April 2019

KTM Extends Miguel Oliveira Through 2020 Season

KTM has exercised the option it held over Miguel Oliveira's contract, extending it for the second year, according to German-language website Speedweek. The Portuguese rider will now race for the satellite Red Bull KTM Tech3 for the 2019 and 2020 seasons at least.

That KTM should decide to sign Oliveira up early is hardly surprising. The Portuguese rider has been quietly impressive since moving up to MotoGP. He rode well in the first half of the season opener at Qatar, before burning up his tires and dropping down to finish seventeenth.

But he learned quickly, and put on an outstanding display in Argentina, just losing out in the battle for ninth from Aleix Espargaro on the Aprilia and brother Pol Espargaro on the factory KTM. In Austin, he finished shortly behind the other factory KTM of Johann Zarco, who Oliveira has frequently outperformed this year.

The Portuguese rookie is currently sixteenth in the MotoGP standings, ahead of Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Iannone, and Johann Zarco, all three of whom have vastly more experience in the premier class.

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Tom's Tech Treasures: A Close Look At MotoGP Updates At Austin


Ducati GP19 swingarm attachment
Peter Bom: The now (in)famous aerodynamic modification on the Ducati, which they claim channels extra air onto the rear tire, which keeps it cooler and improves performance. Since its introduction, we have also seen a similar device on the Honda RC213V, and we expect to see more at Jerez.


Honda RC213V swingarm attachment, side view

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Santi Hernandez On Marc Marquez, Part 2: On What Makes Marc Marquez Special, And How He Prepared For That

In part one of my interview with Santi Hernandez, crew chief to Marc Márquez, Hernandez talked about how the team come up with the strategies which have given them a competitive advantage in MotoGP. In this second part, Hernandez moves on to talk about what makes Marc Márquez so special.

Hernandez discusses how Márquez pairs exceptional talent with absolute effort, and about Márquez attitude to risk, and how he balances the risk with the need to find the limit. This is a crew chief's view of what exactly makes a rider special.

Q: What about Marc is special? Is there something special in his riding – throttle, braking, balance? Anything like that?

Santi Hernandez: Yeah, he changed a lot from 2013 and now. He has more experience. He knows the bike much more, but also he learned about the championship. He learned how if you want to win the title you have to… At the beginning, he was all or nothing. Now he understands.

Q: Last year he won the championship on all the days when he didn't win the race.

SH: This is what I am saying. Of course, he learned, but for me the most key point for him is he always gives 100%, 120%, from FP1 until the race. It is good to work with a rider like this, because all the data you have is very good. It's not like one lap slower, one faster, two slower. Then it's so difficult, even for the rider, to choose the tire, the setup. So it's better that the rider always goes out, and even if the bike is not the best, he does 120%.

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Santi Hernandez On Marc Marquez, Part 1: On Strategy, Taking Risks, And Learning From Mistakes

Motorcycle racing is a team sport. Even when exceptional talents come along, they need help to succeed, from mechanics, from crew chiefs, from the people around them. Freddie Spencer had Erv Kanemoto, Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi had Jeremy Burgess, Casey Stoner had Cristian Gabarrini. And now, Marc Márquez has Santi Hernandez.

The Spaniard has been with Márquez since he moved up to the Moto2 class in 2011. Since then, he has been Márquez' crew chief for the Monlau Repsol team, and the Repsol Honda team in MotoGP. In their eight years together, the pair have won six of Márquez' seven Grand Prix titles, proving the success of the partnership.

But Hernandez is not just a vital part of the engineering side of Márquez' success, he has also been instrumental in the other ways in which the reigning world champion has changed the face of racing. Márquez and his crew are renowned for understanding strategy better than anyone else in the paddock. It was Márquez who first went for a two-stop strategy during qualifying. It was Márquez who gambled on coming in early when the track was drying at Brno in 2017, going on to win by 12 seconds. It is Márquez who finds advantages in places other riders and their teams fear to look.

