Latest News

Ducati Lose Concessions For 2016 - Will Race Under Same Rules As Honda And Yamaha

Ducati are to lose their concessions for the 2016 MotoGP season. Meeting at Assen, the Grand Prix Commission decided to apply the system of concession points which was due to take effect from the 2016 season to the results of Ducati for this season. This means that from next year, Ducati will race under the same rules as Honda and Yamaha, which means that they will have seven engines per season, with no development allowed during the season, and testing with factory riders restricted to official tests and a handful of private tests.

That Honda and Yamaha had been pushing for Ducati to have their concessions removed for next year was first reported here after Jerez. After Ducati's strong start to 2015, with six podiums from eight races, it was clear that the Desmosedici GP15 is a competitive motorcycle. Technically, Ducati would only have had their concessions for 2016 taken away if they had won a race in the dry. While the GP15 is fast, it is still a very young project, and needs some work doing to it. Winning a dry race would also require beating Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, not the easiest of tasks at the best of times.

At Mugello, sources close to one Japanese factory told MotoMatters that they did not expect the matter to be decided before the end of the year. That would give Ducati most of the rest of the 2015 season to try to win a race. If they had not done so by the time the GP circus headed overseas for the flyaways, the concessions could have been removed by the GPC once they met in Japan or Valencia. The GPC appear to have decided to act earlier, to allow Ducati to prepare.

This means that Ducati will start the 2016 season under the same condition as Honda and Yamaha. All of the bikes on the grid will have the same amount of fuel (22 liters), the same spec electronics, and the same allocation of tires, the special soft tire having been removed. But Honda, Yamaha and Ducati will have seven engines per season, with no development allowed, and testing with factory riders limited to official tests and five days of private testing. Aprilia and Suzuki will have twelve engines per season, will be allowed to modify the design of their engines during the season, and will be allowed to test with factory riders at private tests as often as they like, within the constraints of the tire allocation limit for testing. Should they accrue six concession points in a season, then they will lose the right to test with factory riders immediately, and all of the concessions for the following season.

The GPC also introduced a number of other rules. They allowed factories to provide three different specifications of homologated engines, including engines from previous seasons. The two factory riders must be on the same engine spec, riders for satellite teams may have different spec engines, even in the same team.

The press from the FIM is shown below:


FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix
Decision of the Grand Prix Commission

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 26 June in Assen, made the following decisions:

Technical Regulations

MotoGP Class

Concessions - MotoGP Class – Effective Immediately

In 2015 any manufacturer who currently benefits from concessions and who achieves six concession points in dry or wet conditions will lose all concessions from the following season.

Note: As Ducati have already achieved more than six concession points in 2015 they will lose concessions from 2016.

Engine Allocations in the MotoGP Class – Effective 2016

In the interests of cost saving, manufacturers may use engines with specifications homologated from previous seasons, providing that such engines still comply with current technical regulations.

Each manufacturer may homologate a maximum of three different specifications before the first event of the season.

Before the first event of the season, every rider must nominate one specification of homologated engine which he must exclusively use for the entire season. This means that in a non-factory team different riders might use engines with different homologated specifications.

However, every manufacturer must nominate one team as its “Factory Team” and each rider in that team must use engines with the same homologated specification.

MotoGP Electronics, Sensors and Devices – Effective 2016

With the use of a single ECU and unified software it was necessary to clarify and update the regulations concerning supply and ownership of ECUs, the homologation of permitted sensors and the list of “free devices” that can be connected to the ECU. Full details will be published in the on-line version of the FIM Grand Prix regulations.

Sporting Regulations

Effective Immediately

In the interests of safety a regulation was approved which prohibits a rider stopping on the start and finish straight after the chequered flag.

Medical Code

The Commission approved initial plans to make changes to the structure of the Grand Prix medical services. This will involve changes to responsibilities within the permanent management and also better integration and involvement of the local circuit doctors.

A regularly updated version of the FIM Grand Prix Regulations which contains the detailed text of the regulation changes may be viewed shortly on:

http://www.fim-live.com/en/sport/official-documents-ccr/codes-and-regula...

Scott Jones Goes Dutch - Pictures Of Assen


No comment necessary


Pol Espargaro is trying hard to go fast. Perhaps a little too hard


No walk in the park


Scott Redding, like his old adversary Pol Espargaro, is trying really, really hard


A great rider, a smart team, a brilliant crew chief, some clever engineers. A potent brew


Follow the fast guy


Andrea Migno hooning round a racetrack on a naked 250cc four-stroke single - it could be 1925 all over again


Bradley Smith has come into his own in 2015


A new swingarm, and a track he doesn't have to learn for a change, and Eugene Laverty is fastest Open Honda


Red, white, and blue?


Has the beast been tamed? It is perhaps slightly more manageable. Now to try to stay on


What hides behind the carbon? Is it a torque sensor, perhaps?


Jacob's Ladder. Welcome to Assen


Crowd pleaser. Cal Crutchlow is always good value


Mr 100%. Because Aleix Espargaro never gives less

 


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.

Dutch MotoGP Round At Assen To Switch From Saturday To Sunday From 2016

The Dutch round of MotoGP, the Dutch TT at Assen, is to switch from Saturday to Sunday. From 2016, the event will surrender its unique status as the only MotoGP round to be held on Saturday, and fall in line with the rest of the MotoGP races. It will, however, remain on the last weekend of June, but will now be on the last Sunday, rather than the last Saturday of June.

The decision was taken by the circuit management after long consideration and discussions with many of the parties who have an interest in the race. The circuit also commissioned market research into the use of leisure time among the Dutch public, which showed that Sunday is the day most people set aside to spend attending sporting events, such as the Dutch TT. Circuit director Peter Oosterbaan and chairman Arjan Bos said that the market they were operating in was such that Sunday was a better day all round for sporting events. "All of the major football games, all of the big sporting events are on Sunday. People expect to go to a big event on a Sunday," Arjan Bos said. The move would also mean better media exposure for the event, as Sunday is the day with the most exposure for sports on TV and radio.

A major objective of the switch is to increase attendance, not so much on race day as for practice. Though Bos and Oosterbaan hoped that race day attendance would rise, they saw the most possibility for gains on Saturday. "We have been to a lot of races in recent years, at Le Mans, in Italy and in Spain. We have been surprised at the number of people who turn up for qualifying, and at the range of events on offer. By switching the race to Sunday, we hope to replicate that experience at Assen." To that end, circuit facilities are to be given an upgrade, with the seating areas around the track being turned into proper grandstands, and with a special event space to be built, which would be able of hosting a range of entertainment in the evening during race weekends. This was all part of a €12 million investment program to upgrade facilities at the track.

Bos and Oosterbaan emphasized that the decision was not taken at the behest of MotoGP series organizers Dorna. "When we told Carmelo Ezpeleta, he was delighted, but he has never put any pressure on us to change," Bos said. "This was a decision we took for the good of the circuit, and for the future of MotoGP in the Netherlands." As part of that future, the circuit is now discussing an extension of its contract with Dorna to host the race from 2021 to 2026. Though that was yet to be agreed, Bos and Oosterbaan said that the proposal had been received very favorably by Dorna.

The switch to Sunday means that this Saturday's race will be the last ever Dutch TT to be raced on Saturday. Whoever wins in Assen will go down in history as the last winner of the traditional Saturday race. But that tradition is something of a historical curiosity. The original race in 1925 was forced to switch from Sunday to Saturday, after complaints from a local Dutch Reformed pastor who did not want the roar of motorcycles coming past the front door of his church on Sunday. The Netherlands, and the region around Assen, are a vastly more secular society than they were 90 years ago. Bringing the Dutch TT at Assen into line with the rest of the MotoGP races will bring far more benefits than downsides. The management of the circuit believe it is a crucial step to secure the long term future of the race in the Netherlands, and at Assen.

Brno MotoGP Ticket Sales Suspended - 2015 Round Looking Severely Doubtful

This year's Brno round of MotoGP looks to be under severe threat. Ticket sales on the circuit's official website for the event have been suspended as of this afternoon, after talks with Brno city council and the regional government broke down over funding of the race.

The message on the Brno circuit website reads:

With an immediate effect, Automotodrom Brno suspends the sale of tickets for the Grand Prix of the Czech Republic 2015 due to insufficient funding for the event. The final decision on the Grand Prix of the Czech Republic 2015 will be published on 29 June. In case of cancellation of the event, all paid tickets will be refunded. 

The issue seems to be a disagreement between the circuit, the city council, the regional government and the Czech state. All of the interested parties are keen to see the race happen, but none are willing to cover the costs without imposing conditions. At stake is a total of CZK 50 million, or roughly €1.8 million euros. Funds have been made available by the Moravian regional government, the city council and the Ministry for Education, but the circuit is still trying to reach an agreement with those offering the funds over the conditions for that money. 

The lack of agreement means that the deadline for the circuit to pay Dorna has passed. Talks are continuing between the track and the authorities over a solution, but they will require Dorna's forebearance over moneys not paid to the series organizer. It will be interesting to see whether Dorna is prepared to hang on until the 29th to give Brno a second chance. As the Czech round is the most popular of the season, with the highest attendance figures of the year, it is hard to understand how the circuit can be short of the funds needed to pay the race.

And It's Off Again - Van Der Mark Will Not Be Replacing Abraham At Assen After All

Michael van der Mark will now not be racing at his home MotoGP round of Assen. The deal to replace the injured Karel Abraham at the AB MotoRacing team has fallen through, the stumbling block being who would cover the cost of crash parts.

The deal came very close to fruition. Rumors that Van der Mark would take the place of Abraham first started over the weekend at Misano, emerging publicly on Monday afternoon. HRC had put Van der Mark forward to replace the injured Abraham, and the AB MotoRacing team were very open to having the young Dutchman as a substitute. Things soured on Monday, however, as discussions grew heated over who would pay for crash damage to the Open class Honda RC213V-RS if Van der Mark were to drop the bike. AB MotoRacing wanted HRC to pay for damage, Honda believed it was the responsibility of the team, just as it would be if Abraham were racing. 

In the end, the two parties could not reach agreement. Van der Mark will not now race in front of his home crowd, and it seems likely that Honda test rider Hiroshi Aoyama will once again fill in for an absent rider. The loss of Van der Mark as a substitute will come as a minor blow to the Dutch TT at Assen, with Dutch media interest in the race going into overdrive at the prospect of a Dutch rider in the premier class. The last Dutch rider to race in MotoGP was Jurgen van der Goorbergh, who rode the last of the Honda NSR500s with Erv Kanemoto, working on the earliest versions of Bridgestone's MotoGP tires. Since then, there have been Dutch riders in the junior classes - 125s, 250s and Moto3 - but never a rider in the main show.

Michael Van Der Mark Set To Replace Karel Abraham For Assen MotoGP Round

Michael van der Mark looks set to make his MotoGP debut at Assen this weekend. The 22-year-old Dutchman will be swapping his Pata Honda CBR1000RR World Superbike machine for the Open class Honda RC213V-RS of the AB MotoRacing team, where he is set to fill in for the injured Karel Abraham. Abraham badly injured his foot, severly dislocating his toe, in a fall during FP4 in Barcelona.

Rumors that the Dutchman would get the chance to race a MotoGP machine at his home race started circulating in the Dutch media earlier on Monday. Several sources close to the situation confirmed that the deal was very close to being sealed. There are just a few final details to be settled, including matters such as covering the cost of damage in case of a crash.

Van der Mark's MotoGP debut is another step in the meteoric rise of his career. The Dutch youngster wrapped up the Superstock 600 title in his second full year in the class, then repeated that feat in World Supersport. He has made a strong debut in World Superbikes, matching and sometimes beating his Pata Honda teammate, the reigning world champion Sylvain Guintoli. Van der Mark had a superb weekend during the WSBK race at Assen in April, scoring a pair of podiums in the two races. HRC were already impressed with the Dutchman after his performance in the Suzuka 8 Hour race last year, and have signed him to race alongside Casey Stoner at the event again this year. His performance on the Pata Honda in WSBK convinced them to ask him to step in at AB MotoRacing, when Karel Abraham's team informed IRTA that they would need to field a substitute rider for Assen.

Van der Mark has an uphill task ahead of him. Though he knows the Assen circuit like the back of his hand, he has only had a single brief test ride on a Honda MotoGP machine. Conditions at Assen are set to be rather changeable, as is so often the case, meaning that the amount of dry track time he will have is likely to be limited. The Open Honda is not nearly as competitive as the satellite machines, and so he still has plenty to learn. But Van der Mark's appearance at Assen is likely to be immensely popular with Dutch racing fans, and will further boost the already high numbers expected on Saturday.

Qatar Extends MotoGP Deal For Another Ten Years

Qatar is to host a MotoGP race through 2026. The Losail International Circuit has extended its current deal, which expires in 2016, for another 10 years. 

The race is to remain a night race, and will stay as the season opener for the foreseeable future. The race is a lucrative one for Dorna, the fee paid by Qatar covering all of the costs of all of the flyaway races for all of the teams for the full season. 

The night race is popular with fans, as it provides an interesting spectacle, and the layout is particularly well suited to motorcycle racing. However, holding the race as a night race means it is impossible to start the season much earlier than late March, as temperatures drop too much at night earlier in the year, causing dew to form on the track, making it dangerous to race on.

Below is the press release issued by Dorna:


Qatar secures 10-year MotoGP™ contract

The Losail International Circuit will be featured on the FIM MotoGP™ World Championship calendar until at least 2026 following a joint announcement by QMMF President Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Attiyah and Dorna Sports CEO Mr Carmelo Ezpeleta. The two parties committed to continue the agreement which has seen the Qatar round become a permanent fixture of Grand Prix racing since 2004.

On Sunday morning at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit, Mr. Al-Attiyah and Mr. Ezpeleta penned a 10-year deal from 2017 onwards, meaning the event will run for at least 23 consecutive editions since it’s addition to the calendar in 2004. Since then the Qatar GP has become a key point of the Championship. It has acted as the season opener since 2007 and really made its mark in 2008 when it switched to a night-race format, a first in the history of MotoGP™.

Mr. Al-Attiyah declared: “We are very excited about continuing our partnership with MotoGP™ and securing our place in the calendar for another decade. The night race is a spectacular event that we’re proud to host and we aim to keep perfecting this partnership."

"Since its first edition in 2004, the Qatar GP became a trademark of the MotoGP™ World Championship and continues to provide a unique set-up for racing, so we're pleased to seal this agreement and extend our relationship beyond 2016. Losail International Circuit always creates a magic atmosphere and the brotherhood of the two companies has grown throughout the years", commented Dorna Sports SL CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta.

Scott Jones In Tuscany: Race Day At Mugello, Part 1


Pride of Italy: Romano Fenati sporting a stunning Tricolore paint scheme


They tried to catch Jorge Lorenzo, but Lorenzo was not for catching


Yellow Mugello Madness


Heartbreak for Ducati as Dovizioso's rear sprocket rounded...


And joy, as Maniac Joe bagged second after a brilliant race


Sam Lowes demonstrates the noble art of backing it in


Lap 2 or lap 18? The Moto3 race was like this all the way to the line


Johann Zarco gives a lesson in managing a championship


The Doctor had his passing lights on


HRC's new swingarm for the RC213V, with a fraction more flex. The swingarm linkage, further forward, is a thing of beauty


Cal Crutchlow could have started the race with new gloves, but new gloves mean tight fingers means arm pump


Tito Rabat, back to winning ways


A bad way to end a race: a dislocated ankle for Cal Crutchlow


Every team's worst nightmare: Italtrans riders Mika Kallio and Franco Morbidelli crashed out at Mugello simultaneously


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.

The Michelin Test At Mugello - Improved Tires And Mysterious Front End Crashes

On the day after the Italian Grand Prix, the MotoGP riders were back testing at Mugello. This time, however, it was only the factory riders who remained, to give the Michelin tires another run out. The last time they took to the track on the Michelins was at Sepang, and Michelin had brought the latest iteration of their tires to test.

