To the surprise of absolutely nobody, in the press conference at Phillip Island, Jack Miller announced that he would be riding for the Marc VDS Estrella Galicia 0,0 team in 2016. It had long been known that Miller would end up at the team, but there was still the question of a few loose ends to tie up. With those tidied up, Miller's home GP was the obvious place to announce his future plans.
The Australian will move to Marc VDS along with his crew chief, Cristian Gabarrini, and the rest of his pit crew. As Miller is contracted to and paid for by HRC, it was a simple matter for them to move the mechanics and engineers from LCR to Marc VDS. Miller will have a standard satellite Honda RC213V next year, the same spec as that of his current teammate, Cal Crutchlow, and new teammate Tito Rabat.
There were one or two obstacles to Miller's move to Marc VDS, not least the broken pre-contract the Australian signed with the team to race in Moto2. Miller was supposed to join Marc VDS in 2014, but Aki Ajo - also Miller's personal manager - persuaded him to stay in Moto3 with the Red Bull KTM team. The legal dispute over that contract is still ongoing, but will be much easier to put to an end now that Miller is with Marc VDS.
The other obstacle to Miller's move was financial. Though Miller rides for HRC, Honda still wanted the team who took him to cover at least some of the costs. That was a problem for Marc VDS, as they had taken a financial hit moving up to MotoGP in 2015 with Scott Redding. As a new team in MotoGP, they were not eligible for financial support with transport costs or free tires. That imposed an extra financial burden - believed to be around €1.6 million a year - on the team. If Miller was to join Marc VDS, then they needed to be sure that both grid slots would be eligible for financial support, and they had to be sure that they could afford to pay Honda's asking price. After a period of negotiation, agreement has been reached on these issues.
With Miller confirmed alongside Tito Rabat, the 2016 MotoGP grid is nearing completion. The Repsol Honda, Movistar Yamaha, Ducati Factory, Gresini Aprilia and Suzuki ECSTAR teams all remain unchanged, as does the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha line up. Cal Crutchlow remains as the single rider at LCR, Lucio Cecchinello's dreams shattered by the legal problems of a former sponsor. Scott Redding replaces Yonny Hernandez at Pramac Ducati, the Colombian moving to Aspar, where he will line up alongside Eugene Laverty. If, that is, Aspar has the funds to run a second bike. With the Avintia Ducatis of Loris Baz and Hector Barbera, there will be a total of eight Ducatis on the grid next year.
The grid is likely to be a good deal smaller than in 2015. So far, it looks like there will be 21 riders instead of 25, with three teams likely to withdraw. Forward Racing have already been told they do not have grid slots in MotoGP, so they will continue in Moto2, and, if the reports are correct, race MV Agustas in World Superbikes. AB Racing also looks likely to make the switch to WSBK, though Karel Abraham is trying to remain in MotoGP. The Ioda Racing team is trying to hang on for one more year on a minimum budget, waiting for 2017 when the funding for teams increases radically. That looks like a tough task, however.
Below is the 2016 grid as it stands at the moment, complete with the length of the contract for each rider. Underneath that is the press release from Marc VDS.
|93||Marc Marquez||Honda RC213V||2016|
|26||Dani Pedrosa||Honda RC213V||2016|
|46||Valentino Rossi||Yamaha YZR-M1||2016|
|99||Jorge Lorenzo||Yamaha YZR-M1||2016|
|4||Andrea Dovizioso||Ducati GP16||2016|
|29||Andrea Iannone||Ducati GP16||2016|
|19||Alvaro Bautista||Aprilia RS-GP||2016|
|6||Stefan Bradl||Aprilia RS-GP||2018|
|41||Aleix Espargaro||Suzuki GSX-RR||2016|
|25||Maverick Viñales||Suzuki GSX-RR||2017|
|35||Cal Crutchlow||Honda RC213V||2017|
|Marc VDS Racing|
|53||Tito Rabat||Honda RC213V||2017|
|43||Jack Miller||Honda RC213V||2017|
|Monster Tech 3 Yamaha|
|44||Pol Espargaro||Yamaha YZR-M1||2016|
|38||Bradley Smith||Yamaha YZR-M1||2016|
|68||Yonny Hernandez||Ducati GP14.2||2016|
|50||Eugene Laverty||Ducati GP14.2||2016|
|45||Scott Redding||Ducati GP15+||2017|
|9||Danilo Petrucci||Ducati GP15+||2016|
|8||Hector Barbera||Ducati GP14.2||2016|
|76||Loris Baz||Ducati GP14.2||2016|
Below is the press release from Marc VDS announcing the deal with Miller:
Jack Miller joins the Marc VDS Racing Team for 2016
Phillip Island, Australia – 15 October 2015: Having reached an agreement with Honda Racing Corporation, the Marc VDS Racing Team can confirm that they will run two bikes in the MotoGP class in 2016.
Tito Rabat will step up from Moto2 to campaign a factory Honda RC213V in Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS colours, as previously announced. Riding alongside the former Moto2 World Champion will be 20-year-old Australian, Jack Miller, who will race in the traditional livery of the Marc VDS Racing Team.
Miller’s current crew, headed by experienced Chief Engineer Cristian Gabarrini, will join the Australian in the Marc VDS Racing Team for the 2016 season.
Like many Australians before him Miller, who hails from Townsville in North Queensland, started his racing career on dirt bikes. Having racked up six Australian titles on the dirt he then switched his attention to road racing, with similar success.
The success continued following a move to Europe, where Miller won the 2011 IDM 125cc Championship aged just 16 and was rewarded with a ride in the Moto3 World Championship the following season.
Miller joins the team for his second season in MotoGP, having jumped into the premier class in 2015 straight from Moto3, following a titanic season long battle that saw the Australian lose out on the World Championship title by just two points to eventual winner, Álex Márquez.
“I am very enthusiastic on this possibility with Honda and the Marc VDS Racing Team. I know Marc VDS is a good, strong and experienced team, and they can build a good structure for me to fight for good positions next year. As we both have already one year of experience from the top class, I feel that we can gain from the experiences we have to achieve good results together with Honda.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“It’s good to be able to finally welcome Jack to the Marc VDS Racing Team. We wanted Jack in 2013 because we could see he had the talent to succeed and that hasn’t changed. This was always going to be a difficult transition season for him, having jumped straight onto the MotoGP bike from Moto3, but he’s done a solid job so far. Next year Jack will benefit from having the Marc VDS Racing Team behind him and, together with a competitive bike, I’m confident that this is exactly what he needs to realise his full potential.”
Marc van der Straten: President, Marc VDS Racing Team
“We are happy to welcome Jack to the Marc VDS family, even if he is 12 months late arriving! He comes to the team with a year of experience in MotoGP and I expect to see him well inside the top ten on a regular basis next season. For the team it is good to have two riders in the premier MotoGP class; they can learn from each other but, equally importantly, they can push each other every weekend. Both Jack and Tito are ultra-competitive and I expect we’ll see some exciting battles between the two of them next season!”
The Ioda Racing team have posted another update on Alex De Angelis' condition after his horrific crash at Motegi. Overall, it is good news, though there is still plenty of reason for caution.
De Angelis' condition is stable, though he still faces several threats to his health. The good news is that the intercranial hematoma has not grown, meaning it will probably be naturally absorbed by the body in the coming days. Doctors continue to monitor that situation.
De Angelis remains immobilized due to the spinal injuries he suffered. The fractured vertebrae mean he is being forced to lie still while they start to heal. Luckily, he has not suffered any damage to the spinal cord, and has full sensation everywhere. But even after De Angelis is able to move, he will have to wear a brace to immobilize and support his spinal column for several weeks.
The most worrying part of De Angelis' condition is his lungs. He suffered a severe lung contusion in the crash, and until this clears, it remains a danger. Though he is absorbing oxygen well, there are areas of the lung showing signs of Atelectasis, or collapsed lung. The doctors are monitoring that situation closely, and it will remain a serious concern for the next two or three days.
De Angelis was joined by his family yesterday, who flew out to Japan to support him. Dr. Michele Zasa of the Clinica Mobile remains with De Angelis, to assist him with medical matters.
American fans will have a lot of reasons to follow the World Superbike championship next year. After Nicky Hayden confirmed that he will be switching to WSBK with the Ten Kate Honda for 2016 and 2017, today, confirmation came that PJ Jacobsen is to remain in World Supersport for next year to take another shot at the championship.
The American is to stay with his current Core Motorsport Thailand team, riding a Honda CBR600RR. Both the team and the bike will get a major boost next year, however, as Ten Kate Honda have announced they will be partnering the team in 2016. Core and Ten Kate will be running the Honda World Supersport effort together, meaning that Jacobsen will have faster even better prepared CBR600RRs, and faster access to new and upgraded parts.
The goal of the team is to challenge Kenan Sofuoglu and Jules Cluzel for the World Supersport title next year. Since the Kawasaki Intermoto team folded back in May, and Jacobsen replaced Ratthapark Wilairot in the Core Motorsports team, Jacobsen has finished on the podium in every race, including two wins at Sepang and Magny-Cours. In a stable environment and more competitive machinery, the American should be able to give the Sofuoglu and Cluzel a run for their money in 2016.
The press release from Honda announcing the new team structure appears below:
CORE” Motorsport Thailand heads into 2016 with Ten Kate and Honda
Honda is delighted that Thailand-based CORE” Motorsport has confirmed a strengthening of existing ties with Ten Kate Racing as it prepares for the 2016 World Supersport Championship season with Patrick ‘PJ’ Jacobsen.
CORE” Motorsport Thailand began the 2015 season with a Honda CBR600RR prepared by Ten Kate Racing, the Netherlands team behind nine World Supersport Championship titles from Fabien Foret in 2002 to Michael van der Mark in 2014.
The squad took its first championship victory with Ratthapark Wilairot at Buriram in round two in March on the occasion of the championship’s very first visit to Thailand and the team was joined by Jacobsen at the end of May.
American Jacobsen has since finished on the podium in each of the five races he has contested on the CBR600RR, taking victory at Sepang in Malaysia and in the last round ay Magny-Cours in France. With the final round coming up this weekend at Losail in Qatar, the 22-year-old has already secured runner-up position in the series.
CORE” Motorsport Thailand will become a fully-fledged partner with Ten Kate Racing for the 2016 season with additional support from Honda through access to special parts and its wider bonus system.
Core Chematis is a nutraceutical manufacturer based in Thailand. Director Pawee Pandumrongsatid said of the agreement: “I’m really happy for this fantastic opportunity with Ten Kate Racing and Honda. Next season will be a great experience for us in world motorsport. Hopefully this will help to continue the development of motorsport in Thailand and in Asia.
“It’s great to have PJ on board again for 2016,” he continued. “He brings a lot of strength and confidence to the team and he has become one of the best riders in the championship. The team is like a family and we are really looking forward to sharing strong results again next season.”
Ronald ten Kate commented: “We’re very happy that one of our strongest satellite teams ever has forged even stronger ties with us for 2016. Together we will be running the Ten Kate Honda effort in the World Supersport championship
“Results from 2015 have already shown how strong the CORE” team is with PJ Jacobsen,” added ten Kate. “I think that, now we are joining forces, we will be even stronger for the future. Pawee is a huge fan of motorsport in general and is very passionate about going racing and winning, which completely matches the Ten Kate racing philosophy!”
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS has taken a lot longer to take shape than expected. Though team manager Michael Bartholémy had agreed terms with his chosen rider quite quickly after the summer break, actually getting contracts signed has proven to be a much more difficult affair. Existing contract entanglements and haggling over contract extensions has meant that the original plans, to have Moto2 announced at Misano, and when that didn't happen, all of the team's riders announced after Aragon, have all gone awry.
Slowly, however, the Marc VDS team manager is managing to untangle the knotty web woven mainly by others. After announcing last week that Tito Rabat would be moving up to MotoGP with the team for 2016, this week, the team has announced their Moto2 line up. It comes as no surprise: Alex Marquez is to remain with the team for a second year in Moto2, while Franco Morbidelli is to join Marc VDS from the Italtrans team. After a difficult start to his rookie season, Alex Marquez has come good in the second half, becoming a regular fixture in the top 10. Morbidelli has completely outperformed his teammate Mika Kallio, an impressive feat given that Kallio was runner up in the Moto2 championship in 2014.
There are still obstacles on the way to the remainder of the Estrella Galicia Marc VDS line up being announced. Jack Miller is to be placed in the Marc VDS MotoGP squad, to ride alongside Tito Rabat, but there have been discussions on how much of the tab HRC is to pick up for the rider they have signed to a contract. With the Australian Grand Prix up next at Phillip Island, it is likely that a deal for Miller will be announced there.
The Moto3 squad is proving a little more problematic. Jorge Navarro is to remain with the squad, after an impressive display in his first full year of racing. But filling the seat of the departing Fabio Quartararo is proving decidedly thorny. Sources indicate that the team have already signed Enea Bastianini, but actually finalizing that deal is proving to be tricky. The problem, Spanish magazine Solomoto revealed, is that Fausto Gresini is trying to hold Bastianini to his contract. The team have a contract with Bastianini for 2015 and 2016, but Emilio Alzamora is trying to move Bastianini into Estrella Galicia, with the backing of HRC. Complicating the issue is the fact that Gresini looks likely to drop their Moto3 team for 2016, as Aprilia are unhappy to have the team which is running their MotoGP project have a formal association with HRC to run Hondas. According to Solomoto, Alzamora has got the team association IRTA involved trying to resolve the situation.
Below is the press release from Marc VDS announcing their 2016 Moto2 line up:
Márquez and Morbidelli confirmed at Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS
Motegi, Japan – 11 October 2015: Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS can confirm that Álex Márquez and Franco Morbidelli will be the two riders with whom the team will contest the Moto2 World Championship in 2016.
For Márquez it will be his second year with Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS in Moto2 and the reigning Moto3 world Champion will start the new season as one of the title favourites. However, the 19-year-old Spaniard can expect a serious challenge from his new teammate.
Morbidelli made his debut in the Moto2 World Championship as a replacement rider in 2013, the same season he was crowned as European 600 Superstock Champion. Top 20 finishes in the three races he contested that season were enough to secure him a permanent slot on the Moto2 grid for 2014.
The 20-year-old Roman, who is part of the VR46 Riders Academy project, secured his first podium finish in the Moto2 category at Indianapolis this year, finishing an impressive third after a titanic battle with Johann Zarco, Dominique Aegerter and Álex Rins.
Morbidelli has been absent from the Moto2 grid since fracturing his tibia and fibula in a training accident ahead of the Silverstone race, but he is now fully recovered and will return to the championship for the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“Álex has shown with his progress since the summer break that he will be a contender next season, which was exactly how it was planned from the start. However, he won’t have it all his own way, of that I’m sure, because Franco is also one of the riders that I expect to see running at the front and challenging for wins next season. After all, that’s why we signed him! I think for the fans the 2016 Moto2 season will be an exciting one, as we have four or five riders in the class who are more than capable of fighting for the race win every weekend.”
Marc van der Straten: President, Marc VDS Racing Team
“Álex has shown that he now has the measure of Moto2 and I expect we’ll see him get even stronger in the last three races of this season. Next year we have high expectations of him and I’m confident he will rise to the challenge and become a regular frontrunner in the championship. I am looking forward to Franco’s arrival in the team. We were lucky enough to spend some time with him recently and I was impressed by both his determination and his attitude. He will fit perfectly into our racing family and I’m confident he’ll realise his full potential with us in 2016.”
Alex De Angelis remains in hospital in Japan after his horrific crash during practice at Motegi. He suffered multiple injuries in the accident, including fractured vertebrae, broken ribs and contusions on the lung. He also took a severe blow to the head, rendering him unconscious. Though CT scans of his brain showed no initial damage, on Sunday, the Italian developed some intercranial bleeding, or bleeding in the brain. De Angelis was kept under sedation, to reduce the pain from his fractures, and to allow the doctors to stabilize his condition.
On Monday, Dorna issued an update on De Angelis' condition. So far, the intercranial bleeding is stable, a positive sign that it is under control, for the moment at least. The doctors were able to reduce his level of sedation, and De Angelis was able to speak to them, and tell them that he knew where he was and what day it was.
De Angelis is still being listed as in a critical condition, and is under constant monitoring in Dokkyo Hospital. The Italian is set to have more CT scans in the next couple of days to ensure the intercranial bleeding does not get worse. The contusion on his lungs is also being watched closely, as lung injuries can develop into serious respiratory problems and and cause infections. It usually takes three to five days for pulmonary contusions to be resolved and start to show signs of improvement.
While De Angelis is still in Dokkyo Hospital, Dr Michele Zasa of the Clinica Mobile is staying at the hospital with the Italian to help coordinate his treatment and monitor his situation. More news on De Angelis' condition will follow whenever we get it.
Alex De Angelis has suffered serious injuries as a result of a very heavy fall during the FP4 session of practice for the MotoGP class, losing control of his bike on the exit of Turn 9 and ending up against the crash barrier on the opposite side of the track before turn 10. The crash caused Race Direction to red flag the session, while De Angelis received treatment on track. Fortunately, De Angelis was soon reported as being conscious and able to move his limbs.
The man from San Marino was taken first to the medical center, then airlifted to the nearby Dokkyo Hospital in Mibu. After examination, De Angelis was found to have fractured several vertebrae, with initial reports stating five vertebrae, and later reports bringing the total to seven vertebrae, including three where the vertebra body was fractured, the round part of the bone which encases the spinal cord. Doctors are working to stabilize those fractures, to ensure De Angelis does not suffer spinal injury, of which there is currently no sign. De Angelis also suffered three broken ribs and a bruised lung, which is a cause for concern. The lung is being monitored for bleeding and infection, both of which could cause breathing difficulties.
De Angelis took a very heavy blow to the head in the crash, and is unable to remember anything about the accident. Though no brain trauma has been found, the doctors are once again monitoring his condition very closely to ensure nothing untoward turns up.
The Italian will remain in hospital in Dokkyo for the next few days, and is likely to be flown back to Italy as soon as he is stable enough to be moved. He is almost certainly out for the rest of the season, and given the difficulty of finding a replacement rider at such short notice, right at the start of three back-to-back flyway races, it seems unlikely he will be replaced soon.
So at last it's official. "This will be my last year in MotoGP. I will be moving to World Superbikes next year with Honda and the Ten Kate team," Nicky Hayden told the press conference at Motegi. The move had been long expected, as Hayden's options of a competitive ride had petered out. "These last two years haven't been so good, I haven't been able to get the results on an Open Honda to really keep a high level bike in MotoGP," he acknowledged.
That had prompted his decision to finally move to World Superbikes. "I've always thought World Superbikes might be something I'd like to try, I've always liked the racing there," Hayden said. "The opportunity just felt like it would be a good fit. Obviously I'm getting a bit older, but I still enjoy the sport and the game, and thought it would be a fresh challenge and a new opportunity, to go there and try to have a bit more fun. Of course I'll miss MotoGP. I had a great opportunity here. Was part of some great teams and worked with some great people. But nothing lasts forever, and that's life. Have to keep moving. Go to Superbike with Honda and hopefully have some fun."
Hayden is to stay within the Honda family, and join the Ten Kate squad in World Superbikes. He will be with the team for two years, the first year on the aging Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade, the second on a rumored updated version of the bike. According to the Dutch magazine MOTO73, that bike will be based on the current SP version, but with an improved engine with an extra 10 to 15 horsepower. Given the results with the underpowered existing bike, 15 more horsepower should transform the Fireblade into a much more competitive package. Rumors also about of a new bike to replace the Fireblade based on Honda's V4 powerplant. But given that such rumors have been doing the rounds since the turn of the century, they should perhaps be regarded with a pinch of salt.
Honda was not Hayden's only option. While we had always expected the move to World Superbikes, Hayden had long been linked with Aprilia, the idea of being on a competitive bike an appealing prospect for both Hayden and Dorna, who are keen to have a fast American in the series to help boost its international profile. But a future at Aprilia was uncertain, the factory having recently announced they would not be fielding a factory team in WSBK, as the MotoGP project was using up more resources than they had planned. After a long courtship, Hayden rejected the deal and decided to stay with Honda instead, continuing his relationship with the manufacturer which has existed for most of his career, interrupted by a five-year stint at Ducati.
Ducati was his first option to head to World Superbikes. After it was announced that Cal Crutchlow would be taking his place in the Factory Ducati team in MotoGP, Hayden was given the offer of a factory ride with the Italian manufacturer in World Superbikes. Hayden rejected that move at the time, as he was in talks with Aspar, who were due to run Open class Aprilias with factory backing for 2014. When that deal fell through, in part with as a result of the departure of Gigi Dall'Igna to Ducati, Hayden found himself on board the Honda RCV1000R. Despite being teased by Honda as being just a few tenths of a second off the pace of the factory bike, the Open class Honda proved to be woefully underpowered. The uprated version for 2015 has been only a little better, having plenty of horsepower, but lacking the factory electronics and seamless gearbox to put that power on the tarmac.
Hayden will get his first taste of the WSBK Honda at a test in November. He faces plenty of challenges: he must adapt to the much softer Pirelli tires used in WSBK, and to a heavier, much softer bike. Hayden still has issues with the wrist he damaged in 2011, though the surgery to remove the row of bones in his right hand has made a huge difference there. The combination of less stiff Pirellis and a more pliant chassis may make it a little easier on his right wrist for the next few years.
Hayden's departure from MotoGP leaves the series without an American rider for the first time in 40 years. He leaves big boots to fill, as Hayden has always had a huge following, and more significantly, he is the last American rider to win a MotoGP title. The MotoAmerica series is still in the early stages of rebuilding after years of decline in the hands of DMG, but there are hopeful signs that it can produce new talent. Cameron Beaubier, Joe Roberts, Jake Gagne, JD Beach and Hayden Gillim have all been touted as future world championship contenders, but none of them have yet made the jump across the ocean. Ironically, the US' best chance of a championship could come in the shape of the man likely to be Hayden's teammate at Ten Kate. PJ Jacobsen is reported to be close to a deal with Ten Kate for 2016 to race in the World Supersport championship. The American will finish as runner up to champion Kenan Sofuoglu this year, and along with Jules Cluzel, was the only rider to take the fight to the Turkish multiple champion. With increased support from Honda next season - either as part of Ten Kate, or with Ten Kate backing inside the CORE Motorsports team - Jacobsen has a good shot at a title.
The challenge for Hayden is greater, especially given that the 2016 Honda CBR1000RR will still be lacking performance. But his goal will remain the same, to become the first rider to win both a MotoGP title and a World Superbike title. Max Biaggi and John Kocinski both won WSBK titles after becoming champions on a 250, but nobody has won titles in the premier classes of both series.
Tito Rabat has suffered a fracture of the radius of his left arm. The reigning Moto2 champion crashed while training at Almeria in preparation for the Pacific triple header, falling and injuring his arm. He immediately underwent surgery to have a plate fitted to his arm, and is to fly to Japan where he intends to try to race.
