MotoGP Paddock Packs Catalunya Circuit For World's Fastest Track Day

Nearly 41% of the MotoGP grid hit the track at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo near Barcelona on Wednesday, as the riders gathered together for what would essentially become the world's fastest track day. Nine MotoGP riders were joined by a handful of stars from Moto2, Moto3, and the WorldSBK paddock to get some track time, all on production machines.

The MotoGP stars on track included the Espargaro brothers, Pol and Aleix, both LCR Honda riders Alex Marquez and Takaaki Nakagami, Ecstar Suzuki riders Joan Mir and Alex Rins, factory Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo, and the Ducatis of Jack Miller and Johann Zarco. Bikes used included the Ducati Panigale V4S, Yamaha YZF-R1, Suzuki GSX-R1000, Aprilia RSV4, the Honda RC213V-S, and a Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade ridden by Repsol Honda rider Pol Espargaro. On track in other classes were Ana Carrasco, Remy Gardner, Raul Fernandez, Tito Rabat, Albert Arenas, and Jaume Masia.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - What does Brexit mean for British teams and riders?

UK teams and riders face new regulations for working in Europe, including carnets, limited stays and possible work visas and permits

This year British riders, teams and race staff go racing in Europe as non-EU members for the first time in decades, so will they face any challenges and, if so, what will they be?

There are only two major British teams competing in world championship racing, both of them in World Superbike: the factory BMW squad of Shaun Muir Racing and the factory Yamaha outfit of Crescent Racing.

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Press Release Tributes To Fausto Gresini

Tributes to Fausto Gresini, the former racer and team manager who died on Tuesday morning of complications from Covid-19, have come in from a wide range of sources. Also worth reading is Mat Oxley's obituary of Fausto Gresini.

The press releases appear below:


Remembering Fausto Gresini

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

MotoGP™ and Dorna Sports are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Fausto Gresini. A two-time World Champion in the 125cc class and a key figure in the paddock as founder of the Gresini Team thereafter, the legendary Italian will be deeply missed.

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Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 186: Remembering Fausto Gresini, And Reviewing The Honda Launches This Week

The latest episode of the Paddock Pass Podcast was recorded shortly after the sad news of Fausto Gresini's death was made public, and so the first thing Steve English, Neil Morrison, Adam Wheeler, and David Emmett do is pay tribute to the former 125 world champion and team manager. We take a brief look at his history in the Grand Prix racing, and what he meant for the sport. If you would like to get a fuller picture of the man, there is also this obituary by Mat Oxley on Motor Sport Magazine.

From there, we turn our attention to the Honda launches which happened this week. The big news was of course the Repsol Honda launch, the first time the media got to speak to Marc Marquez since he was forced to withdraw from the Jerez 2 round back in July 2020. We assess what he told us, how he views injury, and whether he will be a force to reckon within 2021.

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Fausto Gresini Dies From Complications Arising From Covid-19

Fausto Gresini

Fausto Gresini, double world champion and long-standing Grand Prix team manager, died this morning as a result of complications arising from a Covid-19 infection. The 60-year-old Italian was being treated for Covid-19 in the intensive care unit of the Carlo Alberto Pizzardi hospital in Bologna, Italy.

Gresini had been diagnosed with Covid-19 shortly before Christmas 2020. His condition worsened sufficiently for him to be admitted to hospital shortly after Christmas. From there, his condition grew worse, occasionally showing only minor improvements, but the disease caused severe damage to his lungs, meaning he required help breathing for long periods of time. The toll from the disease mounted up, Gresini eventually succumbing to the complications arising from Covid-19.

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Marc Marquez: The Lessons Of A Lost Year

Marc Márquez' absence has left a gaping hole in MotoGP for the last seven months. Sure, the racing has been fantastic, and Joan Mir was a worthy winner of the 2020 title. But the fact that the man who won six of the last eight championships was missing from the series was the elephant in the room throughout last season, a presence noted all the more for his not being there.

The significance of Márquez' absence has been made all the greater by the near total radio silence out of the Spaniard's entourage. With the exception of a single interview given to Spanish TV broadcaster DAZN, the only thing that we have heard from Marc Márquez have been leaks from various sources around him.

