Brno, Czech Republic

2018 Provisional MotoGP Calendar Released: Thailand Added, British Venue Uncertain

The provisional calendar for the 2018 MotoGP season has been released, and as expected, there are few surprises. The schedule has been expanded to 19 races with the inclusion of the Chang International Circuit in Thailand, which has a contract to host a race through 2020. 

The addition of Thailand hasn't altered the schedule much. The 2018 schedule is almost identical to this year's calendar, with just a few minor variations. The season kicks off a week early in Qatar, and to accommodate that earlier start, the time of the race is to be changed to 7pm local time. Starting earlier will mean that MotoGP avoids the evening dew that can render the track so treacherous.

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American Joe Roberts Interview: "Moto2 Is The Hardest Championship In The World"

Times are hard for American racers in the Grand Prix paddock. The series has seen a dearth of riders from the USA since Nicky Hayden left for the WorldSBK paddock after holding the fort for fourteen season, winning a MotoGP title along the way. Motorcycle racing in the US is clearly in a rebuilding phase, the MotoAmerica series focused on producing and encouraging new talent.

There are signs that it is working. Cameron Beaubier is taking on multiple champion and veteran racer Josh Hayes and winning. Jake Gagne, JD Beach, and Garrett Gerloff are all promising young racers capable of going places. But few have taken the leap of faith required to come racing in Europe. Josh Herrin tried in 2014, but never found his feet in the tough Moto2 class.

Now, there is Joe Roberts. The 20-year-old Californian moved to Europe this year after spending three years in MotoAmerica, winning the Superstock 600 title in 2015. He already had some experience, having raced in the Red Bull Rookies for a couple of seasons. He started the 2017 season racing in the FIM CEV Moto2 championship for the AGR team, alongside fellow American Jayson Uribe. When AGR parted ways with Yonny Hernandez in July after the Sachsenring, the team asked Roberts to step up the Moto2 world championship. It was not a particularly hard choice, as that was precisely the reason Roberts had come to Europe in the first place.

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Ducati's Brno Fairing - Danny Aldridge Explains Whence It Came And Why It's Legal

The Brno round of MotoGP turned out to be a veritable bonanza of aerodynamic developments. Honda turned up with their previously homologated fairing, and Yamaha debuted a new fairing with a modified upper half at the test on Monday. But it was Ducati who stole the show, with a radical new design featuring a large side pod which looked remarkably like a set of wings with a cover connecting them.

That fairing triggered howls of outrage from fans. How, they asked, was this legal? The fairing appeared to have two ducts which came out at the top at right angles, then return to the fairing at right angles. That turned out not to be the full shape of the fairing, when Danilo Petrucci sported one where the bottom half of the side duct extended lower. It seemed to be a blatant breach of the rules.

 

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The problem, MotoGP Technical Director Danny Aldridge explained, lay in part with framing of the rules. When Dorna demanded a ban of the original winglets, they sat with the manufacturers to draw up a set of regulations which would limit aerodynamics and eliminate the risks, yet at the same time would allow some amount of development. That proved impossible to do with the manufacturers so split among themselves, and so Dorna had to try to come up with a set themselves.

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Guest Video Blog: Freddie Spencer's Rider Insights On Brno, And Thoughts On Ángel Nieto

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.

This week, Freddie Spencer starts his video blog with his memories of Ángel Nieto, who died last Thursday. Fast Freddie arrived on the race scene just as Nieto was coming to the end of his career, and though they never raced in the same class, he got to know the Spaniard a little both at the time, and later, when they were both riding at classic events.

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2017 Brno MotoGP Monday Test Notes: A New Winner Among The Fresh Fairings

Monday was the next episode in a busy ten days for MotoGP. After the Czech Grand Prix, Brno played host to the traditional post-race test, with all the MotoGP paddock bar the satellite Ducatis taking part. After a mixed weekend of weather, conditions were absolutely perfect, with warm (but not hot) temperatures, clear skies, and a track that got better and better as the day went on and bikes laid down more rubber.

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2017 Brno MotoGP 2:30pm Test Times: Viñales Leads Crutchlow And Folger

Shortly after the lunch break at Brno, Maverick Viñales leads the test, still just a fraction ahead of Cal Crutchlow. Viñales has tested Yamaha's new aerodynamic package, featuring a nose scoop which resembles that used by the KTM. Sam Lowes has packed up for the day, to allow an infected wound in his foot to be dressed by the Clinica Mobile, and Cal Crutchlow has just about finished his testing program for Monday.

Times at 2:30pm:

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2017 Brno MotoGP 12pm Test Times: Viñales Fastest At Lunchtime

The majority of the MotoGP paddock is back in action on Monday morning, with all of the teams bar the satellite Ducatis (Pramac, Avintia, Aspar) taking to the track for the post-race test. They have a lot of things to be testing: Yamaha have a new aerodynamic package, Maverick Viñales has a frame to test, Andrea Dovizioso is trialling the aerodynamic package raced by Jorge Lorenzo, Sam Lowes has a new fairing on the Aprilia, and Michelin has a two front tire constructions and a rear tire they want the riders to test.

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