The withdrawal of Tito Rabat from the Motegi round of Moto2, suffering a lack of strength in the arm he broke in a training accident last week, removed the last obstacle between Johann Zarco and the 2015 Moto2 world championship. With a 78-point lead over Rabat and the Spaniard unable to score any more points, Zarco will leave Motegi with an unassailable lead. With his crown secured, Dorna and his Ajo Racing team put out the following press releases celebrating Zarco's 2015 Moto2 title.
2015 Moto2 World Champion
It's been a long road for Johann Zarco, but the Japanese GP sees him become the 2015 Moto2™ World Champion.
Johann Zarco took his first steps towards a life filled with racing when he began racing minibikes in Italy, finishing second overall in 2005 and 2006. He joined the Red Bull Rookies Cup during its inaugural year in 2007 and became their first champion with four victories and seven podiums in eight races. Two years later, the pilot from Cannes, France made his debut in the 125cc World Championship with the WTR San Marino Team where he ended the year in 20th position, improving to 11th the following year.
In 2011 the Frenchman evolved, jumping to the Avant AirAsia Ajo Derbi team and conquering ten podiums together, pushing for the 125cc title till the end. In Motegi, just four races from the end of the year, Zarco took a career first victory but in the end finished second to Spaniard Nico Terol in the championship. His solid performance granted him 262 championship points and also earned him a ride in the Moto2™ World Championship with Team JiR in 2012.
Tito Rabat has suffered a fracture of the radius of his left arm. The reigning Moto2 champion crashed while training at Almeria in preparation for the Pacific triple header, falling and injuring his arm. He immediately underwent surgery to have a plate fitted to his arm, and is to fly to Japan where he intends to try to race.
The cause of the crash is not clear. Rabat blamed the crash on a technical problem, causing him to fall at the chicane, but due to his injury, he has not been able to take a look at the bike to determine what caused the problem. This is Rabat's second training-related injury this season, having also broken his collarbone earlier in the year after a crash at Almeria.
Rabat's decision to race is forced by his desire to defend his title. Johann Zarco leads Rabat by 78 points, so if Rabat wants to keep his title hopes alive, he has to score 4 points more than Zarco at Motegi. Even then, Rabat will need the Frenchman to score a number of DNFs. But riders are not willing to give up on a title until the mathematics says it is impossible.
Below is the press release from the Marc VDS Racing Estrella Galicia team:
Rabat ready to race in Japan despite training injury
Aragon was a busy time for the riders and managers in all three Grand Prix classes. Wrapping up contract negotiations before the circus heads east for the Pacific Ocean flyaways was high on the list of priorities, though not everything ended up getting sorted before the teams packed up at Aragon. Plenty of agreements were reached, however, as we shall see below.
Though most of the loose ends have been tied up in MotoGP, a few question marks remain. The Aspar team was one of those question marks, which came much closer to a conclusion at Aragon. The original plan was to have Jack Miller join the team, bringing his crew with him, and covering most of the cost of riding, but various obstacles prevented that from happening. Money was a major factor, in part the amount Aspar were willing to pay to have Miller in their team, but perhaps a bigger factor was being left with Hondas.
The Open class Hondas have both been a huge disappointment for all of the teams which have run them. The 2014 RCV1000R was massively underpowered, and was getting blown away by the factory bikes along the straight. To remedy that situation, Honda offered the RC213V-RS, a cheaper version of the factory RC213V, but without the seamless transmission and using the spec electronics. That bike has also not been competitive, perhaps in part because it is a stripped down version of the original. "This bike was designed to use a seamless gearbox," Nicky Hayden explained last weekend. "You can't get the best out of it without one."
While the world of motorcycle racing is still buzzing with the outcome of the MotoGP race at Aragon, it is easy to overlook a couple of exciting and important races in the Moto2 and Moto3 classes. In both cases, the championship leaders came to Aragon with the chance to put one hand on the title, and in both cases, they leave Europe empty handed, having failed to capitalize on the opportunities which presented themselves. The races also provided a couple of extremely deserving winners capping great battles in both classes.
