The Comprehensive Silly Season Update: Mugello Madness Sees Lorenzo Go Repsol, Petrucci To Ducati, And More

Secrets are hard to keep in the MotoGP paddock. When it comes to contracts, usually someone around a rider or team has let something slip to a friendly journalist – more often than not, the manager of another rider who was hoping to get a particular seat, but lost out. It is not often that real bombshells drop in MotoGP.

So the report by Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport that Repsol Honda were in talks to sign Jorge Lorenzo came as a huge shock. The assumptions which almost everyone in the paddock had been making – that Lorenzo would be riding a full factory Yamaha M1 in a Petronas-funded satellite team operated by the Sepang International circuit – turned out to have been nothing more than a useful smokescreen. Instead, Lorenzo has signed a two-year deal with HRC to partner Marc Márquez. The announcement was originally due at Barcelona, but the publication by La Gazzetta forced Honda to make a hasty and brief announcement..

The Petronas rumors had plenty of fire to provide the smoke. In an interview with Crash.net, Sepang International Circuit CEO Dato' Razlan Razali openly discussed the possibility of running Yamahas with Lorenzo and Franco Morbidelli. Everyone I spoke to – including other team managers, rider managers, riders, journalists – believed that Jorge Lorenzo would be riding a Yamaha in 2019.

Dropping the bomb

Lorenzo had added his own fuel to the fire by announcing his intention to continue racing, though not with Ducati. "What I just can say is that I will continue for the next two years. I will not retire. And I will be with a good bike. This is the only thing I can say. I guess in Montmeló you will have more information," the Spaniard said on Thursday. After his win on Sunday, he made it plain his future did not lie with Ducati. "For one side of my heart is sad. I’m very happy about this victory. Very, very happy, but one side of me is sad because I believe if I had this modification [the new tank unit] before I could tell you that I would continue Ducati, but I cannot tell you that."

But it appears that Lorenzo already knew that he was bound for the Repsol Honda team. Spanish sports daily Marca reports that the Mallorcan had already been in contact with HRC prior to the French Grand Prix at Le Mans, as it became increasingly clear that Ducati were not inclined to retain him. My own sources confirm this, one person with knowledge of the situation telling me that they had heard about the rumors two weeks before Mugello.

The deal was only finalized after a phone call between Jorge Lorenzo and Repsol Honda team boss Alberto Puig, Lorenzo's manager Albert Valera told Spanish sports daily AS.com. Lorenzo had "spoken from the heart and convinced [Puig] that he should have this bike," Valera told AS.com reporter Mela Chercoles. Lorenzo assured Puig he was in better shape than ever, and ready to take on another challenge. Puig promised to speak to HRC's Japanese bosses, who eventually gave him the go ahead to sign Lorenzo.

Stroke of genius or stroke of luck?

Viewed from one perspective, this was a last-gasp chance for both Honda and Lorenzo. Lorenzo had been in talks with Suzuki through the early part of the year, but Suzuki management back in Japan had rejected the idea of signing another star after a difficult experience with Andrea Iannone. Team boss Davide Brivio is believed to have flown to Japan after Jerez, where he was told to sign Joan Mir, which is due to be announced next week at Barcelona.

Then there was the Sepang-Petronas Yamaha, which everybody had been assuming would be Lorenzo's destination up until La Gazzetta dropped their bombshell on Tuesday morning. Lorenzo appears to have grown nervous at the political difficulties surrounding that team, as the Marc VDS team were mired in internal conflict, while the Sepang circuit rejected Dorna's push to unite them with Jorge Martinez Aspar's Angel Nieto Team.

It had long been expected that the Marc VDS team would switch to Yamaha for 2019, but the legal dispute between team owner Marc van der Straten and team manager Michael Bartholemy stopped that plan in its tracks. The Angel Nieto Team, meanwhile, has been forced into a passive waiting role. Dorna had wanted Sepang to work with the team, but the Malaysian circuit feared being associated with Jorge Martinez, who is currently embroiled in a corruption scandal involving the Valencia F1 race.

With the Yamaha project in limbo, and the Suzuki off the table, Lorenzo appears to have decided his best option lies with Repsol Honda. But the same could be said for Honda. All of the riders HRC is rumored to have pursued have turned the ride down, or signed elsewhere. Alberto Puig is reported to have been chasing Johann Zarco, but the Frenchman had by then already signed with KTM. They had an option on Joan Mir, but Mir chose Suzuki over Repsol Honda.

