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Lowes and Stoner Start Two-Day Test at Misano

Aprilia and Ducati had their first day of a two-day test at Misano on Wednesday, with two big-name riders. Casey Stoner returned to action with Ducati, testing the Desmosedici GP (as the 2016 bike is officially known), as part of Ducati's official test team. For Aprilia, Sam Lowes got his first taste of the RS-GP, testing the MotoGP bike alongside Aprilia's official test rider Mike Di Meglio.

As this is a private test, no information regarding lap times was available, and Ducati were keeping very quiet on exactly what they are testing. From Casey Stoner's Twitter feed, we know that he was testing the GP16, though exactly what he was testing is unknown. Stoner did post the following video on Twitter:

As for Sam Lowes, the Gresini Moto2 rider spent his day riding the 2015 version of the Aprilia RS-GP. This was the Englishman's first time out on a MotoGP bike, so his primary focus was gaining an understanding of the Michelin tires and carbon brakes, rather than testing the latest machinery. Aprilia boss Romano Albesiano was pleased with how well Lowes had adjusted to a MotoGP bike, telling Italian website GPOne: "This morning it was impressive to see how quickly he adapted to the new bike and at the same time I was struck by the great methodology with which he took on the various issues." No lap times were released, but paddock rumor suggest that Lowes was much quicker than expected.

While Lowes worked on learning to ride a MotoGP bike, the real work of development fell on the shoulders of Mike Di Meglio. The Frenchman did short runs in sweltering heat to test new chassis components for the 2016 bike, but focused especially on the electronics, according to GPOne. Electronics is one area where Aprilia have struggled, making the switch from their own proprietary software to the spec software this year.

Lowes, too, posted updates to his social media stream, including the following photo on Instagram:


Scott Jones Shoots Assen - Part 3, Race Day

It's called a "shoey" apparently. Though why anyone would want to consume alcohol from their footwear is a mystery in the Northern Hemisphere

Torrential rain meant a MotoGP race cut short

What victory looks like - Pecco Bagnaia celebrates his first win in Moto3

That will probably buff right out

Assen was not so much a flag-to-flag race, as a red-light-to-red-light race

The Ducatis reigned supreme in the wet. Well, almost

Now that's what I call monsoon conditions

Post-crash rituals: step 1 - argue with a marshall

Never give up

Jack Miller leads Marc Marquez, all the way to the line

Second place, but celebrating it like a victory. Marquez took a big step forward in the championship at Assen

The Moto3 freight train never gets old

A victory has been a long time coming for Takaaki Nakagami. He took his first with style

A message from the junkies

Brad Binder had a lucky escape from a bad mistake. Lost ground, but still scored a lot of points

Belgian beer billionaire Marc van der Straten, making dreams come true

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.


Scott Jones Shoots Assen - Part 2

Rain. At Assen. Who would have thought?

A good way of getting pole: follow a fast rider

Determination. Not enough to save Dani Pedrosa's weekend

Last minute instructions to Yonny Hernandez

Moto3 freight train

Aleix Espargaro and crew chief Tom O'Kane, a strong partnership in Suzuki

Marc Marquez had plenty to think about on Saturday

Marshalls, the true heroes of motorcycle racing. Going above and beyond the call of duty

When you're 30 hp down, wet conditions are a boon.

46, still fast at 37

Whoops. Aron Canet crashed at the GT chicane, taking out Juanfran Guevara in the process

There was a lot of this about on both Saturday and Sunday


What victory looks like - Pecco Bagnaia celebrates his first win in Moto3


Did anyone bring an umbrella?

In a factory team, riders have someone to hold the handlebars and make "vroom, vroom" noises for them

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.


Aleix Espargaro Confirmed at Aprilia For 2017 and 2018

The last of the factory seats has been officially filled. Today, the Gresini Aprilia team announced that Aleix Espargaro will be joining Sam Lowes at Aprilia for the next two seasons.

The announcement did not come as a surprise. Rumors had emerged at Barcelona that Espargaro would be going to Aprilia, Espargaro telling the media on Friday that he had already signed a contract, but that he was unable to announce who with.

Espargaro's signing leaves both Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista out of a job. Bautista is expected to sign with the Aspar Ducati team for 2017, where he is likely to partner with Eugene Laverty, while Stefan Bradl is being linked to several rides in the World Superbike paddock.

Below is the official press release announcing the news:


Aleix Espargaró, Spanish rider born in Granollers on 30 July 1989, will ride an Aprilia RS-GP in the MotoGP World Championship. The agreement signed with Aprilia Racing is for two years, covering the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

Bringing Espargaró on board is part of Aprilia's development plan - which aims for an increase in competitiveness, in line with the progress already demonstrated this year - and it reaffirms the Piaggio Group's commitment to an excellent technological and sport project aimed at making the Aprilia brand a protagonist on the track and on the road.

Aleix Espargaró was the Spanish champion in the 125 category in 2004. After a series of placements in the 125 and 250 categories, in 2009 he made his début in the top class where he drew attention during the 2012 season astride the ART (the CRT bike developed by Aprilia Racing), finishing the season as the best rider in the category. This excellent result was repeated the next season as well, again on the ART - Aprilia Racing bike. Overall, in MotoGP, he has taken two pole positions and a podium finish, as well as seventh place in the rider standings (his personal best) for the 2014 championship season.


Scott Jones Shoots Assen - a Photo Selection

Here today, gone tomorrow

Surgery scars. Marc Marquez shows off the ones he had from breaking bones in his fingers

Maverick Viñales. Or Spiderman?

Riders love their dogs.

Dani Pedrosa is struggling at Assen. Badly.

Cal Crutchlow is finally getting his season on track

Bradley Smith does the racer's stare

Dangerous Dovi - a factor at Assen

Early morning exercises for the Yamahas

Perfect on the right, a little graining on the left. The disadvantage of a symmetric front slick

#44 is flying at Assen

Close formation into the hairpin

The bike follows your eyes

Pre-practice stretching

Eugene Laverty looks set to stay at Aspar for next year

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.


Grand Prix Commission Bans Winglets in MotoGP From 2017 Season

Winglets are to be banned in all three MotoGP classes from 2017 onwards. At Assen, the Grand Prix Commission met and decided on an outright ban on aerodynamic wings, after the MSMA had failed to reach an agreement among all manufacturers on a joint proposal.

There has been much discussion of winglets over the past few months, as they have taken on an ever greater importance. With the introduction of the common ECU software, winglets were one way of reducing the amount of wheelie MotoGP bikes had. But as the factories - and especially Ducati - gained more experience with winglets, the winglets grew larger, raising safety concerns over the effect of an impact during a crash.

Action had been expected to be taken at the previous Grand Prix Commission meeting in Mugello, but the parties failed to reach an agreement. Dorna, IRTA and the FIM then presented the MSMA manufacturers with an ultimatum: if the MSMA could produce a unanimous proposal to regulate and restrict the size and extent of the winglets, they would adopt that. If they couldn't then winglets would be banned. With the manufacturers deeply split over winglets, with Honda on one side and Ducati on the other, they could not agree a unanimous proposal.

Whether the outright ban will end the focus on aerodynamics remains to be seen. The focus is likely to shift to the shape and size of fairings to achieve the same effect. The rules will need to be carefully written to define what a winglet actually is, and Ducati have already hinted that they will be searching for loopholes in the rules. "Like in Formula One, we will have to look very carefully at the future rules," Ducati boss Davide Tardozzi told the Italian site  "Every single word will be important, because everything which is not forbidden will be allowed."

The press release announcing the ban on winglets appears below:

Grand Prix Commission
Assen, 25th. June 2016

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 25th. June at Assen, made the following decisions:

Technical Regulations

Aerodynamic Wings in the MotoGP Class

The Commission unanimously agreed that, with effect from the 2017, the use of aerodynamic wings in the MotoGP class will be banned. The actual regulation will replicate those for the Moto3 and Moto2 classes where the use of wings is already prohibited.

Wings that comply with current technical regulations may continue to be used for the remainder of the 2016 season.

Post-Race Noise Tests

Since the introduction of four-stroke machinery in all classes, no machine has ever failed the mandatory post-race noise checks. Accordingly, the requirement for the first three machines to be routinely checked after the race is cancelled with immediate effect.

The Technical Director may still decide to carry out noise tests at his discretion.

Moto3 Safety Issues

The Commission gave approval for Honda to, under the supervision of the technical staff, to replace the inlet valve springs on their Moto3 engines. The change will take place during the Sachsenring GP.

Permission was also given to Mahindra to replace the oil ring on one Moto3 engine that was resulting in oil leakage. Again, this will be carried under the supervision of the technical staff.


Tom Sykes Extends With Kawasaki For Two More Years

The Kawasaki World Superbike line up will remained unchanged for the next two years. On Monday morning, the Kawasaki Racing Team announced they had signed Tom Sykes to another two-year contract for WorldSBK. 

Sykes will line up alongside Jonathan Rea in 2017 and 2018, as he has for this season and last. There had been a lot of speculation that Sykes could jump ship to Ducati, after the Italian factory had handed him a de facto blank check for his signature. Sykes preferred to remain with Kawasaki, however, despite the animosity in the Kawasaki garage between the two riders.

With Sykes and Rea signed to Kawasaki, the focus turns to Ducati. Chaz Davies described his talks with the Italian factory as being at an "advanced" stage, with still a few details left to fill in. Davies had been linked to rides in MotoGP, but the Welshman said he was only interested if he could go with the right support and the right crew around him. The second seat at Ducati is likely to go an Italian rider, though it is uncertain whether that will be current rider Davide Giugliano.

With MotoGP seats filling up, and some riders being left out in the cold - including the two Aprilia riders Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista - Silly Season is likely to start hotting up in the World Superbike championship. There could be more riders heading over from MotoGP to WorldSBK, while existing riders jockey for position to get the remaining strong seats on the grid.

Below is the press release from the Kawasaki team announcing the signing:

Sykes And Kawasaki Racing Team Continue Their Strong Partnership

2013 FIM Superbike World Champion for Kawasaki, Tom Sykes, will continue his successful relationship with KRT and KHI for another two years after making a new agreement with the Japanese factory to be a key member of the overall Ninja ZX-10R racing project, both on and off-track.

Having formed such a successful partnership with Kawasaki in the past few years, culminating in his championship win in 2013, Sykes will continue to be an integral part of the Kawasaki racing and development programme around the awesome Ninja ZX-10R. Tom’s commitment to the Kawasaki cause has been evident ever since he first rode a WorldSBK spec Ninja back in 2010, and he has collected an enviable list of achievements along the way.

Sykes has now taken 30 race wins, and all but one of his 76 career podium finishes, on ZX-10R machines. Tom has also set the second highest ever record of Superpole qualifying wins, which reached 36 at the most recent round in Misano. He has also set 30 fastest laps during WorldSBK races and has been twice a runner-up in the championship, in addition to his headlining success in 2013.

In making a new agreement with Kawasaki’s official squad Tom is now intent on continuing his career at the highest level of production-derived racing, with the most successful WorldSBK team and machine of recent times. Once more Tom will join up alongside his current KRT team-mate Jonathan Rea, who also recently re-signed.

