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2018 Provisional MotoGP Rider Line Up

The FIM has published the provisional list of entries for MotoGP in 2018. For the full background on the rider list, including details of bikes and contracts, see our story on the full rider list here.

No. Rider Nationality Team Bike
4 Andrea Dovizioso Italian Ducati Team Ducati
5 Johann Zarco French Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha
9 Danilo Petrucci Italian Octo Pramac Racing Ducati
10 Xavier Simeon Belgian Reale Avintia Racing Ducati
12 Tom Luthi Swiss EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda
17 Karel Abraham Czech Pull&Bear Aspar Team Ducati
19 Alvaro Bautista Spanish Pull&Bear Aspar Team Ducati
21 Franco Morbidelli Italian EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda
25 Maverick Viñales Spanish Movistar Yamaha Motogp Yamaha
26 Dani Pedrosa Spanish Repsol Honda Team Honda
29 Andrea Iannone Italian Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki
30 Takaaki Nakagami Japanese Lcr Honda Idemitsu Honda
35 Cal Crutchlow British Lcr Honda Castrol Honda
38 Bradley Smith British Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM
41 Aleix Espargaro Spanish Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia
42 Alex Rins Spanish Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki
43 Jack Miller Australian Octo Pramac Racing Ducati
44 Pol Espargaro Spanish Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM
45 Scott Redding British Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia
46 Valentino Rossi Italian Movistar Yamaha Motogp Yamaha
53 Tito Rabat Spanish Reale Avintia Racing Ducati
93 Marc Marquez Spanish Repsol Honda Team Honda
94 Jonas Folger German Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha
99 Jorge Lorenzo Spanish Ducati Team Ducati

* = Independent Team Rider

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2018 Provisional Moto2 Rider Line Up

The provisional rider line up for the Moto2 class has been published for the 2018 season. The class is as popular as ever, with 33 riders entered to race for the season. With the arrival of NTS, who will be racing in collaboration with the RW Racing team, there are now 6 manufacturers in the grid: KTM, Kalex, Suter, NTS, Tech 3, and Speed Up. Kalex still dominates, with 19 bikes, but KTM has stepped up its program to a total of 6 bikes, the others all fielding two riders apiece.

As in Moto3, Italian and Spanish riders dominate, with 9 Italians and 7 Spaniards on the grid. But the field will have riders with 14 different nationalities on the grid. 

The provisional Moto2 rider line up is below:

No. Rider Nationality Team Bike
4 Steven Odendaal S-African RW Racing NTS NTS
5 Andrea Locatelli Italian Italtrans Racing Team Kalex
7 Lorenzo Baldassari Italian Pons HP40 Kalex
9 Jorge Navarro Spanish Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Kalex
10 Luca Marini Italian Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex
11 Sandro Cortese German Kiefer Racing KTM
13 Romano Fenati Italian Marinelli Rivacold Snipers Kalex
16 Joe Roberts USA RW Racing NTS NTS
20 Fabio Quartararo French Speed Up Racing Speed Up
21 Federico Fuligni Italian Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2 Kalex
22 Sam Lowes British Cgbm Evolution KTM
23 Marcel Schrötter German Dynavolt Intact NTS Suter
24 Simone Corsi Italian Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2 Kalex
27 Iker Lecuona Spanish Cgbm Evolution KTM
32 Isaac Viñales Spanish SAG Team Kalex
36 Joan Mir Spanish EG 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex
40 Hector Barbera Spanish Pons HP40 Kalex
41 Brad Binder S-African Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM
42 Francesco Bagnaia Italian Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex
44 Miguel Oliveira Portuguese Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM
45 Tetsuta Nagashima Japanese Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Kalex
51 Eric Granado Brazilian Forward Racing Team Kalex
52 Danny Kent British Speed Up Racing Speed Up
54 Mattia Pasini Italian Italtrans Racing Team Kalex
55 Hafizh Syahrin Malaysian Petronas Sprinta Racing Kalex
62 Stefano Manzi Italian Forward Racing Team Kalex
64 Bo Bendsneyder Dutch Tech 3 Racing Tech 3
73 Alex Marquez Spanish EG 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex
77 Dominique Aegerter Swiss Kiefer Racing KTM
87 Remy Gardner Australian Tech 3 Racing Tech 3
89 Khairul Idham Pawi Malaysian Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Kalex
95 Jules Danilo French SAG Team Kalex
97 Xavi Vierge Spanish Dynavolt Intact NTS Suter

 

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2018 Provisional Moto3 Rider Line Up

The provisional line up for the Moto3 class has been announced. The field is slightly reduced this year, to 28 entries, partly as a result of the withdrawal of Mahindra. Just two manufacturers remain, KTM and Honda. KTM will be fielding 15 bikes, Honda 13. As ever, Spanish and Italian riders dominate, with 7 Spaniards and 9 Italians on the grid, but there are a grand total of 11 nationalities starting next year, including on rider from Kazakhstan. 

