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Aleix Espargaro Confirmed at Aprilia For 2017 and 2018

The last of the factory seats has been officially filled. Today, the Gresini Aprilia team announced that Aleix Espargaro will be joining Sam Lowes at Aprilia for the next two seasons.

The announcement did not come as a surprise. Rumors had emerged at Barcelona that Espargaro would be going to Aprilia, Espargaro telling the media on Friday that he had already signed a contract, but that he was unable to announce who with.

Espargaro's signing leaves both Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista out of a job. Bautista is expected to sign with the Aspar Ducati team for 2017, where he is likely to partner with Eugene Laverty, while Stefan Bradl is being linked to several rides in the World Superbike paddock.

Below is the official press release announcing the news:


ALEIX ESPARGARÓ TO JOIN APRILIA

Aleix Espargaró, Spanish rider born in Granollers on 30 July 1989, will ride an Aprilia RS-GP in the MotoGP World Championship. The agreement signed with Aprilia Racing is for two years, covering the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

Bringing Espargaró on board is part of Aprilia's development plan - which aims for an increase in competitiveness, in line with the progress already demonstrated this year - and it reaffirms the Piaggio Group's commitment to an excellent technological and sport project aimed at making the Aprilia brand a protagonist on the track and on the road.

Aleix Espargaró was the Spanish champion in the 125 category in 2004. After a series of placements in the 125 and 250 categories, in 2009 he made his début in the top class where he drew attention during the 2012 season astride the ART (the CRT bike developed by Aprilia Racing), finishing the season as the best rider in the category. This excellent result was repeated the next season as well, again on the ART - Aprilia Racing bike. Overall, in MotoGP, he has taken two pole positions and a podium finish, as well as seventh place in the rider standings (his personal best) for the 2014 championship season.

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Scott Jones Shoots Assen - a Photo Selection


Here today, gone tomorrow


Surgery scars. Marc Marquez shows off the ones he had from breaking bones in his fingers


Maverick Viñales. Or Spiderman?


Riders love their dogs.


Dani Pedrosa is struggling at Assen. Badly.


Cal Crutchlow is finally getting his season on track


Bradley Smith does the racer's stare


Dangerous Dovi - a factor at Assen


Early morning exercises for the Yamahas


Perfect on the right, a little graining on the left. The disadvantage of a symmetric front slick


#44 is flying at Assen


Close formation into the hairpin


The bike follows your eyes


Pre-practice stretching


Eugene Laverty looks set to stay at Aspar for next year


If you'd like to have desktop-sized versions of Scott's fantastic photos, you can become a site supporter and take out a subscription. If you'd like a print of one of the shots you see on the site, then send Scott an email and he'll be happy to help.

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Grand Prix Commission Bans Winglets in MotoGP From 2017 Season

Winglets are to be banned in all three MotoGP classes from 2017 onwards. At Assen, the Grand Prix Commission met and decided on an outright ban on aerodynamic wings, after the MSMA had failed to reach an agreement among all manufacturers on a joint proposal.

There has been much discussion of winglets over the past few months, as they have taken on an ever greater importance. With the introduction of the common ECU software, winglets were one way of reducing the amount of wheelie MotoGP bikes had. But as the factories - and especially Ducati - gained more experience with winglets, the winglets grew larger, raising safety concerns over the effect of an impact during a crash.

Action had been expected to be taken at the previous Grand Prix Commission meeting in Mugello, but the parties failed to reach an agreement. Dorna, IRTA and the FIM then presented the MSMA manufacturers with an ultimatum: if the MSMA could produce a unanimous proposal to regulate and restrict the size and extent of the winglets, they would adopt that. If they couldn't then winglets would be banned. With the manufacturers deeply split over winglets, with Honda on one side and Ducati on the other, they could not agree a unanimous proposal.

Whether the outright ban will end the focus on aerodynamics remains to be seen. The focus is likely to shift to the shape and size of fairings to achieve the same effect. The rules will need to be carefully written to define what a winglet actually is, and Ducati have already hinted that they will be searching for loopholes in the rules. "Like in Formula One, we will have to look very carefully at the future rules," Ducati boss Davide Tardozzi told the Italian site GPOne.com.  "Every single word will be important, because everything which is not forbidden will be allowed."

