June 11th, 2015
Press release previews from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams:
From Mugello to Barcelona, or from the heart of Italian motorcycle racing to the heart of Spanish motorcycling. Or rather, Catalan motorcycling, as any of the many Catalans which fill the paddock will happily point out. Then again, Catalonia is – ironically – at the heart of Spanish motorcycling itself. If MotoGP had a home race, it would be here. Series organizer Dorna has its offices just south of Barcelona, and the working language of the organization is Catalan. Just east of the circuit lies the old factory of Derbi, once a mainstay of the 125cc class. Check the birthplaces of any one of the riders racing on a Spanish license, and most of them hail from one of the towns and villages within an hour or two's drive of the Montmeló circuit. Most riders still have a house in the area, though many elect to live in the tiny mountainous tax haven of Andorra, because of the opportunities it affords for training, so they tell us.
With so much support, can the Spaniards – or Catalans, or Mallorcans – lock out the podium at home? It would be a crowd pleaser for sure, but getting three Spanish riders to fill out the MotoGP podium at Barcelona will be far from easy. That there will be one, perhaps two Spaniards on the box is a given. But filling all three places? That is going to be tough.
Jorge Lorenzo comes to Barcelona as the man to beat, mainly because it has been impossible to do just that for the past three races. The Movistar Yamaha rider started the season with a run of poor luck and strange circumstances, but since Jerez, everything has gone perfectly for him. He and his team have worked smoothly every practice to set up a bike Lorenzo is capable of winning on, and delivered on that work on Sunday at Jerez, Le Mans and Mugello. He has led from start to finish, taking less than half a lap to dispose of the opposition. So dominant has he been that he is closing in on Casey Stoner's record of leading the most successive laps. If Lorenzo leads the first 11 laps at Barcelona, he will beat Casey Stoner's total of 88 laps, set in 2007. Given the outright superiority Stoner displayed that year, it would be a very ominous sign for the 2015 championship indeed. Lorenzo trails his teammate Valentino Rossi by just 6 points in the title chase. Rossi will have to work hard to take his lead into Assen.
Last year, Marc Márquez won the first ten races of the season on his way to his second successive MotoGP championship. He ended the season with a grand total of thirteen wins, eventually tying up the title at Motegi, with three races still to go. He could have wrapped it up a race earlier, had he not crashed trying to keep pace with Valentino Rossi at Misano. Márquez and the Honda RC213V reigned supreme, clearly the best package on the grid.
Eight months later, and Márquez trails the championship leader Rossi by 49 points, having won only one race, and taken one other podium finish at Jerez. Márquez has crashed out of two races, nearly crashing out of a third as well, and is 101 points down on his total after the same number of races last year. The Honda RC213V is being universally blamed for Márquez' decline, with a series of crashes by Cal Crutchlow, Scott Redding and Dani Pedrosa also being put down to an overloaded front end. The question on everyone's lips is, how did the RC213V go from being the best bike on the grid to being behind the Yamaha and the Ducati? How could Honda get it so badly wrong in just a few short months?
The answer to that question is, of course, that they didn't. There is clearly a problem with the Honda – the obvious culprit being an overabundance of horsepower and aggressive engine braking – but it is hardly a terrible motorcycle. The bike is still faster than it was last year, race times dropping on average by over a second. But the problems Honda are facing did not happen overnight. The supremacy of Márquez has masked a slow and steady decline of the RC213V, the bike losing its advantage over the past couple of seasons.
Press releases from the series organizers and some of the teams after Monday's World Superbike test at Portimao:
The Althea Racing Team issued the following press release, confirming they have parted ways with Nico Terol:
The agreement between Team Althea and Nico Terol comes to an end as the Portimao round concludes.
Nico Terol and the Althea Racing Team have taken the joint decision to terminate their working relationship. This sad decision has been made in light of the fact that results have failed to materialize despite the best efforts of both the rider and the team. Both Terol and Team Althea are former world champions, coincidentally in the same year (2011), and for this reason expectations were high. The fact that their individual and combined objectives cannot be achieved has forced both parties to opt for mutual separation.
Team Althea thanks Nico Terol for his great professionalism and for all his efforts in trying to reach the level of success that was hoped for. The team wishes him all the best for the future and hopes that he can soon get back on the right path in order to achieve the happiness and success that he deserves.
The team will shortly announce a substitute rider.
The majority of the World Superbike field stayed on at Portimao for an official one-day test at the Portuguese circuit, taking advantage of the limited testing opportunities the WSBK riders have this year. Ducati's Davide Giugliano leaves the test as quickest, putting in a very quick lap at the very end of testing to finish three tenths ahead of yesterday's double race winner Jonathan Rea. Rea kept just ahead of his Kawasaki teammate Tom Sykes, while Leon Haslam set the fourth quickest time on the Aprilia.
The Suzuki team made good use of much-needed test time to work on setting up the electronics. Improvements were clearly visible: Alex Lowes ended the day 5th quickest, but more importantly, was around a second faster than during the races yesterday. Teammate Randy De Puniet set the 14th best time, but was also three quarters of a second quicker than he was on Sunday.
Press releases from the series organizers and the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the Portuguese round of WSBK:
The first race of the second half of the season, number fourteen of twenty-six, would not suffer from the bad weather that caused drama in the opening race.
Both men having won here before, and the weather having dried up, the battle between Jules Cluzel and Kenan Sofuoglu would continue unabated for 18 laps at the Algarve Circuit. Sofuoglu would be hunting a record-breaking fifth win in a row, while Cluzel would just be looking to get his title challenge back on track.
Clouds loomed near a windy Algarve circuit as the riders prepared to start the first of their two 20 lap races. Rain wasn't forecast, but that's never stopped it before.
Press releases from the series organizers and teams after qualifying for tomorrow's World Superbike round at Portimao:
World Supersport qualifying was marred by a red flag as oil was dumped on the racing line halfway through, but it didn't stop the qualifying from coming down to the usual suspects.
Superpole took place in clear, warm 31ºC weather in Portugal.