The provisional rider list appears below:

No. Rider Nationality Team Bike
5 Jaume Masia Spanish Bester Capital Dubai KTM
7 Adam Norrodin Malaysian Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda
8 Nicolo Bulega Italian Sky Racing Team VR46 KTM
10 Dennis Foggia Italian Sky Racing Team VR46 KTM
11 Livio Loi Belgian Reale Stylobike KTM
12 Marco Bezzecchi Italian MC Saxoprint KTM
14 Tony Arbolino Italian Marinelli Rivacold Snipers Honda
15 Alonso Lopez Spanish Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda
16 Andrea Migno Italian Aspar Team Moto3 KTM
17 John McPhee British CIP KTM
19 Gabriel Rodrigo Argentinian RBA BOE Racing Team KTM
21 Fabio Di Giannantonio Italian Del Conca Gresini Moto3 Honda
23 Niccolo Antonelli Italian SIC58 Squadra Corse Honda
24 Tatsuki Suzuki Japanese SIC58 Squadra Corse Honda
27 Kaito Toba Japanese Honda Team Asia Honda
33 Enea Bastianini Italian Leopard Racing Honda
40 Darryn Binder S-African Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM
41 Nakarin Atiratphuvapat Thai Honda Team Asia Honda
42 Marcos Ramirez Spanish Bester Capital Dubai KTM
44 Aron Canet Spanish Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda
48 Lorenzo Dalla Porta Italian Leopard Racing Honda
58 Juanfran Guevara Spanish RBA BOE Racing Team KTM
65 Philipp Oettl German Sudmetal Schedl GP Racing KTM
71 Ayumu Sasaki Japanese Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda
75 Albert Arenas Spanish Aspar Team Moto3 KTM
76 Makar Yurchenko Kazakhstani CIP KTM
84 Jakub Kornfeil Czech MC Saxoprint KTM
88 Jorge Martin Spanish Del Conca Gresini Moto3 Honda

 

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Michael van der Mark To Replace Jonas Folger At Valencia

Michael van der Mark is to make a second appearance in MotoGP. The Dutchman is to step in once again to replace Jonas Folger in the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team at Valencia. 

Though the announcement is not yet official, the Dutchman revealed he would be riding at Valencia in a Dutch-language interview for the WorldSBK website, and published by the Dutch website Racesport.nl. Recorded after the final round of WorldSBK at Qatar on Saturday, Van der Mark says, "It's great to be riding in MotoGP again next week in Valencia. It's a shame Jonas [Folger] is still ill, but I'm deeply honored that Hervé [Poncharal] has asked me once again to replace him. It shows that I did my best in Sepang."

"I'm really looking forward to the weekend at Valencia," Van der Mark said. "I know the bike a bit now, and the most important thing is that we have normal weather conditions in Valencia so that I can try and improve every session. I hope I can score a good result and make the team happy." Van der Mark finished 16th in Sepang, just outside the points.

Though there has been on official update on Jonas Folger's condition, the German is believed to be suffering a recurrence of Epstein Barr, a condition he is believed to have suffered with in 2016. Folger is currently in his native Bavaria, undergoing medical tests and recovering. He is unlikely to see MotoGP action again until the Sepang test in January 2018.

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2018 Provisional WorldSBK Calendar Released: Argentina, Brno Added, Jerez, Lausitzring Out

The FIM today released the provisional 2018 WorldSBK version. Just as last year, the schedule contains thirteen rounds, spread out from February to late October. Two circuits visited in 2017 are out, Jerez and the Lausitzring, while Brno makes a return to the WorldSBK schedule, and a brand new circuit in the west of Argentina, near the border with Chile.

The schedule starts as ever at Phillip Island in Australia on 25th February, with the WorldSBK and WorldSSP classes competing. As is traditional, the race is preceded a couple of days earlier by a two-day official test. The start of the series is once again rather fragmented, however, as WorldSBK fans will have to wait four weeks for the second round of the series at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand.

