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Scott Jones 2014 Retrospective: Part 3 - Le Mans


#93


Pro tip: how to keep your clutch plates in order


Le Mans turned out some good battles. Dovizioso led a close group early on ...


... while Rossi took over at the front a few laps later


The official Moto2 and Moto3 tire supplier even has a bridge and corner named after them...


Mika Kallio shows emotion. A rare sight from the cool Finn


Comfort is everything, next to protection


One of the most famous sights in all of motor sports


Every race track should have a big wheel


The Hayden Hustle


A glimpse of the future: Le Mans was one place where Pol Espargaro could play with a Moto2 style on the Yamaha


Marc Mirage


His second podium of the season, Le Mans was the point at which we knew Valentino Rossi was back


Ready for Raccordement


Job done


Miller vs Rins was as tough as Miller vs Marquez


Mechanics always manage to retain a remarkable sense of calm when riders bring their bikes back like this


Everything else is just waiting


Now try to clear your mind


Le Mans was a tale of two Yamahas


Mr Miller


Alvaro Bautista had good days and bad days in 2014. A podium meant that Le Mans was a good day


Brake, turn, release. Jorge Lorenzo makes it look much simpler than it is


Stefan Bradl, getting ready to stand it up and fire it along the front straight

 


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Scott Jones 2014 Retrospective: Part 2 - Austin


Jorge Lorenzo's season went from bad to worse at Austin, with a jump start of almost comical proportions


By the end of 2014, two of the three Americans in this picture wouldn't be racing. It was a tough year for Americans in GP


Austin was still not a Yamaha track in 2014


Welcome to Texas, Mr Pasini


Up close and personal with a Yamaha YZR-M1 clutch


This would be Colin Edwards' last race in the USA


And that, my friends, is why riders do dirt track


Once upon time, American racers ruled the world


This was one of them. Settled law suits meant that Kevin Schwantz was allowed back into CotA


Ready?


Turn One was the scene of much carnage in Moto2


Boxing? No, taping up palms to prevent blisters


Colorful Fenati


Andrea Dovizioso scored Ducati's first dry-weather podium since 2010 at Austin. Signs of real progress


Desmosedici GP13 vs Desmosedici GP14


Riding the wave


Andrea Iannone aims high


Toughest braking spot of the year: uphill into Turn One


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Scott Jones 2014 Retrospective: Part 1 - Qatar


Class of '14


Old man? Maybe, but he keeps getting faster


Just a few weeks after breaking his leg, Marc Marquez made his intentions all too clear at Qatar


Herding cats takes a very particular skill


Few had Tito Rabat as their favorite for the 2014 Moto2 title at Qatar. That would change


Gigi Dall'Igna would bring real change at Ducati


While Silvano Galbusera made a big difference to Valentino Rossi


It would be a long year at Ducati for Cal Crutchlow


24 liters of fuel for the Open bikes livened things up a bit


Qatar: as the sun sets, a roar fills the night sky


A taste of things to come. Jack Miller and Alex Marquez would scrap for the Moto3 title all the way to Valencia


The MotoGP race at Qatar turned into a war of attrition. Stefan Bradl crashed out of the lead, just as Jorge Lorenzo had.


A time for regrets


Jorge Lorenzo simmered with rage at Qatar, unable to get to grips with the new Bridgestone rear


After a season of disgruntled comments about bike set up, Mike Leitner would leave Dani Pedrosa's side


Change came often to the Ducati GP14, though the revolution was forced to wait


Intensity: Alex Marquez has it


2014 would not be the year Nicky Hayden had intended


The calm before the storm


We knew Maverick Viñales was good, but just missing out on a podium at the first attempt was a sign of something more than good


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Updated World Superbike Rules: Balancing And Electronics Clarified, And A New Global Entry Class Mooted

At the last meeting of the Superbike Commission, the body which makes the rules for the World Superbike series, representatives of Dorna, the FIM and the factories agreed a number of measures which provide yet another step on the path to the future of the series. There were a couple of minor technical updates, and two changes which point the way to the series' long term future.

The changes to the technical regulations were relatively simple. The balancing rules, aimed at allowing different engine designs to be competitive against each other, received a number of minor tweaks resulting from the fact that those rules will now be carried on from one season to the next. In practice, this means that results for either twins or fours will be carried over between seasons, creating a rolling balancing scoreboard, which should create a better balance between fours and twins.

The other change to the technical rules allow a manufacturer to revert to their 2014 electronics for the first two races of 2015, should the 2015 electronics cause them problems. Basically, this will give the teams a fallback position and give them a little more time to develop the electronics. As the first two round are in Australia and Thailand, the risk of struggling with a system which is not completely ready to race during a period when it is impossible to test has been reduced.

