding dirt track. Lorenzo underwent examinations in Italy and Spain, and is due to undergo surgery in Barcelona on Monday, with Dr. Mir set to operate.

The accident occurred in Italy on Saturday afternoon, and became public when Lorenzo turned up at the Clinica Pederzoli in Peschiera del Garda, in the southeast corner of Lake Garda in Italy. News of Lorenzo's incident emerged on the website of the local Corriere del Veneto paper, who reported that that Lorenzo had spent a couple of hours at the clinic. He was accompanied by two people, a man and a woman, who confirmed that Lorenzo was seeking treatment for a painful hand, but offered no other details.

The news was eventually confirmed on social media, with the Repsol Honda Team Twitter account confirming that Lorenzo had fractured his scaphoid. Italian website GPOne.com has more information on the injury. 

Scaphoid injuries are extremely common among motorcycle racers, as it is the bone in the base of the hand, which usually hits the ground first. The list of riders who have broken their scaphoid is very long indeed: Lorenzo joins such names as Casey Stoner, Nicky Hayden, Stefan Bradl, Jack Miller, Kevin Schwantz, and many more. How badly the injury affects a rider can vary enormously, as the bone receives very little blood and tends to heal very slowly. A fracture can be fixed quickly with screws, but the fracture itself may not heal for a very long time. 

Nicky Hayden had to have a row of bones, including the scaphoid, removed, after the scaphoid he injured in a crash at Turn 1 at Valencia turned arthritic and failed to heal. Casey Stoner had to have surgery on the scaphoid five years after originally breaking it. On the other hand, Toby Price won the 2019 Dakar Rally with a pinned scaphoid, after breaking it in December. 

With just two-and-a-half weeks to go before the Sepang test, the timing of Lorenzo's injury is extremely unfortunate. Lorenzo should be fit enough to test at Sepang from 6-8 February, but he will likely still be in some pain. With Marc Marquez still recovering from shoulder surgery in December, and Cal Crutchlow still in some pain after breaking his ankle at Phillip Island last year, HRC face the first test of 2019 with none of their factory-backed riders at full fitness. 

A press release with details of Lorenzo's surgery is expected on Monday, once he has been under the knife.

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Launch Season Is Upon Us: Ducati Kicks Off Weeks Of Team Presentations On Friday

As we inch closer to the official start of the MotoGP season at Sepang, where the first test of the year is set to be held from 6th-8th of February, we enter the season of team and factory launches. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, all of the MotoGP teams and factories will present their 2019 color schemes and riders at a series of events.

Ducati is the first to present its plans, as is the tradition. On Friday, 18th January, the Italian factory will present the MotoGP team of Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci at an event in Neuchatel, Switzerland. The location - the Phillip Morris R&D Cube in Neuchatel - has been chosen as a reflection of Ducati's partnership with Phillip Morris, and the tobacco giant's move to promote its electronic smoking device. Whether that will also translate to iQOS branding on the fairings remain to be seen: tobacco advertising and sponsorship remains banned throughout most of world, and especially in the key markets where MotoGP races. 

The launch is to start at 6pm CET on Friday, 18th January. It will be streamed live on the MotoGP.com website.

Repsol Honda is next, presenting their brand new line up of Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo at Repsol's main Campus in Madrid on 23rd January. It will be the first time that Lorenzo will be able to speak freely and publicly about his switch to Honda, though he is more likely to speak openly to journalists afterwards, rather than during the public presentation.

The Repsol Honda launch is on 23rd January in Madrid, and starts at 10:30am CET. That event will also be streamed live on the MotoGP.com website.

MotoMatters.com will be attending both the Repsol Honda and the Factory Ducati launch.

A week after the Repsol Honda launch, the Sepang Racing Team will launch their full racing program in Kuala Lumpur. The SRT will present their MotoGP, Moto2, and Moto3 teams at the Petronas towers on the 28th January, at 8:30am CET. Three days later, on 31st January, the Suzuki Ecstar team will launch their 2019 MotoGP effort. And on 4th February, the factory Yamaha - now Monster Yamaha - team will launch their 2019 campaign at a special event in Jakarta, Indonesia. A day later, Yamaha will present its international racing program at the Sepang Circuit, with the Monster Yamaha MotoGP team being joined by the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK team of Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark.

