November 2016

Subscriber Feature: Why Jorge Lorenzo Had A Tough Time With Tires In 2016

What went wrong for Jorge Lorenzo in 2016? A lot of things. The Spaniard was quickest during the Sepang test, a full second faster than his teammate. He started the season strongly, with a win at Qatar, then a strong run of form from Austin to Mugello, finishing either first or second every race except in Argentina, where he crashed. That crash perhaps foreshadowed what was to come: unable to match the pace of the leaders, he pushed hard to manage the gap. He went slightly off line and hit a damp patch on the track, and lost the front.

The cause of that problem – Michelin's tires in poor grip conditions – would be a recurring pattern. At Barcelona, after the track layout was changed to make it safer in response to the tragic death of Luis Salom, Lorenzo was once again struggling, and was wiped out by an impatient Andrea Iannone. At Assen, the Sachsenring, Brno and Silverstone, Lorenzo had an awful time in the wet. At Phillip Island, it was the same, this time cold temperatures in the race causing problems after so much of practice was washed out by the rain.

Why was Lorenzo struggling? Was it really just a question of the Spaniard being afraid of the rain? Or is there something more to it than that? And how will Lorenzo cope with this on the Ducati next year?

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Michelin Press Release Interview: Nicolas Goubert Reflects On 2016

The Michelin press office issued the following press release, containing an interview with Nicolas Goubert, the head of their MotoGP program. In it Goubert discusses their return to MotoGP as single tire supplier, and the challenges they have faced.


MICHELIN’S RETURN TO MotoGP™ - NICOLAS GOUBERT RUNS THE RULE OVER THE 2016 CAMPAIGN

Michelin returned to the MotoGP grid this season following a seven-year absence, with the French manufacturer bringing numerous evolutions to its tyres in the course of the campaign.

With no fewer than nine different race-winners, plus the full spectrum of climatic conditions and a handful of new lap records thrown into the mix, Michelin was faced with a wide variety of situations over the course of the calendar’s 18 Grands Prix. The journey undertaken by Michelin Motorsport’s team of men and women from the very first official tests in November last year up to the present day has been a long and at times challenging one. Nicolas Goubert – the man in charge of Michelin’s MotoGP programme – offers his verdict on the brand’s first season back in the premier class.

Nicolas Goubert – Deputy Director, Technical Director and Supervisor of Michelin’s MotoGP programme:

“I am very pleased with Michelin’s first season back in MotoGP following seven years away. It has been a tremendous challenge and we have tackled it with great success, the campaign was brought to life by so many thrilling on-track battles, nine different race-winners and new lap-records at circuits featuring wildly varying characteristics. If we rewind the clock a year, our MotoGP comeback was very much a leap into the unknown, with new riders, new bikes and new tracks to discover and that’s before you even considered riding styles that had changed over the course of recent seasons and an electronic package that teams were still trying to get to grips with.

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Jerez Test Analysis: Would Jonathan Rea Really Beat The MotoGP Riders On His WorldSBK Kawasaki?

In a typically robust column written at the end of last week, David Miller, editor of Bikesportnews.com, suggested that the time which double World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea had set on Thursday at the combined WorldSBK and MotoGP test at Jerez had made the MotoGP bikes look a bit silly. Rea had ended the day as the fastest rider on the day, setting a time of 1'38.721, nearly a quarter of a second faster than Alvaro Bautista, who was riding the Ducati Desmosedici GP16 at the track.

Rea had set the time on a modified version of a road bike, costing something in the region of €300,000, beating the satellite Ducatis (estimated lease price, just shy of €2 million), satellite Hondas (official lease price €2 million, actual cost to lease about 50% higher than that), and the factory Suzuki, KTM and Desmosedici GP17 ("I'm sorry sir, you'll have to put your checkbook away, this one isn't for sale").

Miller draws a number of conclusions from this, some sound, some based more on hyperbole than reality. The claim that MotoGP is no longer a prototype series is unfounded. MotoGP bikes (and their predecessors, the 500cc two strokes and four strokes from whence they came) have never been prototypes, as Grand Prix racing was hobbled by rules from the birth of the series in 1949. The ban on forced induction, imposed in the 1930s when the excess of horsepower made possible by supercharging far outweighed contemporary braking technology, was left in place.

