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2019 Calendar To Be Announced At Misano: 19 Races, No Mexico, No Finland

We are a week away from being able to book (provisionally, with free cancellation) to see a race in 2019. The provisional MotoGP calendar for 2019 is due to be published at the Misano round in just under 10 days' time. 

As the official website revealed over the weekend, there will only be 19 rounds in 2019. The numerical symmetry of that may be pleasing, but there were plans to have 20 races next season. The debut of the Kymiring in Finland has been delayed by a year to 2020, as the circuit will not be ready in time for a 2019 date. And the planned round in Mexico at the Hermanos Rodriguez circuit in Mexico City has been dropped, unless the circuit is prepared to make changes.

The Mexico round had been proposed to the riders at the Brno round, but the idea was not received well. The F1 circuit has a lot of armco and very little runoff, and the riders in the Safety Commission felt it could not be used without significant changes.

I understand that FIM Safety Officer told the Hermanos Rodriguez circuit that significant changes needed to be made to the circuit, including the removal of three buildings. The circuit came back with an alternative plan which left the buildings in place, and Uncini rejected the plans as not safe enough to stage MotoGP. I understand that the circuit is studying alternative solutions with the aim of staging a race in 2020. Dorna and the manufacturers would like to see a race in Mexico as soon as reasonably possible. But the riders have demanded a chance to test at the track before Dorna can give it the go ahead.

At Silverstone, Aleix Espargaro had explained some of the background to the decision. "I'm proud about the decision they took," the factory Aprilia rider said. "I mean I'm happy because they really listened to us. When we were in the Safety Commission two races ago the idea was, 'we go to Mexico'. And we were like, 'what?' And then we explained our thoughts and said, 'it's better to do a test, it's better to see not just in a pdf but by being there, somebody does a test with a MotoGP bike'."

"So they said, 'Okay we need some days to think and we will come back with some news'. They thought about it and I'm happy they took this decision. I would really like to race in Mexico, but it's better if we do a test, see the track. I'm sure they will do a nice and safe track and then we can race in 2020."

Espargaro told reporters that significant changes would be needed to make the Mexico City circuit a viable proposition. "Yeah, they have to change a lot the track. We will see if the design is enough. What makes me really curious is about the stadium zone. It's very nice, but we have to see if there is enough room for MotoGP, which is getting faster and faster every year and we don't want the walls too close. Also the straight, the walls are very close. I didn't like the straight at Indianapolis and I think this straight is very similar, so it's better to go there and test."

With Mexico and Finland off the table, the 2019 calendar will look very similar to this year's schedule, with a few tweaks. The season kicks off in Qatar on 10th March, then heads to Argentina. Originally, this was expected to be on 24th April, but with Mexico dropping out, Argentina could be moved a week later. The US round in Austin takes place on 14th April, before the circus heads back to Europe.

The European rounds will take place in their traditional sequence, starting with Jerez on 5th May. However, according to German-language publication Speedweek, there could be a problem with the Misano round, as F1 has provisionally scheduled the Monza round to be on the 8th September, the same date as Misano. That would be a problem, as MotoGP and F1 do everything possible to avoid having their events in the same country on the same weekend, because of the fan overlap. MotoGP may be forced to swap the Misano and Aragon rounds, bringing Aragon two weeks earlier, and Misano two weeks later. 

A couple of questions remain. The future of the German round of MotoGP is yet to be settled, though it is vanishingly unlikely that the race will take place anywhere other than the Sachsenring. According to Speedweek, the current promoter, German automobile association ADAC, is set to be dropped, with Dorna likely to do a deal directly with the Sachsenring circuit, which is in the process of being purchased by a wealthy German investor. That would allow the circuit to make the necessary changes to make it profitable again, such as taking over the privately-owned grandstands run by companies neighboring the circuit, as well as allowing the regional government to subsidize the event. 

When the race is to be held is also an open question. The riders have demanded a longer summer break than they had this year, their summer consisting basically of a single extra free weekend. If the Sachsenring round is held a week after Assen, on 7th July, this would give the riders 3 free weekends between Germany and Brno. If it is held on 14th July, then they would once again have only 2 free weekends.

