MotoGP

2016 Aprilia RS-GP Gets First Shakedown At Aragon

With Ducati refining the already competitive GP15 into the Desmo16, and Suzuki bringing a seamless gearbox and new, more powerful engine for the GSX-RR, the battle among the manufacturers in MotoGP is getting closer. The one exception so far has been Aprilia, who soldiered on through 2015 with an uprated version of the ART machine, which was still based on the RSV4 production bike, while they worked on a brand new prototype.

That prototype has at last made its debut at the track. On Wednesday, Aprilia test rider Mike Di Meglio took the 2016 Aprilia RS-GP out for its first official spin. Di Meglio was performing a basic shakedown test, making sure that everything worked and there were no unexpected problems with the bike, giving Aprilia time to address them before factory Aprilia riders Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl get their first chance to ride the bike at a private test at Qatar, two weeks before the official IRTA test at the circuit. 

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The Easy Rider in Valentino Rossi

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.


The Easy Rider in Valentino Rossi

The nine-time champion hasn’t just changed his riding style to stay on top; he’s changed his whole lifestyle

I watched Easy Rider on the plane home from Sepang and thought about Valentino Rossi. There’s more than a tenuous link here, honest. Rossi would do almost anything to have been born thirty years earlier, so he could’ve been racing and generally having a good time in that wildest, most excessive of eras.

2016 MotoGP Calendar Finalized

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.

MotoGP in Indonesia - Probably Delayed Until 2018, Probably Not at Sentul

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.

Funding Appears for Circuit of Wales - MotoGP at Track from 2018

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. 

Marquez' Management Company Confirms Official Split With VR46 Merchandising

As we reported back in January, Marc Marquez has ended his agreement with Valentino Rossi's VR46 Racing Apparel company to produce and sell merchandising for the Spaniard and his younger brother. Today, official confirmation came in the form of a press release from his management company, Alzamora Communications. The agreement with VR46 RAcing Apparel has been officially terminated.

The ending of the contract is part of the fallout from the incident between Marquez and Rossi at Sepang, in October last year. That episode effectively destroyed any relationship that existed between the two riders, though it had been gradually deteriorating throughout the 2015 season. Rossi's accusations, both after Sepang and especially after Valencia, caused Marquez to lose any faith he may have had in Rossi, and made him decide to sever all business ties with Rossi and those linked to him. In addition to the merchandising deal, Marquez will also be ending his association with GP Rooms, the room rental business run by the Nieto family, after Marquez felt that they had taken sides against him.

The press release from Marquez' management company is below:


PRESS RELEASE

Barcelona, 8th February 2016

MotoGP Rules Update: Stewards Disciplinary Panel Confirmed, Tire Pressure Sensors Mandatory

As we reported on Tuesday, changes are to be made to Race Direction. At a meeting in Geneva on Thursday, the Grand Prix Commission decided to change the way disciplinary matters are handled by Race Direction. For this season, a separate body is to be set up to handle all incidents on track requiring disciplinary action. These issues have been handled by Race Direction until now, but the incident at Sepang between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez led to calls for such decisions to be taken away from Race Direction, to allow quicker decisions to be made.

From the start of the 2016 season, all disciplinary matters will be dealt with by a separate panel, consisting of three people. One of those will be Mike Webb, who as MotoGP Race Director is ultimately responsible for all aspects of the MotoGP race. Mike Webb will be joined by two stewards appointed by the FIM. Those stewards have yet to be appointed, and the press release issued by the FIM does not make clear whether the stewards will be appointed permanently, for a full season, or for each race individually. In the case of an incident which needs to be investigated by the panel of stewards, Mike Webb will hand over his duties as Race Director to a newly appointed deputy, Graham Webber.

Casey Stoner's Ducati MotoGP Test - Your Questions Answered

The return of Casey Stoner to Ducati as a test rider has raised more questions than it answered. Fans and media alike are in a state of confusion about his intentions, especially given the times he was setting on the Ducati Desmosedici GP15. What was he doing? Will he race again? When will he test again? To try to put this test and Stoner's role into perspective, here is what we know, what we think we know, and what we don't.

What was Stoner riding?

Casey Stoner spent all three days on the Ducati Desmosedici GP15. He did not test the GP16.

If he's a test rider, why didn't he test the GP16?

A lot of reasons. The GP16 is a brand new bike, and there aren't that many of them yet, so Ducati can't afford to have a test rider destroy one if they crash. The GP16 is not that different to the GP15, so there was plenty for Stoner to test which is transferable to the GP16. Stoner hadn't ridden a MotoGP bike in a year, and hadn't ridden a Ducati since 2010. He hadn't ridden Michelins since 2006, and MotoGP is now using a spec software. For this test, Stoner's aim was to get up to speed, learn and understand the Ducati and a 1000cc era MotoGP bike, complete with Michelins and spec software, and prepare himself for the next test, so that he can provide better input at the next test.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why Honda never take the easy road

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.


Why Honda never take the easy road

Honda’s RC213V engine is a wild thing, but this is not an unusual problem for them to solve. Here’s why…

Many people will tell you the most important things about preseason tests is lap times. These numbers are endlessly analysed by so-called experts attempting to predict the outcome of the new season, rather like weirdos trying to divine the future by reading the tealeaves in the bottom of their teacups.

It’s all a load of nonsense, of course. Individual preseason lap times mean nothing. If they did, Marc Marquez would’ve won last year’s MotoGP title.