The cause of the crash is not clear. Rabat blamed the crash on a technical problem, causing him to fall at the chicane, but due to his injury, he has not been able to take a look at the bike to determine what caused the problem. This is Rabat's second training-related injury this season, having also broken his collarbone earlier in the year after a crash at Almeria.
Rabat's decision to race is forced by his desire to defend his title. Johann Zarco leads Rabat by 78 points, so if Rabat wants to keep his title hopes alive, he has to score 4 points more than Zarco at Motegi. Even then, Rabat will need the Frenchman to score a number of DNFs. But riders are not willing to give up on a title until the mathematics says it is impossible.
Below is the press release from the Marc VDS Racing Estrella Galicia team:
Rabat ready to race in Japan despite training injury
Gosselies, Belgium – 6 October 2015: Tito Rabat heads to Motegi determined to race in the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend, despite fracturing the radius in his left arm in a training crash at Almeria on Monday.
Rabat sustained the injury after a technical failure caused him to crash heavily at the Almeria chicane. The reigning World Champion was initially treated at the track by circuit medical staff, before being transported to the Clinica Mediterráneo in Almeria.
Doctors at the hospital operated to stabilise the fracture with a metal plate, after consulting with Doctor Ángel Charte in Barcelona. The surgery was a success and Rabat now heads to Japan determined to race this weekend, although his participation will only be confirmed once he’s undergone a medical examination on arrival in Motegi.
“The bike cut out in the chicane and I went down quite hard. I’m not sure yet what caused the crash, as I haven’t had a chance to check the bike over. Once again the marshals and medical staff at Almeria did a fantastic job of taking care of me. They immobilised my left arm at the track and I was in hospital less than an hour after the crash. The doctors in Almeria spoke to my doctors in Barcelona and we decided that surgery to stabilise the fracture was the best option. The surgery last night was a success and this morning I am more confident than ever that I will be able to race this weekend in Japan with few issues.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“With three races in as many weekends ahead of us, Tito’s injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. The fracture may only be minor, but he will have no time to recover fully until we return to Europe at the end of this month. It will be a tough three weeks for him but, as he showed in Sachsenring earlier in the season, he’s no stranger to riding injured and it doesn’t impact massively on his performance. What is clear is that we need to review Tito’s training methods. It’s important for a rider to train, but we need to minimise risk as much as possible in future.”
Jorge Lorenzo has sprained his left shoulder in a training accident. The four-time world champion was training on a minibike with some other riders, when he fell heavily on his left shoulder. The pain was severe enough for him to travel to a medical center in Barcelona, where he was diagnosed with grade 1 sprain of his left shoulder. Grade 1 sprains are the lowest level injury, a mild sprain. Sources speaking to both Motocuatro and GPOne.com classified the injury as "not serious, nothing to worry about."
Lorenzo is already underway to Japan, and intends to race at Motegi, the first of three back-to-back flyaway races. How much the injury will hamper him remains to be seen, but given the mild nature of the injury, it should not trouble him too much. Motegi does have a lot of heavy braking, but it is mostly for right-hand corners. From there, the circus heads to Phillip Island, which is a left-hand circuit, but which does not feature much heavy braking. Then to Sepang, which is a mixture of braking for both left and right handers.
It is worth noting that Andrea Iannone suffered a much more serious injury the week before the Aragon round of MotoGP. The factory Ducati rider dislocated his already weak shoulder, and had to have the joint put back into place in a local hospital. Iannone went on to finish a highly commendable fourth, much where you would have expected him to finish without the injury.
This is also not the first time that Lorenzo has suffered a shoulder injury and gone on to race. The 2013 race at Assen is one of the Movistar Yamaha rider's most memorable races, Lorenzo having broken his collarbone in a big and very fast highside during FP2 on Thursday. That night, he was flown to Barcelona for surgery to plate the collarbone, returning the following evening. After a medical inspection on Saturday morning, Lorenzo went on to finish a brave race in fifth position, after starting from twelfth on the grid.