KTM will wait until after the Sepang test to make their presentation. The Austrian factory will launch their MotoGP effort - both the Red Bull factory team and the Tech3 satellite squad - at an event in Mattighofen, Austria, on Tuesday 12th February.

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News Round Up: KTM Open To Marquez Approach, Ducati Looking At 2020 Already

The MotoGP riders are just two weeks into their shiny new contracts, but already, there is talk of what happens next. In Italy, there is a discussion of who gets the factory Ducati seat alongside Andrea Dovizioso in 2020. In Spain, they are looking ahead to 2021, and the option of KTM offering Marc Márquez a contract.

To start with Márquez first. The Repsol Honda rider is still in the midst of rehabilitation after his shoulder surgery in December. That is proceeding reasonably well, as Márquez' post on Instagram, showing him participating in the Fita973, a 13km cross country run organized by the Márquez brothers in Catalonia, demonstrates.

With the attention of the world turned to the Dakar rally, Spanish sports daily Marca, which also runs a radio program, called Marc Coma, former five-time Dakar winner and now head of KTM Spain, to talk about the rally currently going on in Peru. During the interview, Coma said that he wouldn't rule out an approach to Marc Márquez. "Marc was part of the KTM family in the past," Coma said. "KTM's MotoGP project is evolving in the right direction. When the bike is ready to win, why not have Márquez with us?"

Coma also admitted that this was not the first time KTM had approached Márquez. "KTM already made an attempt last time right. They made him an offer of a contract," Coma said. "Personally, I would love for Marc to sign with KTM."

Silly Season starts two years early

Despite the fact that the next round of contract negotiations is at least a year away – and the KTM RC16 currently looks to be more than a year away from being capable of winning a MotoGP race – the battle for Marc Márquez' signature is already hotting up. This should hardly come as a surprise: since entering the class, Márquez has won five out of six championships, several times on bikes that were clearly inferior to the competition. Only a truly difficult Honda RC213V, and a lack of experience in handling adverse results, kept him from making it six out of six.

MotoGP manufacturers hoping to win a championship understand this, and are angling to sign the Spaniard. In the previous round of contract negotiations, as Marc Coma confirms, KTM made an approach to Marc Márquez. And Ducati also offered Márquez a large amount of money last winter to ride for them. When the next round of negotiations start, at the end of this season, Ducati will once again be targeting Márquez for the 2021 season and beyond.

Whether Márquez will move remains an open question. First of all, Márquez will not switch without taking his entire crew with him. Factories are not keen on this, and Ducati doubly so, after their failed experiment with Valentino Rossi. When a complete crew arrives, it means there is no one with experience with the bike to help guide the way. That, some in Ducati feel, is one way the Rossi experiment failed.

It will also be interesting to see if Honda would be willing to let Márquez leave. So far, they have understood that their future is tied inextricably to that of the young Spaniard. But the arrival of Jorge Lorenzo may embolden them to feel they can still win titles without Márquez, if Lorenzo is up to speed quickly enough. The approaches from KTM and Ducati will certainly strengthen Márquez' hand in the bargaining. Lorenzo's results in his first year could play a role in determining how far Honda will go to hang on to Marc Márquez.

Ducati's dilemma

Before 2021, there is the question of the second seat in the Factory Ducati squad. Before the 2019 season has even started, and before the launch of the Ducati team in Switzerland on Friday night, there is already speculation over who will race alongside Andrea Dovizioso in 2020. Danilo Petrucci has been promoted from the Pramac Ducati team after Jorge Lorenzo left to go to Honda, and Ducati signed Pecco Bagnaia before the start of the 2018 Moto2 season to move up to the Pramac squad for 2019. Bagnaia joins Jack Miller, the Australian who made a solid debut on the Ducati GP17 as Petrucci's teammate at Pramac in 2018.