2016 Sepang MotoGP Test Wednesday Press Releases

Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the final day of testing at Sepang:

Year: 
2016

2016 Sepang MotoGP Test Wednesday Round Up: What We Learned So Far

What did we learn from the first proper MotoGP test of the new era of Michelin tires and spec electronics? More than we hoped, yet less than we think. A quick run down on the state of play after Sepang, with more to come over the following days.

Michelin

The riders approached the Sepang test with some trepidation, fearing that Michelin had not fixed its wayward front that caused so many crashes at Valencia and Jerez. Their fears were unfounded, the new front tires which Michelin brought – a total of five different types, of varying construction and compound – were all a massive step forward. They were not as stable as the Bridgestones they replaced, but they had gained a lot of predictability and feedback. There were very few crashes which the riders said they had not seen coming.

That does not mean that all of the problems have been solved. A couple of people went down at Turn five on Tuesday, in crashes they described as strange. Casey Stoner (more on him later) had a typically concise and thoughtful analysis. "There's a little point after probably 45°, that [the tire profile] goes down just a little bit more, that it doesn't seem to match with the rear with some of the profiles that we've tested," Stoner explained. "That gives everybody a little bit a nervous feeling, and essentially why people are struggling into Turn 5, a big fast open corner, going in, when the bike goes light, it doesn't like that feeling. It makes the bike a little nervous, and I think that's when the front wants to break away."

2016 Sepang MotoGP Test Wednesday Final Times: Lorenzo Dominates, Rossi Second

The sun came out at around 4pm at Sepang, and quickly dried off the rain which had fallen throughout the early afternoon. The track dried, and most of the field took to the track again, everyone chasing a fast lap. 

Jorge Lorenzo ended the day fastest, the only rider to get under the two minute mark, and ending the test nearly a second quicker than his teammate Valentino Rossi. The Hondas made an improvement, Marc Marquez leapfrogging over Cal Crutchlow to take third, the LCR Honda rider dropping to fourth ahead of Casey Stoner. Stoner was the fastest of the Ducatis, with Danilo Petrucci in seventh and Andrea Iannone in eighth.

Times at the end of the day at Sepang:

2016 Sepang MotoGP Test Wednesday 2:30pm - Yamahas Lead As Rain Comes

Light rain has started falling at Sepang, bringing proceedings to a halt. The insistent light rain with just a few hours of the test left makes it likely that the teams will soon pack up and leave, and start their preparations for the next test at Phillip Island in two weeks time.

The two Yamaha riders lead the rest by a big margin, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi swapping the top spot until Lorenzo stamped his authority on the timesheets. The Spaniard leads his Movistar Yamaha teammate by half a second, while Rossi is another half a second ahead of Marc Marquez. Fastest Ducati is Casey Stoner, over a tenth quicker than factory rider Andrea Iannone, while Cal Crutchlow was strong at the end once again, putting the LCR Honda into sixth, 1.3 seconds behind Lorenzo.

Times at 2:30pm:

2016 Sepang MotoGP Test Wednesday 1pm - Lorenzo Leads Stoner, Marquez, Rossi

Track action started late on the final day of testing at Sepang, after rain overnight and through the morning left the track wet. The track was empty until shortly after 11am, when Yamaha sent test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga out to test conditions. One by one more riders joined in, until the track was filled, the teams trying to get as much testing in as possible before the rain expected for this afternoon starts to fall.

Jorge Lorenzo was the fastest of the riders shortly after 1pm, the Movistar Yamaha rider leading Ducati test rider Casey Stoner by two tenths of a second. Marc Marquez is not far behind on the Repsol Honda, while Valentino Rossi shot up to fourth shortly after 1pm, demoting the two factory Suzukis of Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales into fifth and sixth.

Times at 1:15pm:

2016 Sepang MotoGP Test Tuesday Round Up: Exploding Tires, Changing Compounds and Stoner's Return

If being the official supplier to a racing series is a double-edged sword, then being the sole supplier of equipment as essential as tires is doubly so. Leaving aside the complexities of exactly what a four-edged sword would actually look like, being official tire supplier to MotoGP is a role which offers massive opportunities for raising the role of a brand, and having it associated with the most famous names in motorcycle racing. It gets your brand name and logo in front of many tens of millions of race fans and motorcycle enthusiasts every weekend. It also sees your logo plastered all over just about every photo which appears in magazines and newspapers about MotoGP, as well as filling thousands of column inches on websites and in magazines. If you had to pay for the same exposure – a concept known as equivalent advertising value – it would cost you many, many times the €25 million Bridgestone were rumored to have paid for the contract.

There is a downside, of course. It is extremely uncommon to hear riders heap praise upon your tires spontaneously. Bridgestone had to announce they were pulling out of the role of official supplier to receive the praise they deserved, riders immediately paying tribute to just how good their racing tires actually are. By contrast, criticism from riders about the spec tire is both instantaneous and highly vocal. Allow a rider to speak about your tires, and they will expound in great detail on all of the failings, real and perceived of the product you have so lovingly produced. Should you suffer some form of catastrophic failure, or get something horribly wrong, then you face a barrage of coverage, all of it negative. As a tire manufacturer, you leave your PR people fighting fires for weeks, and sometimes months to come.

That is precisely the situation which Michelin finds themselves in this evening. At 10:40 on Tuesday morning, Loris Baz accelerated down the front straight at Sepang, and around two thirds of the way along, the rear tire of his Avintia Ducati GP14.2 exploded. As Dorna only has a couple of cameras at the Sepang Test, the video coverage is mainly from the HD CCTV cameras around the circuit, one of which is permanently trained down the main straight.

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