The series then heads to Europe, with a back-to-back weekend at Aragon and then Assen. At Aragon, the series is joined by the WorldSSP300 and Superstock 1000 series. The Assen round is the first clash of the year, running on the same weekend as the Austin round of MotoGP at the Circuit of the Americas, but as they are running in different time zones, the races themselves will not clash.

The spring and summer follows a familiar pattern, with visits to Imola and Donington Park, before heading to Brno, the first time the series has raced there since 2012. From Brno, the WorldSBK class heads to Laguna Seca for its traditional weekend together with the MotoAmerica weekend, before coming back for the final race before the summer break at Misano.

The summer break this year is a yawning expanse of 10 weeks, before the paddock reconvenes in Portugal for the round at Portimao. The gap is a result of the loss of the German round and the addition of Brno: with the Czech round of MotoGP in August, it is feared that not enough fans would turn up to a WorldSBK round held there in the same month.

After Brno, the series heads to the traditional last European round at Magny-Cours, before heading overseas again. The first trip is to the brand new El Villicum circuit currently being built just outside San Juan, in the west of Argentina. The circuit is not far from the border with Chile, and around 500km from the Chilean capital, Santiago. The circuit is yet to be homologated, as it has not seen world championship racing before, but an inspection by the FIM will take place in the coming months.

The final round of the 2018 WorldSBK season takes place in Qatar, as always, a privilege for which the Losail Circuit pays handsomely. The Qatar round is the second clash with the MotoGP series, but once again, as MotoGP is racing in a completely different timezone at Phillip Island that weekend, there is no clash in race times.

The two circuits missing from the 2018 calendar are Lausitzring and Jerez. The absence of the Lausitzring is easily explained: the circuit is to be transformed into an automotive test facility by the circuit owners DEKRA. Finding an alternative home for a German round was difficult, with few spectators making the trip to the Nurburgring, where the race was previously held. The loss of Jerez from the calendar is simply down to poor attendance. Crowds at the Spanish circuit were simply too small to make it viable, and Jerez plays host to plenty of other events throughout the season.

Below is the press release from the FIM with the provisional calendar:


MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship
FIM Supersport and Supersport 300 World Championships
European Superstock 1000 Championship

2018 provisional calendar, 2 November

DATE COUNTRY CIRCUIT WSBK WSSP WSSP300 STK1000
23-25 February AUS Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit X X    
23-25 March THA Chang International Circuit X X    
13-15 April ESP MotorLand Aragón X X X X
20 -22 April NED TT Circuit Assen X X X X
11-13 May ITA Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola X X X X
25-27 May GBR Donington Park X X X X
8-10 June CZE Automotodrom Brno X X X X
22-24 June USA Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca X      
6-8 July ITA Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli” X X X X
14-16 September POR Autódromo Internacional do Algarve X X X X
28-30 September FRA Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours X X X X
12–14 October ARG* El Villicum X X    
25-27 October QAT Losail International Circuit X X    

*(STH) Subject to homologation

2018 OFFICIAL TESTS

  • 19-20 February, Australia, Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit (WorldSBK & WorldSSP)
  • 23-24 August, Portugal, Autódromo Internacional do Algarve (WorldSBK)
Source: 

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Tom Luthi Declared Unfit For Sepang, Franco Morbidelli 2017 Moto2 Champion

Tom Luthi has been ruled unfit to race after his massive highside during qualifying for the Sepang round of Moto2. The Swiss rider fell very heavily during qualifying, and fractured his ankle in the fall.

Luthi's participation had been in doubt after the crash on Saturday, but doctors ruled that he would have to pass an examination on Sunday morning before being allowed to race. Luthi failed that exam on Sunday morning, and has been ruled out of the Moto2 race on Sunday.

With Luthi out, Franco Morbidelli's lead of 29 points becomes unassailable. Morbidelli is now officially the 2017 Moto2 Champion.

Dorna posted a video of Luthi's horrific crash on their Twitter feed:

https://twitter.com/MotoGP/status/924436102664130560

Source: 

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New WorldSBK Rules For 2018 - Will Rev Limits Transform World Superbikes?

The World Superbike championship has moved to address the performance disparities which have seen Kawasaki and Ducati dominate in recent seasons. The Superbike Commission, the rule-making body for the WorldSBK series, today announced a series of measures to ensure greater parity among teams and factories. The measures, which will enter into force in 2018, see rev limits replacing weight penalties and air restrictors as a performance balancing mechanism, and a performance-based concession point system for allowing engine updates during the season.

