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2017 Provisional MotoGP Calendar - Almost Identical to 2016

There is a current fashion in moviemaking, of taking proven formulas from the past, giving them a light makeover and then relaunching them, then trying to spice them up by referring to them as a "reboot" or "reloaded". Dorna executives must have been to see Ghostbusters, Mad Max, and many more, as the 2017 MotoGP calendar is best described as 2016 Reloaded.

The 2017 MotoGP calendar is almost identical to the 2016 calendar, with a couple of minor tweaks. Those tweaks are a clear improvement on 2016: there are fewer large gaps, and there are fewer back-to-back races. There have been some changes to help with logistics, and some to help with race organizations. 

The season kicks off in Qatar as always, the Losail circuit paying a premium to host the first race of the year. That race will once again be a night race, and spread over four days as always. The race is on the same date as the F1 season opener in Melbourne, but as the two races take place in very different time zones at very different times, they are expected to complement one another, rather than clash.

Two weeks later, the circus heads to Argentina, to the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit. That race heralds the first change to the calendar, as there is now two weeks between Argentina and Austin, rather than the two American races being back-to-back as it was in the past. The logistics of getting bikes, equipment, riders and personnel from Argentina to Austin in the space of a couple of days has proven to be a massive challenge, especially as Termas de Rio Hondo is so remote.

After Austin, the circus returns to Europe, kicking off a familiar sequence of races: Jerez, Le Mans, Mugello, Barcelona, Assen, and the Sachsenring. The calendar has been shifted this year so that Mugello and Barcelona are back-to-back. That is a 1,000 km drive for the trucks, a manageable distance after packing up in Mugello on Sunday night. 

The summer break follows the Sachsenring, though it can barely be classed as such. There are two weekends between Assen and the Sachsenring, and then two more weekends between Sachsenring and Brno. The Czech round of MotoGP is the first of the Central European back-to-backs, Brno and Austria swapping places.

This is likely to have been done to appease the Brno circuit, who feared that the Austrian round would cannibalize some of their spectators. Given the low attendance at Brno, such fears would seem to be grounded: in recent years, Sunday attendance at Brno has been in the region of 140,000. In 2016, that fell to just 82,000, though that was the first fully wet Sunday since the series returned to Brno. Friday and Saturday attendance at Brno did not appear to have been affected.

After Austria, the MotoGP circus heads across the channel to Silverstone, which will host the British Grand Prix for the Circuit of Wales. That race is still subject to contract, though the deal appears to already have been sewn up. How that situation will continue is unclear, however, with the future of the Circuit of Wales project still uncertain. There were already question marks over the funding of the project, but the result of the UK's referendum on leaving the EU has left regional budgets in disarray, with long-term planning impossible until the form any Brexit may take is clear.

From Silverstone, MotoGP heads to Misano, with an extra weekend in between offering some relief. Two weeks later follows Aragon, and then a three week break before the flyaways, the triple header of Motegi, Phillip Island and Sepang staying in their current order. The Sepang round is also subject to contract, though given the popularity of the race, it seems unlikely an agreement will not be reached.

Two weeks after Sepang, the MotoGP circus heads to Valencia for the season finale. Yesterday, the Valencia circuit concluded a deal to host the final round of MotoGP until 2021.

The 2017 calendar is still very much provisional. There may still be changes to the calendar once the F1 calendar is published in ten days' time, though it is customary for F1 and MotoGP to confer to avoid clashes. However, should F1 need to reschedule races at a later point in the year, Dorna may be forced to respond and move some MotoGP races.

The hoped for expansion into new regions has once again failed to materialize, despite Dorna's best efforts. Negotiations continue with Thailand, who are keen to host a MotoGP race, but want to drop World Superbikes in favor of MotoGP, something Dorna does not want them to do. A race in Indonesia remains a distant prospect, internal politics and corruption a continuing obstacle to getting Sentul completely renovated, and the new track in Palembang still not confirmed. 