"The results of Petrucci, Jack, and Pecco will help us decide which rider will be in the factory team in 2020," Ducati boss Paolo Ciabatti told Motorsport.com's Oriol Puigdemont last week. Petrucci has worked his way from Superstock to make it all the way to a factory team in MotoGP, a living testament to hard work and determination. Jack Miller learned from a tough couple of years in MotoGP that talent is worthless if you're not prepared to back it up with work. And Bagnaia is widely regarded as one of the greatest talents to enter the class in several years. Ducati think so highly of Bagnaia that they signed him before he had even won a race in Moto2.

Logically, it would seem that Bagnaia is the future of Ducati, especially given that they have paired him with Cristian Gabarrini, arguably one of the very best crew chiefs in the paddock. But Ducati have also shown themselves to be ruthless when it comes to riders, as the first half of 2018 with Jorge Lorenzo demonstrated: what counts are results, and the rider who books the results will get the ride.


Gathering the background information for detailed articles such as these is an expensive and time-consuming operation. If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting MotoMatters.com. You can help by either taking out a subscription, by making a donation, or by contributing via our GoFundMe page.

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Dani Pedrosa Breaks Collarbone, KTM Testing Derailed

Dani Pedrosa's career as test rider for KTM has gotten off to an unlucky start. The Spaniard has suffered another broken collarbone, and will require surgery and a long recovery process before he can start testing again.

Pedrosa's injury is a legacy of the many previous times he has broken his collarbone. The right collarbone is severely weakened after being broken twice before, and having surgery to fit plates. That has left him with a so-called sclerotic lesion on the collarbone, which means that bone growth in the collarbone is very slow. That, and a lack of blood flow to the bone, has left him with osteoporosis, and a weakened collarbone.

Just how weakened is clear from the fact that Pedrosa managed to break the bone without any particular physical impact. He had broken it as a result of 'a gesture of strength', he said in a press release, by which he presumably means a sudden and strong movement. 

That endemic weakness means Pedrosa faces a long recovery process. He is to undergo treatment with stem cells to help promote bone growth and strengthen the bone, to prevent a recurrence.

The length of the recovery period means that Pedrosa will miss KTM's program set out for the first part of the year, and will only resume work once his collarbone is fully healed. Pedrosa was due to take part in the shake down test at Sepang, to be held ahead of the official MotoGP test there at the start of February. Fortunately for Pedrosa, he has already been able to help KTM, having ridden the bike during a test in December.

The press release from Pedrosa's PR staff announcing his injury appears below:


Pedrosa will undergo surgery with his stem cells for double fracture of the right clavicle

Dani Pedrosa is forced to start 2019 with very different plans to those that he had foreseen with great enthusiasm. The Spanish rider will face in the coming months a broad and demanding process of physical recovery derived from the complex double stress fracture of the right collarbone that has recently been diagnosed. The three-time world champion and MotoGP Legend will follow a meticulous medical planning that includes tissue repair surgery, with graft contribution constituted by its own stem cells, with what is pursued the best and most effective consolidation of the injured bone.

To clarify his circumstances, Pedrosa notes that "unexpectedly I had a double stress fracture in the right collarbone, just in a gesture of strength. Over the years I have had several fractures in that area and the last time was in three parts, leaving it sclerotic. The middle part does not have enough blood flow, creating osteoporosis, so it requires an effective solution to regenerate the bone and achieve adequate recovery. After undergoing several tests and medical consultations, the clear recommendation is the total recovery and bone health. "

Unfortunately this entire clinical process takes time and will prevent Pedrosa from continuing with the test program initially planned for the beginning of the year as a test rider for the KTM team. Despite that, the first tests during the past month of December in the Circuit of Jerez have given Dani Pedrosa a good start point in the development of the KTM and is totally involved in the project. That is why Dani himself regrets "these circumstances and I thank KTM for their great support for my full recovery. We are very excited about the work we are doing and that is why I want to be physically in the best conditions for that exciting task. For me, the challenge do not stop”.

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Aprilia Appoint Massimo Rivola Racing CEO, Romano Albesiano Technical Director

After what has been a very difficult year for Aprilia's effort in MotoGP, the Noale factory is to shake up its racing department. Current Aprilia Racing boss Romano Albesiano is to be moved sideways to concentrate on the technical side of the racing program, while Massimo Rivola, former Ferrari F1 team boss and head of Ferrari Driver Academy, will take over as CEO of Aprilia Racing.

The move is a response to the difficulties Aprilia has faced since making a full-time return to MotoGP. Romano Albesiano's background is in engineering, but being forced to manage both the engineering and the sporting side of Aprilia Racing did not prove easy. Albesiano clashed on occasion with Aprilia Gresini team boss Fausto Gresini over the running of the team, which further detracted from Albesiano's ability to focus on the technical development of the RS-GP.

Rivola's appointment allows for a clear split in responsibilities. Rivola will oversee the entire organization, covering all aspects of racing. Romano Albesiano has been appointed Technical Director, and will oversee the engineering and technical side of the MotoGP project. And Fausto Gresini will focus on managing the MotoGP team, along with the Gresini Moto2 and Moto3 teams.

The press release from Aprilia announcing Rivola's appointment appears below:


MASSIMO RIVOLA TO BE APRILIA RACING CEO

The Piaggio Group announces that from 7 January 2019 Massimo Rivola will assume the responsibilities as CEO of Aprilia Racing.

Forty-seven years old with a business degree, a motorcycle and Aprilia brand enthusiast, Massimo Rivola has the experience of twenty-one seasons and more than 300 GP races in F1. Twelve years in pit lane with Minardi, Toro Rosso and, with seven seasons, he was the longest running Sports Director in the history of Ferrari. He has worked with great champions including Alonso and Vettel. For the last three years he has been the head of the Ferrari Driver Academy, taking a young Leclerc from an F3 car to the wheel of the F1 car from Maranello.

The appointment of Rivola, who brings to MotoGP the vast experience accumulated in Formula 1, is another important step in the path of consolidating the Noale racing department and conformation of the Piaggio Group's commitment to growing the MotoGP project.

With this addition, Aprilia Racing continues to grow after the signing of top rider Andrea Iannone, who will ride alongside reconfirmed Aleix Espargaró, the arrival of Bradley Smith as tester and the addition of two new crew chiefs with proven experience, Antonio Jimenez and Fabrizio Cecchini.

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2019 WorldSBK Calendar Finalized: Laguna Seca Added To Make

The FIM today announced that the 2019 WorldSBK schedule has been finalized. The provisional round originally added for 21st July has been moved a week earlier, and is to be held at Laguna Seca. That had previously not been considered financially viable, but some reports are suggesting that Dorna may have given Laguna a further discount on hosting the round, because of the importance of the US market.

The arrival of Laguna Seca means that the planned South African round at Kyalami has been pushed back until at least 2020. But paddock rumor suggests that everything is being done to make this happen.

Below is the full 2019 WorldSBK schedule:

Date Country Circuit WorldSBK WorldSSP WorldSSP300
22-24 February AUS Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit X X  
15-17 March THA Chang International Circuit X X  
5-7 April ESP MotorLand Aragón X X X
12 -14 April NED TT Circuit Assen X X X
10-12 May ITA Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola X X X
7-9 June ESP Circuito de Jerez Ángel Nieto X X X
21-23 June ITA Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli” X X X
5-7 July GBR Donington Park X X X
12-14 July USA WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca X    
6-8 September POR Autódromo Internacional do Algarve X X X
27-29 September FRA Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours X X X
11-13 October ARG Circuit San Juan Villicum X X  
24-26 October QAT * Losail International Circuit X X X

*(SC) Schedule change - Round held Thursday - Saturday

2019 Official Tests

  • 18-19 February, Australia, Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit (WorldSBK & WorldSSP)
  • 24-25 August, Portugal, Autódromo Internacional do Algarve (WorldSBK and WorldSSP)
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December News Update - Lorenzo On TV, KTM Hearts Ducati, Hayden In HoF, Surgery Updates

It may be December, and the world of motorcycle racing may be retreating into hibernation for a few weeks, but news does keep cropping up from time to time. So before we also take a break for the holiday season, here is a quick round up of the news stories you may have missed.

