Archive

January 24th

Opinion: Why the Rossi vs Marquez Controversy Isn't Going Away Any Time Soon

If the Movistar Yamaha launch at Barcelona made one thing clear, it is that the feud between Valentino Rossi and Marc Márquez will be just as bitter in 2016 as it was in 2015. In Barcelona, Rossi once again repeated the litany of charges he leveled against Marc Márquez at the end of last season. Márquez had decided early in the season he would try to stop Rossi from winning the title, had played with Rossi at Phillip Island, done far worse at Sepang, then stayed behind Lorenzo at Valencia to hand him the title. For Valentino Rossi, nothing has changed since Valencia 2015.

Is this a problem for MotoGP? Those in senior positions in the sport certainly think so. At the Movistar launch, Yamaha Racing boss Lin Jarvis spoke of the need for respect from all parties. On Friday, the FIM issued a press release containing an interview (shown below) with FIM President Vito Ippolito, in which he said the FIM had asked Honda not to release the data from Márquez' bike at Sepang, which Márquez claims shows evidence of a kick by Rossi, to prevent throwing more fuel on the fire.

Entirely predictably, neither strategy worked. When asked about Jarvis' comment on respect, Rossi retorted that neither Márquez nor Jorge Lorenzo had shown him any respect at the end of last year. Ippolito's statement that the FIM had asked Honda not to release the data led to a host of news stories in the media, and more outpourings of rage among fans on social media and forums. This was a conspiracy, to hide the facts from the fans, they said. The controversy was back, and strong as ever.

Why the data is irrelevant

Would it have made any difference if Honda had released the data, as they promised and so many people demanded? None whatsoever, for a number of reasons.

Portimao Private WSBK Test Press Releases: Pata Yamaha and Aruba Ducati Complete First Test of 2016

Testing is underway again for 2016, with the Pata Yamaha and Aruba.it Ducati teams the first bikes to hit the track ahead of the new season. The two teams held a two-day private test at Portimao, to shake out the cobwebs and get ready for the season which is to come. The teams now move to Jerez, where they will be joined by more of the WSBK field for a test on 26th and 27th January. 

The press releases issued by Yamaha and Ducati appear below:


Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Concludes Successful Portimão Test

Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team has concluded its first two-day test of 2016 successfully at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal with both Alex Lowes and Sylvain Guintoli undertaking valuable work with their YZF-R1's.

Initially worried about the rehabilitation of his left shoulder, Lowes confidently set 116 laps over the past two days. While his normal aggressive style was restricted due to his less-than-perfect mobility, the track-time ensured he continued to progress with his new WorldSBK-spec Yamaha ahead of the championship's opening round next month.

Year: 
2016

January 22nd

2016 Aprilia RS-GP MotoGP Machine Not Ready for Sepang

Aprilia's MotoGP project has suffered a setback. The 2016 version of their RS-GP MotoGP machine will not be ready in time for the first official IRTA test at Sepang, according to a report by Crash.net's Neil Morrison. Instead, it will make its debut in a private test at Qatar, ahead of the third preseason test of 2016, with its first public outing coming in that third and final test, two weeks before the start of the 2016 season.

The delay is a sign that the project is at least a couple of weeks behind schedule. At Valencia, Aprilia spokespersons said that the original plan was to hold a shakedown test at a private Italian racetrack, with the bike making its public debut in Sepang. Designing a radically new bike is taking longer than expected, however: the 2016 machine will be a brand new prototype, designed from the ground up, at least 10kg lighter than the current RS-GP, and is rumored to have a different angle between the cylinders. That is an incredibly complex and time-consuming process, so delays are not entirely unexpected.

January 21st

Marc Marquez Severs Ties To Valentino Rossi, Ends Merchandising Contract

The feud between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez shows no signs of abating. It emerged today that Marquez has severed a number of links which tied him to the Italian, including ending prematurely a contract for merchandise with Rossi's VR46 Racing Apparel company, and ending his lease of accommodation in the GP Rooms portable hotel run by the Nieto family.

