Latest News

Scott Jones In Texas: Qualifying And Race Day, Part 1


Marc Marquez. Always riveting in Austin


Over the hill? I don't think so


Bad starts are a thing of the past for Dani Pedrosa


Maverick's magic streak came to an end in Austin


Miller and Rabat play follow my leader


Plenty to think about for Johann Zarco


Eyes on the prize for Lorenzo. But the prize is still a little way ahead


Romano Fenati gets a sense of perspective


"And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven;"


How Jonas Folger deals with the stress before the start


Technically, that is know as running wide


It all goes pear shaped at the start of the Moto2 race...


Stefano Manzi's enthusiasm got the better of him, taking Julian Simon out in the process


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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Avintia To Continue With Ducati For 2018 MotoGP Season

The jockeying for manufacturers among satellite teams has begun. First out of the gate is the Reale Avintia Racing team, who have renewed their contract for another year with Ducati. Ducati will supply two Desmosedici GP17s to the team for the 2018 season.

The question of who will follow is still open. The Tech 3 team is firmly tied in with Yamaha, and the Marc VDS team has a strong commitment from Honda, though the results they have booked with the RC213V have not been as expected. The LCR Honda team were rumored to be interested in Suzukis last year, but the role Cal Crutchlow has played with Honda makes it more attractive to stay with Honda.

The Pull&Bear Aspar team could also make a switch from Ducati. Paddock gossip suggests contact between Aspar and Suzuki, but there are also suggestions Aspar could seek to renew ties with Aprilia, who they have a long history with in the 250 and 125 classes.

The press release announcing the Avintia contract renewal appears below:


Reale Avintia Racing and Ducati renew their contract for 2018

Reale Avintia Racing are pleased to announce the renewal of their contract with Ducati Corse to race the bikes from Borgo Panigale in the 2018 MotoGP World Championship. The contract has been signed this weekend at the Circuit of the Americas and the team will have two sets of Ducati Desmosedici GP 2017 bikes next season.

The team started to work with the Italian manufacturer in the last races of 2014 and since then, the team has been getting stronger every season and has established a close relationship with the factory. This early renewal of the contract is another step forward with Ducati and a clear signal of mutual confidence.

Raúl Romero | (CEO Esponsorama)

“I’m extremely happy to announce that we will be racing with Ducati next season. We are like a family and we are fully integrated in their MotoGP project. We had some more options for next season, but the confidence showed by Paolo Ciabatti and Gigi Dall’Igna over these years made the decision easy to sign so early in the season. We feel an incredible support from the factory and the guaranty to have this year’s factory bikes for next season is really important for the team. Now it will be easy to find more sponsorship and to keep growing.”

Paolo Ciabatti | (Ducati Corse Sporting Director)

“We are really happy and satisfied to be able to continue our relationship with Reale Avintia Racing in 2018. It is a team that started to work with us at the end of 2014 and since then they have never stopped growing together with Ducati. We believe that the team will have a great opportunity to do a fantastic job again next season, as they are doing now and as they did in the last years working with us.”

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Scott Jones in Texas: Friday Photos


This is what total control looks like


Hustle by Petrucci


HRC are experimenting with a different exhaust, to modify the engine character. Results so far not promising


Dani Pedrosa, about to crest T1


The changed seat position is working out for Lorenzo. But it's not a magic wand


One end of the KTM


The other end of the KTM with legal winglets/aero fairing


The mystery continues at the back of the Ducati GP17


One of Tech 3's rocketship rookies: Jonas Folger


Cal Crutchlow holding his own after Argentina


A dry clutch, or spinny roundy bit, to give it its technical name


Tech 3's other rocketship rookie: Johann Zarco


Scott Redding is outshining his teammate so far. Not being given the 2017 lab bike turns out to be a good thing


Still crazy after all these years


One way of fighting wheelies: get as far forward as possible


Andrea Dovizioso is a big fan of motocross. Not so much of race tracks which have MXGP style bumps


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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Brad Binder Has Broken Arm Replated In Barcelona

Brad Binder has had surgery to fit a new plate to his broken left arm. The original plate, which had been fitted over the winter after he had broken the radius in his left arm, had worked loose, and was not holding the bone together properly. Binder has now had that issue corrected in Barcelona.

The South African had broken his arm in a big crash at Valencia in November, and had undergone surgery to fix the bones in place. This surgery had not taken properly, however, the bone not knitting together properly. Binder had ridden despite the pain, but in Argentina, the pain had become much worse. An examination of the arm showed that the plate had become partially detached, and the bone had broken again. Despite the pain, Binder rode to a tenth place finish in Argentina, a remarkable result all things considered.

On Thursday, Binder had surgery at the Dexeus Hospital in Barcelona. There, Dr Mir removed the old plate, inserted a bone graft to help reattach the bone, and inserted a new plate, allowing Binder to rotate his arm correctly.

Binder now faces a three-week period of rest, before he can start to exercise again. He is certain to miss the US round of Moto2 at Austin next weekend, and is unlikely to be fit in time for Jerez. The most likely time frame for the reigning Moto3 champion is that he will make his return at Le Mans. Who will replace Binder is as yet unknown, but given KTM have Mika Kallio on the books as a test rider, he is the obvious choice.

The press release from the Red Bull KTM Ajo team appears below:


Brad Binder undergoes successful operation on left arm

Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto2 rider undergoes surgery at Hospital Universitario Dexeus in Barcelona, to reposition the plate in his left forearm. Binder had suffered the original injury in November of 2016.

04/13/2017 - Barcelona, Spain

Brad Binder underwent a successful operation on his left arm this Thursday afternoon at the Hospital Universitario Dexeus (Barcelona), required after the South African had experienced discomfort in the radial fracture he had been treated for before the start of the season. The discomfort felt at the Argentinian GP led to him being examined at the circuit medical centre, where it was confirmed that the bone continued to be broken and that the plate applied to the injury had moved. The procedure on Thursday, lasting 120 minutes, was undertaken by Dr. Xavier Mir and his team.

The original injury had occured in a crash by the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider in preason testing in Valencia in November of 2016. Binder was operated on by Dr. Mir that same week in Barcelona, followed by a further operation in South Africa at the start of this year.

Dr. Mir, Head of Surgery and Microsurgery of the Upper Extremities at the Hospital Universitario Dexeus; Head of Traumotology for MotoGP.

"Today we operated on Brad Binder, who had suffered a loosening of the plate on his left forearm. The operation consisted of three phases: The first, removing the old plate, which had lost the pronator axis. Secondly, we placed a new plate with the correct axis of the radius, so that it could do twisting movements; Finally, a graft removed from his arm to wrap around the old fracture and ensure that the bone heals as soon as possible. He will remain in hospital for between 24 and 48 hours and we believe that he will be able to begin recovery exercises in three weeks."

The Red Bull KTM Ajo will be unable to participate in the Grand Prix of the Americas, and the evolution of the injury will decide his return date. Despite the problems experienced in the race last Sunday, Binder was able to place in the Top 10 at Termas de Rio Hondo, demonstrating his great progress onboard the KTM Moto2 bike.

 

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Post Argentina News Round Up: Binder Breaks Arm, Riders Want Qualifying Change, WorldSBK In Argentina

Along with a thrilling weekend of racing, several interesting items of news emerged in Argentina. Brad Binder and Remy Gardner were injured, and face surgery. Discussions were held in the Safety Commission on deciding who progresses to Q1 and Q2. And at a press conference, Dorna announced that the WorldSBK championship will be racing in Argentina in 2018, at a new circuit in the west of the country.

Binder breaks arm, Gardner damages ankle

First, to the injury news. Brad Binder had his best result on the KTM Moto2 bike so far, but his weekend was far from a success. The reigning Moto3 champion has been struggling all off season with a broken arm which was healing slowly, after a plate put in his arm to fix the broken bones in place had only partially succeeded in doing so. Speaking at the Jerez test in February, he described his arm as being "nowhere near where we'd hoped it would be." Progress has been slow since then.

Things got worse during practice in Argentina. After his arm had swollen up overnight, Binder had the arm X-rayed on Sunday morning. That revealed that the arm had broken again, and the plate holding the bone together had shifted. Binder raced anyway, and achieved his best result of the season, finishing in ninth place. It was an act of remarkable fortitude, given the pain he must have been in. He joked to BT Sport reporters Gavin Emmett and Neil Hodgson, "the Clinica have some really good painkillers," after the race.

Binder is now flying back to Barcelona, where new surgery is planned to fix the plate in place again. The recovery period from that surgery is likely to be six weeks, meaning he will miss at least the Austin and Jerez races, but could be back in time for Le Mans. While the KTM Ajo team are waiting for the results of surgery, there has been no word on a replacement.

Another rider flew back to Barcelona on Monday for surgery. Tech 3's Remy Gardner was taken out by another rider for the second race in a row. Unlike in Qatar, where the Australian escaped relatively unharmed, Gardner suffered a suspected fractured ankle in the crash at Termas De Rio Hondo. Once he arrives in Barcelona, he will be examined by Dr Mir at the Dexeus Institut to assess whether he will require surgery to fix the ankle.

It is an unfortunate turn of events for Gardner. The young Australian had been showing improving form since joining the Tech 3 team, but bad luck in races – brought on in part by qualifying well down the order – means he is yet to complete a lap in a race. Whether Gardner will be forced to miss any further race will be assessed once a decision has been made about his injured ankle.

From Free Practice to Qualifying

The Safety Commission in Argentina had plenty to discuss. Along with the saga of the additional Michelin front tire, it appears the riders also discussed an alternative approach to qualifying, according to the Catalan radio station Catalunya Radio.

The idea under discussion is that times from FP1 and FP2 would no longer count towards deciding who goes straight through to Q2, and who would have to pass through Q1 instead. The free practice sessions on Friday would then return to being about bike set up, and FP3 on Saturday morning would turn into a pre-qualifying session for determining Q2. According to Catalunya Radio, the riders asked Dorna and IRTA to consider the proposal at the next meeting of the Grand Prix Commission at Jerez.

The issue for the riders is that the have to spend time every session trying to put in a "banker lap", a single flying lap fast enough to ensure safe passage to Q2 in case rain spoils the remaining sessions. It means that in practice, the riders and teams only get around 35 minutes of actual set up time, while having to dedicate a couple of laps to setting a quick time. By having pre-qualifying concentrated in FP3, they could focus more on setup on Friday.

While this would be good for the riders and the teams, it may not be as attractive for the fans. Because each session now actually matters, counts towards who lines up in Q2, it adds a welcome note of tension to all three free practice sessions. Free practices 1, 2, and 3 all have an element of excitement about them, and give crowds and TV viewers more reason to watch them. Dorna will have to weigh up how much of a factor that added excitement is in helping to sell TV rights packages to broadcasters.

Dropping FP1 and FP2 from pre-qualifying may have unintended consequences on the racing as well. Giving the teams more time to focus solely on setup would remove a random element from the equation. The more time teams have to work on setup, the greater the gap between the big, successful factory teams and the smaller independent teams.

Factory teams have more engineers going over the data, and more resources to find the right setting for each rider at each track. Independent teams have fewer resources, and need to get the setup very close right from the start of the weekend. Less setup time means less time for the factories to exploit their advantage (an advantage obtained solely as a result of having more money to throw at the problem) over the independent teams.

WorldSBK in Argentina

Finally, there was a non-MotoGP announcement at the Termas De Rio Hondo circuit. On Saturday, Carmelo Ezpeleta and Daniel Carrera of Dorna, along with Sergio Uñac, the Governor of the Province of San Juan, and Orly Terranova of the OSD Group announced that they had signed a three-year agreement to hold World Superbikes at the Villicum Circuit, at Albardón, near San Juan, in the west of Argentina.

The circuit is currently under construction, and is due to be visited for homologation later in the year. If the circuit is approved, then the WorldSBK series will visit the track from 2018 onwards. Where it will fit in the calendar is still to be determined, but the most likely place in the schedule will be after the opening flyaway rounds in Australia and Thailand, or before the final round of the season in Qatar.

The reason for building the circuit where it is is because of its proximity to the Andes. It is situated beside Route 40, the main road which runs from north to south just east of the Andes, and is a tourist destination in itself. The track is also 550km from the Chilean capital Santiago, making it a likely destination for race fans from Chile, as well as Argentina.

The press release announcing the deal appears below:


Argentina prepares to host WorldSBK in 2018

Province of San Juan joins the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship Calendar

The Government of the Province of San Juan (Argentina), Dorna WSBK Organization and the OSD Group are pleased to announce the signing of a three-year agreement to host WorldSBK Rounds at the Villicum Circuit, which is currently under construction.

In the province of San Juan, near the city of Albardón the new Villicum Circuit is in the process of being built, which was designed by Argentine architect Leonardo Stella. Work began in October 2016 and will make Argentina the 26th country to host a Round of the world´s fastest production-based motorcycle series. Riders and fans will enjoy the action and excitement of a 4.2 kilometre track with 19 corners - 11 left and 8 right.

WorldSBK is expected to visit the circuit in 2018, as the Government of the Province of San Juan and OSD Group are hoping to have the track homologated by the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) later this year.

The region of San Juan has an outstanding history in motorcycle racing and motorsport in general. The world-famous Dakar Rally has passed through the province in recent years, and the El Zonda circuit continues to host racing events across the year.

The new circuit is located on the symbolic Route 40, a 5,000km road which stretches from the north to the south of Argentina, along the breathtaking Andes. Route 40 is a tourist attraction not only for motorsport fans, but for all travellers who go to discover the best landscapes in the country.

The Governor of the Province of San Juan, Sergio Uñac said that the new circuit "is a project which will position San Juan at the heart of the sport, as the best categories of motorcycling and the motoring world will discover a stunning circuit with The Villicum, creating an unbeatable thrill".

"As well as this," added Governor Uñac, "there will be a hotel nearby - the old La Laja hotel. We are also talking with interested parties to build a hotel in front of the racetrack, which is one of the necessities in order to put this racetrack the highest international level”.

Carmelo Ezpeleta, Dorna Group CEO, expressed his satisfaction at WorldSBK's arrival to South America for the first time in history. "Without doubt this is very good news. Knowing that Argentina will have a World Superbike Round is a solid step forward. The presence of the two of the most important world championships in motorbike racing in Argentina, reflects the passion of a country which has a vast and deep rooted history in motor sports."

Orly Terranova, CEO of OSD: "I am very pleased that the new Villicum Circuit - which has already received the first approval from the FIM - allows us to work with another world-class international event like WorldSBK. As well as this it provides us with a definite option of attracting other categories of motorsport. In addition we believe that this is the opportunity for Argentina to have one or more riders competing, as the category will be a great platform for Argentine and Latin American motorcycling. Undoubtedly, the new racetrack - located on the legendary Route 40 - will generate a positive impact in the Cuyo region, increasing the levels of tourism the province of San Juan has to offer.”

Daniel Carrera, Executive Director of WorldSBK said: "We are very proud that the government of San Juan selected WorldSBK to help develop the economic activity of the Circuit, and the province of San Juan. In recent years WorldSBK has been present in destinations around the world such as the United States, Thailand, Australia or Qatar, where events have been developed with great results. The Villicum Circuit is projected as a top-level facility, with an exciting track that will surely be welcomed by our paddock and all the fans of our sport in Argentina."


Gathering the background information for long articles such as these is an expensive and time-consuming operation. If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting MotoMatters.com. You can help by either taking out a subscription, buying the beautiful MotoMatters.com 2017 racing calendar, by making a donation, or by contributing via our GoFundMe page.

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Additional Front Tire Withdrawn After Getting Stuck In Customs

The MotoGP riders will not have the additional soft front tire at their disposal for the Argentinian Grand Prix. In a meeting of the Safety Commission on Friday night, the riders agreed that they did not need the tire, as the current allocation of three fronts was sufficient for safety purposes.

The decision is unlikely to make much of a difference to most riders. With rain expected on Saturday for both practice and qualifying, the riders would not have been able to use it anyway. That would have left them with the option of trying it out during morning warm up, but actually running it in the race would have been a big risk based on very little data in Argentina.

The additional tire is basically the prototype tire which the MotoGP riders used at Valencia at the end of 2016, which uses the 2017 profile but a stiffer carcass than the current tire. Though it worked well in  Valencia, Argentina is a very different track with a lot more very fast corners, which stresses the tire differently. Getting it to work properly would have required more work than just a brief session.

The news of the tire withdrawal, which first appeared on the French website Paddock GP, is partly a result of a customs strike in Argentina. The tires were held up in customs, and did not arrive at the circuit on time on Friday. With so little time to test it, the riders decided not to use the tire. The additional front is outside of the normal allocation of tires, and additional tires are normally only used for reasons of safety, such as when Michelin is uncertain a tire will last the entire race distance. However, all three existing front tires were judged to be performing well, and so with no safety grounds to allow it, the riders decided to postpone using it. The tire will be trialed once again later this year, either at the next race in Austin or at the post-race test on the Monday after Jerez. 

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Michelin - Argentina An Important Test For Tires

The Termas de Rio Hondo circuit proved to be quite an ordeal for Michelin in 2016. In their first year as official tire supplier, Michelin arrived at the Argentinian circuit with only limited data from testing. They were not entirely to blame for that situation: test riders had ridden at the track in 2015, but had the weather conditions against them. A damp track and the slower pace of test riders meant that the tires did not get the workout they needed to stress them to the limit.

That did happen during practice for the race. The rear Michelin of Scott Redding's Pramac Ducati delaminated during FP4, causing a radical shakeup for the race. The race was once again cut in two, and compulsory pit stops added. As a result of that event, Michelin responded by becoming a lot more conservative in their tire selection, producing tires which were much more hard wearing, but also provided less feel and less grip.

The MotoGP circus arrives in Argentina in 2017 much better prepared. Michelin have had a year to work on new tires, and have a full race weekend of data from competitive riders to base their new tires on. The French tire manufacturer will be hoping that the work they have done over the past year will rule out any further surprises. 

Conditions at the track will be difficult, however. Sadly, the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit sees very limited use during the year, and so is usually covered in dust and dirt on arrival. Complicating matters further, rain is expected on Saturday and Sunday, at least, leaving the riders with a dirty track to cope with in Friday, and possibly a wet track to handle during qualifying and the race. Michelin's rain tires could be the ones getting a workout this weekend.

For more details on Michelin's tires, see the Race Card they issue before every race, and the press release below:


An Argentinian adventure awaits Michelin in Latin America

Michelin has embarked on one of the most challenging trips of the MotoGP™ calendar as it heads over the equator to Latin America and then across Argentina to Termas de Rio Hondo for round two of the championship as the Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina is held at one of the most demanding circuits of the year.

Initially constructed in 2007 and opened the following year for a round of Argentina´s Touring Car championship, the circuit was completely redeveloped, enlarged and restructured in 2012 to make it ready to stage MotoGP, which it has done since 2014 and this season will see Michelin making its second visit to one of South America’s safest and most modern circuits. The track is one of the fastest on the calendar and is very demanding on tyres, it features fast sweeping bends, high cambers and hard-braking zones throughout the circuit’s layout of nine right-hand bends and five left-handers, allied to a straight over one kilometre long. With such demands, the range of MICHELIN Power Slicks will have a lot of work to do to cope with the high temperatures that are created and the abrasive nature of the surface. Michelin’s series of tyres to handle these challenges will be the soft, medium and hard compound options for the front and rear, these will be identifiable by white bands, no bands and yellow bands respectively. The soft and medium rear compounds will feature an asymmetrical design with a harder right-hand shoulder, whilst the hard option will be a symmetrical version.

The nature of the circuit and its location – situated in the Province of Santiago del Estero approximately 1,100km from Buenos Aires and close to the Andes mountain range – can mean that weather can play a large part in proceedings. From very hot conditions which can be a big test on the riders’ stamina and requires careful tyre management to get the best performance from their respective machines, to cooler, wet conditions. To combat any precipitation the MICHELIN Power Rain tyres will be available in a soft and medium compound for both the front and rear of the bikes, these will be identifiable by a blue and no band on the side of the tyre respectively.

Track action in Argentina will begin on Friday 7th April with two Free Practice sessions, the third Free Practice will be staged the following morning. The all-important qualifying sessions to establish the grid positions for the 25-lap race will take place on Saturday afternoon. Sunday’s race will start at 16.00hrs local time (21.00hrs CEST, 19.00hrs UST/GMT, 20.00hrs BST).

Piero Taramasso – Manager of the Two-Wheel Motorsport Group:

“This is one race that everyone at Michelin is very focused on. We learnt many things from the event in Argentina last year and it altered the course of our plans in 2016. The target now is to improve at the tracks where we struggled last season and Termas is one of those, so we will be looking to make big steps there. The track is not used very often and we expect it to be quite dirty when we first arrive, so the first session will be more of a cleaning exercise, but after that we expect improvements throughout the weekend – conditions permitting. The asphalt is very abrasive with some very fast and long corners, plus very hard braking zones, all of which is expected to result in one of the highest average speeds of the year, these characteristics put big demands on both the front and rear and the weather can also be very unpredictable in that area at this time of the year. This is a race with many variables, but with the knowledge we have gathered, and the evolutions we have made over the last 12-months, we are ready for any eventualities, and the determination from the whole team to do well is as strong as it has ever been.”

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Superbike Commission: WorldSBK Follows MotoGP In Dropping Penalty Points

After the Grand Prix Commission abolished penalty points at their meeting at Qatar, it was inevitable that they would meet the same fate in World Superbikes. At the latest meeting of the Superbike Commission, the rule-making body for the WorldSBK series, the penalty point system was abolished in WorldSBK, just as it has been in MotoGP.

The reasons given are the same: Race Direction has enough penalties already to deal with any infringements of the rules. The aim is to punish riders immediately, at the same event, rather than collect up penalties over multiple rounds, and only serve a penalty later.

Beyond that, the Superbike Commission adopted a number of minor tweaks to the rules. Electric bicycles were banned for track familiarization, adding to the ban on using scooters. Given that electric bicycles covers a wide range of vehicles, from bikes with moderate pedal assistance to those capable of 80+ km/h, this is understandable. It does mean that riders with leg, foot, or ankle injuries will face greater problems scouting the track.

There were also a host of minor updates to the WorldSSP300 regulations. This should not come as a surprise, given that Aragon was the first outing of the newly created support series. The race itself proved to be highly entertaining, living up to the billing provided beforehand.

The FIM press release containing the rule changes appears below:


FIM Superbike & Supersport World Championships
Regulation updates 2017

The Superbike Commission composed of Messrs Gregorio Lavilla (WorldSBK Sporting Director), Rezsö Bulcsu (FIM CCR Director), Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA Representative); in the presence of Messrs Daniel Carrera (WorldSBK Executive Director), Paul Duparc and Scott Smart (FIM) in a meeting held in Motorland Aragon (ESP), April 1st, made the following changes to the 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike & Supersports World Championship Regulations:

Sporting and Disciplinary Regulations

  1. Slight changes have been carried out to the Sporting rules mainly to clarify which riders are allowed to participate in the Superpoles for the SBK and Supersport classes. As a principle, it was clarified that riders over the 107% lap time recorded by fastest riders in Free Practices will not be allowed to participate in the Superpoles. However, such riders can participate in the warm up (in SBK and Supersport 600cc) and be qualified for the race, provided they set a time below 107% of the fastest riders of their classes (in that case, they will be authorised to start the race from the back of the grid).
  2. In addition to the ban of scooters, it was also decided to ban the use of electric bicycles for track familiarization.
  3. A few changes have been decided for clarifying the start procedure.
  4. Taking into consideration that the WorldSBK Race Direction have many penalty options, the penalty points are no longer necessary. The SBK penalty points are now withdrawn from the list of penalties.

Technical Regulations

Various technical clarifications are to be implemented into the technical rules for 2017. These clarifications concern mainly the Supersport 300 World Championship class, and will be inserted in the regulations for an immediate application.

The 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike & Supersports World Championships Regulations will be available at FIM-LIVE.COM within the next two weeks.

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Qatar To Be Moved To February, Resurfaced, Substrate Heating Added

As many of you will have spotted, this was in fact an April Fool's story. While the Losail International Circuit is indeed due to be resurfaced after thirteen years of use, as yet, no contract to do so has been agreed. No plans exist to fit underfloor heating, as far as I know, and given the astronomical cost involved, it seems very unlikely to happen. Normal service has now been resumed... 

The Losail International Circuit is to be resurfaced, with the aim of moving the opening race back to February. The question of resurfacing came to a head after last week's season opener MotoGP round at Qatar, when light rain caused the start of the MotoGP race to be delayed, raising concern among the riders over the evening dew, which starts to form on the track surface at around 10pm. There were serious concerns that the track would become too treacherous to race on, if the race were to be delayed for too much longer.

The surface and condition of the Losail circuit was a talking point all weekend. The asphalt itself is nearly fourteen years old, as the track has not been resurfaced since it was first built. Because the MotoGP race runs at night, the evening dew makes the track slippery, but the dew patches are impossible to see. And the fact that the race runs at night means that the event is in peril if it rains.

Dorna had a possible solution in place for a rain race. If the track had been sufficiently wet during the course of the weekend, an extra session of testing was to be convened, to allow all three classes to ride on a wet track under the floodlights. That would have given everyone a chance to assess how much of a problem glare from the floodlights would have been.

It did in fact rain on Saturday, but the rain was so torrential, and so much fell in such a short time that the track became flooded, and was unsafe to ride on. There was standing water in several corners, as well as in the gravel traps. Testing glare from the floodlights was impossible.

In a series of meetings about the track over the course of the weekend, the circuit reached agreement with Dorna about a radical solution, Motomatters.com has learned. One which would address both the issue with dew forming in the evening, and remove any concerns over running a race at night in the wet. The circuit is to be resurfaced, and in the process, it is to have a heated substrate fitted.

The heating installation is to be fitted below the surface of the entire track, and used to keep the track at a steady 37°C any time the track is used. By keeping the track surface at a constant temperature, the system, based on underfloor heating systems used in large scale industrial facilities where temperature control is critical, will give the Losail circuit a much wider range of use.

The biggest advantage for both MotoGP and WorldSBK is that it will prevent condensation forming on the track in the evening. This will give Dorna much greater freedom in the timing of events for both series. Qatar has the rights to be the first race of the MotoGP season, and the last race of the WorldSBK season, and a heated track will allow both events to be moved earlier and later respectively.

The heated track is a key requirement for MotoGP, especially. With more races being added to the calendar, Dorna are keen to start the season earlier. In 2018, when Thailand joins the calendar, one of the three preseason tests (most probably, Phillip Island) is to be dropped, and the season opener at Qatar held several weeks earlier. That has always been a problem because of the evening condensation, but subsurface heating removes that element from the equation.

Likewise, the heated track also allows the WorldSBK season to be extended. New circuits in Asia can be added, and the season finale moved back to November, instead of October. Sources indicate that Dorna would dearly like to hold the WorldSBK and MotoGP season finales on back-to-back weekends, with a grand awards gala to be held for both series together.

The subsurface heating offers several other benefits. With the evening dew no longer a factor, practice in Qatar can run longer at night. The Qatar MotoGP race is the only event to be held over four days, and teams would welcome having the race weekend be just three days, like the others, as it means lower costs for accommodation, car rental, etc. It might even be possible to cut the length of practice sessions, as constant conditions would allow teams to find a working setup much faster.

Preliminary modeling had shown that a heated track would also help combat the rain. If rain fell during the race weekend, circuit engineers are reportedly confident that the subsurface heating would be able to dissipate the water within approximately 20 minutes, greatly helped by the dry desert winds which constantly blow across the track. This would eliminate the need for a wet track test, and remove any concerns over glare.

Above all, a heated circuit would make it much easier for the official tire suppliers to all three Grand Prix classes. With a constant track temperature, both Michelin and Dunlop can bring tires tailored very precisely to the conditions at the circuit. They could cut down on the number of tires transported, as they would not have changeable conditions to contend with, and be assured of circuit records being broken.

The only objection to a track with subsurface heating is one of cost. The amount of gas required to heat the track to a constant 37°C would be huge, and extremely costly. However, given the amount of money the circuit spends on the floodlight installation to allow the races to run at night, this is not believed to be an issue.

Though a preliminary agreement to fit subsurface heating has already been made between Dorna and the Losail International Circuit, there is still the matter of finding a supplier capable of handling such a complex operation. Motomatters.com understands that a local engineering firm is the current front runner among interested parties. The most likely scenario is that the subsurface heating will be the work of Poor al-Ifl.

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Alex Rins Suffers Ankle Injury In Training Crash

Alex Rins has suffered a setback which could see him not participate in the second race of the season in Argentina. The factory Suzuki rider crashed while riding his Suzuki motocross bike, and suffered a partial fracture his talus, the bone which sits at the top of the ankle and transfers the weight between leg bones and the foot.

Rins was examined at the Dexeus Institut by Dr Xavier Mir, who diagnosed him with a partial fracture. Rins is due to have another scan on Monday to determine the extent of the injury, and how it is recovering, but the injury does put his participation in the Argentinian GP at Termas de Rio Hondo in doubt. 

Recovery times for full fractures of the talus bone are long: up to 12 weeks for normal humans, which in racer terms generally equates to half that. If the injury is not too severe, he may be able to make a tentative start in Argentina, and will almost certainly be fit for Austin.

The press release issued by the Suzuki ECSTAR team is below, followed by the tweet sent out by the team. That helpfully includes a diagram of exactly which bone the Talus is.


ALEX RINS SUFFERS MINOR INJURY WHILE TRAINING

Team Suzuki Press Office – March 31.

Team SUZUKI ECSTAR rider Alex Rins had a slight accident while training on Thursday with his Suzuki RM-Z motocross machine. Apparently without major incident, but with some pain in the right ankle, he finally decided to have some tests done at the University Hospital Dexeus in Barcelona (Spain). There he underwent further examination which diagnosed a small fracture in the talus bone of the right ankle.

The doctors who evaluated the Spanish rider, led by Dr. Xavier Mir, Head of the Hand Unit, a top Orthopedic Surgeon, and Coordinator of the MotoGP Traumatology Service, and Eugenio Gimeno, Head of the foot Unit Hospital Quiron-Dexeus, concluded after a CT scan that Rins had a partial fracture of the right talus, without displacement, but with bone edema.

After consulting with his colleagues in the Department of Traumatology, the medical team has decided to carry out non-surgical treatment with magnetotherapy and physiotherapy, and they will examine the rider next Monday in the same clinic for a check-up before traveling to Argentina.

We will send new updates concerning Alex Rins’ right ankle condition after further tests next Monday.

 

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