All

Subscriber Interview: Guy Coulon Explains Why Johann Zarco's Unique Approach Makes Him So Fast

In a year that was full of surprises, perhaps the biggest was the performance of Johann Zarco in the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team. After previous Moto2 champions had come into MotoGP and taken their time to find their feet – or in the case of Tito Rabat, struggled badly – the 27-year-old Frenchman had taken to the premier class like a duck to water, leading the first six laps of his first race in MotoGP before crashing out.

That race would not be a one off. He finished on the podium at his home Grand Prix at Le Mans, started from pole at Assen, and ended the season with three podiums in total, as Rookie of the Year, as best independent rider of the year, and sixth in the championship. Zarco was a factor to be accounted for at almost every race in his debut season.

Earlier this year, at Barcelona, we spoke to his crew chief Guy Coulon, a veteran of the series and one of the most thoughtful and wisest of the chief mechanics in the paddock. Coulon gave us a fascinating insight into how he works with Johann Zarco, and why he believes the Frenchman has been so quick this year. He talks about what makes him unique, the difference in his approach compared to other riders Coulon has worked with in the past, and what makes him such a competitive rider.

Q: Johann Zarco is doing something extraordinary in his rookie season. Where does that come from, do you think?

Guy Coulon: Now we know better, of course, so we can analyze it. But in the beginning, when we started to test together during the winter, we could feel he had some good possibilities, some strong points, no weak points. So I mean – and this is true also for Jonas [Folger] – from the first test, he had no problems with the MotoGP about braking style, how to use the throttle. It was already very good for MotoGP, so this is a good point.

Back to top

Superprestigio Provisional Entry List Published:

The organizers of the Barcelona Superprestigio indoor flat track event, to be held in Barcelona on 16th December, published the provisional entry lists on Thursday. The entries contain more than their fair share of talent, with eight world champions in different disciplines lining up on the grid.

Back to top

Jake Gagne To Join Leon Camier In The Red Bull Honda WorldSBK Team For 2018

Jake Gagne is to join PJ Jacobsen as the second American on the WorldSBK grid for 2018. The 24-year-old Californian is to join Leon Camier at the Red Bull Honda WorldSBK team next year, contesting the Honda CBR1000RR for the coming season.

Back to top

Are MotoGP Managers Right About WorldSBK As A Talent Pool?

In my article analyzing the Jerez private tests, which took an in-depth look at the times set by the WorldSBK bikes and the MotoGP bikes, I set out several reasons why I thought Jonathan Rea would not be moving to MotoGP, despite obviously being fast enough. Though Rea has good reasons of his own to prefer to stay in WorldSBK, a good portion of the blame lies with MotoGP team managers, I argued.

That argument was based in part on a press conference held during the last round of the season at Valencia. In that press conference, the heads of racing of the six manufacturers in MotoGP gave their view of the season. During that press conference, On Track Off Road's Adam Wheeler asked Yamaha's Lin Jarvis, Ducati's Paolo Ciabatti, and KTM's Pit Beirer whether they regarded WorldSBK as a viable talent pool, or whether they were looking more towards Moto2 and Moto3 as the place to find new riders.

Back to top

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How does Zarco do it?

No doubt about it, Johann Zarco was MotoGP’s new kid on the block last season. Except he wasn't much of a kid at all, says Mat Oxley

The Frenchman was 26-years-old when he made his premier-class debut in Qatar. Compare that to MotoGP’s previous red-hot rookies Marc Márquez and Maverick Viñales, who were both 20 when they graduated to the premier class.

France isn’t mad about toddler racing like Spain, so Zarco started relatively late and didn’t get fully serious until he was in his teens. When he was 16 he loaded up his 50cc scooter and rode 150 miles to live with the family of Laurent Fellon, who has been his mentor and manager ever since. Zarco was almost 19 when he made his GP debut, by which age Márquez had already won two world championships.

Back to top

Grand Prix Commission Approves Five Wildcards In 2018 For Mika Kallio

The Grand Prix Commission met in Switzerland last week to discuss a few updates to the 2018 MotoGP regulations. The changes made were relatively minor, yet contained one or two interesting tidbits that revealed much about the 2017 season.

The most eye-catching rule tweak made was the change to the virtual pit board, or dashboard messages. The press release from the FIM states that the messages sent to a rider via the dashboard be precisely replicated in the message received by Dorna timekeeping and TV. After the controversy surrounding Ducati's messages to Jorge Lorenzo during the last two Grand Prix of the 2017 season, this suggests that they believe there was some kind of loophole in these regulations.

Back to top

Superbike Commission Tweaks WorldSBK Regulations

The Superbike Commission, the rulemaking body for the WorldSBK series, met in Switzerland last week to review the rules for the 2018 season. The meeting came to approve the changes agreed earlier, and introduce a couple of minor tweaks to the rules.

The most significant act of the Superbike Commission was to approve the rev limits, performance balancing and so-called concession parts (the provision of approved and homologated parts to private teams at a fixed cost) agreed earlier, with some clarifications appended. What those clarifications are is not made clear in the press release, but should be apparent once the rules are published. 

Back to top

Crunching The Numbers: Jonathan Rea vs MotoGP vs WorldSBK - An Analysis

The start of December marks the beginning of what is rapidly becoming a tradition in the world of motorcycle racing. After the Jerez test in late November, it is now "Why Is Jonathan Rea Faster Than A MotoGP Bike" season. At Jerez, Rea pushed his Kawasaki ZX-10R WorldSBK machine – down 35+ bhp and up 10+ kg – to the fourth fastest overall time of the week, ahead of eleven MotoGP regulars (including two rookies), three MotoGP test riders and Alex Márquez, who the Marc VDS team were using to train up the new crew recruited to look after Tom Luthi's side of the garage while the Swiss rider is still injured.

How is this possible? And what does this mean? Are WorldSBK machines too close to MotoGP bikes? Why are MotoGP manufacturers spending ten times as much to be shown up at a test by Jonathan Rea? And why, for the sake of all that is holy, does Jonathan Rea not have a MotoGP ride?

The answer to all but the last of those questions is buried away in the bigger picture of the laps posted throughout the week. When you examine the numbers, the picture is a lot more complex than the headline times seem to suggest. Tires, temperature, and track all play a part. But all of that can't disguise a rather outsize dose of talent.

Back to top

Subscriber Feature: Andrea Dovizioso On His Transformation Into A MotoGP Title Contender

It has been a remarkable year for Andrea Dovizioso. After years of being dismissed and overlooked, the 31-year-old Italian went from being placeholder for his new teammate Jorge Lorenzo – far more successful previously, and vastly better paid as a result – to being Ducati's main weapon in the 2017 MotoGP championship.

Viewed from the outside, Dovizioso's transformation has been truly astonishing. After a slow start in MotoGP – a podium in his first year with the JiR Scot Honda team, then a solitary victory at a soaking Donington Park the following season in 2009 – Dovizioso got into his stride in the Repsol Honda team. He scored seven podiums in his first season on the factory Honda, but that was not enough to secure his spot at Repsol. Early in 2010, Honda announced they would be signing Casey Stoner.

Dovizioso refused to budge for the Australian. He held HRC to their contract with him, and three Repsol Hondas lined up on the grid in 2011. Despite finishing ahead of Dani Pedrosa – helped by Pedrosa's absence with a broken collarbone for three races after he was knocked off at Le Mans by Marco Simoncelli – Dovizioso was dropped by Honda at the end of the year, when the Italian's contract expired.

The Nearly Man comes good

Dovizioso gained a reputation as the nearly man: always fast, but never able to finish the job. After moving to the Tech 3 Yamaha squad and finishing fourth in the championship, he was offered the seat at Ducati vacated by Valentino Rossi when he left at the end of 2012. While the media still focusing on the fallout from the inevitable break up of the marriage between two Italian icons which had ended so badly, Dovizioso got on with the slow and steady work of developing the bike.

Back to top

PJ Jacobsen Moves Up To WorldSBK With TripleM Honda

The WorldSBK class is to have at least one American racer in 2018. Today, Honda Racing announced that PJ Jacobsen will be moving up to the World Superbikes class for next season. The 24-year-old American will be racing for the TripleM team, who are also making the move up to WorldSBK after in the Superstock 1000 class for the past five seasons.

Back to top

Pages