Assen, The Netherlands

2017 MotoGP Calendar Now Confirmed

The 2017 MotoGP calendar is now officially confirmed. The FIM removed the provisional status of the calendar after Dorna finalized contracts with the two remaining circuits still left with an asterisk, Silverstone and Sepang.

The situation with Sepang had been settled earlier, with Sepang keen to retain a MotoGP race for the long term. Sepang has grown to become one of the best-attended races on the calendar. So large are the crowds that they now easily outnumber attendance for F1, which the circuit is trying to drop.

New Grandstands At Assen, And The Economic Impact Of A MotoGP Race

"If it wasn't for the Dutch TT race, I would have to close my business." Those were the words of the taxi driver who took me from Assen train station to the circuit, for a presentation on the plans for major upgrades to their spectator facilities over the next three years and beyond.

It offered an insight into the importance of the MotoGP race at Assen, and by extension, the importance of circuits and MotoGP events around the world. My taxi driver explained that over the week surrounding the Assen race, he was kept so busy that the money he made during that period was the difference between ending the year with a profit and the ability to invest in the future of the business, or just about breaking even.

Chatting to an official of the provincial government, who had grown up in the city and worked in bars there during his college years, he confirmed that experience. The bars back then were so busy during the race weekend that it was the difference between survival and failure. The same is true for many businesses and hotels around the region, as anyone who has ever tried to book accommodation in the weeks before the race can attest.

2017 WorldSBK Calendar Released: Portimao Returns, Jerez, Sepang Disappear

The provisional 2017 World Superbike calendar has been released, but unlike the MotoGP calendar, which is unchanged, there are a couple of minor differences to the schedule. The World Superbike class will contest 13 rounds, just as they did in 2016, spread across three continents. Sepang and Jerez have been dropped, and Portimao makes a comeback.

2017 Provisional MotoGP Calendar - Almost Identical to 2016

There is a current fashion in moviemaking, of taking proven formulas from the past, giving them a light makeover and then relaunching them, then trying to spice them up by referring to them as a "reboot" or "reloaded". Dorna executives must have been to see Ghostbusters, Mad Max, and many more, as the 2017 MotoGP calendar is best described as 2016 Reloaded.

The 2017 MotoGP calendar is almost identical to the 2016 calendar, with a couple of minor tweaks. Those tweaks are a clear improvement on 2016: there are fewer large gaps, and there are fewer back-to-back races. There have been some changes to help with logistics, and some to help with race organizations. 

2016 MotoGP Mid-Season Review Part 3: Aerodynamcs, or Snoopy & The Red Baron

One factor which could be having an effect on tires is the aerodynamics war which has seen wings sprouting from every forward surface of the fairing. The outbreak of strake cancer has seen the winglets massively increase in size and surface area, making the latest version on the Ducati Desmosedici GP resemble Baron von Richthofen's Fokker Dr.I triplane.

Ducati were the first to understand and seize on the potential of the aerodynamic winglets, debuting them at Qatar last season. There were met with some skepticism for most of last year, until Yamaha suddenly rolled out their own version of them at Aragon. In 2016, the winglet craze has infected the entire paddock, with the bikes of all five manufacturers now sporting some form of aerodynamic device.

Why did Ducati start fitting winglets? Because they work. One engineer who has seen the data told me that the effect was visible in it. The bike wheelies less when it has wings fitted compared to not having winglets. That reduction in wheelie means that wheelie doesn't have to be managed using the electronics to reduce power and torque. That, in turn, means the bike can accelerate harder out of the corner, reaching higher top speeds at the end of the straight. The other manufacturers have all come to the same conclusion, hence the outbreak of winglets.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Marquez’s greatest escape

Marc Marquez’s Houdini-like escape during Assen practice was one of the greatest saves in MotoGP history

Over the past three decades I’ve seen many amazing riders do many amazing things. All kinds of moments jump out, from before Kevin Schwantz to after Casey Stoner – way too many to go into now, but here are three.

It’s September 1985, the season-ending San Marino GP at Misano, way before anyone had even dreamed of traction control. Randy Mamola is chasing Ron Haslam during practice, both of them aboard Honda’s superbly rider-friendly NS500 triple. The American is accelerating out of a left-hander when his rear tyre smears sideways and then grips. Suddenly the bike isn’t so rider-friendly and flicks him skywards like an ejector seat. When Mamola re-enters orbit his head just about thumps the front mudguard and both his legs land to the right of the bike as he runs off the track. He is now skating through the grass with both feet, his hands hanging onto the handlebars for dear life, while he waits for the bike to slow, because he knows he will crash if he tries to use the front brake.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - A Jackass joins the Aussie pantheon!

Jack Miller’s win was hugely popular and richly deserved, but do MotoGP’s interrupted-race regulations need rewriting?

As I wrote last week, stuff happens at Assen.

Jack Miller’s win was a fairy-tale: a young man who rides it like he stole it and made the next-to-impossible happen at a tricky track in tricky conditions. Since last year the 21-year-old Aussie has often been criticised for riding over his head – “I do get a little too excited sometimes” – but his ride on Sunday was inch-perfect at a slippery track with conditions changing on every lap and at every corner.

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