Repsol Honda had also approached Danilo Petrucci, the Italian said in an interview with La Gazzetta. According to AS.com, they had also spoken to Petrucci's Pramac Ducati teammate, Jack Miller, though the Australian denied he knew anything about it. "I haven't turned down anything," he told us after the race on Sunday. "I'm happy where I am, but of course if factory teams are knocking you don’t shut the door."

Hobson's choice

With all of these riders turning him down, Alberto Puig needed a strong rider to replace Dani Pedrosa, who he was determined to get rid of. When Jorge Lorenzo offered himself to Repsol Honda, it was an opportunity too good to turn down. It is debatable whether Puig planned to have the two most successful riders of the past six years, but that is how things have turned out. If Puig had gotten rid of Pedrosa and not managed to sign a major name, as looked like being the case on Sunday night, the ex-500cc racer would have looked fairly incompetent. With Lorenzo signed, he now looks like a genius.

It is impossible to state just how dominant the combination of Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Márquez have been in MotoGP. The pair have won every single title since 2012, the year before Márquez entered the class, with Lorenzo winning in 2012 and 2015, Márquez taking the championship in other years. Of the 96 races held since Márquez entered the class in 2013, Márquez has won 38, and Lorenzo has won 22, a grand total of 60, or 62.5%. They have also taken the same number of poles, either Márquez or Lorenzo starting from the front of the grid in 62.5% of races. If Lorenzo can adapt to the Honda RC213V quickly, Honda are almost guaranteed the team and manufacturer titles for the foreseeable future, as well as being hot favorites to take the rider title as well.

Signing for Repsol Honda will mean a rather sizable pay cut for Jorge Lorenzo. Reports from Spain suggest he will be earning €4 million a year, a third of what he is reported to have been paid at Ducati. But it was also less than he was offered by both Suzuki and Ducati, according to informed gossip. Losing the Suzuki offer may not have been his own choice, but rejecting Ducati for Repsol Honda appears to have been more a question of pride and frustration at the pace at which Ducati listened to and acted on his requests for changes to the bike to make it easier to ride.

Toughen up

Given the physical problems Lorenzo had riding the Ducati, it is surprising that he chose to sign for Repsol Honda. Ever since he first got on the Honda RC213V, Cal Crutchlow has insisted it is the most physically demanding motorcycle he has ever ridden. At Mugello, Jack Miller echoed this, when asked if the Ducati was a tough bike to ride. "For me I face the opposite, I feel easier, well I don’t want to say easier, it is still physical but it isn’t like I’m at home sitting on the couch. The stress of the muscles and things like it throughout the race, and also mental strength, I feel the Ducati I am able to be calmer. I don’t know if it is because of the feeling with the bike so I am riding less tense."

Miller had suffered problems with his arms riding the Honda in 2017. Last year on the Honda I had some big problems with my biceps" Miller said. "Since I’ve been in MotoGP the bicep would tear a bit off the bone, it happened quite a lot. For me I get it at the start of the year after being off the bike for so long. In Malaysia and Thailand the first day it is okay but the second day is worse but normally by the time pre-season testing is over it has gone but with the Honda I’d still have it at the start of the season."

It was problems with his arms and upper body which Lorenzo had complained about prior to receiving the tank extension at Mugello, which allowed him to use his legs to support himself under braking. "I am training harder than ever, I am stronger than ever, I'm doing whatever it takes to be better," Lorenzo said at Le Mans. "I'm much better than two years ago, three years ago, but it's a question of ergonomics. This bike in the braking has a different fuel tank, shorter, more forward, it doesn't support so much. It's more demanding in that area for the arms than last year's bike."

How Lorenzo copes with the physicality of the bike, we will only see once he climbs aboard the Honda RC213V. But the Honda demands a lot of energy to keep under control, both in terms of helping to calm wheelies out of the corners, and in supporting the upper body under the extreme braking the Honda is capable of. The Honda is much shorter than the Ducati, allowing for more weight transfer, which helps in braking, but works against the rider during acceleration.

Turning the corner

The good point of the Honda is its agility. The bike will turn, helped by its shorter wheelbase. That will help Lorenzo carry his customary corner speed, but the agility of the bike also means it is much more unstable. The bike tends to move around a lot under the rider, something which Lorenzo has always disliked in the extreme.

