Marc Marquez

Tom's Tech Treasures: Analyzing MotoGP Tech Updates At Qatar, Part 1

Thomas Morsellino is a French freelance journalist and photographer, with keen eye for the technical details of MotoGP bikes. You may have seen some of his work on Twitter, where he runs the @Off_Bikes account. Peter Bom is a world championship winning former crew chief, with a deep and abiding knowledge of every aspect of motorcycle racing. Peter has worked with such riders as Cal Crutchlow, Danny Kent, and Stefan Bradl. After every race, MotoMatters.com will be publishing a selection of Tom's photos of MotoGP bikes, together with extensive technical explanations of the details by Peter Bom. MotoMatters.com subscribers will get access to the full resolution photos, which they can download and study in detail, and all of Peter's technical explanations of the photos. Readers who do not support the site will be limited to the 800x600 resolution photos, and an explanation of two photos.


New Honda fairing (Crutchlow’s RC213V)
Peter Bom: With all the extra horsepower which Honda has this year, together with a different chassis (to take some of the load from the front tire), it would make sense that there could be another aero update as well. As a side note, Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna has hinted at protesting this particular fairing design.


Ducati GP19 front disc cover

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2019 Qatar MotoGP Race Round Up: From Masterful Management To Youthful Recklessness

For a place which 95% of the paddock hates going to, Qatar certainly knows how to make us want to come back. The area between Doha and the Losail International Circuit has been a mixture of noisy construction, omnipresent sand and dust, and an ever-changing and convoluted road system (the route to the track regularly and literally changing overnight) ever since I first went to a race there in 2009. But once at the circuit, the track layout serves up some of the best racing in the world.

Fittingly, the title sponsor for the Qatar round of MotoGP was VisitQatar, the Qatari tourist office aimed at stimulating inbound tourism to the Gulf peninsula. To be honest, the best thing VisitQatar could do to attract visitors to the country is just play all three of Sunday's races on a loop. In the Moto3 race, the first eleven riders all finished within a second. The first five riders in MotoGP finished within six tenths of a second. And the winning margin in all three races was five hundredths of a second or less. These were races decided by the width of a wheel, the winner in doubt all the way to the line.

The MotoGP race was a thrilling affair, a close race from start to finish, with wild passes as far as the eye can see. Riders jockeyed for position, vying to make their contesting strategies pay off. Yet it still left some fans feeling empty, with the impression that they were being cheated of an even better race if the riders has been willing and able to go flat out as soon as the lights went out all the way to the end.

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2019 Qatar MotoGP Friday Round Up: Explaining New Tech, Viñales' New Crew, And Not Moving The Race Start

And so hope and expectation meet reality. On Friday, we could stop fantasizing about just how good this season might be, and see for ourselves just how close the field is in the premier class. Well, how close it is outside Marc Márquez' insane record-crushing lap in FP2, made following Maverick Viñales around and using him as a target. It may only be Friday, but Márquez beat Johann Zarco's pole-setting lap record from last year by three tenths of a second. And they will only be going faster again tomorrow.

Any concerns that Marc Márquez might ease himself back into MotoGP, nursing the shoulder he had operated on last year until it was back at 100%, were laid to rest. "No, I ride full attack. I am riding full attack, I am pushing," Márquez said.

Viñales, who knew that Márquez had been following him when he made his fastest time, joked about it being a magnanimous gesture towards a weakened rival. "Yeah, I knew he was there, but I know he is injured, so I tried to help him a little bit... " the Monster Energy Yamaha rider joked. "Maybe I helped him too much! But it was important to see where our competitors are, so at the moment, we have to put the head down and work, work, work. They are ahead at the moment, some tenths ahead, so we need to keep working really hard."

From development to practice

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Crunching The Numbers: Is Marc Marquez Really Risking His Career By Crashing So Much?

Marc Marquez coming over the hill at Mugello in 2018

On October 21st, 2018, at Motegi, Marc Márquez wrapped up his fifth MotoGP title in six seasons, with three races to spare. He did so despite having suffered his 18th crash of the season so far during FP4, the front washing out as he released the brakes in Turn 7. He led the MotoGP class in crashes at Motegi, and would continue to do so through the final race in Valencia, amassing a grand total of 23 crashes at official events throughout the 2018 season.

He had gone one better in 2018 than he had the year before, finishing second to Sam Lowes in 2017, ending up with 27 crashes to Lowes' 31. In 2016, he was a lowly third in the crash rankings, ending the season with 17 falls, behind Cal Crutchlow and Jack Miller with 26 and 25 crashes respectively.

That propensity to crash has caused many people to question just how long Márquez can keep taking the risks that he does. Former triple world champion Wayne Rainey, in a recent interview with Motorsport.com's Gerald Dirnbeck, voices a concern felt by many. "If Marquez falls down over 20 times again next year, maybe Marquez beats himself," Rainey said. "When you are off your bike, sliding across the grass at 200km/h, maybe you're OK for the first two meters, but then if you start flipping across the track, anything can happen. I'm hoping Marquez can find a way to be more consistent. He needs to stay on his bike more. It's not very healthy to make mistakes like that."

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Interviewing Honda's Bosses: On The Triple Crown, Spec IMUs, Signing Lorenzo, Moto3, And WorldSBK

The following is an interview which leading Japanese MotoGP journalist and friend of MotoMatters.com Akira Nishimura conducted with the heads of Honda's racing program Tetsuhiro Kuwata, and Shinya Wakabayashi. Nishimura conducted the interviews in Japanese, and translated them into impeccable English. I then edited them in English for style. Any inaccuracies or errors are therefore mine. - David Emmett

In 2018, Honda secured the triple crown, with Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez winning his third consecutive MotoGP title, bringing his total to five, Honda winning the constructors title, and the Repsol Honda team wrapping up the team championship. Everybody thought it was a perfect season for Honda, but what was the reality for them? At the beginning of January, we visited the HRC laboratory in Asaka, Saitama Prefecture and spoke to Tetsuhiro Kuwata, General Manager of Racing Operations Management Division and Shinya Wakabayashi, the boss of Technology Development Division for 90 minutes on how they saw Honda's 2018 season, and what they expect for 2019.

Q: In 2018, you won the triple crown again. Do you think it was a perfect season for Honda?

Kuwata: Not at all! Because the battle between manufacturers was very intense, like always. In 2017, we fought for the championship until Valencia, so when you compare this year to that, maybe you think 2018 was perfect for us. But it was not the case because our competitors were always very strong. We tried to pull away from them, but it was just impossible. To be honest, it was a very tough season, like in 2017.

Wakabayashi: After the middle of the season, we had an advantage in some points, but we also had a disadvantage in other points. We tried to improve our weak points to catch up with our competitors, but it was difficult to reduce the gap.

Q: What was the advantage and disadvantage you had?

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2019 Qatar MotoGP Test Sunday Notes: Rins Rocks It, Quartararo Surprises, Yamaha's Dilemma, And The End Of Testing Is Nigh

The Qatar MotoGP test is turning out to be more intriguing than we dared hope. The track in the desert is a very different beast to the tropical Sepang, and throws up different challenges. That produces different winners and different losers. And that leaves us, the neutral observers, with much to chew on.

Some of the names at the top of the timesheets are the same: Alex Rins and Maverick Viñales have been fast all preseason, and the second day at Qatar was no exception. But seeing Fabio Quartararo in third is quite a surprise; at Sepang, the Petronas SRT Yamaha rider was way down in sixteenth, 1.2 seconds off the pace at the front.

Quartararo's secret? "Today has been the first time that when I put the new tire in, I disconnected my brain to say, OK, now it's time to make a time attack," he joked. So disconnected was his brain that he didn't even realize just how fast he was going. "The first lap time I made was a 1'55.0, and I didn't realize it was a 1'55.0. I thought it was a 1'56.0, and I said, 'I need to be faster!' The next lap, I made a 1'54, so the lap before was a 1'55!" He was happy that it was three quick laps in a row, proving that it wasn't just luck.

It is interesting to compare the fortunes of Quartararo and Pecco Bagnaia. At Sepang, Bagnaia was the rookie making all the waves, while Quartararo languished down the field. At Qatar, the roles are reversed, with Quartararo third, and Bagnaia down in fifteenth, over a second back.

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2019 Sepang MotoGP Test Thursday Round Up: Ducati's Trick Parts, Yamaha's Revival, Suzuki's Speed, And KTM On The Right Road?

For fans of technological innovation, the first day of the Sepang MotoGP test had been something of a disappointment. There were very few clearly visible upgrades to the bikes on display on Wednesday, teams using the first day to get themselves accustomed, and focus on checking the engine choices made back at the November tests. There were one or two things going on, but they weren't obviously visible to casual fans.

Thursday was a much better day for MotoGP tech nerds. New parts started to appear, as factories started working their way through the list of parts they have prepared for the 2019 season. Suzuki debuted a new fairing, with a more Yamaha-like aero package, with wider wing surfaces and a slimmer side section.

Alex Rins was positive about the new fairing. "It gave me more support on the front, less wheelie, which is important for the speed. We are faster on the straight because of the fairing – it’s more aerodynamic. The front wheel is more on the floor." That was borne out by his lap times, the Spaniard finishing with the second fastest time of the day, and the second highest number of laps in 1'59, including a run of four in a row. This was pace, rather than just a single quick lap.

Hitting the holeshot

All eyes were on Ducati, however, as a mystery lever appeared on the top of the Desmosedici GP19's (and only the GP19) top triple clamp:

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