The week started off (or ended, depending on when you start counting) with a fascinating and honest appearance by Jorge Lorenzo on British MotoGP broadcaster BT Sport's season review show. The Spaniard spoke frankly about the reasons he left Yamaha, the struggles he faced at Ducati, and how he pondered retirement before turning it around.

Lorenzo made his reasons for leaving Yamaha clear: he had run out of challenges to chase. "There was a time when I was in Yamaha that I was not learning so much anymore, because I'd achieved my dream from when I was a little kid, which was winning the MotoGP World Championship. I won it three times with Yamaha, so I didn't have any more things to achieve, no, and I was feeling a lack of motivation."

No easy move

But the move to Ducati was not as easy as he expected. "The swap was more difficult than I expected!" Lorenzo said. "When I tried the bike I had a big shock. I needed to change completely my riding style. I needed to work a lot. But results were not easy to keep believing in yourself and with confidence but working on the mental side and my thinking, I kept going and going and working and working and finally in the middle of 2018 in Mugello we got the splendid victory."

That victory is often put down to the arrival of the specially shaped tank, which provided support for Lorenzo under braking. Lorenzo acknowledged that his had been the final part of the puzzle, the key to him sustaining his speed over the course of a race, but he also insisted that there was much more to it than just a shaped tank. The bike had changed radically, he said. "This was just the last part of it. Because we've been making a big and long work together with the engineers at Ducati, from the first moment that I arrived at the factory. I took a bike that was very nervous, with a very harsh first touch of the throttle, the bike didn’t turn… So little by little, the factory started making new chassis, that before they almost do one chassis per year, they started to do three or four chassis in one year. We start trying to improve the first touch, the behavior, to make the bike more smooth."

Lorenzo talks about much more in the BT Sport MotoGP review show, which also features interviews with Sam Lowes, Bradley Smith, Cal Crutchlow, and Rory Skinner. The show is up on Youtube for everyone without a BT Sport subscription based in the UK, or whose computers Youtube thinks are in the UK.

Orange + Red?

A few weeks after KTM's first podium in MotoGP – Pol Espargaro's third place at Valencia – and a couple of difficult tests at Valencia and Jerez, KTM CEO Stefan Pierer spoke to Austrian journalist Guenther Wiesinger of German-language website Speedweek. In an interview ranging over a variety of subjects, Pierer let slip that he might just have his eye on Ducati, something which may not just be idle speculation considering the constant stream of rumors that the VW Audi Group is considering selling Ducati.

Pierer told Speedweek that KTM was in good financial shape, coming off a good year for sales. But the uncertainty of Brexit and the tariffs placed on US motorcycles meant that the industry could be facing a period of consolidation. That left KTM looking at single-digit growth instead of double digits. That growth would come from sales of its new 790 models, and a new 500cc twin, Pierer expecting the 500cc-800cc premium bike segment to be the engine of growth.

Which left the KTM boss thinking about Ducati. "I have an emotional relationship with Ducati," Pierer told Speedweek. "Ducati is Ducati, it's as simple as that. Ducati is the only brand which would be a good fit with us. You can forget anything else." Given that KTM has set as its objective to win a MotoGP championship, buying Ducati might give the Austrian factory a shortcut to success.

Your very own MotoGP bike

Pierer did not make mention of the V4 track bike which KTM have hinted they would be making. But for those who are both impatient and have €250,000 to spare, they can get their hands on something arguably even better. KTM are selling two of their RC16 MotoGP machines to anyone with deep enough pockets. The bikes come with a set of Pol Espargaro's race leathers, a signed helmet, and a chance to attend a MotoGP race as the guest of KTM and Red Bull.

The current iteration of the KTM RC16 MotoGP bike is due to take to the track again on 18th December. Dani Pedrosa is set to get his first outing on the bike in his new role as KTM test rider at a two-day test at Jerez. The test will be held behind closed doors, and so we will have to wait until Sepang to hear what Pedrosa thinks of the bike.