What may also help is the fact that the bike rewards being ridden smoothly. Though Márquez may look like a wild man on the RC213V, his inputs are extremely subtle. His subtlety in acceleration, braking and the careful transition of body movements all help not to upset the bike any more than its usual state of wild abandon. Lorenzo is arguably the smoothest rider on the grid, and if he can accept the bike moving around, he may well be able to get the best out of the Honda.

Predictions are difficult, especially about the future, as the Danish physicist Niels Bohr once said, but if Lorenzo can work on his fitness, he may find the Honda easier to master than the Ducati. The bike at least does what he needs it to do, though he may not like the way it does it.

The next wave

Lorenzo's arrival at Repsol Honda triggered a wave of announcements. Ducati immediately announced that Danilo Petrucci has been promoted from the Alma Pramac Racing Team to take Lorenzo's seat in the factory Ducati Team. That leaves Pecco Bagnaia, already signed at the beginning of the year, and Jack Miller in the team. (Miller is not confirmed, but Ducati have an option on him and have promised him a GP19 for next year, and the team are determined to hang on to him).

A few hours after the Lorenzo and Repsol announcements, there came press releases from Tech3 and from KTM. As expected, Hafizh Syahrin is to stay with Tech3 for 2019, and will ride the KTM RC16 bikes the team will be using next season.

The Tech3 switch is also a reminder that everything is not going swimmingly for Monster Energy in the MotoGP paddock at the moment. The Tech3 team will be switching to Red Bull for 2019, as part of their greater integration with KTM. That has not been announced yet, and team boss Hervé Poncharal refused to confirm the move on the record, but a switch seems certain to happen.

With Jorge Lorenzo going to Repsol Honda, Monster will also be losing one of their top athletes. As the team is backed by Red Bull, it seems unthinkable that Lorenzo could retain his Monster backing. He will almost certainly switch to Red Bull, just as he dropped Rockstar for Monster when Monster became sponsors of the Yamaha MotoGP factory team. Monster are not entirely lost, of course, as they still have Valentino Rossi (still the biggest name in MotoGP) and Maverick Viñales in the Movistar Yamaha team, as well as Franco Morbidelli and Cal Crutchlow, two stars in their own right.

Though there have already been a slew of announcements, there should be more at Barcelona next week. One will be official confirmation that Joan Mir will be riding for Suzuki in MotoGP in 2019. Dani Pedrosa is another rider who will be announcing his future at his home round, according to a statement he released after HRC announced they would not be renewing his contract.

Served cold?

That Honda would let Pedrosa go has been on the cards for a long time, arguably since Alberto Puig took over as boss of the Repsol Honda team. I had been hearing talk that Puig was looking to replace Pedrosa since early this year. Unsubstantiated reports suggested that Puig had been disappointed when Pedrosa had sacked him as his personal manager, and that had broken the trust between the two. Puig had been extremely outspoken in his criticism of Pedrosa in his role as commentator on Spanish TV in 2017, making his decision to release Pedrosa no surprise.

What the decision to let Pedrosa go and hire Jorge Lorenzo will do to the Repsol Honda team is open to question. Marc Márquez' manager Emilio Alzamora has a lot of power in the garage, unsurprisingly given the success Márquez has had. Alzamora and Márquez were perfectly happy to have Pedrosa as a teammate, as the Spaniard was extremely fast – Pedrosa has 31 MotoGP victories, and has won at least one race every season since 2002, a record no one has come close to - but never a threat to Márquez' supremacy.

The arrival of Lorenzo changes the dynamic in the team. Pedrosa was happy to be the de facto number two, and his management was never an issue. Jorge Lorenzo comes expecting at least equal treatment, and has strong management used to making demands and having them fulfilled. Alzamora is unlikely to be happy with the arrival of Lorenzo, no matter how Márquez feels about it. How such issues are handled in the team will be worth watching.

Ride or retire?

So where does Dani Pedrosa end up? It is tempting to assume that the Spaniard will take the seat which Lorenzo was expected to fill. The Petronas-backed Sepang team is coming into MotoGP expecting success, and to do that, they need to hire a rider with a proven track record of winning. With Lorenzo off the table, Dani Pedrosa would make a solid replacement.

But reports from German-language publication Speedweek suggest that Pedrosa may have decided to retire. According to Speedweek, Pedrosa felt that with no factory rides on offer except Aprilia, he had little reason to continue. At 32 years of age, and having spent his entire career with Honda, he had no desire to switch teams. Financially, switching brands might also work against him, as Pedrosa could go on to be an ambassador for Honda once he hangs up his helmet.