The changes fall into three main categories: the performance balancing system, a system of concession points, and the price capping of a range of suspension, chassis, and engine parts related to performance. The performance balancing system and the concession points system are aimed at creating more parity between different manufacturers, while the price capping of certain parts is aimed at both limiting costs, and of ensuring that all teams have access to the same parts.

Performance balancing via rev limits

The biggest change – and probably the most effective - is the adoption of rev limits as a performance balancing mechanism. The current system uses air restrictors placed in the throttle bodies as a way of restricting performance. That was originally a measure aimed at slowing down the Ducatis, especially once the maximum capacity for twins was increased to 1200cc.

There were two problem with using air restrictors. The first was that the effects were rather limited: factories grew more adept at squeezing more performance out of the engine despite restrictors, and there was a limit to how large or small the restrictors could be. A bigger issue is that it only addressed the performance disparity between twins and four cylinders, leaving the disparity between the different manufacturers of four-cylinder bikes untouched. It was aimed at containing Ducati. The problem is that Kawasaki has surpassed Ducati in performance, and there is no way of helping Honda, Aprilia, Yamaha, BMW, or Suzuki catch up.

Hence the switch to rev limits. Rev limits give the FIM and Dorna more direct control of the performance of different manufacturers. By allowing some manufacturers more revs and others fewer revs, they can impact peak power and torque of each individual brand. This will allow them, for example, to reduce revs for Kawasaki if Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes keep winning everything, leave the revs untouched for Yamaha, as Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark have been close to being competitive as the only other bikes on the podium other than the Kawasakis and Ducatis, while increasing revs for Aprilia and Honda to help make them more competitive.

The system will use an algorithm to calculate relative performance. That algorithm has yet to be completely defined, but it will combine a number of factors, including lap times, top speeds, number of riders on a particular bike, results, laps led, etc. to generate a relative performance ranking. Should a particular manufacturer come out high, then the series organizers will be able to reduce the maximum rev limit for that manufacturer by 250rpm. If the performance ranking comes out low, they can raise the rev limit by 250rpm.

The calculations will be made every three rounds, and may also be done at the end of the season for the following year. The proposed rev limits are shown below:

WSBK Initial rev-limit
Brand Proposed
Aprilia 14700
BMW 14700
Ducati 12400
Honda 14300
Kawasaki 14100
MV Agusta 14700
Suzuki 14700
Yamaha 14700

Rev limits will be imposed via the ECU for each bike, and monitored by the compulsory FIM-approved datalogger on each bike. Overrevving is allowed for downshifts, as the performance benefits of such are negligible.

There are of course limitations to what can be done with rev limits. Though theoretically, Dorna and the FIM could raise rev limits as high as they wanted, that doesn't mean that the bikes in question are actually capable of revving at those speeds. Yamaha, for example, limit their engine to lower than the proposed rev limit in the new regulations, to ensure reliability.

Of course, the real aim of the rev limits is not so much raising the limits for underperforming manufacturers, as lowering the limits for the manufacturers which are currently dominating. It is unlikely that Yamaha's rev limit will be raised, for example, but it is almost certain that the rev limits for Ducati and Kawasaki will be lowered if their stranglehold over the championship continues.

The lowering of Kawasaki and Ducati rev limits should also help privateer teams of the successful manufacturers. Currently, privateer Kawasakis don't rev anywhere near as high as the factory-backed KRT bikes of Rea and Sykes. Lowering Kawasaki rev limits will reduce the performance advantage of the factory team, but it won't necessarily affect the privateer squads running the same bike.

Concession points and concession parts

The other fork in this two-pronged attack on performance inequality is the introduction of concession points, which will be used to allow less successful manufacturers to catch up with the manufacturers which are already winning. The system is similar to the one used in MotoGP, which has been proven to be successful. But instead of testing allowances, manufacturers with concessions will be allowed to provide upgraded engine parts.

The concession points system works along the same lines as MotoGP. Points are awarded for each podium finish, 3 points for a win, 2 points for second, 1 point for third. At two points during the season, concession points will be tallied up for each manufacturer, and those who lag too far behind the manufacturer with the most concession points will be allowed to introduce new, upgraded parts.

