February 2021

News Round Up: Launch Season Coming, 2022 Contracts, Rossi Interview, Honda Updates

Around this time in a normal year, we would be back from the launch of a couple of the MotoGP manufacturers, and looking forward to a couple more as we prepared to travel to Sepang for the first test of the year. But this is not a normal year, of course. Nor was last year, for that matter.

So instead of packing my bags in preparation of the test at Sepang – originally scheduled for the 19th-21st of February – I, like the rest of the media, are checking our microphones and internet connections to get ready to do the MotoGP launch season from home. And not just the launch season: in all probability, the media won't be allowed to physically attend a MotoGP race for the first half of the 2021 season at the very least. But at least we will have a 2021 MotoGP season.

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Massive Fire Destroys Garage Complex At Termas De Rio Hondo Circuit In Argentina

A huge fire has destroyed a large part of the facilities at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina, home to the Argentinean round of MotoGP. The fire started in the early hours of Saturday morning, and damaged the building housing the pit garages. Fortunately there were no casualties.

According to a statement released by Héctor Farina, Director General of the circuit, the fire destroyed the pit complex, the media center, the VIP rooms, and Race Control. Other buildings, including the automotive museum, control tower, medical center, and offices were not damaged to any significant extent.

The statement went on to thank the firefighters, police, and circuit staff who tackled the blaze, despite the substantial danger posed by high winds which were fanning the flames.

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Joan Mir Interview: "I'm The Man To Beat, But I'm Not The Favorite"

For the first time since 2014, a rider prepares to defend the MotoGP title for the first time in their career. But the circumstances in which Joan Mir is preparing for the 2021 season are very different to who Marc Márquez prepared after he won his first MotoGP title back in 2013. The Covid-19 pandemic means no mass celebrations, no jetting around the world to have his photo taken with sponsors, to fulfill the requirements in his contract. No going directly from the previous season into testing, with barely a break in between.

Joan Mir has had plenty of time at home, with media engagements few and far between, a necessary consequence of the pandemic. He has been in his home in Andorra, training, working to get ready for the coming season. Earlier this week, he spoke to a group of journalists about the year ahead. And here, too, he reaped the benefits of the pandemic: he participated in a large-scale media event from comfort of his home. No time wasted traveling, just change into a team shirt, sit down behind a laptop, and fire up the webcam.

He was as professional in the zoom debrief as he has been in every aspect of his career. And the zoom debrief was as well-organized and smoothly-run as we have come to expect from the Suzuki Ecstar team. It's hardly a surprise that Joan Mir won the 2020 MotoGP title.

Mir started off telling us about how he had been spending the winter.

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Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 184: Who Has The Most To Prove In 2021?

The latest episode of the Paddock Pass Podcast looks ahead to the challenges of 2021. Steve English, Neil Morrison, Adam Wheeler, and David Emmett discuss who has the most to prove in 2021, and what they have to do to live up to expectations.

There are plenty of candidates to choose from. In the light of the news that Brno would not be hosting MotoGP or WorldSBK, the crew discuss the challenges faced by the circuits, the promoters, and by Dorna, and how they will balance their interests to still put on a season of racing. They discuss whether Jack Miller or Fabio Quartararo has the most to prove in moving to a factory team, they talk about what Yamaha, and especially Lin Jarvis, have to prove, after years of not winning a championship.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Can Yamaha dig itself out of its hole?

Yamaha’s 2020 YZR-M1 was a disaster, so what chance has the company of fixing its problems after five years out of the title fight? And is Yamaha’s best bet for the 2021 title a two-year-old motorcycle?

Yamaha won its last MotoGP championship in 2015. It’s no coincidence that 2015 was the last year of Bridgestone tyres, because since then Yamaha engineers have been unable to make the YZR-M1 work consistently with MotoGP’s current tyres, made by Michelin.

Yamaha’s problem is as simple as that, although fixing the problem is anything but simple.

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UPDATE: Thailand MotoGP Race Still On For 2021 Contract Extended Through 2026

Just hours after the Brno circuit announced that it would not be hosting World Championship motorcycle racing, it looked like another MotoGP round would bite the dust. A news report from the Bangkok Post stated that the Thai MotoGP round at Buriram had been canceled for 2021, and that the race would resume again from 2022.

It turns out, however, that this was a mistranslation on the part of the Bangkok Post. According to Thai PPTTV reporter Une Boonmee, the government spokesperson was explaining that the budget set aside for MotoGP in 2020 had been reused for 2021, rather than the 2021 racing having been rescheduled.

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2021 MotoGP Calendar Update: Why Brno Won't Host MotoGP, And Where The Season Starts

The 2021 MotoGP season continues to be a fluid affair. With the Argentina and Austin rounds already canceled (technically postponed, but with no real chance of them actually taking place), it is now clear that Brno will not host a MotoGP round in 2021. And there are more signs of a shake up coming.

The biggest, and saddest news is that the Automotodrom Brno circuit today announced that they would not be hosting any world championship motorcycle racing for the foreseeable future. The cancellation had been expected, but still comes as a blow to MotoGP.

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