If Pedrosa does retire, that would open up extra options for Andrea Iannone. At Mugello, the Italian had announced that he would be leaving Suzuki at the end of the year. "For sure I will not remain with Suzuki," he told reporters. "I will switch to another bike, factory." It has been an open secret that Aprilia have been courting Andrea Iannone, as having a fast Italian on their bike was a priority. But if Pedrosa is not taking the factory-spec Yamaha left vacant by Lorenzo's decision to join Honda, Iannone could be in the frame for that ride.

A small matter of organization

That the project will happen is almost certain, the only question is the logistics surrounding it. As I explained above, the Sepang circuit has a choice of options, and is trying to navigate between buying the grid slots from Marc VDS, or collaborating with the Angel Nieto Team.

There is an intriguing third possibility as well: that Sito Pons could move up to MotoGP, and possibly partner with Sepang. Pons is suffering badly with a lack of sponsors in Moto2, the smaller classes suffering in terms of sponsorship exposure since MotoGP moved to Movistar, a separate pay TV package. A move to MotoGP would do a lot to remedy that, as the class is much more attractive to sponsors overall.

The plan behind a Sepang / Petronas / Yamaha team is to have one proven rider, and another upcoming talent. Speaking to Crash.net's Peter McLaren, Sepang Circuit CEO Razlan Razali confirmed they were initially looking at the pairing of Jorge Lorenzo and Franco Morbidelli. Backers Petronas had two objectives in mind, he said.

"Potentially coming into MotoGP they are looking at a couple of key factors," Razali told McLaren. "Number one is to be able to develop their oil and lubricants with the engine. Number two is performance, to be able to perform to win. And then of course the branding and everything that comes with it. Given the potential with the likes of Lorenzo it would further raise their eyebrows. Again there's a lot of variables, a lot of things beyond my control. But having Lorenzo and probably Morbidelli in this new team - whether it's us or other people – I think is a strong team."

With Lorenzo out of the equation, the only proven winner left available is Andrea Iannone. But a partnership with Morbidelli is a strong possibility, given that Morbidelli comes out of the VR46 stable, which obviously has strong ties to Yamaha.

Marc VDS and Márquez

The future of the Marc VDS team also remains uncertain. The team could continue in MotoGP, now that the dispute between Marc van der Straten and Michael Bartholemy has been settled. One hypothesis is that Emilio Alzamora steps in to take a bigger role in running the team. In that case, Alzamora would want to hang on to Morbidelli, and potentially move Alex Márquez up into MotoGP.

That has been the plan for Alzamora for some time now. But it creates a couple of complications. Firstly, Alzamora's Monlau project is closely tied to Honda in every class they compete in, from Pre-Moto3 in the Spanish championship, through the FIM CEV Junior World Championship, Moto3, and at the moment with Marc VDS, MotoGP. Michael Bartholemy and Marc van der Straten were keen to move the team away from Honda, feeling let down by the level of support they had received from the Japanese factory. Alzamora would want to stay with Honda.

But there is another difficulty in bringing Alex Márquez up to MotoGP. Since winning the Moto3 title, the younger Márquez brother has been beaten by his teammate every season he has been in the Moto2 class. And not just his teammate: he was also beaten by fellow rookie and former Moto3 teammate Alex Rins in the championship.

In 2015, his first year in Moto2, Alex Márquez finished 14th, while his teammate Tito Rabat finished third, and Alex Rins (also in his rookie season) finished second. A year later, Márquez finished 13th, new teammate Franco Morbidelli finishing fourth, while Rins ended third. Last year, Márquez had a much stronger season, but he still ended up only fourth, while teammate Morbidelli went on to be champion.

After six races of 2018, Márquez is currently fourth in the standings, and one place ahead of his teammate Joan Mir. But Mir is a rookie in Moto2, and is just starting to get into the groove. Márquez must fear that he will be outshone by his teammate once again in Moto2.

Nearly done, but not quite

With Jorge Lorenzo at Repsol Honda, Joan Mir to be confirmed at Suzuki, and Danilo Petrucci in the second factory Ducati seat, many of the grid slots have now been filled. There are 17 riders either confirmed or soon to be confirmed on the grid. There are potentially 24 seats available, though it is also possible that the grid drops to just 22 bikes, if Marc VDS withdraws. Much of Silly Season is now over.

There are still big questions remaining. What becomes of Marc VDS? Who will Petronas and the Sepang International Circuit partner with? Will Dani Pedrosa retire, or continue on another manufacturer? After three days of Silly Season mayhem, these questions may take a little longer to answer.

