February 18th, 2015
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.
Where does the British Grand Prix belong?
Where should the British Grand Prix have its home? What we are looking for is a circuit that tests the mettle of the riders as much as the metal of the motorcycle. There would be only three on my list: Brands Hatch, Oulton Park and Silverstone.
To my mind, racetracks should have some primal scream to them; they should be more than mere technical exercise. On the current calendar – outside Britain – that means Brno, Mugello, Phillip Island and possibly Sepang; four circuits from 17 foreign venues.
Troy Bayliss is to swing his leg over a World Superbike Ducati again. Ducati today shocked fans and media by announcing that the three-time WSBK champion is to take the place of the injured Davide Giugliano, who is out for three months after injuring two vertebrae in a crash during testing. Currently, Bayliss will only replace Giugliano at Phillip Island, with Ducati test rider Michele Pirro pencilled in for the remaining races the Italian is likely to miss.
The decision to replace Giugliano with Bayliss came at the request of the Australian himself. In a press release, Ducati said that Bayliss had asked the factory to be allowed to race as a wildcard at Phillip Island, and when injury forced Giugliano out, Ducati were happy to agree to his request. The factory had not originally planned to replace the injured Italian, as test rider Michele Pirro is due to start the second MotoGP test at Sepang on Monday, taking the Desmosedici GP15 out for its first full laps on a proper race track. That currently has a higher priority than replacing Giugliano, so Bayliss' offer was serendipitous.
Press releases from some of the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of testing at Jerez:
Anyone watching the presentation of Ducati's 2015 MotoGP bike will have learned two Italian phrases: "Emozionante" and "tanto lavoro". Both were extremely apt. Getting from where Ducati were to where they are now with the Desmosedici GP15 had needed "tanto lavoro", a lot of hard work, and they still had "tanto lavoro" ahead of them. The results were "emozionante", a fantastic word nearer to exciting than emotional. But both exciting and emotional were apt phrases. The sense of eagerness was palpable among Ducati staff at Bologna on Monday.
For good reason. The GP15 presented in a long, loud, and rather meandering show is radically different from what came before. The presentation was a very Italian affair: an Italian TV presenter introduced the Italian managers and Italian engineer of an Italian bike, to be ridden by two Italian riders, to an audience consisting entirely of Italian journalists, with the honorable exception of Slovenian channel POP TV, a team from Dorna, and the rather less honorable exception of myself. But the bike being presented looked very far from Italian: from most angles, this looked like a very Japanese motorcycle, in concept and in execution.
What has changed? Everything. Even with the fairings on, it is clear that this is a very different motorcycle. The engine is still a 90°V4, using desmodromic valves, but it is rolled back much further than its predecessor. The engine in the GP14 had already been rolled back around its axis compared to the starting point some three years ago. The rotation is now complete, the engine a few degrees further back, and very close to the location used by the Honda RC213V.
After being rained off last week, the Moto2 and Moto3 classes have been met with slightly better weather at Jerez, on the first of three days testing there. Though the day started cold, and strong winds battered the riders in the first sessions, conditions improved as the day went on, ending up pretty close to as good as might be expected at this time of year.
In the Moto2 class, Johann Zarco once again showed his form, the Frenchman topping the timesheets in Jerez just as he had at Valencia. Sam Lowes was also on song, ending the day in 2nd, just a tenth behind Zarco. In third spot, Alex Rins continues to make a major impact, the rookie finishing ahead of his teammate Luis Salom just as he did at Valencia. Reigning champion Tito Rabat set the 6th fastest time, suffering a crash at the end of the day, though he walked away unhurt. Rabat's teammate Alex Marquez is taking longer to adapt to Moto2 than his former teammate Rins, Marquez ending the day in 18th, 1.7 seconds behind Zarco.
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the final test ahead of this weekend's season opener at Phillip Island:
The official press release from Ducati Corse after their launch of the Desmosedici GP15 MotoGP bike:
2015 Ducati Team and new Desmosedici GP15 presented today at Ducati Auditorium in Bologna
CEO Domenicali: “The spirit I have seen in the company in the last few months reminds me of the same enthusiasm and motivation with which we began our adventure in MotoGP.”
Dall’Igna: “The Desmosedici GP15 is a major step forward and, together with our two riders, will allow us to aim for ambitious targets.”
The event was broadcast in live streaming worldwide thanks to the support of Telecom Italia.
Factory riders Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone unveiled the new Ducati Desmosedici GP15.
The 2015 Ducati Team was presented today at the Ducati Auditorium in Borgo Panigale, and the new Desmosedici GP15, the bike with which factory riders Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone will take part in the 2015 MotoGP World Championship, was unveiled.
The event was conducted by Guido Meda, Italy’s long-time MotoGP TV commentator and Deputy Director of SKY Sport Italia.
The first to speak was Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati Motor Holding, who commented on the atmosphere in Ducati Corse and the excellent results achieved by the Bologna-based company in 2014.
Press releases from some of the teams after the first day of testing at Phillip Island:
Before the 2015 World Superbike season gets underway, just seven days from now at Phillip Island, the WSBK and WSS riders get a final chance to prepare their bikes for the flag drops next Sunday. For the first time this year, all of the riders and bikes will be on track at the same time, and we will get a hint of the season to come.
As intriguing as it is likely to be, a note of caution should be sounded. Phillip Island is arguably the best track in the world for motorcycle racing, but all the reasons that make it such a great track for racing mean it is very far from being a very good yardstick to measure performance by. The track flows beautifully, a succession of high-speed corners demanding the utmost of the skill and courage of the rider.
But precisely because it flows, it levels the playing field a little. Bikes with less outright top speed, or which are down on horsepower and acceleration, can go just as fast as a bike which is a rocket ship out of corners. A brave rider can carry more corner speed through the turn and drive smoothly out, ending up just as fast as the rider on the quicker bike.