Due to the commercial sensitivities involved, there was no official timing, and the riders were not allowed to speak to the media about the test. Unsurprisingly: Bridgestone hold the single tire contract for the 2015 season, having spent a lot of money for the privilege, so they do not want Michelin stealing their PR thunder. Nor do Michelin really want to be subject the intense scrutiny which official timing would impose while they are still in the middle of their development program.

That does not mean that the small band of journalists who stayed at the test did not learn anything, however. Michelin had brought four front tires to the test, and the factory men spent the morning and the early afternoon selecting their favorite from the four. The plan was for the riders to then try that tire in a full race simulation, to see how the tire stood up to a race distance of 23 laps.

That plan was quickly canceled. There had been no falls during the morning and early afternoon, but on the first laps of his long run, Jorge Lorenzo crashed out at Materassi. Once the track was cleared, it was the turn of Marc Márquez to go out, but on the second lap of his run, he too crashed, this time at Arrabbiata 1. With the debris of the Repsol Honda out of the way, Valentino Rossi followed, the Italian falling at Correntaio. At that point, the plan was abandoned.

All three crashes appear to follow the same pattern, and a similar pattern to the crashes at Sepang. When the riders start pushing hard, the extra drive and grip from the Michelin rear causes the front to wash out, dumping them on the floor. The Michelins seem to have retained some fundamental characteristics, despite being radically different from the tires which Michelin raced back in 2008. Though riders and teams are forbidden from speaking, some sources suggest off the record that the Michelin rear is fantastic, with a lot more grip than the Bridgestone, while the front is not quite where the Bridgestone front is. The new spec front is believed to be better, to give more support and have more edge grip, but clearly, it is not quite ready for prime time.

The picture is complicated by the fact that the bikes are set up for an entirely different tire. The Michelins are all 17-inch tires, though the tire outer circumference is rather similar to the Bridgestone 16.5-inch rubber. The 2015 bikes are all designed based on years of data with the Bridgestones, and so suspension settings and chassis geometry and stiffness are not quite right for the Michelins. There is a lot of work to do with both the tires and the bikes ahead of 2016.

That is also apparent from the feedback. A member of one team told me that a rider from another team – pinch of salt required – was far less happy with the Michelins at Mugello than he had been at Sepang. In Malaysia, he was faster on the Michelins than the Bridgestones. At Mugello, it was the other way round. There is no doubt that in terms of overall performance, the Michelins are already very close. One insider told me they expected lap records to fall at some tracks, but to be slower at others. It makes for an interesting prospect.

It may have been a factory rider test, but not all factory riders were present. Suzuki were absent altogether, as Aleix Espargaro still has the thumb injury, and as a rookie, Maverick Viñales does not have the experience of the tires to provide useful insight. Andrea Iannone was missing from the Ducati garage, the Italian back at home, and scheduled to have a check up on Wednesday on his injured shoulder. The real mystery, though, was the absence of Marco Melandri. The Italian was missing from the Aprilia garage, and rumors circulating suggested this could be Melandri's last race. According to GPOne.com, Melandri is due to have a meeting with Aprilia staff later this week to discuss his future. Given Melandri's miserable results so far this year, a split looks like the better option. Who would replace him in that case is as yet undecided. Alex De Angelis may move over from the cash-strapped IODA team, or they could bring in a test rider. That decision will only come once Melandri's future has been decided.


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 2015 racing calendar, by making a donation, or by contributing via our GoFundMe page.

Scott Jones In Tuscany: Qualifying Day At Mugello


A glorious setting for racing


It's tough at the top. As Marc Marquez is finding out


Desmo Dovi's Ducati Dreams


Aleix Espargaro has torn the ligament between his thumb and finger. Exactly the point you support your weight on under braking


The position and shape of all those welds serve a purpose. What that purpose is, Ducati will never tell you


Bradley Smith is lifting his Mugello MotoGP curse


Claudio Domenicali, Ducati's boss of bosses


Mugello swoops


Viñales, from above


Ducati test rider Michele Pirro is also reaping the rewards of all the hard work he has put in on the GP15


The Master of Mugello


Focus


Dani Pedrosa. He's back


The vent on the left hand side of the Ducati leads under this panel to back of the bike


Pole sitter. And deservedly so


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.

GTranslate