The news, broken by Speedweek and confirmed to MotoMatters.com by sources with knowledge of the situation, is a reversal of reports from Valencia last year. Then, Spanish websites were reporting that Valentino Rossi had decided to terminate the contract, at the end of the second year of its three year term. Those reports were denied, but now it appears that it is Marquez who has decided he does not want Rossi's VR46 business selling his merchandise. Marquez' management and VR46 are currently in negotiations to terminate the contract, with the VR46 company wanting financial compensation for Marquez' decision to terminate the contract prematurely. Marquez will want the situation to be resolved quickly, and certainly before the first European round in Jerez, where he can expect to sell a large amount of merchandise to Spanish fans.

Reviewing the Movistar Yamaha Launch: Despite a Strong Hand, Trouble Brewing Ahead

If anyone thought that the start of the 2016 season would mean an end to the bitter divisions of 2015, they will be bitterly disappointed. The launch of the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team, at title sponsor Movistar's regional headquarters in Barcelona, brought the whole affair back to the surface. It was the first time since Valencia that the racing press had the chance to put questions to Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, and both the questions asked and answers given helped reignite the flames of controversy. Rossi restated his belief that Marc Márquez conspired against him to hand the title to Lorenzo. Lorenzo expressed his frustration at being drawn into something he had no part of. Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis called for respect from all sides, and expressed Yamaha's concerns about the way situations such as Sepang are handled. Above all, the Italian press showed a dogged pursuit of the post-Sepang fallout, bombarding Rossi with questions about the affair, and probing Lorenzo about his thoughts. The soap opera is set to run and run.

Yamaha hadn't invited us to Barcelona to rake over the embers of 2015, of course, though they clearly understood it would inevitably come up. We were there to see the 2016 Movistar Yamaha livery unveiled, and hear Yamaha's hopes and expectations for the coming season. In the afternoon, Yamaha presented their entire racing program, including World Superbike, World Endurance, MXGP and Enduro teams. It was an impressive reminder of just broad Yamaha's racing activity is. As one senior Yamaha staffer put it, "we like to race every bike we make." They have been successful too: throughout the MotoGP presentation, Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis and MotoGP project leader emphasized that 2015 was Yamaha's fifth triple crown (rider, team and manufacturer championships in the same year) in MotoGP. Romain Febvre won the MXGP crown in 2015, Mikael Persson became Enduro Junior World Champion, and the GMT94 team were runners up in the World Endurance championship. Yamaha move to World Superbikes with Crescent Racing, with 2014 WSBK champion Sylvain Guintoli aboard the brand new YZF-R1M, together with Alex Lowes.

It was the MotoGP team which got most of the attention, however. Preseason launches are always awkward. Without the urgency which the promise of bikes on tracks bring, the atmosphere is somehow artificial. The first extended appearance of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi together for the first time since Valencia made the atmosphere in Barcelona even more strained than usual. To their credit, Yamaha did nothing to prevent the discussion of the 2015 season finale, but the tension was obvious. When the two riders were called to the stage to speak, Valentino Rossi entered from the right of the room, Jorge Lorenzo from the left. Whether this was an alliterative choice or not, it seemed symbolic of the difficulties involved in keeping two of the best riders in the world in the same team. Especially when those two have just gone through such an acrimonious season the year before.

January 20th

Octo Pramac Yakhnich Press Release: Pramac Celebrates 15 Years in MotoGP, Presents Redding and Petrucci

The Pramac Ducati team issued the following press release after presenting their 2016 MotoGP team in Siena in Italy today:


Pramac Racing celebrates its 15th anniversary in MotoGp and presents Octo Pramac Yakhnich

Pramac celebrates 15 years at the MotoGP starting line. The celebration is taking place at Pramac’s headquarters in Casole d’Elsa, Siena, where it all began in 2002. After having experienced Formula One, Pramac turned towards the two-wheeled world and entrusted the rider Tetsuya Harada with the Honda NSR 500.

The first major success for the team came in 2003 when Makoto Tamada won third place at the Brazilian Grand Prix, and the following season brought Pramac Racing and Bridgestone to the highest spot on the podium of the historic Japanese GP.

In 2005, Pramac Racing signed an agreement with Ducati, and in 2007 Alex Barros won third place at Mugello.

The hero of the 2008 season was Toni Elias, who won two consecutive podiums, the first at Brno (second place) then at Misano (third place).

