August 2016

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Is Marquez already champion?

Marc Marquez looks like he’s cruising to title number three, but is it really that simple?

MotoGP 2016 reaches two-thirds distance at Silverstone this weekend: round 12 of 18.

Marc Marquez goes into the race, which last year he failed to finish, holding a 53-point lead over Valentino Rossi. It would appear to be game over: even if Rossi or Jorge Lorenzo win the last seven races, Marquez can afford to finish second or third at every race and still take home the title.

Back to top

Analyzing KTM's RC16 MotoGP Bike - Can it be Competitive?

At the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, at the Austrian round of MotoGP, KTM finally officially presented its MotoGP project, the KTM RC16. There had been months of testing, with press releases and photos issued. There had been KTM's participation in the private MotoGP test at the Red Bull Ring in July, alongside the rest of the MotoGP teams. But at the Austrian GP, the fans and media got their first chance to see the bike close up.

What are we to make of it? First, we should ask what we know about the bike. On their corporate blog, KTM list some specs for the bike. There are few surprises: 1000cc V4 engine, using pneumatic valves, housed in a tubular steel trellis frame and an aluminum swing arm. Suspension is by WP, while brakes are by Brembo, and exhaust by Akrapovic. Electronics are the spec MotoGP Magneti Marelli ECU.

Big numbers

What is slightly more interesting are the numbers for maximum engine revs and horsepower. Like all official numbers on values such as torque, horsepower, and revs, they are not to be trusted, but these both seem highly inaccurate. KTM claims the RC16 makes 250hp. It certainly makes that, and probably 10% more, given that most MotoGP engines are believed to make somewhere between 260 and 275 horsepower.

Back to top

Michael van der Mark Confirmed at Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Squad for 2017

In the latest round of poorly-kept secrets emerging at last, Yamaha have announced that they have signed Michael van der Mark for the 2017 season. He will join Alex Lowes in the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK squad for next year, replacing Sylvain Guintoli.

The move had been long expected. It became clear over the summer that Van der Mark would be leaving the Ten Kate Honda team, with whom he has had a long relationship. Once the signing of Stefan Bradl alongside Nicky Hayden at Honda was announced, there was only one destination Van der Mark could be heading.

Part of Van der Mark's motivation for moving has to do with MotoGP. The Dutchman is known to be keen to move to the Grand Prix paddock, but could not find a competitive package, or a deal with hopes of progressing towards a factory team. A switch to Yamaha may smooth his path in the future, though with the Tech 3 team having signed two rookies for 2017 and 2018, that route could also be more difficult.

Below is the press release announcing the move:


Van der Mark joins Lowes as Yamaha Young Guns Spearhead 2017 WorldSBK Attack

Back to top

Alex Lowes to Replace Bradley Smith for Silverstone and Misano

A week after getting his first taste of a MotoGP bike, Alex Lowes has learned he will spend two full weekends on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha machine, replacing Bradley Smith. 

Smith injured himself when he crashed heavily during practice for the final round of the FIM Endurance World Championship. The Englishman had been drafted in to boister the YART Yamaha team, in response to a request by friend and former World Supersport racer Broc Parkes.

The aim was to help YART win the FIM EWC title, but Smith's assistance ended before the race had even begun. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider collided with another rider, suffering a very deep cut to his leg and damage to his knee. Fears of a broken femur proved unfounded, fortunately.

Smith's injury means he will miss both Silverstone and Misano. Alex Lowes was the obvious replacement for Smith, with rumors emerging that the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK rider would fill in for Smith over the weekend. Lowes has strong Monster backing, meaning no sponsor clash, and rides for Yamaha in the World Superbike championship.

Lowes is in Yamaha's good books for helping Pol Espargaro and Katsuyuki Nakasuga clinch their second successive Suzuka 8 Hours title in July. After that race, Espargaro spoke very highly of Alex Lowes, praising his speed and talent. The two things combined earned Lowes a spin on the Tech 3 bike during the MotoGP test at Brno on Monday.

Back to top

Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 36: History in the Making at Brno

The Brno round of MotoGP was one for the history books, and so Neil Morrison, Scott Jones and David Emmett got together to discuss the events of Brno in the latest episode of the Paddock Pass Podcast.

There was a lot to talk about. Obviously, we take a look at Cal Crutchlow's win, and how making the right choice of tires helped make the difference. That tire choice proved to be crucial, and we give our opinions on what happened to the soft wet tires of the various protagonists, and who, if anyone, is to blame. We celebrate those who chose wisely, but also the riders such as Marc Marquez and Hector Barbera who nursed the soft wet tires home.