There is still hope that new tracks could join the calendar beyond 2017. Talks continue with Finland over hosting a round of MotoGP, while rumors persist of a race in Kazakhstan, though races in dictatorial oil states depend too much on the whims of the powerful to offer a stable basis for the calendar. There is still no sign of an agreement with the new track being built in Chile.

There will be complaints that MotoGP once again has four races in Spain - on the other hand, it has 14 races outside of Spain, more rounds than the 2016 WorldSBK calendar - but money and crowds dictate that all four Spanish races remain. Spain has an abundance of FIM-approved race tracks, a nation full of MotoGP-mad racing fans, and companies, circuits, and regional governments willing to pay the €5 million or so Dorna asks for the privilege of hosting a race. Until other countries and other circuits are willing to match that fee, MotoGP will continue to spend a lot of time in Spain.

The provisional 2017 MotoGP calendar is as follows:

Date Grand Prix Venue
26 March Qatar* Losail International Circuit
09 April República Argentina Termas de Río Hondo
23 April Americas Circuit of The Americas
07 May Spain Circuito de Jerez
21 May France Le Mans
04 June Italy Autodromo del Mugello
11 June Catalunya Barcelona - Catalunya
25 June Netherlands TT Circuit Assen
16 July Germany Sachsenring
06 August Czech Republic Automotodrom Brno
13 August Austria Red Bull Ring - Spielberg
27 August Great Britain** Silverstone Circuit
10 September San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli
24 September Aragón MotorLand Aragón
15 October Japan Twin Ring Motegi
22 October Australia Phillip Island
29 October Malaysia** Sepang International Circuit
12 November Comunitat Valenciana Comunitat Valenciana - Ricardo Tormo

* Night race
** Subject to contract

Source: 

Nicky Hayden to Replace Jack Miller at Aragon

Nicky Hayden is to make a temporary return to MotoGP. The American is to spend his weekend off between WorldSBK races filling in for the injured Jack Miller at the Aragon round of MotoGP. Hayden is to ride Miller's Marc VDS Honda RC213V, marking his first ride on a full MotoGP bike since he left Ducati at the end of 2013.

Miller has chosen to skip the Aragon round after suffering problems with a hand injury he picked up in a crash in Austria. The bones in his right hand have been slow to heal, and the intense MotoGP schedule since the series' return after the summer break has meant the injury has been getting worse. The stresses of braking and accelerating on a MotoGP bike have caused the fractures to reopen. The problem became so severe at Misano that the Australian was forced to withdraw from the race.

With three back-to-back flyaway races coming up after Aragon, Miller and his Marc VDS Racing team have decided to have the Australian sit out the Spanish race. This gives Miller five weeks for the bones in his right hand to heal before the flyaways, and the season finale at Valencia two weeks after that. 

Nicky Hayden will get a chance to ride a full MotoGP Honda on Michelin tires, something he missed out on at Silverstone. The American was on standby to replace Miller if the Australian was not passed fit due to cracked vertebrae. Miller was fit enough to ride at the British round of MotoGP, but his hand injury has since worsened. Hayden does have experience with Michelin tires, having raced on them up until the end of 2008, when the spec tire was introduced and the entire field switched to Bridgestone tires.


Nicky Hayden to replace Jack Miller at Motorland Aragon

Former MotoGP World Champion and current World Superbike front-runner Nicky Hayden will replace injured Jack Miller in the Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS squad for this weekend’s Grand Prix of Aragon in Spain.

Hayden will ride Miller’s Honda RC213V machine in this weekend’s 23-lap MotoGP encounter at the 5.1km Motorland Aragon track, which hosts round 14 of the World Championship.

Australian rider Miller is unfit to participate in this weekend’s action while he continues to recuperate from fractures in his right hand, which was an injury he first picked up in a high speed fall during the Warm-up session at the Red Bull Ring in Austria in mid-August.

Miller bravely raced to a 16th place finish in Silverstone’s British Grand Prix and then attempted similar heroics at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli last time out. Miller courageously rode in practice and qualifying in San Marino but the constant pain meant he withdrew ahead of the race.

Additional medical checks carried out immediately after the San Marino race revealed Miller has been riding with two fractures in his right hand.

The constant stress on the hand while riding has slowed the healing process and Miller, in consultation with HRC and the team has decided the most appropriate course of action is to miss this weekend’s Motorland Aragon encounter.

It is hoped the opportunity to take a lengthy period of rest and recuperation will give the 21-year-old the best chance possible of being fit to commence the gruelling flyaway triple-header in Japan next month.

Hayden brings a wealth of experience to Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS for this weekend’s race, which includes a podium in the inaugural Motorland Aragon race back in 2010.

The popular American started 216 races between 2003 and 2015 and claimed three victories and 25 other podium finishes. The highlight of the 35-year-old’s career was undoubtedly his World Championship success in 2006 when he defeated Valentino Rossi in a nail-biting final round decider in Valencia.

Tito Rabat will certainly be hoping to benefit from Hayden’s vast knowledge at a track where he has enjoyed tremendous success in the past.

The Spaniard hasn’t finished lower than second in the last three Moto2 races at Motorland Aragon, including a victory last year, and he is fully focused and determined to bounce back from a difficult race in San Marino.

Nicky Hayden:

“First of all I want to wish Jack a speedy recovery. He is a buddy of mine and he is a rider I believe in a lot, so I hope he can get healthy as quickly as possible to show the high potential we all know he has got. He just needs to get his body right so he can perform. This is an unusual experience for me because I’ve never been a stand-in rider before. But I have a good relationship with Honda and when the idea first came up they were behind it and Ten Kate gave me their blessing, so it is nice to go and help out another Honda team. For me it just a chance to go and have fun. I’d probably be riding motorbikes anyway and I would definitely be watching the race on TV, so I might as well show up and have some fun. I know MotoGP is not a place that’s always easy to have fun because the level is so high but I’ve got a lot to learn and it won’t be a walk in the park. I haven’t ridden the bike and there are different tyres and electronics but I’ve got a lot of experience and I get another shot at MotoGP, which is great for me personally. I want to thank Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS for the opportunity and Ten Kate and my sponsors who all made it happen and I will try and do them all proud."

Tito Rabat:

"At Misano I made another small improvement, even if that wasn't reflected in the results, but now we head to my home Grand Prix at Aragon. The Aragon track is one that I like and one at which I've enjoyed some success in the past, but this will be my first time there on a MotoGP bike so we have some work to do in practice. I'm motivated and I feel strong, so we will see how it goes."

Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal

"Obviously we'd have preferred Jack to be racing in Aragon, but it's the racing that is stopping the two fractures in his hand healing properly. It makes sense to have him sit out this race in a bid to recover ahead of the three overseas races, one of which is his home race in Australia. I'm looking forward to welcoming Nicky into the team and I want to thank Honda and Ten Kate for releasing him to ride this weekend. As a former MotoGP World Champion for Honda he brings with him a wealth of experience, which will be critical given the steep learning curve he faces with a new bike, new tyres and new electronics. I am sure he will do a stand up job for us. Tito had a tough time in San Marino, but his resilience is one of his strongest points and I fully expect him to bounce back and continue improving this weekend, on a track at which he's enjoyed a lot of success in the past."

Source: 

Subscriber Feature: The Future of Moto2

At the end of the 2018 Grand Prix season, the engine contract for the Moto2 class comes up for renewal. The existing Honda CBR600RR engine is in line to be replaced as the spec Moto2 engine, as Honda is set to stop selling the bike in Europe, and has no plans for a successor.

