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Barbera and Baz Back With Avintia for 2017

The penultimate piece of the 2017 MotoGP puzzle has fallen into place. As had been widely expected, the Avintia Ducati team have announced that they will be keeping their current line up of Hector Barbera and Loris Baz for the 2017 season.

The Avintia team will have two different bikes at their disposal, one GP16 and one GP15. The current plan calls for Hector Barbera to be riding the GP16 next year, while Loris Baz will get a chance to ride the GP15. Given the exceptional season Barbera has had so far this year, it is unsurprising the Spaniard would be given the more competitive bike, though the difference between the two is marginal.

Below is the official announcement from Avintia:

Hector Barbera and Loris Baz sign with Avintia Racing for 2017

Avintia Racing takes great pleasure in announcing that Hector Barbera and Loris Baz will continue with the team in the 2017 MotoGP World Championship. Hector Barbera already showed his level during the first half of the season. After nine races, he is the best Ducati rider and seventh in the standings, riding a Desmosedici GP14.2. Next year will be the fifth season for the Spaniard with Avintia Racing and thanks to his good results, he’ll have a Desmosedici GP in 2017, the same bike that the factory riders are using this season.

2016 has been the first season for Loris Baz with Avintia Racing after battling with Barbera in 2015 for the Open Class title. Although he didn’t get good results so far, the Frenchman showed his potential during the winter test and the first races of the season. The team is convinced that he is capable of fighting for Top 10 results, and next season, with a better package, he’ll have the chance to demonstrate his skills.

Hector Barbera

“I’m very happy because I think that we have shown a big progression over the last few years. In just three seasons, we managed to move from twentieth place to seventh in the standings, and we achieved this with an old bike. The team and I grew together over this period of time, so I’m extremely happy to sign a new contract for next season, especially because we’ll finally have a competitive bike, and we will be able to fight for something big. I have a really competitive team, we are like a big family and everybody is always looking for perfection. We help each other and that’s why we have grown so much together. Raul always has big dreams, he is ahead of the future, and without his passion, the experience of Bocha and the support from Antonio, all this wouldn’t be possible.”

Loris Baz

“First of all I want to say big thanks to the team for offering me another opportunity, because with the poor races we had so far, ninety per cent of the teams would have decided to sent me back home. But Avintia Racing showed that they trust me and gave me another chance. I also think that during the winter tests and the first few races I showed that I’m not so slow. Now we need to try to get back to that point and try to be as competitive as Hector. The fact that my future is now decided takes a lot of pressure from me, because after my injury it was not easy, so I want to thank Raul, Bocha and Antonio. I feel really good with the team and I think we can show more than what we have seen so far. I got injured in the worst moment of the season, but they always supported and reassured me to take the pressure off. I hope to be able to return the favour with some better results in the last nine races of this season, and even results again in 2017.”

Agustin Escobar (Team Manager)

“We are really happy to continue one more year with Hector and Loris, because they are good riders and even better persons. We have a professional team, but at the same time we are a big family, so that’s why we want to continue together next season. Hector is already showing his potential, and I think Loris can get the good feeling back that he had during the winter tests and show that he has more speed than what he had so far this season. I’m sure that next season, with the new bikes, both will get better results. I also want to thank Ducati for they support and I hope to reward them with great results.”


Sky VR46 Racing Team Suspend Romano Fenati - Fenati Will Not Race

Romano Fenati will not be on the starting grid at the Austrian round of MotoGP on Sunday. The Italian has been suspended by his team for "repeated behavior not in line with the disciplinary rules of a team". 

Though the team has not made a statement on the exact reason for suspending Fenati, there are reports of repeated bad behavior by Fenati in the team. state that Fenati became abusive towards his crew during qualifying at the Red Bull Ring, and this was the final straw. 

Fenati's future is now in serious jeopardy. His suspension at Austria puts him in an almost impossible position in the 2016 Moto3 championship, the Italian currently third and trailing Brad Binder by 66 points, and Binder the hot favorite for victory at the Red Bull Ring. Fenati's suspension in Austria looks likely to turn permanent, with reports of a young Italian replacement being brought in at Brno.