Back to top

Why WorldSBK Makes More Sense than MotoGP to Eugene Laverty

The final piece of the MotoGP puzzle has finally dropped. Eugene Laverty has decided that he will be switching back to WorldSBK, where he will ride a factory-backed Aprilia RSV4-RF with the Milwaukee Racing SMR squad. The departure of Laverty means that Yonny Hernandez will get to keep his place in the Pull & Bear Aspar Ducati team, filling the final empty slot on the MotoGP grid.

It may seem strange for Laverty to abandon MotoGP, just as his star has been rising in the class. Since Aspar switched from Honda's RC213V-RS Open Class machine to the Ducati Desmosedici GP14.2, the older Ducati working very well with the Michelin tires, more rear grip helping to reduce the understeer the GP14.2 suffers from. He is currently eleventh in the championship, and has a fourth and a sixth as best finishes, Laverty being annoyed that early traffic cost him the chance of a podium at Brno. It took the factory Ducatis on their brand new GP16s six races to get ahead of the Irishman in the championship standings.

So why has Laverty decided to abandon MotoGP in favor of WorldSBK? There are a number of reasons, but all of them boil down to a single issue: Eugene Laverty is a winner, and he likes to win. On two-year-old machinery, in a private team (though with good factory support, unlike other satellite set ups), Laverty's only chance to win in MotoGP would come when the weather acts as the great neutralizer.

Back to top

Safe or Unsafe? MotoGP Riders & Michelin on Tires For Sunday's Race At Brno

The tire degradation during the MotoGP race at Brno was still a hot topic on the test on Monday, after so many riders suffered problems during the race on Sunday. We asked most of the riders who tested on Monday what they felt about the tires, and whether they were safe. We also spoke to Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's technical director, and he explained why he felt that some riders had suffered problems, while others had been able to finish the race. 

The comments below are offered without any further commentary. I do not wish to cloud the judgment of those reading the comments by first setting out my own theory of what happened. The comments stand on their own, and should be read as such.


Marc Márquez – Repsol Honda Rider

Q: Think about safety of front tire in the race?

MM: In the end yesterday the conditions were very, very critical. Because there was not a lot of water but then takes time to dry and already honestly the Michelin guys push to me for example to go to the hard. Because they say the soft will not finish the race if it like this with this water and they know. But the problem is one tire was extra soft and then one tire hard. The problem here is we didn't have enough time to try the hard [before the race], so people go to the soft, but the best option was the hard. We had the tire to finish the race, but the thing is nearly everybody choose the soft front and then the soft was extra-soft. They already told me before the race, 'please try to manage the front because it will be on the limit to finish the race'.

Q: What did your tire look like at end?

MM: They look of course… My one looks only graining, because also I was trying to take care of the tire.

Q: How do you do that?

Back to top

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Crutchlow: MotoGP’s brave heart

It’s taken him 98 races and 92 crashes but it’s all been worth it – Crutchlow has finally made it all the way to the top

Andrea Iannone one week, Cal Crutchlow the next; what a difference a week makes. It’s hard to think of two more different winners in the MotoGP paddock: Iannone, the tattooed, coiffured bad boy so in love with himself, and Crutchlow, the scruffy, amiable family man who would happily wrestle a grizzly bear if you gave him half the chance.

Crutchlow’s win at Brno was hugely popular within the paddock because he’s one of the good guys; usually joking, often a bit rude and always straight down the line. He says what he thinks and damn the consequences. Within the shiny MotoGP bubble, where pretence and smoke and mirrors dazzle way too many people, Crutchlow stands out like a greasy-haired rocker in a bunch of preening, perfumed mods. What you see is what you get.

Back to top

2016 Brno MotoGP Test Round Up - Not Everyone Likes Mondays

After a tough race on Sunday, managing tires on a drying track, around half of the MotoGP grid headed back to the track on Monday for a day of testing. Not everyone was enthusiastic about that. "Usually we hate Mondays, and this is a Monday that we hate," Danilo Petrucci told us with a wry grin on his face. He pinpointed why testing made a lot less sense for satellite riders than for factory teams. Satellite teams only really have set up changes to test, and the occasional tire, if the single tire supplier has something new. There was a real downside to working on set up at a track you have just raced at, Petrucci said. "If you are angry because you didn't get the best set up on Sunday, you getting more angry if you find it on Monday."

Back to top

Pages