The press release announcing the ban on winglets appears below:


Grand Prix Commission
Assen, 25th. June 2016

The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Ignacio Verneda (FIM CEO), Herve Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA) in the presence of Javier Alonso (Dorna) and Mike Trimby (IRTA, Secretary of the meeting), in a meeting held on 25th. June at Assen, made the following decisions:

Technical Regulations

Aerodynamic Wings in the MotoGP Class

The Commission unanimously agreed that, with effect from the 2017, the use of aerodynamic wings in the MotoGP class will be banned. The actual regulation will replicate those for the Moto3 and Moto2 classes where the use of wings is already prohibited.

Wings that comply with current technical regulations may continue to be used for the remainder of the 2016 season.

Post-Race Noise Tests

Since the introduction of four-stroke machinery in all classes, no machine has ever failed the mandatory post-race noise checks. Accordingly, the requirement for the first three machines to be routinely checked after the race is cancelled with immediate effect.

The Technical Director may still decide to carry out noise tests at his discretion.

Moto3 Safety Issues

The Commission gave approval for Honda to, under the supervision of the technical staff, to replace the inlet valve springs on their Moto3 engines. The change will take place during the Sachsenring GP.

Permission was also given to Mahindra to replace the oil ring on one Moto3 engine that was resulting in oil leakage. Again, this will be carried under the supervision of the technical staff.

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Tom Sykes Extends With Kawasaki For Two More Years

The Kawasaki World Superbike line up will remained unchanged for the next two years. On Monday morning, the Kawasaki Racing Team announced they had signed Tom Sykes to another two-year contract for WorldSBK. 

Sykes will line up alongside Jonathan Rea in 2017 and 2018, as he has for this season and last. There had been a lot of speculation that Sykes could jump ship to Ducati, after the Italian factory had handed him a de facto blank check for his signature. Sykes preferred to remain with Kawasaki, however, despite the animosity in the Kawasaki garage between the two riders.

With Sykes and Rea signed to Kawasaki, the focus turns to Ducati. Chaz Davies described his talks with the Italian factory as being at an "advanced" stage, with still a few details left to fill in. Davies had been linked to rides in MotoGP, but the Welshman said he was only interested if he could go with the right support and the right crew around him. The second seat at Ducati is likely to go an Italian rider, though it is uncertain whether that will be current rider Davide Giugliano.

With MotoGP seats filling up, and some riders being left out in the cold - including the two Aprilia riders Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista - Silly Season is likely to start hotting up in the World Superbike championship. There could be more riders heading over from MotoGP to WorldSBK, while existing riders jockey for position to get the remaining strong seats on the grid.

Below is the press release from the Kawasaki team announcing the signing:


Sykes And Kawasaki Racing Team Continue Their Strong Partnership

2013 FIM Superbike World Champion for Kawasaki, Tom Sykes, will continue his successful relationship with KRT and KHI for another two years after making a new agreement with the Japanese factory to be a key member of the overall Ninja ZX-10R racing project, both on and off-track.

Having formed such a successful partnership with Kawasaki in the past few years, culminating in his championship win in 2013, Sykes will continue to be an integral part of the Kawasaki racing and development programme around the awesome Ninja ZX-10R. Tom’s commitment to the Kawasaki cause has been evident ever since he first rode a WorldSBK spec Ninja back in 2010, and he has collected an enviable list of achievements along the way.

Sykes has now taken 30 race wins, and all but one of his 76 career podium finishes, on ZX-10R machines. Tom has also set the second highest ever record of Superpole qualifying wins, which reached 36 at the most recent round in Misano. He has also set 30 fastest laps during WorldSBK races and has been twice a runner-up in the championship, in addition to his headlining success in 2013.

In making a new agreement with Kawasaki’s official squad Tom is now intent on continuing his career at the highest level of production-derived racing, with the most successful WorldSBK team and machine of recent times. Once more Tom will join up alongside his current KRT team-mate Jonathan Rea, who also recently re-signed.