What does the future of the Moto2 class look like? With the end of the current contract two years away, Dorna has started the process of defining what is to replace the current Honda engine. The first order of business was to explore every possible option, and evaluate the positives and negatives. Nothing was out of bounds: options evaluated included continuing with Honda, opening up the engine supply to competing manufacturers, having a bespoke engine built, and even a return to two-stroke engines.

In the end, though, Moto2 will remain a single, spec engine supplier from a major manufacturer again. The Moto2 teams have threatened mutiny at any suggestion of opening the class to competition, from fear of spiraling costs. The current situation makes Moto2 extremely affordable: running a Moto2 team costs roughly half what it costs to race in Moto3.

Who is likely to replace Honda? All my inquiries through official channels met with failure, sources refusing to comment. IRTA Secretary Mike Trimby told me, "We are in the middle of planning for the future of Moto2. But as this involves sensitive commercial negotiations, I'm afraid I can't comment."

This is the first in what will become a semi-regular series of insights into the world of motorcycle racing, exclusive for MotoMatters.com site supporters. The series will include background information, in-depth analysis, and opinion pieces. Though the vast majority of content on MotoMatters.com is to remain free to read, most notably the daily round ups at each MotoGP event, a select amount of content will be made available solely to those who have taken out a subscription.

The aim is to increase the number of site supporters and be able to move away from online advertising altogether, a model which is broken, as the rise of ad blockers demonstrates. Adding exclusive subscriber content adds value for site supporters, in addition to the desktop-sized versions of Scott Jones' photos for the site. The hope is that this will persuade more of our regular readers to support MotoMatters.com financially, and help us grow and improve the site. 

If you would like to become a site supporter, you can take out a subscription here. If you are already a subscriber, you can read the full article on the future of Moto2 here.

Scott Jones at Misano - Part 2


This was Ducati's home race, and they tested here in preparation. That did not pay off


The eyes of a winner. Lorenzo Baldassarri went on to win the Moto2 race at Misano


Lean angle. Mean angle


When is a teammate a teammate?


Dani Pedrosa is not currently avaiable to answer that question


Cal Crutchlow is crashing less. But he's still crashing on occasion


Special home helmets. De rigeur


Number twos


That was a championship-winning ride from Brad Binder


Old friendships do not fade


Alex Lowes continues to impress as a replacement. He's pretty much up to speed after two weekends


Moto2 is getting closer again. Which is good, because it needed to


Gigi Dall'Igna, Ducati's big brain


September in Italy: bikes, beaches, sun, heat, a sea of yellow


Maria Herrera blows hot and cold. It's tough running in your own team


No stopping the Samurai


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KTM Enter Moto2 With Binder and Oliveira

KTM is to enter the Moto2 class. The Ajo team is to expand its current Moto2 operation to two riders, with Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira taking the place of the departing Johann Zarco. The team is also to switch from Kalex to KTM, as part of KTM's project to provide a career path for young riders from the FIM CEV Moto3 championship through all three Grand Prix classes to MotoGP.

The names of the riders involved should come as no surprise. Brad Binder is a race or two away at most from becoming the 2016 Moto3 world champion, and Miguel Oliveira came very close to winning the Moto3 title in 2015, as Binder's teammate in the Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto3 team. Both riders are highly rated both by KTM and by team boss Aki Ajo.

The KTM chassis project is interesting. The KTM Moto2 bike comprises a steel trellis frame and aluminum swingarm housing a spec Moto2 Honda CBR600RR engine, using WP suspension. The use of a steel trellis frame is consistent with KTM's design philosophy in Moto3 and now also MotoGP. 

There was an issue with WP suspension, however. As WP is a subsidiary company of KTM, KTM came to a gentlemen's agreement with Kalex on the matter of suspension technicians. KTM will only use suspension technicians who have not previously worked with Kalex in Moto2, to avoid any appearance of using Kalex data to help set up the KTM.