The changes to the sporting regulations are more interesting, and point the way to the future of the series. First of all, the sporting, disciplinary and medical regulations will be harmonized with the rules for MotoGP wherever possible, creating a single set of regulations across both series. This will make it easier for teams and riders to switch between series, but more importantly, it should also make it easier for circuit and medical staff. With a single set of rules, marshals, event organizers and circuit medical staff will find it easier to switch between MotoGP and World Superbike events, which should in turn help keep costs down. It will also make it easier for circuits to either switch between series or host both series, without having to go over the differences between the two.

Most interesting of all, however, is the announcement that the Superbike Commission is to create a working group to look at a new entry level class. That class will be based on what they describe as the Supersport 300 class, the range of small capacity sports bikes which is growing in popularity. The class will features machines such as the KTM RC390, the Kawasaki Ninja 300, and the Yamaha YZF-R3. British site Visordown has a rundown on the bikes which could be allowed. The decision to consider such a class builds on initiatives in countries such as the USA, UK, Germany and the Netherlands to feature a KTM RC 390 cup series, which will allow young riders to compete at a very low cost. Perhaps more importantly, initiatives in key markets such as India, Thailand and Malaysia could see such bikes being raced. With the same class running as a support series at World Superbike events, the new class could provide a stepping stone from nations across all of Asia into world championship motorcycle racing.

The change seems a key part of Dorna's strategy to create a broader base for motorcycle racing around the world. With a more homogenous set of rules across several world championship, national and regional series, the cost of moving up to the World Superbike paddock should be lowered, and wildcard entries at various rounds should also be easier. At the same time as the WSBK rules were being announced, the AMA was announcing a few changes to the MotoAmerica AMA series, bringing their Superbike and Superstock regulations even more into line with World Superbike and Superstock rules.

There appears to be a concerted move to help broaden the base of motorcycle racing, and open up World Superbike racing to a broader audience and a broader range of entry. It is a hopeful development, and one which the series badly needs after a steady decline in the past few years.

The FIM press release containing the rule updates is shown below:


FIM Superbike & Supersport World Championships and FIM Superstock 1000cc Cup
Decision of the Superbike Commission - 2014 final meeting

The Superbike Commission, composed of Messrs Javier Alonso (WSBK Executive Director), Ignacio Verneda (FIM CEO) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA Representative), met at the Dorna Headquarters in Madrid on 16 December 2014 in the presence of MM Daniel Carrera and Gregorio Lavilla (WSBK-Dorna), Scott Smart and Paul Duparc (FIM).

During the 2014 final meeting, the SBK Commission has agreed as follows:

  1. The Sporting, Disciplinary and Medical Regulations will be harmonised as much as possible with the 2015 Grand Prix Regulations.
  2. After the approval of the main pillars of the SBK Technical Regulations 2015 last June 12th , two main points of discussion have been clarified:
    • The Superbike Commission agreed to amend the details of the Superbike Balancing rules to improve the clarity of the application of the balancing method. Changes for the 2014 season included the balancing level being carried from one season to the next and this had resulted in other small details needing updates.
    • For safety reasons, The Superbike Commission agreed to consider, individually, any manufacturers request to use their 2014 season electronics packages during the first two championship rounds 'as is', in case of any issues arising from the changes in the electronics concept in the 2015 regulations. Should this arise then the Manufacturer must make available to all 'customer' teams on the same brand of machinery the same 2014 electronics so as not to disadvantage them.
  3. The Superbike Commission approved assembly of a working group comprising of any interested machine manufacturers to develop a class structure for an entry level category. The category would be based on the burgeoning Supersport 300 class machinery and would aim to include varied capacities and engine configurations, with the aim to provide a low cost platform to develop new talent. The class would be raced in many domestic championships with the goal being to bring the 'stars of the future' to the premier events running alongside the World Championship series.

The full 2015 Regulations will be available on the FIM website shortly.

http://www.fim-live.com/en/sport/regulations-and-documents/superbike/

Dunlop To Continue As Spec Tire Supplier To Moto2 And Moto3 From 2015

Dunlop is set to continue as single tire supplier to the Moto2 and Moto3 classes. In a press release (show below), Dorna announced that they have extended the current contract with Dunlop to remain as the spec tire supplier to the support classes, for the 2015 season and beyond. The press release does not make any mention of the duration of the contract, stating only that Dunlop will continue "from the start of 2015". 