Tom Sykes stated: “I am really excited to have made a further commitment with KRT and KHI. It’s a great feeling to be back with such a great team for another two years. We have already shown the capabilities of the latest model Ninja ZX-10R this season and there is a lot of potential still to come from the bike. I think it is safe to say that we have the best all-round package in the FIM Superbike World Championship and I would like to thank KHI for showing their continued commitment to me as a rider. As well as the bike and the on-track performance I have been part of the Kawasaki family for seven years so it was really natural to continue that relationship. To carry on working with my dedicated crew - Marcel, Danilo, Mattia, Raul, Tambu and Ruben and all my other valued colleagues and friends in the team - was priceless as they are widely recognised as the pick of the crop in the WorldSBK paddock. I get so much support from the brilliant fans and passionate Kawasaki owners that it was also a positive decision to make to remain part of that. Another important thing is to continue the development programme, for the road bike and the race bike side of things, which is something I feel an integral part of. The technical aspect of working with the team and KHI is deeply satisfying to me, not just the successes on track.”

Steve Guttridge, Racing Manager Kawasaki Europe, stated: “Tom has grown up inside our Kawasaki WorldSBK projects as have Kawasaki with Tom Sykes. The combination of Tom and his crew chief Marcel Duinker and data engineer Danilo Casonato, along with a great team of staff around them, has been invaluable to our Ninja ZX-10R's success and overall model feedback over the past several seasons. Both sides obviously value their relationship dearly and the continued potential of that relationship into the future. Given all of these things we are obviously very happy that we can look to the next two seasons with Tom.”

Guim Roda, KRT Team Manager, stated: “Tom signing for two more years with Kawasaki is a very nice point to continue our project from, while also developing the latest Ninja ZX-10R until 2018. This is a part of Kawasaki’s strategy - to have two top riders inside KRT project - and now we can say proudly that we still have the two best riders in the WorldSBK championship. It has been a longer negotiation with Tom because he has been with Kawasaki for seven years - two with PBM and five with KRT - and there’s always some private and personal points we have to respect when a rider thinks about taking such a important decision. Tom always said from the beginning his first wish was to continue in the Kawasaki family, so we are happy he can trust in the new ZX-10R and KRT staff to get what he expects. I personally think that the best of Tom Sykes is yet to come. The level of competitiveness from KRT will be high and we will increase this even more, so I’m sure other manufacturers will have a tough job for the next two years.”

Ichiro Yoda, KRT Senior Engineer, stated: “I have been involved for many years in racing activities, since 1980, and I know how difficult it is to have a rider motivated and convinced to stay for a nine years with a brand. We have given Tom the option to think calmly and we are very happy that he has decided his future is with Kawasaki and KRT. His value as a rider has been proved through many years. He has been now, for five years, in the top two or three in the world. This is not easy to do. His experience and sensitive riding style gives us good direction on the points to take care of to improve the Ninja ZX-10R in the next two years. I am personally very happy to again have two great riders in KRT.”


The final word goes to Mr. Yuji Horiuchi, General Manager of R&D Division, Motorcycle & Engine Company KHI, who stated: “To have not one but two WorldSBK Champions in our team is a considerable achievement. We are happy that the valuable work Tom has already done on the development of the 2016 Ninja ZX-10R and his enviable technical ability can continue to benefit us for the next two seasons and that our racing project with KRT has the talent and stability it needs to achieve even greater racing success in the years to come”.

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Alex Rins Confirmed At Suzuki, Aleix Espargaro and Johann Zarco Left Out in the Cold

The next piece in the puzzle which is the 2017 MotoGP grid has fallen into place. As had been widely expected, Alex Rins has signed a two-year deal to race with the factory Ecstar Suzuki team from next year. Rins will line up alongside Andrea Iannone on the Suzuki GSX-RR next season.

Rins had long been favorite to take the second seat at Suzuki, as his profile best suited the Ecstar Suzuki team's strategy of having young rider with potential alongside a fast, more experienced rider to help lead development. When Maverick Viñales left for the Movistar Yamaha team, Rins was the name most touted to take his place.

The surprise came when Suzuki announced they had signed Andrea Iannone immediately after Ducati announced they would be keeping Andrea Dovizioso. The signing of Iannone was the writing on the wall for Aleix Espargaro, as it did not fit with Suzuki's strategy to have two older, more experienced riders. In Barcelona, Espargaro was openly critical of Suzuki's attitude, pointing out that he was not far behind Dani Pedrosa in the championship.