The last time the general media had a chance to speak to the six-time MotoGP champion was last July, at the second round at Jerez, after his abortive comeback from the injury sustained in the first race. Márquez shattered the humerus in his right upper arm when he crashed out between Turns 3 and 4 at the opening MotoGP race of the season at Jerez. Márquez was doing push ups just hours after surgery, and decided to try to race at the Andalusian Grand Prix at Jerez, just a few days later.

Too early

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Repsol Honda Press Release: Marc Marquez Speaks On Injury Recovery, 2021 Hopes, Pol Espargaro As Teammate

The Repsol Honda team issued transcripts of the interviews from the Repsol Honda online launch. In the video, Marc Marquez talked about his recovery, his injury, and his expectations for 2021. Below is the transcript, the questions were asked by Honda PR:


Q: First of all, Marc, how are you and how is the recovery?

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LCR Honda Castrol Team Launch: Alex Marquez Q&A On Qualifying, What He Wants From Honda, What He Needs To Work On

For 2021, HRC have shifted Alex Márquez over from the factory Repsol Honda team into the satellite LCR Honda squad, albeit with full factory backing. It was a decision taken before the Covid-19 delayed 2020 season even started, and the younger Márquez brother had even had a chance to prove himself.

With two podiums, consecutive second places at a wet Le Mans and a dry Aragon, Alex Márquez proved the doubters wrong, and made many wonder if HRC hadn't jumped the gun on demoting him to LCR in favor of Pol Espargaro. The Spaniard had made enormous progress through the second half of 2020, and left a very different impression at the end of the season compared to the start.

His one weakness was qualifying. Alex Márquez' best grid position was tenth, at Aragon 2, the only track where he managed to qualify on the fourth row. He usually found himself starting from a couple of rows further back.

This is one area which Alex Márquez will have to work on for 2021, and one he has attempted to address during his preparation for the coming season. After the online launch of the LCR Honda Castro Team, the Spaniard's side of the LCR garage, Alex Márquez spoke to a group of journalists to look ahead to 2021. Here's what he had to tell us:

Q: You were a big surprise last year, and people will look at you in a different way. Will this year be easier?

AM: I hope it's more easy. It’s good that people look at you in a different way. The second part of the season was a little bit of a surprise, because the first part was not really good. It was not a disaster but it was a difficult time for me. The second part was really good. I was improving day by day. I think I still have many things to learn and to improve from that category. Last year was a strange year and a bit too short.

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Gordon Ritchie WorldSBK Blog: WorldSSP - Revolution For The Squeezed Middle

The second biggest category within the second biggest global bike racing series has always been something of a halfway house in terms of its public profile. The FIM Supersport World Championship’s overall reputation, relative status and true importance is therefore always a good topic for bar room discussion. If only we were allowed to go to the bar, of course.

Featuring riders on the way up, riders on the way back down, and some riders simply finding their personal ceiling or a natural specialisation in 600cc racing, WorldSSP has often been the best class to watch.

WorldSSP has always waxed and waned in how far it ever emerges from behind the more puffed-up and attention-grabbing WorldSBK class. Since MotoGP has propelled itself into a nearly global motorsport must-see, at the expense of the WorldSBK paddock in general, WorldSSP has arguably been even more hidden from view than at any time in its turbulent life.

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Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 186: MotoGP Launch Season - What We Have Seen So Far

We are right in the middle of launch season, so the Paddock Pass Podcast crew gather to discuss what they think of the show so far. And it has been quite the show: with Covid-19 preventing the normal sponsor-focused gatherings, the launches have been very online indeed. And so far, KTM, Yamaha, and Ducati have all had very different approaches to what an online launch should be.

Some of those approaches have been more successful than others. Neil Morrison, Adam Wheeler, Steve English, and David Emmett all try to suppress their cynicism about the launches. And for the most part, they fail miserably. We talk about Yamaha, and their use of a backdrop apparently crafted on a PS2 to showcase the bikes, Ducati's behind-the-scenes faux documentary, and KTM's mercifully short scripted launch.

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