Le Mans, France
The FIM today released a provisional calendar for MotoGP in 2016, featuring much that was expected and a few surprises. The calendar will once again have 18 races, with Indianapolis dropped and Austria taking its place. The biggest change in the calendar is the moving of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, which vacates its late August slot for the middle of July.
That move, and the scheduling of Austria and Brno back to back, will not be popular with the circuits. The British MotoGP round comes just three weeks after the F1 race at Silverstone, due to be held at the end of June. Silverstone will fear that having the two biggest events of the year in the space of a month will mean that they cannibalize attendance, with spectators choosing to attend either F1 or MotoGP. When there were two months between the two races, the chances of fans attending both were greater.
As for Brno and Austria, the Brno circuit feared that having Austria a week before their race would see German fans choosing to go to Austria rather than Brno, with an impact on attendance. So far, though, Dorna has prevailed in discussions.
With the news that the Brno round of MotoGP has been handed to a consortium consisting of local and regional governments, and that they are working to secure the long-term future of Brno, a major piece of the puzzle surrounding MotoGP's schedule for 2016 slotted into place. Brno, along with Indianapolis, had been the two biggest question marks still hanging over the calendar.
Most of the schedule fell into place once Formula One announced its calendar several weeks ago. The combination of an unusually late start (F1 kicks off in Melbourne on 4th April, two weeks later than last year) and an expansion of the schedule to 21 races has left few gaps for MotoGP to fit into. The upside to F1's late start is that MotoGP can get a head start on its four-wheeled counterpart, and kick the season off before F1 begins.
Preseason testing is slightly altered for 2016. Instead of two tests at Sepang, the MotoGP teams will head from Sepang to Phillip Island, and then on to Qatar, for a final test before the start of the season. Testing starts on the first three days of February, spending the 1st to the 3rd at Sepang, for the first start of the year. From there, the circus moves to Australia, for a three-day test at Phillip Island from 17th to the 19th February, before heading back across the equator to Qatar. MotoGP will test at the Losail circuit on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of March.
The Suzuki ECSTAR MotoGP team tonight issued the following press release, announcing that Aleix Espargaro's surgery to fix the thumb injury he suffered in the crash at Le Mans was successful. Espargaro will now start his physical rehabilitation, and hopes to be ready for Mugello. His fitness will be assessed next Wednesday, 27th May, and a decision taken on his participation then.
SUCCESSFUL SURGERY FOR ESPARGARO
Team Suzuki Press Office – May 19.
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Aleix Espargaro underwent successful surgery today at the Hospital Universitari Dexeus in Spain to repair his injured right finger from his crash at Le Mans at the weekend.
His Surgeon, Doctor Mir, confirmed that his ligament has been successfully repaired and that the Spanish rider now needs some time to recover from the surgery to a rupture of the collateral ligament of the thumb of the right hand.
Espargaro was expected to spend the night in hospital, but is now at home starting his recouperation.
Dr. Xavier Mir:
“Aleix Espargaro has had an operation on his right thumb with the removal of the ulnar collateral ligament, proceeding to reinsertion of the ligament and a 2mm intraligamentary suture anchor.”
Pol Espargaro has had surgery on his right arm to fix a problem with arm pump, the rider's management team has announced in a press release. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider was operated on in Madrid by Dr. Angel Villamor, widely regarded as one of the top authorities on treating compartment syndrome, and the surgeon who treated Dani Pedrosa. The surgery is judged to have gone well, and Espargaro is due to be examined again at the end of the week.
Bridgestone issued their customary post-race press release, this time containing a debrief tih Masao Azuma, the Japanese tire manufacturer's chief engineer. This week, Azuma discusses how temperature changes affected grip, how some bikes lacked front-end feel, and how lap records keep falling.
French MotoGP™ debrief with Masao Azuma
Tuesday, May 19 2015
Bridgestone slick compounds: Front: Extra-soft, Soft & Medium; Rear: Extra-soft, Soft & Medium (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds: Soft (Main) & Hard (Alternative)
The French Grand Prix saw the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team dominate proceedings Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi scoring a one-two result, while Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso continued his rich vein of form by finishing in third place.
Practice and qualifying for the French Grand Prix took place in extremely cool weather, with some rainy periods. Track temperatures were as low as 13°C during Free Practice 3, but a warm change on Sunday saw a large increase in track temperatures, with a peak recording of 42°C during the race. The warmer conditions helped the riders set a sizzling pace during the race, with Rossi setting a new Circuit Record Lap of 1'32.879 and Lorenzo’s race time also setting a new record, beating the old mark by nineteen seconds.
2015 Le Mans MotoGP Sunday Round Up: Why The Honda Is The Third-Best Bike In MotoGP, And Wins vs Titles In Moto3
Something always happens at Le Mans. Something happens at every MotoGP race, of course, but Le Mans seems to always have more than its fair share of happenings. Unlikely events, weird crashes, high drama. Marco Simoncelli taking out Dani Pedrosa. Casey Stoner announcing his retirement. Things that nobody had seen coming emerge from the shadows. News that was half suspected is suddenly thrust into the limelight. Something always happens at Le Mans.
This year, it was the turn of Honda to make the headlines, not something you want to do at Le Mans. The weakness of the bike was finally exposed, with three factory Hondas all crashing out, and the fourth one looking likely to do the same at any moment. Dani Pedrosa and Scott Redding suffered identical crashes, losing the front early in the race. Cal Crutchlow's crash was different. He made a mistake when his foot slipped off the peg, grabbing the front brake harder than he meant to and locking the front as he turned in to La Chapelle, the long downhill right hander. But up until that moment, he had been struggling with exactly the same lack of front end grip on corner entry. Marc Márquez' spectacular and wild first few laps saw him running off the track just about everywhere, as he tried to brake hard and enter the corner, but ended up running wide.
At last there was confirmation of something which all of the Honda riders had been saying since last year. Cal Crutchlow's first reaction when he got off the RC213V was "I'll tell you what, it's a hard bike to ride." Scott Redding said much the same. "It's a difficult bike to ride, a lot more difficult than the Open Honda." Such statements were met with outright skepticism by most observers. After all, this was the same bike on which Marc Márquez had won the first ten races of the season, before going on to wrap up his second title in a row virtually unchallenged.
That was probably part of the problem. The Honda was nowhere near as good as Marc Márquez was making it look. "In my opinion, the talent of Marc hides some limits of the Honda," said Andrea Dovizioso in the post-race press conference. "He's the only one able to go fast, also last year, but especially this year. I believe Honda in this moment doesn't have a perfect balance."
Press releases from the teams and Bridgestone after Sunday's fascinating French Grand Prix:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the races at Le Mans:
Results and summary of the MotoGP race at Le Mans:
Results and summary of the Moto2 race from Le Mans:
Results and summary of a thrilling Moto3 race at Le Mans:
Notes: Marc Marquez had a very strong pace, a long string of laps in the mid 1'33s. Jorge Lorenzo's pace was a lot less consistent. Bradley Smith was surprisingly strong, also posting a very long run on a pace just short of that of Marquez.