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Interview: Marco Melandri On His Return To World Superbikes

The return of Marco Melandri to WorldSBK in 2017 has been one of the biggest talking points in the series over the last few months. The Italian has won 19 races from 100 starts in the championship, and as a former 250GP world champion and 22 times Grand Prix winner his credentials are highly impressive.

The last two years have been a blot on his copybook however. Having enjoyed an exceptionally strong finish to the 2014 WorldSBK season Melandri looked well placed to finally win a second world title. Winning six races and finishing fourth in the standings looked to be a perfect springboard for a title run the following year.

Aprilia had other ideas, however, and with Melandri forced to race in MotoGP the relationship turned sour. The then 32 year old walked out of MotoGP and out of racing mid-season. In a forced retirement Melandri has had to keep busy and while he felt that he could still race at the front he sought other challenges including opening a shop with his sister.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - One MotoGP season – more than a thousand crashes

One MotoGP season – more than a thousand crashes

During 2016 there were more than a thousand crashes in a MotoGP season for the first time in the sport’s history. What does this tell us about what’s going on?

There are two ways to judge how a rider and his motorcycle are working together: how many times the rider ends up on the podium and how often he ends up in the gravel.

Inevitably, the two stats tend to be diametrically opposed. And rarely more so than in 2003 when Alex Barros scored one podium from 16 races at the cost of crashing his factory Yamaha YZR-M1 14 times.

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Jerez Test Friday Times: Pirro Fastest On Day Lost To Rain

The final day of testing at Jerez saw little testing happening, with most of the teams having packed up and headed home. The weather had given them little reason to stay: it was a rain-soaked day, with the weather getting worse in the afternoon. Only the factory Ducati World Superbike team, Ducati MotoGP test rider Michele Pirro, Suzuki test rider Takuya Tsuda, Yamaha World Superbike rider Michael van der Mark, KTM test rider Mika Kallio and Honda test rider Hiroshi Aoyama set a time, with Tsuda and Ducati's Chaz Davies putting in the most laps.

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Jerez Test Friday Times: Pirro Fastest On Day Lost To Rain

The final day of testing at Jerez saw little testing happening, with most of the teams having packed up and headed home. The weather had given them little reason to stay: it was a rain-soaked day, with the weather getting worse in the afternoon. Only the factory Ducati World Superbike team, Ducati MotoGP test rider Michele Pirro, Suzuki test rider Takuya Tsuda, Yamaha World Superbike rider Michael van der Mark, KTM test rider Mika Kallio and Honda test rider Hiroshi Aoyama set a time, with Tsuda and Ducati's Chaz Davies putting in the most laps.

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2017 WorldSBK Calendar Released: Portimao Returns, Jerez, Sepang Disappear

The provisional 2017 World Superbike calendar has been released, but unlike the MotoGP calendar, which is unchanged, there are a couple of minor differences to the schedule. The World Superbike class will contest 13 rounds, just as they did in 2016, spread across three continents. Sepang and Jerez have been dropped, and Portimao makes a comeback.

The WorldSBK calendar also sees a new class added to the series. As announced previously, the new WorldSSP300 class has been added as a cheap entry series, where young riders will take each other on aboard a wide range of the cheap, one and two cylinder sports bikes which manufacturers are currently building. Homologated race bikes will include the Yamaha YZF-R3, the Kawasaki Ninja 300, the KTM RC390, and the Honda CBR500R.

The season kicks off as always at Phillip Island, on 26th February, a week after the final preseason test, and ten days after the MotoGP test which is scheduled to be held there. From there, the WorldSBK grid heads to Thailand, to the Chang International Circuit, before heading back to Europe.

The races in Europe follow their usual schedule: Aragon, Assen, Imola, Donington Park, Misano, before the World Superbike riders head across the Atlantic to Laguna Seca, for the last race before the summer break. That break is fortunately much shorter then last year, with a month between Laguna Seca and the next round at the Lausitzring in Germany.

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