Year: 
2016

January 19th

Jack Miller Breaks Leg In Training Incident - Doubtful For Sepang

Jack Miller has broken his right leg in a motocross training incident. The Australian was riding at the Bellpuig motocross track in Spain on Sunday, when he landed heavily, fracturing both the fibula and tibia down near the ankle joint. In a post on Instagram, Miller explained that he had been forced to shut off the throttle when another rider lost control on the up ramp of a triple jump. He had not crashed, but the impact of the landing had caused the damage to his ankle.

Miller was taken to the Dexeus Institut in Barcelona, where he was examined by Dr. Mir, and then had both the bones in his leg plated with screws. Examination after the surgery confirmed that it had been successful.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Rossi and Lorenzo: into 2016

MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.


Rossi and Lorenzo: into 2016

Yamaha has launched its 2016 factory team and hostilities between its riders are already fizzing

I don’t usually do team launches. They are the exact opposite of racing: totally safe and entirely predictable. Attending a MotoGP launch is a bit like going to a restaurant and reading the menu but not eating the food. A pointless exercise.

But there are exceptions. During more than three decades of doing this job (luckiest man alive) I’ve worked out that most big sponsors are businesses with money to burn, like those flogging tobacco, mobile phones, oil, that kind of thing. I’ve also learned that the dirtier the money the better the launch.

January 18th

Yamaha Press Release: Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 2016 Launched

Yamaha's press release launching their 2016 MotoGP campaign:


The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Presents 2016 MotoGP Season Line Up in Barcelona

Today the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team has lifted the suspense for racing fans the world over waiting for the kick off of the 2016 season. The Italian-based team gathered in Barcelona today to officially launch their 2016 campaign to defend last year’s MotoGP Triple Crown victory. Though the team has been on ‘winter-break’ since the Valencia test in November 2015, they have not been idle. The Yamaha engineers carried through extensive development of the YZR-M1 all through the winter and the same dedication was given by the Spanish rider Jorge Lorenzo and Italian rider Valentino Rossi whilst completing thorough training to be ready for the next season. The results are undeniable; this year a terrific team is formed again, ready to prove that they are the best in the world.

Similar to the continuation of the rider line up, the team’s sponsors also remained the same. For the third year in a row the Yamaha Factory Racing Team and Spanish company Telefónica form a strong partnership ready to oppose the competition in the premier class of road racing. Their present five-year collaboration started in 2014 and has proven to be a recipe for success, making Telefónica’s headquarters the perfect venue to unveil the 2016 livery for Lorenzo and Rossi’s YZR-M1s.

Year: 
2016

January 15th

Are Honda Preparing a Major Engine Upgrade For 2016?

It is no secret that Honda are struggling with the engine for the RC213V MotoGP. HRC have been making the engine ever more aggressive for the past three years, but in 2015, they finally went too far. The power delivery of the RC213V was too difficult to contain, even with Honda's electronics, and HRC suffered their worst season in MotoGP since 2010.

Things had not been looking much better for 2016 either. The engine Dani Pedrosa and Marc Márquez tested at Valencia and Jerez last November was at best a marginal improvement, with a bit more power at the bottom end, but still delivered in a very aggressive manner. Added to this, HRC have had problems with the new unified software which is compulsory for 2016. Where Ducati, and to a lesser extent Yamaha have managed to integrate the less complex spec software into their engines, Honda have yet to get a handle on it. That has made assessing the engine character even more difficult for Pedrosa and Márquez, the Repsol Honda riders finding it hard to pinpoint aggressive and abrupt throttle response on the engine character, the cruder software, or the interaction between the two.

January 14th

Editor's Blog: So You Want to Be a MotoGP Champion? 7 Tips for Young Riders

Dear Next Big Thing:

So you made it into Moto3. Well done. That feat alone makes you one of the most talented motorcycle racers on the planet. You may think that the hardest part of the battle is behind you. You would be wrong. You have your foot on the bottom rung of the ladder to MotoGP stardom. It is a rickety old thing, slick with grease, littered with broken rungs and what look like short cuts and easier routes.

Before you embark on your Grand Prix adventure (and what an adventure it is!) some words of advice from someone who has been in the paddock long enough to have his illusions shattered.