Dunlop has been the spec tire supplier to both Moto2 and Moto3 since the introduction of the two classes, in 2010 and 2012 respectively. The announcement that they are to continue signals that both series will continue with a spec tire for the foreseeable future. However, the intermediate classes had been a de facto spec series for a long time, with Dunlop supplying almost the entire field in the 250cc and 125cc classes which preceded Moto2 and Moto3.

The press release containing the announcement appears below:


Dunlop extends contract as Official Tyre Supplier to Moto2™ and Moto3™

Dorna Sports is delighted to announce that Dunlop has signed a fresh agreement to continue as the sole tyre supplier to the Moto2™ and Moto3™ World Championships from the start of 2015.

The agreement will not only continue to see all riders competing on Dunlop rubber across the intermediate and lightweight classes of the FIM MotoGP™ World Championship, but also all bikes sporting the company’s logos and riders being awarded with Dunlop caps for finishing Grands Prix in podium positions.

The deal also includes trackside advertising at international FIM MotoGP™World Championship events.

Pau Serracanta, Managing Director of Commercial Area at Dorna Sports commented: “We are delighted to continue our association with a name as experienced as Dunlop for both the intermediate and lightweight class tyre supply in the World Championship. The company has played a significant role in the development of both Moto2™ and Moto3™ since the individual classes were originated, paving the way to MotoGP™ for riders the calibre of Marc Marquez who has gone on to claim two premier class world crowns.”

Sanjay Khanna, Managing Director, Dunlop Motorsport and Motorcycle Europe stated: “The Moto2™ and Moto3™ World Championships are acknowledged by fans as two of the most exciting racing championships in the world. The intensity of the racing makes for compelling viewing. We look forward to increasing our promotion of these classes during the coming years in a way that will help increase the focus on the rising talent and quality of racing.”

Dunlop was appointed as sole tyre supplier at the launch of both classes in 2010 and 2012 respectively. This followed a period where Dunlop- equipped motorcycles dominated the 250cc and 125cc categories that preceded the two classes in the FIM World Championship.

MotoGP Rule Update: Fuel Limit Raised To 22 Liters For 2016, SCAT3 Concussion Test Introduced, & More

The meeting of the Grand Prix Commission, held on Tuesday in Madrid, made a number of minor changes to the rules for all three Grand Prix classes, as well as a couple of more significant revisions. The biggest changes concerned the setting of the maximum fuel allocation from 2016 at 22 liters, and the adoption of the SCAT3 test for concussion for riders after a crash. But perhaps the most significant outcome of the meeting of the GPC is not what was decided, but what was not.

Of the various minor rule changes, a few are worthy of comment. The first is the reduction of the time penalty at the start for a rider exceeding the engine allocation in any given year. From 2015, anyone using an extra engine will start the race from pit lane 5 seconds after the green light is displayed after the official start (once all riders on the grid have passed pit lane exit), rather than 10 seconds. This will have little direct impact on the outcome of any races, but should make it easier for riders using an extra engine to get close to the backmarkers, and perhaps score a point or two.

In the Moto2 class, tire pressure sensors will now be compulsory, to ensure that tire pressures are kept within the range set by the single tire supplier. This is to enforce a rule brought in at the end of last year, when various Moto2 teams were found to be running dangerously low rear tire pressures in an attempt to improve rear edge grip and feel from the tire. Making tire pressure sensors compulsory suggests that some teams had been flouting the mandatory tire pressure ranges, banking on not being caught.

In MotoGP, a maximum price has been set for a brake package, with €70,000 now the maximum brake suppliers can charge for a full season of dry weather racing (or €60,000 without brake calipers). Unfortunately, the decision appears to leave some worrying loopholes open, with prices being set for dry weather packages only, and offering the possibility of ordering a package without calipers. The last set of rules published in November mention that components will be subject to homologation and price controls. It is not clear whether this is still the case or not, and only once the full 2015 rule set is published will we find out.

The two most significant changes were the adoption of the SCAT3 concussion test and setting the fuel limit from 2016 at 22 liters. The adoption of a formal test for concussion is an important step forward for both rider safety, and for consistency of medical rulings. There is a common complaint among riders that the decisions on whether a rider is fit to race can vary greatly between medical officers at race tracks, with some proving exceptionally lenient, while others are far stricter. The issue of concussion is a particularly difficult one in motorcycle racing. If decision making is impaired due to a concussion which has gone undiagnosed, it could have very serious, and possibly even fatal consequences for both the rider concerned and others on the track in their vicinity. The SCAT3 test is a start, though it is far from perfect. Some types of injury are particularly prevalent in motorcycle racing, and can create extra problems in assessing concussion via SCAT tests. The regulations make no mention of baseline testing - a test performed prior to the season to establish the typical responses to SCAT assessment questions from each individual rider - which could be of assistance in ascertaining the extent of concussion. However, baseline testing may not be needed, as the aim of using SCAT3 is to rule a rider unfit, not to test whether they are fit to race again after having been forced to sit out events.

