Analysis

Jerez Moto2 & Moto3 Review: Neil Morrison On The Real Deal, Dynamic Diggia, And A Close Brush With Fate

After a dramatic weekend, we look at some of the big stories coming out of the Spanish Grand Prix in the Moto2 and Moto3 classes.

Acosta: Another box ticked

Forget last lap scraps, or pitlane penalties. The true test of Pedro Acosta’s mettle was to gauge the 16-year old’s reaction to the pre-event press conference at Jerez. There, Acosta sat among the MotoGP field. He looked on boyishly as Marc Marquez, Joan Mir and Fabio Quartararo opined on his talent, his potential, and his future plans.

One of the more outlandish questions was whether Acosta would benefit from skipping Moto2 altogether, and jumping straight to MotoGP in the near future. Fabio Quartararo was the voice of reason on this occasion, offering a timely reminder “Come on guys, he’s only 16.”

That aside, this was a love-in. Never more so than when the considered Franco Morbidelli gave his opinion. “Keeping the feet on the ground is important. But Pedro has something different. We’ve never seen something like this. I’ve watched races since I was a kid. He’s 16 but he doesn’t look 16. He looks like a really focussed guy. He’s not here to play too much.”

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Peter Bom's Tech Corner: Why The Gap Between Fairing and Wheel On The KTM?

One of the first things you notice when you look at the KTM RC16 MotoGP machine is that there is so much space around the front wheel. Where the other MotoGP bikes look like the front wheel is tucked as tightly as possible under the front fairing, the KTM's front wheel seems to be pushed forward and almost hanging loose, as if they've forgotten to add part of the fairing.

You can see it most clearly when you put the bike side by side. The gap between the front wheel and fairing on Brad Binder's KTM RC16 seems huge by comparison with Alex Márquez' Honda RC213V. The line of the Honda fairing follows the circumference of the wheel. The KTM fairing is more of a 'boomerang' shape, two straight lines connected by a section of an arc.

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Jerez MotoGP Test Subscriber Notes: A Rundown Of Who Was Testing What, And Why

For some, the Monday after the Jerez race was a busy day, as they worked their way through a full program of parts and settings to prepare for Le Mans and beyond (and in Suzuki's case, for 2022). For others, they had a relatively easy day, especially the two factory Ducati riders – to the victors go the spoils. And for the unlucky ones of the weekend, they either barely turned a wheel, or not at all, as they headed off for medical checkups.

Fabio Quartararo took no part in the test at all. The Monster Energy Yamaha rider headed back to France to get medical advice on the best options for treatment on the arm pump issue which cost him the race on Sunday. With his home race up next, his priorities were clear.

Aleix Espargaro, who had also suffered with arm pump on Sunday, did ride a little, but he only put in 12 laps before heading back to Barcelona and seeking medical advice. Marc Márquez did a quick run out on Honda's new aero package – one of them, at least – before calling it a day after just 7 laps. The Repsol Honda rider had neck pain from his huge crash on Saturday, as well as stiffness in his shoulder, and elected to focus on his recovery instead.

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Jerez MotoGP Subscriber Notes: Breaking The Mold, Consistency Counts, And The Ins And Outs Of Arm Pump

"That's why we line up on Sunday. You never know what's going to happen," the late Nicky Hayden once said, in response to a particularly stupid question on my part. Jerez proved him right once again, events conspiring to confound what seemed to be an obvious conclusion from the very beginning.

What happened? At 2pm on Sunday, the MotoGP grid lined up with Fabio Quartararo on pole, starting as favorite after laying down an intimidating pace in practice. Alongside him were Franco Morbidelli on a two-year old Yamaha, and the Ducati of Jack Miller, while the second Ducati of Pecco Bagnaia started behind him.

It was obvious to the experienced Jerez hands that Fabio Quartararo would walk away with the race, the Frenchman having way too much pace for anyone else to stay with him over 25 laps. The Ducatis may have lined up third and fourth on the grid, but they would surely face; Jerez is not a Ducati track after all. The last Ducati victory at the circuit was way, way back in 2006, when Loris Capirossi kicked off the season with a win aboard the Desmosedici GP6.

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Jerez MotoGP Saturday Round Up: The First Big Crash, The Safety Conundrum, And Finding A Way To Stop Fabio

Saturday was a tough day at the office for the Grand Prix paddock. Conditions were treacherous precisely because they were so deceptive. The sun was shining, and if you measured the asphalt temperature in the sun, it looked pretty good. But there was a cold wind blowing across the track which would cool tires and catch you unawares.

Which is precisely what it did, riders crashing in droves in all three classes on Saturday. There were 27 fallers on Saturday, more than any other Saturday at Jerez in the past five years. And with 41 crashes, we have already surpassed the total of 40 over three days at last year's Andalusia round, or Jerez 2, at the circuit. And only one crash behind the grand total at the Spanish round the week before.

Why are so many riders crashing? "It’s true that today the asphalt is quite hot. It’s quite okay, but the wind is quite cool," Joan Mir said on Saturday afternoon. "So probably these are not the best conditions. Normally the cool wind cools the tires a bit, and then the track is not really, really hot. So it means that maybe for the medium tires it’s a bit on the limit."

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Jerez MotoGP Friday Round Up: Speed vs Pace, Bagnaia vs Nakagami, And Stifled Dissent

It is a truism to point out that it is just Friday, and too early to be getting excited about who is where on the timesheets. But the reason it is a truism is because (the clue is in the name) it's true. Friday is just the first day of the weekend, and not everybody is up to speed right away. Things change over a weekend, especially once the engineers have had an evening to examine the data.