Suzuki Japan are believed to have been hesitant to sign Alex Rins alongside Andrea Iannone, as it means having two brand new riders in the team. They would have preferred to keep Espargaro, as the rider with experience of the bike, to partner the rookie Rins. Davide Brivio was in Japan last week to convince them to let him sign Rins, a mission which has been successful.

Rins' signing also leaves Johann Zarco in limbo. The Frenchman had gone to Japan to test the Suzuki GSX-RR MotoGP bike, as part of a contract he had signed with the Japanese factory. That contract also included Zarco racing at the Suzuka 8 Hour endurance race this year, though it was unclear whether the contract extended beyond the end of this year. After his test in Japan, Zarco canceled his plans to race at Suzuka, which was taken by many that any plans he may have had to ride a Suzuki in 2017 had fallen through. The announcement that Alex Rins was signed to the factory team was merely confirmation of that. 

That leaves Zarco looking for a MotoGP ride for 2017. Hervé Poncharal has made it clear that he has a strong interest in Zarco, and is in talks to sign the Frenchman to ride alongside Jonas Folger next year. That deal is not yet signed, however: an announcement is unlikely at Assen, which means that the Sachsenring will be the earliest place a deal could be signed.

As for Aleix Espargaro, the signs are that the Spaniard will end up on the only other factory bike left on the grid. There are strong reports that Espargaro will announce that he will be joining Sam Lowes on the Gresini Aprilia RS-GP for 2017. Lowes, in turn, is due to get his first taste of the Aprilia in a test after Assen. He will be riding last year's version of the bike, though, to allow him to get used to the Michelin tires and the carbon brakes, and generally get the feel of a MotoGP bike.

This is the way the factory teams look after all but one seat has been officially confirmed:

Team/Rider Contract duration
Movistar Yamaha  
Valentino Rossi 2017-2018
Maverick Viñales 2017-2018
   
Repsol Honda  
Dani Pedrosa 2017-2018
Marc Márquez 2017-2018
   
Ecstar Suzuki  
Andrea Iannone 2017-2018
Alex Rins 2017-2018
   
Gresini Aprilia  
Sam Lowes 2017-2018
Unsigned  
   
KTM Factory  
Bradley Smith 2017-2018
Pol Espargaro 2017-2018
   
Factory Ducati  
Jorge Lorenzo 2017-2018
Andrea Dovizioso 2017-2018

Below is the press release announcing that Suzuki have signed Rins to a two-year deal:


ALEX RINS SIGNED FOR TWO YEARS WITH TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR

Team Suzuki Press Office – June 20, 2016; 09:00hrs (CET)/08:00hrs (GMT)

Suzuki Motor Corporation announces the agreement with Alex Rins to become its factory rider for the next two seasons. This defines the Team Suzuki MotoGP rider line-up for 2017 and 2018 with Rins alongside Andrea Iannone aboard the factory GSX-RR.

Alex Rins Navarro was born in Barcelona on the 8th of December 1995 (20 years old) and started to race at the age of seven. His debut in the World Championship was in 2012, at the age of 16 in the Moto3 class. He won his first pole position at the second race of his debut season. He raced in Moto3 for three seasons, collecting a total of eight victories, becoming vice-champion in 2013. In 2015 he stepped up to Moto2, ending his first season in the class with 2nd place overall, winning the Rookie of the Year award after collecting two wins, a total of ten podiums and three pole positions. In 2016 he has already scored two wins and currently leads the points standing after seven rounds.

As a consequence of this new signing, the collaboration between Suzuki and Aleix Espargaró will come to an end after the 2016 MotoGP™ season. All the Suzuki family is extremely grateful to Aleix for his contribution to the growth of the MotoGP™ project and the development of the GSX-RR. Both Team SUZUKI ECSTAR and Suzuki Motor Corporation will continue their unconditional support to Aleix, looking forward to the best possible results in the remaining 2016 MotoGP™ races. Suzuki wishes all the best to Aleix Espargaró for a bright and successful future.

