July 2019

Tito Rabat Signs For Two More Years With Avintia - 2020 MotoGP Line Up Almost Complete

The rider line up for the 2020 MotoGP season is nearly complete. Today, the Avintia Ducati team announced they would be signing Tito Rabat to a new two-year deal, for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, with a promise of obtaining factory-spec equipment.

The announcement is a result of the Pons Moto2 squad announcing that they would be signing Lorenzo Baldassarri and Augusto Fernandez for the 2020 season in Moto2. Baldassarri had been strongly linked to the Avintia ride, while Rabat was said to be in talks to head to the WorldSBK championship, to ride a Kawasaki alongside Jonathan Rea. When Baldassarri decided to stay in Moto2, Rabat became Avintia's best option.

The deal has two interesting details. The first is that Avintia are trying to obtain factory-spec machinery and commensurate support for 2020. That would imply that Ducati would field five GP20s (or six, if Karel Abraham were also get one) for next year. For Ducati to support that many factory bikes is a question of money, which would mean Avintia stepping up their investment, and raising more money from sponsorship. 

The second is that Rabat has chosen to sign for two years instead of one. That puts him out of step with the whole of the rest of the grid. Everyone else with a contract will be free for the 2021 season, and in a position to negotiate for a new deal with every other team on the grid, potentially at least. Rabat has no such freedom.

Back to top

Interview Part 2: KTM Crew Chief Paul Trevathan On Pol Espargaro - "He Gives Me 120%"

In part 1 of our interview with Paul Trevathan, crew chief to Red Bull KTM rider Pol Espargaro, Trevathan talked at length about the testing process, and the lengths to which KTM are going to try to catch up with the established factories in MotoGP. He covered traction, understanding how the Dunlop Moto2 rubber affects the Michelin MotoGP tires, and how KTM have adapted their testing strategy to optimize that. He talked about how KTM are approaching a turning point, where the focus is switching more towards refinement and away from radical steps and revolution.

In the second part, Trevathan examines the current state of the MotoGP championship, and what it means for KTM. He talks about working with Pol Espargaro, and the depth of commitment the Spaniard has demonstrated to try to push the program forward. He talks about the effect that has on him as a crew chief, but also about how Espargaro's willingness to push and risk can affect the other riders on the bike, and how hard it is to watch some riders struggle. And he opens up about how MotoGP is a team sport, dependent on having strong personnel in the team, but yet it is the rider who has to carry the burden of the media spotlight, in good times and in bad.

But Paul Trevathan picks up where he left off in part 1, by talking about just how incredibly competitive MotoGP is at this moment, and how that makes things tough, not just for KTM, but for everyone in the sport.

Paul Trevathan: What a time to come into the sport!

Q: Because it’s an attractive championship, there’s a really good reason to come into the sport. But the level is so high, there are no bad bikes anymore.

Back to top

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Take two naked MotoGP riders… Ducati's curious 2003 photo shoot, starring Bayliss and Capirossi

They say you have to suffer for your art and that’s exactly what MotoGP's Ducati riders Troy Bayliss and Loris Capirossi did in 2003 when the dudes at Marlboro must’ve been smoking something else…

Since this is MotoGP’s back-to-work week, here’s something to cheer up the paddock as it drags its collective backside off the beach and heads for Brno.

What follows is also a reminder of MotoGP’s good old days of bulging sponsorship budgets: those fat summers before the global recession and cigarette-advertising ban.

When teams could use 10 engines a weekend if they damn well felt like it and hire a globally renowned photo artist to shoot their riders in incongruous situations, if only to serve them right for earning several squillion bucks a year.

Back to top

Sepang CEO Razlan Razali Interview: On MotoGP, Future Moto2 Plans, And Sepang's Place In A 22-Race Calendar

Few people are involved in as many different aspects of MotoGP as Razlan Razali.

The Malaysian is not only Principal of the Petronas-backed MotoGP, Moto2, and Moto3 teams, but CEO of the Sepang Circuit and helps with management duties for the likes of local star Hafizh Syahrin.

The following interview, conducted at Catalunya, was equally wide-ranging - Razali giving his views on the success of the newly-formed satellite Yamaha MotoGP team, the race-winning Moto3 project, rider replacements and future plans for Moto2, Syahrin's 2020 options, Sepang's future on the MotoGP calendar and more…

Q: What are your personal highlights of the season so far?

Razlan Razali: My personal highlight would be the 1-2 in qualifying at Jerez [This interview was done before Fabio Quartararo's poles and podiums at Barcelona and Assen - DE]. That was something quite unbelievable. So in some ways we are now starting to get used to the fact that we are there for qualifying, but now the next step is to capitalize on the qualifying position for good race results. That is something also we discussed internally and with Yamaha as well.

