Editor's Blog

Editor's Blog: Valentino Rossi, MotoGP's First Rockstar, At 40

I do not make a habit of marking the birthdays of motorcycle racers, but Valentino Rossi's 40th is worthy of an exception to my self-imposed rule. His 40th birthday is clearly a milestone, though any birthday can hardly be regarded as an achievement. To reach his 40th birthday, all Rossi had to do was keep living.

But of course, the fuss being made of Valentino Rossi's 40th birthday is not because of the age he has reached. It is because he reaches the age of 40 a few months after having finished third in the 2018 MotoGP championship, racking up five podiums and a pole position along the way. It is because the media, his fans, and Rossi himself regard that as a disappointing season.

It is because he enters his 24th season of Grand Prix racing, and his 20th in the premier class, the first year of a two-year contract which will see him racing until the age of 41 at least. It is because he is one of the leading favorites to wrestle the MotoGP crown from reigning champion Marc Márquez (15 years younger), along with Jorge Lorenzo (9 years younger), Andrea Dovizioso (8 years younger), Maverick Viñales (16 years younger).

Back to top

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Rossi at 40: so many memories

Recounting memories of Valentino Rossi, who turns 40 on Saturday

Valentino Rossi celebrates his 40th birthday on Saturday, hoping against hope to become the first forty-something to win a world title since the 1950s, when grand prix racing was ruled by older riders who’d had their careers interrupted by the Second World War.

To give you some idea of Rossi’s advancing years, Britain had its first £1million footballer in February 1979, when Trevor Francis signed to Nottingham Forest. When he won his first grand prix in August 1996 the Spice Girls were number one.

The big four-oh isn’t the only major life landmark that Rossi reaches this year, because three weeks later, on 10th March, he commences his 24th world championship season. Only two riders have got close to that, Aussie great Jack Findlay, who raced 20 and a bit seasons from 1958 to 1978 and Brazilian Alex Barros, who raced 22 seasons from 1986 to 2007, having lied about his age to get his first grand prix licence to race in the 50cc class.

Back to top

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - KTM: ‘We are at the tip of the iceberg’

KTM has 40 years less experience than Honda in premier-class Grand Prix racing, so what does the Austrian factory need to do to get closer to the front?

KTM had an impressive rookie season in 2017, but last year the Austrian factory stalled. And when prize signing Johann Zarco first tested the RC16 in November he was shell-shocked.

The arrival of Zarco at KTM is supposed to be the factory’s next big step because he is the strongest rider to sit on the RC16. But the Frenchman’s first outings on the bike suggest the gap between KTM and the front of the pack is still huge, so what did KTM learn from 2018 – and what does it need to do in 2019?

Back to top

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How I ride: Johann Zarco

The Frenchman was a revelation during his rookie MotoGP season in 2017 and finished top non-factory rider last season – so how does he do it?

During 2017 and 2018 Johann Zarco made a habit of embarrassing factory riders aboard his second-hand Monster Tech 3 Yamaha YZR-M1.

The Frenchman seemed able to overcome technical deficiencies with a new way of riding which allowed him to get more performance out of his Michelin tyres. Last year he did drift into the doldrums after scoring two podiums from the first four races, then tumbling out of his home GP at Le Mans.

But he was back up to speed at the end of the season, taking a close third-place finish at Sepang, just behind factory riders Marc Márquez and Álex Rins.

Back to top

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How I ride: Aleix Espargaró

One of MotoGP’s most exciting riders tells us how he gets the best out of his bikes, tyres and electronics

Aleix Espargaró is yet to win a MotoGP race but he is one of the category’s most exciting riders, with an all-attack riding technique.

The Aprilia RS-GP rider, who I interviewed halfway through last season, is one of those who is happy to go pretty deep when he’s explaining his riding technique. He offers many fascinating revelations about MotoGP riding styles, as well as the behaviour of MotoGP engines, tyres and electronics.

