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Takumi Takahashi To Race For Red Bull Honda At Portimao And Jerez

After the tragic death of Nicky Hayden, the Red Bull Honda team has struggled to fill the American's place in their WorldSBK team. Jake Gagne filled in at Laguna Seca, putting an American on the bike at the US round. Davide Giugliano had a modest outing on the Honda CBR1000RR at the Lausitzring, but he was not the long-term solution for the Ten Kate squad either.

For two of the next three WorldSBK rounds, the Red Bull team is to turn to Japanese rider Takumi Takahashi for assistance. The 27-year-old will take over the reins of the Honda CBR1000RR at both Portimao and Jerez. Takahashi will not be able to ride the bike at Magny-Cours, as it clashes with the Okayama round of the All-Japan Superbike Championship, in which he is currently second, five points behind the leader.

The addition of Takahashi is an interesting move by the Ten Kate squad. Takahashi is an official HRC test rider, and has extensive experience on the Honda CBR1000RR, and has had an important role in helping develop the bike in both the Japanese championship and the Suzuka 8 Hour race. Takahashi brings a wealth of knowledge to the Red Bull Honda team.

The question is, how much of a signal is this that HRC are willing to back the Honda WorldSBK project? Both Stefan Bradl and Nicky Hayden, before his untimely demise, roundly criticized the lack of support the project was getting, and the lack of development going into the bike. The 2017 bike seems to be a step backward from last year, results having gone downhill in the first half of this season. The Red Bull team is yet to sign anyone for the 2018 season, and Stefan Bradl is said to have demanded progress with the bike before making a commitment for next year. Takahashi coming over from HRC could be a sign that they are aware of Bradl's, and the team's, concerns.

Below is the press release from the Red Bull Honda squad confirming Takahashi as a replacement:

Takahashi to race with the Red Bull Honda World Superbike team at Portimão and Jerez

The Red Bull Honda World Superbike team is pleased to announce that 27-year-old Japanese rider Takumi Takahashi will be racing alongside full-time rider Stefan Bradl in the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship at the Portimão and Jerez rounds.

Takahashi, who is an official test rider of Honda Racing Corporation (HRC), has a vast experience with the CBR1000RR Fireblade, winning the Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race three times with the Fireblade in 2010, 2013 and 2014 and also in the JSB1000 class of the MFJ All-Japan Road Race Championship Series (JRR) where he rides for the MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO. Honda team.

This year, Takahashi has won the first two rounds of the All-Japan Superbike Championship on board the all-new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2, and he is currently second in the Championship standings, five points behind the leader.

Takahashi’s vast experience will help Honda and the team in their ongoing development of the WorldSBK-spec version of the new CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2.

Marco Chini
Honda's WorldSBK Operations Manager

We are happy to welcome Takumi-san into the team and are looking forward to seeing him on track at Portimão and Jerez. He is a very talented rider and this year has really stepped up his game; he is definitely among the quickest riders in Japan. Honda has always had an extremely high regard of his skills as a racer and test rider, and his long-term experience with the Fireblade will surely help the team and Honda to have a clearer idea of the current package in order to plan future developments.

- Honda Motor Europe

Takumi Takahashi

I’m honoured, as a rider who has continuously fought to race on the world stage, that my achievements and experience have been recognized, and I have been given the opportunity to race in the World Superbike Championship. I’ll use all of the experience I’ve gained racing the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 in the All-Japan championship to aim high and contribute to the team. I’d like to ride my best in front of the world’s Superbike fans, so I hope they’ll look forward to seeing me.


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Surgery Successful For Valentino Rossi, Back On Bike "As Soon As Possible"

Valentino Rossi had surgery in the early hours of Friday morning to insert metal pins into the fractured broken bones in his lower leg. The operation was deemed a success, and Rossi is to start his recovery as soon as possible. Surgery was carried out in Ancona, after the Italian had originally been treated in hospital in Urbino, where he had been taken after the enduro training crash in which he broke his leg.

The operation is similar to the one he underwent after breaking his leg at Mugello in 2010. A pin was inserted into his tibia then, which he had removed at the start of the 2012 season. At the time of the Mugello accident, Dr Buzzi, the surgeon who operated on Rossi estimated that the recovery period would be 6 months. However, Rossi was back on track 40 days later, taking part in practice at the Sachsenring. Practice for the Motegi round of MotoGP starts in 42 days, on Friday, 13th October.

It is clear that Rossi intends to make a speedy return to racing. The press release issued by Yamaha quotes Rossi as saying that he hopes to be back riding the Movistar Yamaha M1 "as soon as possible".

The press release from Yamaha appears below:

VR46 MEDICAL UPDATE, 01-09-17 - 10:30

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team‘s Valentino Rossi received successful surgery on the displaced fractures of the tibia and fibula of his right leg.

Ancona (Italy), 1st September 2017

Last night Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Valentino Rossi had a successful operation on the displaced fractures of the tibia and fibula of his right leg.

The MotoGP-star was hospitalised after an enduro accident yesterday evening.

Following a medical examination at the ’Ospedale Civile di Urbino', where he was initially diagnosed, the Italian was transported to the 'Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria Ospedali Riuniti' in Ancona.

Upon arrival, he received surgery between 2am – 3am by Dr. Raffaele Pascarella, Director of the Orthopedics and Traumatology Division. During the surgery the fractures were fixated using a metal pin - a locked intramedullary nail - without any complications.

Further medical updates will follow in due course.

Yamaha would like to thank the entire staff of the 'Ospedale Civile di Urbino' and 'Ospedali Riuniti di Ancona' for their dedication and professional care.


The surgery went well. This morning, when I woke up, I felt already good. I would like to thank the staff of the Ospedali Riuniti in Ancona, and in particular Doctor Pascarella who operated on me. I'm very sorry for the incident. Now I want to be back on my bike as soon as possible. I will do my best to make it happen!



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Yamaha Confirm Broken Tibia And Fibula For Valentino Rossi

Yamaha have confirmed that Valentino Rossi has broken his right leg in a training accident. The Italian suffered a displaced fracture of both the tibia and fibula of his right leg. This is the same leg Rossi broke at Mugello in 2010.

Rossi is to undergo surgery as soon as possible. The normal procedure for displaced fractures of the tibia and fibula is to insert either a metal pin or a metal plate to fix the bone in place. 

The normal recovery period for a displaced tib/fib fracture is 12 weeks to full load bearing. However, a general rule of thumb for motorcycle racers is they attempt to be fit enough to race in half that time. A six week recovery period would mean Rossi missing Misano and Aragon, with a small possibility of making a return at the flyaways, starting in Motegi. 

All that is still unknown, however. A new medical update will be issued tomorrow morning, once surgery has been done, and we should know more after that.

Below is the press release from the Movistar Yamaha team:

VR46 MEDICAL UPDATE, 01-09-17 - 00:10

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Valentino Rossi sustained displaced fractures of the tibia and fibula of his right leg, following an enduro incident on Thursday evening, August 31st.

Following an enduro training accident on Thursday, August 31st, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP star Valentino Rossi was diagnosed with displaced fractures of the tibia and fibula of his right leg.

The 38-year-old Italian rider will undergo surgery as soon as possible.

A further medical bulletin will be issued later on Friday morning, Sept 1st.


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Valentino Rossi Breaks Right Leg In Enduro Training Crash

Valentino Rossi has broken his right leg in a training crash, according to various Italian media. The 38 year old was riding enduro with the youngsters from the VR46 Riders Academy, when he fell heavily and broke his leg. Reportedly, Rossi broke both the tibia and fibula of his right leg.

Rossi was transported directly to the hospital in Urbino, where he has been examined and is scheduled to have surgery to pin the bones tonight. Requests to Yamaha for comment have as yet gone unanswered.

The crash puts an end to any hope Rossi may have had of winning a tenth MotoGP title in 2017. The last time Rossi broke a leg, at Mugello in 2010, he was back on the bike within six weeks. If Rossi can get back on the bike within six weeks, he would miss two races, his home round of Misano and the following race at the Motorland Aragon circuit. But his return would be ahead of a tough schedule of three flyaway races, with Motegi, Phillip Island, and Sepang back-to-back. 

This is the second time this year that Rossi has suffered an injury on a dirt bike. Ten days before the Mugello Grand Prix - Rossi's other home race - the Italian crashed while riding motocross, running wide off a jump and hitting soft sand. He was relatively lucky that time, suffering only soft tissue damage, and was able to race at Mugello. A tib/fib fracture is much more serious. and Rossi will be sure to miss Misano.

Further details will be posted when we get them.

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Tony Goldsmith At Silvertone, Qualifying Photos

The Misano test made a big difference to Valentino Rossi. Suddenly, he was competitive

All well for Jonas Folger on Saturday. His luck would not last through Sunday

Dani Pedrosa has more reason than most to hate F1. Their bumps gave him a hard time

Machine defeats man by breaking down on him. Jorge Lorenzo sprints back to the pits during qualifying

Maverick's seat sticker is safe until Duke Nukem lays eyes on it

From Aprilia to KTM: Sam Lowes heads back to Moto2 for 2018, aboard a KTM

Johann Zarco changed tack, went for the hard tires at Silverstone

The Tech 3 team is a family affair. Brother Jérôme prepares Zarco's bike

One day, the gremlins will leave Aleix Espargaro alone

Silverstone, flattish



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Thailand MotoGP Contract Signing Means Provisional 2018 Calendar Is Nigh

The news that Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta is on his way to Thailand to sign a contract with the Buriram circuit to host MotoGP from 2018 signals that the publication of a 2018 provisional MotoGP calendar is imminent. The Thai round of MotoGP is the final piece of the puzzle needed for putting together next year's Grand Prix schedule.

