Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

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.

Back to top

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.

Back to top

Barcelona Joins WorldSBK Calendar For 2020 - Prelude To Losing MotoGP In 2021?

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Montmelo is to host a round of the World Superbike championship in 2020. The event is to be held from 18-20th September 2020, between the Portimao and Magny-Cours rounds of the series. 

The addition of Barcelona presages a few of the changes coming in both the WorldSBK and MotoGP calendars in future years. Next year, WorldSBK loses Buriram in Thailand to MotoGP, and also looks set to lose the race at Laguna Seca in the USA. Instead, WorldSBK will head to Barcelona in September, and the German circuit of Oschersleben in August.

The loss of both Thailand and the US means a stark reduction in the number of rounds outside Europe. The WorldSBK championship now only visits Phillip Island at the start of the season, and Argentina and Qatar at the end, meaning that ten of the thirteen WorldSBK rounds will be held in Europe, with three rounds on the Iberian peninsula (Jerez, Portimao, and Barcelona) and two in Italy (Imola and Misano).

Back to top

Grand Prix Commission Confirms Testing To Be Limited As Calendar Expands

Today, the Grand Prix Commission officially announced further restrictions on testing for the MotoGP class. Those restrictions were published last month on MotoMatters.com, including the news that the Brno and Valencia tests are to be dropped in 2020, with further reductions in 2021.

The idea is that as the calendar expands from 20 races next year to 22 in 2022, testing is reduced to reduce the workload and stress on the riders and teams. In 2020, there will still be two tests in February, at Sepang and Qatar before the season starts, and Monday tests after the Jerez and Barcelona races. 

The Brno test will be dropped, however, as it made for a very short week between the Brno and Spielberg rounds of MotoGP, especially for the crews who have to tear down and build up the hospitalities and garages before and after each race. 

Back to top

Testing To Be Reduced In 2020 For Moto2 And MotoGP - Valencia, Brno Tests Dropped

As the MotoGP championship expands to 20 race in 2020, and the prospect of 22 races from 2022, Dorna and IRTA are making a push to reduce the amount of testing in the series. Next year, testing will be much more limited, not just for MotoGP, but for Moto2 as well.

At Misano, the Grand Prix Commission met to discuss testing for Moto2 going forward. There have long been complaints that the current rules allowed rich teams to spend a lot more time testing than poor teams, the lack of rules on testing between the end of the season and the start of the test ban on December 1st meaning that testing was almost unlimited.

Back to top

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. 

Back to top

Interview Part 1: KTM Crew Chief Paul Trevathan On Pol Espargaro, Testing vs Racing, And Understanding Tires

MotoGP presents a dilemma for the motorcycle manufacturers. On the one hand, it has never been closer or more exciting, making it a very attractive prospect for factories looking to boost their profile and push the limits of their engineering prowess. On the other hand, when the top ten is so close and there are so many competitive bikes on the grid, it becomes much more difficult to make a mark on the championship. When there are perhaps 14 bikes capable of getting on the podium, the margin between success and failure is razor thin.

KTM is learning this lesson the hard way. In their third year competing in the championship, the Austrian factory is only now starting to make regular inroads into the top ten. Much of that success is down to Pol Espargaro, the stable factor in KTM's line up in its third season. Since the beginning, Espargaro has been working with crew chief Paul Trevathan, and that pairing has proven to be an ideal combination. Both lively, enthusiastic, with a keen sense of humor, and both absolutely dedicated to pushing above and beyond in pursuit of success.

At Barcelona, I sat down with Paul Trevathan to talk about KTM's MotoGP project, and working with Pol Espargaro. We covered a lot of ground in the 25 minutes or so we spoke for, talking about everything from applying lessons learned in motocross to MotoGP, how the progress KTM have made mean there is a little bit less testing and a little bit more concentrating on race pace, the benefits of using the right approach to testing, why Espargaro is currently really the only rider to get everything out of the KTM, and much more.

To make it all a little easier to digest, the interview has been split into two parts. Here is part 1, part 2 will follow:

Back to top

Tom's Tech Treasures: Aero, Tanks, And Exhausts From The Barcelona Test, Part 2


Switchgear on Johann Zarco's KTM RC16
Peter Bom/David Emmett: Color-coded buttons (with labels) on the left handlebar of Zarco's KTM, green for traction control (TC), red for engine brake (EB), colors chosen for self-evident reasons. The thumb lever with the N on it below the handlebar is used for engaging neutral. You do not want to engage neutral while on track, so it is locked out and impossible to engage during normal riding. The position of this lever varies per rider: Zarco is not using a thumb brake, so can mount it on the left handlebar.


Triple clamp and left and right handlebars on Johann Zarco's KTM RC16
Peter Bom/David Emmett: ' There is a lot to see here. On the right handlebar, Zarco has two buttons, again color-coded. The blue button (LC) is for launch control. What the green button (CE) is for is not clear, though the most likely explanation is either the engine kill switch or the pit lane limiter.
Note the slotted top triple clamp. That is one way of managing flex, something which Yamaha also uses. Look carefully at the small locking bolts running in the slots behind the triple clamps. This is a way of ensuring the two handlebar clipons are in exactly the same position on each side.

Back to top

Barcelona MotoGP Race Round Up: The Roll Of The Dice

Luck has always played a role in racing. Sometimes the rain falls just after you set pole position. Sometimes your main rival has a technical problem at a track where you knew they would beat you. Sometimes the rider ahead makes the smallest mistake and opens up the perfect gap for you to aim through. Things happen over which you have no control, and you have to hope the dice will roll in your favor.

Perhaps you can load the dice a little, sometimes. Bear in mind the saying attributed to golfing legend Gary Player: "the more I practice, the luckier I get." Luck can be made, on occasion, opportunity recognized and seized. If you tackle the conditions you find, rather than the conditions you wish you had, you at least have a chance.

Conditions at Barcelona put everyone on the back foot. Temperatures rose from relatively cool to typically scorching, after a week of heavy rain. That rain brought down the dust and sand blown north from the Sahara by the Sirocco winds, leaving the track dirty and green. No grip and constantly changing conditions made consistency an illusion. Finding the right race tire was more guesswork than science, Sunday morning warm up being critical. The Barcelona race looked to be a lottery.

Off balance

Back to top

Pages

Subscribe to Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain