Press releases from the factories and teams after the first MotoGP test of 2019 at Sepang:
Jorge Lorenzo has had successful surgery to fix his fractured scaphoid, but the surgery means he will miss the Sepang test. The Spaniard had a titanium screw inserted to hold the broken scaphoid together, but the recovery period needed means he will not be fully fit in time for the start of the Sepang test, and Repsol Honda and Lorenzo have decided to skip Sepang and focus on the Qatar test at the end of February.
Despite the surgery, Lorenzo will be present at the launch of the Repsol Honda team in Madrid, to be held on Wednesday, 23rd January.
Lorenzo's accident puts Honda in a difficult situation for Sepang. Marc Marquez is still recovering from major surgery on his left shoulder, to fix a chronic problem of dislocation. Though Marquez' recovery continues apace, he is far from full fitness, and has not been able to train the way he normally would. Cal Crutchlow is still recovering from a massive ankle injury which he suffered at the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island last year. Though he is cycling, he still has some pain while walking, and so his condition is far from 100% for the test.
And the winner is... Takaaki Nakagami! Or at least the LCR Honda rider's name sit atop the timesheets at the end of the final day of the final MotoGP test of 2018. Which both counts for a lot, and counts for very little at the same time. The fact that Nakagami was able to do the time is proof that the 2018 Honda RC213V is a much better bike than the 2017 version which the Japanese rider spent last season on – see also the immediate speed of Franco Morbidelli, now he is on the Petronas Yamaha rather than the Marc VDS Honda. It was also proof that Nakagami – riding Cal Crutchlow's bike at Jerez – is a much better rider than his results on the 2017 bike suggest. And puts into perspective that this was the bike which Marc Márquez won the 2017 MotoGP title on.
But it also doesn't really mean very much. Testing is just testing, and the riders don't necessarily have either the inclination or the tire allocation to go chasing a quick lap time the way they do on a race weekend. Nobody wants to risk it all just to prove a point and get injured just before they go into the winter break. And with the top 15 within a second of one another, and the top 7 within a quarter of a second, the differences are pretty meaningless anyway.
The trouble with post-season testing is that it takes place after the season is over. That is a problem, because the season runs well into November, so any testing after that is nearer to December than it is to October. And wherever you go inside of Europe to test, you will never get a full day's testing done, even with the best of weather.
So it came as no surprise that when the track opened at 9:30am on Wednesday morning for the first day of a two-day test, nothing happened. Or that nothing continued to happen for another couple of hours, as we waited for track temperatures to break the 20°C barrier, and make it warm enough to generate useful feedback. It is a perennial issue with no easy answers. Finding a warm, affordable track is tough this time of year.
The good news was that once the track had warmed up, we had ideal conditions for testing. Dry, sunny, warm if you were standing in the sun, though not quite so much if you were in the shade. Despite the fact that so much time was lost to the cold, the riders ended up with a lot of laps completed, and a lot of work done.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Michelin after the Malaysian Grand Prix:
Press releases from some of the MotoGP teams and factories ahead of this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang:
With the announcement that Takaaki Nakagami has signed for an extra year with the Idemitsu LCR Honda squad, the 2019 MotoGP grid is almost finalized. Nakagami's signing brings the total of confirmed riders up to 21 of the total of 22 entries.
The only rider left to be confirmed officially is Tito Rabat. The Spaniard's serious leg injury, sustained at Silverstone, has caused a delay, with his contract extension expected to have already come earlier. There is no doubt that Rabat will get the final seat, though it will probably have to wait until he is fit enough to return again.
Below is the official line up for 2019:
The LCR Honda team today announced they have agreed to extend their contract with Takaaki Nakagami through the 2019 season. The Japanese rider will continue to race a satellite spec Honda RC213V with the Idemitsu-backed part of the Italian team alongside Cal Crutchlow.
The anouncement was widely expected, as Nakagami has had a solid rookie season, and done more than enough to earn an added year. Honda are keen to support a Japanese rider in MotoGP, as are Dorna, and Japanese lubricant firm Idemitsu are happy to help back that side of the garage.
Nakagami's signing brings the total up to 21 riders who have now signed a MotoGP contract for 2019. The only rider left to be confirmed is Tito Rabat, who is expected to continue with the Avintia Ducati team.
Below is the press release from the LCR Honda team:
TAKAAKI NAKAGAMI TO CONTINUE WITH LCR HONDA IDEMITSU IN 2019
PRESS RELEASE: 16 October 2018 | Official Announcement
On the eve of the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi, the LCR Honda IDEMITSU MotoGP Team is delighted to announce that Takaaki Nakagami has extended his contract with Honda HRC for 2019 season. The 26-year-old born in Chiba will again ride the Honda RC213V thus completing HRC 2019 line-up for next year MotoGP World Championship.