The 2018 calendar will consist of 19 races, with the Thai round being added to the Pacific flyaways held in October. The series kicks off on 18th March at Losail in Qatar, a week before the Formula 1 season opener in Australia. To prevent the risk of night dew forming and making the track surface treacherous, the race is to be moved a couple of hours earlier, with the race set to start at 7pm local time instead of 9pm.

The 2018 schedule will look very similar to this year's calendar, the races following much the same sequence. Thailand will be added to the three existing flyaway races in the Pacific region in October. The plan, understands, is to split the races up with a break of one weekend between the four races. It is still uncertain how the back-to-back weekends will be split up, whether the split will be three and one, or two and two.

Sepang has an agreement with Dorna to be the penultimate race on the calendar, and the last race of the flyaways. The Malaysian circuit is also believed to be keen not to be paired with Thailand on back-to-back weekends, as they fear that having the two events too close together will eat into their attendance figures. A similar effect has been seen at Brno, where ticket sales have fallen since being paired with the Austrian round at the Red Bull Ring, just 300 kilometers away. 

There are still a few question marks left in the calendar. The locations of two races are yet to be confirmed. The demise of the Circuit of Wales project leaves the British Grand Prix without a definite home at the moment, though the choice will be between Silverstone and Donington Park. Silverstone is the current favorite to get the race, as the facilities at Donington are not up to hosting MotoGP. The paddock and garages are simply not large enough to house MotoGP's ever expanding trucks and hospitality units. However, Donington's new owners MSV are known to have an interest in hosting MotoGP.

The other unknown is the location of the German Grand Prix. The Sachsenring has historically been a very popular location for the event, with crowds regularly exceeding 90,000 on Sundays. But the circuit has struggled to make money, in part due to the high costs for erecting temporary grandstands around the circuit. Attempts to offset the costs by raising ticket prices caused attendance to fall sharply, dropping from 93,000 in 2016 to 77,000 in 2017. According to German-language publication Speedweek, the ADAC, who own the rights to the German Grand Prix, are considering a switch to the Nürburgring in western Germany. Attendance at that race was poor in the past, but that was during the 1990s, when the popularity of the sport was at a low. Crowd sizes everywhere have grown enormously, and with successful German riders like Jonas Folger in the sport, attendance should be greater.

Preseason testing kicks off on 28th January in Sepang, with two more tests set to take place before the first race in Qatar. There will be a test at Buriram in Thailand, to provide the teams and Michelin data for the track, and then the series will head to Qatar, for a final test ahead of the first race. With the season expanding to 19 races, at least one of the preseason tests is due to be dropped, but that will only take place once MotoGP has raced in Thailand. 

Below is the press release from Dorna:

Thailand poised to join the MotoGP™ calendar
Contract set to be signed on Thursday in Bangkok

Thailand is poised to join the MotoGP™ calendar from 2018, with Sakon Wannapong, the Governor of Sport Authority of Thailand, and Carmelo Ezpeleta, Dorna Sports CEO, set to sign the contract on Thursday 31st August in a ceremony in Bangkok chaired by his excellency General Tanasak Patimapragorn, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand. Pongpanu Svetarundra, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, will also be in attendance for the historic occasion.

Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta will fly to Bangkok this week to finalise and sign the contract, with the Grand Prix to be held in Buriram from 2018 until 2020.

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Tony Goldsmith At Silvertone, Friday Photos

The old man is quick when the sun is out at Silverstone

The winglet replacement aero package is the magic wand Jorge Lorenzo had been looking for

Home boy fastest at home

KTM showing real signs of progress. Pol Espargaro was 7th fastest on Friday

Marc Marquez brings the hustle

Communication is a vital part of the rider-crew chief relationship

Though sometimes messages take a while to sink in

Future? Unknown. But Sam Lowes has offers from several top Moto2 teams

Scott Redding slides his way through Northamptonshire

The Misano test brought more power off the bottom end for Aleix Espargaro

The disadvantages of being light: being tossed around over the bumps like a boat in a storm

The past, present, and future of the sport

If you'd like to have desktop-sized versions of the photos on the site, along with exclusive interviews and features, you can become a site supporter and take out a subscription. If you'd like a print of one of Tony Goldsmith's shots, head on over to his website.

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New Flag-to-Flag Bike Swap Procedure To Be Tested At Silverstone

A new bike swap procedure is to be tested at Silverstone for flag-to-flag races. After the riders failed to reach agreement on a single procedure at the Safety Commission meeting in Austria, Race Direction met with the teams to agree a new procedure. That procedure is to be tested on Friday, after FP2 at Silverstone.

