MotoGP

Aprilia Extend Contracts With Aleix Espargaro And Maverick Viñales Through 2024

Aprilia have decided on their MotoGP line up for the next two seasons. At Mugello, they announced that they will be keeping Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales for 2023 and 2024.

The announcement does not come as a huge surprise. Despite rumors that Aleix Espargaro had been displeased with the initial offer Aprilia made, the two sides have agreed terms for the next two years. The decision to extend with Maverick Viñales is a decision based more on expectation than current results, as the Spaniard continues to make progress toward being competitive. How much more progress is possible remains to be seen.

The signing of Espargaro and Viñales brings the total number of riders with a contract for next year to six. Marc Marquez, Brad Binder, and Pecco Bagnaia are signed through 2024, while Franco Morbidelli has a contract with Yamaha for 2023.

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Mugello MotoGP Preview: Will Fans Turn Up For A Glorious Spectacle In A Stunning Setting?

In a way, the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello may prove to be the very first post MotoGP round of the post-Rossi era. As a motorcycle racing venue, the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello has everything going for it. The setting is stunning, nestling in a valley in the hills of Tuscany. The location is outstanding, a little more than an hour away from one of the greatest Renaissance cities in the world, stuffed to the gunnels with outstanding architecture and the finest art on the planet. The food is outstanding, as is the wine.

Then there's the race track. Together with Phillip Island, the last of the great motorcycling circuits where MotoGP bikes have the room to stretch their legs, yet where a rider can still make all the difference. The circuit rolls and flows around the valley, following the natural contours of the landscape.

It has a bit of everything: hard braking into Turn 1 after the fastest straight on the calendar, the approach on a crest where the bikes almost take flight. It has left-right and right-left combinations which offer opportunities to make a pass, but also lay yourself open to counterattack. It has high-speed kinks and fast uphill and downhill corners. And it has long, fast, flowing turns where carrying corner speed is crucial, and where the brave can truly make the difference.

No rest for the wickedly fast

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Finland MotoGP Race Postponed To 2023 - 2022 MotoGP Calendar Cut To 20 Races

The long-running saga of the Finnish GP at the Kymiring is to have another chapter added to it. Today, the FIM announced that the Grand Prix of Finland, due to be held on July 8th, has been canceled. In a press release, the FIM gave the reason for the cancellation as "homologation works" and the "ongoing political situation in the region".

There have long been doubts that the circuit would host a MotoGP race this year. Reports from sources in Finland paint a picture of a circuit which still needs a lot of work doing to it. Though the surface is finished, the rest of the facilities are still not up to the standard necessary to host a MotoGP round.

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Why There Are No Quick Fixes To MotoGP's Dearth Of Overtaking

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past month or so, you will have heard the criticism of MotoGP. Though the field is close, it has become harder and harder to overtake the riders in front. The Le Mans race was a case in point: the 27-lap race featured only a handful of overtakes, most of which were made possible only by a mistake by the rider ahead.

The problem was brought into stark relief by last weekend's WorldSBK races at Estoril. Alvaro Bautista, Jonathan Rea, and Toprak Razgatlioglu put on a dazzling display of passing in all three races on Saturday and Sunday, finding ways to jam their bikes ahead of each other into the first corner, the fourth corner, the Parabolica Interior, and the tight, awkward uphill chicane. They produced three glorious races.

The spectacle of Rea, Razgatlioglu, and Bautista knocking spots off one another reinforced that the problem is indeed down to the technological point at which MotoGP finds itself. With limited aerodynamics and no ride-height devices, the WorldSBK trio found no problem diving out of the slipstream and outbraking each other.

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Joan Mir Interview: On His Hard Road To MotoGP, Burning Brightly But Briefly, And Coping With Crashes

It has been a pretty tough couple of weeks for Joan Mir. After a frustrating sixth place at the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez, in which he complained of struggling with the front, on the day after, at the end of the Jerez test on Monday, he was called in to the office in the Suzuki Ecstar team truck to be told be Shinichi Sahara and Livio Suppo that Suzuki had decided to withdraw from MotoGP at the end of the 2022 season.

Two weeks later, after a difficult day on Saturday, where he found himself struggling in FP3 and having to go through Q1, Mir ended up crashing out of the French Grand Prix at Le Mans while chasing a possible podium. "It's been painful mentally," Mir said after the race on Sunday.

Can Joan Mir bounce back? At the Circuit of The Americas, I spoke to Mir about his past, and the road he took to MotoGP. It was a long, hard, and uncertain road, the possibility of failure lurking every step along the way. Mir had to bear a heavy burden of responsibility, one he shouldered largely through his own choice, rather than outside pressure. Along the way, he had to deal with plenty of setbacks, and turn them into something positive. That path helped him to win the 2020 MotoGP championship.

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Le Mans MotoGP Subscriber Notes: The Wrong Ducati Winning, Contract Revolt Brewing, And Why Can't Riders Overtake?

The rain held off, despite a brief shower which caused mayhem during the Moto3 race and meant the first race of the day had to be severely shortened and restarted (TV is king, and only absolute disaster can be allowed to move the start of the MotoGP race from its sacred 2pm CET slot), and so we got the dry MotoGP race we deserved. No descent into chaos and confusion, no randomized results based on gambles, smart or otherwise, or appetite for risk.

In fact, chaos is fast becoming a thing of the past in MotoGP. The first few races seemed like an absolute lottery, for one reason or another. In the first three races of 2022, there were 9 different riders on the podium, with nobody seemingly capable of getting on the podium a second time. At round 4, in Austin, we saw the first podium repeats, with Enea Bastianini and Alex Rins on the box once again, and Jack Miller making it 10 different riders on the podium in 4 races.

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Le Mans MotoGP Saturday Round Up: Qualifying Surprises, Evaluating Aleix, And Retiring Numbers

The MotoGP riders are hoping that Le Mans doesn't turn into another Portimão. In Portugal, they spent two days perfecting their wet setup, only to find themselves racing in the dry with next to no time on a dry track, outside of morning warm up. At Le Mans, it could well be the opposite. Two days of practice in near-perfect conditions, only for the race to be held in the rain. Or not, the forecast changes every time you look at it.

The weather isn't the only thing capable of surprising. All through FP3 and FP4, a very clear pattern emerged. The reigning world champion had come to his home grand prix with a plan, and vengeance in his heart. Still smarting from finishing second in Jerez, Fabio Quartararo is intent on stamping his authority on the French Grand Prix at Le Mans.

The Frenchman's rhythm in free practice was fearsome. 1'31.7s with used tires in FP3, 1'31.6s with used tires in FP4. Not single laps either, but effortlessly stringing together runs of lap after lap. The only riders who came close to that kind of pace were Alex Rins and Aleix Espargaro, but they didn't have the consistency which Quartararo was displaying.

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