There is also a question of where the British round of MotoGP will be held. The expected scenario is that the race will be held at Silverstone on 25th August, the weekend of the August Bank Holiday. However, after the debacle at Silverstone with the new surface, Dorna will be demanding major changes, and most likely a completely new surface before allowing the race to be held there again. MSVR, owners of Donington Park, are known to be angling to hold MotoGP there, but they are arguably a year short of being in a position to do so, facilities needing just a couple more upgrades to get them ready for Grand Prix racing. If Silverstone are unable - financially or politically - to either resurface the track or address its inability to clear the surface of standing water, then Dorna's hand may be forced. 

More clarity is expected next weekend, when the provisional calendar is due to be announced. But that calendar will come with an asterisk or two, with changes a real possibility. 


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All Races Canceled At Silverstone MotoGP Round

Track conditions have forced the cancellation of the 2018 British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The original schedule had been changed after problems with standing water during the FP4 session for the MotoGP class on Saturday afternoon, with the MotoGP race moved to an 11:30 start and the first race of the day. But after a series of delays due to water on the track, the races were officially canceled after a meeting of the Safety Commission at 4pm on Sunday afternoon.

The circuit had been hopeful of being able to hold the races. The MotoGP warm up had started in the dry, the first spots of rain starting to fall during the Moto3 warm up. The rain fell steadily, but not heavily, and the riders who returned from the sighting lap when they went to the grid reported aquaplaning all around the track. On Saturday, there had only been problems at the entry to Stowe and to Vale. On Sunday, there were problems everywhere.

There were team meetings and regular track inspections throughout the day, Franco Uncini and Loris Capirossi putting in plenty of laps in the Safety Car. But each time they came back, the conclusion was the same: too much standing water, which wasn't clearing. As a result, the track was not deemed safe to ride.

A final inspection had been scheduled for 4pm local time, but 20 minutes beforehand, an impromptu meeting of the Safety Commission was held. There, the riders decided nearly unanimously that the track was not safe to ride, and that the race should be called off. Dorna called off racing in all three classes, on the grounds that if it was not safe for the MotoGP riders to race, then it would not be fair to expect riders in other classes to race either. 

On Sunday evening, Silverstone Circuit, by way of its managing director, Stuart Pringle, said that they would investigate the causes of the standing water, and bring in an independent body to assist in the investigation. 

With the race canceled, no points were awarded, and the championship standings in all three classes will remain the same as after the Austrian round at the Red Bull Ring. Seven races remain in the 2018 Championship.


Back to top Ducati WorldSBK Team Confirm Chaz Davies And Alvaro Bautista For 2019

In a coordinated announcement with the MotoGP press conference, Alvaro Bautista and the Ducati Team today officially announced that the Spaniard will be joining Chaz Davies in the Ducati team in World Superbikes in 2019. Bautista and Davies are to race the Ducati Panigale V4 next year, when the bike makes its debut in the WorldSBK class.

Bautista's signing leaves Marco Melandri out of a seat at the moment. The Italian veteran is strongly linked to a return to Yamaha, this time with the GRT team, who are rumored to be moving up to the WorldSBK class from World Supersport for 2019.

The press release from appears below:

The Racing - Ducati team on track in the 2019 WorldSBK Championship with Chaz Davies and Alvaro Bautista

The Racing - Ducati team finalized its riders' lineup for the 2019 WorldSBK Championship, extending its collaboration with Chaz Davies and enlisting Alvaro Bautista.

Davies, 31, is currently in his fifth season with the factory team, the last onboard the Panigale R ahead of the much-anticipated debut of the Panigale V4 on the world stage. The Welshman has so far collected 68 podiums with Ducati, taking 25 victories and finishing the season as runner-up twice.

Bautista, 33, will debut in the WorldSBK Championship after completing his 16th full-time season in the MotoGP Championship. A new and exciting challenge for the Spaniard, currently competing in the top class onboard the Ducati Desmosedici GP of the Angel Nieto Team. Bautista has seized 49 podiums to date in MotoGP, including 16 wins, and conquered the 125-cc class world title in 2006.

The Qatar round, scheduled for October 25-27, will therefore mark the end of Marco Melandri's tenure with the Racing - Ducati team. In two seasons with the squad, the Italian rider has always shown his professionalism and talent, taking 19 podiums and three victories to date. Ducati and will keep striving to allow Marco to achieve the best possible results until the end of the year and wish to thank him for all his efforts.


