Sepang, Malaysia

Dorna Press Release: Race Lengths To Be Shortened For 2018, 2019

Dorna issued the following press release confirming the shortening of races in all three Grand Prix classes, as we reported earlier. Seven MotoGP races are to be shortened, ten Moto2 races are to lose laps, and eight races in Moto3. The press release explaining the full list of changes appears below:


FIM MotoGP™ World Championship race durations to change

The number of laps in MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 races are to be adjusted to ensure greater parity in race duration.

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Bradley Smith On What MotoGP Riders Learn From Rider Coaches, TV Footage, And Getting A Tow

At its core, motorcycle racing is a war of diminishing returns, where manufacturers, teams, and riders dive ever deeper into the details in search of an advantage. The latest battleground is in rider coaching, with riders and now teams using rider coaches / spotters / observers / analysts to help riders identify where they are strongest and weakest.

Spotters and rider coaches have been around for a while. Wilco Zeelenberg started working with Jorge Lorenzo at Yamaha in 2010, and now has a similar role for Maverick Viñales. Jonathan Rea has worked with Keith Amor in WorldSBK, Amor also filming Rea to help him perfect his technique. More recently, Valentino Rossi started working with former 250cc world champion Luca Cadalora, and has employed a rider coach for the VR46 Riders Academy, the talent pool of young Italian racers Rossi has taken under his wing.

Current Red Bull KTM MotoGP rider Bradley Smith was also a relatively early adopter. The Englishman has worked with former 500cc legend Randy Mamola since his entry into MotoGP, and is fulsome in his praise of the idea. "I had Randy and I see that as a massive help just in terms of having eyes outside of the track," Smith said. The Red Bull KTM spoke about rider coaches, their role and benefits, to a small group of journalists at the Sepang test.

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Numbers Don't Lie: 2017 vs 2018 MotoGP Tests Prove You're Better Off On A Ducati

Normally, when comparing times from a test, it makes the most sense to stick to a single year. But sometimes, there are good reasons to look back at past years, in search of a larger and more universal pattern. Comparing the best laps of riders who were in the championship last year and this year proves to be a highly instructive exercise.

Doing that, there is one thing that immediately leaps out at you. The two riders who improved the most between the two seasons are the two who switched between a Honda and a Ducati. Honda riders will freely tell you that the RC213V is very physical to ride, and the fate of rookies who have come into the championship on a Honda has not been great. Tito Rabat came to MotoGP as Moto2 champion, but struggled to make an impression on the Honda. On a Ducati, he finished the test ahead of factory riders Aleix Espargaro and Andrea Iannone, and just seven tenths behind Lorenzo on the Ducati.

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2018 Sepang MotoGP Test Combined Times: Lorenzo Fastest Overall, Luthi Most Improved

Jorge Lorenzo finished the Sepang test as fastest overall, setting a new unofficial fastest lap in the process. That is meaningful in itself - it means that Lorenzo is a lot further along in his process of mastering the Desmosedici, and that he is likely to be competitive from the start of the season - but a more interesting perspective on the data is provided by the improvements made by the riders over the three days. Any improvement, or lack thereof, is an indication of how the factories are faring.

Unsurprisingly, the rider who improved the most over the three days was the rider with the least experience. Sepang was Tom Luthi's first outing on a MotoGP bike, and he had a lot to learn. But learn he did, quickly dispensing with the idea that old riders can't adapt. The 31-year-old has spent the last eleven seasons in the intermediate class, first in 250s, then in Moto2. But Luthi cut 2.606 seconds off his lap time between Sunday and Tuesday, adapting fast to the demands of riding the Marc VDS Honda RC213V. Luthi still finished as last of the officially contracted riders, but got to within six tenths of his teammate Franco Morbidelli, who has already had four days on the bike at both Valencia and Jerez.

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2018 Sepang MotoGP Test: Tuesday's Quick Takes

Three days in the tropical heat of Sepang always generates so much information, and so much to think about, that it is impossible to encapsulate it all in just a few short hours immediately after the test. It takes time to digest, analyze, and separate the wheat from the chaff. That will happen over the coming days here on MotoMatters.com.

Yet there are clear lines emerging from the murk of testing. Avenues worth investigating, trains of thought worth pursuing. So here is the short version of what I think we have learned from three days of testing in Sepang. The long version – or more likely, versions – are still to come.

Honda – cautiously hopeful

After the Valencia test, Marc Márquez and Dani Pedrosa were happy about the new Honda RC213V motor. The electronics were roughly in the right place, and it sounded like the only work left was in refining it to turn it into a capable weapon. They were so happy they decided to skip the Jerez test, and left the donkey work to Cal Crutchlow.

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2018 Sepang MotoGP Test Tuesday 2:30pm Times: Lorenzo Still Leading As Riders Focus On Race Simulations

Only one rider has improved his time since noon, as the riders have switched their focus to race simulations. Andrea Dovizioso has moved up from eleventh to fourth, putting both factory Ducatis into the top four. Riders who have completed their test programs are starting to pack up, Jack Miller being one of the first, while others are still on track, Marc Marquez foremost among them.

Times at 2:30pm:

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2018 Sepang MotoGP Test Tuesday 12pm Times: Lorenzo Under Lap Record As Riders Hunting Times

With next to no rain overnight, the MotoGP riders were met with a bone dry and blistering hot track on Tuesday morning, which meant they went straight to work. First order of business was a time attack: with air temperatures still rising, this was the best chance of a fast time the riders had been given during all three days of the test. 

Their attempts were rewarded. Half the field was quickly into the 1'59s, and before noon, Jorge Lorenzo had smashed the existing unofficial lap record of the track set by Marc Marquez in 2015. Lorenzo's time of 1'58.830 was just a fraction under the 1'58.867 set by Marquez, but it is a sign of both how much faster Lorenzo is this year, and how much the Michelins have improved in their first two seasons back in MotoGP.

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2018 Sepang MotoGP Test Monday Round Up: Motor Monday, Miller Monday

The second day of MotoGP testing at Sepang turned out to be Motor Monday. Four of MotoGP's six manufacturers dedicated their day to gathering the data to make a decision on their 2018 engine. All of them have the lessons of 2017 in mind, when the rule on sealed engines caught Suzuki out completely, and Honda to a lesser extent. Make the wrong choice in testing, and you have nineteen races to spend regretting it, much as Suzuki did last year.

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