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How Michelin's Tire Identification System Will Work

Identifying tires has always been something of a dark art. Ever since MotoGP went to a single tire supplier, identifying which tire a particular rider is on and when has become ever more important. Fast laps mean a lot less when a rider sets them on soft rubber.

So far, identification has been done visually, by colored stripes painted on the sidewall of the tire. That worked fine when Bridgestone was still tire supplier as the colors they used - red, white, plain, and green - based on their corporate colors were easy to spot, and applied in a big thick stripe. It got more difficult with Michelin, as their corporate colors - blue, white, and yellow -  are more difficult to spot from the side of the track. Journalists and fans were mostly reliant on the eagle eye of Dylan Gray, pitlane reporter for MotoGP.com, to spot who was going out on what and when.

Identification is to become a lot easier in 2017, with the introduction of an automatic identification system. At the Sepang test, Michelin boss Nicolas Goubert explained how the system will work. As part of their job as official tire supplier, Micheiin already maintain a list of which tires have been allocated to each rider. Since last season, each wheel rim is also fitted with a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), which communicates electronically with the ECU to log tire pressures, and ensure that they are never too low. 

From 2017, when each Michelin fitter fits a tire to a wheel rim, they will note both the barcode of the tire, and the ID of the TPMS of the wheel they fitted the tire to. That information will then be passed back to Dorna and race control. 

When a rider exits the pits and crosses a timing loop for the first time, the ID of the TPMS will be sent back to race control (and Dorna) by the ECU via the transponder. When race control and Dorna receive the ID of the TPMS, they can look up which tire is fitted to the wheel using that TPMS, and display that information on TV for users.

The system has just one minor drawback. The information is only passed to race control after riders exit the pits and cross one of the timing loops. As each track has between 12 and 20 timing loops fitted, the delay between exiting the pits and the tire information being displayed will only be brief. 

Michelin had initially looked into a system using RFID gates at the exit of pit lane, but Dorna had rejected that on the grounds of safety, Goubert told us. Having physical gates partially obscuring pit lane exit were a potential cause of injury. That persuaded Michelin to devise this alternative system, which is much safer.

Test were run at Sepang, with a few teams trialing it successfully. Not all of the teams were ready to try it, as it required some code to be added to spec ECU to pass the information through to the transponder. But Goubert was hopeful the system will be up and running at the first race in Qatar.

The one question many race fans and teams will have is whether each riders tire choice will appear on the results sheets. Currently, that information is not published, but it should be a simple addition to the program used to generate the results to add it in.

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Chaz Davies And Marco Melandri On The Jerez WorldSBK Test

Far from sitting on their laurels after winning seven of the last eight WorldSBK races of 2016 Ducati came out of the blocks swinging at Jerez with a busy testing program. Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri had a host of upgraded parts in the Spanish sun.

Davies spent the majority of his time working on chassis development with Melandri focusing on the engine. Afterwards the Welshman gave a revealing insight into the makeup of the mindset of one of the world's top racers.

"It's easy to say that testing is fine tuning but it really isn't fine tuning," said the Welshman. "We want to take steps forward with the bike and don't want half a tenth; we want to find tenths of a second. You won't get those tenths by changing a little bit of this and a bit of that and thinking that we won seven of the last eight races. We need to take steps forward because our biggest competitor has come out with a new bike and it's up to us to react and step up to the challenge."

Having Melandri, a former 250GP champion and MotoGP race winner, on the other side of the pit box will undoubtedly help Ducati to step up to that challenge. The 19-time WorldSBK race winner has looked to be in a very positive mindset since returning to the class and ended the test marginally faster than Davies overall.

"It’s been a really positive test," commented the Italian. "The team is doing a great job and everyday I feel more comfortable on the bike. We still struggle a bit on fresh tires, also because with the cold climate it’s more difficult to warm them up, but we’re heading in the right direction. I would have liked to do a race simulation, but we’ll wait until Portimão because I had some blisters in my hands after such a long break. Physically [after my surgery] I feel fine though."

Having completed 132 laps over the two days Davies said that he worked through a comprehensive program trying to find those big steps forward. With the work being undertaken he was clearly not as concerned about the overall lap time as he was in finding out what worked and what didn't work on the Panigale R.