Jorge Navarro Breaks Leg in Training Accident

A week after taking his first ever Grand Prix victory in the Moto3 race in Barcelona, Jorge Navarro's luck has taken a turn for the worse. The Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider has broken his left leg in a training accident in Valencia.

Navarro crashed while riding a minimoto bike at a karting track in Valencia. According to Spanish newspaper El País, a rider fell in front of Navarro and he was unable to avoid him. Navarro broke both tibia and fibula, the two bones in his lower left leg. The Spaniard is due to be operated on in the Dexeus Institut in Barcelona on Monday.

The crash will put a damper on Navarro's Moto3 title hopes. The Spaniard has been the only rider to be able to consistently challenge Red Bull KTM rider Brad Binder, though he trails the South African by 44 points. The only piece of good fortune in Navarro's mishap is that there are now long gaps between races until the championship resumes in full again in Austria.

The Assen round of MotoGP is two weeks away, and Navarro is certain to miss that race, but the Sachsenring follows three weeks later. Being fit for that is unlikely, but not impossible: when Valentino Rossi broke his tibia and fibula in 2010, the Italian was racing again in just under six weeks. The Sachsenring is five weeks away, but the race at the Red Bull Ring in Austria is four weeks after that. Nine weeks should be long enough for Navarro to make nearly a complete recovery. The worst case scenario for Navarro is that he misses two races. When Rossi suffered the same injury in 2010, he missed four races.

Below is the press release from the Estrella Galicia team announcing Navarro's injury:


Jorge Navarro suffers tibia and fibula fractures in training in Valencia

The Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider has been admitted to the Hospital Universitari Quirón Dexeus in Barcelona, where he will undergo surgery on Monday.

Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider Jorge Navarro suffered fractures to his left tibia and fibula in a training crash this Saturday. One week on from his first victory in Grand Prix racing, the Spaniard had been undertaking laps of the KSB Karting track in Valencia in preparation for the Dutch TT Assen.

Navarro will undergo surgery on Monday, performed by Dr. Mir and Dr. Ginebreda of the Hospital Universitari Quirón Dexeus in Barcelona –where he was taken at midday on Sunday.

Time Schedule and Track Modified for Remainder of Barcelona Round of MotoGP

After the tragic death of Luis Salom as a result of injuries sustained in a crash during Moto2 FP2, the track layout is to be modified for the remainder of the weekend. The event is to continue, in accordance with the wishes of the family of Luis Salom, as well as the riders and teams.

The track configuration is to be changed, and the riders in all three classes will use the layout used by Formula One. That has a much sharper corner at Turn 10, the rounded corner being replaced with something approaching a hairpin. Instead of the flowing Turn 12, the riders will also use the chicane which replaces it for F1, adding a tighter right hander followed by a sharp left-right combination. The new layout is shown in a tweet below from the Barcelona circuit: 

To allow the riders to get accustomed to the new layout, all three classes will be given 15 minutes extra track time in FP3. This means that FP3 will start at 8:40 for the Moto3 class, and last until 9:35. MotoGP FP3 will run between 9:50 and 10:50, while Moto2 FP3 will take place between 11:05 and 12:05.

Below is the press release issued by Dorna explaining the changes made:


New Track Configuration and New Time Schedule

As agreed with Luis Salom's family, the riders, teams and the Safety Commission, it has been decided that the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya is to go ahead.

In a Safety Commission meeting attended by Marc Marquez, Andrea Iannone, Pol Espargaro, Jack Miller, Bradley Smith, Alvaro Bautista, Aleix Espargaro, Andrea Dovizioso, Tito Rabat and Cal Crutchlow, it has been agreed to change the configuration of the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit to race for the remainder of the event on the F1 track configuration.

This layout was tested 2 years ago in an official MotoGP Test - back then this configuration wasn't elected for Grand Prix Racing as deemed less attractive and demanding in terms of sport than the one usually used.

As riders will have to deal with a new track configuration, practice time will be extended with a new schedule for Saturday.

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Luis Salom Has Died

Luis Salom has succumbed to injuries sustained in a crash at the Montmeló circuit in Barcelona. Although the crash was not caught on film, witnesses report that Salom tried to save a highside at Turn 12, which left him heading straight for the air fence. Salom reportedly parted from his bike and hit the air fence, but the bike rebounded off the air fence and hit Salom in the chest. (Edit: CCTV footage of the crash is available on the MotoGP.com website.)