The entry of KTM into Moto2 does not mean that the Austrian manufacturer is a candidate to replace Honda when the engine contract comes up for renewal at the end of 2018. At the presentation of the KTM MotoGP bike at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, KTM CEO Stefan Pierer made it clear that they had no interest in become spec engine supplier for Moto2.

Below is the press release from the KTM Ajo team:


Red Bull KTM Ajo to make exciting move up to Moto2 in 2017

The successful Moto3 structure will participate in next season’s Moto2 World Championship with new KTM bike and riders Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira.

09/13/2016

Red Bull KTM Ajo will increase their presence at Grand Prix level in 2017 with a new team in Moto2 and a new KTM bike. KTM will thus become the first manufacturer to have a presence in all three classes: Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP. Alongside them as they take this important step, Red Bull KTM Ajo will run riders Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira in the project.

Red Bull, KTM and Ajo Motorsport join forces once again in 2017, building on their success in Moto3 with an expansion to the intermediate class. In their five years of collaboration to date, the team have taken a World Championship (2012), two runner-up spots (2014 and 2015) and a current lead of 106 points in the overall standings in Moto3. Red Bull KTM Ajo will also be the only team using the new KTM Moto2 bike, which debuts in the category. For Ajo Motorsport, this will be their third season in Moto2; last year they achieved the title, while this year they lead the standings with 3 points in the overall standings.

The rider lineup will consist of familiar faces, who have come up through the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup and Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto3 team. Brad Binder, currently the Moto3 leader with 106 points, stays with the team and accompanies them on their exciting new venture. The South African, who came into the team last year, has a total of 5 wins and 11 podiums in five full seasons at Grand Prix level.

Miguel Oliveira returns to the structure with which he was proclaimed World Championship runner-up in 2015. The Portuguese, who this year debuted in Moto2, has 6 wins and 7 podiums to his name, all in Moto3.

This new project, which has already enjoyed positive tests over the past year, will begin in earnest from November 16th, when the riders will get onboard the new KTM for the first time.

Pit Beirer - KTM Motorsport Director

"We've now enjoyed five years of successful collaboration with Aki Ajo in Moto3. We are very happy that he and our main sponsor Red Bull are offering us the perfect structure to move into Moto2 so we can have a presence in all classes of Grand Prix Racing in 2017. We see the intermediate class mainly as a platform for keeping riders in the KTM Family, which begins with the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup and will run right through to MotoGP. The WP motorsports department has been fully integrated into KTM, and just as it is in Moto3 and MotoGP, the new Moto2 bike is being developed and built completely in-house. Brad Binder has had a very successful season this year and hopefully he will wrap up the championship. Now we're happy that he can step up into the new Moto2 team. Also, we're very pleased to welcome Miguel Oliveira back into the Orange Family after one year in Moto2."

Aki Ajo - Team Manager

"Firstly, I am very happy to continue the cooperation with Red Bull and KTM and make this move together in Moto2. Now we will all be much closer to each other, working together in two classes and with the whole Red Bull KTM family in all three classes, which is something historic. We are very grateful to be part of this great project with KTM and Red Bull. It is also nice to start out with a pair of riders who we already know well. Brad [Binder] has spent two seasons with us and Miguel [Oliveira] had an incredible season last year in the team. Both have won races with us, so I cannot be more expectant than this: We have two riders who we know, who are young, eager, and with a positive attitude for this project."

Brad Binder - Rider

"First of all I want to say I am very grateful for this new opportunity given to me by the team in Moto2. I want to thank Aki Ajo and all the people and partners who have been helping so I could take this step up. After how this year has been, there is nothing that could excite me more than staying at Red Bull KTM Ajo and competing in Moto2. I really like this team; I like the respect between all the members and I know that the decisions they make are always the best to keep the team and riders on top.