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Cal Crutchlow Extends Honda Contract Through 2020

Cal Crutchlow has added an extra year onto his contract with HRC to race in the LCR Honda team for the 2020 season. This means the Englishman will be remaining at the LCR Honda team for the next two years, bringing him into line with almost the whole of the rest of the MotoGP grid. At the end of the 2020 season, Crutchlow will be involved in the next wave of contract madness, with all factory seats (with the possible exception of one Ducati seat), falling open at the same time.

Crutchlow's announcement will not be the only one to take place today. Alvaro Bautista is scheduled to be in the Thursday press conference at Silverstone, where he is expected to announce he has signed for the Ducati team in WorldSBK. 

The press releases from HRC and from the LCR Honda team appear below:



LCR Honda CASTROL Team is pleased to announce that Cal Crutchlow has extended his contract with HRC and LCR Team until the end of 2020. The British talent riding the RC213V since 2015, has achieved excellent results so far (7 podiums – of which 3 were victories - and 2 pole positions) and his contribution to the development of the Honda machinery has been very important.

Cal Crutchlow: “I am very pleased to renew and extend my relationship with Honda HRC and the LCR Honda Team again in 2020. We have all worked very hard and we have had great successes and will continue too, I’m sure. As I said in the past I have the best support I could ask for from Honda and Lucio and his Team do an excellent job to give me a competitive bike every weekend”.

Yoshishige Nomura (HRC President): “We are happy to announce Cal’s contract extension. Last year we contracted with him for 2018 and 2019 as an HRC factory rider. This year he has again shown his strong talent and his performance deserves the status of factory rider. There is no better way to show him that than by making a new agreement with him, so we have decided to extend our contract. We’ve got to know Cal very well since he arrived at Honda in 2015. By hard work and by getting many good results he has contributed a lot to Honda and the LCR Honda MotoGP Team and he always gives us very useful feedback for the evolution of the RC213V.”

Lucio Cecchinello (LCR Team Principal): “We are very happy to continue our cooperation with Cal until, at least, the end of 2020. I believe that Cal has demonstrated an impressive talent since his arrival in Honda in 2015 and, once again, I want to thank him for the strong results we achieved together so far. The LCR Team will continue to support him in the best way together with the valuable cooperation of HRC and the LCR partners”.

HRC and Crutchlow sign contract extension until 2020

Honda Racing Corporation are delighted to announce that Cal Crutchlow has signed a contract extension that will see him remain an HRC rider until the end of 2020.

Crutchlow has been riding a Honda RC213V since 2015 in the LCR Honda MotoGP Team, taking three victories in the premier class so far, the latest at April’s Argentine GP. The Briton has had a contract with HRC since last year and will continue to help with development of the RC213V MotoGP machine.

HRC and the LCR Honda MotoGP Team are very satisfied with Crutchlow’s performance and this is why both parties have decided to extend their agreement.

Yoshishige Nomura

HRC President

“We are happy to announce Cal’s contract extension. Last year we contracted with him for 2018 and 2019 as an HRC factory rider. This year he has again shown his strong talent and his performance deserves the status of factory rider. There is no better way to show him that than by making a new agreement with him, so we have decided to extend our contract. We’ve got to know Cal very well since he arrived at Honda in 2015. By hard work and by getting many good results he has contributed a lot to Honda and the LCR Honda MotoGP Team and he always gives us very useful feedback for the evolution of the RC213V.”


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Misano Private MotoGP Test - Ducati Prepare For The Race, Yamaha Prepare For The Future

It is a busy schedule for the MotoGP teams since coming back from their all-too-brief summer break. After back-to-back weekends at Brno and Spielberg, five teams headed to Misano, for a private test this weekend.

For Ducati (the only team to issue a press release after the test, to be found below this article), the test was mainly about preparing for their second home race at Misano in three weeks' time. Misano is a huge race for Ducati, and a good result there is an absolute necessity. If the times released by Ducati are accurate, then a good result is almost assured: Jorge Lorenzo lapped at just about the circuit pole record, while Andrea Dovizioso was six tenths slower than his teammate.

