Sepang, Malaysia

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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Sepang MotoGP Test: The MotoGP Bikes Up Close, by @colmobri


Valentino Rossi's Yamaha M1
David Emmett: The Yamaha M1 barely seems to change from year to year. In recent seasons, even the livery has remained almost identical. Yamaha's philosophy is one of evolution and refinement, and that is not always obvious from the outside. Despite the lack of outward change, there are some major changes to the 2019 Yamaha M1. Yamaha is continuing along the path of moving weight to the rear of the bike, and the bike has new chassis parts (including a new frame) to help with tire life. The biggest changes have been on the electronics side, optimizing the Magneti Marelli spec ECU software.

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2019 Sepang MotoGP Test Friday Notes: Quick Takes On All Six Factories At The Test

It was 7:30 in the evening, and we were standing on the porch of the Petronas Yamaha SRT hospitality chalet, talking to Fabio Quartararo about how his day had gone when the rain came. It was a brief, intense shower filling the air with the sweet scent that comes when rain falls after a period of intense heat. It seemed a somehow fitting end to one of the most intriguing MotoGP tests in years.

The weather had played a major role in the test, though this time, for all the right reasons. Normally, test days at Sepang are disrupted in the late afternoon by a heavy rainfall, leaving teams trying to cram as much work as possible into the mornings, and hoping that the track dries out in the afternoon. Every shower brings dust and dirt to the track, washing away some of the rubber laid down on the track, slowing the track down.

But not this time. There was a brief thunderstorm on Monday night, but that was the last rain to fall at the circuit until Friday night. Three full days of a dry track, the pace increasing as more and more rubber got laid down. It should hardly be surprising that Jorge Lorenzo's fastest ever lap of the circuit, set last year, should be broken. But that it should be broken by nearly six tenths of a second, and by six riders, is a sign both of just how good the track conditions were, and just how competitive the field is currently in MotoGP.

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