The Moto3 race turned out to be the thriller everyone expected. A modest (by Moto3 standards) group made the break, Miguel Oliveira taking the initiative and the lead. He was joined naturally enough by the two rivals for the title, Enea Bastianini trying to push forward as much as possible, Danny Kent keeping a wary eye on Bastianini. Brad Binder tagged along at the back, while a strong start from Romano Fenati took him from his usual poor qualifying position to the fight at the front. Efren Vazquez was in the fray, as were Niccolo Antonelli and Jorge Navarro, both looking very strong. Jorge Martin impressed in the group, putting the Mahindra right in among the leaders.
Danny Kent has finally made a decision on where he will be racing next year. Today, the Leopard Racing team announced that Kent is to remain with the team for 2016, and move up to Moto2. There, he will partner Miguel Oliveira aboard Kalex Moto2 machines.
Kent's decision had been a long time coming. Ducati had tried to tempt the Englishman to go straight to MotoGP, Kent already having spent a year in Moto2. Kent had first been linked with Pramac, but had lost that ride when it was taken by Scott Redding. Aspar had made a late play for Kent's signature, but on Saturday morning, Kent decided his best option was to stay with his current team and go back to Moto2.
Below is the press release from the Leopard Racing team:
LEOPARD RACING AND DANNY KENT TOGETHER IN MOTO2 IN 2016
Leopard Racing proudly announces to continue their collaboration with Danny Kent, though the Englishman will step up to Moto2 category from next season onwards.
After the announcement that Miguel Oliveira will take part in Leopard Racing’s Moto2 efforts next year, it is confirmed that Danny Kent will ride alongside the Portuguese rider in the team’s completely new challenge for the upcoming season. An equivalent agreement finally was reached at the Gran Premio de Aragón this weekend.
The last two races have followed a familiar pattern. On Friday and Saturday, Jorge Lorenzo has laid down a scorching pace, which his rivals – and more importantly, his teammate and rival for the 2015 MotoGP title, Valentino Rossi – have been unable to follow. Lorenzo's name was penciled onto the winner's trophy, and his grip on the MotoGP class looked secure.
Then on Sunday, everything changed. The weather gods intervened, rain lashed down at Silverstone, then started and stopped at Misano, throwing the race into disarray. Both times, Valentino Rossi handled the conditions better than Lorenzo, gaining big points in both races. At Silverstone, Rossi won comfortably, while Jorge Lorenzo struggled home in fourth. At Misano, Rossi rode a tactically poor race, but still managed to come home in fifth. Lorenzo got caught out by the pace of Scott Redding, failing to understand that the Marc VDS rider had already been out for several laps and had his tires up to temperature and his brain up to speed. The Movistar Yamaha rider tried to stay with Redding, and paid the price when he turned left after a long series of rights, crashing out and scoring zero points.
2015 Aragon MotoGP Thursday Round Up: Being Fastest vs Finishing First, And Advice For Young Riders From A Moto2 Champ
When different riders agree on a subject, it is worth listening. Summing up the 2015 championship, both Marc Márquez and Andrea Dovizioso independently came to the same conclusion. When asked in the press conference who was stronger, Valentino Rossi or Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Márquez explained that it wasn't as simple as that. "It's difficult to say," Márquez said. "If you ask me, I would say Jorge is faster because his speed is really good. On the other side, Valentino is doing his 100% and he always finishes in front these last two races."
Earlier in the day, Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso had been asked if he could become one of the wild cards which could help decide the championship. "In a normal situation, it's quite difficult. But not impossible," Dovizioso replied. But the championship was far from decided, Dovizioso went on to add. "I think that the points gap between Valentino and Lorenzo is quite big now, and Valentino is really good at managing the points. But I think Lorenzo has the speed to fight and to gain the points. Still there a lot of races left. I think he has the speed and is strong enough thinking about himself to try to win the race, and anything can happen."
