February 11th, 2015
This is the first in a series of weekly round ups of motorcycle racing news from around the world. Every Wednesday, we will bring a brief summary of stories that did not warrant a full article of their own. So here are some stories you may have missed, for the week preceding 11th February 2015.
Ducati Desmosedici GP15 to be presented on line
It is becoming something of a tradition among the MotoGP factories: launching their MotoGP teams online. Two weeks ago, the Movistar Yamaha launched their 2015 livery in Madrid. On Monday 16th February, Ducati will be officially presenting their bikes and riders to the fans and media live on the Ducati website.
The Ducati launch is a little more significant than Yamaha's presentation, however. While the Movistar Yamaha presentation was mostly about showing off the new color scheme the factory team is to use in 2015, Ducati will be presenting the Desmosedici GP15 online. The first bike to come from the pen of Gigi Dall'Igna, this is the machine which Ducati hope will finally allow them to be fully competitive with the factory Hondas and Yamahas. The bike is expected to feature a new, more compact engine, though still a 90°V4 using desmodromic valves, fitted in a smaller chassis.
The presentation starts at 11am CET on the Ducati website. Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone will get their first ride of the bike on 23rd February, when the second Sepang test gets underway.
Should Melandri stay or should he go?
Given that Aprilia's return to MotoGP was both earlier than anticipated, and embarked upon at a very late stage, their initial times at the Sepang test could be regarded as acceptable. The new engine – with an 81mm bore and pneumatic valves – proved to be reasonably reliable, and though still down on power, at least closer to the fastest bikes. The new chassis was much less of a success, both Alvaro Bautista and Marco Melandri preferring to stay with the 2014 bike, rather than switch to the new RS-GP, as it has been dubbed.
The weather meant track time was severely limited on the second day of the combined Moto2 and Moto3 test at Valencia. With a wet track, most riders preferred not to risk injury by going out for laps, with little to be learned. Times for both classes were well off normal pace, so there was little point to riding. The enforced layoff was welcomed by Efren Vazquez, who fractured the navicular bone in his right foot in a crash yesterday. With no action on track, Vazquez could recover, and consider trying again on Thursday, the last day of the test.
In the Moto3 class the Mahindra riders did spend some time on track, with seven of the nine riders on the Indian bike taking to the circuit. Given the results from the first day, Mahindra clearly felt there was still much to be learned.
Conditions are not looking favorable for the last day of the test, due on Thursday, with more rain forecast. The Moto2 and Moto3 teams will hope for better conditions at Jerez next week.
The provisional MotoGP calendar for 2015, updated on 11th February, when Silverstone was confirmed as replacing Donington:
Within a day of the announcement that the British round of MotoGP would not be held at Donington Park comes confirmation that the race will be held at Silverstone. The ending of the relationship between Donington and the Circuit of Wales meant that a replacement venue had to be found at short notice, and with only Silverstone currently capable of hosting a MotoGP round, the deal was quickly arranged.
The deal will see Silverstone host the British Grand Prix in both 2015 and 2016. By then, the Circuit of Wales hopes to have obtained both permission to build on public land, and the funding to actually start to do so, with the aim of hosting the 2017 race at the new track. The circuit faces considerable obstacles before that can happen, however.
Below is the press release issued by the Circuit of Wales and Silverstone announcing the deal:
Circuit of Wales announce they have reached an agreement to run British MotoGP™ at Silverstone in August 2015
- World Series by Renault move to early September
The World Superbike calendar has been reduced to 13 events. The Russian round of WSBK, scheduled to be held at the Moscow Raceway on 5th July has been canceled, after the event organizer, YMS Promotion, failed to provide the contract guarantees required by the contract. As a further consequence, the Yakhnich Motorsport Team have also lost their slot on the 2015 World Supersport grid, which was tied in with the Russian round.
The cancellation of the Russian round did not come as a surprise. The Russian WSBK round is a legacy of the last years of Infront running the series. Infront and YMS signed a ten-year deal to organize a World Superbike round in Russia, but continuing political instability in Russia, tensions between Europe and Russia over Ukraine, and murky regional politics have made it impossible to stage a race there. The round was placed on the calendar automatically, because of the existing contract, but it was never expected to actually take place.
The Russian round of World Superbikes will not be replaced. Instead, the series will run 13 rounds in 2015. Below is the press release and updated 2015 WSBK calendar.
2015 WSBK Calendar update
FIM Superbike & Supersport World Championships
FIM Superstock 1000 cc Cup
2015 calendar, 11 February
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of testing at Valencia:
With testing for the premier class at Sepang finished, the Moto2 and Moto3 riders took to the track at Valencia on Tuesday. Just about the entire field in both classes rolled out of the pits for the first test of the season, and with the weather improving as the day went on, times soon began to drop. By the end of the day, the fastest men in both classes were lapping under the official lap records.
In the Moto2 class, it was Johann Zarco who was fastest, setting a blistering pace on the Kalex. The Frenchman ended the day with a run that saw him under the pole record on four consecutive laps. Sam Lowes ended the day in 2nd, after a strong first day of testing. Lowes professed himself much happier with the changes to the bike over the winter, the Speed Up now sporting an aluminum swingarm and WP suspension. Reigning Moto2 champion Tito Rabat was third fastest, just behind Lowes, and just under four tenths off the pace of Zarco.
Alex Rins made a very strong debut in the Moto2 class, ending the day in 6th, ahead of his teammate Luis Salom. Former teammate and reigning Moto3 world champion Alex Marquez had a much tougher day, leaving the first day with the 26th fastest time, some three seconds behind Zarco, and over two seconds behind Rins.
