Making a change at the crew chief position can reap rewards or add a new set of challenges. For Alex Lowes the 2018 season will see him work with Andrew Pitt and first impressions were very positive at the Jerez test.
A change can be as good as a holiday and having fresh eyes to look at a problem can lead to new solutions. For Alex Lowes, the 2018 season will see the former British champion work with a new crew chief, but following the Jerez test the Yamaha rider is excited by the prospect of working with Andrew Pitt.
The Jerez test offered the first chance to see the new regulations in action. For Marco Melandri it confirmed his worst fears; Ducati are being hit harder than anyone
That Ducati has been hit hardest by the 2018 regulations shouldn't come as a surprise, but following three days of testing at Jerez it was surprising how morose Marco Melandri felt. The Italian returned to WorldSBK in 2017 and was able to have a strong season that was highlighted by a victory in front of his home fans at Misano.
With five days of testing complete at Jerez, the balance can be drawn up for the riders in all three series which were present. Conditions were almost perfect, with five days of sunshine and reasonably warm temperatures for the time of year. The track resurfacing, which took place during the summer, helped immensely, especially for the MotoGP teams, as they rode here on the old surface back in May.
Suter is to withdraw from the 2018 Moto2 world championship. The Swiss chassis manufacturer was only able to attract a single team for the 2018 season, and have decided that it makes no commercial sense to continue their participation. The Dynavolt Intact Team, who will field riders Xavi Vierge and Marcel Schrotter for 2018, will make the switch to Kalex instead.
Most of the top WorldSBK riders set their fast lap on qualifying tires.
Friday times for all classes combined:
Jonathan Rea was fastest at lunchtime at the Jerez WorldSBK and MotoGP test. Rea was into the 1'37s on a qualifying tire early on in the session, riders getting started early so they can finish up early. Kawasaki teammate Tom Sykes is second quickest, also setting his time on a qualifier, while KTM's Pol Espargaro is the fastest of the MotoGP riders, just ahead of Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins on the Suzuki.
Times at 1pm:
Andrea Dovizioso finished as fastest on Thursday at Jerez, the factory Ducati rider using the morning to break Jorge Lorenzo's pole record from 2015 - though as this is a private test, this is only an unofficial time, and so Lorenzo's record will stand until the race here in May - going over a quarter of a second faster than Lorenzo did on the Yamaha two years ago. Cal Crutchlow was second fastest, also under the pole record, having spent a full and busy day jumping between three different bikes and racking up a grand total of 90 laps, more than any other rider on the grid.
Times at 3:30pm:
Once again, MotoGP’s accident figures broke all records. But does that mean the racing is getting safer or more dangerous?
Late November is a guilt-ridden time of year to be a MotoGP journalist. While dozens of riders check themselves in for post-season surgery, like a reckless driver booking his car’s annual bodyshop makeover, we sit comfortably at our desks analysing MotoGP’s annual Falls Report.
This year’s report runs to 159 pages and contains almost as much pain and anguish as a war novel. Every single crash is recorded in detail: where, when and what were the injuries? And then Dorna’s Friné Velilla divides the accidents into numerous bar graphs, by class, by race track, by year and so on.
The Falls Report isn’t just a ghoul’s delight. There is science behind the data, which is used by MotoGP staff to improve safety. And sensible analysis of the crash statistics can tell us a lot about what’s going on in MotoGP, especially about how each rider gets along with his bike.