The current state of the MotoGP grid, with signed riders and expected riders, is on this page.


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.

Source: 
Total votes: 67
Total votes: 65

Back to top

Comments

Phew, I think you got that posted before there was another official announcement, so your info should remain current for at least another 5 minutes :). Great summary, even if I had to reread some sentences to keep things straight (that issue has to do with my brain, not your writing).

A lot of interesting things to watch as next year's season begins (not that I want to rush this season) but I can't help but feel for Dani a bit. On the one hand I guess he's been given many seasons to get a top flight title without success in a sport that spits decent riders out the back all the time, but on the other hand he's such an exceptional rider who may be left without a decent ride while others with much less stellar records get opportunities. Maybe that's just life, and we all need to enjoy the opportunities we do get. I've certainly enjoyed watching Dani. 

Total votes: 127

Thanks David, I’m off for a lie down...

 

Total votes: 51

Fantastic summation as always but regarding this; "But if Pedrosa is not taking the factory-spec Yamaha left vacant by Lorenzo's decision to join Honda, Iannone could be in the frame for that ride."

Is that bike a done deal? That is has Yamaha gone on record saying they will field 3 factory bikes next year regardless... or was that just speculation assuming JL would be the one riding it? 

Total votes: 45

Anything but a done deal. Many forces and variables at play. Early in process. Might just blow right by, teasing hopes.

Total votes: 33

Approximately 1/3 of the way thru the season and we already have all these riders changing teams.  Can't imagine what it must be like to work with people for the next 6 months when they know you've quit the job.  Hard enough to work with someone when you've given 2 weeks notice.  On the other hand it could be like stick and ball sports where they trades players in the middle of the season.  Racing is truly a unique sport.

Total votes: 48

and the other thing is that, from the riders standpoint, you are basically signing on blind... in that you're signing a two year contract and you don't know a thing about how or even if, the bike suits you.... and you it... and what it will take to make it all work out... 

Total votes: 38

On paper, Marquez shouldn't just beat Jorge, he should *crush* him. However, Jorge sems to have finally figured out that fastest way around a track in 2018 is no longer the '250' method. He's adapted to the Ducati, therefore I think he's got half a chance of doing so with the Honda.

Having said that, I still think Marquez will beat him fairly comfortably, as he's a genius.

Total votes: 55

Reading Jack Miller's comment "Since I’ve been in MotoGP the bicep would tear a bit off the bone, it happened quite a lot." made me question if riders are using personal trainers (for fitness and sustainability throughout the season.)  Do professional riders commonly have personal trainers as part of their entourage?

I wonder if JL's contract includes a Mapping Message List to ensure he knows he has to allow MM to pass ;-)

Total votes: 42

They do have personal trainers, but as a bodybuilder and fitness freak I think most of their trainers are not very good. I've seen the form they train with and it's not very disciplined or effective. I've seen them also do a lot of useless exercises. I do think cycling is a very effective means of training for their endurance, but that can be overdone and erode the strength they need to control and stay on the bike. They only ride for 45 minutes in a race... obviously more for testing, but in spurts... so they probably don't need to ride longer than 2 hours or so. Train to the sport.

From my limited track experience, if I were a MotoGP rider, on top of ~1-2 hour bike rides I'd do the following exercises:

  • Horizontal press (bench press, weighted pushups or dips)- needed to steer the bike + brace for braking
  • Horizontal row (inverted row, seated cable row)- needed to steer the bike + hold on for acceleration
  • Ab work (strict form crunches)- general stability
  • Oblique work (twists, side crunches)- general stability
  • Unilateral leg press- lower body stability/bracing/bike leaning
  • Hip adduction (machine where you squeeze your knees together)- needed to stabilize and grip the tank
  • Grip work (farmers walks)- needed to grip the bars all around
  • Posterior chain exercise (deadlifts are best bet)- general muscular balance and stability vs all other movements

Those 8 movements 2x a week along with the bike riding and a good diet would be enough to keep riders strong and healthy to ride the bikes. I follow a lot of these guys on Instagram and I never see them do this kind of basic stuff. It's all balance ball commercial gym trainer nonsense.

Total votes: 68

Agreed on these fundamentals being essential, great observation.
And more dynamic functional training is just as important. Riders need cat/ninja-like ways of moving. Cross-median, high to low, etc etc.The intensity needs to be high. Rowing is good in addition to the bicycle too.