The two Ducatis were the fastest at the test, according to unofficial times collected by the stalwart Italian website, with both Lorenzo and Dovizioso significantly quicker than Cal Crutchlow on the LCR Honda and the factory Movistar Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales.

The reports from Misano suggest that the Movistar Yamaha team were working mainly on electronics, with recent WorldSBK transfer Michele Gadda joining the team to add his expertise. That was not the plan as given to me by Yamaha bosses Maio Meregalli and Lin Jarvis in Austria. "At Misano, we will start testing something for next year," Meregalli told me at the Red Bull Ring. "That is not anything related to the electronics, but there are many areas where we have to improve."

The times set by Rossi and Viñales suggest they were not chasing race setup for Misano, but rather focusing on actually testing the fundamentals of the Yamaha M1. This would suggest that Yamaha had real upgrades they were trying to evaluate, rather than just refine what they already have. That may include updates for next year, such as a new engine, but that is extrapolating a long way using just the tiniest sliver of data. 86 laps for Valentino Rossi and 95 for Maverick Viñales would seem to confirm that they had a lot of work that needed doing.

Aprilia were perhaps even busier than Yamaha. Aleix Espargaro flew home exhausted after 100 laps on the RS GP. Both Espargaro and Scott Redding (posting contritely on Instagram how happy he was with what he tested in Misano) had a lot of new parts to test. The carbon swingarm got another run out, as well as a new evolution of the frame.

The biggest update, though, was a new engine with better power for the Aprilia. Speaking to, Aprilia Racing boss Romano Albesiano described the improvements to the engine as "extremely positive". The data from the test was "very, very good", he said. As a concessions team (unlimited testing and able to modify their engine design during the season), there is a chance that the parts tested at Misano could be available to Espargaro and Redding at Silverstone this coming weekend.

The schedule remains punishing for the MotoGP teams. After the British Grand Prix at Silverstone this weekend, some of the teams will head to Aragon for another private test the weekend after. From there, they head to Misano, after which they will finally get a weekend off.

Unofficial times from the test, courtesy of

Pos Rider Bike Time Diff Prev
1 Jorge Lorenzo Ducati 1:31.9    
2 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 1:32.5 0.6 0.6
3 Cal Crutchlow Honda 1:33.1 1.2 0.6
4 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1:33.2 1.3 0.1
5 Maverick Viñales Yamaha 1:33.4 1.5 0.2
6 Aleix Esparagarò Aprilia 1:33.5 1.6 0.1
7 Scott Redding Aprilia 1:33.8 1.9 0.3

Ducati press release after the test:

Ducati Team on track at Misano for one day of private testing

The Ducati Team riders wrapped up today’s one-day private testing session at the Misano Adriatico circuit at 18.30 after a full day of work out on track. The test revolved around preparations for the San Marino and Riviera di Rimini Grand Prix, which will be held at the Adriatic Riviera circuit from 7-9 September.

Perfect weather and track conditions allowed the two factory Ducati riders to carry out the testing programme they had scheduled with their respective engineers, and they both set some excellent lap times.

Jorge Lorenzo completed a total of 72 laps, setting his quickest time in 1’31.9 while his team-mate Andrea Dovizioso did 90 laps with a best time of 1’32.5.

Michele Pirro, who will take part in the race as a wild-card entry, was also out on track with a third Desmosedici GP18 of the Ducati Test Team. The Italian, who set a best time of 1’33.5 in his 74 laps, will continue to test at the Misano circuit over the next two days.

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The Cat Is Out Of The Bag: Petronas SIC Yamaha MotoGP Team To Be Presented At Silverstone

It is hard to keep secrets in the MotoGP paddock (though not impossible, as Jorge Lorenzo's move to Repsol Honda conclusively proves). One of the worst kept secrets has been the news that the Sepang International Circuit, or SIC, is to expand its current operation to include a MotoGP team. Over the months since rumors first started circulating that Sepang was interested in running a MotoGP team, details have slowly dripped out, until we now have an almost complete picture. The whole picture is to be formally announced at Silverstone, at a press conference at 6pm BST on Friday.

Here's what we already know: the team is to be an extension of the current Petronas Sprinta Racing team, which currently runs Adam Norrodin and Ayumi Sasaki in Moto3, and Niki Tuuli in Moto2. The Petronas SIC Yamaha team, as it will almost certainly be called, will be the showcase team for the Petronas-backed structure run by the Sepang International Circuit. The objective is to have two riders in each of the three Grand Prix classes, from Moto3 to MotoGP, as well as a team in the FIM CEV Junior World Moto3 Championship. 