"In testing when you get a part you put it into the bike and you find out how it feels," explained Davies. "You put laps on the part and then try a few things with it but it's time consuming and by the time you've done that you need to move on to the next part. We've a list as long as my arm to focus on and you end up moving quite far away from what would be the base bike. There's no disasters and it's just testing of these parts rather than [when we're racing where we] put together a package that cherry picks all the best parts.

"Having Marco does lessen the load and it helps. There's a lot of stuff to test and it's time consuming to get through it all. You think that you have all day to get through the workload and that eight hours will be enough but the time goes like that. We split the work today and Marco tried some new engine parts and I tried some chassis parts. If something is way off for us it won't get tested again but in Portimão we'll cross over to each other what we both liked here."

With four days of testing remaining before the start of the 2017 WorldSBK season in Phillip Island the Ducati team will continue trying to find their best overall package. The team has yet to tip their hand and show their true raw speed, as shown by Melandri setting the fourth fastest time and Davies the fifth fastest, but with the relaxed nature of the garage throughout the test it was clear that there is a quiet confidence of maintaining their 2016 form.


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Alex Lowes And Michael van der Mark On The Jerez WorldSBK Test

After their return to WorldSBK in 2016 Yamaha did not shy away from admitting that there is plenty of work to be done to turn the YZF-R1 into a front runner. That work was certainly being undertaken at this week's Jerez test with Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes the busiest riders on track over the two days.

The pair completed a total of 283 laps of the Spanish circuit and with a host of new parts on the bikes it's clear that the bike should be more competitive in 2017. Lowes trialled a new underslung swing arm and while the Englishman commented that it didn't offer an immediate lap time improvement it did offer greater consistency over a race distance. For Van der Mark the improvements came with setup changes that improved his feeling on turn in.

"The bike is very new for this year," said team boss Paul Denning. "At the moment the engine is basically the only carry over from 2016 but it's due an upgrade as well. There is a lot of new stuff with the rest of the bike. The durability of the package has been good and we were able to see that the bike is easy to work on and maintain and while that's not very interesting for headlines it makes a big difference in WorldSBK with the one bike rule."

Lowes ended the two day test fifth fastest after a busy second day saw him complete 83 laps and a race simulation.

"We've tried a lot of stuff in this test," said Lowes. "I did a race simulation in the afternoon it was really good. I did every lap in the 41's which isn't as quick as the Kawasaki or Ducati but it's a good pace to have. Where we are with the bike it was a good run and I'm quite happy. There's a couple of things in terms of the balance of the bike, with the new swing arm, that we may be able to learn from to get the benefits of it from another way.

"There are positive and negatives to both swing arms. Over a race distance I think that the new one is better and more consistent...over a single lap with a brand new tire it's harder to find that difference. The older swing arm was a bit more flexible and you could push really hard with it, we had some good qualifying performances last year, but our race and consistency was what we wanted to improve."

Denning also commented on Lowe's race simulation.

"Alex did more laps than anyone on the second day and even though he was interrupted on his race simulation after a couple of laps he did 22 laps in the 1m41's. We didn't use the qualifier and were still able to set some competitive times. There's a long way for us to go to run at the front but it was a positive start to the year."

For Van der Mark the test is another step in his learning curve of how to get the most from the Yamaha. At the November tests he was given his first sampling of the Yamaha and immediately commented to feeling at ease with the bike. Having ridden the Honda for the last two years the differences are stark but this week he felt that he had made another step forward.

"This test has been easier for me and I feel much more at home on the bike compared to when I rode it in November," said the Dutchman. "There's a lot of things for us to do but I felt happier in this test, I thought that Ifelt happy in November, but when I got back onto the bike this week I felt a big difference. We have improved the turning this week and we made a big change on the second day and even though it felt good on Tuesday it felt even better on the second day. I didn't know that I needed us to make that step because everything is new but at the end I'm quite happy with the work that we have done."

There are still improvements to be made with Van der Mark commenting that drive grip needs to be found because, "when we pick up the bike, we are spinning sideways rather than driving forwards. This is the one area that we are missing with this bike at the moment."

While top end power was an issue for most of 2016 an upgraded exhaust made a clear difference in Qatar, allowing Sylvain Guintoli to finish on the rostrum. A new fairing also offered some improvement at this test with Lowes saying, "If you look at the speed traps here it looks quite good, the new fairing meant that I felt a lot less wind on the bike now."

The 26 year old did pinpoint a couple of areas that he will focus on finding improvement at the Portimao test.

"I'd like a bit more confidence as I pick up the gas and over a race when the front tire grip goes I'd like to find a better feeling on corner entry. It's quite simple really and they're the two main things that I want us to try and work on. We'll try and work on everything with the bike obviously but if I can find, say 5%, more feeling in those areas I'd be quite happy going to Phillip Island."


Gathering the background information for long articles such as these is an expensive and time-consuming operation. If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting MotoMatters.com. You can help by either taking out a subscription, buying the beautiful MotoMatters.com 2017 racing calendar, by making a donation, or by contributing via our GoFundMe page.

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Sepang Pre-Test Started - Ducati, Honda Test Riders On Track

While testing for the WorldSBK teams is in full swing at Jerez, halfway around the world, the MotoGP test teams are preparing for the start of the official IRTA test in Sepang, Malaysia. Test riders for all six factories are in Malaysia, putting in laps in what are for the moment still tricky conditions - rain in the morning and afternoon, with a dry spell in the middle of the day. 

For Ducati, Michele Pirro was present on Wednesday, to be joined by Casey Stoner on Thursday and Friday. For Honda, Hiroshi Aoyama was present for Honda, Takuya Tsuda for Suzuki, Katsuyuki Nakasuga for Yamaha, Mika Kallio for KTM, and Mike Di Meglio for Aprilia. Also present were a bunch of Suzuki riders, testing the new GSX-R1000 Superbike. Roger Lee Hayden and Toni Elias were over from MotoAmerica, as was Sylvain Guintoli, who will be campaigning the bike in BSB. Suzuki test rider Nobu Aoki also put in plenty of laps on the new machine.

But all eyes were on Ducati, who were at the test with two very different bikes. One was still sporting the 2016 wings and was painted in full Ducati colors. The second was in black carbon fiber, and did not have any wings on the bike. What the bike did have, though, is a rerouted rear exhaust, and a large box-like structure under the tail (for photos, see Crash.net). Ducati test rider joked with Crash.net's Peter McLaren that it was "to put some salad inside, a hot dog, some coca cola" but refused to reveal the real purpose of the construction. 

What might it be? While the pictures coming back from Sepang are not clear enough to make a judgment, it seems likely to be related to weight distribution. Yamaha has previously had part of the fuel tank in roughly that location, though the structure does not look like a fuel tank. An alternative explanation could be a container for holding electronics of some sort. Judge for yourself by examining the various photos on the Crash.net MotoGP Twitter page.

The test is set to continue for two more days, before the factory riders take over on Monday. Then, the 2017 MotoGP season will be well and truly underway.

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2017 MotoGP Calendar Now Confirmed

The 2017 MotoGP calendar is now officially confirmed. The FIM removed the provisional status of the calendar after Dorna finalized contracts with the two remaining circuits still left with an asterisk, Silverstone and Sepang.

The situation with Sepang had been settled earlier, with Sepang keen to retain a MotoGP race for the long term. Sepang has grown to become one of the best-attended races on the calendar. So large are the crowds that they now easily outnumber attendance for F1, which the circuit is trying to drop.

Silverstone was the last race to be finalized. Representatives from the Circuit of Wales, which holds the contract for the British round of MotoGP, had traveled to the Movistar Yamaha launch in Madrid, where they met with Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta. There, they finalized arrangements for this year's round of MotoGP. Despite the Circuit of Wales still only existing on paper, the British round will continue to be nominally hosted by the circuit for as long as they keep complying with their financial obligations to Dorna. Until the circuit is finished, the race is likely to stay at Silverstone.

Below is the now official MotoGP calendar for 2017:

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

* Night race

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2017 Ducati MotoGP Team Launch Photos

The launch of the Ducati MotoGP team was full of surprises and left plenty to talk about. There will be much more news on the site about that later today and tomorrow. For now, here is a massive gallery of launch photos, with a lot of close up shots of the bike.


The 2017 Ducati MotoGP team


The #04 bike


The #99 bike


Based on the chassis, this appears to be a 2017 chassis with 2016 bodywork in 2017 livery


All photos taken at a slight angle, to prevent other factories from measuring


Old fairing. Aero secrets to be revealed later


Mounting blank for tail camera


Carbon fiber goodness


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Launch Season Approaching - Yamaha, Ducati This Week, WorldSBK Teams In Two Weeks Time

With the first tests of 2017 fast approaching - track action gets underway next week, with the WorldSBK teams testing at Jerez, followed by MotoGP the week after - teams are presenting their new liveries, new sponsors and new teams for 2017.

This week sees two MotoGP factory teams unveil their new liveries and their new bikes for the 2017 season. The Movistar Yamaha team kick off proceedings on Thursday, 19th January, with the presentation of the 2017 Yamaha YZR-M1, with Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales as their riders. The following day, Friday, 20th January, Ducati follow suit, presenting Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso. Both events will be streamed live, for fans all over the world to see.

The Yamaha launch is to be held in Madrid, at the head office of Telefonica Group, the telecom giant which owns the Movistar brand. The event starts at 11:30am CET, and will be streamed live on both the official Yamaha MotoGP website, and on MotoGP.com. The new livery is to be unveiled at noon CET, with a press conference to follow.

The next day, Ducati launch their 2017 campaign, at their Borgo Panigale factory near Bologna. That event starts at 10:30am CET, and will also be streamed live. The Ducati launch will be shown live on the Ducati website. The presentation will follow a familiar pattern, with interviews with Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna, and team bosses Paolo Ciabatti and Davide Tardozzi, as well as riders Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso, and the new bike being displayed. The Ducati launch is particularly eagerly awaited, as it will be the first chance we will get to see whether Ducati have found a solution to the ban on wings in 2017.

The Suzuki team will be the next to launch their 2017 team. The new bike and new riders - Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins - will be officially presented in Sepang on the 29th January, the evening before the test starts in Malaysia. No details are currently available, but it is likely to be held in the early evening Malaysian time.

Repsol Honda will follow Suzuki, though their launch is after the test. The Repsol Honda team will present their new livery in Jakarta, Indonesia, on 3rd February. The Repsol Honda team remains unchanged for 2017, with Dani Pedrosa once again alongside reigning world champion Marc Marquez.

KTM will be the final factory to present their team. That launch will be held on 20th February in Salzburg, the home of Red Bull. There, the livery for the 2017 KTM RC16 will be presented, with Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro as riders. 

Salzburg is also the location for the launch of Honda's WorldSBK team. The location of the launch is Hangar 7, home of the Red Bull aircraft demonstration team, confirming that Red Bull is to be the main sponsor of the Ten Kate Honda team in WorldSBI in 2017. That launch is to be held on 6th February.

A day later, the Pata Yamaha squad will also launch their 2017 campaign, alongside the rest of Yamaha's global racing activities. On 7th February, Yamaha will present their entire racing program, with the exception of the MotoGP team, at Yamaha's base in Gerno di Lesmo, near Milan. The Pata Yamaha WorldSBK squad will be presented alongside Yamaha's World Supersport, MXGP, MX2, Endurance World Championship, Enduro, and junior MX and enduro teams.

On 8th February, it is the turn of the Aruba.it Ducati team. The Ducati WorldSBK squad is to be presented in Arezzo, home of title sponsor Aruba.it. There, Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri will be presented to the world.

Further north, a Moto2 team will be launched. Also on 8th February, the Forward Racing team will present its Moto2 program in Milan, with riders Luca Marini and Lorenzo Baldassarri. Big things are expected of Baldassarri in 2017, while Marini will be aiming to grow into a regular candidate for top 5 finishes.

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Circuit News: Spa Looking To Host MotoGP, MSV Acquires Donington Lease

After last week's announcements from the Circuit of Wales and the Hungaroring, there comes news from two more circuits this week. Firstly, that the legendary Belgian Spa Francorchamps circuit is looking to host a MotoGP round. And secondly, that MSV has taken over the lease to run the Donington Park circuit, also possibly opening the door to a return for MotoGP.

The first news is perhaps the most exciting for MotoGP fans. In an interview with the Belgian newspaper La Dernière Heure, Spa Francorchamps boss Nathalie Maillet, said she hoped to bring MotoGP back to the iconic Belgian circuit within the next few years. She had spent a day in Madrid speaking to Dorna bosses, Maillet told DH, discussing the possibility of staging a race. "Making the changes needed to host a motorcycle race is not impossible," Maillet told DH.

The modifications are all part of a wider upgrading of the circuit. The most important for the fans is to have free publicly accessible WiFi throughout the circuit. Maillet said that she wants to have fiber optic cable throughout the circuit, to ensure better connectivity everywhere. "Francorchamps must become the best connected circuit in the world," she told DH. Further moves will see LED advertising panels with rotating adverts, as are used at other sporting venues, improving use of the circuit all year round, including during the winter, and providing more facilities for tourism.

The earliest Spa could host MotoGP would be in 2020, Maillet told DH, but she was taking a long-term view. Former racer and now TV commentator Didier de Radiguès described that time frame as "very optimistic". There is some merit to that: while Spa Francorchamps is arguably the finest racetrack on the face of the planet, there are a lot of points around the track which are extremely dangerous for motorcycle racing, corners where bikes pass at very high speed with very little run off. And being set in a forest, creating run off would require cutting down a lot of trees, robbing the track of some of its charm.

A bigger issue in hosting a MotoGP race is the number of circuits with existing long-term contracts and candidate circuits hoping to join the schedule. Twelve circuits (Qatar, Austin, Le Mans, Barcelona, Assen, Sachsenring, Brno, Misano, Aragon, Phillip Island, Sepang, and Valencia) have contracts until at least 2020. Of the six remaining tracks, only Jerez is uncertain of its place on the calendar in the long term. And of all eighteen tracks, nearly all are likely to extend their contracts at the end of them.

Then there is the list of candidates waiting in the wings. The Kymi Ring in Finland has a contract with Dorna to host a race from 2018. Last week, the Hungaroring expressed an interest in hosting MotoGP. Indonesia hopes to organize a race from 2018 or 2019. And there is talk of circuits in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Australia, and Kazakhstan. It is going to be almost impossible to fit another circuit in the existing schedule, and there are as many as nine potential candidates with a greater or less chance of securing a slot.

Another track which hosted MotoGP in the past was also in the news this week. Yesterday, MSV announced they had acquired the lease to run the Donington Park circuit from Kevin Wheatcroft, son of the man who first raised the circuit from the dead in the 1970s, Tom Wheatcroft.

The acquisition is undoubtedly good news for Donington Park. MSV, the group which owns Brands Hatch, Oulton Park, Snetterton, and Cadwell Park, also runs the British Superbike series BSB. Kevin Wheatcroft had saved Donington from going under when the company which formerly ran it, Donington Ventures Leisure, went bankrupt. But despite turning the circuit into a success, Wheatcroft lacked the financial clout to make the necessary upgrades to the circuit to bring it up to scratch for modern events.

MSV has that clout, and has already announced that further investment is to be made. In a press release announcing the deal, MSV boss Jonathan Palmer said "Donington is a good British circuit that deserves further investment, energy and expertise in order to make it truly outstanding, and MSV will provide this. We plan a great new era for Donington, with some exciting new events and much enhanced quality of experience for all of its customers, whether spectators, competitors and track day participants, together with even better value."

What those exciting new events are can only be guessed at, but with a few upgrades, Donington could easily be made fit for MotoGP. That would make life easier for the current rights holder to the British Grand Prix, the Circuit of Wales. If the FIM homologates Donington Park for MotoGP, then the Circuit of Wales would have an alternative to Silverstone to host the race until the Welsh track is built. Being able to play Donington off against Silverstone would allow them to negotiate a better deal.

The MSV deal does raise the question of control over the BSB series. With the acquisition of Donington Park, MSV now owns five of the nine circuits at which BSB holds rounds, as well as the rights to organize the series. Eight of BSB's twelve rounds are held at circuits owned by MSV. Of the circuits on the BSB calendar, only Assen, Silverstone, Knockhill and Thruxton are not owned by MSV.


Gathering the background information for long articles such as these is an expensive and time-consuming operation. If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting MotoMatters.com. You can help by either taking out a subscription, buying the beautiful MotoMatters.com 2016 racing calendar, by making a donation, or by contributing via our GoFundMe page.

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2017 Racing News Round Up: Moto2, Hungaroring, Circuit of Wales, Galbusera Interview

The first week of 2017 has come and gone, and we are a week closer to the MotoGP bikes hitting the track again at Sepang for the first test of the year. Though little of consequence is happening publicly in the midst of the winter break, there are the first few signs of activity. So below is a round up of the news from last week: most of the things that matter, all in one place.

Triumph to Moto2

Though this has been covered in depth elsewhere, it is worth pointing out the biggest news of recent weeks. Rumors which emerged at Silverstone, that Triumph would be taking over as official supplier of Moto2 engines, gained further momentum this week, with confirmation that the British manufacturer is to supply a new 765cc triple engine for use in Moto2. Testing is due to start in 2018, with the new engine to replace the current Honda CBR600RR unit from the start of the 2019 season.

Track talk

The Hungaroring is the latest in a long list of tracks hoping to host a MotoGP race in the near future. The circuit is currently undergoing major upgrades to the pit complex, grandstand and track, with additional run off being created in some corners. Speaking to the Hungarian TV channel M1, the circuit CEO explained that the changes to the track were to be made in consultation with the FIM, to ensure that it complied with FIM standards for MotoGP. More on the upgrades to the Hungaroring on the Autosport website.

This is not the first time Hungary has aimed to host a MotoGP race. Work had started on the Balatonring in 2008, with the track due to host a round of MotoGP in 2009. The global financial crisis put an end to that plan, the Spanish construction firm building the track running into financial difficulty, and the Forint, the currency of Hungary, collapsing in value. The Motorland Aragon circuit initially took over as a temporary replacement for the Balatonring, but soon earned a permanent place on the MotoGP calendar. The Balatonring is now largely abandoned, as you can see from the Google Maps satellite image.

The Hungaroring previously hosted Grand Prix in 1990 and 1992. Mick Doohan won on a Honda in 1990, and Eddie Lawson won on a Cagiva in 1992.

Whether the Hungaroring will actually get a spot on the calendar remains to be seen. The tracks currently on the calendar nearly all have multi-year contracts to stage MotoGP rounds. In addition, there are at least five or six other circuits lining up to take a spot on the calendar. Dorna has reached agreement to stage a MotoGP round in Finland from 2018 at the Kymiring, some 110 kilometers from the Finnish capital Helsinki.

A new track is being built at Tailem Bend in Australia, which also hopes to secure MotoGP. Work continues on an Indonesian round of MotoGP, though it is still uncertain whether this will take place at an upgraded Sentul or a new circuit to be built at Palembang in South Sumatra. The Chang International Circuit in Thailand is also angling for a MotoGP round, and is hosting WorldSBK while it waits. Kazakhstan has a circuit ready and hopes to play home to MotoGP. And expansion in South America also remains a possibility, with a new circuit in Chile, talk of another track in Argentina, and continual rumors of a return to Brazil. Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta has said that he believes that MotoGP could hold a maximum of 20 rounds each year, but there is a lot of opposition from riders to this, who do not want the series expanded beyond 18 races.

New partnerships, new surfaces

There was good news for the Circuit of Wales. The new circuit to be built near Ebbw Vale in South Wales announced a partnership with the leisure firm EXTREME. The British firm is planning to build an adventure sports park beside the circuit, housing a range of outdoor activities. The park would mountain park trails, a zip wire trail, paintball, a water park, and much more. There would also be restaurants and a hotel.

The circuit is still trying to reach a deal with the Welsh Government over underwriting the project. However, building an adventure park, which would attract visitors all year round, would be a significant contributor to the number of jobs in and around the Circuit of Wales.

Over in France, the Le Mans circuit was resurfaced before the winter break. There had been a lot of complaints about the old surface at the circuit, the track having lost most of its grip, and having a lot of ripples in several places, caused by the cars which also use the circuit. The new surface was laid in a three-week period, the process being completed last December. The new surface now has just three joints in the asphalt, whereas previously they littered the track.