The session was immediately red-flagged, and Salom was given emergency medical assistance at track side. The medical helicopter was flown out to the corner where Salom was being treated, but in the end, the decision was taken to transport Salom by ambulance to the Hospital General de Catalunya. He was given treatment there, but died from his injuries at 4:55pm.

Below is the official statement from the FIM, Dorna, IRTA, the Spanish Federation RFME, and the Barcelona circuit:


Statement - Luis Salom

Following an incident during today’s Moto2 Free Practice 2 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, it is with great sadness that we have to report the passing of Luis Salom (SAG Team).

The session was red flagged with just under 25 minutes remaining after the Spanish rider fell at turn 12.

Two medical cars and then two ambulances were immediately on scene to treat the 24-year-old and the medical helicopter was also deployed to assist in his treatment.

Due the severity of his condition, the decision was taken to transfer Salom by road to the nearby Hospital General de Catalunya. On arrival, he underwent surgery, but despite the best efforts of the trauma team, he passed away at 1655pm local time.

Salom made his World Championship debut at Jerez in 2009 in the 125cc category. He finished on the podium in 25 races, including nine victories in the Moto3 World Championship. He finished the 2012 Moto3 World Championship in second position in the standings and a year later was third overall after battling with Maverick Vinales and Alex Rins down to the final round in Valencia.

He also finished on the podium three times in 41 appearances in the Moto2 World Championship, including a second place pace in the opening round of 2016 at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.

The FIM, Dorna, IRTA, RFME and the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya wishes to pass on its condolences to the family, friends and team of Salom.

 

Yamaha Confirm Overrevving Was Cause of Mugello Engine Problems

Yamaha have issued an official explanation for the problem they suffered at Mugello, which saw Valentino Rossi's engine blow up during the race, and Jorge Lorenzo's engine blow up during warm up on Sunday morning.

The cause given is exactly in line with the reasoning in MotoMatters.com's Mugello Sunday post-race round up: the engine overrevving as the rear wheel lifted at the end of the Mugello straight. At that point in the track, with the bike hitting 350 km/h and nearing peak speed at top gear and at full throttle, when the rear wheel lifts over the crest at the end of the straight, the engine spins up too quickly for the rev limiter to catch.

Yamaha MotoGP project leader Kouji Tsuya acknowledged they had been caught out by the new unified software package: they had used similar settings to last year, but the rev limiter with the 2016 electronics had not reacted as quickly as Yamaha's proprietary software was capable of in previous years. That caused engine damage at the end of the straight, eventually causing the engine to fail completely with piston and valve damage.

Because of the nature of the damage, and the difficulty in locating the precise nature of the problem, Yamaha were unable to put in a fix for both factory Yamahas for the race at Mugello after Jorge Lorenzo's bike had blown an engine on Sunday morning. The engine which Rossi blew up was his third engine, a relatively fresh engine, as was Lorenzo's engine that blew. Lorenzo eventually raced his second engine, which had been in action since Qatar, and had 25 practice sessions and 2 races on it. 

Yamaha's statement says that they have identified the problem and have a fix in place from now on. In part, the risk is lower, as there are no other tracks coming up with such unique conditions as Mugello. But it is entirely possible that part of the fix is lowering the maximum revs on the engine a fraction (perhaps just 50 or 100 revs) to avoid a similar problem. That should not have a material effect on the performance of the bike.

Below is Yamaha's press release:


OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM YAMAHA MOTOR CO. LTD.‘S 2016 YZR-M1 PROJECT LEADER, KOUJI TSUYA, FOLLOWING MUGELLO TECHNICAL INCIDENT

Barcelona (Spain), 2nd June 2016

KOUJI TSUYA
2016 YAMAHA YZR-M1 PROJECT LEADER, YAMAHA MOTOR CO., LTD

After the technical problems in Mugello the two defective engines were returned to YMC for investigation. Following our detailed investigation of the engines, telemetry data and related systems we found the cause of the failures. The failures were caused by an electronic issue related to the rev limiter which ultimately resulted in valve and piston damage. The cause for both Jorge‘s and Valentino‘s engine failures was the same. To be clear, there was neither an engine component nor a structural failure, it was purely an electronic control issue.