Current Petronas Sprinta team manager Johan Stigefelt will continue to oversee the full team in all three classes, though management of the MotoGP team will be delegated to Wilco Zeelenberg, currently rider analyst for Maverick Viñales in the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team. Zeelenberg will be too busy managing the Petronas SIC Yamaha team to take on the role of rider coach for the Petronas team, so an existing rider coach is to be appointed to the team to assist the riders. 

Though it is yet to be announced, the rider line up for the Petronas SIC Yamaha team was finalized at Assen, with Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo riding the bikes. Petronas has the budget to obtain much better material from Yamaha than Tech3 ever did, with Morbidelli set to line up on a near-factory M1, while Quartararo will likely be riding something more similar to a satellite machine. Ramon Forcada, currently crew chief to Maverick Viñales, will join the Petronas SIC Yamaha team to work as crew chief to Franco Morbidelli. The crew for the Petronas SIC Yamaha team will be made up of a large part of the current Marc VDS MotoGP squad, as that team are leaving the MotoGP grid in 2019.

The importance of the team is emphasized by the role call of Malaysian representatives present at the Silverstone press conference. SIC CEO Razlan Razali will of course be there, as the driving force behind the team, as well SIC Chairman Azman Yahya. Wan Zulkiflee, CEO of Petronas, the state-owned Malaysian oil company, will also be present, along with the Malaysian minister of youth and sports, Syed Saddiq. The goal of the team structure is to promote primarily Malaysian, but in the second instance, Asian talent along a pathway from the FIM CEV to MotoGP, but it is also important for the team to be successful at as many levels as possible. The reason for Petronas to back the team so heavily is for the promotional value of being involved in Grand Prix motorcycle racing, and that value is best served by winning.

The goal of winning races is why the rider line up took so long to assemble. Initially, Petronas and SIC had wanted an existing top rider, spending a lot of time courting first Jorge Lorenzo, and then Dani Pedrosa. Lorenzo chose the security of a factory team, while Pedrosa decided he no longer had the passion to keep the intensity needed to be successful in MotoGP. Franco Morbidelli was already destined for the Petronas SIC team, as a protegé of the VR46 Riders Academy, and so it was a logical step to put him in the lead role. The team took a gamble on the youth and potential of Fabio Quartararo over existing and proven riders such as Alvaro Bautista. 

Though there are few concrete details left for the Malaysian protagonists to reveal at the Silverstone press conference, it will still be eagerly awaited. Above all, it will give an insight into the reasoning behind this team, and demonstrate the seriousness of the commitment to the program. If the wilder rumors circulating in the paddock are true, this could be the future of the factory Yamaha team.


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Tony Goldsmith Photos: The Gold Standard Shoots Brno, Part 2

Andrea Dovizioso was unbeatable at Brno. Just

Maverick Viñales blocks out the world. He needed to

Marc Marquez defended his comfortable lead at Brno, and made it even more comfortable

Stefan Bradl was back with a wildcard and a gorgeous livery

Brain food: feeding new maps into Cal Crutchlow's LCR Honda

Jorge Lorenzo ponders his Ducati

New fairing, front profile

Friction in the garage, harmony on the bike: Maverick Viñales

Same old same old for Valentino Rossi: the best chassis ruined by poor tire management

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If you would like to buy a copy of one of thes photos, you can email Tony Goldsmith


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The 2019 MotoGP Calendar: Will Mexico Really Be The 20th MotoGP Round?

The announcement of the MotoGP test dates in the middle of last week have given a hint of how the 2019 MotoGP calendar is to take shape. The official announcement is not expected for another month or so – Dorna are still waiting for the F1 calendar to be published, to try to avoid direct clashes with the premier car racing series. The F1 calendar will not have the same influence as it had in previous years, however: since new owners Liberty took over the series, they have moved the start time of F1 races to 3:10pm Central European Time, some 10 minutes after MotoGP has finished the podium ceremony.