But, we want to give our riders time because racing is all about experience and improving every race. Of course, the Yamaha is a bit weak when it comes to racing. But I’m confident in the plans, about what Yamaha is going to do for the rest of the year. It will give time for our riders to gain that experience and hopefully then we can do better when it comes to racing.

Q: In general, what is it that is missing in the race that is there in qualifying?

Back to top

Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 111: The Suzuka 8 Hour Aftermath Show - Triumph And Farce

The Suzuka 8 Hour race turned into one of the most exciting races we have seen in any series in the past couple of decades, with three teams fighting for the lead for lap after lap for the full 8 hour duration. Or nearly the full 8 hours: the last 10 minutes of the race supplied enough drama to fill an entire bookcase.

The day after the race, as the dust was starting to settle, our man on the ground, Steve English, got on the phone to Jensen Beeler to talk through a momentous race. There was a huge amount to discuss, including those closing minutes, the confusion over the rules, and the chaos and confusion over who would eventually emerge victorious.

Back to top

Interview Part 1: KTM Crew Chief Paul Trevathan On Pol Espargaro, Testing vs Racing, And Understanding Tires

MotoGP presents a dilemma for the motorcycle manufacturers. On the one hand, it has never been closer or more exciting, making it a very attractive prospect for factories looking to boost their profile and push the limits of their engineering prowess. On the other hand, when the top ten is so close and there are so many competitive bikes on the grid, it becomes much more difficult to make a mark on the championship. When there are perhaps 14 bikes capable of getting on the podium, the margin between success and failure is razor thin.

KTM is learning this lesson the hard way. In their third year competing in the championship, the Austrian factory is only now starting to make regular inroads into the top ten. Much of that success is down to Pol Espargaro, the stable factor in KTM's line up in its third season. Since the beginning, Espargaro has been working with crew chief Paul Trevathan, and that pairing has proven to be an ideal combination. Both lively, enthusiastic, with a keen sense of humor, and both absolutely dedicated to pushing above and beyond in pursuit of success.

At Barcelona, I sat down with Paul Trevathan to talk about KTM's MotoGP project, and working with Pol Espargaro. We covered a lot of ground in the 25 minutes or so we spoke for, talking about everything from applying lessons learned in motocross to MotoGP, how the progress KTM have made mean there is a little bit less testing and a little bit more concentrating on race pace, the benefits of using the right approach to testing, why Espargaro is currently really the only rider to get everything out of the KTM, and much more.

To make it all a little easier to digest, the interview has been split into two parts. Here is part 1, part 2 will follow:

Back to top

Steve English Suzuka 8 Hours Blog: The Best Team Won, But Was That The Right Result?

The 2019 Suzuka 8 Hours was the greatest race I’ve witnessed in the flesh. It was tremendous from start to finish...it was just the extra time that left a bitter aftertaste.

With only one lap remaining we had witnessed the greatest spectacle imaginable. Three teams - Kawasaki, Yamaha and Honda - had treated us to a feast of great racing. With the eight hour mark in sight we had seen twenty lead changes, and up until the final half hour all three teams were within 30 seconds of each other. Suzuka is always reckoned to be a series of sprint races wrapped up as an endurance outing but this race truly was just that.

It was unbelievable. Standing trackside I just wanted to get back inside to watch it on the TV and fully understand what was happening. If you believe that you’d believe anything. I was sweating so much in the heat that I was running dangerously low of bodily fluids but even in that state of reduced mental capacity I could see this was an all-time classic.

Back to top

Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 110: The Suzuka 8 Hour Preview

With the legendary Suzuka 8 Hour race due to start in a few hours time, there's a chance to get up to speed on the movers and shakers of the event with the Suzuka preview edition of the Paddock Pass Podcast. Steve English and Jensen Beeler sit down to discuss what to expect at the race.

Back to top

Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 109: The WorldSBK Turned Upside Down At Laguna Seca

Laguna Seca saw the pendulum swing even further in Jonathan Rea's favor in the World Superbike championship. With Bautista posting three DNFs in all three races at the US circuit, Rea took a commanding, and possibly insurmountable lead in the title chase.

Back to top

Adapt and survive at Suzuka – How to win as a team

Ego is a crucial part of the successful makeup of any world class racer. They need to have the belief that they are faster than everyone else on the grid. That they can do things that no one else can. That they’re the man for the job. What happens though when you’re forced to check that ego at the garage door? Having that ability can be the difference between winning and losing in Endurance race.

Adapt and survive. It’s rule of law in the natural world but it’s also the only way to be successful in endurance racing. Being a team and working together is the key success at the Suzuka 8 Hours. If you’re Yamaha Factory Racing Team rider Michael van der Mark, you know this better than most.

The Dutch star might be a four-time Suzuka winner, a WorldSBK race winner, and a World Supersport champion but he’s also cast in an unusual role in Japan; the outlier.

Back to top

Pages