February 10th, 2016
The FIM have today at last finalized the 2016 MotoGP calendar. The two circuits which were still subject to contract, Brno and Jerez, have now had their contracts confirmed. The calendar is unchanged from the provisional calendar published between Sepang and Valencia last year.
FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix
2016 Calendar, 10 February
The FIM and Dorna are pleased to confirm that the FIM Grand Prix World Championship calendar published as provisional on November 2 is now final.
The Leopard Racing team issued the following press releases after the first test of their Moto2 and Moto3 teams at Barcelona:
It is no secret that Dorna and the manufacturers active in MotoGP are keen to stage a race in Indonesia. The sport enjoys unrivaled popularity in the Southeast Asian country, and as one of the biggest markets for scooters and small capacity motorcycles in the world, Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki are desperate to race there. The burgeoning middle class in Indonesia also make it a key target market for European manufacturers such as Ducati, who have seen their sales explode in the region, albeit from a very small base.
Throughout 2015, Dorna officials met with senior figures in Indonesia, including the Minister for Youth and Sports, Imam Nahrawi, and the CEO of the Sentul Circuit Tinton Soeprapto, in an attempt to hammer out an agreement. So far, Dorna have a letter of intent signed by the Minister, and a preliminary deal which would see the race staged in Indonesia for three years, starting in 2017.
The Circuit of Wales is edging ever closer to becoming a reality. BBC Wales is reporting that UK insurance giant Aviva will be backing the Circuit of Wales project, and providing funds to allow building work on the track near Ebbw Vale in South Wales to start. Construction will take some time, however, and Silverstone will continue to host the British round of MotoGP for the 2016 and 2017 seasons, the race only moving to the Circuit of Wales from 2018 onwards.
The news that Aviva is to provide financial backing for the Circuit of Wales still leaves many questions unanswered. It is not clear from the reports by BBC Wales exactly how much money Aviva will be putting into the track. The circuit needs £300 million in private investment, on top of roughly £30 million in public funding in the form of loans. Whether Aviva will be providing the full £300 million for the Circuit of Wales, or sufficient seed money for building work to start is unclear.
The Milwaukee BMW and Kawasaki World Superbike teams issued the following press releases after their final private test in Europe at the Motorland Aragon circuit, before flying off to Australia for the tests and opening round of WSBK:
After the first test of 2016 at Sepang, Suzuki released a video featuring interviews with Maverick Viñales, Aleix Espargaro and team manager Davide Brivio. In the video, they discuss how they got on with the new 2016 GSX-RR Suzuki brought to the Sepang tests.
The biggest positive for both riders was the extra horsepower which the new engine had. For the first time, Maverick Viñales said, he had been able to follow Marc Marquez down the front straight, and not lose ground on top speed. The new seamless gearbox helped here too, improving the acceleration of the bike. Neither Viñales nor Espargaro were particularly enamored of the new chassis, however. Viñales ignored it altogether, while Espargaro spent time on it, especially on the last day. The two could not agree on the benefits of the chassis, Viñales saying the frame had grip but would not turn, while Espargaro said the bike was turning better than the 2015 item, but he had no grip.
Watch what the riders and team manager have to say for yourself below:
As we reported back in January, Marc Marquez has ended his agreement with Valentino Rossi's VR46 Racing Apparel company to produce and sell merchandising for the Spaniard and his younger brother. Today, official confirmation came in the form of a press release from his management company, Alzamora Communications. The agreement with VR46 RAcing Apparel has been officially terminated.
The ending of the contract is part of the fallout from the incident between Marquez and Rossi at Sepang, in October last year. That episode effectively destroyed any relationship that existed between the two riders, though it had been gradually deteriorating throughout the 2015 season. Rossi's accusations, both after Sepang and especially after Valencia, caused Marquez to lose any faith he may have had in Rossi, and made him decide to sever all business ties with Rossi and those linked to him. In addition to the merchandising deal, Marquez will also be ending his association with GP Rooms, the room rental business run by the Nieto family, after Marquez felt that they had taken sides against him.
The press release from Marquez' management company is below:
Barcelona, 8th February 2016
As we reported on Tuesday, changes are to be made to Race Direction. At a meeting in Geneva on Thursday, the Grand Prix Commission decided to change the way disciplinary matters are handled by Race Direction. For this season, a separate body is to be set up to handle all incidents on track requiring disciplinary action. These issues have been handled by Race Direction until now, but the incident at Sepang between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez led to calls for such decisions to be taken away from Race Direction, to allow quicker decisions to be made.
From the start of the 2016 season, all disciplinary matters will be dealt with by a separate panel, consisting of three people. One of those will be Mike Webb, who as MotoGP Race Director is ultimately responsible for all aspects of the MotoGP race. Mike Webb will be joined by two stewards appointed by the FIM. Those stewards have yet to be appointed, and the press release issued by the FIM does not make clear whether the stewards will be appointed permanently, for a full season, or for each race individually. In the case of an incident which needs to be investigated by the panel of stewards, Mike Webb will hand over his duties as Race Director to a newly appointed deputy, Graham Webber.
The return of Casey Stoner to Ducati as a test rider has raised more questions than it answered. Fans and media alike are in a state of confusion about his intentions, especially given the times he was setting on the Ducati Desmosedici GP15. What was he doing? Will he race again? When will he test again? To try to put this test and Stoner's role into perspective, here is what we know, what we think we know, and what we don't.
What was Stoner riding?
Casey Stoner spent all three days on the Ducati Desmosedici GP15. He did not test the GP16.
If he's a test rider, why didn't he test the GP16?
A lot of reasons. The GP16 is a brand new bike, and there aren't that many of them yet, so Ducati can't afford to have a test rider destroy one if they crash. The GP16 is not that different to the GP15, so there was plenty for Stoner to test which is transferable to the GP16. Stoner hadn't ridden a MotoGP bike in a year, and hadn't ridden a Ducati since 2010. He hadn't ridden Michelins since 2006, and MotoGP is now using a spec software. For this test, Stoner's aim was to get up to speed, learn and understand the Ducati and a 1000cc era MotoGP bike, complete with Michelins and spec software, and prepare himself for the next test, so that he can provide better input at the next test.
MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Why Honda never take the easy road
Honda’s RC213V engine is a wild thing, but this is not an unusual problem for them to solve. Here’s why…
Many people will tell you the most important things about preseason tests is lap times. These numbers are endlessly analysed by so-called experts attempting to predict the outcome of the new season, rather like weirdos trying to divine the future by reading the tealeaves in the bottom of their teacups.
It’s all a load of nonsense, of course. Individual preseason lap times mean nothing. If they did, Marc Marquez would’ve won last year’s MotoGP title.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the final day of testing at Sepang:
What did we learn from the first proper MotoGP test of the new era of Michelin tires and spec electronics? More than we hoped, yet less than we think. A quick run down on the state of play after Sepang, with more to come over the following days.
The riders approached the Sepang test with some trepidation, fearing that Michelin had not fixed its wayward front that caused so many crashes at Valencia and Jerez. Their fears were unfounded, the new front tires which Michelin brought – a total of five different types, of varying construction and compound – were all a massive step forward. They were not as stable as the Bridgestones they replaced, but they had gained a lot of predictability and feedback. There were very few crashes which the riders said they had not seen coming.
That does not mean that all of the problems have been solved. A couple of people went down at Turn five on Tuesday, in crashes they described as strange. Casey Stoner (more on him later) had a typically concise and thoughtful analysis. "There's a little point after probably 45°, that [the tire profile] goes down just a little bit more, that it doesn't seem to match with the rear with some of the profiles that we've tested," Stoner explained. "That gives everybody a little bit a nervous feeling, and essentially why people are struggling into Turn 5, a big fast open corner, going in, when the bike goes light, it doesn't like that feeling. It makes the bike a little nervous, and I think that's when the front wants to break away."
Honda today released the following press release, confirming PJ Jacobsen as their rider in the World Supersport championship:
The sun came out at around 4pm at Sepang, and quickly dried off the rain which had fallen throughout the early afternoon. The track dried, and most of the field took to the track again, everyone chasing a fast lap.
Jorge Lorenzo ended the day fastest, the only rider to get under the two minute mark, and ending the test nearly a second quicker than his teammate Valentino Rossi. The Hondas made an improvement, Marc Marquez leapfrogging over Cal Crutchlow to take third, the LCR Honda rider dropping to fourth ahead of Casey Stoner. Stoner was the fastest of the Ducatis, with Danilo Petrucci in seventh and Andrea Iannone in eighth.
Times at the end of the day at Sepang:
Light rain has started falling at Sepang, bringing proceedings to a halt. The insistent light rain with just a few hours of the test left makes it likely that the teams will soon pack up and leave, and start their preparations for the next test at Phillip Island in two weeks time.
The two Yamaha riders lead the rest by a big margin, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi swapping the top spot until Lorenzo stamped his authority on the timesheets. The Spaniard leads his Movistar Yamaha teammate by half a second, while Rossi is another half a second ahead of Marc Marquez. Fastest Ducati is Casey Stoner, over a tenth quicker than factory rider Andrea Iannone, while Cal Crutchlow was strong at the end once again, putting the LCR Honda into sixth, 1.3 seconds behind Lorenzo.
Times at 2:30pm: