Latest News

Scott Jones Checking in from Brno - Part 1


First win was here, 20 years ago. Another one come Sunday?


Captain Scarlet? Or Captain Black?


Maverick is flying at Brno


#93. Left pinkie is bent like thta permanently. Perils of the job


Yes, Cal, we know the Honda likes to wheelie


A cheerful Bradley Smith. He's not always that cheerful


Honda bring a new air intake on the front of the RC213V. Different fairing shape too


For comparison, the standard factory fairing. Marquez is the test dummy, Pedrosa the benchmark


Back in the groove, and so smooth


Andrea Iannone's confidence has been visibly boosted since winning in Austria


Scott Redding looking at the future


Jorge Lorenzo often uses double thickness kneesliders, even in the dry


Situation normal, all crossed up


This is why photographers love Brno. Great images just waiting to be captured


Synchronized corner entry. A new Olympic sport?


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.

Sky VR46 Fire Romano Fenati, Hire Lorenzo Dalla Porta

As expected, Romano Fenati has been formally released from his contract with the Sky VR46 team. The Italian was suspended from the team after an incident at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. That was a temporary measure, but it has now been made permanent.

Fenati was released for behavioral issues. The Italian had been abusive towards members of the team, and had not behaved in a professional manner. The incident in Austria was just the latest in a long line of breaches of behavioral conduct, which included confirmed reports of verbal abuse and unconfirmed and unsubstantiated reports of physical conflict. 

The Sky VR46 team have announced that they will be bringing Lorenzo Dalla Porta in to join Andrea Migno and Nicolo Bulega in the Moto3 team. Dalla Porta had strong results in the FIM CEV championship, and fits in with the ethos of the Sky VR46 team of bringing on young talent. The Italian will take Fenati's place from Silverstone.

What happens to Fenati is as yet unknown. His sacking has made him persona non grata with most of the teams, though there are rumors that Aki Ajo has an interest in the Italian. Ajo has had success in taming other wayward characters, making the team a good fit with Fenati. If Fenati is not picked up by another Moto3 team, his career in motorcycle racing could be in huge trouble.

Below is the press release announcing the cancelation of Fenati's contract:


RESCISSION OF CONTRACT FOR ROMANO FENATI AND THE SKY RACING TEAM VR46. LORENZO DALLA PORTA – ANOTHER YOUNG ITALIAN TALENT – HE WILL REPLACE HIM FROM SILVERSTONE.

Brno (Czech Republic), August 18th, 2016 - After the suspension at the Austrian GP, it breaks up permanently from Brno the relationship between Romano Fenati and the Sky Racing Team VR46. After three seasons of work and successes together, we wish Romano all the best for his future.

Sky and VR46 continue to work alongside the young Italian talents. Lorenzo Dalla Porta will join the Moto3 team, with Andrea Migno and Nicolò Bulega, until the end of the season. The guy from Prato, who made his debut in the World Championship in 2015 - after the experience at CEV - will be on the track from the Silverstone. There is no replacement for Brno.

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Aspar Signs Bautista For MotoGP - 2017 Line Up Almost Complete

The penultimate piece of the 2017 puzzle has fallen into place. Today, the Pull&Bear Aspar team announced that they have signed Alvaro Bautista to race for them for the 2017 season.

The deal had long been anticipated, Bautista confirming at the Sachsenring that he was in talks with Aspar, and expected a contract to be signed. The final details were sorted out in Austria, and an announcement made the day before the Czech Grand Prix is to get underway in Brno.

Like the Avintia Ducati team, Aspar will have two different bikes at their disposal for their riders. One rider will be given a Ducati Desmosedici GP16 for the season, while the other will have a Desmosedici GP15. In the Avintia team, it is Hector Barbera who will have the GP16, while Loriz Baz makes do with the GP15. In Aspar, it is Alvaro Bautista who has the GP16, while the second rider, still to be confirmed, will get to use the GP15.

Bautista's signing leaves one more seat to fill. The second seat at Aspar is still up for grabs, though Eugene Laverty has first refusal on it. The Irishman is still vacillating between the Aspar ride and a seat in WorldSBK with Aprilia. A decision on that shoudl be forthcoming very soon. If Laverty doesn't take the seat, then Yonny Hernandez will retain his seat in the Aspar squad.

Below is the table of signed riders and their contract lengths, while at the bottom is the press release from the Aspar team announcing the signing of Bautista:

Movistar Yamaha
Valentino Rossi 2017-2018
Maverick Viñales 2017-2018
 
Repsol Honda
Dani Pedrosa 2017-2018
Marc Márquez 2017-2018
 
Ecstar Suzuki
Andrea Iannone 2017-2018
Alex Rins 2017-2018
 
Gresini Aprilia
Sam Lowes 2017-2018
Aleix Espargaro 2017-2018
 
KTM Factory
Bradley Smith 2017-2018
Pol Espargaro 2017-2018
 
Factory Ducati
Jorge Lorenzo 2017-2018
Andrea Dovizioso 2017-2018
 
Pramac Ducati
Scott Redding 2017
Danilo Petrucci 2017
 
LCR Honda
Cal Crutchlow 2017
 
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha
Jonas Folger 2017-2018
Johann Zarco 2017-2018
 
Marc VDS Honda
Jack Miller 2017
Tito Rabat 2017
 
Avintia Ducati
Hector Barbera 2017
Loris Baz 2017
 
Aspar Ducati
Alvaro Bautista 2017
Eugene Laverty/Yonny Hernandez?

Below is the press release from the Aspar team announcing the deal:


Aspar Team and Álvaro Bautista to reunite in 2017

Spanish rider returns to the team where he was crowned 125cc World Champion in 2006 and 250cc runner-up in 2008

The Aspar Team and Álvaro Bautista will join forces again in 2017, the Spaniard (born 21st November 1984) returning to the team where he last raced between 2006 and 2009. Bautista's fifth season with the Aspar Team will also be his eighth season in MotoGP, this time riding aboard a Ducati GP16.

Álvaro Bautista touched the sky in his first season together with the Aspar Team in the 125cc World Championship in 2006. The rider from Talavera de la Reina picked up eight pole positions, eight victories, four second places and two thirds, taking 338 points from sixteen races on his way to a dominant title. Bautista was crowned champion in Australia, handing the Aspar Team its first World Championship with three rounds to spare.

Bautista moved up to the 250cc World Championship together with the Aspar Team, fighting for honours throughout three seasons that saw him come close to the title in 2008, when he finished runner-up. Bautista and the Aspar Team again recorded impressive figures in the intermediate class, with a total of eight wins, twenty podiums, nine poles and twelve fastest laps.

In 2010 he made the step up to MotoGP with Suzuki, spending two seasons with the Japanese factory team before switching to Gresini, where he currently rides an Aprilia after an initial period on a Honda. The 2012 season was Bautista's best so far in MotoGP, with two podium finishes and fifth overall in the championship.

Jorge Martínez ‘Aspar’: “For the Aspar Team it gives us great pleasure in every sense to welcome Álvaro Bautista back. As a team we picked up our first World Championship title with him back in 2006 and we enjoyed some wonderful years together. Our professional and personal relationship with him is excellent and for the team and our sponsors this is great news. My hope and desire is that this brings great results for Ducati and for us. It is important for us to have a Spanish rider with his record and his professionalism. He can give us an advantage on track.”

Álvaro Bautista: “I am happy to be returning to what was my home for many years in the World Championship, where I enjoyed my best results including the 125cc World Championship title and fought for another title in 250cc. I am happy and motivated to be going back and especially to have another year in MotoGP, a new adventure. Over the years I have grown a lot and I have much more experience now. I am confident that with this team we can be competitive in 2017.”

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Scott Jones' Austrian Adventure, Part 2


Faster than he feared, not as fast as he hoped. Valentino Rossi needed more than fourth in Austria


Mountains, woods, bull, bikes. Spielberg


Just a week old, and Cal Crutchlow's daughter already has her own race logo


Fear the freight train: there was no escaping for Brad Binder at the Red Bull Ring


Flying


We all know who they mean ...


The old Jorge Lorenzo was back when the heat came


The rewards of hard work. Jorge Martinez and Gino Borsoi congratulate Phil Marron and Eugene Laverty's crew


Bradley Smith didn't have a bad weekend. But he didn't have a good weekend. Hence his frustration


Another Brit, Scott Redding, on his way to top independent rider


No so much of a maniac that he can't win races


There may not be very many corners, but you have to nail each and every one of them


Sadly, this relationship will end at the end of the season. Aleix Espargaro talking to crew chief Tom O'Kane


Norge. Flying.


If you'd like to have desktop-sized versions of Scott's fantastic photos, you can become a site supporter and take out a subscription. If you'd like a print of one of the shots you see on the site, then send Scott an email and he'll be happy to help.

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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.”

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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. Motorsport.com 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.

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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.

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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!


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