Valencia, Spain

Provisional 2019 MotoGP Calendar: 19 Races With Minor Reshuffles

Dorna today unveiled the provisional MotoGP calendar for 2019, confirming much of what we already knew. The schedule will consist of 19 races, as the circuit in Mexico City will not be ready to host a MotoGP race next year, and the Kymiring in Finland is also still under construction. Both races are provisionally expected to be on the 2020 calendar.

The calendar is broadly similar to this year's schedule, with a few tweaks. The season kicks off at Qatar on 10th March, earlier than usual and a week before F1, which normally starts before MotoGP. Three weekends later, the series is racing in Argentina at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit, and two weeks after that, the whole circus heads north for the US round in Austin.

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2019 Calendar To Be Announced At Misano: 19 Races, No Mexico, No Finland

We are a week away from being able to book (provisionally, with free cancellation) to see a race in 2019. The provisional MotoGP calendar for 2019 is due to be published at the Misano round in just under 10 days' time. 

As the official MotoGP.com website revealed over the weekend, there will only be 19 rounds in 2019. The numerical symmetry of that may be pleasing, but there were plans to have 20 races next season. The debut of the Kymiring in Finland has been delayed by a year to 2020, as the circuit will not be ready in time for a 2019 date. And the planned round in Mexico at the Hermanos Rodriguez circuit in Mexico City has been dropped, unless the circuit is prepared to make changes.

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MotoGP To Introduce "Transfer Window" For Rider Contract Negotiations

As many of you will have spotted, this was in fact an April Fool's story. While there is great concern over the state of the rider market and the earliness of when Silly Season commences nowadays, there are no concrete proposals to restrict it in any way, as far as I am currently aware. Despite the fictional nature of this story, the logic behind Dorna wanting to keep things as they are - increased interest in the sport during the off season - is sound. But whether the factories would either be willing or able to restrict negotiations to a set time is open to question. Policing such an agreement would be extremely difficult. This was the last of the fictional stories for 2018, we hope. for another year at least, all of the stories on the website will be as accurate as possible. Normal service has now been resumed... 

There has been a trend over the past decade for rider contract negotiations to get earlier and earlier. Where once, talks about new contracts would start sometime in June, and agreements finalized and signed during August, now, initial discussions start at the Valencia Grand Prix the year before a contract is due to end, and deals are signed in the first few races, or as in the past two contract cycles, before the season has even begun.The underlying causes for this trend are numerous, but at its heart, it comes down to the glut of talent that is in MotoGP these days, both in terms of riders and in terms of bikes. The best riders have more choice of competitive machinery, and there are more talented riders for the factories to choose from. This has forced the factories into pursuing and signing up the riders they want as early as possible. As former HRC team principal Livio Suppo told ace French journalist Thomas Baujard, "In the MotoGP class, the manufacturers are the slaves of the top riders."

The MotoGP Silly Season for 2019 and 2020 rider contracts has been particularly frenzied. Maverick Viñales announced his contract extension in January at the Movistar Yamaha team launch. Talented Moto2 prospect Pecco Bagnaia was signed by Ducati to race with the Pramac team ahead of the factory Ducati team launch in January. Marc Márquez announced he was extending with Repsol Honda before the Qatar test, and Valentino Rossi made his new two-year deal with Movistar Yamaha public on the Thursday before the Qatar race.

This frenzy of negotiations has caused the factories to push for the introduction of a "transfer window", a practice common in other sports such as soccer. From the 2020 season, when the next round of rider contracts is due, negotiations will only be allowed to take place within a narrow window, with deals signed within that window and no talks allowed either before or after. That window will be in the week following the final race of the year at Valencia.

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Kalex Rolls Out First Triumph-Engined Moto2 Prototype At Valencia

At the private Valencia Moto2 test held on Monday and Tuesday, Kalex rolled out the first version of its chassis to be used with the Triumph 765 engine in Moto2 in 2019. Swiss rider Jesko Raffin is currently working as test rider for Kalex. The German engineering firm issued the following press release after the test:


SUCCESSFUL FIRST ROLLOUT OF THE 2019 KALEX TRIUMPH MACHINE

Kalex Moto2 bike with a Triumph engine at Valencia, with the Kalex engineering firm

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2018 Valencia February Moto2 Test Thursday Times: Pasini Bests Baldassarri

Mattia Pasini has finished the final day of the Moto2 test at Valencia on top of the pack, the Italian heading the second session of the day to take top spot. Pasini ended just ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri, who had been fastest on Wednesday and topped two of Thursday's three sessions. Simone Corsi finished as third quickest, making it an all-Italian, all-Kalex clean sweep. 

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2018 Valencia February Moto3 Test Thursday Times: Martin Beats Bastianini

The final day of the combined Moto2 and Moto3 test at Valencia was another sunny but cold one, restricting the usefulness of the morning sessions for the riders. Jorge Martin ended the day as the fastest of the Moto3 riders, just edging out the Italian Enea Bastianini. Marco Bezzecchi was the first of the KTM riders, finishing fractionally behind Bastianini and ahead of Aron Canet. Niccolo Antonelli ended the day in fifth, apparently benefting from a switch from KTM to Honda over the winter.

Thursday times:

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2018 Valencia February Moto2 Test Wednesday Times: Baldassarri Takes Over As Oliveira Falls

Lorenzo Baldassarri has topped the second day of testing for the Moto2 class at Valencia. The Pons HP40 rider took over top spot after a crash by Miguel Oliveira meant the Portuguese KTM rider was unable to finish the final session of the day, though Oliveira was unhurt in the crash.

Mattia Pasini set the third fastest time at Valencia, the Italian a third of a second behind Baldassarri, but two tenths faster than Marcel Schrotter on the Dynavolt Intact Kalex. Fabio Quartararo ended the day as sixth quickest on the Speed Up, two thirds of a second behind Baldassarri.

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2018 Valencia February Moto3 Test Wednesday Times: Rodrigo Fractionall

Gabriel Rodrigo was the fastest of the Moto3 riders at a dry but chilly Valencia circuit. The Argentinian rider just pipped Jorge Martin for the top spot, while Marco Bezzecchi set an impressive third-fastest time. 

A dry track, in contrast to yesterday, the first day of the three day test, meant a lot more track action for the Moto3 riders assembled at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit. But the cold weather saw a spate of falls: six riders took a tumble, including Tatsuki Suzuki twice, though all walked away unhurt.

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