Back to top

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP’s strongest-ever team is here

Márquez and Lorenzo make the most successful team in premier-class history… shame they’re unlikely to be fully fit for the first race

Most team launches are a bit, well, meh, because the future is like looking for Eldorado: it’s easy to promise all kinds of gold and glory before the journey has even begun.

During every team launch you will hear riders explain why they are looking forward to fighting for the title because they’ve got the best bike, the best team, the best sponsors, the best team-mate, the best of everything… It’s déjà vu-inducing.

Back to top

Editor's Blog: Size And Sensitivity, Or Why Dani Pedrosa Is A Test Rider

The start of the new year has released riders from their previous contracts, and freed them to talk. For some, though, the new year also places new restrictions upon them. So in a fascinating interview with the Spanish sports daily Marca, Dani Pedrosa is forced to refuse to talk about his role testing for KTM. "I'm not allowed to say anything about this, but I can say that I love the work I am doing with KTM, because for me, the challenges never stop."

One of the more interesting things Pedrosa does talk about is the reason he left Honda. That had nothing to do with the tension which had existed between himself and team boss Alberto Puig, Pedrosa said. In fact, the decision not to keep Pedrosa on as a test rider came from higher up in Honda.

Back to top

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Can MotoGP's inline fours return to the fore?

Suzuki and Yamaha have struggled to keep up with Ducati and Honda in recent years, so what are their chances for 2019?

Inline-four MotoGP bikes have won two of the last 30 MotoGP races. That’s why some outsiders predict the end of the line for them.

But if you’ve been paying attention you will know that Ducati’s V4 and Honda’s V4 dominate MotoGP for reasons other than engine configuration. Both layouts have their good and bad points; end of story.

Back to top

Gordon Ritchie WorldSBK Blog: The Missing Links

Whatever number of permanent WorldSBK entries Dorna had in mind for the 2019 season, you can bet it was not 18. Yet, to listen to some comments regarding this final number you might imagine that some global tragedy had occurred, rather than WorldSBK simply facing up to reality.

A reality created both by itself and the actions of others.

So why are there missing links in WorldSBK’s ideal drive chain length this year? Many reasons, but here are the biggies.

Back to top

MotoMatters.com Subscriber January Prize Draw: Win A Honda RC213V-S Press Pack & Marc VDS Calendar

There are many benefits to supporting MotoMatters.com with a subscription: access to our exclusive interviews and background articles, full-size photographs by our ace snappers such as CormacGP and Scott Jones, and perfect marriage of full-sized technical close-ups by Tom Morsellino with explanation by Peter Bom.

From this year, there is another benefit: all of our paying subscribers will be entered into our prize draw, where they can win a range of MotoGP-related goodies. The draws will be held once a month, with winners drawn at random from among active subscribers.

To kick things off, we have two grand prizes for subscribers. First prize is an exclusive object indeed: the media pack handed out at the official launch of Honda's RC213V-S street bike at the Barcelona round of MotoGP in 2015.

Honda RC213V-S press pack cover

Back to top

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How I ride: Maverick Viñales

Viñales reveals how he rode the rollercoaster of the last two seasons and why he’s planning to hire a sports psychiatrist for 2019

Viñales joined Yamaha in 2017, won three of the first five races, then didn’t win another race until October 2018. In this interview, conducted a few days after that Phillip Island victory, he covers all the bases: riding technique, tyres, bike set-up and the all-important matter of a racer’s psyche.

Unlike most top MotoGP riders you only spent one season with Bridgestone tyres and factory software, so was that an advantage when everything changed in 2016?

Back to top

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP 2019's biggest battle: Ducati v Honda

The first in a series examining how each of MotoGP’s six factories is aiming to gain the advantage going into the 2019 championship

The last two seasons have been all about Ducati and Honda. Those two manufacturers have won all but five of the last 36 races, and the battle for the 2019 MotoGP title will most likely see the duel continue.