The rules are ambiguous concerning the first point at which concession points are assessed. The rules currently state that the concession points will be evaluated after the first three "races". Strictly speaking, that would be halfway through the second event. The more logical explanation is that this is a mistake, and what is actually meant is that concession points will be evaluated after the first three events, or in other words, after six races.

At the first evaluation point, any manufacturer which trails the manufacturer with the most concession points by 9 points or more will be granted permission to introduce engine upgrades, though the list of parts which are allowed to be upgraded is limited.

Concession points will be evaluated at the end of the season as well. Any manufacturer which trails the leading manufacturer by 36 points or more will be allowed upgrades for the following season as well. Manufacturers within 36 points will be forced to retain the same spec of certain parts for the following year.

What this would mean in practice is that, for example, if the system were in place for this year, Kawasaki and Ducati would have to race next year with a virtually unchanged engine. The other manufacturers would all be allowed updates. If, theoretically, Yamaha had a strong 2018 and scored a lot of podiums alongside Kawasaki and Ducati, then Yamaha would then not be allowed upgrades for 2019, along with Kawasaki and Ducati, while Honda, MV Agusta, Aprilia, and BMW would once again be allowed new engine parts.

The list of parts which are allowed to be upgraded is limited. The full list is below, but the list basically comprises valve train components and flywheels. Other engine internals will remain frozen for the full season, but modifications to the valve train can have a marked effect on performance.

Price capping parts

The concession parts are all part of a price-capping initiative, to both restrict the cost of development, and to ensure that privateer teams have the same access to updated parts as the factory-supported teams. Engine parts which have been designated as concession parts must come from an approved supplier, appointed by the factory. They are all price capped, to keep the affordable for privateer teams.

In addition to concession parts, there is also a list of approved parts, including chassis and suspension parts, which are also price capped. These include swingarms, triple clamps, and a Superbike Kit ECU. The list, with prices, is below:

In addition to these approved parts, polished and ported cylinder heads must also be made available through the approved parts system. These, too, are price capped, at the retail price plus a premium which differs for each engine configuration: €3000 per cylinder head for an inline four, €1800 per cylinder head for a V4 (i.e. a total of €3600 plus the retail price), or €1200 per cylinder head for a V twin (i.e. a total of €2400 plus the retail price).

The approved parts and concession parts must be made available in time for the new season, to give all teams an equal chance to test the parts and integrate them into their own bikes. In addition, the team leading the development for each manufacturer (the so-called reference team, in most cases the factory-backed team) must make certain information about their development available to all privateer teams using the same bike. Changes to the frame, and the dimensions of inlet air funnels and exhausts, must also be passed on.

Why do this?

All in all, the changes being proposed are a radical shake-up of the technical regulations. The reason for doing so: the current domination by Kawasaki and Ducati has made for a sterile spectator experience. Of the 24 races held so far, 16 have been won by a Kawasaki, and 8 by a Ducati. Jonathan Rea has 14 wins, and Chaz Davies has 7 wins. Yamaha is the only other manufacturer to score podiums, with 5 shared between Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes.

The prime objective of these rules is to slow the Kawasakis and Ducatis down, especially the factory bikes of the KRT and Aruba.it Ducati teams. The rev limit will be the biggest lever which Dorna and the FIM can pull to achieve this, by reducing the revs the two manufacturers can use. It is a lever with a very direct effect, limiting the horsepower available to the best riders and best teams.

At the other end of the spectrum, the concession parts and approved parts list are aimed at helping the manufacturers and teams who are lagging behind to catch up. By ensuring that certain key performance parts are available to all teams at an affordable price, that makes it easier for privateer teams and slower manufacturers to compete.

What's in it for the factories?

What is interesting about these rules is that they have been adopted with the approval of the MSMA. Despite the fact that this will both hamstring their development and potentially restrict the advantage they have over each other and privateer teams, the factories must believe this is a step worth taking.

The reason they would be willing to accept this is that racing is still primarily a marketing exercise, rather than an exercise in R&D. It is imperative for the manufacturers that as many people as possible watch the racing, and the closer and more exciting the racing, the bigger the audience. Kawasaki may be utterly dominating WorldSBK, but the promotional value of the series is greater if Jonathan Rea wins half the races but twice as many people watch him do that.