The MotoGP test schedule sees three official tests taking place over the winter, though one of them is before the official winter break. The MotoGP field will be at Jerez on the 28th and 29th November for the first official test. This basically converts the previous private test, which most teams attended, into an official one, forcing all of the teams to take the track together, and to an extent, improving the coverage of the test.

Testing continues after the winter break, the teams picking up at Sepang on the 6th-8th of February. Two weeks later, the MotoGP teams assemble once again for the final test before the season begins, at Qatar from the 23rd to the 25th February. Moto2 and Moto3 test at the same Losail Circuit a week later, and the first race of the 2019 MotoGP season will almost certainly take place on 10th March.

The Qatar race will retain roughly the same schedule as it did this year, with the MotoGP race at 7pm local time, roughly an hour after sunset. But the Moto3 and Moto2 races will probably be moved a little earlier: the last few laps of the Moto2 race saw the riders riding directly into the setting sun, causing visibility problems. The Qatar schedule is still subject to review, but should be decided quite soon.

20 races, or 19?

The 2019 calendar will feature 20 races, though it will be Mexico on the schedule as the 20th race, rather than Finland. The Kymiring circuit has still not completed construction, and they need another year to get ready for MotoGP. The Mexico race, scheduled to be held at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit near Mexico City, will take place two weeks after the Argentina round of MotoGP at Termas De Rio Hondo, and the week before the Austin race.

There might be 20 races on the calendar, but whether 20 races will actually be held is another question altogether. Watching footage from the F1 race held at the track, the circuit seems impossibly dangerous. Chicho Lorenzo, father of Jorge, said it was "suicide to race MotoGP there" in a recent tweet. Valentino Rossi's verdict was equally devastating.

"I’m quite desperate because first of all it becomes 20 races. It means we don’t have a life," Rossi complained. "Apart from this first problem, it’s a very bad track. I don’t like. It’s dangerous also. They have to modify some part of the track but it’s very difficult to modify like this, it’s not easy. For me a race next year is not a good idea, for sure."

Playing the long game

This move seems more like a gambit by Dorna to show goodwill towards the idea of a race in Mexico, despite the fact that the Hermanos Rodriguez circuit is a very long way from meeting MotoGP and FIM safety standards. Dorna will probably sign a contract and make an announcement, while emphasizing that the contract is subject to the circuit meeting safety requirements. The circuit is unlikely to manage that in the eight months between now and next April, and the actual race is likely to be canceled fairly early in the process.

This may look like a farcical development in the short term, but it is good for the sport in the long term. Dorna show willing to move into new and important markets, which is good for the manufacturers and for the sport in Mexico and other parts of Central America. It gets Mexican fans fired up, which is likely to push them to persuade the circuit and local authorities to make the circuit upgrades possible. It may even persuade a few more Mexican fans to cross the border to Austin, and see a race at the Circuit of the Americas.

We have seen similar developments in other countries as well. MotoGP is going to have a race in Indonesia at some point, but right now, there isn't a track which can host the series. Yet there have been all sorts of announcements about MotoGP going to Indonesia, despite the chances of it happening in the next two or three years being relatively slim. But it gets Indonesian fans excited, the fans put pressure on local, regional, and national governments, and eager Indonesians who can't wait head to Sepang and, in October, to Thailand to watch a race.

A race in Mexico, even a canceled race, will help to generate plenty of hype around the series. That will increase the chances of a race happening somewhere in Central America in the medium term, even if the scheduled round doesn't happen in the short term

Plus ça change

The basic schedule for the calendar is likely to remain very similar to the schedule in 2018. The sequence and timing of the races will remain broadly the same. One change which will be pushed through is to move the German GP a week earlier, to be back to back with the Dutch round at Assen. This would allow the riders to have a three-week break between Germany and Brno, instead of just the two weeks off between the races. That was one consistent complaint from the riders both at the Sachsenring, and at Brno this year.

It is still unknown where the German round of MotoGP will be held in 2019, but the chances that the series returns to the Sachsenring is high. The federal government of Saxony is working with the circuit to secure the necessary funds to organize the race, as it is a big money spinner for the region, generating a lot of economic activity in the surrounding area. But they have to reach an accommodation with the ADAC, the German equivalent of the AA (or AAA), who hold the rights to organize the race.

