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The switch to Triumph engines in Moto2 has had a major impact on the chassis manufacturers in the middleweight class, requiring a complete redesign of their chassis. The dimensions of the Triumph 765cc triple is very different to the Honda CBR600RR engines which they replace, and the power delivery places very different demands on the chassis in terms of handling and getting drive out of the corners.
After the first test at Jerez, Kalex appears to have done the best job of understanding the requirements the new engines place on the chassis. Eleven of the top twelve riders were on the German bikes, with only Jorge Navarro on the Speed Up spoiling the party in sixth. Austrian giant KTM were in real trouble, Brad Binder the best-placed KTM rider in thirteenth, over nine tenths behind Luca Marini on the Sky VR46 Kalex. Six of the last ten riders are on KTMs.
Reason for Kalex chief chassis designer Alex Baumgärtel to celebrate? "Well, it's too early to say," the affable German told us on Saturday. "It's just one and a half days now, and one of those had a wet session start, so I would say 'tranquilo', let's be calm. It was not a bad start, let's call it like that, with only minor problems. But everybody still had quite a lot of work to do to understand how systems work."
It has been a long and eventful career for Dani Pedrosa, which draws to a close at Valencia. The Spaniard has been enormously successful: three world championships in 125s and 250s, 54 Grand Prix victories, 31 in the premier class, putting him seventh and eighth respectively all time. On Thursday, he will be made officially a MotoGP Legend by Dorna, to mark his achievements in the series.
Yet Pedrosa has always been an intensely private man. Like Casey Stoner, Pedrosa loved the racing passionately, but everything in between climbing off the bike after the latest race, and climbing back aboard for the next, that he could do without. He was always friendly to fans, and polite to reporters, but it was obvious from his media appearances that this was the one thing which interested him least of all.
At Aragon, I got a chance to take a look back at MotoGP with Pedrosa, and talk about how he had experienced it. It was a personal view of his life, and his approach to racing, rather than a dry look at his stats. Pedrosa talked about how he saw the series, about the things he loved and the things he hated, and about the difference between racing now, and racing in previous eras. He was open about himself as a human, and how his view of the world had changed through the years, and how, in a way, that played into his decision to stop racing.
Q: MotoGP has changed a lot in the time that you've been in it. How do you see the championship? What state is it in? What is going well, and what is going wrong? What were the good changes? What were the bad changes? What would you change if you were Carmelo?
Air cooling system on Kalex (Marc VDS), for water
Peter Bom: Moto2 engines automatically enrich the fuel mixture over 80°C in order to cool the engine. This rich mixture causes a slight loss of power and in the extremely tight Moto2 class, every detail is worth looking at. Here we see the MarcVDS team, cooling down there Moto2 engines while the bike waits in the pit box.
Air duct for front calipers (Yamaha YZR-M1)
Peter Bom: Air ducts to guide air to the brake caliper, and no covers over the carbon brake disks. Carbon brakes have a fixed temperature window in which they operate well. Too low and they don’t work (very low coefficient of friction), too high and they get damaged.
Can he still cut it? That's the most common question that was asked in Qatar about Tom Sykes as the 2013 WorldSBK champion signed off from Kawasaki
Over the course of 228 races, Tom Sykes made himself into a Kawasaki legend. It's easy to look at the last four years and to only see the success that Jonathan Rea has achieved on the green machine, but before 2010 the Japanese firm were struggling. Chris Walker's win in the wet at Assen was a bright spot that punctuated ten years of failure.
From the turn of the millennium until Sykes joined the team had three wins, a home double at Sugo in 2010 by wildcard rider Hitoyasu Izutsu, and Walker's famous result. These weren't lean times for Kawasaki, this was a famine. With only 19 podiums in the ten years prior to his arrival, it's remarkable what the Englishman has achieved with the team.
Torque sensor on the Yamaha M1
Peter Bom: Like all current MotoGP engines, the Yamaha M1 has a torque sensor fitted to the drive shaft. By measuring the amount of torque delivered on the track, the manufacturer can validate their engine dyno torque maps and fine tune them on the track. Note that Yamaha don’t use them on Sunday, that’s when everything should be sorted out. Left of the sprocket is an ‘inside-out’ or inverted sprocket which the external starter motor slides into.
Jorge Lorenzo's two seasons at Ducati have truly been a roller-coaster. The three-time MotoGP champion went from a consistent front runner to struggling mid-pack. By the end of his first season, Lorenzo was starting to look competitive, leading races at the Red Bull Ring, Misano, Aragon, and Sepang, and scoring a couple of podiums.
A new bike was supposed to turn better and make his life easier, yet Lorenzo seemed to struggle once again in the first half of 2018. From the beginning of the season, it looked like Lorenzo's time at Ducati was over, and would be considered a failure. Then, Ducati brought a redesigned fuel tank to Mugello, and Lorenzo's fortunes were transformed, winning two races in a row at Mugello and Barcelona, and suddenly being a force to be reckoned with at pretty much every race.
But it was too late. Minds had already been made up before Mugello. Ducati had decided to move on from Lorenzo, and Lorenzo had decided to switch to the Repsol Honda team for 2019. The apogee of Lorenzo's time at Ducati was also his swan song there.
At Aragon, I spoke to Jorge Lorenzo about the wild ride he has had aboard the Ducati Desmosedici. He spoke frankly about the lessons he learned about himself, about adapting to the bike and changing his riding style, and his struggle to make Ducati understand what he needed to be faster. He described the differences between the Yamaha and the Ducati, and what he expects when he moves to Honda. And he talked about how he kept himself going in the face of adversity.
Q: What have you learned at Ducati? What was the big lesson that you learned? It’s been such an interesting, emotional, up-and-down time.