Marc Marquez has broken a finger in his left hand in a dirt track training crash. The reigning world champion fell heavily, suffering a displaced fracture of the proximal phalange in the little finger of his left hand. This means that the bone between the hand and the first knuckle was broken, and the two parts of the bone moved.
Marquez was taken immediately to the Dexeus Institute in Barcelona, where Dr Xavier Mir, who performs surgery on many of the top MotoGP and WSBK riders, operated on the Spaniard. The bone was put together again and then fixed with a titanium plate. Marquez is due to start functional recovery within 24 hours.
The press release issued by Honda is strangely hesitant about Marquez' prospects of racing at Jerez. The press release says, in rather unconventional wording, that Marquez participation at Jerez "has not been ruled out." The aim for Marquez will be to ride, but the injury sustained is a particularly difficult one. Wheeless' Textbook of Orthopaedics describes fractures of the proximal phalange as "potentially the most disabling fractures in the hand". Full recovery for normal patients is 4 to 6 weeks. In motorcycle racer terms, that's 2 to 3 weeks.
Poor weather continued at Jerez on the final day of testing for the Moto2 and Moto3 classes, with high winds and rain lashing the circuit. The weather limited action on the track, many teams preferring to sit out the day rather than risk injury or severe material damage with less than a week to go to the start of the 2015 season.
A couple of heavy crashes by riders who did choose to ride rather proved their point. Tito Rabat crashed heavily, destroying his Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Moto2 machine and leaving his mechanics with a lot of work to do to get the bike ready to ship to Qatar. But Rabat was lucky, he walked away with just bumps and bruises from the crash. Ana Carrasco was less lucky in Moto3, the RBA Racing Team rider falling and breaking her collarbone. Carrasco may still be fit in time for Qatar, as she will not need surgery on the collarbone, but it is far from ideal preparation.
The poor weather saw Marcel Schrotter end the day as fastest Moto2 rider, lapping nearly a second quicker than Julian Simon on the QMMF Speed up, and Mika Kallio on the Italtrans Kalex. In the Moto3 class, Jakub Kornfeil ended the day with the fastest time, the SIC KTM rider ending ahead of Spanish rookie Jorge Martin on the Aspar Mahindra, and Niccolo Antonelli on the Ongetta Honda.
The weather has not been kind to the Moto2 and Moto3 classes at their last preseason test of 2015. Intermittent rain, some of it very heavy, has severely limited action on the first two days of the test. Even when there have been dry spells, the track has only been completely dry for relatively short periods of time. Miss those dry windows of opportunity, and you miss out on dry practice.
Speed Up rider Sam Lowes has had the best of conditions, the track drying out towards the end of the first Moto2 session on Wednesday morning, though Lowes is still a couple of seconds off lap record pace. Jonas Folger set the 2nd fastest time, but was over a second slower, edging Tom Luthi into 3rd.
In the Moto3 class, it was Jorge Navarro who made best use of the dry line which the second session started with on Wednesday, ending nearly three quarters of a second faster than Danny Kent, who was in turn over a tenth faster than Navarro's teammate Fabio Quartararo. Jorge Martin was the first non-Honda in 4th on the Mahindra, while Isaac Viñales put the Husqvarna (a rebadged KTM) into 6th, behind Enea Bastianini.
Dunlop issued the following press release, previewing the final test of the 2015 preseason for the Moto2 and Moto3 classes:
Dunlop’s Moto2 Countdown to 2015 – 4-3-2-1………
With just one test remaining before the 2015 Moto2 and Moto3 seasons get underway, Dunlop riders are getting close to ready for more FIM Moto World Championship wheel to wheel track action. The latest tests for both Moto2 and Moto3 show that times could well be slashed compared to 2014.
Riders have had the chance to give the 2015 tyre specifications a thorough workout. February saw Moto2 and Moto3 testing at Valencia and Jerez with the fastest times breaking all four circuit lap records. The closest times were for Moto3 in Valencia where the top 14 riders, over the three days, were separated by less than one second. The top performers on both tracks were Moto3’s Fabio Quartararo and Johann Zarco in Moto2.
Press releases after the three-day test at Jerez for the Moto2 and Moto3 teams:
Moto2 times from the last day of testing
Improving weather saw lap times drop at Jerez, allowing lap records to fall in both Moto2 and Moto3 classes. In Moto2, it was Sam Lowes setting the pace, the Speed Up rider knocking four tenths of a second off Mika Kallio's pole record. Lowes spent most of the day using the carbon fiber swing arm the team used last year, with the aluminum swing arm still to be tried. The aluminum item is believed to be the better of the two, offering more improvement to come when the team gets a chance to try it out.