What these changes will not do, of course, is provide a magic bullet to suddenly allow riders for the Pedercini or Ioda Racing teams to win races. The best riders will always end up with the best teams on the best bikes. These changes may make it much harder for Jonathan Rea and Chaz Davies to win races, but it won't stop them. However, if it means that at the end of 2018, Honda, MV Agusta, Aprilia, BMW have joined Kawasaki, Ducati, and Yamaha on the podium, it will all be worthwhile. Unfortunately, the only way to find out if it has worked is to wait until the end of 2018.

The draft version of the new regulations can be found on the FIM website. The key rule changes are shown below, while the press release giving a brief recap of the new rules appears below that.


MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship

Changes to the Regulations for 2018

The Superbike Commission composed of Messrs Gregorio Lavilla (WorldSBK Sporting Director), Rezsö Bulcsu (FIM CCR Director), Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA Representative) in the presence of Messrs Daniel Carrera (WorldSBK Executive Director), Paul Duparc (FIM CCR Coordinator), Charles Hennekam (International Technical Commission Coordinator) and Scott Smart (FIM Technical Director) have announced the changes for the 2018 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship from an electronic meeting held on Tuesday 24 October 2017.

The 2018 regulations have been agreed following the consideration of multiple aspects of the Series. A detailed analysis was carried out in collaboration with teams, riders, and manufacturers, with particular focus to parity, affordability and competition.

As a result, the main changes of this analysis are detailed in the points below.

Technical Regulations

REV LIMIT

The balancing system using air restrictors has been replaced with a rev limiting system. The rev limit can be altered at various points throughout the season and applies to each individual manufacturer.

CONCESSIONS

A concession points system will be introduced to restrict engine development of the fastest machines. At certain stages in the season teams that have achieved fewer concession points will be allowed to introduce updated concession parts.

As a secondary benefit, the private teams will get access to cost capped engine parts to help them reach performance levels similar to the factory supported teams.

FRONT AND REAR SUSPENSIONS AND APPROVED ENGINE PARTS

Price caps and approval process have been applied to several key frame, suspension and engine parts. These are called approved parts. This process ensures access and availability to all parts for all teams along with controlled pricing.

The version of the Motul FIM Superbike World Championship regulations, which contain the detailed text changes are available on the FIM website HERE


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Aleix Espargaro Out Of Sepang With Broken Hand

Aleix Espargaro will not be racing at Sepang. The Spaniard broke a bone in his left hand when he crashed out of the MotoGP race in Phillip Island, and is to fly back to Barcelona for surgery. Aprilia will not replace Espargaro, his absence coming at too short notice to find a replacement rider in time.

Espargaro announced he would be missing Sepang with a post on his Instagram feed. The Spaniard expects to be fit in time for Valencia, as he confirmed himself on Twitter

Below is the official press release issued by Aprilia:

ALEIX ESPARGARÓ FORCED TO MISS THE GP OF MALAYSIA
THE SPANISH RIDER WILL UNDERGO SURGERY THURSDAY IN BARCELONA

Despite his great desire to get back on the track, the injury he suffered at Phillip Island will force Aleix Espargaró to miss the GP of Malaysia. The Spanish rider, who fell in the race as he was battling in the lead group, suffered a fracture to the fourth metacarpus of the left hand and he will undergo surgery on Thursday in Barcelona. The goal is to recover in time for the last race of the season in Valencia.

This is an unfortunate episode that occurred at a time when Aleix and his Aprilia RS-GP had been on a positive trend, demonstrating absolutely outstanding performance in recent rounds. The objective is Valencia, where Espargaró will set his sights on finishing an unquestionably positive season in the best possible way.

The Aprilia Racing Team Gresini will not replace Aleix in the Malaysian race.

ALEIX ESPARGARO'

"The idea after the injury was to avoid surgery and to try to race here in Malaysia. Unfortunately, the situation is forcing me to go back home for surgery so that I will be able to fully recover for Valencia. In agreement with Dr. Mir, we agreed to have the surgery done on Thursday in Barcelona. It was an unfortunate crash, but I am already focused on the last race of the season where I want to demonstrate the level that the Aprilia RS-GP and I have reached."

Source: 

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Michael van der Mark To Replace Jonas Folger At Sepang

Michael van der Mark is to get his MotoGP chance after all. After missing out at Aragon, when he was called up to replace Valentino Rossi, but Rossi raced to a stunning 5th place, Van der Mark has been drafted in to replace Jonas Folger in the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team. Van der Mark will take Folger's place at the Sepang MotoGP race next weekend.