Finland, which has a contract to host MotoGP, will not be on the calendar, as explained. The Kymiring will now be on the calendar in 2020, and that will precipitate a bigger shake up of the schedule. Finland can only really host a race between mid-May and early September, which means the remainder of the calendar will have to be reorganized. It will also mean one of the existing Spanish rounds will be dropped, to keep the calendar at 20 races. Jerez and Valencia seem safe, with the ax likely to fall on either Barcelona or Aragon, with Barcelona the slight favorite.

2020, however, is still a long way away.

Below is the list of preseason tests ahead of 2019:


Valencia Test: 20th - 21st November
Jerez Test: 28th - 29th November
Sepang Shakedown: 1st - 3rd February
Sepang Test: 6th - 8th February
Qatar Test: 23rd - 25th February


Jerez Moto2/MotoE Test: 23rd - 25th November
Jerez Moto2/Moto3 Test: 20th - 22nd February
Qatar Moto2/Moto3 Test: 1st - 3rd March
Jerez MotoE Test: 12th - 14th March
MotoE April Test TBC

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Tony Goldsmith Photos: The Gold Standard Shoots Brno, Part 1

No closing the lid on Pandora's box. Ducati debuted a new aero package at Brno. Expect more updates next year.

Dark days for Maverick Viñales

The Doctor is still In, and will be for the foreseeable future. But they need to fix tire wear

Cal Crutchlow went a long way at Brno, but lost the two with five to go

Meet the New Improved Jorge Lorenzo, who has finally got his head around the Ducati

A lot of data left to analyze for Kouji Tsuya, Yamaha MotoGP project leader

It's amazing what you can do with a leaf blower, a 3D printer, and a little ingenuity

Johann Zarco was near his old self at Brno. His relationship with former manager Laurent Fellon has been mostly patched up

Even helmets get hot at Brno

Desmo Dovi is dangerous at Brno

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If you would like to buy a copy of one of thes photos, you can email Tony Goldsmith


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New KTM Engine Debuts At Brno, But Won't Be Raced

Ever since Jerez, when the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team debuted a new engine with a counter-rotating crankshaft, fans and journalists have been asking when factory riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith would be able to use the new engine on a race weekend. KTM test rider Mika Kallio had been very positive about the engine during the Jerez weekend, and Smith and Espargaro had spoken in glowing terms about it after the Jerez test. 

KTM's response was always that it would not be ready until at least after the summer break. Reversing the direction of crankshaft rotation is not as simple as sticking an intermediate gear between the crank and the clutch, to allow the crank to spin in the opposite direction while maintaining forward thrust. Reversing the crankshaft means that the stresses in the engine are very different, and require careful testing to ensure it will operate reliably.

At Brno, it was evident that Bradley Smith finally had the new engine at his disposal. The difference is visible, if you look very carefully, from the torque reaction and other clues. When Smith was asked whether he had the new engine, he refused to give a straight answer, telling reporters, "If you have any questions, [KTM MotoGP project leader] Sebastian Risse is the person to speak to." When we pointed out that we would see whether they had introduced the new engine once Dorna published the official engine usage lists, Smith replied, "I suppose you will."

Dorna has now published those lists, and it is obvious that Smith has indeed been given two new engines for use at Brno. Though the engine lists do not show the engine specification, only whether it is unused or not, it is unusual to introduce two new engines at the same time, unless they are a different spec. Riders need engines with the same specification during practice to allow them to work reliably on set up.

The bad news for KTM is that they are still having reliability problems. Smith suffered four different technical issues this weekend, forced to leave the bike at the side of the track a couple of times, and pulling into the pits earlier than expected on both Friday and Saturday. So KTM have decided to take the precaution of going back to the old engine for the race, with the forward rotating crankshaft. That engine is a known quantity, and should under normal circumstances last until the end of the race.

There was more bad news for KTM during the morning warm up on Sunday, however. Pol Espargaro crashed heavily just before Turn 3, and fractured his left collarbone in the crash. Espargaro will miss the race at Brno, but more importantly, he will also miss the official MotoGP test here on Monday. With Mika Kallio out for the long term with ligament damage in his knee picked up in the crash at the Sachsenring, the testing work will fall squarely on the shoulders of Bradley Smith.

It is still uncertain whether Espargaro will be fit in time for KTM's home race, the Austrian round of MotoGP at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.


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