Editor's Blog

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How I ride: Jorge Lorenzo

Just before his 2018 season went pear-shaped we talked to the three-time MotoGP king about how he transformed his riding technique from 2015 to 2018

How much did things change for you in 2016, when MotoGP switched to unified software and Michelin tyres?

A lot, a lot. When we started testing the new electronics and tyres at the end of 2015 and at the beginning of 2016 it was a huge change, because the first few times I tried the new electronics the engine-braking was always locking the rear wheel, because the software was very old-fashioned and not so sophisticated. It was difficult to ride the bike – you wasted a lot of energy and you were almost two seconds slower. Then little by little, it got better.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How I ride: Danilo Petrucci

Petrucci has yet to win a MotoGP race, but Ducati’s latest factory rider is super-fast and few are better at describing what they do on a bike

You’ve been through some big technical changes in MotoGP: starting out on a CRT bike with a streetbike engine, then changing bikes, tyres and electronics

In reality, I had a Superstock bike during my first three years in MotoGP! So I only really started racing in MotoGP when I joined Pramac Ducati in 2015 and got my first real MotoGP bike.

Riding technique has changed a lot because we now have different tyres and different electronics. The way you use the throttle now is very, very different to how it was when we had the factory software before 2016. In 2015 it was easier to open the throttle out of a corner because the electronics were better. Now the rider has to manage the throttle much more, mostly because of the electronics, but also because the tyres are different.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - ‘The prize is pride!’

There’s no prize money at Valentino Rossi’s annual 100km dirt-track race, but the racing is just as vicious as MotoGP

Perhaps one day Valentino Rossi will work out how to sit back and rest on his laurels. But he’s not there yet.

Eleven weeks before his 40th birthday and two days after MotoGP’s longest-ever season of racing and testing, he was back at it: racing motorcycles around in circles (and hurting himself), because that’s what he likes doing.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How I ride: Andrea Dovizioso

Dovizioso finished runner-up to Marc Márquez in 2017 and 2018, so how does rider counter the skills of his greatest rival and how has riding technique changed since he came to MotoGP?

How has riding technique changed since you came to MotoGP in 2008?

Riding technique has changed a lot. The bikes have changed a lot and the intensity we are able to put into the bike has changed a lot, so you need to be much fitter because to be fast for 45 minutes with such a level of intensity is impossible if you are not very, very fit. This is the first thing, the second thing is the electronics. The electronics have changed a lot: they are much better and the way we manage them is much better; this is the biggest change and it affects our riding style.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Márquez is the man with no off switch

The Spaniard has won all three titles in MotoGP’s new era of make-it-up-as-you-go-along riding technique. Next comes MotoGP’s Senna/Prost moment

No motorcycle racer is unbeatable. Mick Doohan ruled the 1990s with an iron fist, dominating five consecutive 500cc world championships and leaving everyone waking up on Sunday mornings wondering who would finish second. Then, in a millisecond, his reign was over when he momentarily strayed onto a damp white line at Jerez in May 1999.

Marc Márquez isn’t unbeatable. Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi and others have already proved that. But, right now, he is about as invincible as it gets.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Rossi: ‘we’ve stopped thinking about performance’Does MotoGP need a combined bike/rider weight limit?

Some say current technical regulations are unfair for bigger riders like Petrucci and Rossi, so is it time to even things up a bit? Michelin and Ducati think so

Some years ago I thought MotoGP needed a combined rider/machine minimum weight. After all, I reasoned, if Formula 1 (where the car weighs around nine times more than the driver) has a combined limit, surely it would make sense in MotoGP (where the bike is a bit more than twice the weight of the rider).

So I talked with several MotoGP engineers and technical director (now race director) Mike Webb. They were all convinced this wasn’t the way to go. They said it’s swings and roundabouts, especially in the case of soon-to-retire Dani Pedrosa whose advantages on the swings (the straights) are easily outweighed by his disadvantages on the roundabouts (the corners).

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