Total votes: 40

The way many racers struggle to pick up a bike in the kitty litter, practicing tire flips would seem a useful exercise.

Total votes: 41

because they either try to lift the top bar or when they do use the bottom bar they don't keep it locked to which ever side they find it on the floor.  Maybe CTK's workout schedule should put the dead lifts at the top :-)

Total votes: 36

CTK - Thanks for sharing your insight here...I will adopt some of these exercises (doing a few now) to improve my street riding.

Total votes: 26

Stretching! Tons and tons of stretching is very important, especially when you fall off. And possibly to help prevent torn biceps. ;)

None of this is truly in my area of expertise though, so I am curious, are you familiar with Aldon Baker and if so, what do you think of his training methods? All I know is record is pretty damn untouchable when you look at the number of championships all the riders that trained with him have won.

Total votes: 47

The latest research points to pre-exercise stretching reducing muscular power and performance, and does little for injury prevention.  Warm up by all means, but if you are after peak performance do not stretch pre-activity.  

Improving flexibility in adults is also a bit of a misnomer, as studies show stretching in adults really only improves your nervous response to it, not actual flexibility. That is to say your nerves become conditioned to the stretching and it feels less painful, so while you think you are more flexible (and may be able to push further as a result) your actual range of motion remains the same. 

Post-exercise stretching is a slightly different matter in that it has shown some benefits in reducing muscle soreness.

Apologies for furthering the tangent..... 

Total votes: 48

I used to think they should all get more involved with bodybuilder trainers; however bodybuilding is exactly what is sounds like.  You build your body larger.  More mass is a slower lap time, more energy to move from side to side, more power but less endurance.

They want quick reaction reflexes to be developed; lung capacity, flexibility (see MM93 aka rubberband man); agility to move around on a bike while its moving beneath them.

I love to lift - but, more muscle can be more restrictive.  These guys cycle non-stop because cycling is more mental than power.  There are no 1 min rests between sets.

find clips of MM in the gym & JL - they are quite muscular - they just work to maintain a certain weight and agility.

Total votes: 30

These guys are all jockeys and the Michelins are made for featherweights, so no I'm not suggesting these guys aspire to pile it on like Kai Greene. Endurance and stamina are probably the most important physical attributes.

My thing is, if you're going to do any kind of strength training, make it count. Make the most of your time. Whoever is training these guys is not.

At the end of the day though, these guys are MotoGP riders and I'm not.... so they are doing SOMETHING right :D

Total votes: 31

As much as Alberto Puig is a steel hammer in a velvet glove, I don't believe he has as much clout within Dorna as Rossi has. I put this out there just to raise hackles. Rossi's conspiracy theory circa 2015 proposed Marquez/Lorenzo collusion to prevent his 10th title. Given that he is still hunting that 10th title why the hell would he be welcoming a Petronas/Sepang/Lorenzo/M1 Factory bike return? Divide and conquer. HRC just fell into a trap. Lorenzo and Marquez will be at it hammer and tongs next year pulling the team hither and thither while the rest pick up the spoils. Rossi has already got Vinales 'under clutch' so to speak within Yamaha Factory. Dani may aswell retire and start his own Moto3 team (persuade Ducati to join the fray with 250 Desmo single). Ducati are pretty settled and relieved as are KTM, most likely Suzuki too...Rins and Mir to be announced. Iannone to Aprilia most likely, they need an Italian on the Italian bike. One thing is for sure. The M3, M2, MGP conveyor belt is very well lubricated and right now KTM are making a fist of it and Ducati are learning (hopefully) from very expensive lessons. I follow M3 avidly as I did when Marc was in 125cc, as I still do M2 600 Honda. Alex Marquez has had his day in the sun, but political clout is what it is. I see Sam Lowes and Dani Kent 6 races in talking up a chalk week in and week out along with John McPhee and no cigar.

Total votes: 50

Rossi-Lorenzo was the most prolific team ever, from first hand experience Rossi knows that a fast teammate makes you stronger, especially Lorenzo. Since JL left for Ducati, since then Yamaha is missing something, on the other hand the Desmo got a lot more versatile and it lighted up a fire under Dovi's ass. Might be just several coincidences but at this point that's a gamble not worth taking. 

Lorenzo is still fast, capable to adapt and gaining priceless experience. Rossi would undoubtedly take Lorenzo back in the Yamaha camp over Honda's engineers gaining crucial data from his riding style & input to help them make the RCV a more balanced bike. In such case, motogp would be Prost vs Senna all over again, or more simply the new Rossi-Lorenzo era, and Vale certainly doesn't want to see that happening. 