I know it will be very difficult, but I'm very motivated for this and I am already looking forward to it. It will be nice to start in a new class, with everything new and a lot to learn. My goal is to go out each day and give 110% to learn as quickly as possible. I am very happy to be back sharing a garage with Miguel [Oliveira], I learned a lot from him in 2015 and sure we will push each other; we will have fun. Everyone knows that if Red Bull KTM Ajo make a motorcycle, it will be good."

Miguel Oliveira - Rider

"I'm very happy to be returning to the Red Bull KTM Ajo family, and to a very professional team that brought me a lot of success. In fact, my most successful season to date came with them. I'm very happy and grateful to Aki [Ajo] and KTM for choosing me and for trusting in me to start this ambitious project with the KTM Moto2. I believe a lot in this new project, that I will have a very strong team alongside me, and that we will be able to get the best results possible. I will give my all in this new venture. I will be back sharing a garage with Brad [Binder], a very good person and rider, and I am sure that we will work very well together to gather the best data possible and take the KTM to the top."

 

Source: 

No Wings or Bulges - MotoGP Aerodynamic Regulations Published

The aerodynamic rules for the 2017 MotoGP season and beyond have been published. At a meeting of the Grand Prix Commission at Misano, a proposal from Dorna's technical team was accepted banning aerodynamic devices in as general a wording as possible. Wings, bulges, and anything protruding from the front of the fairing is now banned.

The proposal was drawn up by a small group consisting of Director of Technology Corrado Cecchinelli, Technical Director Danny Aldridge and Race Director Mike Webb. Their main focus was to keep the wording as general as possible, so as to avoid loopholes for engineers to exploit. Technical Director Danny Aldridge will have the final word on any fairing protrusion, precisely to prevent any doubt about workarounds. 

The rules also remove the possibility of using the space at the front of the fairing to create aerodynamic downforce. The front of the fairing may not extend more than 150mm beyond the axle of the front wheel. This should prevent too much experimentation with fairings such as tried by the WCM team at the end of 2000, or extending the lips of air intakes into "beak"-style structures, such as seen on some road bikes.

The official press release is shown below:


FIM Grand Prix World Championship
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 9 September at Misano (RSM), made the following decisions:

Technical Regulations

Effective Season 2017

Streamlining and Aerodynamic Devices

It was already announced that aerodynamic wings are banned in all classes from 2017. The wording of the regulation covering this matter was confirmed:

Devices or shapes protruding from the fairing or bodywork and not integrated in the body streamlining (e.g. wings, fins, bulges, etc.) that may provide an aerodynamic effect (e.g. providing downforce, disrupting aerodynamic wake, etc.) are not allowed.

The Technical Director will be the sole judge of whether a device or fairing design falls into the above definition.

Furthermore, to avoid that the front of the fairing is wing-shaped, with unpredictable safety results, the front of the fairing cannot protrude more than 150mm beyond a vertical line drawn through the front wheel spindle. (It should be noted that all fairings in current use already comply with this).

Moto3 Wild Cards

In 2017 all manufacturers in the Moto3 class will supply engines to the contracted riders on a rental basis. Engines will no longer be sold to teams.

The Championship is keen to retain the possibility for wild cards to participate. But to ensure that their engines comply with current regulations it will be a requirement for wild card entries to seek approval from the engine manufacturer and to use the homologated ECU maps.

To permit the possibility of wild card riders using machines from other manufacturers, they may also use engines approved for the FIM CEV Junior World Championship. Such engines must comply with FIM Moto3 World Championship regulations with regards to engine specification and ECU requirements.

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/regulations-and-documents/grand-prix/

Source: 

Scott Jones at Misano - Part 1


Home boy


Brembo - the aim is to emulate a brick wall, but with control


All hail the conquering hero. But that was last week...


