MotoGP

2019 Qatar MotoGP Test Saturday Notes: Half A Test, New Parts, And New Penalties

The Qatar MotoGP test is really only half a test. Taking place just two weeks before the first race of 2019 at this very same track, factories are caught between testing and reevaluating new parts and looking for the right setup for the race. And with the test running from 4pm local time until 10pm, the first two hours, the track is too warm, heated by the setting sun, and too cold and potentially damp in the final hour, as temperatures drop perilously close to the dew point. Of the six hours the track is open, only three actually approach the conditions during the race and qualifying.

That means it's imperative that the factories get most of their work done at Sepang, bringing parts to Qatar more to verify the findings at Sepang, rather than actually run through a major testing program. There is one major exception to this rule: aerodynamics. With just under two weeks to go to the race, Qatar is the place where aerodynamics have to be finalized. No factory can risk bringing brand new aero to the first race, when they have to homologate a fairing.

There was some new aero on display on the first day of the Qatar test. Aprilia unveiled their 2019 livery – good news, it looks like an Aprilia, and is consequently gorgeous – and also a new set of wings, looking for all the world like Ducati's most recent effort.

Scoop!

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2019 Qatar MotoGP Test Saturday Final Times: Viñales And Rins Hold A Clear Lead Over The Field

Maverick Viñales has ended the first day of the Qatar MotoGP test at the top of the timesheets. The Monster Energy Yamaha rider put in a lap close to the race lap record towards the end of the test, narrowly missing out on a lap of 1'54. Suzuki Ecstar's Alex Rins ended in second, a tenth behind Viñales, the Spaniard having tried out a new exhaust system with twin tailpipes, which seemed to be a success.

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2019 Qatar MotoGP Test Saturday 8pm Times: Ducatis Fastest As Pace Picks Up

Times are starting to drop as the track cleans up after last night's rain at Qatar, and as the MotoGP riders get back up to speed. Andrea Dovizioso leads his Ducati teammate Danilo Petrucci, both men well into the mid 1'55s, pretty close to race pace. Alex Rins is currently third quickest, the Suzuki Ecstar rider having tested a new exhaust, with two tailpipe emerging from the fairing lower. 

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2019 Qatar MotoGP Test Saturday 6-m Times: Petrucci Leads As Testing Returns

Testing is underway for the final MotoGP preseason test at Qatar, with Jorge Lorenzo returning to action after his scaphoid injury to make the field complete. The test got off to a slow start, most riders waiting until the sun went down before taking to the track. That left the track largely empty between 4pm and 5pm.

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Indonesia To Host Both MotoGP And WorldSBK From 2021

Indonesia is to get a round of MotoGP and WorldSBK from 2021. Confirmation of the news came faster than we expected yesterday, as Dorna issued two press releases on Saturday, announcing that both World Championship series it manages will race at the new circuit to be built at Mandalika in Lombok.

That MotoGP would race there is not a surprise, but that WorldSBK would also visit had not been much talked about. But this follows the same pattern as the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand, where WorldSBK was sent to the track first as a trial run, before MotoGP went to race there. The agreement announced by Dorna envisages both series going in the same year, starting in 2021.

The races are to be held at a circuit to be built inside a giant tourist resort on the south coast of the island of Lombok. The track will run on what are ostensibly the public roads inside the resort, but the roads will be laid out with a circuit in mind, making this nothing like traditional street circuits like Macau or the Isle of Man. Run off should not be an issue, and the rest of the circuit facilities are due to be built inside the resort. The Mandalika resort is a project of the Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation, which is looking to expand tourism to Lombok, as tourism on Bali is starting to approach its natural limits.

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Indonesian Round Of MotoGP Draws Closer: 2021 Target Date For First Race

The chances of Indonesia finally hosting a round of MotoGP have grown over the past few days. On Wednesday, CNN Indonesia reported that a deal has been agreed with Dorna to host MotoGP in the country for three years, starting in 2021. MotoMatters.com has learned that an announcement of the deal could come within the next few days. 

Abdulbar M. Mansoer, Managing Director of Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), told CNN Indonesia that they have signed a deal with Dorna to host MotoGP. The deal will see races held on a circuit based on the streets around a private tourist resort of Mandalika Beach, part of the Mandalika Resort Area currently being developed by the ITDC on the island of Lombok. 

The deal has been on the cards for some time, and received a boost last year when Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta visited Bali and met with senior figures in the ITDC before the Sepang round of MotoGP. Initially, it had been hoped that a circuit would be ready for 2020, but the earthquake which devastated the north of Lombok last year put the project back. The objective is now to host a race in 2021.

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Editor's Blog: Valentino Rossi, MotoGP's First Rockstar, At 40

I do not make a habit of marking the birthdays of motorcycle racers, but Valentino Rossi's 40th is worthy of an exception to my self-imposed rule. His 40th birthday is clearly a milestone, though any birthday can hardly be regarded as an achievement. To reach his 40th birthday, all Rossi had to do was keep living.

But of course, the fuss being made of Valentino Rossi's 40th birthday is not because of the age he has reached. It is because he reaches the age of 40 a few months after having finished third in the 2018 MotoGP championship, racking up five podiums and a pole position along the way. It is because the media, his fans, and Rossi himself regard that as a disappointing season.

It is because he enters his 24th season of Grand Prix racing, and his 20th in the premier class, the first year of a two-year contract which will see him racing until the age of 41 at least. It is because he is one of the leading favorites to wrestle the MotoGP crown from reigning champion Marc Márquez (15 years younger), along with Jorge Lorenzo (9 years younger), Andrea Dovizioso (8 years younger), Maverick Viñales (16 years younger).

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Rossi at 40: so many memories

Recounting memories of Valentino Rossi, who turns 40 on Saturday

Valentino Rossi celebrates his 40th birthday on Saturday, hoping against hope to become the first forty-something to win a world title since the 1950s, when grand prix racing was ruled by older riders who’d had their careers interrupted by the Second World War.

To give you some idea of Rossi’s advancing years, Britain had its first £1million footballer in February 1979, when Trevor Francis signed to Nottingham Forest. When he won his first grand prix in August 1996 the Spice Girls were number one.

The big four-oh isn’t the only major life landmark that Rossi reaches this year, because three weeks later, on 10th March, he commences his 24th world championship season. Only two riders have got close to that, Aussie great Jack Findlay, who raced 20 and a bit seasons from 1958 to 1978 and Brazilian Alex Barros, who raced 22 seasons from 1986 to 2007, having lied about his age to get his first grand prix licence to race in the 50cc class.

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Motorcycle Racing Is A Profitable Investment: Bridgepoint Sells Dorna To Itself

Motorcycle racing is a profitable business, it turns out. The leading UK financial paper Financial Times reported yesterday that Bridgepoint Capital, the private equity firm which owns Dorna, among many other assets, has hit upon a relatively novel way of paying out investors, by transferring the roughly 40% of Dorna which it owns between one Bridgepoint fund and another. 

The proposed sale is a result of a review carried out by merchant bankers Lazard at the end of last year, with the aim of fixing a value and finding potential buyers. According to the FT, several private equity firms expressed an interesting in buying Bridgepoint's stake, including former owners CVC. 

That sale is now off the table, it appears. Instead of selling Dorna to an outside party, Bridgepoint is now investigating setting up a separate, internal fund and moving it from one fund to another, paying its investors from the transfer between the two funds. The sale allows Bridgepoint to pay out Dorna's increased value to investors who put their money into the fund Bridgepoint set up to hold Dorna in 2008, after it had performed a similar maneuver between 2006 and 2008.

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