Total votes: 62

Keeping Marc happy would be the only reason Alex would be chosen for any MotoGp ride in 2019. He certainly hasn't shown enough to get there on his own merit. 

Since he started in Moto3 back in 2012 he has managed to scrape together just 7 wins from his 104 starts. 1 in 2013, 3 in 2014 when he used the Spanish Armada tactics to hold off Jack Miller and 3 last year. No wins in 2015 or 2016. As mentioned by David in the article he has yet to beat his teammate in Moto2 and has seen his main rivals and contemporaries find seats in MotoGp while he languishes in Moto2. The list is pretty damning:

Vinales, Miller, Rins, Rabat, Morbidelli, Luthi, Oliviera, Bagnaia, Mir ..... 

 

 

Total votes: 38

AM73 is a better rider than Xavier Siméon (1 win and 4 podiums in 127 Moto2 starts).

How about these stats:

- 1 win and 4 podiums in 53 GP125 starts,

- 1 win and 8 podiums in 31 Moto3 starts,

- 3 wins and 11 podiums in 54 Moto2 starts?

Yes, that was Jonas Folger whom Hervé Poncharal would take back in MotoGP if his health recovers.

Agree that it would be unlikely for the younger Márquez to win a MotoGP race except under fluke circumstances (e.g. "JackAssen"), but maybe like Folger a MotoGP bike would suit him better than a Moto2 bike and he could be at least a useful rider and not a backmarker that should as Wayne Rainey said, "pay someone to ride the bike for them, since they sure can't".

Total votes: 41

I can only read that you have agreed with me. To be honest I forgot about Simeon being promoted from Moto2 this year. I agree also about Folger. What made Poncharal choose him over Alex Marquez?

What do the team managers see in these other riders that is lacking in Alex? I don't know the answer either but there is a pattern here that is pretty obvious. 

Total votes: 40

Thank you David. These last two days must have been really hectic for you. Phew!
To me it seems that Pedrosa and Honda were a paradigm of incompatibility the last years. He should have moved to a Yamaha or a Yamaha-like bike years ago. Right after it was clear he had to fight more than anybody else with the RCV, or after he realized the course of development chose for the bike, after the Marquez regime established itself as the Alpha Male in the team.
In this he is probably himself (at least partly) responsible. Respectively, if indeed Dani doesn't get a chance at the saddle of M1, it will not be a case of the Universe conspiring against him. Pedrosa is smooth and precise and super sensitive, traits that the Yamaha bike appreciates –but the Yamahas face now their very own traction problems.
The Suzuki is also a bike made for Dani, but no chance there.
Puig took a huge bite. He will either swallow it or choke on it. How will he manage the two Huge Egos of Marquez and Lorenzo? And how will Lorenzo adopt to the most physical bike in the Circus? I was really surprised you found so many positive arguments and words in the pairing of Jorge and RCV. Your take on what Honda demands and what Lorenzo can offer is quite different from what I had in mind. But you are the man close to the facts and therefore you should know better.
The answers shortly on your screens... as they say.
Total votes: 43

Well David this is some report!  Great!

I'm still wondering though.... it all seems a bit crazy. Rather, a lot crazy. To be honest i never thought for a second that lorenzo was ready to settle for a satellite yamaha: no way a guy who starts any of his sentences with 5-time-world-champion can settle for a satellite bike. But Honda? I mean: Honda in Marquez' garage? Nah... crazy! I think his immense ego blinded him once again. He let the old italian dog back  in the garage in 2013 thinking he was washed out and done with and look where it got him. And now he thinks he can easily beat Marquez because i quote from memory his statement some weeks ago : "with the right bike the there are only two guys unbeatable: Marquez and myself". I don't even want to start to think what will happen the first of the many times that Marquez will just block pass him or use him as a berm in his own personal style at any given corner... oh boy! How much s**t will hit the fan? 

He should have stayed with Ducati, the devil he knows. swallow some pride and win more races. I mean: all those efforts and all the humiliation what for? To start all over again? True, Ducati management lacks human basic decency (expecialli Domenicali) but honestly: that bike won 6 races last year! It's normal they were disappointed. And i don't buy all the BS about the tank: it's a detail that i do not believe Ducati refused to provide him with. He finally got there and maybe had a chance to the title next year... now he has to start all over again, in a garage where unless he beats his teammate constantly will be given little if any consideration at all: for a guy who needs to be constantly reassured he is the best it is gonna be tough. 

One thought about Pedrosa: it is sad. Even more sad if he spends the rest of the season just drifting in the back of the grid. Talented. Unlucky. I sincerely  wish him some wins even though it seems his heart is not in it any longer. 

Given the sure outcome of this season I'm already looking forward to 2019...  fireworks!

 

Total votes: 49

"The Honda is much shorter than the Ducati"

how much shorter?

Total votes: 49

I made a photo comparison of all the bikes last year and since then have heard more great comments like these about the bikes relative differences.  

I’ve gone through rake, trail, swing arm length and angle, in addition to riding position. 

Also repeated all the above with bikes under braking and acceleration and compared them to my own bikes.  

In very basic terms the Honda has the dimenstioms of a 600 sport bike, and the Ducati more fitting to my sport tourer.

When looking at dynamic braking and acceleration, Honda’s longest wheelbase under full acceleration ie. forks fully extended front wheel lightly off the ground is comparable to others at their shortest under full braking with rear wheel lightly off the ground.  Meaning their bike is at the opposite extream.

The Honda also has the steepest rear swing arm angle and the least amount of adjustment for swing arm pivot height. A sign they work with a bike which is short and high versus long and low, and that they use more rear rise or anti squat from the steeper swing arm angle.  This latter part works best when grip is avaible as is the case this year with more freshly paved tracks than seasons past.  

Be sure to check out the link below. I’ve been meaning to do again for this year but have missed the time to put the effort it took as of yet, but may make time if enough people find it helpful or insightful 

https://motomatters.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3931&hilit=2017+bike+a+sideways+view&start=50

 

Total votes: 62

(said with a frustrated shake of the head)

Whats the point of spending millions to build one of the most sophisticated racing motorcycles on the planet and then employing riders who can barely spell TCS let alone optimise it.

I just don't get the logic.  Iannone was not a leopard who changed his spots, they knew they were getting a transporter full of baggage along with his riding talent, so to judge all proven riders by that benchmark is short sighted in the extreme.

So you have to ask yourself: are they actually aiming to win the championship?  Or is it enough to gain the engineering/technical insight and kudos from simply putting up a solid effort in the premier class?  I can't help but think the latter.

If you want to go as fast as your competitors do what they are doing, if you want to go faster you need to do something different.  I'd have chased Rea with some serious money, rather than another promising Moto2 guy who will just start to shine and then bugger off.   

 

Total votes: 39

the suzuki mantra is actually quite genius.

why get someone who has been on a different bike who is going to come in and tell you all the reasons your bike is not like that bike.

why not always have room for the next best up and coming rookies, who've never ridden a MotoGP bike, figure their own way around the bike.

Vinales, Rins, Mir....

Its a different approach; but I like it.

Total votes: 49

I used to love the post-season test-fest from all the journo's following the last round, but it's a rare insight you get these days.

So I was very interested to find an article by Neil Hodgson after test riding Iannone's GP16.  Even with all his experience he was gobsmacked at the direction the bike had taken, being very long and very low, hence you see the guys hanging so far off with elbows on the ground, if you want it to turn  there is no other way.

It stands to reason when you think about it.  How do you build a dragster to optimise acceleration?  Long and low to minimise wheelies.  How do you build a braking weapon? Long and low to minimise stoppies. Of course corners are an unavoidable inconvenience that have to be mitigated and there is a fine line to walk with COG and weight transfer but if you've got 270hp to exploit then needs must. 

https://www.motorcyclenews.com/news/2016/september/riding-andrea-iannone-motogp-gp16-ducati-desmosedici/

 

Total votes: 43

Interviewed at Mugello, he said that one is not necessarily more 'difficult' to ride than the other, but rather they are different to ride, with each having strengths and weaknesses in different areas... he felt that it comes down to the rider's ability to minimise the weaknesses while taking advantage of the strengths.

Total votes: 39

He is only 32, but the beatings his body has taken over the years is unthinkable for us mere mortals, he must feel terrible waking up.

My wife read his statement of leaving HRC as a statement of retirement; I didn't. Women are often much better than men at spotting emotions. Goodbye Dani, you were great, hope you win a couple this year to keep that record alive!

Total votes: 53

Whilst Marc Marquez is fast, he is also just one slip, trip, fall away from an injury.

Repsol Honda need a 2nd rider that can win or be on the podium consistently...a level that is higher than what Dani has achieved in MotoGP.

Total votes: 37