Fenati's suspension means his plans for 2017 are now on hold. The Italian was due to move up to Moto2 for 2017 in the Sky VR46 team. Over the summer break, there were rumors that the Sky VR46 team would run two riders in MotoGP, with Pecco Bagnaia widely tipped to take the slot alongside Fenati. With Fenati now gone from the Sky VR46 team, Bagnaia could become the sole rider for Moto2 in the team. 

The official statement issued by the Sky VR46 team appears below:

Moto3/Sky Racing Team VR46 – Austrian Gran Prix

Spielberg (Austria), August 13th, 2016 - Following repeated behavior not in line with the disciplinary rules of a Team - the rider Romano Fenati has been suspended. He will not be on the starting grid of the Austrian Grand Prix.

Scott Jones' Austrian Adventure, Part 1

Better look out. Ducati are coming

Lorenzo let his head hang on Friday, lifted it Saturday

The most spectacular mountain setting for a race track

Marc Marquez, doing what he does best: laying black lines at every possible opportunity

Surprisingly cold temperatures caught a few riders out on Friday. Aleix Espargaro destroyed his Suzuki, and hurt his hand

Brad Binder, the fastest man in Moto3. Except on Saturday

Cal Crutchlow may be basking in the glow of being a new father, but he is right down to business in Austria

The Rust Bull Ring?

Cold tires and no feeling. The worst possible conditions for Lorenzo and Pedrosa

The air base is just next door, Maverick

Beware: Low flying Italians

Marc VDS Racing Estrella Galicia 0,0 teammates Tito Rabat and Jack Miller riding in tandem ...

... though not necessarily in harmony

Babenberg at Spielberg

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.

MotoGP Considering Team Communication via Dashboards

Dorna is considering allowing communication between teams and riders via the dashboard. At a meeting today between Dorna and the teams, initial discussions took place over a system to allow teams to pass very brief messages to the dashboard of the bikes.

The ability to pass messages between team and bike has been made possible thanks to the transponders currently being used in MotoGP. Those allow for a very limited and very short burst of communication as the bikes pass the timing loops at the track. Race Direction is currently using the system to pass signals to the dash in the case of a red flag, black flag or ride through penalty, but the system would also allow teams a limited ability to pass messages to the riders.

"It's at a very early stage," Technical Director Danny Aldridge told us at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. "Basically, teams could send very short messages to the dashboard. It would only be something like 'BOX'."

There are a lot of details still to be worked out. It is unclear exactly how often messages could be passed, and exactly how long such messages would be, but it would only be a few characters. In theory, four messages could be passed to a rider each lap, in addition to messages on the pit board. But it is still not clear whether a message sent to the dashboard would be replaced by another at the next timing loop, or whether the message would have to removed at one timing loop, then a fresh one sent at the end of the following sector.

What is also unclear is exactly what granularity of timing loops would be available to the teams. Although MotoGP splits each race track into four sectors, the number of timing loops at each track is much greater. There may be ten or more at some tracks, although only a few are being used.

The proposal to allow communication has come forward after riders missed messages on pit boards at the last race at the Sachsenring. Andrea Dovizioso, Valentino Rossi, Cal Crutchlow, Hector Barbera and Jack Miller were battling for the lead as the track was drying out. Marc Márquez went in to swap bikes early, as he was losing too much ground to the leaders on wet tires. At the front, Rossi, Dovizioso, Crutchlow, Barbera and Miller were all looking at each other too much rather than their pit boards. By the time they went in, it was too late, and Márquez went on to win the race.

That made teams think carefully about sending information to the riders. Teams were frustrated that the riders ignored messages on their pit boards, something made more difficult by the position of pit lane at the Sachsenring, which starts after a steep climb to a blind crest.

Dorna are keen on the messages, as they will also be available for the TV feed. Because the messages would go through the transponder system, Dorna could use them and display them on the TV feed, similar to the system used in F1.

The idea is still at a very early stage, and has a long way to go before actually being adopted. There will have to be discussions between the teams and Dorna about what kind of messages it will be possible for the teams to send, how much space they have and how often they can be changed. The system will have to be tested before it can be adopted, and the riders will have to decide whether they believe it can be done safely or not.


Austria Track Layout Changed - Turn 10 Modified For Safety Concerns

The MotoGP test in Austria brought to light several safety issues with the Red Bull Ring. At least one of those issues is to be addressed before the start of the Austrian round of MotoGP. After consultation with several members of the Safety Commission, the FIM Safety Officer Franco Uncini has ordered the final corner, Turn 10, to be modified.

The changes are similar to those made in the F1 chicane at Barcelona, after the death of Luis Salom forced a switch to the F1 layout. The track is to be made narrower through the corner - the width reduced from 13 meters to 10 meters - to slow entry into the corner, and slow the riders on exit.

The change was necessary because of a lack of run off at the final corner. With limited room in the case of a crash, it was felt necessary to slow the speed at which riders may crash. 

The track still has a number of tricky spots. Run off is limited at Turns 1 and 3, and a concrete wall on the inside of Turn 4 could also be a potential issue. Whether those concerns will be addressed remains to be seen.

The official press release announcing the changes appears below:

Red Bull Ring Turn 10 changed due to safety concerns

As MotoGP™ racing returns to Austria for the first time since 1997, further adjustments have been made to the Red Bull Ring layout following a private test held earlier this summer.

FIM Safety Officer Franco Uncini discussed the layout with some riders of the Safety Commission in order to hear their thoughts on the track, and it was agreed to reduce the width of Turn 10 of the circuit from 13 to 10 metres - to lower the speed when exiting the corner and improve the safety of the turn.

Due to this change, and as riders and teams will be gaining experience and refining their bike set-up over the course of the event, lap times recorded during the previous private test won't be deemed relevant.


Stefan Bradl to Join Ten Kate Honda in World Superbikes for 2017

In the first of a two-part announcement, the Honda WorldSBK team, run by Ten Kate, have announced that they have signed Stefan Bradl for the 2017 season. He will join Nicky Hayden for next year on the Honda CBR1000RR.

Bradl had the choice to stay in MotoGP, but the best offer he had was with the Avintia Ducati team. Bradl elected to race for podiums in World Superbikes, rather than top 10s in MotoGP. Though Honda is expected to debut a new Fireblade later this year, it is unlikely that bike will be ready to race for the 2017 season. Leaked details about the bike also suggest that it is a rather small evolution, rather than a radically new bike.

The announcement had been widely expected, as we wrote in our WorldSBK silly season round up last week. Bradl will be replacing Michael van der Mark, who will be signing for the Pata Yamaha squad in World Superbikes. With the Bradl signing now public, Van der Mark's announcement is now imminent.

Below is the press release from the Honda WorldSBK team:

Honda WorldSBK Team signs Stefan Bradl for the 2017 WorldSBK season

The Honda WorldSBK Team is pleased to announce the signing of 26-year-old Stefan Bradl from Germany for the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship. Crowned Moto2 World Champion in 2011, Bradl will join former MotoGP™ Champion Nicky Hayden to complete a stellar line-up for Honda next season.

Despite his young age, Bradl has a wealth of experience at international level. Since his 125cc debut in 2005, he has collected nineteen podium finishes and seven wins across all Grand Prix classes. After winning the Moto2 World Championship in 2011, Stefan made his MotoGP debut with the LCR Honda Team in 2012 where his best result was a second-place finish at Laguna Seca in 2013.

The Honda WorldSBK Team would like to thank Michael van der Mark for his outstanding efforts and title-winning contribution during his tenure as a Honda rider. The team will maintain its unconditional support for Michael for the remainder of the season, with the goal of achieving the best possible results.

The Honda WorldSBK Team is pleased to confirm that its riders for the 2017 season will be Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl.

Stefan Bradl

I’m really happy to join the Honda WorldSBK Team for the 2017 season. It’s a great opportunity for me and I’m really looking forward to this new challenge with a really competitive team and I’m sure we’ll do great things together. Of course, this is going to be a whole new experience for me but I will try to adapt as quickly as possible, in order to get some really good results. I can’t wait to try the Fireblade and, obviously, it’ll be fantastic to work together with Nicky: I think it’s a fantastic combination because we understand each other really well. We can all look forward to the future and I am super motivated for this new journey.

Marco Chini

Honda's WorldSBK Operations Manager

We’re pleased to welcome Stefan Bradl to the Honda WorldSBK Team and are honoured that he accepted this new challenge with Honda, with the goal to compete at the highest level in WorldSBK. If we look at our line-up for 2017, with Ten Kate still as our official team within the series, we cannot hide the fact that we will be aiming for very good results next year. We cannot wait to take on this exciting new project however, for the moment we remain fully focused on the current season in order to put Nicky and Michael in the best possible position at the final four rounds of the year.

Ronald ten Kate

Honda WorldSBK team manager

We are very excited to welcome Stefan Bradl into our team and the WorldSBK paddock. Stefan has chosen to ride with Honda in World Superbike and we will be sure to repay his trust in us in the best possible way. In the meetings we’ve had so far, he gave us a clear view on his goals and the way to get there, and it is clear that we share the very same approach to racing. Like every other rider coming from MotoGP, he’ll need to get used to the different character of production-based motorcycles and tyres – as well as learn the new tracks on the calendar – but considering he is still very young, I’m sure he will learn fast!


Ducati Confirm Davies and Melandri in WorldSBK for 2017

The Ducati WorldSBK team have confirmed that Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri will be their riders for the 2017 season. Davies has signed with Ducati for two more seasons, while the (nearly) 34-year-old Melandri has only a one year deal. 

The announcement had been widely expected, as we wrote in our latest round up of WorldSBK Silly Season. Melandri had been working on a return to the World Superbike paddock ever since his ignominious exit from Aprilia's MotoGP team in the middle of 2015. His return has come at a price: informed paddock sources say that Melandri is to ride for free, and is bringing money to the team through sponsorship deals. Melandri is a proven commodity on a competitive bike, the only question mark being the effort he is willing to put in if he believes the bike is not capable.

The phrasing of Chaz Davies' contract extension is interesting. The official quotes from Davies in the press release speak of his joy at having signed on for two more years at Ducati. However, the press release only talks about the 2017 WorldSBK season. Davies has made no secret of his desire to make the switch to MotoGP, but he has also been very clear that he will only do so on a competitive bike and with factory support. Today's announcement clears the way for Davies to go to Pramac Ducati in 2018, though it does not mean he will necessarily end up there. Davies has a contract with Ducati, but if Pramac switch to Suzuki (which they have threatened), or if the team decides to keep Scott Redding and Danilo Petrucci, then there would not be a seat there. Davies would then have to consider his options, and whether staying in World Superbikes is preferable to a bigger gamble in MotoGP.

The announcement also means that Davide Giugliano is now officially out of the factory Ducati team. The Italian has shown a lot of promise during his three-year tenure in the factory team, but he has failed to fulfil his potential by winning races. Giugliano is reported to be looking at both the WorldSBK and the Moto2 paddocks for 2017.

Below is the press release from Ducati:

The Racing - Ducati team on track in 2017 with Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri

The Racing - Ducati team finalized its line-up for the 2017 WorldSBK Championship, confirming Chaz Davies and signing an agreement with Marco Melandri. Chaz and Marco have already been teammates in the past with great results, their common goal is to fight for the victory at each round and aim at the Riders’ and Manufacturers’ world titles.

Chaz Davies, 29, is currently in the middle of his third season with Ducati and, thus far, has secured 9 wins and 32 podiums overall on the Panigale R, showing constant progress and winning the hearts of many Ducati fans.

“I’m extremely happy to renew my professional relationship with Ducati for two more seasons,” Davies said. “The continuity element is really important in our job, and so far we’ve made great strides and got progressively closer to our goal. Now we can fight for the win practically on every track, and I’m confident we can make further improvements. Moreover, to race for Ducati is something special: everything is done with heart and passion, you really feel part of a family and have a direct connection between the production and racing. It’s going to be exciting.”

Thirty-four-year-old Melandri, on the other hand, will return to the production-based series, where he has claimed 19 wins and 49 overall podiums in 100 races.

“I’m really excited to come back to racing, it’s a dream come true,” Melandri stated. “I always said I was only interested in a top bike and top team, and I could not have asked for more. I kept following WorldSBK closely, and I’m confident the Panigale R can perfectly suit my riding style. We’ll just have to take one step at a time, but the potential is surely high. I know it won’t be easy to get back up to speed, but I have all the time to step on the bike, do laps and make sure I’m ready for the first test: to this end, I will skip the holidays to train on a street version of the Panigale R.”

The 2016 championship will mark Davide Giugliano’s last season within the Racing - Ducati team. In three years with the squad, the Italian rider has shown great speed and resilience, taking 10 podiums so far despite being sidelined for most of 2015 with two serious injuries. Ducati and would like to thank Davide for his efforts, wishing him all the best for his future career and reiterating their commitment to give him the best possible tools to achieve his first WorldSBK win.

“I had a great time with Ducati,” said Giugliano. “I learned a lot and was given a wealth of experience to draw upon, which is really important for a young rider. We also faced some difficult times, especially last year when I was badly injured, but we’ve always stayed close. We decided to take different paths, but our relationship remains strong: I’m still young, so we may rejoin forces in the future. I sincerely wish Melandri the best and would like to thank everyone in Ducati, especially Paolo Ciabatti, and for all their support. It’s been a great journey, which has yielded great results despite the fact that we would have liked to do more, but I’ll give my best until the end of the season to achieve bigger goals.”

Luigi Dall'Igna, Ducati Corse General Manager: “Chaz Davies has become a key member of the Ducati family, so we’re happy to announce that he will ride with us for two more years. Chaz has shown great progress and we’re confident he can take our bike to even higher grounds. In 2017, he will ride alongside Marco Melandri, who took upon the challenge with great enthusiasm. Marco is a talented rider, he has already achieved prestigious results in WorldSBK and we’re confident that the year spent without racing has not undermined his qualities. We’re obviously sad for Davide Giugliano, who will part ways with us at the end of the year, and we wish him nothing but the best. Davide proved to have great competitiveness, taking many podiums and fastest laps, and has given a crucial input towards the development of the WorldSBK-spec Panigale R. We would like to thank him and guarantee we will give him all our support until the last race to help him achieve the results he deserves.”

Stefano Cecconi, Aruba S.p.A. CEO and Team Principal: “Given that the riders’ choice is among the most important and difficult to make, as the available seats are always less than what we would ideally offer, we had to resort to our ambition and courage while taking all the necessary time to finalize the 2017 line-up. Chaz has shown he can fight for the victory each round. Davide is a young and fast rider, who can become even more competitive, so I hope it’s a ‘see you again’ and not a ‘farewell’ between us. Marco’s resume speaks for itself and puts more pressure, at any rate positive, on us: we want to help him achieve the result that, surely not due to a lack in talent, has eluded him in WorldSBK so far.”



Silverstone Day of Champions Tickets Now On Sale

After several weeks of uncertainty, the future for Silverstone's Day of Champions has been settled. After the UK arm of Riders for Health ceased operations, a new organization, Two Wheels for Life, has taken over the running of the Riders for Health in Africa charity, and providing continuing support for their programs aimed at providing primary health care in Africa. 

The handover means good news for MotoGP fans as well. The Day of Champions is to go ahead as usual, on the Thursday before the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The action-packed day will continue as in previous years, with paddock and pit lane tickets on sale, as well as the traditional auction of rider gear and other signed items going on all day. 

Tickets for the Day of Champions went on sale on Tuesday, and cost £15. To buy your ticket, go to the Silverstone website, and either buy on line or call the phone number shown there.

Below is the press release from Two Wheels for Life on the Silverstone Day of Champions:


Day of Champions 2016 tickets will go on sale from 10am on Tuesday 19th July on the Silverstone website -

The event is hosted by Two Wheels for Life - the official MotoGP™ charity. Two Wheels for Life is the new events & fundraising organisation specifically created to raise funds to support the work of Riders for Health in Africa. Riders for Health in Africa enables reliable transportation so that health workers can reach the most isolated people with the health care they so desperately need.

“Fans have been eagerly awaiting the news of Day of Champions 2016 and we’re delighted to now announce that Day of Champions will once again kick start what is set to be a fantastic MotoGP™ weekend at the Octo British Grand Prix”, said Andrea Coleman, founder of Two Wheels for Life.