Tom Sykes stated: “I am really excited to have made a further commitment with KRT and KHI. It’s a great feeling to be back with such a great team for another two years. We have already shown the capabilities of the latest model Ninja ZX-10R this season and there is a lot of potential still to come from the bike. I think it is safe to say that we have the best all-round package in the FIM Superbike World Championship and I would like to thank KHI for showing their continued commitment to me as a rider. As well as the bike and the on-track performance I have been part of the Kawasaki family for seven years so it was really natural to continue that relationship. To carry on working with my dedicated crew - Marcel, Danilo, Mattia, Raul, Tambu and Ruben and all my other valued colleagues and friends in the team - was priceless as they are widely recognised as the pick of the crop in the WorldSBK paddock. I get so much support from the brilliant fans and passionate Kawasaki owners that it was also a positive decision to make to remain part of that. Another important thing is to continue the development programme, for the road bike and the race bike side of things, which is something I feel an integral part of. The technical aspect of working with the team and KHI is deeply satisfying to me, not just the successes on track.”

Steve Guttridge, Racing Manager Kawasaki Europe, stated: “Tom has grown up inside our Kawasaki WorldSBK projects as have Kawasaki with Tom Sykes. The combination of Tom and his crew chief Marcel Duinker and data engineer Danilo Casonato, along with a great team of staff around them, has been invaluable to our Ninja ZX-10R's success and overall model feedback over the past several seasons. Both sides obviously value their relationship dearly and the continued potential of that relationship into the future. Given all of these things we are obviously very happy that we can look to the next two seasons with Tom.”

Guim Roda, KRT Team Manager, stated: “Tom signing for two more years with Kawasaki is a very nice point to continue our project from, while also developing the latest Ninja ZX-10R until 2018. This is a part of Kawasaki’s strategy - to have two top riders inside KRT project - and now we can say proudly that we still have the two best riders in the WorldSBK championship. It has been a longer negotiation with Tom because he has been with Kawasaki for seven years - two with PBM and five with KRT - and there’s always some private and personal points we have to respect when a rider thinks about taking such a important decision. Tom always said from the beginning his first wish was to continue in the Kawasaki family, so we are happy he can trust in the new ZX-10R and KRT staff to get what he expects. I personally think that the best of Tom Sykes is yet to come. The level of competitiveness from KRT will be high and we will increase this even more, so I’m sure other manufacturers will have a tough job for the next two years.”

Ichiro Yoda, KRT Senior Engineer, stated: “I have been involved for many years in racing activities, since 1980, and I know how difficult it is to have a rider motivated and convinced to stay for a nine years with a brand. We have given Tom the option to think calmly and we are very happy that he has decided his future is with Kawasaki and KRT. His value as a rider has been proved through many years. He has been now, for five years, in the top two or three in the world. This is not easy to do. His experience and sensitive riding style gives us good direction on the points to take care of to improve the Ninja ZX-10R in the next two years. I am personally very happy to again have two great riders in KRT.”

The final word goes to Mr. Yuji Horiuchi, General Manager of R&D Division, Motorcycle & Engine Company KHI, who stated: “To have not one but two WorldSBK Champions in our team is a considerable achievement. We are happy that the valuable work Tom has already done on the development of the 2016 Ninja ZX-10R and his enviable technical ability can continue to benefit us for the next two seasons and that our racing project with KRT has the talent and stability it needs to achieve even greater racing success in the years to come”.


Alex Rins Confirmed At Suzuki, Aleix Espargaro and Johann Zarco Left Out in the Cold

The next piece in the puzzle which is the 2017 MotoGP grid has fallen into place. As had been widely expected, Alex Rins has signed a two-year deal to race with the factory Ecstar Suzuki team from next year. Rins will line up alongside Andrea Iannone on the Suzuki GSX-RR next season.

Rins had long been favorite to take the second seat at Suzuki, as his profile best suited the Ecstar Suzuki team's strategy of having young rider with potential alongside a fast, more experienced rider to help lead development. When Maverick Viñales left for the Movistar Yamaha team, Rins was the name most touted to take his place.

The surprise came when Suzuki announced they had signed Andrea Iannone immediately after Ducati announced they would be keeping Andrea Dovizioso. The signing of Iannone was the writing on the wall for Aleix Espargaro, as it did not fit with Suzuki's strategy to have two older, more experienced riders. In Barcelona, Espargaro was openly critical of Suzuki's attitude, pointing out that he was not far behind Dani Pedrosa in the championship.