Press release previews from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams:
From the coast to the high plains. From the hubbub of a string of seaside resorts along the Adriatic Riviera to the vast unspoiled mountains and hills of Baja Aragon. From the green and fertile Po basin to the arid olive groves and vineyards of the Maestrazgo. Contrasts don't get much greater than between Misano in Italy and Motorland Aragon in Spain.
The tracks, too, are very different. Misano is fairly slow, with a lot of tight first gear corners. Aragon is much faster, with some tighter sections, but a couple of seriously fast and flowing corners. Misano is pretty much flat as a pancake, where Aragon has its own version of Laguna Seca's Corkscrew, though not quite so precipitous, and a long, fast downhill back straight leading to a long double-apex left hander and a climb uphill to the finish.
The scenery may change, but the storyline in MotoGP remains the same. The championship remains a head-to-head battle between the Movistar Yamaha men, much as it has been since Le Mans. After Misano, the ball is very much back in Valentino Rossi's court, having extended his lead over Jorge Lorenzo to 23 points. He will need that cushion, as the championship now arrives at Aragon, a circuit where Lorenzo arrives as clear favorite, having had some strong results here in the past. Rossi, meanwhile, is at one of his worst tracks, Aragon being one of just two tracks where the Italian has never won, Austin being the other.
The Gresini Aprilia Racing team have finally confirmed what we have all known for some time. Stefan Bradl is to remain with the factory Aprilia team for 2016 alongside Alvaro Bautista, while Sam Lowes is to join Aprilia on a three-year deal, the first of which will be spent trying to win the Moto2 championship on a Kalex.
The signing of Bradl comes as no surprise. The German has done exceptionally well on the RS-GP since joining Aprilia at Indianapolis after the collapse of Forward Racing. At 25, and with experience on both the Honda RC213V and the Open class Yamaha, he provides an excellent basis for the ongoing development of Aprilia's new prototype MotoGP bike set to see its first outing on the track at Sepang next year. Bradl is in a prime position to be the rider Aprilia puts its faith in for the future.
Lowes, meanwhile, will spend another year in Moto2, trying to win the world championship. Lowes has excelled on the Speed Up, far outperforming any other rider on the chassis, having made good progression in his second year in the class. Lowes has the opportunity to become the first rider in history to win a championship in both Grand Prix and World Superbike racing, having already wrapped up the World Supersport title in 2013.
Press releases after Sunday's races at Misano:
Leopard Racing have confirmed that they will be moving up to Moto2 in 2016. Today, they announced the first of their signings for a two man team, with Miguel Oliveira moving up to make the switch to Moto2. It is believed that Danny Kent, currently leading the Moto3 championship, is also in the frame for the Moto2 seat at Leopard, but Kent is still eyeing a possible option in MotoGP. News is expected from Kent's camp early next week.
Below is the press release announcing Oliveira's signing:
LEOPARD RACING REACH AGREEMENT WITH MIGUEL OLIVEIRA FOR MOTO2
Leopard Racing proudly announces a contract signed with Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira to compete in Moto2 in 2016.
After just one year as new colourful entry in Grand Prix racing on world stage, Leopard Racing is to start a project in the highly competitive Moto2 category alongside to its Moto3 outfit. With Miguel Oliveira, a young and promising rider is signed for the 2016 campaign in the intermediate category of the FIM MotoGP™ World Championship. The agreement was finally reached during the weekend at the San Marino Grand Prix.
2015 Misano Saturday Round Up: The Prospect Of A Furious Fight, Mind Games Which Weren't, And Three Stop Strategies
Remember Brno? A scintillating qualifying left Jorge Lorenzo on pole, with Marc Márquez beside him and Valentino Rossi filling out the front row. Race pace for the three was very similar, and the fans were left with the mouthwatering prospect of a thrilling race on Sunday. They were disappointed. Jorge Lorenzo surged to the lead off the line, and shaking off Marc Márquez, disappeared into the distance, winning comfortably. The battle royal promised by free practice never materialized, and we were all left with a hollow feeling of disappointment, no matter how brilliant Lorenzo's victory was.
Hence my reluctance to play up the prospect of a good race at Misano. The ingredients are the same. The same three riders on the front row, in the same order. The same comparative strength in race pace, Lorenzo and Márquez very close – in this case, running several low 1'33s in FP4 – while Valentino Rossi a couple of tenths behind. The sort of gap he and his crew usually manage to find on Sunday morning, leading to the suspicion that what they find is Rossi's insatiable desire to race to win, a setting that has been known to be good for up to three quarters of a second a lap in the distant past. This has all the makings of a classic race, but that is no guarantee of that actually happening.
Valentino Rossi expressed the fears of everyone, except perhaps Jorge Lorenzo. "Usually at the beginning of the race Jorge is always very strong," he told the press conference. "Especially when he has this pace like in this weekend. For sure he will start and he will push from the first corner very strong. Usually also Marc is able to stay with him. So it’s crucial try to stay with them in the first laps. And after you can see what’s happen, if you are close. If you are already far it’s already finished." Dani Pedrosa, starting from fourth on the grid, saw something similar. "I think one of the keys is the beginning," he told us. "When [Lorenzo] puts his rhythm it is hard to do his style on the track, how he rides the bike is quite different. So when he has more free room to race, he is faster."
2015 Silverstone MotoGP Sunday Round Up: Controlling The Uncontrollable, And Championships Drawing Closer
The key to success in motorcycle racing is to control the variables which you can control, and adapt to the ones which you can't. The British round of MotoGP at Silverstone turned out to be all about those variables, the controllable and the uncontrollable, about right and wrong choices, and about adapting to the conditions.
The one variable over which those involved in motorcycle racing don't have any control is the weather. Especially at Silverstone, especially at the end of summer. That it should rain is utterly unsurprising. That it should rain during a MotoGP race even more so. The outcome of the MotoGP race – and in fact, the outcome of all three races at Silverstone – was entirely predictable: the rider who was both best prepared and best able to adapt to the conditions won. Behind the winners – Valentino Rossi, Johann Zarco and Danny Kent – came a mixture of those who adapted and those who didn't, those who had controlled the variables, and those who had overlooked some of the variables they could control.
Rain may have been predictable on Sunday, but the timing of the rain created an entirely unpredictable situation. The Moto2 race had started in the wet, the track drying after the rain eased off, wet tires getting chewed up as the laps reeled off. The MotoGP riders went to the grid on a track with a clear dry line, slick tires the right choice for the conditions, though there were a couple of corners where the riders had their doubts. Reports coming in to Race Direction from the marshal posts around the track said the track was dry, the fine drizzle falling not making an impact on the track. The driver of the safety car reported spotting on the windscreen during his lap of the circuit before the start of the warm up lap. Race Director Mike Webb declared a dry race with five minutes to go to the start, and with the keen sense of irony which the weather gods always seem to possess, that proved to be the signal for the rain to start getting heavier, especially around the southern end of the circuit.
2015 Silverstone MotoGP Friday Notes: Bumps & Wind, Marquez' Changed Style, And Rossi's Recurring Issue
Silverstone was Silverstone on Friday. It pulled its many underhand tricks out of its sleeve, and threw everything it had at the riders, with the exception of rain. Cool in the morning, warm and sunny in the afternoon, with occasional cloud cover to drop the track temperature. High winds, gusting in a few corners where it was trying to lift the bikes and throw them off line. And bumps galore, short ones, long ones, moved around the circuit since the last time the MotoGP riders were here, forcing them to recalibrate their memories, and pick new lines through the corners they thought they knew.
The ever eloquent Bradley Smith explained: "I’m not too worried about bumps coming from my motocross background it is not something I worry about, it might be something some of the other guys are more scared about, but it doesn’t really effect me. It does seem to be quite bad going into the first corner Copse it is quite bad still and there is a nasty one into Stowe at the end of Hanger Straight. Still the braking point at Vale chicane is still like rollers into there. And for Abbey that one is really, really bad there is one in the middle of the corner which always makes the front tuck."