Ngwarati Mashonga, Executive Director of Riders for Health International said “Two Wheels for Life supports our work in Africa. The money raised will once again show that two wheels save lives in Africa”.

Exclusive paddock and pit-lane tickets cost £50 and include access to the paddock, the entertainment zone and the auction. Paddock and pit-lane tickets are limited; book early to experience behind-the-scenes of MotoGP™ as riders and teams prepare for the weekend ahead.

The entertainment zone activity gets under way with gates opening at 9.00am. Fans can enjoy live music, stunt shows and interviews with the stars of the sport. Tickets start from £15 pre-booked and include access to the famous charity auction, taking you through to 8.00pm. See the stars of MotoGP™ take to the stage alongside the faces of BT Sport and Two Wheels for Life’s co-founder Randy Mamola. Fans will have the opportunity to bid on signed memorabilia, and hear how the riders prepare for the weekend ahead.

Motorcyclists who are planning to arrive on two wheels can take part in the famous Day of Champions ride-in. 150 bikers can join Niall Mackenzie on the ride-in which leaves from the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon and includes breakfast at The Super Sausage and two laps of the world famous Silverstone circuit.

Two Wheels for Life and Riders for Health International would like to thank those who support our work, including Dorna, IRTA, Silverstone and the Octo British Grand Prix promoters, Circuit of Wales.

To buy your tickets and be part of the action, please visit: or call 0844 3750 740 from Tuesday 19th July onwards.


German MotoGP Extends Contract, Finland Joins Calendar for 2018

Two major announcements for the MotoGP calendar came at the Sachsenring on Sunday. That the organizers of the German Grand Prix have extended their contract for another five years, securing its future through 2021. And that Finland is to host a MotoGP round from 2018 onwards.

The announcement of the German Grand Prix had been expected. What the agreement does not cover, however, is which circuit the race will be at. The Sachsenring is the current favorite, and extraordinarily popular with the fans, but the organizers have struggled to make the race profitable. There have been talks with the Nurburgring, but the fear is that attendance would suffer, as it has historically been low at the circuit. The race could end up alternating between the two tracks.

The announcement of Finland was more of a surprise. There have been rumors of Finland making a return for the last year or so, but a deal was finally announced today. The race will mean a return to Finland after 36 years of absence, the race last held at Imatra. The Finnish round of MotoGP will be held for the first time in 2018, at the Kymiring about 150km from the Finnish capital Helsinki. 

With Finland joining the calendar in 2018, the MotoGP schedule could grow to 20 races. Thailand is highly likely to join the calendar in 2017, with the current three flyaway races being split up into two pairs of races. Whether Finland replaces a race in Spain or becomes the 20th race remains to be seen.

The press releases from Dorna announcing the races are shown below:

Finland poised to join MotoGP schedule

The FIM MotoGP World Championship is set to reach new territory in Scandinavia, with Dorna Sports delighted to announce an agreement has been reached for Finland to join the schedule in 2018.

The new KymiRing track in Iitti is currently under construction, with the FIM and Dorna working in close collaboration with all parties involved for the circuit to be homologated in time for the 2018 World Championship season.

Today’s announcement that MotoGP is set for a return to Finland for the first time since 1982 reflects the global appeal and growing popularity of the FIM MotoGP World Championship.

Future of German Motorcycle Grand Prix secured

ADAC and MotoGP rights holder DORNA renew contract

Germany will continue to host fixtures on the MotoGP World Championship calendar. During the GoPro Motorcycle Grand Prix of Germany weekend at the Sachsenring, Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of the MotoGP rights holder DORNA Sports, and ADAC Sports President Hermann Tomczyk agreed to extend the existing contract by a further five years. Germany will therefore be hosting the MotoGP Motorcycle World Championship until at least 2021.

“We are pleased that collaboration with our longstanding partners at ADAC has been extended for another five years,” said Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of DORNA Sports. “We and the ADAC will be making a joint announcement in the next few weeks concerning the venue for the German MotoGP round.”

ADAC Sports President Hermann Tomczyk: “The Motorcycle Grand Prix is ​​one of the sportingevents in Germany that draws the biggest crowds. We are very pleased that we have secured the future of the German round of the World Championship for the next five years. The world’s top motorcycle racing stars will be lining up on German tracks until at least 2021. I would like to thank Dorna for being such excellent partners and also everyone on our side for their commitment over recent months in securing the future of the German Motorcycle Grand Prix. We are already on the home straight in our negotiations with the Sachsenring to serve as the venue for the next five years. We hope to get the thumbs-up from our partners in Saxony by mid-August at the latest.”



Johann Zarco Joins Monster Yamaha Tech 3 MotoGP Team For 2017

The long-awaited news of Johann Zarco's MotoGP contract has been announced. The Frenchman is to join Jonas Folger in the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team for 2017. Zarco's contract is for one year, with the team holding an option on the Frenchman for a second year. 

The deal took some time to sort out, as Johann Zarco had already signed a preliminary deal with Suzuki. That deal saw him get to test Suzuki's MotoGP machine in Japan, and he had agreed to race the Suzuka 8 Hour with the factory endurance team. However, after Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins were confirmed at the factory Suzuki team, and a satellite team failed to appear, Zarco opted out of his contract and joined Tech 3 instead. Untangling the Suzuki contract was a time-consuming process, but it has been completed ahead of this weekend's race in Germany.

The press release on Zarco's contract appears below, and more details of the story behind the contract are contained in a piece on by Paddock Pass Podcast's Neil Morrison.

Zarco to join MotoGP with Tech3

The Monster Yamaha Tech3 team is pleased to announce the signing of the exciting French talent, Johann Zarco for the forthcoming season. The 2015 Moto2 World Champion and current joint leader of this year’s intermediate contest, will move up to the premier class with the French team and make his debut on the Yamaha YZR-M1 at the post season Valencia test. The Cannes born rider began his Grand Prix career in 2009 where he competed in the 125cc class, with his highlight in the lightweight series being the runner up in the championship standings in 2011. The 25 year old then stepped up to the intermediate class and since then has produced some determined and eye catching rides across the five seasons so far, where he has amassed 11 victories, 9 pole positions and 14 podium finishes as well as his well deserved world title in 2015. This year Zarco is looking to seal back to back championship wins in the ultra competitive Moto2 class and will be joined by series rival Jonas Folger in the all-new line up for the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team in 2017, with the Frenchman’s contract including an option for a second season.

Johann Zarco:

"It goes without saying that I am very happy to join the MotoGP class with Tech3 and I am confident that we can form a solid partnership. The team has a deep relationship and long history with Yamaha and they have proved that they can manage well in every situation and have had a good package year after year. This pleases me and it gives me extra motivation for reaching my targets in the 2017 season. Of course, it seems like a logical step for a French team and a French champion to work together, and now finally the deal is done which is certainly positive news. I really will do my best and prepare myself for the maximum because I think it’s more than possible to get some top results in MotoGP after my long experience in the intermediate class."

Herve Poncharal - Team Manager:

"After the long wait, I am delighted to announce that Johann Zarco will join the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team for next year. We haven’t had the chance to work with a French rider in our MotoGP team since Sylvain Guintoli in 2007 but I am certain that Johann will do a great job. We have been following him closely since he won the rookies cup and he has gone on to have further success in the 125cc class and Moto2. Last season was incredible for him and he won the championship in a masterful way. For me, Johann joining the team is a big and exciting challenge and he will be working with Guy Coulon’s side of the garage. We are very confident of this relationship being strong, as we already know that Johann and Guy will have a lot of similar points of view. In addition, I have to mention Laurent Fellon, his coach, friend and someone who has been on Johann’s side since the beginning of his career. The two of them have brought a new way of working to the sport and their efforts over the years will pay off and I cannot wait to see what he can do on our bike. The best pages of the Tech3 history book have been written by French riders and include Olivier Jacque, who won the 250cc title, with Dominique Sarron, Jean-Philippe Ruggia and Sylvain Guintoli all achieving success as well, so I am sure Johann can add to this list. I want to give him a really warm welcome and we can’t wait to see him on the bike after."