Suzuki Japan are believed to have been hesitant to sign Alex Rins alongside Andrea Iannone, as it means having two brand new riders in the team. They would have preferred to keep Espargaro, as the rider with experience of the bike, to partner the rookie Rins. Davide Brivio was in Japan last week to convince them to let him sign Rins, a mission which has been successful.

Rins' signing also leaves Johann Zarco in limbo. The Frenchman had gone to Japan to test the Suzuki GSX-RR MotoGP bike, as part of a contract he had signed with the Japanese factory. That contract also included Zarco racing at the Suzuka 8 Hour endurance race this year, though it was unclear whether the contract extended beyond the end of this year. After his test in Japan, Zarco canceled his plans to race at Suzuka, which was taken by many that any plans he may have had to ride a Suzuki in 2017 had fallen through. The announcement that Alex Rins was signed to the factory team was merely confirmation of that. 

That leaves Zarco looking for a MotoGP ride for 2017. Hervé Poncharal has made it clear that he has a strong interest in Zarco, and is in talks to sign the Frenchman to ride alongside Jonas Folger next year. That deal is not yet signed, however: an announcement is unlikely at Assen, which means that the Sachsenring will be the earliest place a deal could be signed.

As for Aleix Espargaro, the signs are that the Spaniard will end up on the only other factory bike left on the grid. There are strong reports that Espargaro will announce that he will be joining Sam Lowes on the Gresini Aprilia RS-GP for 2017. Lowes, in turn, is due to get his first taste of the Aprilia in a test after Assen. He will be riding last year's version of the bike, though, to allow him to get used to the Michelin tires and the carbon brakes, and generally get the feel of a MotoGP bike.

This is the way the factory teams look after all but one seat has been officially confirmed:

Team/Rider Contract duration
Movistar Yamaha  
Valentino Rossi 2017-2018
Maverick Viñales 2017-2018
Repsol Honda  
Dani Pedrosa 2017-2018
Marc Márquez 2017-2018
Ecstar Suzuki  
Andrea Iannone 2017-2018
Alex Rins 2017-2018
Gresini Aprilia  
Sam Lowes 2017-2018
KTM Factory  
Bradley Smith 2017-2018
Pol Espargaro 2017-2018
Factory Ducati  
Jorge Lorenzo 2017-2018
Andrea Dovizioso 2017-2018

Below is the press release announcing that Suzuki have signed Rins to a two-year deal:


Team Suzuki Press Office – June 20, 2016; 09:00hrs (CET)/08:00hrs (GMT)

Suzuki Motor Corporation announces the agreement with Alex Rins to become its factory rider for the next two seasons. This defines the Team Suzuki MotoGP rider line-up for 2017 and 2018 with Rins alongside Andrea Iannone aboard the factory GSX-RR.

Alex Rins Navarro was born in Barcelona on the 8th of December 1995 (20 years old) and started to race at the age of seven. His debut in the World Championship was in 2012, at the age of 16 in the Moto3 class. He won his first pole position at the second race of his debut season. He raced in Moto3 for three seasons, collecting a total of eight victories, becoming vice-champion in 2013. In 2015 he stepped up to Moto2, ending his first season in the class with 2nd place overall, winning the Rookie of the Year award after collecting two wins, a total of ten podiums and three pole positions. In 2016 he has already scored two wins and currently leads the points standing after seven rounds.

As a consequence of this new signing, the collaboration between Suzuki and Aleix Espargaró will come to an end after the 2016 MotoGP™ season. All the Suzuki family is extremely grateful to Aleix for his contribution to the growth of the MotoGP™ project and the development of the GSX-RR. Both Team SUZUKI ECSTAR and Suzuki Motor Corporation will continue their unconditional support to Aleix, looking forward to the best possible results in the remaining 2016 MotoGP™ races. Suzuki wishes all the best to Aleix Espargaró for a bright and successful future.

