How much does it cost to get into Grand Prix racing? If you need to ask, you probably can’t afford it
I assume Jack Miller’s post-Assen party is just about over now and that he’s back down the gym, pumping iron like a good lad.
Miller, like many other Aussie battlers before him, has the knack of burning the candle at both ends: working hard and playing hard. And you may have noticed that whenever he has a good day at work he likes to thank his parents for what they’ve done for him.
MotoGP Silly Season is nearly at an end. With the confirmation that both Jack Miller and Cal Crutchlow will be staying in their seats for 2017, the list of possibly vacant grid slots grew much shorter. Those that remain empty are growing ever closer to being filled, leaving only three seats open, and one seat still completely free. Time to take a look at the current state of play.
With the announcement that Aleix Espargaro would be joining Aprilia for two years, the last of the factory seats was filled. The factory rides filled up quickly in 2016, starting with Valentino Rossi and Bradley Smith at Qatar, and culminating eight races later at Assen with the signing of Espargaro. (The timing of the Aleix Espargaro/Aprilia announcement was peculiar to say the least. Making a major announcement that a rider had been signed to a factory rider – a signing everyone already knew about – on the Sunday night after one of the most remarkable MotoGP races in recent memory was guaranteed to achieve the absolute minimum of media coverage.)
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after Sunday's races at Assen:
Fantastic Victory for Nakagami at ‘Cathedral of Speed’
Rd08 Motul TT Assen : Sunday, June 26 2016
Ambient: 20℃:Track: 23℃
IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia rider Takaaki Nakagami made fantastic maiden victory today at historic Dutch TT race a.k.a. ‘Cathedral of Speed’.
We knew that the 86th edition of the Dutch TT at Assen was going to be historic. It was, after all, the first time the race was to be run on Sunday, after being run on Saturday since 1925. What we didn't know was that the day the race was held would end up being the least interesting historic fact about it. The record books will have plenty to say about Sunday's race at Assen.
There was some fascinating racing in all three classes, as is is so often the case at Assen. The Moto3 race saw a scintillating race decided at the line, the podium separated by less than four hundredths of a second. We had a return to something like the Moto2 of old, with a sizable group battling over the podium spots. And last but not least, we had a bizarre two-part MotoGP race, red-flagged, restarted, and with a mold-breaking winner. When we look back, the MotoGP race at Assen could well prove to be a pivotal point in the championship.
The red-flagged MotoGP race was down to the weather once again playing a starring role in the weekend. After rain on Saturday, Sunday started bright, though the track took time to warm up and dry out. Clouds rolled in and rolled back out again, as is their wont at Assen, occasionally spitting but not looking like they would cause major problems for any of the three classes. Until the last part of the Moto2 race, when the heavens finally opened and drenched the track. That race would be red-flagged, and it would not be the only one.
The Sky VR46 team have announced that they have signed Nicolo Bulega to a further two years. The Italian youngster is stay with the team for 2017 and 2018, spending 2017 racing in Moto3, with the possibility to move up to Moto2 with the team in 2018. The press release issued by the team is below:
NICOLÒ BULEGA SIGNS A TWO-YEAR CONTRACT WITH THE SKY RACING TEAM VR46
"I am not a very happy man," Tech 3 boss Hervé Poncharal told us on the Thursday before Barcelona. His problem? Attracting competitive riders to take the seats vacated by Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro. Their destination was emblematic of Poncharal's problem: at Barcelona, Espargaro announced he would be reunited with his Tech 3 teammate in the factory KTM team in 2017 and 2018.
So Poncharal found himself with the looming likelihood of fielding two rookies in 2017. The Tech 3 boss signed Jonas Folger back in Le Mans, while Johann Zarco is the prime candidate to fill the second Tech 3 seat. (Zarco is currently in Japan testing Suzuki's GSX-RR MotoGP machine. He is expected to sign with Tech 3 once Suzuki have announced they are signing Alex Rins to partner Andrea Iannone.)
The original hope was either to keep Pol Espargaro alongside Folger, to ensure consistency of results, or welcome Alex Rins into the fold on a factory Yamaha contract. Either way, it would ensure the publicity which is vital to keeping sponsors happy. Two rookies and no factory connections is a lot less appealing to the people who help provide the €8-€9 million it costs to run the Tech 3 team.
Testing continues for the KTM MotoGP project, this time with Mika Kallio and Randy De Puniet at Jerez. After the test, KTM issued the following press release:
Another KTM MotoGP Test at Jerez – Temperatures rises, times drop
MotoGP Test 2016 – Jerez (ESP)
In a timely coincidence, after announcing that Pol Espargaro has signed to ride for them for 2017 and 2018, KTM today issued a press release containing updates on their latest test at the Brno circuit, with Mika Kallio and Karel Abraham. The press release appears below:
Next MotoGP Test at Brno – Team pushing hard to progress
MotoGP Test 2016 – Brno (CZE)