Jorge Lorenzo is the second rider to injure himself ahead of Motegi. Last week, Marc Marquez fell while riding his mountain bike, and broke a metacarpal bone in his left hand.
The first piece of the Marc VDS / Estrella Galicia puzzle has officially been put in place. Today, the team announced that Tito Rabat will be moving up to race for the team in MotoGP for 2016. Rabat will take the place of the departing Scott Redding, riding a factory-backed Honda RC213V. Rabat got his first spin out on the bike on Monday after Aragon, ostensibly as a reward for winning a title, but the suspicion was always that the team had done this to allow Rabat to get at least a feel for the bike ahead of next year.
That this was the only announcement from the team is something of a surprise. The original plan, MotoMatters.com understands, was to announce the entire line up all in one go. This was intended to make life easier for the team and its many sponsors, allowing them to coordinate their announcements. However, when asked about progress on this, team sources made it clear that the intention was still there, but that getting all of the deals done, contracts signed and sponsors ready was a little like herding cats.
More news is likely to emerge from the Marc VDS team in the next week or so, including announcements of Jack Miller to race alongside Rabat, on similar material, the arrival of Franco Morbidelli in Moto2, and Enea Bastianini partnering Jorge Navarro in Moto3.
Below is the press release from Marc VDS on Rabat's deal:
Tito Rabat to move up to MotoGP with Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS
Gosselies, Belgium – 1 October 2015: Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS are pleased to announce that they have reached an agreement with Tito Rabat that will see the reigning Moto2 World Champion contest the 2016 MotoGP World Championship aboard the team’s factory Honda RC213V.
Promotion to the premier class is a fitting reward for the 26-year-old Spaniard, who brought Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS their first World Championship title after a recording breaking 2014 season. Rabat dominated in Moto2 that year, scoring more points than any other rider in the 67-year history of the intermediate class and taking seven wins and 14 podium finishes on his way to the world title.
It is this record, and his commitment to the Estrella Galicia 0,0 backed development project in which the team play a major part, that made Rabat the obvious choice to succeed Scott Redding as the team’s MotoGP rider for the 2016 season.
Rabat is looking forward to the new challenge, having tested the team’s factory Honda RC213V at Motorland Aragon after the Grand Prix at the same circuit. The Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider completed 60 laps and was immediately impressed by both the power and potential of Honda’s MotoGP machine.
Testing for the 2016 MotoGP World Championship will start in earnest immediately after the Grand Prix of Valencia, but Rabat’s focus now is on the last four races of this season and the fight to keep his championship hopes alive after winning last time out in Aragon.
“The objective of my life was to, first of all, arrive to MotoGP and then to make results in the premier class. This is the first step and for that I would like to thank Marc van der Straten, the team and Estrella Galicia for this chance and their confidence in me. I know stepping up to MotoGP on the factory Honda RC213V isn’t going to be easy, but I have all the winter to prepare, to make sure I’m strong and ready for preseason testing. It’s going to be a steep learning curve, but the goal will be to improve step by step so that we’re ready for the first race in Qatar.”
“The test at Aragon aboard the factory Honda RC213V was an incredible experience. The first time you ride this bike you just aren’t prepared for it. There is so much speed, so hard acceleration and the corners arrive far too early! To be honest, it was the best experience you can have on a bike. Once I’d adapted to the speed, the power and the carbon brakes I was able to understand a little more how the bike works and go a little faster. I would like to have ridden for longer but, unfortunately, they wanted to close the track!”
Marc van der Straten:
“I am happy to see Tito step up to race our MotoGP bike next season. His approach to racing, his work ethic and his determination to succeed are the same attributes on which our team was built. It is fitting that we should have a rider such as Tito in the premier class to act as the perfect role model for the younger riders making their way through our development program. To race at the very top level is never easy, but Tito has shown that he has the ability to adapt rapidly and his commitment to this project is absolute. I am confident he will do us proud next season.”