Valentino‘s failure was caused by an accidental over rev in acceleration that occurred jumping over a crest with full throttle at the end of the straight. This failure was not in any way related to the mistake made by Valentino at the San Donato corner on the lap before.

There were no special mapping settings used for Mugello; we used the same precise mapping as always. We have now withdrawn both engines from the allocation for the season.

We have a strong history of engine reliability and this fact does not change after this incident; the engines had no problems, but we were not aware of the different behaviour of the standard ECU software, that made the rev limiter work in a different way compared to last year. We set the rev limiter using last year‘s data in exactly the same way as we did last year, but we could not be aware that the software worked in a different way.

Valentino‘s engine was the freshest of the three that were sealed so far from his allocated engines, therefore after Jorge‘s Warm Up engine failure there was no reason to consider replacing it. Furthermore we couldn‘t find out the electronic issue in Jorge‘s engine in such a short timeframe.

Mugello is one of the most critical circuits because of jumping over a crest with full throttle on the straight, and engine RPM becoming higher. We have learnt from this incident and already modified the rev limiter setting, so it will be OK in Catalunya. As a precautionary measure, the other engines used by both Valentino and Jorge in Mugello will be used only for practice sessions, until their life cycles are completed.

We understand an electronic issue caused the failures in Mugello, therefore we do not need to intervene with our remaining engines that are not yet sealed. We still have enough engines for the remainder of the season. We have already devised a countermeasure, so we are confident that the failures in Mugello will not recur.

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Marc Marquez Extends Deal With Repsol Honda for Two More Years

Marc Marquez has finally agreed terms with HRC to continue in the Repsol Honda team for two more years. Though the fact that Marquez will remain in Honda is not a surprise, there were a number of important details to finalize before Marquez could agree to the deal. In the press conference on Thursday ahead of the Barcelona race, the Spaniard said there were three main points which needed agreement: the technical package, the financial aspect, and ensuring that he kept his current team around him.

Marquez' deal, and the announcement by KTM that they have signed Pol Espargaro, leaves only a seat at Aprilia and a seat at Suzuki unfilled.

Below is the press release from the Repsol Honda team on Marquez' new contract:


Honda Racing Corporation renew with Marc Márquez through 2018

On the occasion of the Grand Prix de Catalunya, the home race for four-time World Champion Marc Márquez, Honda Racing Corporation is pleased to announce a contract extension with the 23-year-old Spanish rider that will see him continuing to race for the Repsol Honda Team for the next two years.

Marc is currently in his fourth season in the MotoGP class, always with the Repsol Honda Team. During that time, he has achieved two World Titles, in his rookie season in 2013, and again in 2014, whereas he finished third last year. Thus far, Márquez so far has won nearly half of the Premier-class races he has entered and has finished on the podium 73% of the time.

With six rounds having been completed in the 2016 season, Márquez arrives at this weekend’s Catalan GP second in the standings by just 10 points.

Marc Marquez

“I'm very happy to announce this renewal with HRC, especially coinciding with Grand Prix of Catalunya, my home GP, where I have some really good memories. HRC and I have a very strong relationship, and I’ve always wanted to continue being a part of the Repsol Honda Team. In three and a half years together, we’ve enjoyed some unbelievable moments, with great victories and two world titles, as well as a few challenging moments that I believe are making us stronger. We’re working very hard this year to regain the title. It’s a great honour to be a part of the Honda family, and I’m glad to remain with this special group of people for another two seasons.”

Shuhei Nakamoto
HRC Executive Vice President

“We’re honoured to have reached an agreement with Marc for two more years. There’s no doubt that he is the present and future of MotoGP! We know him well and he knows us well, and we both wanted to continue together; for this reason, we felt no rush for this renewal. Marc has grown a lot during almost four years with HRC, and now he’s an even more complete rider than in 2014, when he won 10 races in a row. Although he’s still very young, we already have a long relationship together, and we know that Marc's experience is very important for helping our engineers to develop our bike.”

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