Andrea Iannone's last home race for Ducati did not last long. A fractured vertebra in FP1 brought it to a premature end


Numbers don't lie. An accelerometer on the end of the Ducati's swingarm bears witness to their dedication to data


Home races mean special helmets. Andrea Dovizioso's was a gem


Xavi Fores found himself in at the deep end at Misano


Can't keep a racer away from a race track. Loris Baz came to see how his replacement would do


When Dani is on it, he's on it. He was on it at Misano


A peek under the hood. CNC machined rocker covers are a thing of beauty


Pol Espargaro started well at Misano. The finish, not so much


Aprilia found a little bit of magic around Misano. They need to find a little bit more to be competitive


How physical is riding a Honda RC213V? Crutchlow is out of the seat, pushing himself forward over the tank to keep the front down


Last one to the corner is a rotten egg


Ready to rumble


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Scott Jones at Silverstone - Part 2


Definitely trying


Andrea Dovizioso practices his thousand yard stare


Red Bull & KTM - this is what they are doing in Moto3. Just wait till they get to MotoGP


Michelin have taken a lot of stick over recent races, but riders post race sang their praises


Lucio Cecchinello had something to celebrate again. And it wasn't the weather


Maverick Viñales. Something special about that young man


It's raining. Just taking the bike out for a spin...


What does confidence do for you? It gets you a pole and a podium


Home heartbreak. And real anger for Sam Lowes


Fans. They start young


Story of the MotoGP race, right there. Nobody is catching Maverick


If anyone thought Marquez and Rossi would be friends again, Silverstone disabused them of that illusion


All that hard work, just to waste some sparkling wine


Talent in WorldSBK is good. Alex Lowes proved that


Bagnaia, Bastianini, Antonelli. Only Pecco would remain from the all-Italian front row in Moto3


That reminds me, must get new T-shirts done ...

 


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Scott Jones at Silverstone - Part 1


Silverstone. Suzuki territory?


Things didn't look so bad Friday. Saturday, however...


Pitching it in, GOAT style


Silverstone is tougher on the right side of the tire than on the left


Jack Miller rode, despite cracked vertebrae. Strong enough, was the diagnosis


First British winner since Barry Sheene. It shows, and it shines


Blue train


Another winner, and another rider brimming with confidence


Meticulous lockwiring


Losing Laverty will be a bad thing for MotoGP


Rain or shine, Marquez is there


Dani Pedrosa is adapting to the Michelins, but slowly


Alex Lowes has turned a lot of heads so far this weekend


Loris Baz, in his element


The Michelin fronts are working well so far at Silverstone. This time, it's the rear tire the riders don't like

 

 


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Michael van der Mark Confirmed at Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Squad for 2017

In the latest round of poorly-kept secrets emerging at last, Yamaha have announced that they have signed Michael van der Mark for the 2017 season. He will join Alex Lowes in the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK squad for next year, replacing Sylvain Guintoli.

The move had been long expected. It became clear over the summer that Van der Mark would be leaving the Ten Kate Honda team, with whom he has had a long relationship. Once the signing of Stefan Bradl alongside Nicky Hayden at Honda was announced, there was only one destination Van der Mark could be heading.

Part of Van der Mark's motivation for moving has to do with MotoGP. The Dutchman is known to be keen to move to the Grand Prix paddock, but could not find a competitive package, or a deal with hopes of progressing towards a factory team. A switch to Yamaha may smooth his path in the future, though with the Tech 3 team having signed two rookies for 2017 and 2018, that route could also be more difficult.

Below is the press release announcing the move:


Van der Mark joins Lowes as Yamaha Young Guns Spearhead 2017 WorldSBK Attack

Yamaha Motor Europe is pleased to announce its official challengers for the 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, as talented Dutchman Michael van der Mark joins current rider Alex Lowes in the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team. Continuing for his second season aboard the WorldSBK-spec YZF-R1, Lowes is eager to reap the rewards of 2016's developmental year, having assisted the Japanese marque as it returned to international Superbike competition. Alongside him, and showing consistently impressive pace throughout his career so far, 2014's Supersport World Champion van der Mark will move to Yamaha for his third season in the Superbike class.