Last year the Desmosedici and RC213V were more closely matched than ever, so what are the engineers in Bologna, Italy, and Asaka, Japan, working to improve for their 2019 contest? We spoke to Andrea Dovizioso and Ducati Corse manager Gigi Dall’Igna from Ducati, and Marc Márquez and HRC director Tetsuhiro Kuwata from Honda to find out.

Back to top

Editor's Blog: What I Got Wrong In 2018

The start of the year is traditionally a chance to look ahead, and make predictions for what is to come. But as an old Danish proverb, sometimes ascribed to the brilliant Danish physicist Niels Bohr, says, it is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future. To demonstrate just how hard, we will kick off the year taking a look back at predictions I made last year, and what I got wrong.

I started last year with an article in which I made three predictions for the 2018 season:

1. Marc Márquez wins more on his way to title number seven

He's going to win a lot of races in 2018 – my best guess would be eight or nine of the nineteen – and the way you win championships is by winning races.

This one, I got right. Marc Márquez did indeed go on to win the 2018 MotoGP championship by a comfortable margin, wrapping up the title at Motegi, in front of Honda's biggest bosses. And – more by luck than judgment – my guess for how many races Márquez would win was right on the money, the Repsol Honda rider racking up a total of 9 victories last year.

Back to top

Editor's Blog: Happy Holidays, A Million Thanks, And See You In January

MotoMatters.com is taking a break for the holiday season. This will be the last post on the site until the New Year, circumstances willing. It has been a long year, with 19 rounds of MotoGP and 13 rounds of WorldSBK to cover, and it is time to recharge our batteries for what should be an outstanding 2019 season.

So let me first of all say thank you to all our readers for following the site, but most especially to our Site Supporters, the subscribers who make it possible to run the site and pay for us to actually attend races - my personal schedule included 14 MotoGP races, 3 MotoGP and 1 Moto2 test, plus a couple of sundry events - and to pay our contributors who add such amazing value to the site. The growth in the number of subscribers has allowed us to add such features as the beautiful action photos by CormacGP, or the tech porn of Tom's Tech Treasures, close up technical photos by Tom Morsellino with detailed explanations of what we are looking at by world championship-winning crew chief Peter Bom.

If we can replicate this growth in 2019, we will be able to even more great features. We have already signed up WorldSBK guru Gordon Ritchie to a monthly column, and have our sights on yet more world-class writers for next year. So if you love what we are doing, and what to help us make MotoMatters.com better, the best thing you can do is support us financially. You can make a donation via the website or directly via Paypal. You can support us via our GofundMe page. Or best of all, you can become a Site Supporter by taking out a subscription. In addition to the extra content we offer to subscribers, we will also be regularly giving away a variety of MotoGP-related goodies to subscribers, including signed caps, exclusive items such as the RCV213-S launch media pack, and more.

Thanks are also due to all of our contributors, especially MotoGP reporters Zara Daniela and Mike Lewis, WorldSBK reporter Jared Earle, WorldSBK writer Steve English, technical guru Peter Bom, and photographers CormacGP, Tom Morsellino, and Andrew Gosling. A special word of thanks to everyone who has helped us all year by patiently answering my stupid questions and supporting us with advice and information.

And thanks once again to you, our readers. Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, or whatever you choose to celebrate. A happy New Year, and may 2019 bring you good health, great happiness, and above all, a season of fabulous motorcycle racing!

Back to top

Gordon Ritchie WorldSBK Blog: Perception Is Reality?

In the ever-whacky race series that is WorldSBK, watching it all from up close for over two decades allows a very different perspective from those who comment on it from afar.

Whether that remote viewpoint comes from all along MotoGP's ivory watchtower, or the ramparts of lower altitude national series', the view of WorldSBK through foreign field glasses shows a perennially distorted and often negative image.

But closer inspection always allows a greater level of clarity.

Simply put, what those outside 'the scene' believe are the few assets and multiple liabilities of WorldSBK are frequently different from the realities that make up the other World Championship.

Now that social media posts often determine what is 'true', simply by having more people agreeing with this belief rather than that opinion, you don't need to examine things too closely in our post-truth age, do you?

Back to top

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - blogs