The weather and the track changes too. The tail end of storm Lola has just passed over Jerez de la Frontera, and temperatures are slowly returning to normal after an unseasonally cold and wet period. The mercury is creeping higher once again, and with every degree of temperature and every ray of direct Andalusian sunlight, track temperatures are increasing, bringing more grip.

In addition, every bike that laps the track lays down a little rubber, creating more and more grip. And there are a lot of bikes turning laps at Jerez: in addition to the usual three Grand Prix classes of Moto3, Moto2, and MotoGP, there are also the Red Bull Rookies and MotoE. The MotoE bikes, in particular, help the MotoGP teams. Like MotoGP, MotoE uses Michelin tires, and the big, heavy machines lay down a lot of Michelin rubber which helps create grip for everyone, and especially MotoGP.

More rubber, more speed

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MotoAmerica Sportbike Track Gear Junior Cup Preview - The Future Of American Racing

Given the recent success and notoriety of American roadracers like Joe Roberts in Moto2, Garrett Gehrloff in World Superbike, and Brandon Paasch in BSB Moto3, MotoMatters.com thought a more detailed look at the future of American roadracing was in order. So here is an introduction to the MotoAmerica Sportbike Track Gear Junior Cup, the equivalent of the Talent Cups being organized by Dorna, with the aim of encouraging and bringing on the next generation of American talent.

The 2021 MotoAmerica Sportbike Track Gear Junior Cup season is shaping up to be its most competitive in recent memory. The attraction for young riders from ages 14 to 28 is increasing along with the notoriety and success of its riders. Designed as an entry level class with small displacement motorcycles and limited modifications, the Junior Cup is an ideal launching pad for a young racers career. More on the history of the class can be found here, but as a good racer shouldn’t spend time looking back during a race, let’s look forward to the upcoming season and some of its participants.

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Jerez MotoGP Preview: The Goldilocks Track, With Something For (Almost) Everyone

Normality returns, at last. MotoGP is finally back at a track where the schedule follows the same pattern as the rest of the year, at a circuit which everyone in MotoGP – riders, teams, manufacturers, tire makers, equipment manufacturers – knows like the back of their hands, and at its normal slot in the calendar, late April and early May. After Qatar and Portimão, two tracks which held so many unknowns, we are very firmly back in known territory.

It is hard to overstate just how well everyone knows the circuit. From CEV to Red Bull Rookies to Grand Prix to WorldSBK, and even BSB and CIV, the Circuito de Jerez Angel Nieto is used to race, to test, on track days and practice days. Riders have hundreds of laps at the circuit under their belts before they even reach the Grand Prix paddock. They then proceed to use Jerez as their main testing base for Moto3, then Moto2, and back in the pre-Covid days, even MotoGP would have a winter test at the circuit. It's even one of the main test circuits for the MotoGP manufacturers.

Even journalists have an intimate knowledge of the circuit. In the ten years of traveling to MotoGP events I did between 2009 and 2019, I must have visited the track somewhere between 20 and 30 times. "This is the track where almost all riders have the most kilometers, so everybody knows the circuit very well, every single corner, every bump," Luca Marini said. Even for a rookie, this is a less intimidating prospect. The only thing they have to learn is the bike. That, at least, is a relief.

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Portimao Moto2 & Moto3 Review: Neil Morrison On Rookies Ruling The Roost, Americans Racing, And Strange Stewarding

For the third time in as many races, the rookies lit up the smaller classes in Portugal, and now may harbour genuine title hopes…

Raul on a roll

You can count on one hand the number of riders that have impacted the Moto2 class as immediately as Raul Fernandez. A podium in one of his first two races? Only three did it before (Hafizh Syahrin, Maverick Viñales and Alex Rins). And now the 20-year old joins Viñales as the only rider to have won a race in their first three appearances.

By that measurement, Fernandez is fairly special; not even Marc Márquez or Joan Mir adapted this quickly. And for a rider that scored ‘just’ two wins and two podiums in the junior class across three years, it would be fair to say few saw this coming.

In Portugal, the scene of his dominant final Moto3 appearance, he fought through from a poor qualifying (tenth) and methodically picked off the men in the seven-rider lead group. In both Qatar races, the Spaniard had challenged the leaders early on, only for tyre life to slow him as the race edged toward the end. But here, no one could live with him in the final six laps, as he first passed Joe Roberts, then Aron Canet to pull clear and win by 1.6s.

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Portimao MotoGP Subscriber Notes Part 2: Yamaha's Two Faces, Badass Bagnaia, And Aprilia's Progress

The 2020 MotoGP season saw a curious debate arise. The valve issues which Yamaha suffered at the first two races at Jerez saw the Japanese factory have points deducted and have to manage the remaining 12 races on just three engines for each rider. Franco Morbidelli, already disadvantaged by having to run the 2019 machine, rather than the supposedly more better 2020 Yamaha M1, had just two engines to last the season.

After winning the first two races, and taking a clean sweep of the podium at Jerez 2, the 2020 Yamahas disappeared. Fans and media wrote the M1 off, declaring the bike to be a disaster. The results seemed to justify that designation. Maverick Viñales finished ninth or worse in 7 of the remaining 12 races, and crashed out disastrously in Austria. Fabio Quartararo finished eight or worse in 7 of 12 races, crashed out of two others, and slipped from championship leader to finish the season in eighth. Valentino Rossi had four DNFs, and missed two more races due to a Covid-19 infection, ending the season fifteenth, the worst season in his very, very long Grand Prix career.

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