Jorge Navarro Breaks Leg in Training Accident

A week after taking his first ever Grand Prix victory in the Moto3 race in Barcelona, Jorge Navarro's luck has taken a turn for the worse. The Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider has broken his left leg in a training accident in Valencia.

Navarro crashed while riding a minimoto bike at a karting track in Valencia. According to Spanish newspaper El País, a rider fell in front of Navarro and he was unable to avoid him. Navarro broke both tibia and fibula, the two bones in his lower left leg. The Spaniard is due to be operated on in the Dexeus Institut in Barcelona on Monday.

The crash will put a damper on Navarro's Moto3 title hopes. The Spaniard has been the only rider to be able to consistently challenge Red Bull KTM rider Brad Binder, though he trails the South African by 44 points. The only piece of good fortune in Navarro's mishap is that there are now long gaps between races until the championship resumes in full again in Austria.

The Assen round of MotoGP is two weeks away, and Navarro is certain to miss that race, but the Sachsenring follows three weeks later. Being fit for that is unlikely, but not impossible: when Valentino Rossi broke his tibia and fibula in 2010, the Italian was racing again in just under six weeks. The Sachsenring is five weeks away, but the race at the Red Bull Ring in Austria is four weeks after that. Nine weeks should be long enough for Navarro to make nearly a complete recovery. The worst case scenario for Navarro is that he misses two races. When Rossi suffered the same injury in 2010, he missed four races.

Below is the press release from the Estrella Galicia team announcing Navarro's injury:

Jorge Navarro suffers tibia and fibula fractures in training in Valencia

The Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider has been admitted to the Hospital Universitari Quirón Dexeus in Barcelona, where he will undergo surgery on Monday.

Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider Jorge Navarro suffered fractures to his left tibia and fibula in a training crash this Saturday. One week on from his first victory in Grand Prix racing, the Spaniard had been undertaking laps of the KSB Karting track in Valencia in preparation for the Dutch TT Assen.

Navarro will undergo surgery on Monday, performed by Dr. Mir and Dr. Ginebreda of the Hospital Universitari Quirón Dexeus in Barcelona –where he was taken at midday on Sunday.

Time Schedule and Track Modified for Remainder of Barcelona Round of MotoGP

After the tragic death of Luis Salom as a result of injuries sustained in a crash during Moto2 FP2, the track layout is to be modified for the remainder of the weekend. The event is to continue, in accordance with the wishes of the family of Luis Salom, as well as the riders and teams.

The track configuration is to be changed, and the riders in all three classes will use the layout used by Formula One. That has a much sharper corner at Turn 10, the rounded corner being replaced with something approaching a hairpin. Instead of the flowing Turn 12, the riders will also use the chicane which replaces it for F1, adding a tighter right hander followed by a sharp left-right combination. The new layout is shown in a tweet below from the Barcelona circuit: 

To allow the riders to get accustomed to the new layout, all three classes will be given 15 minutes extra track time in FP3. This means that FP3 will start at 8:40 for the Moto3 class, and last until 9:35. MotoGP FP3 will run between 9:50 and 10:50, while Moto2 FP3 will take place between 11:05 and 12:05.

Below is the press release issued by Dorna explaining the changes made:

New Track Configuration and New Time Schedule

As agreed with Luis Salom's family, the riders, teams and the Safety Commission, it has been decided that the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya is to go ahead.

In a Safety Commission meeting attended by Marc Marquez, Andrea Iannone, Pol Espargaro, Jack Miller, Bradley Smith, Alvaro Bautista, Aleix Espargaro, Andrea Dovizioso, Tito Rabat and Cal Crutchlow, it has been agreed to change the configuration of the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit to race for the remainder of the event on the F1 track configuration.

This layout was tested 2 years ago in an official MotoGP Test - back then this configuration wasn't elected for Grand Prix Racing as deemed less attractive and demanding in terms of sport than the one usually used.

As riders will have to deal with a new track configuration, practice time will be extended with a new schedule for Saturday.