The Moto2 and Moto3 teams issued the following press releases after their private test at Valencia. It being a private test, they also sprinkled their press releases liberally with video:
The final day of testing for the Moto2 and Moto3 teams at Valencia took place under significantly better weather conditions than the first day did, with no time lost to rain.
In the Moto2 class, Johann Zarco continued unopposed, lapping on a soft tire half a second under Pol Espargaro's pole record from 2013. Zarco was focused on suspension set up for the 2016 Kalex, working primarily with the harder tire, but still managed a record lap on the softer rubber. Jonas Folger ended the day in second, half a second off the pace of Zarco, also on a soft tire, while Xavi Vierge put in an impressive time on the Tech 3 machine, which has received a major update for the 2016 season.
Miguel Oliveira beat his Leopard Racing teammate Danny Kent on Friday, the Portuguese rider making a big step forward, while Kent suffered a fast crash between turns 7 and 8, the front washing out at 200 km/h, according to his crew chief Peter Bom. Kent was lucky to walk away largely unhurt, with only a some minor pain in his arm as a reminder.
Testing season is picking up now, with the Moto2 and Moto3 teams also taking to the track in greater numbers. Today, a large group of teams gathered at the Valencia circuit to prepare for the 2016 season, including some twenty Moto3 riders and eight Moto2 riders. The weather was far from ideal, with rain calling an early halt to proceedings, but the teams and riders still got in an average of forty laps apiece.
Though it was only one day, the times set - unofficial, reported by the teams to circuit staff, and therefore not entirely reliable - were reasonably fast. Outside of fastest man Johann Zarco in Moto2, the times were about a second off lap record. 2015 Moto2 champion Zarco was in a league of his own, nine tenths quicker than the rest of the pack. In the Moto3 class, it was another preseason favorite heading up the timesheets, Brad Binder setting the fastest time, though only by a narrow margin.
Behind the favorites, what impressed was the speed of the rookies. In Moto2, Danny Kent - more of a returnee than a rookie - was second fastest, level with former race winner and regular contender Jonas Folger, and four tenths quicker than Sandro Cortese. Kent's teammate Miguel Oliveira is taking longer getting up to speed, finishing nine tenths behind Kent, and 1.8 seconds behind Zarco.
The FIM have today at last finalized the 2016 MotoGP calendar. The two circuits which were still subject to contract, Brno and Jerez, have now had their contracts confirmed. The calendar is unchanged from the provisional calendar published between Sepang and Valencia last year.
FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix
2016 Calendar, 10 February
The FIM and Dorna are pleased to confirm that the FIM Grand Prix World Championship calendar published as provisional on November 2 is now final.
The Leopard Racing team issued the following press releases after the first test of their Moto2 and Moto3 teams at Barcelona:
It is no secret that Dorna and the manufacturers active in MotoGP are keen to stage a race in Indonesia. The sport enjoys unrivaled popularity in the Southeast Asian country, and as one of the biggest markets for scooters and small capacity motorcycles in the world, Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki are desperate to race there. The burgeoning middle class in Indonesia also make it a key target market for European manufacturers such as Ducati, who have seen their sales explode in the region, albeit from a very small base.
Throughout 2015, Dorna officials met with senior figures in Indonesia, including the Minister for Youth and Sports, Imam Nahrawi, and the CEO of the Sentul Circuit Tinton Soeprapto, in an attempt to hammer out an agreement. So far, Dorna have a letter of intent signed by the Minister, and a preliminary deal which would see the race staged in Indonesia for three years, starting in 2017.
The Circuit of Wales is edging ever closer to becoming a reality. BBC Wales is reporting that UK insurance giant Aviva will be backing the Circuit of Wales project, and providing funds to allow building work on the track near Ebbw Vale in South Wales to start. Construction will take some time, however, and Silverstone will continue to host the British round of MotoGP for the 2016 and 2017 seasons, the race only moving to the Circuit of Wales from 2018 onwards.
The news that Aviva is to provide financial backing for the Circuit of Wales still leaves many questions unanswered. It is not clear from the reports by BBC Wales exactly how much money Aviva will be putting into the track. The circuit needs £300 million in private investment, on top of roughly £30 million in public funding in the form of loans. Whether Aviva will be providing the full £300 million for the Circuit of Wales, or sufficient seed money for building work to start is unclear.
Race Direction is to be altered in the wake of the clash in Sepang between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez. A proposal to split the responsibilities of Race Direction is to be adopted at the next meeting of the Grand Prix Commission to be held on Thursday.
The proposal will see the responsibility for disciplinary matters removed from the current four members of Race Direction, and placed in the hands of a separate panel of stewards. Race Direction will continue to be in charge of all aspects of running the race, including marshalling and safety, but incidents between riders will be investigated by the new panel. They will be charged with judging all incidents of unfair play, and especially of violations of rule 1.21.2, which mandates responsible behavior by the riders on track.
Exactly who will be in the panel is unclear at the moment, but the aim is not to have any Dorna staff in it. The fact that Javier Alonso, a senior executive of Dorna and one of the inner circle at the heart of the company, sits in Race Direction has occasionally been a concern from some of the manufacturers, with accusations of bias surfacing on occasion.
Dear Next Big Thing:
So you made it into Moto3. Well done. That feat alone makes you one of the most talented motorcycle racers on the planet. You may think that the hardest part of the battle is behind you. You would be wrong. You have your foot on the bottom rung of the ladder to MotoGP stardom. It is a rickety old thing, slick with grease, littered with broken rungs and what look like short cuts and easier routes.
Before you embark on your Grand Prix adventure (and what an adventure it is!) some words of advice from someone who has been in the paddock long enough to have his illusions shattered.
