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Thomas Morsellino is a French freelance journalist and photographer, with keen eye for the technical details of MotoGP bikes. You may have seen some of his work on Twitter, where he runs the @Off_Bikes account. Peter Bom is a world championship winning former crew chief, with a deep and abiding knowledge of every aspect of motorcycle racing. Peter has worked with such riders as Cal Crutchlow, Danny Kent, and Stefan Bradl. After every race, MotoMatters.com will be publishing a selection of Tom's photos of MotoGP bikes, together with extensive technical explanations of the details by Peter Bom. MotoMatters.com subscribers will get access to the full resolution photos, which they can download and study in detail, and all of Peter's technical explanations of the photos. Readers who do not support the site will be limited to the 800x600 resolution photos, and an explanation of two photos.
New Honda fairing (Crutchlow’s RC213V)
Peter Bom: With all the extra horsepower which Honda has this year, together with a different chassis (to take some of the load from the front tire), it would make sense that there could be another aero update as well. As a side note, Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna has hinted at protesting this particular fairing design.
On October 21st, 2018, at Motegi, Marc Márquez wrapped up his fifth MotoGP title in six seasons, with three races to spare. He did so despite having suffered his 18th crash of the season so far during FP4, the front washing out as he released the brakes in Turn 7. He led the MotoGP class in crashes at Motegi, and would continue to do so through the final race in Valencia, amassing a grand total of 23 crashes at official events throughout the 2018 season.
He had gone one better in 2018 than he had the year before, finishing second to Sam Lowes in 2017, ending up with 27 crashes to Lowes' 31. In 2016, he was a lowly third in the crash rankings, ending the season with 17 falls, behind Cal Crutchlow and Jack Miller with 26 and 25 crashes respectively.
That propensity to crash has caused many people to question just how long Márquez can keep taking the risks that he does. Former triple world champion Wayne Rainey, in a recent interview with Motorsport.com's Gerald Dirnbeck, voices a concern felt by many. "If Marquez falls down over 20 times again next year, maybe Marquez beats himself," Rainey said. "When you are off your bike, sliding across the grass at 200km/h, maybe you're OK for the first two meters, but then if you start flipping across the track, anything can happen. I'm hoping Marquez can find a way to be more consistent. He needs to stay on his bike more. It's not very healthy to make mistakes like that."
It is subscriber prize draw time again! With the 2019 season about to start, and the dawn of a new era in Moto2, with a new engine supplier and new electronics making their debut, we have a fitting prize for the month of March.
The winner of the subscriber draw this month will win a Triumph T-shirt and Moto2 goodie bag, from the launch of Triumph's Moto2 program in June 2017. The prize consists of a T-shirt, wristband, and case, in a Triumph-branded bag.
The following is an interview which leading Japanese MotoGP journalist and friend of MotoMatters.com Akira Nishimura conducted with the heads of Honda's racing program Tetsuhiro Kuwata, and Shinya Wakabayashi. Nishimura conducted the interviews in Japanese, and translated them into impeccable English. I then edited them in English for style. Any inaccuracies or errors are therefore mine. - David Emmett
In 2018, Honda secured the triple crown, with Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez winning his third consecutive MotoGP title, bringing his total to five, Honda winning the constructors title, and the Repsol Honda team wrapping up the team championship. Everybody thought it was a perfect season for Honda, but what was the reality for them? At the beginning of January, we visited the HRC laboratory in Asaka, Saitama Prefecture and spoke to Tetsuhiro Kuwata, General Manager of Racing Operations Management Division and Shinya Wakabayashi, the boss of Technology Development Division for 90 minutes on how they saw Honda's 2018 season, and what they expect for 2019.
Q: In 2018, you won the triple crown again. Do you think it was a perfect season for Honda?
Kuwata: Not at all! Because the battle between manufacturers was very intense, like always. In 2017, we fought for the championship until Valencia, so when you compare this year to that, maybe you think 2018 was perfect for us. But it was not the case because our competitors were always very strong. We tried to pull away from them, but it was just impossible. To be honest, it was a very tough season, like in 2017.
Wakabayashi: After the middle of the season, we had an advantage in some points, but we also had a disadvantage in other points. We tried to improve our weak points to catch up with our competitors, but it was difficult to reduce the gap.
Q: What was the advantage and disadvantage you had?
Valentino Rossi's Yamaha M1
David Emmett: The Yamaha M1 barely seems to change from year to year. In recent seasons, even the livery has remained almost identical. Yamaha's philosophy is one of evolution and refinement, and that is not always obvious from the outside. Despite the lack of outward change, there are some major changes to the 2019 Yamaha M1. Yamaha is continuing along the path of moving weight to the rear of the bike, and the bike has new chassis parts (including a new frame) to help with tire life. The biggest changes have been on the electronics side, optimizing the Magneti Marelli spec ECU software.