25-year-old British rider Lowes secured an impressive victory in the prestigious Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Road Race in late-July, competing as part of the Yamaha Factory Racing Team with MotoGP's Pol Espargaro and Japanese race and test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga. 2016 has seen his notable pace and talent used to enhance and fine-tune the development of the YZF-R1 in its debut year in WorldSBK, with Lowes qualifying on the front row twice in the opening six rounds before a broken collarbone dampened his initial progress. The recent showing in Suzuka proving the former BSB Champion is back to full strength, Lowes is looking forward to continuing Yamaha's WorldSBK evolution in the latter part of the 2016 season before returning to the series in 2017, determined to challenge for victory.

Dutch rider van der Mark has achieved many successes in his 23 years, becoming champion in both the FIM European Superstock 600 and Supersport World Championship in 2012 and 2014 respectively. Progressing to World Superbike in 2015, he has secured eight podiums and one pole position to-date across the past two seasons and showed an increasing maturity, speed and hunger to win. Van der Mark's drive to succeed is a perfect complement to Lowes and the YZF-R1 for 2017, ensuring Yamaha has the best tools to fight for victories from the opening race.

The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team and Yamaha Motor Europe would like to emphasise their full commitment to Sylvain Guintoli for the remaining four events of the 2016 WorldSBK season, continuing the partnership when the Frenchman returns from injury in Germany next month. Yamaha, the Crescent team and Title Partner Pata would like to thank Sylvain for his hard work in 2016 and wish him all the best in his future career.

Eric de Seynes – Yamaha Motor Europe Chief Operating Officer

"Yamaha's new commitment to the Superbike World Championship has started in 2016, and now we look forward to using the lessons learned in this 'comeback season' and the increasingly strong relationship with our racing partner Crescent, in order to challenge for the top positions in 2017. Despite many challenges this year, we believe strongly in the speed and talent of Alex - as clearly shown by his superb performance in Suzuka - and Yamaha wants to see this talent develop and mature to the winning level together with us as we develop and improve the YZF-R1.

"We are also delighted and excited to have Michael joining Yamaha in 2017. At only 23 years of age, he is already a World Champion and is fighting at the front of WorldSBK - this is very impressive! Importantly, the rider line up demonstrates our philosophy of choosing two young riders, both who not only have the talent to fight for victory in WorldSBK but also the capacity to potentially grow their careers with Yamaha in the future. In this way, Yamaha would like to use the World Superbike series as a platform to demonstrate its racing spirit with the production based YZF-R1 and also to develop further the family of Yamaha riders - Michael is a perfect fit inside this philosophy and we are very excited to welcome him to the team.

"Finally, I would like to personally thank Sylvain for his partnership with Yamaha in 2016. He has suffered some very bad luck and some frustration since the beginning of the year and we hope that the end of this season will bring us some success and smiles together. I really wish Sylvain all the best wishes in his racing career and life in the future."

Michael van der Mark

"I'm very much looking forward to this new challenge with Yamaha. I could see the potential of the R1 during its first World Superbike season this year and I'm convinced that with further development and the full support of Yamaha and the team I will have the right package to fight for the World Superbike title next year.

"It is never an easy decision to leave a team and a manufacturer after so many years and successes, I will always remain grateful for the support received and I will give my maximum for the remainder of this season to get as many podiums as possible."

Alex Lowes

"Despite some challenges in the WorldSBK comeback season for Yamaha this year, it has been a pleasure to be part of the project from the start and I cannot wait to capitalise on the work we've all done when we start the 2017 season. The YZF-R1 is a magical bike to ride and we are now very close to a truly competitive level in this championship. I really feel part of the Yamaha family, the team is improving all the time and I couldn't be happier to continue together into 2017. Michael is a very fast rider, I am sure we will push each other all year, and I look forward to him joining the team."

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