Editor's Blog

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How ominous is Márquez's preseason pace?

Honda had a poor preseason in 2015, 2016 and 2017, but this time it looks like Marquez, Pedrosa and Crutchlow are in seriously good shape

During the last few seasons Honda has struggled through preseason testing and launched into the new season with distinctly unimpressive results at the season-opening race. And yet last year and the year before Marc Márquez turned things around to win the championship.

So far, this year is very different: Honda was the dominant force at the first two tests, showing super-fast race pace and taking two of the top three positions at Sepang and three of the top four positions at Chang in Thailand.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - What's going on at Yamaha?

The factory team seems in disarray, so could Johann Zarco be Yamaha’s greatest hope for this year’s MotoGP crown?

The Movistar Yamaha team seems to be digging itself an ever-deeper hole. Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi completed the second tests of the year in eighth and 12th positions. Their lap times weren’t a disaster, but more worryingly, both riders were confused by their inability to get closer to the front, which is always a bad sign.

On Sunday evening Viñales seemed so lost that it was hard not to feel a bit sorry for him.

“By a long way this is the worst test,” he said. “Even Sepang, that was the worst one since I’ve been at Yamaha, then today it’s even worse. I don't know… Honestly, I don’t know. We are struggling as a factory team, so I don’t know. I don’t know what to say. It’s difficult… We are missing a little bit in all areas. I’ve used different chassis, different engines, different electronics, but there is no solution, so I don't know. Honestly, I don't know... Maybe it’s better to ask Yamaha…”

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoE: Make some noise

Next year MotoGP gets its first new world-class championship in more than half a century, but the electric MotoE series must sound great

Within the next few months MotoGP fans will see a MotoE machine ride a few demo laps at a Continental Grand Prix: perhaps Jerez, Le Mans, or most likely Mugello, because both MotoE’s Energica motorcycle and the series sponsors Enel are Italian.

So far the MotoE World Cup hasn’t got fans agog with excitement, mainly because an electric motorcycle race doesn’t involve a quarter of million earth-shaking petroleum explosions. In other words, MotoE is too damn quiet, for the moment, at least.

But the championship is hugely significant in all kinds of ways. MotoE is Grand Prix motorcycling’s first completely new world-class category since the 50cc class born in 1962.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Will Lorenzo be 2018 MotoGP champion?

Of course he could be. Those who last year suggested Ducati had paid too much for the wrong man failed to see that 2017 was merely an overture

Last March, in the Arabian desert, I thought that Jorge Lorenzo was going to pull off the biggest surprise since Valentino Rossi won the 2004 Africa Grand Prix. Lorenzo and his new Ducati hadn’t had the best of times at the first two preseason tests, but when they tested at Losail, they were less than two-tenths off the fastest time.

The problems that had affected Lorenzo and the GP17 at Sepang and Phillip Island disappeared at Losail, which is a very particular kind of a racetrack. Lorenzo loves the layout and so does the Ducati (between them they’ve won six races there), so I believed they could win the race. But then that biblical storm hit, leaving Lorenzo way back on the grid.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - “That’s how crazy KTM people are!”

In our final technical analysis of all six MotoGP factories we look at KTM, the Austrian brand that made excellent progress in its rookie season

When the 2018 MotoGP grid rides out of the Sepang pit lane on Sunday morning there will be no need to speculate which factory has made the biggest forward strides since last year’s first preseason tests.

It’s rookie MotoGP brand KTM, of course, because it’s much easier to move forward when you’re just starting out than when you’re trying to find that last tenth of a second.

During the first four dry races of 2017, KTM’s deficit to the race winner averaged out at over 40 seconds. During the last four dry races, the gap had shrunk to just over 20 seconds. If KTM can repeat that performance this year it will reduce the gap to 10 seconds. Then, if the company signs a MotoGP winner for 2019, it could fight for race victories.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Aprilia’s central focus in 2018

Aprilia had an up-and-down 2017, so what does the Italian factory need to do to make Aleix Espargaró and Scott Redding competitive in MotoGP 2018?

Aprilia is MotoGP’s underdog; the factory with the smallest race department of them all.

Racing manager Romano Albesiano has 70 staff working with him at Noale, which is considerably less than most of his rivals. Suzuki probably has MotoGP’s second smallest race shop, although the company won’t reveal numbers.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Can Suzuki catch up?

Suzuki’s MotoGP effort seemed to go backwards last year, so what must the factory do to close the gap to the front-runners?

Suzuki has a lot to do in 2018, mostly to erase the memory of a gloomy 2017. Any factory team fighting back from difficult times is under a lot of pressure; but probably none more so than Suzuki, where the factory management has never seemed that dedicated to Grand Prix racing. Unlike Honda and Yamaha, Suzuki has drifted in and out of the premier-class over the past few decades, so this year Andrea Iannone and Álex Rins need some good results to keep the Suzuki Motor Corporation signing off budgets.

Suzuki returned to MotoGP in 2015 after a three-year absence and scored its first-ever dry-weather MotoGP victory in 2016. The all-new GSX-RR was a superb motorcycle: rider-friendly, fine-handling; all it needed was more grunt and fully sorted electronics.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Can Yamaha give Rossi a winning bike?

Valentino Rossi’s chief engineer Silvano Galbusera explains what went wrong last year and what needs to go right this MotoGP season

Yamaha has a lot of work to do: the factory needs to win back the MotoGP world title and (for the sake of Dorna and millions of fans) build a bike good enough to keep Valentino Rossi racing for another season or two.

Achieving both those goals will keep Yamaha busier than any of the other factories, because it’s got to dig Rossi and Movistar team-mate Maverick Viñales out of a big hole. Last year was one of Yamaha’s worst MotoGP seasons, with just four wins from 18 races. But it wasn’t only last year that was bad. Since the start of MotoGP’s new technical era – different tyres and electronics – Yamaha’s win rate has slumped by more than 50 per cent. Indeed the factory won fewer races in 2016 and 2017 combined than it did in 2015 alone.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Ducati: all about the middle of the corner

The second in our series of tech investigations into all six MotoGP factories: this week we reveal the main aims on Ducati’s 2018 R&D list

Last season Ducati played its best MotoGP campaign since its glory days with Casey Stoner. The factory won six races, fought for the riders title to the final round and very nearly made it into the top two of the constructors' championship for the first time since 2008.

It’s been a long road through the wilderness since Ducati lost Stoner’s racing genius. Ducati Corse engineers have had to throw away many of the Desmosedici’s unique features to make the bike competitive again. First, the screamer engine was replaced by a big-bang configuration when Valentino Rossi arrived, then the carbon-fibre chassis went before he was gone.

After Gigi Dall’Igna joined, crankshaft rotation was changed to improve steering. Now the factory is working to make the Desmosedici more like the other bikes through the crucial mid-corner phase.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Honda’s MotoGP tech plans for 2018

First in a series looking at the lessons learned by each MotoGP factory in 2017 and their plans to be faster in 2018. This week, Marc Márquez’s chief engineer Santi Hernández discusses Honda’s RC213V

If you look at the MotoGP gongs that Honda has won over the past seven seasons – six constructors' titles and five riders' titles since 2011 – you’d think the company wouldn’t have much to do for 2018.

But, of course, HRC has plenty to do for 2018. Two years into MotoGP’s new tech era, none of the manufacturers have fully got their heads around the control software and Michelin tyres. And that includes HRC, which has probably made bigger machinery changes than any of the major factories over the past two years.

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MotoMatters.com Holiday Hiatus Is Here - Taking A Break Until The New Year

It has been a long year in motorcycle racing. A rewarding, entertaining, surprising, and wonderful year, but with so much going on, it has been hard to keep up. So much so that we have been left exhausted at trying to cover it all, and depressed at how utterly we have failed to cover just a fraction of all the things which happened this year.

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No 2018 MotoMatters.com Calendar - Our Apologies

The MotoMatters.com calendar has earned a loyal following and customer base through the years. However, for a variety of logistical reasons, it has proven impossible to put together a calendar for 2018. So if anyone was holding out for a Christmas present, we are very sorry to disappoint you.

We are hoping this is only a temporary hiatus. The plan is to bring the MotoMatters.com calendar back for next year. Fingers crossed we will not face the same insurmountable problems we did this year. 

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The Yamaha MotoGP bike you never knew existed

Almost two decades ago Yamaha built a single-crank new YZR500 to beat Honda and Valentino Rossi to the final 500cc title. The bike remained a secret, until now…

Yamaha has won plenty of MotoGP titles since the four-strokes arrived 16 years ago, but the factory had a miserable time in the final years of the 500cc World Championship. Yamaha was defeated nine years in a row, mostly by Honda, which is why its engineers built an all-new bike for the final 2001 season of 500s, when Honda and Valentino Rossi would be their greatest rivals.

This bike was tested in Europe in the summer of 2000 by Marlboro Yamaha riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa, less than 18 months before the final 500 GP, but never raced. And somehow, Yamaha managed to keep the project secret. Until now.

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Guest Video Blog: Freddie Spencer's MotoGP Season Review - Counting Down The Top Ten

MotoMatters.com, in association with Motor Sport Magazine, is proud to feature the rider insights of 1983 and 1985 500cc world champion Freddie Spencer. Every week after each MotoGP race, Fast Freddie will share what he saw and learned from the race.

With the 2017 MotoGP season at an end, Freddie Spencer takes a look back at what has been a scintillating year. Fast Freddie reviews the performance of the top ten riders of 2017, working his way back from Jonas Folger, who finished the year in tenth, to 2017 world champion Marc Marquez.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How does Zarco do it?

No doubt about it, Johann Zarco was MotoGP’s new kid on the block last season. Except he wasn't much of a kid at all, says Mat Oxley

The Frenchman was 26-years-old when he made his premier-class debut in Qatar. Compare that to MotoGP’s previous red-hot rookies Marc Márquez and Maverick Viñales, who were both 20 when they graduated to the premier class.

France isn’t mad about toddler racing like Spain, so Zarco started relatively late and didn’t get fully serious until he was in his teens. When he was 16 he loaded up his 50cc scooter and rode 150 miles to live with the family of Laurent Fellon, who has been his mentor and manager ever since. Zarco was almost 19 when he made his GP debut, by which age Márquez had already won two world championships.

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