1. You will get nowhere on talent alone
The fact that you are in Moto3 means that your talent is not in question. To get here, you will have beaten the kids your own age, simply by being better at racing a motorcycle than them. That is already an impressive achievement.
The trouble is, Moto3 is full of kids who have all done the same. They have come up through the same system, beat the same kids, towered head and shoulders above their contemporaries. They are at least as good as you are, and some of them will now have a couple of years of experience on you. Getting into the Grand Prix paddock is 90% talent. From here on in, you can't rely on just talent any longer.
So how do you beat a rider who is just as talented as you are? You work on the details which make a difference. Switch your focus from talent to preparation, from being fitter and stronger than the riders you face. The fitter you are, the less quickly you tire. The less quickly you tire, the easier it is to concentrate as the race goes on. You need to be able to sustain your body at or above your anaerobic threshold for 45 minutes. If you can't do that, then the equally talented kid who is fitter than you will beat you in the last five laps.
The future of the Brno round of MotoGP has been secured for the foreseeable future. On Monday, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta signed a contract with the "Spolek pro GP ČR v Brno", an association set up to promote the Czech Grand Prix, to host the race at the Masarykring in Brno from 2016 until 2020.
MotoGP at Brno has been shrouded in doubt for the past few years. An ongoing dispute between the Masarykring circuit, or Automotodrom Brno, and regional authorities left the circuit in debt to Dorna after failing to pay the sanctioning fee demanded. The circuit owner Karel Abraham Sr. and Ivana Ulmanova, the circuit manager, were caught in a power struggle with the city council of Brno and Michal Hašek, the president of the South Moravia region. Dorna had threatened to take the race off the calendar unless all of the monies owed to the circuit were paid, and a long-term solution was found to prevent further problems.
The Massive 2016 MotoGP Rule Update: A Single Class With Concessions, Back Protectors Now Compulsory
With major changes to the technical regulations for MotoGP in 2016, it has taken some time for the FIM to produce a new and revised version of the rulebook. The first provisional version was made available today, the new rules bringing together all of the new rules agreed over the past few years into a single set of regulations. Most of the new rules have already been written about during the year, but putting them into a single rulebook helped clarify them greatly.
The biggest changes are to the technical regulations. The abolition of the Open class means everyone is back on a single set of rules. Or rather, nearly everyone. There are still two types of manufacturers: manufacturers subject to the standard rules, and manufacturers who have not yet had sufficient success, and therefore have been granted a number of concessions. Those concessions are more limited than the Open class, though, and relate now only to testing and to engine development. Everyone will have the same amount of fuel, the same tire allocation, and everyone will use the same electronics, the spec hardware and the unified software.
Though many fans are disappointed that there isn't just a single set of rules, the concessions which remain are absolutely vital to the long-term health of the series. With Honda, Yamaha, and since last year, Ducati, all subject to a freeze on engine development and limited testing, Suzuki and Aprilia (and KTM, when they join the series in 2017) stand a chance of cutting the gap to the more successful factories. Without concessions, the smaller factories wouldn't stand a chance of catching the others, especially not a factory with almost limitless resources like Honda. Indeed, without the concessions granted to Ducati, there is a very good chance the Italian factory would have left MotoGP in 2014, after three long years without results. The previous era, when the factories all competed under a single set of rules, ended up with just 17 bikes on the grid, and manufacturers showing more interest in leaving MotoGP than in joining. That situation has been completely reversed.
The Grand Prix Commission, MotoGP's rule-making body, met last week to make a few minor updates to the rules for MotoGP in 2016. The two biggest changes to the rules relate to the two biggest changes to the series for next year: the change of tire suppliers and the switch to spec electronics.
The change that will most please the fans will be the official end of the Open class. All references to both the Open and Factory classes are to be removed from the regulations, as the switch to spec electronics, all teams running both the standard Magneti Marelli hardware and official Dorna unified software, mean there is only one class in MotoGP again. This does not mean that all factories are equal, however. Special concessions remain for factories which have not won a race and have not yet accrued six concession points (based on podium positions). Manufacturers with concessions will be allowed to use nine engines for a season instead of seven engines, they will be allowed unlimited testing with factory riders instead of test riders, and engine development will not be frozen.
Those concessions are likely to stay in place for the foreseeable future. The aim of the concessions is to slow the rate of progress of the successful factories to give newcomers and less successful factories a chance to keep up. The progress Ducati have made in 2015 has confirmed to the series organizers that this is a successful policy, and will be continued.
MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Analysing MotoGP's crash stats
Call me sick and twisted, but I’ve been enjoying my favourite document of the year: the MotoGP crash report. This isn’t because I like to spend the winter hibernating beneath a cosy blanket of schadenfreude, but because the crash list tells you a great deal about what went on during the season.
If victory is the ultimate good for a rider, then crashing is the ultimate bad. No-one has ever explained this better than former 500 GP winner and World Superbike champion Carlos Checa.
A few Moto2 and Moto3 riders stayed on for a final day of testing at Jerez on Friday, using the clear skies and good weather to put in a few more laps ahead of the 2016 season. Sam Lowes topped the timesheets on the final day of testing, though his advantage over Taka Nakagami was just a few hundredths of a second. Danny Kent made major steps forward on his second day on the Kalex Moto2 bike, getting within a quarter of his fellow countryman Lowes, and ahead of Moto2 veteran Luis Salom. Moto2 rookie Miguel Oliveira was over a second slower than his teammate, but still made good progress in his adaptation.
Lowes' time was impressive, but he still could not match the time set by Alex Rins on Thursday, Lowes coming up just under a tenth of a second short.
Times at the end of Friday from Jerez: