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Triumph Announced As Official Moto2 Engine Supplier For 2019 Onwards

As had been trailed since the start of this year, Triumph have finally been announced as the official engine supplier to the Moto2 class from 2019 onwards. The deal with Dorna will see Triumph supply a specially modified version of the 765cc triple which powers their new Street Triple range of production bikes.

The engine has been modified to produce more power and torque, and to be a little narrower. A modified cylinder head and inlet and exhaust ports provide better breathing, titanium valves and stiffer springs allow the engine to rev more freely, and make it more reliable under braking. A higher first gear replaces the normal street ratio, and the use of a race alternator and racing clutch make the covers narrower.

The engine will produce 133hp and 80Nm of torque in the first instance. The objective of engine development has been especially on reliability and durability rather than outright horsepower. As the engine is one element the Moto2 teams cannot touch, they place a very high stock in the fact that they know the engines will finish races without blowing up or breaking down. 

The Moto2 engine has already been tested by Julian Simon at the Motorland Aragon circult last week. It was tested in a special Moto2 chassis built by Triumph, though Paul Stroud, Chief Commercial Officer for Triumph Motorcycles, ruled out an official Moto2 entry by Triumph, saying that it was very much against the spirit of the class. 

Engines will be made available to the Moto2 chassis manufacturers very soon, so they can get on with the work of designing the chassis to be used in 2019. Alex Baumgärtel of Kalex said that he expected work to start later in the year, with the first tests to happen at the end of 2017. 

Triumph's rationale for racing in Moto2 is very much an exercise in branding. The additional exposure which being official Moto2 engine supplier brings is a huge boost to the Triumph brand, bringing exposure in important growing overseas markets. The Triumph branding in Moto2 will feature more prominently than with current supplier Honda, each bike having a sticker on the fairing, and on the shoulder of each rider.

A selection of photos of the Moto2 engine follows, and below that is the official press release announcing the deal.


Today, Triumph Motorcycles has been announced as the exclusive engine supplier to the FIM Moto2TM World Championship from the 2019 season onwards.

Triumph has signed a three-year contract with Dorna - the commercial rights holder of MotoGPTM - to supply a dedicated race tuned 765cc Triumph triple engine, based on the powerplant from the all-new 2017 Triumph Street Triple.

The new engine is a significant development of the race-winning Daytona 675R powerplant that has powered supersports wins at the Isle of Man TT, Daytona 200 and British Supersports Championships in 2014 and 2015.

Based on the highest specification 765cc powerplant from the Street Triple RS it has been developed for Moto2TM with the following modifications;

  • Modified cylinder head with revised inlet and exhaust ports for optimised gas flow
  • Titanium valves and stiffer valve springs for increased rpm
  • Low Output race kit alternator for reduced inertia
  • Taller 1st gear ratio
  • Race developed slipper clutch which will be tuneable
  • Specific race ECU; which will be developed with Magneti Marelli
  • Revised engine covers for reduced width
  • Different sump to allow for improved header run

The engine

Based on the new 2017 Street Triple powerplant, the Triumph Moto2TM 765cc triple engine has been developed and tuned for a major step up in power and torque.

In ‘road’ set-up the new 765cc engine delivers the highest ever level of performance for a Street Triple; delivering power of 123PS @ 11,700rpm and 77Nm Torque@10,800rpm.

It has more than 80 new parts compared to the previous generation engine, including an increase to the bore and stroke. All-new engine components include;

  • new crank
  • new pistons
  • new con-rods and balancer shaft
  • Nikasil plated aluminium barrels
  • Revised gearbox

The race specification Triumph 765cc Moto2 engine has been developed further to allow the engine to breathe more freely and rev harder than the production bike; increasing overall performance. Other changes have been made specifically to adapt the engine for race use.

To see a CGI film of the Triumph Moto2 engine click here:

Paul Stroud, Chief Commercial Officer for Triumph Motorcycles, said; “This is a significant moment for Triumph that brings an exciting new chapter to our 110-year racing history and builds on our celebrated TT and Supersports race winning triple engines.

We look forward to a long and thrilling relationship with Dorna and the Moto2TM teams, riders and fans.”

Carmelo Ezpeleta, Chief Executive Officer of Dorna added; “We are very excited to be working with one of the world’s most iconic motorcycle brands. The Triumph triple engines are renowned for their strong, linear power and torque delivery and have achieved many successes on the track making them the ideal choice for the Moto2TM Championship. We are looking forward to the 2019 season and the beginning of a new generation of Moto2TM in partnership with Triumph.”

Herve Poncharal, President of IRTA, stated; “Moto2™ is a key category in feeding talent into MotoGP™. We’re seeing a lot of top riders in MotoGP all come through the intermediate category. The arrival of Triumph as the sole engine supplier and with new ECU’s in the intermediate class, marks a new era that is sure to prove another incredible step in its evolution, making it remain the ultimate category on the way to MotoGP.

Trevor Morris, Technical Director from ExternPro, who will be responsible for the final preparation of the engines for the race series, commented; “It is incredibly exciting to be working in conjunction with the iconic Triumph motorcycle company in supplying engines for the Moto 2TM world championship. I have been a fan of the triple engine for a long time, its unique characteristics and performance will ensure and enhance the future success of the championship.”

Julian Simon, 2009 125cc World Champion and Moto2 runner-up and experienced Moto2TM test rider, who has been involved with the engine development testing at Aragon, said “The engine feels strong and In particular the mid-range is very impressive. The feel between the throttle and the rear wheel is very direct and controllable. The general feeling is very good and the engine already shows great potential.”


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Valentino Rossi Declared Fit For Mugello

Valentino Rossi has passed a medical examination at the Mugello Circuit for his home race. The Italian will now take part in practice on Friday, with the objective of preparing for the race on Sunday. 

Below is the press release issued by Yamaha:


The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team look forward to starting their home race with their original rider line-up for this weekend‘s Gran Premio d'Italia Oakley.

Scarperia (Italy), 1st June 2017

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Valentino Rossi is declared fit to participate in this weekend‘s Gran Premio d'Italia Oakley.

Earlier this afternoon the nine-time World Champion underwent a routine medical check-up at the Autodromo del Mugello. VR46 fans from all over the world can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that FIM Medical Director, Dr Giancarlo Di Filippo, the Chief Medical Officer of the Mugello Circuit, Dr Remo Barbagli and the MotoGP Medical Director, Dr Angel Charte have found Rossi to be in a suitable condition to take part in his home Grand Prix, starting with tomorrow‘s free practice sessions.


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Valentino Rossi - No Further Complications, Say Yamaha

Valentino Rossi appears to have emerged from his motocross accident relatively unscathed. The Movistar Yamaha team today issued a press release with a medical update, stating that the Italian appears to have suffered slight injuries to his liver and kidneys, and that this was what was causing him pain.

Rossi is currently receiving pain relief medication, and is due to undergo further routine medical checks. If those checks go as expected, he should be released from hospital later on Friday.

The press release does not mention Rossi's participation in the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello next weekend. However, with a week until first practice starts, there is plenty of time to make a decision on that. A photograph taken by the nursing staff with Rossi at Rimini Hospital and published by local website Rimini Today suggests Rossi is looking and feeling well. That bodes well for Mugello.

The official press release issued by the Movistar Yamaha Team appears below:


Following yesterday‘s motocross accident, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Valentino Rossi has experienced a positive healing process over the last 12 hours.

Gerno di Lesmo (Italy), 26th May 2017

Having been diagnosed yesterday evening with mild thoracic and abdominal trauma, following a motocross accident, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team rider Valentino Rossi is making positive progress with his recovery.

Last night the 38-year-old Italian spent a quiet night at the "Ospedale Infermi" in Rimini and was visited this morning by the doctors. Valentino told that he is experiencing less pain both in the chest and in the abdomen, compared to last night. The pain is the result of slight liver and kidney lesions that have not evolved into further complications.

Valentino will continue to receive pain relief over the next 12 hours and, over the course of the day, he will undergo routine diagnostic tests. If the results are positive, he may be discharged from the hospital within the day.

Further updates are to follow in due course.


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Valentino Rossi Suffers Mild Chest And Abdominal Injuries In MX Training Crash

Valentino Rossi has suffered chest and abdominal injuries after crashing an MX bike while training. The Italian had been practicing at the Cross Park Cavallara, near Pesaro, and is reported to have crashed his motocross bike, according to Italian website

The crash was severe enough to cause chest and abdominal trauma, according to reports, though other Italian sources speak of closed injuries, rather than open wounds. Rossi was taken to the emergency room at Rimini hospital, and is currently being kept at the hospital for observation. 

At this point, the precise extent of Rossi's injuries are unclear. GPOne are reporting that doctors initially suspected a fractured rib, then a possible shoulder injury. Rossi is due to have a scan in the morning, which should reveal more. Rimini Today reported that Rossi was also being examined for a light head injury, though this was not a cause for concern.

It is unknown at this moment whether he will be fit for Mugello or not.

It is unusual for Rossi to suffer a motocross accident. The Italian had almost completely abandoned riding MX after the severe shoulder injury he picked up on an MX bike at the start of the 2010 season. It took surgery and an extensive recovery period at the end of that year before he was back to full fitness, though by that time, he was well into his two-year period in the wilderness with Ducati.

Since then, Rossi has turned his attention to dirt track. The Italian has had a special facility built in the hills near his home in Tavullia, containing a variety of tracks with a mixture of turns. The idea was to train specific riding skills, and the track has helped him adapt to the demands of a modern MotoGP bike with huge success. But it was also built to help him avoid the types of injury which can occur on a motocross bike, especially when crashing over jumps. Whether that is how he injured himself on Thursday is unclear.


The Movistar Yamaha team issued the following press release late on Thursday night:


Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Valentino Rossi is recovering from a motocross training accident that occurred on Thursday evening, May 25th.

Gerno di Lesmo (Italy), 25th May 2017

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team rider Valentino Rossi was involved in a motocross training accident at the Cross Club Cavallara in Mondavio (Pesaro Urbino, Italy), on Thursday, May 25th.

The 38-year-old Italian rider was taken to a local hospital for a medical check-up, where he was diagnosed with mild thoracic and abdominal trauma.

No fractures have been detected in any part of the body and no serious traumatic pathologies were found.

A further medical bulletin will be issued on Friday, 26th May, at 12:00 hrs CET.

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Nicky Hayden Has Died

Nicky Hayden died today as a results of the injuries he sustained in a cycling accident. He died surrounded by his family, at 7:09pm CEST, at the Maurizio Bufalini Hospital in Cesena, Italy.

The exact circumstances of Hayden's accident are unclear. All that is know is that Hayden was out cycling alone on Wednesday, 17th May near the Misano circuit, and was hit by a car. The force of the impact was such that he immediately sustained life-threatening injuries. Hayden was taken to hospital, where he was diagnosed with severe brain and chest injuries, and taken to intensive care.

Hayden's injuries proved to be so fatal that there was no hope of recovery. He died at 7:09pm on Monday, 22nd of May at the hospital in Cesena.

Nicky Hayden lived for racing, from a very young age. He came from a racing family, both his father Earl and mother Rose having raced flat track. He started riding bikes almost before he could walk, and racing not long afterwards. He raced flat track, as well as minibikes and 125cc.

When he turned sixteen, Hayden started racing in AMA Supersport, becoming the youngest ever rider to win the AMA Supersport 600 title in 1999. In 2000, he moved up to the AMA Superbike class, becoming the youngest ever AMA Superbike champion in 2002. 

Hayden moved to MotoGP in 2003, joining the Repsol Honda team, where he won the rookie of the year award and scored two podiums at the end of that season. He won his first MotoGP race in 2005, when the series returned to Laguna Seca, and finally realized his dream of becoming world champion in 2006, in one of the most eventful and dramatic seasons in Grand Prix motorcycle history. 

Though Hayden never repeated that success, he never stopped trying. From the Repsol Honda team, he moved to the factory Ducati squad in 2009, where he remained until the end of the 2013 season. From there, he spent two years in the Aspar team, riding a Honda in the new Open class.

In 2016, Hayden moved to World Superbikes, joining the Ten Kate squad, where he hoped to become the first rider ever to win both MotoGP and World Superbike titles. He won one race, at Sepang, and finished fifth in the championship.

Nicky Hayden was well known and universally admired in racing paddocks around the world. His work ethic was second to none, the first to hit the track at a test, and the last to leave. He never gave up hope when racing, never started a race he didn't think he could win, never complained about his team or the bike, and never gave anything but 100% at everything he did. His death leaves an enormous hole in the world of motorcycle racing that will not be filled.

We send our condolences and best wishes to the Hayden family. May he rest in peace.

Nicky Hayden:  30th July, 1981 - 22nd May, 2017.

Below is the press release issued by the Red Bull Honda World Superbike team, announcing Hayden's death:

Statement from Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team

It is with great sadness that Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team has to announce that Nicky Hayden has succumbed to injuries suffered during an incident while riding his bicycle last Wednesday.

Nicky passed away at 19:09 CEST this evening at Maurizio Bufalini Hospital in Cesena, Italy. His fiancée Jackie, mother Rose and brother Tommy were at his side.

Throughout his career Nicky’s professionalism and fighting spirit was greatly valued and carried him to numerous successes, including his childhood dream of being crowned MotoGP World Champion with Honda in 2006. As well as being a true champion on the track, Nicky was a fan favourite off it due to his kind nature, relaxed demeanour, and the huge smile he invariably carried everywhere.

Nothing says more about Nicky’s character than the overwhelming response expressed by fellow racers and his legions of fans over the past few days. Jackie and his family are truly grateful for the countless prayers and well wishes for Nicky.

The ‘Kentucky Kid’ will be sorely missed by all that ever had the pleasure of meeting him or the privilege to see him race a motorcycle around a track, be it dirt or asphalt.

The racing world says goodbye to one of its dearest sons. Rest in peace Nicholas ‘Nicky’ Patrick Hayden.

Tommy Hayden

“On behalf of the whole Hayden family and Nicky’s fiancée Jackie I would like to thank everyone for their messages of support – it has been a great comfort to us all knowing that Nicky has touched so many people’s lives in such a positive way.

“Although this is obviously a sad time, we would like everyone to remember Nicky at his happiest – riding a motorcycle. He dreamed as a kid of being a pro rider and not only achieved that but also managed to reach the pinnacle of his chosen sport in becoming World Champion. We are all so proud of that.

“Apart from these ‘public’ memories, we will also have many great and happy memories of Nicky at home in Kentucky, in the heart of the family. We will all miss him terribly.

“It is also important for us to thank all the hospital staff for their incredible support – they have been very kind. With the further support of the authorities in the coming days we hope to have Nicky home soon.”

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Aspar To Continue With Ducati For 2018

The Pull&Bear Aspar Team will continue to race with Ducatis for the 2018 season. At Le Mans, the team signed a one-year extension of their deal with Ducati, which will see the Italian factory continue to supply satellite bikes to the team for next year.

Exactly what spec machinery the team will run is still to be decided. Depending on budget and the riders Aspar can sign, the team will either run two Desmosedici GP17s, or one GP17 and one GP16. 

Alvaro Bautista is certain to be one of the riders for next year. The Spaniard has impressed on the GP16 so far this year, consistently matching or beating the factory riders. The second seat is less clear, though Karel Abraham has also exceeded expectations, earning a front row start in Argentina. But Aspar is also keeping an eye on the talent available in Moto2, and if a young and fast rider becomes available, they may elect to sign them. The team remain impressed with Pecco Bagnaia, who rode for them in Moto3 last season. Choices about riders will not be made until the second half of 2017, when it is clearer who will be available next year.

The press release from the team appears below:

Aspar Team renews contract with Ducati for 2018

Sunday, 21 May 2017 07:28

Spanish team will make joint decision with Italian factory over which bikes to run next season

The Aspar Team has renewed its contract with Ducati Corse to contest the 2018 MotoGP World Championship with the Italian factory machinery. The agreement between the Spanish MotoGP team and Ducati includes an option to run two Ducati GP17s, the bikes being used this season by the factory team, or one Ducati GP17 and one Ducati GP16. This decision will be taken later this season.

The 2018 season will be the fifth year of collaboration between the Aspar Team and the Borgo Panigale factory. The Valencian outfit moved up to the premier class with Ducati in 2010 and their initial association lasted two seasons. It resumed in 2016, affording the Aspar Team its best result so far in MotoGP, with fourth place at the Grand Prix of Argentina. So far this year Álvaro Bautista established himself as one of the standout Independent riders during preseason and he also finished fourth in Argentina, where Karel Abraham qualified second on the grid.

Jorge Martínez, general manager de Aspar Team:“For the Aspar Team it is excellent news that we will continue for another season with Ducati, as much for the professional relationship we have with Luigi dall’Igna and all his staff as for the material they provide. We believe that we can still grow more but first of all I hope to be able to give Ducati and our sponsors plenty to celebrate this season, because we have two riders who are proving to be very competitive. We are satisfied with the progress of both Álvaro Bautista and Karel Abraham in this early part of the season but we have to put a whole weekend together because they both have the potential to be up there at the front. I hope 2017 can be a great year and 2018 even better.”

Paolo Ciabatti, Ducati Corse Sporting Director: “We are very satisfied to have reached an agreement with the Aspar Team and to announce the continuation of our association with the Spanish team through the MotoGP World Championship of 2018. The Aspar Team worked very well with Ducati in 2016 and also this year, with important results already for both riders. For that reason we are very happy to continue collaborating with Jorge Martínez next season.”


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Johann Zarco Extends Contract Through 2018 With Tech3 Team

The Tech3 team have exercised their option to keep Johann Zarco for the 2018 season. On Thursday, the two parties reached an agreement that will see the Frenchman stay with the team for a second year.

The agreement was anything but a surprise. Both Zarco and his teammate Jonas Folger are on "one plus one" contracts, a one-year contract with an option to extend it for a second year, but Tech3's general policy has always been to automatically extend the second year. For rookies such as Zarco and Folger, this allows them to focus on adapting to the new class, rather than having to worry about results, and push themselves into a mistake.

In the case of Johann Zarco, there was even less doubt that his contract would be extended. The Frenchman has been exceptional in the first four races of the season, mixing it with the podium regulars and far exceeding expectations. Signing the extension at Zarco's home Grand Prix was the ideal opportunity to maximize media exposure.

The contract extension is the best option for Zarco as well. With all of the current factory riders on two-year deals, there are no vacancies in factory teams. If Zarco continues to develop as he has so far this year, the Frenchman's name will be at the top of a lot of factory bosses' wish lists for 2019 onwards. The big question is whether Valentino Rossi retires at the end of 2018, making room in the factory Yamaha squad. But if Rossi continues, there will be plenty of other opportunities for Zarco.

With Zarco signed, attention in the Tech3 team switches to Jonas Folger. Zarco's exceptional performance has rather overshadowed the fact that Folger has been riding very well indeed, and is on course for a very strong first season. There seems little doubt that Folger will get his contract extended as well, and like Zarco, the most likely place for that to be announced is at his home Grand Prix, at the Sachsenring on 2nd July.

Below is the press release sent out by the Tech3 team announcing Zarco's contract extension.

21 MAY 2017

Zarco and Tech3 to continue successful partnership in 2018

The Monster Yamaha Tech3 team and Johann Zarco, the high-flying sensation, have reached an agreement that will see the double Moto2 World Champion remain with the French team for the 2018 season. The 26-year-old has undertaken a superb start to the current campaign, where he has highlighted his supreme talent by instantly adapting to the 1000cc Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP bike. His impressive performances have triggered the option of a second year with Tech3 and he will determinedly continue to fight for top tier finishes.

Johann ZARCO

"I am very happy to know that I will continue my MotoGP experience with Monster Yamaha Tech3 in 2018. At the moment, I am enjoying an amazing debut in this category where I have learnt a huge amount, and the team have now given me the confidence for next year, which is just fantastic. I want to say thank you to my manager Laurent Fellon who has helped me at all times and also, thanks to the people who have assisted me since I started racing in the World Championship. We can see that Tech3 is a great team because when we push, it’s possible to get a strong result. I am very happy but this is only the beginning and I will keep learning and growing so that I can regularly fight for podiums, and then once I am at this level, I plan to continue in this way for as long as possible. In 2018, the rules won’t change and I will have an entire year of experience so this will certainly help me to get to the top."


Team Manager

"This news is incredibly good for me and the entire Monster Yamaha Tech3 team but it is also positive for MotoGP racing worldwide and especially in France. We can announce that Johann Zarco has decided to remain with us for the 2018 season. Perhaps he could have waited a bit longer to make this decision, but he told me that he is happy and ready to commit himself to us. We are very proud to have that sort of confidence from Johann. He has already brought some amazing things to the team, such as huge excitement and joy, but he has also given us some pride back. I’m sure the best is yet to come, yet what he has done in the first four rounds is really impressive. I would like to thank Johann’s manager Laurent Fellon for his superb commitment and if Johann is performing in this way, it’s because Laurent took good care of him and helped him to grow into the rider that he is. We are more than happy to keep ZF with us, Z for Zarco and F for Fellon, and now we can fight in the remainder of the 2017 season with a high spirit. In addition, we can go out and try to find the partners who will be on our side in 2018. I would like to thank Johann and Laurent so let’s hope that this news will help him to be as strong as the whole crowd is expecting him to be for his home GP here in Le Mans."


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Nicky Hayden Hospitalized After Cycling Crash In Italy - UPDATE

Nicky Hayden has been hospitalized after a collision with a car while training on his bicycle near Riccione in Italy. According to reports from local newspaper Rimini Today, Hayden was out cycling on Wednesday afternoon when at around 2pm, he was hit by a car. The causes of the accident are as yet uncertain.

Hayden was treated for his injuries by the emergency services, and then taken to the emergency department of Rimini Hospital. He was assessed there, and was transferred to the Bufalini Hospital in Cesena, 40km away. According to reports from Italy, he is being treated in the trauma center of that hospital.

The precise extent of Hayden's injuries is as yet unknown. As soon as we have more confirmed details, we will let you know.


According to, the press chief of the Bufalini hospital issued a statement on Nicky Hayden, saying that Hayden was in a "very serious" condition and that he has been moved to the intensive care unit. Hayden is in a coma for the time being, and will be assessed again on Thursday.

UPDATE 2: 12:30 CEST, 18th May

There has been no change in Hayden's condition. He remains in critical condition in intensive care. He has thoracic and cranial injuries, but there is no news on how serious or permanent those injuries are.

UPDATE 3: 23:00, 19th May

Roadracing World's John Ulrich has spoken to Nicky Hayden's father Earl, after false reports appeared on clickbait websites and Facebook that there had been a change in Hayden's condition. Earl Hayden told Roadracing World there had been no change in Nicky Hayden's condition. He is still in a coma, and stable. 

The hospital continues to send out press releases twice daily, explaining that Hayden is still in a critical condition, but that his condition is unchanged.

The Red Bull Honda WorldSBK Team is updating it's Twitter feed with links to its press releases on Hayden's condition. For the official word on his condition, check there.

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Concessions and control ECU on the cards for WorldSBK?

Momentum for a technical shake-up in WorldSBK has increased but the manner to instigate that change is a big question

The Imola paddock was full of rumor and discussion about changes to the technical regulations for 2018. With Kawasaki and Ducati having shared all but four wins since the start of the 2015 season there have been calls to grant other manufacturers some avenues with which to improve performance. Discussions between the manufacturers took place once again in Italy to lay down a framework for the future.

No answers were forthcoming but with Yamaha and Honda having brought all-new Superbikes to the series in the last year and struggled to compete with the front runners it is clear that the winds of change may be in the air. For 2017 Aprilia increased their involvement with the Milwaukee Aprilia bikes built and prepared in Italy. The former title winning marque has thus far failed live up to preseason expectations.

Spec ECU for WorldSBK?

A unified electronics package with a standard ECU (Electronic Control Unit) is one step that is being discussed, but that is far from a silver bullet with which to cure all ills in the WorldSBK paddock. The biggest reason for Kawasaki and Ducati dominating proceedings is manpower and resources. With more people in the garage and more resources spent on electronics and overall bike development they have proved the class of the field. Regulating that all bikes run the same specification of electronics will close the gap but not eliminate it.

That is one of the reasons why some teams, such as the Ten Kate team, have called for more drastic changes. Speaking over the weekend Ronald ten Kate said, “The ECU would be a start but bringing in some concessions similar to MotoGP would be a better solution.”

Concessions stand

While MotoGP has developed a unified electronics system that is shared by all teams on the grid it has been the concessions offered to manufacturers that has, arguably, had the biggest influence on improving racing. These concessions range from having unlimited testing, allowing engine development mid-season and in the past a softer tire to offer improved performance. These allowed manufacturers to short-cut their development cycle by making large performance gains in a shorter time frame.

With Honda clearly struggling with a poor bike and a lack of experience with it they desperately need track time to be able to understand the all-new Fireblade and make improvements.

With resources clearly lacking at MV Augusta the team has precious little to test but opening some of the restrictions on bikes could help the Italian manufacturer. The team's rider, Leon Camier, crashed out of second position in Imola last weekend but knows the struggle facing the team.

“Right now if you're not on a green bike or a red bike you're not going to win,” said Camier. “At the moment Yamaha, MV, Aprilia, BMW and Honda all have good riders but at best we're really fighting for fifth or sixth position. It would be great if we could see some help to improve our performance or open the regulations somehow to help make it more competitive at the front because fans at home want to see more bikes at the front.”

Herding cats

To bring about such a change in the regulations the manufacturers would have to be in agreement. While Yamaha, Honda, BMW and Aprilia would be able to form a majority finding agreement is another issue entirely. The biggest stumbling block to that would appear to be Kawasaki who have said consistently in the past that electronic development is one of their key reasons for racing in WorldSBK.

With electronic development restricted in MotoGP the only series that allows manufacturers to flex their mental muscles with software development is WorldSBK. It is one of the single biggest reasons why Kawasaki races in the championship and puts huge resources into it. As a result the Japanese manufacturer is against the series bringing in a unified electronics software package.

Ducati are also likely to oppose any motion to restrict their performance but the Italian manufacturer will have a new bike on the market in the next two years. Their all-new V4 engined machine will be their flagship bike once again and the importance of WorldSBK as a marketing tool will not be lost on Bologna as they make the transition from twin-cylinder bike to the four cylinder. Kawasaki are in a comparable situation to Ducati, though there are key differences. With no MotoGP team, and no desire to race in prototype series, Kawasaki need a championship series they can showcase their Superbike in.

Equalizing performance

While their feelings on the potential change are not set in stone at the moment both manufacturers would be against restricting their performance on track, but equally, there is leverage against them in negotiations over the regulations.

Fresh from dominating at Imola Chaz Davies said, “I've not heard much about any changes to the regulations other than a few questions but in principle I would think that the best approach isn't to penalize Ducati or Kawasaki for being successful, but rather to help bring the other teams forward. If that's with granting them more testing, more engines, or some different parts, then that would be the best solution.”

It would also be the simplest solution for keeping all manufacturers happy. With seven manufacturers on the grid for 2017, and Suzuki likely to return in the coming years, it is clear the value and importance of WorldSBK holds for each manufacturer. Keeping them all happy and competitive in the series is an almost impossible goal but offering ways to improve their potential certainly isn't. Racing improves the breed, and the brand, but finding the best way to accelerate that improvement now appears to be a key challenge facing WorldSBK.

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Qatar MotoGP Time Schedule Under Review

Discussions are currently underway to review the schedule of the MotoGP event at Qatar. The current time schedule, with all three classes taking place after sundown, creates significant headaches for the class, as was apparent at the opening race of the 2017 season, when rain caused qualifying to be canceled and threatened to postpone the race to Monday. has learned that discussions opened at Jerez on alternative time schedules for the event. At the moment, nothing is decided and IRTA, who are tasked with organizing the event, are fielding proposals from everyone. They are at the very beginning of the process, one source told us. 

The most obvious solution would be to move the Moto2 and Moto3 races to the late afternoon, and then start the MotoGP race a couple of hours earlier, around 7pm instead of 9pm. This would allow Qatar to keep its position as both the first race of the season and a night race, while offering the possibility of moving the start of the season earlier to make room for an expanded calendar. 

An earlier start would avoid the dew which starts to settle late at night, around 10pm, and which has caused so many crashes in the past. That would give more flexibility to move the dates of the race to earlier in the year. And it would also allow the possibility of either waiting longer to start the race if it start to rain, or to move the race earlier and into the daylight.

But it would also cause several headaches. The current event is spread over four days, with practice and qualifying taking place at different times. Whether it would be possible to reduce the event back to three days is unknown, though having Moto2 and Moto3 qualifying during the day would give more flexibility there. 

Nothing is decided yet, however, and retaining the current schedule is also an option. Changing the schedule would need the agreement of all parties involved. The Qatar federation and Losail Circuit would have to consent to keeping the MotoGP race as an evening race, but perhaps giving up Moto2 and Moto3 as a night race. The teams would have to agree to the new schedule. The riders would have to believe the new schedule would be safer or better, in terms of track grip and in terms of riding. And the tire manufacturers Michelin and Dunlop would have to agree to develop tires capable of dealing with the new schedule. 

Talks will continue over the next few races, with proposals to be submitted at the next IRTA meeting. The official timing of the schedule is likely to be released only once the provisional 2018 calendar is published, some time in late September.


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