Valencia, Spain

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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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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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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Seven MotoGP Races To Be Shortened To Tighten Up Schedule

Seven MotoGP races are to be shortened for the 2018 season onwards. The MotoGP races at Austin, Le Mans, Barcelona, Brno, and Misano are all to be cut by a single lap, the race at Jerez is to lose two laps, and the season finale at Valencia is to be reduced by a whole three laps. 

The reason for the reduction in length is to bring the races into line with the remainder of the calendar, and create a consistent time schedule. Previously, the MotoGP regulations specified a minimum and maximum length for races (between 95km and 130km), but for 2018, the specification of distance has been dropped. Race distance for all events is now to be determined by the Permanent Bureau, consisting of the FIM and Dorna.

The old race distances caused a large variation in race duration. Races could last anywhere between 40 and 45 minutes, making scheduling for TV problematic. It also meant that if there were delays at the start, or if races were wet, they could overrun the allotted TV slot, causing major headaches for broadcasters. It meant that audiences were never sure whether they would get to see the Parc Fermé interviews or podium ceremonies. 

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Moto2 & Moto3 Teams To Test At Valencia From Tuesday To Thursday

With MotoGP and WorldSBK both already having had their first tests of the season, it is now the turn of the Moto2 and Moto3 teams to get the 2018 season underway. Over the next three days, a large contingent of riders from the two Grand Prix support classes will gather in Valencia for their first test of the year.

The complete Moto2 and Moto3 field will not be present at the Valencia test. According to the official website of the Ricardo Tormo Circuit, 26 Moto2 riders and 14 Moto3 riders will be participating in the test. Riders present will include Moto2 favorites such as KTM riders Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder, Gresini's Jorge Navarro, Marinelli Rivacold team's Romano Fenati, and Swiss rider Domi Aegerter, who has successfully managed to raise nearly €170,000 towards his season through a special crowdfunding scheme for Swiss athletes.

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