1. You will get nowhere on talent alone

The fact that you are in Moto3 means that your talent is not in question. To get here, you will have beaten the kids your own age, simply by being better at racing a motorcycle than them. That is already an impressive achievement.

The trouble is, Moto3 is full of kids who have all done the same. They have come up through the same system, beat the same kids, towered head and shoulders above their contemporaries. They are at least as good as you are, and some of them will now have a couple of years of experience on you. Getting into the Grand Prix paddock is 90% talent. From here on in, you can't rely on just talent any longer.

So how do you beat a rider who is just as talented as you are? You work on the details which make a difference. Switch your focus from talent to preparation, from being fitter and stronger than the riders you face. The fitter you are, the less quickly you tire. The less quickly you tire, the easier it is to concentrate as the race goes on. You need to be able to sustain your body at or above your anaerobic threshold for 45 minutes. If you can't do that, then the equally talented kid who is fitter than you will beat you in the last five laps.

January 13th

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Hutchy’s journey to hell and back

MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.


Hutchy’s journey to hell and back

Why Ian Hutchinson beat Britain’s latest world champions to win Britain’s biggest biking gong

Each year dozens of motorcyclists win world championships of every shape and form but very few fight back from injuries that seemed destined to leave them ex-racer amputees. Mick Doohan was one, Ian Hutchinson is another.

Hutchy’s tale is an inspiring story of the wonders and the possibilities of the human spirit. Just a couple of months after becoming the first man in history to win five Isle of Man TTs in one week, Hutchy crashed out of a Silverstone BSB Supersport race and was hit by another bike. The accident shattered his lower leg. Surgeons gave the limb up for lost and told him the only way forward was to amputate from below the knee.

January 12th

Brno Contract Secured Through 2020 - Association Will Pay €4.1 Million Per Race

The future of the Brno round of MotoGP has been secured for the foreseeable future. On Monday, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta signed a contract with the "Spolek pro GP ČR v Brno", an association set up to promote the Czech Grand Prix, to host the race at the Masarykring in Brno from 2016 until 2020.

MotoGP at Brno has been shrouded in doubt for the past few years. An ongoing dispute between the Masarykring circuit, or Automotodrom Brno, and regional authorities left the circuit in debt to Dorna after failing to pay the sanctioning fee demanded. The circuit owner Karel Abraham Sr. and Ivana Ulmanova, the circuit manager, were caught in a power struggle with the city council of Brno and Michal Hašek, the president of the South Moravia region. Dorna had threatened to take the race off the calendar unless all of the monies owed to the circuit were paid, and a long-term solution was found to prevent further problems.

January 8th

The Massive 2016 MotoGP Rule Update: A Single Class With Concessions, Back Protectors Now Compulsory

With major changes to the technical regulations for MotoGP in 2016, it has taken some time for the FIM to produce a new and revised version of the rulebook. The first provisional version was made available today, the new rules bringing together all of the new rules agreed over the past few years into a single set of regulations. Most of the new rules have already been written about during the year, but putting them into a single rulebook helped clarify them greatly.

The biggest changes are to the technical regulations. The abolition of the Open class means everyone is back on a single set of rules. Or rather, nearly everyone. There are still two types of manufacturers: manufacturers subject to the standard rules, and manufacturers who have not yet had sufficient success, and therefore have been granted a number of concessions. Those concessions are more limited than the Open class, though, and relate now only to testing and to engine development. Everyone will have the same amount of fuel, the same tire allocation, and everyone will use the same electronics, the spec hardware and the unified software.

Though many fans are disappointed that there isn't just a single set of rules, the concessions which remain are absolutely vital to the long-term health of the series. With Honda, Yamaha, and since last year, Ducati, all subject to a freeze on engine development and limited testing, Suzuki and Aprilia (and KTM, when they join the series in 2017) stand a chance of cutting the gap to the more successful factories. Without concessions, the smaller factories wouldn't stand a chance of catching the others, especially not a factory with almost limitless resources like Honda. Indeed, without the concessions granted to Ducati, there is a very good chance the Italian factory would have left MotoGP in 2014, after three long years without results. The previous era, when the factories all competed under a single set of rules, ended up with just 17 bikes on the grid, and manufacturers showing more interest in leaving MotoGP than in joining. That situation has been completely reversed.

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