Setting the fuel limit at 22 liters for 2016, when MotoGP becomes a single class again and spec electronics are adopted for all MotoGP machines, is just about expected. The current Open bikes, as well as Ducati, all run between 21 and 23 liters, depending on the track concerned. Honda had been pushing for a lower limit, but the other factories were keen to keep more fuel. With spec electronics, 22 liters is a realistic amount to use.

More significant than agreement on the fuel limit is the lack of agreement elsewhere. Agreement on the number of engines per season, and the minimum weights for MotoGP bikes have both been pushed back to February. It was widely feared in Dorna and IRTA that such a move could happen, as the longer such decisions are delayed, the less time there is to make the changes needed to prepare for next season. That, in turn, could be used by some factories to make a case for making no changes to the rules, leaving the maximum engines at five per season. Though that may save costs for existing factories, it would make it virtually impossible for new factories to join MotoGP, and to be competitive.

A significant omission from the proposed rules is the lack of a rev limit. This now looks unlikely to happen until the next full overhaul of the regulations in 2021. A rev limit would be a significant tool in reducing top speeds, but the factories - especially Honda and Ducati - were vehemently opposed.

The new regulations also provide evidence that Dorna feel they are fighting a rearguard action against the factories. The banning of "additional devices" between the ECU and actuators is one loophole which has been actively pursued with spec electronics packages in Moto2 and Moto3, and could have caused major problems in MotoGP. The best-known example was the special quickshifter strategy adopted by several Moto2 teams in 2012, most notably by Marc Marquez. That required adding an extra component in the quickshifter circuit, to improve acceleration and shorten the duration of the ignition cut. Adding extra components between ECU and actuators such as throttle butterflies, injectors or ignition could offer better control than the spec electronics allow, and undermine the push to standard electronics.

It is, however, typical of the arms race which continues between rule makers and teams. Factories and teams are always on the lookout for an advantage, and seeking the gaps left by the rulebook. As the rulebook expands, so the opportunity to exploit such loopholes expands with it. Like tax law, the thicker the rulebook, the more opportunities there are to work around it, to which the usual response is to add yet more rules.

Below is the full text of the press release on new regulations:


FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix
Decision of the Grand Prix Commission

The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Ignacio Verneda (FIM CEO), Herve Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA) in the presence of Javier Alonso (Dorna) and Mike Trimby (IRTA, Secretary of the meeting), in a meeting held on 16 December in Madrid (ESP), made the following decisions:

Sporting Regulations

Effective 2015

Changes to the Sporting Regulations mainly involved incorporating into the Grand Prix regulations protocols and procedures that had already been defined and implemented during the 2014 season. These matters included:

The procedure to be adopted when there is a change in climatic conditions after the riders have reached the grid after their sighting lap.

Changes to the defined position of the pit lane exit and the introduction of a line painted on the track which must not be crossed by riders exiting pit lane.

Procedures and bike positioning for change of bikes in MotoGP class flag to flag races.

New regulations approved were:

  • Consequent on the pit lane exit changes, when serving a penalty for excess engine use, riders starting the race from pit lane will start five seconds after the display of the green light at pit lane exit, rather than the current ten seconds.
  • Small changes to the regulations concerning warning flags were made to bring these into line with regulations in other FIM Championships.

Technical Regulations

Effective 2015

Moto2 Class

The use of tyre pressure sensors, measuring the pressure of a slick rear tyre, is compulsory. This will enable the Technical Director to enforce existing regulations that require riders to use the pressures approved by the official supplier.

MotoGP Class

The maximum prices that may be charged for the supply of brake packages normally sufficient for a complete front wheel, dry weather season, were confirmed. The full package, including discs, pads, calipers and master cylinders, may cost no more than €70,000. Teams may choose to have a package that does not include calipers and the maximum price for this is €60,000.

It was already announced that Factory teams in the MotoGP class must move to using unified software with effect from 01 July 2015. It has now been confirmed that different teams, using machines from the same Factory, may use different versions of the unified software.

All Classes

It is already a regulation that the lower portion of bodywork must have the capacity to catch oil or coolants in the event of an engine failure. It has now been agreed that the minimum capacity of these reservoirs must be 5 litres for Moto2 and MotoGP class machines and 3.5 litres for Moto3 class machines. The procedure for measuring capacity was also confirmed.

