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2016 Austria MotoGP Thursday Round Up: New Tracks, New Challenges

In the last few years, the MotoGP season has shown remarkable stability. New tracks have been added from time to time, but the calendar has been very similar from one year to the next. Even though you get to go to some of the most amazing tracks in the world, the travel becomes routine, humdrum almost. You get to know the road from the hotel to the track, the circuit itself, the idiosyncrasies of each paddock, each media center, like the back of your hand. It becomes almost like a daily commute to an office. Almost, but not quite.

So new circuits have something a little special. They bring fresh faces, new ideas. There are new routes to learn to the circuit, a new paddock layout, figuring the most efficient path through the paddock. As a journalist, each media center has its own secrets. The best place to sit to get a view of the TV screens, whether the setting sun in the evening will end up shining on your laptop making it impossible to work, where to sit to avoid being whacked on the head by cameras as photographers try to squeeze past. You make note of which media center has good coffee, and which has none (Italy, surprisingly). You scout the paddock for food, if you do not wish to wear out your welcome at the hospitality units of various teams.

The Red Bull Ring in Austria has something special too. The track is different, in both good and bad ways, both simpler and at the same time more complicated. The media center, too, is different. It is quite simply the most luxurious media center I have ever been in. Fast WiFi (and more importantly, free, instead of the €30 to €50 which most tracks charge), plenty of big HD screens, a very airy and roomy space. Most amazing of all, the media center also has its own buffet, serving a wide selection of food throughout lunch time. At some tracks, such as Austin, we get a free lunch; at others, we get free bread rolls with meat and cheese. But I have never seen a media center with such an expansive spread of food. All those young people buying overpriced caffeinated sugar water are helping to ensure a bunch of old men are very well fed.

Austria Track Layout Changed - Turn 10 Modified For Safety Concerns

The MotoGP test in Austria brought to light several safety issues with the Red Bull Ring. At least one of those issues is to be addressed before the start of the Austrian round of MotoGP. After consultation with several members of the Safety Commission, the FIM Safety Officer Franco Uncini has ordered the final corner, Turn 10, to be modified.

2016 Austria MotoGP Preview - Into the Unknown, Powered by Sugar Water

There is a lot of money to be made by using clever marketing to sell caffeinated sugar water to the gullible. So much money, in fact, that you can afford your own air force and your own space program. That money can be further multiplied by staging your own sporting events in sports that suit your brand, such as freestyle mountain biking, or motocross, though it is best not to ask about competitor insurance. This should probably not come as a surprise, though, from a company owned by someone who threatened to shut down a TV station when the people who worked there wanted to convene a works council.

The peddling of sugar water generates enough revenue to fund not one, but two Formula One teams, a soccer team or four, as well as backing large numbers of racers and teams in all forms of two-wheeled competition. It may seem churlish to complain about energy drink companies, given the amount of money they pump into motorsports, but that money also creates a major risk.

Mid-Season Video Bonanza, Part 4: Forward Racing - Wind Tunnels and Supermoto

The final part of our mid-season video bonanza features two different videos from the Forward Racing Moto2 team. In the first, Luca Marini tests his riding position and the aerodynamics of his Kalex Moto2 machine in a wind tunnel:

Mid-Season Video Bonanza, Part 3: Monster Tech 3 Yamaha Go Silly in the Summer

The third part of our MotoGP video bonanza is something different. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team headed back to their base in the South of France, and spent a couple of days filming a brief but entertaining video short, featuring Bradley Smith, Pol Espargaro, and a Yamaha M1:

Mid-Season Video Bonanza, Part 1: Tito Rabat on Being a MotoGP Rookie

Over the course of the summer, we received a number of videos from the teams with interviews and such to help fill the summer break. We have chosen to lump them all together, to help get you in the mood for the return of MotoGP in Austria. 

First up is a video interview with Tito Rabat, discussing his first nine races in MotoGP, and the progress he has made so far:

2016 MotoGP Mid-Season Review Part 13: What Remains, from Bradley Smith to Yonny Hernandez

In the final part of our mid-season review of MotoGP, we come to the ragtag bunch bringing up the rear. From Bradley Smith to Yonny Hernandez, nearly all have a valid excuse for their poor results. But excuses count for nothing in motorcycle racing.

16th: Bradley Smith, Yamaha , 35 points

A remarkable reversal of fortunes for Bradley Smith and his Monster Tech 3 Yamaha teammate Pol Espargaro in 2016. Last year, Smith's consistency was in stark contrast to Espargaro's continuous attempts to try to make the Yamaha do something it didn't want to. In 2016, it is Smith who is banging his head against a wall trying to make the rear Michelin do something it won't, while Espargaro is the picture of consistency.

Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 34 - MotoGP Mid-Season Review

It is a time for mid-season reviews. In addition to our own series of reviews looking at how the various riders have fared in the first half of the year, Steve English, Neil Morrison and Asphalt & Rubber's Jensen Beeler got together to discuss the first half of 2016 for the latest episode of the Paddock Pass Podcast.

2016 MotoGP Mid-Season Review Part 12: 11 through 15, from Espargaro to Bradl

After a stroll through the top ten, our mid-season review of MotoGP continues, and gains in both brevity and the number of riders under discussion. Here, we go through the numbers eleven to fifteen, from Aleix Espargaro to Stefan Bradl:

11th: Aleix Espargaro, Suzuki, 51 points

Where his teammate is being heralded as The Next Big Thing, Aleix Espargaro has struggled. At some circuits, his results have been impressive: two fifths at Austin and Jerez, followed by a sixth at Le Mans are right where Espargaro believes he belongs, running close to the front and looking for improvement. But the rest of the season has been mediocre. Two DNFs and three finishes outside the top ten are just not good enough for a factory Suzuki rider.

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