This may not be Van der Mark's only appearance on a MotoGP bike this season. Though Jonas Folger is still undergoing tests to diagnose his illness, the most probable explanation is a recurrence of the Epstein Barr virus, which he has had previously. Though very rare, the disease can sometimes flare up again years after first being caught. This makes it likely that Folger will also be forced to miss the final race of 2017 at Valencia, in which case Van der Mark would be the obvious choice to replace him.

Van der Mark's call up leaves the Dutchman with a very busy schedule. Having just completed the second race of the Spanish round of WorldSBK on Sunday, he must now make his way to Malaysia, for the MotoGP race at Sepang. After the Sepang race, he will then have to get on a plane to Qatar, for the last round of WorldSBK. From there, he will head home to Europe, but that trip could include a stopover at Valencia to fill in for Folger, if the German is absent at the final MotoGP round.

The press release from the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha MotoGP team appears below:


Van der Mark to ride for Monster Yamaha Tech3 at Sepang

World Superbike front-runner Michael van der Mark will jump on the Monster Yamaha Tech3 YZR-M1 to replace the recovering Jonas Folger at the Malaysian GP. The young Dutch rider rose through the ranks of the Superbike leagues before winning the World Supersport Championship in 2014. Some strong performances this year, including two podium finishes aboard the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team YZF-R1, leave the MotoGP paddock eager to see how Van der Mark will perform at the penultimate round of the 2017 World Championship.

Michael van der Mark

"It goes without saying that I am really excited. I came quite close to getting the opportunity to ride a MotoGP bike a few weeks ago, but it didn’t work out. Then Hervé called, and although I will have a busy schedule, I could not say no to this chance. I am very happy and I look forward to this adventure. Luckily, I know Sepang, but the MotoGP riders have done a lot of tests there this year, so everyone will be fast. However, I just want to enjoy this weekend, to improve myself and see how it is to ride the YZR-M1. At the moment we have some good momentum in World Superbikes so I think it is the perfect time to jump on the Yamaha. I look forward to riding the bike and I want to thank Hervé and Yamaha for this opportunity."

Source: 

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Michelin Extends MotoGP Tire Deal Until 2023

At the MotoGP round for which they are title sponsor, Michelin announced they have extended their contract as official tire supplier to MotoGP for a further five years. The French tire manufacturer will continue to be the sole tire supplier until the end of the 2023 season.

The news did not come as a surprise. Dorna have made no secret of how happy they have been with the job Michelin have done for them, in helping to make the MotoGP series a much closer and exciting championship. During the press conference held to announce the deal, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta lauded the fact that there had been nine race winners in 2016, saying "this is a championship of bikes and of riders". Ezpeleta added "We are happy Michelin has helped the competitiveness of the championship." 

Extending the contract with Michelin brings stability to the championship, something the factories have been keen to maintain, as it allows them to focus their development on making the tires work with their bikes without worrying that tires would change if a new manufacturer came into the series. Dorna was particularly pleased with the way Michelin had responded to problems and to requests from the riders and from Dorna, Ezpeleta said. Ezpeleta noted the expansion of the allocation from two to three rear tire compounds as an example.

For Michelin, the extension of five years was a welcome show of confidence from Dorna. The French tire manufacturer sees many benefits from racing. In the press conference, Director of Michelin Motorsport Pascal Couasnon explained their motives for going racing. "We race for two main things," Couasnon said. "Obviously, the association of racing with the brand is important. But technical improvement is also important. When you race, you are in extreme conditions and you learn quite a lot. Learning about grip, learning about constant performance with longevity are key areas which we want to transfer very quickly."

Those technical developments were one of the reasons Michelin had asked Dorna to switch to 17-inch tires when they took over from Bridgestone as official tire supplier. Asked for examples, Nicolas Goubert, Michelin Racing Technical Director cited research into compounds which was starting to make its way into production slicks. "Compound technology developed here is going into a range of commercial slicks available from next year," he said. "Some of those were available at the Bol d'Or this year. But have to wait a bit longer for real production tires."

Technology transfer is one of the reasons Michelin had no interest in providing qualifiers, Goubert explained. "We do racing to develop technology for the production tires. That's one of the reasons we asked Carmelo to go to 17-inch tires, to be able to transfer technology very easily. We made the point at the beginning of the season, when Carmelo's team asked us to bring more tire specifications especially on the rear, to make sure we would not bring a tire only made for qualification. So we made sure that all three specs could do the race with at least a few riders. This is what's happening, and it's what has made the racing closer in some cases. If we go to qualification tires, we go far away from technology you use on the street. So it's not within our objective to come back to that."

It was also a question of budget, Pascal Couasnon added. "At the end, you have a budget, which is signification but reasonable. What we want to do is use that money for something very useful. So we prefer to use that to bring a third a spec for the rear than to bring a qualifying tire. Because we believe that's more useful to give an opportunity to as many riders as possible to win."

There have also been problems with the Michelin tires, especially with respect to quality control. Riders have consistently complained that two tires with the same specification can feel different when they get out on track. Riders have also regularly referred to hoping to be lucky in getting a 'good' tire when it comes to race day. Identifying the precise cause of a problem can be difficult. With tires which are so supremely sensitive to temperature, even small changes in handling can have a big effect. The way tire warmers are used, the amount of time a tire is left uncovered in the pits, riders riding slowly on sections on the track can have an effect. 

Temperature sensitivity is an issue, but for the first time, both Michelin and Dorna acknowledged their had been problems with the consistency of the tires. Carmelo Ezpeleta named quality control as the main focus for Dorna and Michelin going forward. In response to a question about quality control, Nicolas Goubert went into some detail on the issue. 

"Quality is key in racing, and it's key for production tires as well," Goubert told the press conference. "It's part of the Michelin image to be able to provide high quality tires at very high standards. And of course we are doing everything to deliver the same here. As was mentioned, the technical challenge was very high to come back here and I think after two years we made tremendous improvement. Most of the teams now are asking for stability for the type of tires we bring, but as Carmelo pointed out, we still have some work to do in terms of quality issues. We've improved a lot compared to one-and-a-half years ago, but sometimes today we still have some criticism or requests from the riders, saying that the performance of such-and-such tires are not the same. Sometimes it's not always true, but sometimes it is true, so we have to make everything possible to find out where it comes from and to stop it from happening again. We're working very hard with the factories to control that and make sure that everything single tire of the same specification offers the same performance for the riders."

Michelin was focusing on the details of the production and handling process in an attempt to eliminate the differences, Goubert explained. "Fine tuning the process, making sure that every component is exactly the same, that everything is done in the same way, basically putting everything we can under control," he said.   

Below is the press release issued by Dorna announcing the contract extension with Michelin:


Michelin confirmed as MotoGP tyre supplier until 2023

Contract extension confirms the French firm will continue as official, sole tyre supplier of the premier class from 2019-2023

Dorna Sports is delighted to announce a contract extension with Michelin that will see the French marque continue as the sole, official tyre supplier to MotoGP™ until at least 2023. The five-year agreement, covering the 2019 to 2023 seasons, is announced at the Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island, Victoria, as the countdown continues to the grand finale of another stunning season of racing action.

Michelin, based in Clermont-Ferrand in France, joined MotoGP™ as sole supplier in 2016. Since then, the premier class has enjoyed two of the most spectacular seasons in the 69-year history of motorcycle Grand Prix racing - something both parties are delighted to extend for a further five years. As part of the agreement, the Michelin brand will also continue to be featured trackside at each event – and will be the title sponsor of a Grand Prix. The Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix in 2017 makes the perfect stage from which to announce this contract as MotoGP™ prepares to take on the fabled Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit in another classic encounter.

Pascal Couasnon, Director of Michelin Motorsport: “After two seasons that have seen tyre performance and strategy make a real contribution to the show delivered by motorcycle racing’s premier series, DORNA Sports has decided to extend its collaboration with Michelin as technical partner and exclusive tyre supplier to MotoGP™ for five more years. We are naturally delighted to have earned the confidence of Carmelo Ezpeleta and his team. Michelin intends to use its continuing association with DORNA Sports to continue developing ever-safer and more competitive racing tyres, as well as innovations that will go on to benefit our road tyres. Michelin is also delighted to continue working with the teams and riders who gave us such a warm welcome back after our absence from the championship and also to be able to build on the sense of pride felt by our staff following our successful return to MotoGP.”

Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO Dorna Sports: “I am delighted that MotoGP and Michelin will continue their collaboration for a further five years. MotoGP has only continued to grow, excite and thrill fans since Michelin came on board as sole tyre supplier in 2016, and we are proud that our partnership will once again form the foundations of a further five years of stunning racing. This is fantastic news for the Championship, teams and riders as we look to the future.”

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