Sepang, Malaysia

LCR Honda Press Release: Zarco Confirmed As Nakagami's Replace For Last 3 MotoGP Rounds

In a press release today, the LCR Honda team confirmed that Johann Zarco would be taking the place of Takaaki Nakagami in the LCR Honda Idemitsu team for the last three races of the 2019 MotoGP season. For more background on the story, see our articles yesterday and last week.

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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. 

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Johann Zarco To Replace Takaaki Nakagami At LCR Honda For 3 Races - Prelude To 2020 Contract?

Johann Zarco is set to replace Takaaki Nakagami for the final three races of 2019, and race the 2018-spec Honda RC213V for the Idemitsu LCR Honda team. The news was first broken by Oriol Puigdemont of Motorsport.com, and though nobody contacted by MotoMatters.com would comment on the news, it was later confirmed by Zarco to Thomas Baujard of the French publication Moto Journal.

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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.

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Mika Kallio Replaces Johann Zarco In Factory KTM Team For Rest Of 2019 Season

KTM have decided to replace Johann Zarco effective immediately. From Aragon until the end of 2019, current KTM test rider Mika Kallio will take the place of the Frenchman in the factory Red Bull KTM team.

Though the decision comes as a surprise to the outside world, it makes sense from the perspective of KTM. Zarco has announced his intention to leave at the end of the season, and given his options are limited for 2020, is looking at becoming a test rider, and has been linked to a possible vacancy at Yamaha. With so much work happening on the KTM RC16, and a constant flow of new parts in the garage, KTM have decided it is better to have test rider Mika Kallio on the bike than keeping Johann Zarco.

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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. 

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Interview: Gigi Dall'Igna On MegaRide, Tire Simulation Software, And Learning From Other Factories

It is no secret that Ducati has invested a lot of time and money into tire management. An investment born of necessity: the Desmosedici is the most powerful bike on the grid, with rumors of over 300hp, and getting all that power to the ground places massive stresses on the tires. Even the smallest gains can have a big effect.

One of the avenues Ducati have been exploring has been through software modeling. The Italian factory started a collaboration with MegaRide, a software company specializing in vehicle dynamics simulation which emerged from the University of Naples. That collaboration kicked up a lot of fuss in 2017 when news of the collaboration broke, though with it came a lot of misconceptions. Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna helped clear up some of those misconceptions in an interview with MotoMatters.com at Silverstone in 2017.

Since then, the public focus on the collaboration has slipped. But the work between MegaRide and Ducati has continued, the Italian startup helping Ducati understand the performance of the rear tire, and extract even more gains from it.

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2019 And 2020 Test Dates Announced

With the announcement of a test at the Kymiring in Finland, the test schedule for 2019 and off-season tests for 2020 has been finalized.

In addition to the three official post-race tests, held as always after the Jerez, Barcelona, and Brno MotoGP rounds, there will be a two-day private test open to all MotoGP teams to be held at Misano. That test will be held after the British round of MotoGP at Silverstone.

At the end of the year, there will be the traditional two-day test after the Valencia race, before the final test of 2019 at Jerez, on 25th and 26th November. 

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