Santi Hernandez is a key part of that decision making. I sat down with Marc Márquez' crew chief in Austin, to talk about how they identify and choose new strategies, why they can afford to gamble, and what happens when it goes wrong. In the second part of this interview, published on Saturday, we go on to discuss what makes Marc Márquez such a special rider, and how he manages himself under such extreme pressure.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How I ride: Álex Rins

Three days before he rode to his first MotoGP victory at COTA we sat down with Álex Rins to find out how he extracts the maximum from Suzuki’s GSX-RR

Would you say you are a very smooth rider?

Yes.

Does this come from you working out that this is now the best way to ride a MotoGP bike or does it come naturally?

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MotoE Testing To Resume At Valencia In June

After the disastrous fire which destroyed the Energica Ego Corsa motorcycles and all of the charging equipment for the series at Jerez back in March, the MotoE class is on track to resume preparations for its inaugural season in 2019. Today, Dorna confirmed that testing will resume at Valencia in mid June.

The MotoE riders will assemble at the Circuito Ricardo Tormo in Cheste, near Valencia, on 17th June, the day after the MotoGP race in Barcelona, for three days of testing ahead of the first race of the season at the Sachsenring three weeks later. Testing will pick up where they left off at Jerez, with bikes and riders working on set up and further understanding the intricacies of racing an electric motorcycle. 

The announcement of a test at Valencia is a boost for the series. After fire destroyed all of the equipment for the series, there was serious concerns that Energica, a relatively small manufacturer, could build sufficient bikes to replace the machines damaged by the fire in time to run a series in 2019. Those fears have been allayed, for now at least.

The MotoE championship will now consist of six races at four rounds, to be held at MotoGP rounds: single races at the Sachsenring and Red Bull Ring in Austria, then two double headers, at Misano and the season finale at Valencia.

The press release announcing the test appears below:


FIM Enel MotoE™ World Cup test confirmed for Valencia in June

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Steve English Blog: BSB vs WorldSBK - What's The Difference Between You And Me?

When people talk about the differences between BSB and WorldSBK the biggest talking point is the relative competitiveness of both. What are the biggest factors?

I’m a self confessed addict. There’s nothing better than sitting down on a Sunday to watch racing. It doesn’t matter what it is. Cars or bikes I’ll be sitting down to watch it. My earliest memories are of sitting down and watching Formula 1 and from when I started to watch World Superbikes and 500GP in the 90’s I was fully hooked.

Missing school on a Friday and watching practice sessions wasn’t a regular occurrence but it did happen on far too many occasions to be purely coincidental. I can still remember being a schoolboy and seeing British and American Superbike stars wild card, take pole positions and race wins. It was a magical time for Superbike racing when it was the biggest game in town in the UK and Ireland.

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Austin MotoGP Race Round Up: Making History, Yamaha's Revival, And The Future Of The US GP

There are only three certainties in life: Death, taxes, and Marc Márquez winning any MotoGP race organized in the United States of America. That has been true since the Spaniard moved up to MotoGP, and for both years he spent in Moto2 as well. There is something about America which makes Márquez nigh on invincible. Is it the anticlockwise tracks? Is it the low grip and tricky surfaces found at the circuits? Or is high fructose corn syrup Márquez' equivalent of Popeye's spinach?

MotoGP went to Austin hoping this might be the year when things changed. With good reason: the racing in the series has been getting closer and closer almost on a race-by-race basis. Valentino Rossi finished just 0.6 seconds behind race winner Andrea Dovizioso at Qatar, but he crossed the line in fifth place. In Argentina, the seven riders fighting for second place were separated by 3 seconds on the penultimate lap. The Ducati Desmosedici GP19 is faster and better than ever, the Yamaha M1 has made a huge step forward since 2018, and the Suzuki has consistently been in the hunt for podiums since the middle of last year.

That is all very well and good, but the margin of Marc Márquez' victory in Termas de Rio Hondo suggested that ending Márquez' reign in the US would require something extraordinary to happen. The Repsol Honda rider had a 12 second lead going into the last lap in Argentina. The Honda RC213V had the highest top speed in both Qatar and Argentina, the bike having both more horsepower and better acceleration. Then, during qualifying, Márquez took pole – his seventh in a row at the Circuit of the Americas – with an advantage of more than a quarter of a second over Valentino Rossi. Normal service had been resumed.

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