Hayden in AMA Hall of Fame

Last week also saw a special moment for American motorcycle racing. Nicky Hayden was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame at the organization's annual induction ceremony in Columbus, Ohio. The AMA celebrated the life and achievements of the Kentucky Kid, who was killed in a cycling accident last year. Two Honda motorcycles were also unveiled, a Honda CBR1000RR in Repsol colors, and a customized Honda XR650L in street tracker trim. The bikes will be displayed at a range of AMA events, before being raffled off to raise funds for the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation.

Argentina extended

Another announcement which came earlier in the week was that the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit will continue to host the Argentinian round of MotoGP through the 2021 season. The contract had been due to expire after the race in 2019, but Dorna and the Santiago del Estero region in Argentina extended the contract for two years.

There had been some speculation that MotoGP could switch venues, and head to the San Juan Villicum circuit, 600km to the southwest of Termas, after the San Juan circuit was heaped with praise by the WorldSBK paddock after their first race at the track. That circuit is also just a few hundred kilometers away from the Chilean capital Santiago, making it more easily accessible for a larger crowd. But the extension with Termas de Rio Hondo means any such notion has been shelved for the next few years. Dorna is keen to expand further in South and Central America, but having a second race in Argentina would be a bit of a stretch.

Injury updates

The off season is also traditionally the time for riders to get surgery to fix injuries picked up during the year. Marc Márquez went under the knife for major surgery on his shoulder on 4th December, but he was not the only one. Aruba.it Ducati rider Chaz Davies also had surgery to fix his right collarbone, which he broke riding a mountain bike during the summer break. Yamaha test rider Jonas Folger also had surgery to fix a collarbone he broke in an MX accident a couple of weeks ago.

But it is Márquez' surgery which was the most invasive. The Spaniard underwent a procedure called Latarjet surgery to stop the recurring problem of his shoulder being dislocated. The operation involved taking a piece of bone from the coracoid process (a bone spur at the front of the shoulder blade) and attaching it the glenoid, the cavity in the scapula (shoulder blade) in which the head of the humerus (the upper arm bone) sits, with the aim of preventing the shoulder from dislocating.

The procedure was carried out by the paddock's favorite orthopedic surgeon Dr. Xavier Mir in Barcelona, together with specialists Victor and Teresa Marlet. Dr. Mir was surprised at how bad a shape Márquez' shoulder was in, which made the operation more complicated than expected. "It came out very easily," Dr. Mir told Jaime Martin of Spanish sports daily Marca. "He couldn't carry on like this. I can barely understand how he managed to win the championship like this."

Márquez is at home already, recovering, and receiving visitors – as a picture posted on social media of Mick Doohan visiting Márquez' home town of Cervera demonstrated. He is now just starting to mobilize the shoulder again. Márquez had a plate removed from his left hand at the same time, fitted after a training accident back in 2015.


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WorldSBK Schedule Clarified: Race 1 Saturday, 10 Lap Sprint Race Sunday To Set Grid For Race 2

Ever since the Superbike Commission - the rule-making body for WorldSBK - announced back in October that a third race would be added to the WorldSBK schedule, we have wondered exactly what this would mean for the class, both in terms of championship points and qualifying position for the second WorldSBK race, held on Sunday. On Tuesday, the FIM issued a press release containing the missing details for the coming season.

The new schedule impacts both qualifying and the races. The current two-stage Superpole has been abolished, replaced with a single Superpole session for the World Superbike and the World Supersport series. Those qualifying sessions will set the grid for the WorldSSP race on Sunday, and WorldSBK race 1 - the normal length race - on Saturday, and a new, 10-lap sprint race to be held on Sunday. 

The 10-lap sprint race - to be named the Tissot Superpole race - will set the first 9 positions of the grid for the second full-length race on Sunday afternoon. Positions 10 and onwards will be set using the qualifying positions from Saturday's Superpole session, presumably taking account of riders who qualified inside the top 9 but crashed out of the Superpole race on Sunday.