Behind Lowes, several riders made some big steps forward. Luis Salom finally beat his rookie teammate, ending the day in 2nd just a tenth behind Lowes. Johann Zarco remains fast, ending up 3rd and ahead of reigning Moto2 champion Tito Rabat, while Axel Pons had a good day to end 5th. Three tenths separated the top five, offering prospects of a very competitve season in 2015. Revelation of yesterday Alex Rins had a steadier day today, dropping down the order to finish 9th, while Alex Marquez showed good improvement, jumping up to 12th place, a second off the pace of Lowes, and just behind Mika Kallio. The battle between the two Alexes promises to be just as good as it was in Moto3.
Press releases from some of the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of testing at Jerez:
The provisional MotoGP calendar for 2015, updated on 11th February, when Silverstone was confirmed as replacing Donington:
The World Superbike calendar has been reduced to 13 events. The Russian round of WSBK, scheduled to be held at the Moscow Raceway on 5th July has been canceled, after the event organizer, YMS Promotion, failed to provide the contract guarantees required by the contract. As a further consequence, the Yakhnich Motorsport Team have also lost their slot on the 2015 World Supersport grid, which was tied in with the Russian round.
The cancellation of the Russian round did not come as a surprise. The Russian WSBK round is a legacy of the last years of Infront running the series. Infront and YMS signed a ten-year deal to organize a World Superbike round in Russia, but continuing political instability in Russia, tensions between Europe and Russia over Ukraine, and murky regional politics have made it impossible to stage a race there. The round was placed on the calendar automatically, because of the existing contract, but it was never expected to actually take place.
The Russian round of World Superbikes will not be replaced. Instead, the series will run 13 rounds in 2015. Below is the press release and updated 2015 WSBK calendar.
2015 WSBK Calendar update
FIM Superbike & Supersport World Championships
FIM Superstock 1000 cc Cup
2015 calendar, 11 February
After a major highside at the start of the Jerez test, in which Sylvain Guintoli landed on his head and shoulder, straining his neck and bruising his shoulder, the Pata Honda rider was forced to miss the remainder of the test. Pata Honda have now issued the following press release, updating the reigning world champion's condition:
Sylvain Guintoli – injury update
Following his crash at turn one at Jerez in Spain on Monday 26 January at the start of a pre-season test, Pata Honda rider Sylvain Guintoli chose to return to the UK for complete assessment of his injuries.
Yesterday afternoon (Wednesday 28 January) the reigning World Superbike champion underwent an MRI scan on his neck and back and had a further X-ray on his right ankle.
Despite severe bruising and some discomfort, it was confirmed that Guintoli sustained no fractures and the 32-year-old has begun his rehabilitation with physiotherapy and the use of a hyperbaric chamber.
“The back is still quite painful,” said Guintoli, “but I can put some pressure on the ankle and I’m happy that there are no breaks. The treatment has started and although it will take a while to settle down, I’m confident about being fit and ready to start the season at Phillip Island next month.”
Several World Superbike teams issued press releases after the last test in Europe at Jerez. The press release appear below:
Rather perversely, a lot of the talk at the World Superbike test at Jerez has not been about World Superbikes at all. Which is a shame, as the 2015 World Superbike championship promises to be particularly fascinating, with testing times very close indeed.
Instead, there was a real kerfuffle about the slowest bike on the track, the one being ridden by Kenny Noyes and Dominique Aegerter. The cause of the fuss? The fact that it was a Kawasaki, a further development of the Open class bike raced by the Avintia Racing team in MotoGP last year, has generated a mountain of speculation that Team Green is preparing a comeback to MotoGP, bringing all four major Japanese factories back into the premier class.
The truth was a good deal more prosaic. As Gilles Bigot, the crew chief working on the project, told Spanish website Motocuatro, this was a private project of engine tuner Akira, who has been involved in engine preparation for Kawasaki's previous MotoGP effort and their World Superbike engines. The company were also behind the development of the Open class bikes used by the Avintia MotoGP team in 2014, and the engines for the FTR bikes which preceded them in 2013. Not wanting to allow two years' work to go to waste, Akira is continuing to develop the bike, looking to learn where there is room for development.
Davide Giugliano has topped the second and final day of the Jerez World Superbike test, the Aruba Ducati rider leading a frantic charge at the end of the day as the riders slipped on qualifying tires to set a fast time. Giugliano ended the day a third of a second quicker than Kawasaki's Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea, and seven tenths faster than his teammate Chaz Davies.
Giugliano was quick to head the timesheets, posting a fast lap very early on in the session, but he followed that up with a huge crash, which damaged his bike and left him stuck in the garage while it was repaired. Sykes, Rea, Leon Haslam and Alex Lowes were all fast during the day, found themselves knocked out of the top slots as the qualifiers went on, but regained those slots once they took their turn on soft rubber.
Despite the new technical rules for 2015, the new bikes are faster than they were last year. Giugliano took nearly a second off the pole record set by Loris Baz in September last year, and several riders were lapping consistently under Tom Sykes' race lap record on both days of the test. Less power may have made the bikes a little easier to ride, which can be an advantage at a tighter track like Jerez. Giugliano was faster round Jerez on qualifying tires than Marc Marquez was during the race on a Honda RC213V.