Assen, The Netherlands

Gordon Ritchie WorldSBK Blog: Calendar Grills

As one more championship in WorldSBK has now run its enormously unexpected final course, the off-season gives us time for both reflection and plotting a path forward.

OK, that’s the reflection over, what about 2020 and beyond?

The WorldSBK series does not quite restart its new season preparations just two days after the old season, as it does in MotoGP. In those terms it took a bit over two weeks to get WorldSBK bedded in again, but most teams are already getting into 2020 mode after two days of tests at Motorland Aragon.

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2020 WorldSBK Calendar - 13 Rounds, Qatar Moved, Oschersleben Returns

The FIM has announced the 2020 WorldSBK Calendar today. The series will hold 13 rounds in 10 different countries, starting at the end of February in Phillip Island, and ending on 11th October in Argentina.

The calendar sees a certain amount of reshuffling. The Qatar round of WorldSBK has been moved from the final race of the year to be second, and takes place a week after the opening MotoGP round at the Losail circuit. Qatar takes the place of the disappearing Thai round at Buriram, which has dropped WorldSBK in favor of MotoGP.

Oschersleben returns to the calendar, bringing WorldSBK back to Germany, with that race being held at the end of July. And Barcelona is to host both MotoGP and WorldSBK, the Superbike round to be held from 18th-20th September next year.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Lorenzo's battle back from injury - against his subconscious

What’s wrong with Jorge Lorenzo? Has he lost it or is he merely waiting till his back is fully fixed? And why HRC’s plans for its 2020 RC213V should give cause for optimism

The MotoGP paddock and fans around the world are agog with talk of Jorge Lorenzo. What’s up with the three-times MotoGP world champion? Has he lost it? Why doesn’t he retire? Why hasn’t he been sacked? Why don’t they put Johann Zarco on his bikes?

It must be said that the three-times MotoGP king is in a hole. A very deep hole. At Phillip Island two weeks ago he finished more than a minute (one minute!) behind winning team-mate Marc Márquez.

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2020 Provisional Calendar - 20 Races, Finland Added, More Back To Back Races

The FIM have issued a provisional calendar for the 2020 MotoGP season, which sees the series expand to 20 races, and lays the basis for expansion to 22 races. The biggest changes are the addition of the Kymiring in Finland in July, and the moving of the Thailand round of MotoGP in Buriram from October to 22nd March.

The racing season kicks off as ever in Qatar, the MotoGP race being moved to the first week of March. From Qatar, the series heads east to Thailand, the MotoGP race taking the slot of the WorldSBK race at Buriram. Attendance for the WorldSBK round had fallen since MotoGP went to Thailand, and so the WorldSBK round is being dropped, with another overseas round to be held in its place.

From Thailand, the paddock heads east once again to cross the International Date Line and head to Austin, the US round moving up to become the third race of the year, ahead of Argentina. The Argentina Grand Prix takes place two weeks after Austin. 

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Tom's Tech Treasures: New Frames And The Importance Of Airflow - Photos From Assen And Sachsenring


The frame on one of Valentino Rossi's Yamaha M1s
Peter Bom/David Emmett: At both Assen and the Sachsenring, Valentino Rossi had two different frames on each of his Yamaha M1 bikes. One with a weld on the frame, one without (below). According to Maio Meregalli, the two frames are identical except for the weld (which is present, but has been ground down). This changes the flex a fraction, and gives a very slightly different feedback. At Assen, Rossi only used the frame with the visible weld.
Note also the rubber band being used as a brake lever return spring. Rossi is now the only rider using a rubber band instead of a steel spring, something which used to be common but is now rare. The spring/rubber band is there to give the riders enough resistance, a 'good' rear brake feels quite heavy. The spring is available in a variety of spring rates or stiffnesses (see the color at Honda), and the preload can be adjusted as well. No such nonsense with this old-school rubber band on a multi-million dollar racing motorcycle.

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Jorge Lorenzo To Miss Brno And Austria, Return At Silverstone

Jorge Lorenzo's recovery is proceeding slower than hoped for, and will be forced to miss the next two MotoGP rounds. The Repsol Honda rider fractured two vertebrae in a crash at Assen, an injury which came on top of the battering his back took in a crash at the end of the Barcelona test two weeks before that.

After Assen, Lorenzo went back to his home in Switzerland to recover, and spent a week in a back corset to help the fractured vertebrae heal. But that process is not going as fast as hoped, and so Lorenzo has agreed with the Repsol Honda team that he will not take part in either the Czech round of MotoGP in Brno, nor the Austrian round at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. 

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Ducati in MotoGP: looking for the perfect motorbike

Like Eldorado, the perfect MotoGP bike doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t mean Ducati’s Gigi Dall’Igna can stop searching. We spoke to him at Assen

Ducati likes to build a MotoGP bike around its engine. The factory literally did this for its first nine seasons in the championship, when the Desmosedici was essentially an engine bolted to a steering head and swingarm.

Focusing on horsepower can make a lot of sense, because it’s easier to overtake in a straight line than around a corner. So that’s always been Ducati’s way – build a bike that allows its rider to get through the corner as best he can, then pull the trigger.

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Marc Marquez Interview: How He Helped Shape Honda To Make Winning Easier

Marc Marquez, speaking at Assen

Marc Márquez is well on the way to winning his sixth MotoGP title in seven seasons, dominating the class almost as completely as he did in 2014. He is making winning look easy again, despite the fact that other Honda riders will tell you that the 2019 RC213V is more difficult to ride, albeit more powerful.

How has Márquez managed to return to such dominant form? At Assen, I sat down with the reigning world champion to try to find that out. We talked about the strategy behind winning races, how to analyze how strong the competition is, and how not to get fooled by the data.

We also talked about what Márquez learned from 2015, and how he has managed to shape Honda, to try to create some continuity and improve the communication process inside the factory. And to wrap up, I asked Márquez whether he thought a perfect season, winning every race could be possible.

Q: I want to talk about winning. I find it really interesting, because you win so much. Is it easy to win a MotoGP race for you? It looks like it sometimes.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The birth of modern motorbike Grand Prix racing: talking with Kunimitsu Takahashi

It’s very nearly impossible to speak to the dawn of modern racing. But it happened at Assen, with Kunimitsu Takahashi, the first Japanese rider to win a motorbike Grand Prix

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of its first world-championship race, Honda flew Kunimitsu Takahashi to the Dutch TT. Nineteen-year-old Takahashi joined Honda in late 1959, taking part in the factory’s first Continental campaign in 1960, after its exploratory visit to the Isle of Man TT the previous summer.

But why was this the dawn of modern Grand Prix racing? Because racing was never the same after the Japanese factories arrived in Europe: Honda in 1959, then Yamaha and Suzuki in 1960.

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