Galbusera speaks to the Gazzetta

While everyone has been patiently waiting for the first interview with Jorge Lorenzo for the Spaniard to reveal all about his time at Yamaha, Ducati's new signing has been very quiet in the media. A sign, perhaps, that Lorenzo's departure from Yamaha was much more amicable than some had hoped.

If Lorenzo has not been interviewed – other than a few casual remarks to British publication Motorcycle News – others have spoken about him. Valentino Rossi's crew chief Silvano Galbusera was interviewed by the Italian sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport, the highlights of which were published by the Corse di Moto website. Galbusera covered several subjects, stating that he expected the atmosphere within Yamaha to be a little more relaxed now that Maverick Viñales had taken the place of Jorge Lorenzo. Galbusera told the Gazzetta that was not sure how strong the Ducati would be with Lorenzo aboard. "There will be races he will do very well and can win. But fighting for the title will be difficult." Galbusera believes that Marc Márquez will once again by the most dangerous of Valentino Rossi's rivals for the title.

Ten Kate take delivery of new blades

Finally, news of what racing teams really do over the winter. At the start of the new year, the Ten Kate team took delivery of their first shipment of 2017 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblades. The new bike is more powerful than the machine it replaces, as well as being lighter, and uses revised engine internals aimed at making it more competitive. Ten Kate are now hard at work turning the road bikes that rolled into their workshops into WorldSBK spec machines ready for Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl for the 2017 season.


Gathering the background information for long articles such as these is an expensive and time-consuming operation. If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting MotoMatters.com. You can help by either taking out a subscription, buying the beautiful MotoMatters.com 2016 racing calendar, by making a donation, or by contributing via our GoFundMe page.

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Triumph Set To Become Official Moto2 Engine Supplier From 2019

The future of the Moto2 class looks secure. Reports from the UK and Austria are suggesting that Triumph has finalized a deal to supply the Moto2 class when the current deal with Honda concludes at the end of 2018. From 2019, Triumph will supply a new three-cylinder engine, probably based on the new, larger sports triple they are building for release in 2017.

There had been uncertainty over the future of the Moto2 engine supplier since the beginning of this year. Honda had extended the deal to supply CBR600RR engines until the end of the 2018 season, but as the Japanese manufacturer was stopping production of its middleweight sports bike, it was clear that a replacement would have to be found. 

There had been speculation over who might take over the role of official engine supplier. It was clear that the class would remain single supplier - any move to change the current situation would have provoked a rebellion from the teams, who are enamored of the fact that Moto2 costs less to compete in than Moto3 - but the question was who would the supplier be. The candidates were Kawasaki, with the ZX-6R, MV Agusta, and Triumph. As we wrote back in September, in a piece exclusively for MotoMatters.com subscribers, Triumph were the favorites to secure the deal.

According to both Bikesportnews.com, who were first to spot the deal, and Speedweek.com, the deal with Dorna has now been signed, and Triumph is to become the new official engine supplier for Moto2 from 2019. The engine should be ready for testing during the 2018 season, in preparation for 2019.

German-language publication Speedweek claims that the engine is to be a new 750cc triple based on the Daytona 675R engine. However, it seems more likely that the engine will be based on the new 765cc triple rumored to be presented in a new sports-oriented bike at the MCN London Motorcycle Show in February.

A larger-capacity triple would be the ideal package for a new Moto2 machine. One of the main complaints with the Honda CBR600RR engine was that it was too wide. The Triumph should be slimmer, making it more suited to be packaged in a pure racing chassis. 

Two question marks hang over the use of the Triumph engine. The first is the serious question of reliability. The Triumph Daytona 675R is still raced in several national Supersport championships (though no longer in World Supersport), and although the bike is relatively nimble and quick, it also had a reputation for engine problems. As a spec engine supplier, Triumph will have to ensure that reliability is guaranteed. Fortunately, they will also have more control over the process, being able to monitor maintenance procedures and swap out engines more often than the three-race schedule currently in use, should it be needed.

The second issue with Triumph's current 675 engine design is the location of the engine mounts. The engine mounts are located on the cylinder head, very high up. This leaves chassis designers little material to work with when trying to engineer flex into the side struts. More modern engine designs have the forward engine mounts located closer to the cylinder base, rather than the cylinder head. Whether Triumph has modified the forward engine mount will become clear when the engine is presented in February.

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