With the return of a single qualifying session, the times from free practice no longer count towards determining which Superpole session a rider has to go to. That means that free practice is once again free practice, and riders can use the full session to work on race setup, rather than trying to post a quick lap. As a result, the WorldSBK class loses one session of free practice from Friday. The press release does not state whether the current 40-minute sessions will be extended to compensate. 

The 10-lap Tissot Superpole race will also count towards the championship, but as it is a shorter race, fewer points will be awarded. The winner will score 12 points towards the championship, second place will get 9 points, and third place will get 7 points, with places four through nine being awarded 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 points respectively. The two full length races will continue to score according to the current Grand Prix points system. 

Winning the Superpole race will not count as a victory in rider statistics, however. At the end of the 2019 season, the WorldSBK will count 26 races from its 13 rounds. The Superpole race is a qualifying competition, meant to establish a grid and add some excitement for spectators on Sunday, rather than count as a fully-fledged WorldSBK race.

Though the press release does not contain a detailed schedule, each WorldSBK event will look something like this:

Friday
Two sessions of free practice for the WorldSBK, WorldSSP, and where applicable, WorldSSP300 classes.

Saturday
One session of free practice for WorldSBK, WorldSSP, and where applicable, WorldSSP300.
Qualifying for the WorldSSP300, WorldSSP, and WorldSBK classes.
WorldSBK Race 1.
A last chance qualifying race for the WorldSSP300 riders who didn't make it straight into the top 30. 6 riders will progress to Sunday's race.

Sunday
Warm up for all three classes.
WorldSBK Tissot Superpole race of 10 laps.
WorldSSP race.
WorldSBK Race 2.
WorldSSP300 race.

The press release announcing the changes appears below:


WorldSBK set to welcome new weekend format
Updates confirmed for 2019

As thoughts are turning to the 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship battle, during the FIM and SBK Commission, held on the 30 th November, in Madrid composed of Gregorio LAVILLA (WorldSBK Sporting Director, Chairman), Takanao TSUBOUCHI (MSMA) and Paul DUPARC (Deputizing for Rezsö BULCSU & secretary of the meeting), also present Charles HENNEKAM (FIM CTI Coordinator), Scott SMART (FIM WorldSBK Technical Director) and Daniel CARRERA (WorldSBK Executive Director), the CET Standard Time Schedule was confirmed, providing the final shape to the weekends format.

2019 will see World Superbike Championship change from four to three free practice sessions, meaning Friday will revert back to two WorldSBK Free Practices. WorldSSP on track action will remain the same, whilst WorldSSP300 will be split into two groups with two free practice sessions for each group. The final times from Friday’s sessions won’t affect qualifying positions. Saturday offers a big change in the format as the Tissot Superpole will now become one single Qualifying session for all classes. The final results of the WorldSBK Tissot Superpole will decide the grid for WorldSBK Race One and Sunday ́s Sprint Race, now branded as the Tissot Superpole Race. For the World Supersport 300 Championship, the riders not qualifying for their first race will also have a ‘Last Chance’ race to follow on from Qualifying. The top six finishers of this race will secure the final six places on Sunday’s grid.

Four races will be the treat on offer on Sunday, with two WorldSBK Races. The first SBK® race of the day will be an all new Sprint Race format of 10 laps (throughout duration of the season) where points will be added to the overall championship standings* and awarded in the Tissot Superpole Race as follows: 12/9/7/6/5/4/3/2/1. There will be no change for Race One and Two where point system remains unchanged and awarded to the first fifteen riders as followed: 25/20/16/13/11/10/9/8/7/6/5/4/3/2/1.

The second race on Sunday for WorldSBK will be the traditional format. The grid for this race will be determined from the first nine positions in the Tissot Superpole Race, and the grid from 10 th onwards will be the positions from Tissot Superpole. Offering three races with different formats will give the teams opportunities to work on different strategies for each race throughout the weekend and will offer even more exciting races for fans and riders to enjoy. On top of this, the weekend will finish with the WorldSSP300 race, which is always a sensational fight to the finish line.

Keep up with all the new regulations and updates, and see how the new 2019 season plays out, all with the WorldSBK VideoPass.

* Results not included in statistics and historical data.

Source: 

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