The Circuit of Wales has disputed the chain of events that led to Donington Park rescinding the contract the two parties had to organize the British Grand Prix at the Leicestershire circuit. In a statement issued to the press, the circuit laid the blame for the breach firmly at the feet of Donington Park. Donington had claimed that they had not received the funds agreed, which were necessary to bring the British track up to the standard required to host a Grand Prix, but the Circuit of Wales statement claims that the sequence of events is precisely the reverse. Without a contract with Donington, the Circuit of Wales claims, they were unwilling to provide the funds which Donington needs for upgrades.
Donington Park Renounces Partnership With Circuit Of Wales - UK MotoGP Round Back At Silverstone In 2015?
The British round of MotoGP will not this year take place at Donington Park. In a shock statement, Donington announced they were breaking off their partnership with the Circuit of Wales to host the British GP. In the statement, Donington claimed that they had not received the funding promised to them by the Circuit of Wales, which was needed to perform the upgrades required for MotoGP. With no money forthcoming, Donington had no choice but to break the contract, leaving the British round of MotoGP without a home, at least temporarily. Reports on the Motorcycle News website suggest that Silverstone will host the British race instead, with senior staff from the circuit having spoken to Dorna in Barcelona last week.
Danilo Petrucci has always been one of the most underrated riders in MotoGP. The Italian came into the class from Superstock, where he finished runner up in the Superstock 1000 class. He joined the IODA Racing team, where he started off on the team's own Aprilia-based machine, before switching to the Suter BMW. Last year, he rode the Aprilia ART machine for the team, before finally getting a shot at a proper MotoGP machine this year with Pramac.
Since making the move, Petrucci has quickly got up to speed, but three years on underpowered bikes have left the Italian with a riding style problem to fix. Like many other former Open class and CRT riders, he is used to carrying corner speed, to compensate for a lack of horsepower. Now on a Ducati Desmosedici GP14.1, he has horsepower to spare, and needs to adapt his riding style to stand the bike up earlier and make use of the available acceleration.
I spoke to Petrucci after the last day of testing at Sepang, where he explained what he had been working on. He talked of changing his riding style, developing electronics for the factory team, and getting help from his friend Valentino Rossi.
You have a GP14.1, the bike Crutchlow had?
The Estrella Galicia Moto2 and Moto3 teams, as well as the Red Bull KTM team, issued the following press releases after private testing at Almeria, and ahead of official testing at Valencia:
Preseason begins for Repsol Moto3 riders
First test of the year for Fabio Quartararo, Jorge Navarro and Maria Herrera at Almeria. Next Tuesday they will return to action in Valencia.
The 2015 season has begun for the Repsol riders in the Moto3 World Championship. The reigning champion and runner-up from last season’s FIM CEV Repsol, Fabio Quartararo and Jorge Navarro, were back onboard their Honda NSF250RWs at Almeria for testing. They were joined by Maria Herrera, riding a Husqvarna, for two days at the southern Spanish circuit.
Strong winds and lower temperatures prevented the Repsol riders from completing more than a few laps yesterday, but today they had good conditions in which to begin their preparations in earnest. Quartararo, Navarro and Herrera put in 76, 75 and 105 laps, respectively, to end their first test of 2015 with a positive feeling.
The three Repsol riders in the lower cylinder category will be back on their bikes on Tuesday, February 10th, at the Circuit de Valencia, for three more days of testing.
Fabio Quartararo 76 laps 306 km
The Repsol Media service issued the following press release, containing an interview with Marc Marquez after the test at Sepang:
Marc Marquez: “Riding in the 1’58s at Sepang was a special moment”
Marc Marquez has begun the 2015 preseason in excellent form, preparing to defend his MotoGP title for the second consecutive year. After three days of intense work, the Repsol Honda rider concluded the final day with the fastest lap ever set at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. The Spaniard once again demonstrated that he and the Honda RC213V will be hard to beat this season..
How was the first race simulation of the year?
The Repsol Media service issued the following press release, containing an interview with Dani Pedrosa after the test at Sepang:
Dani Pedrosa: “We are very satisfied”
Dani Pedrosa takes a step forward in the first preseason test of 2015, in which the Repsol Honda riders topped the final timesheet.
After the first test in Malaysia, the Repsol Honda Team rider makes a very positive analysis of the three working days that marked the return from the winter break. Second by only one tenth of a second to his teammate at the test, Dani Pedrosa returned to action in top form. His lap times confirmed the good feeling he has about the work done by Honda and the changes to his crew.
How do you rate the first test in Sepang?
"It went very well. The last day we made complete race simulation, despite the heat there. Overall we were lucky, because the sky was a little more cloudy than usual and that meant the track was in good condition to ride. We must also say that on Friday morning the track was very good and the lap times came down by a lot. I made a small mistake on my best lap. Still, we are very pleased with how the first test of the year went."
This year there have been changes in the structure of your team. How was it functioning at the first test?
Though the riders competing in the 2015 MotoGP championship have all departed, the factories stayed on at Sepang for another day of testing. For the fourth day of the first Sepang MotoGP test was designated as a test day for Michelin, who are due to take over as official tire supplier from 2016.
The legal complications of the change from Bridgestone to Michelin mean that the tire test is shrouded in confidentiality, rather than secrecy. This test features only the test riders, all of whom have been barred from talking to the press about the tires. Times were not recorded, and definitely not released, though a handful of hardy journalists stood at trackside with handheld stopwatches (or smartphones) and tried to time riders that way. The secrecy is understandable: Michelin are at a very early stage of their development, and Bridgestone are paying Dorna a hefty sum to be official tire supplier, and want to reap the marketing benefits that should bring.