In the Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP Open classes it is not permitted to use additional devices to modify the signal sent from the Championship supplied ECU to the actuators.

Effective 2016

Discussions continue in the Grand Prix Commission about the Technical Regulations for the MotoGP class from 2016. It is anticipated that matters like the number of engines to be available for the season and the minimum weights of machines will be finalised and announced early in February 2015. In the meantime the maximum fuel capacity for 2016 has been confirmed as 22 litres.

Disciplinary Regulations

Effective 2015

It was decided that it is no longer necessary to hold a hearing between Race Direction and the rider before imposing a minor penalty. Minor penalties are defined as the imposition of up to three penalty points, a fine of up to €1,000 or a grid penalty of up to three places. Naturally, riders retain the right to appeal against any such penalty in which case a hearing would be convened.

Medical Code

Effective 2015

It was agreed to incorporate into the regulations the new version of SCAT3. This is the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool which is already used by a large number of sporting bodies to evaluate injured athletes for concussion.

A regularly updated version of the FIM Grand Prix Regulations which contains the detailed text of the regulation changes may be viewed shortly on:

http://www.fim-live.com/en/sport/regulations-and-documents/grands-prix/

Scott Jones Shoots The Superprestigio Part 3: The Superfinal


Jared Mees told Kenny Noyes to line up inside him at the start of the Superfinal. "I was thinking, 'You're either tricking me or you're going to open up a hole.'" Noyes said.


Marquez and Mees got away from the line better, but found Thomas Chareyre in their way


Chareyre went down, blocking Marquez, Mees and Smith


Noyes and Bailo were the beneficiaries


Marquez, Mees and Ribalta were left with ground to make up


The two champions soon forced their way forward...


... And started closing on the leaders


They disposed of Ribalta, and a very impressive Oliver Brindley


Then they started closing on Kenny Noyes


It took them a few laps ...


But they got past in the end


Two champions


Turn 1. Tricky spot.


Marcel Schrotter put up a very respectable performance


Spanish champ. And nearly Superprestigio champ


The Palau Sant Jordi: Once home to Michael Jordan, now home to Marc Marquez

 


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Aleix Espargaro Injures Knee In Training Incident

Aleix Espargaro has injured his knee during a training crash earlier this month. According to the Spanish publication Motocuatro, The Spaniard was participating in an informal dirt track race with his Suzuki teammate Maverick Viñales and a group of friends on 6th December, and crashed. The crash resulted in the elder of the Espargaro brothers partially tearing the cruciate ligaments in his left knee.

It was feared that Espargaro would have to undergo surgery to correct the injury, but examination by his doctors determined that this would not be necessary. The factory Suzuki rider faces a four-week layoff, to allow the injury to recover, before he can start training again. That will allow him to resume preparations some time around 6th January, meaning he should be in good shape once testing resumes in February. Aleix Espargaro is due to ride the Suzuki GSX-RR again at the first test in Sepang on 4th February.

Espargaro posted the following short video on his Instagram account, which shows the Spaniard wearing a knee brace, his knee clearly immobilized.

 

A video posted by Aleix Espargaro (@aleixespargaro) on

Scott Jones Shoots The Superprestigio Part 2


Ready to rumble


Jared Mees shows how you get through the fluffy end


Oliver Brindley: remember the name. He's one fast 16-year-old


The moment it all went wrong: Thomas Chareyre slides out, blocking Marc Marquez and Jared Mees


Kenny Noyes does the thousand yard stare. No need, first corner is only 100 yards away


The star of the show. No, not him, Kevin Clark, the man with the flags


Passing ships - Ribalta and Simon


Storm Stacey: With a name like that, he'll be a fearsome racer once he's older


Troy


Remy Gardner. Will he match Wayne?


Full marks for style, Johann Zarco


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Scott Jones Shoots The Superprestigio Part 1


Dirt track, Marquez-style


This is what a former AMA champ does: helps prepare his own bike


Kenny Noyes grew up riding on the dirt. He was the only man to keep Mees and Marquez within sight


Two legends: Guy Martin and Troy Bayliss. This is what they do for fun


17-inch Supermoto wets. Not what AMA riders are used to


Sideways by Shayna Texter, before they fixed her number


Bradley Smith had come on in leaps and bounds since the first Superprestigio


Scott Redding had a rough night, tearing a chest muscle during qualifying


It was competitive in both Open and Superprestigio classes


Jared Mees listens to advice from his crew


Brad Baker shows how it's done


Lorenzo Baldassari was the revelation of the evening. Then again, he trains at Rossi's ranch every Sunday


The brother of the champ


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

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