French Eurosport reporter Vanessa Guerra tweeted out the diagram of the new procedure shared with the teams:

The changes made are all aimed at creating space in pit lane, and avoiding collisions. The bikes will be moved much closer to the garages. The bikes coming in will have to be parked behind the second bike. Bikes will have to come in at a 45° angle, while the second bike will also be parked at a 45° angle. After the rider has swapped from one bike to the next, they will have to wait to be released by a mechanic holding an F1-style lollipop, who will scan behind and ensure it is safe for the riders to leave pit lane.

Below is the official press release from Dorna:

Test of new MotoGP™ bike swap procedure

Trial of new bike swap procedure to take place following MotoGP FP2

There are some small changes to Friday’s schedule at the Octo British Grand Prix: the MotoGP™ grid will test a new bike swap procedure for flag-to-flag races at the end of their FP2 session. Moto2™ FP2 will therefore begin ten minutes later.

After the chequered flag comes out at the end of MotoGP™ FP2, riders will return to pitlane and swap bikes using the new, trial system. They will then exit pitlane to do one more lap of the track, and may do a practice start on that lap.

This new bike swap process will have signs on pitlane indicating the point at which riders may turn in, and a new bike position for all teams. It will also include a mechanic with a lollipop whose sole task is to observe pitlane traffic during the bike swap and ensure his/her rider is released safely.

Moto2™ FP2 will begin at 15:15 local time (GMT +1).


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Tom Lüthi Confirmed On Second Marc VDS Bike For 2018 MotoGP Season

One more jigsaw piece has been slotted into place in the 2018 MotoGP line up. This morning, the Marc VDS team confirmed that Tom Lüthi is to take the second Honda RC213V alongside Franco Morbidelli for the 2018 season. 

Lüthi was reckoned to be the outsider for the open seat at Marc VDS, with both Sam Lowes and Stefan Bradl in the running. But the Swiss rider's maturity and previous - albeit brief - experience aboard a MotoGP bike was what swung the deal. Having a rider of Lüthi's experience alongside Franco Morbidelli also helps lessen the risk of running two rookies in MotoGP.

Lüthi's signing leaves just two seats unclaimed in MotoGP. The two Avintia Ducati rides are still open, though paddock rumor strongly links Xavier Simeon and Tito Rabat to the bikes. An announcement on those seats is not expected in the near future.

Below is the press release announcing the deal with Lüthi:

Thomas Lüthi completes 2018 Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider line up

Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS are pleased to announce that they have reached an agreement with Thomas Lüthi that will see the Swiss rider step up to MotoGP with the team in 2018.

A former 125cc World Champion and a current Moto2 title contender, Lüthi will join current Moto2 championship leader, Franco Morbidelli, aboard Honda's RC213V machines for the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS team's fourth season in the premier class.

Born and raised in Linden near Emmental in Switzerland, Lüthi started racing on pocket bikes at the age of seven, winning two championships before stepping up to 125cc two-stroke machinery.

Lüthi made his World Championship debut in the 125cc class at the 2002 German Grand Prix before joining the series full time in 2003. In 2005 the Swiss rider took his first Grand Prix win at Le Mans. Three more victories that season saw him beat Mika Kallio by five points to be crowned as the 125cc World Champion.

After three seasons racing in the 250cc category in 2010 Lüthi progressed to the Moto2 class that replaced it and has finished the season outside the top five only once in seven seasons. In 2016 four race wins saw him finish the season second in the championship behind Johann Zarco.

With nine podium finishes in 2017, including a race win in Brno, Lüthi currently lies second in the Moto2 championship standings, 26 points behind Morbidelli.

Lüthi also has previous MotoGP experience, having tested for KTM in 2016 before their entry to the MotoGP World Championship in 2017.

Marc van der Straten: President, Marc VDS Racing Team

"There were a number of options open to us when we were looking for a MotoGP rider for the 2018 season, but Thomas Lüthi was the unanimous choice, despite him being a MotoGP rookie. A former 125cc World Champion, his consistency over seven seasons in Moto2 has been incredible, with a sixth place in 2013 the only time he's finished outside the top five in the championship. He's been a constant thorn in our side in the intermediate class and this year is no different, with his consistency again making him a serious threat to our title aspirations. Tom is a good fit for our team and I am both happy and proud to welcome him to the Marc VDS racing family."


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MotoGP Factories Busy Testing At Misano: Race Preparation And Tire Preservation The Focus

It has been a busy few days at the Misano circuit. MotoGP teams have come and go, with five of the series' six factory teams having tested at the track between Saturday and today. Honda and Yamaha tested at the weekend, with Aprilia, Ducati and KTM taking to the track at the start of the week. The private tests were the last for most of the factories, with Honda, Yamaha, and Ducati having burned through their testing days for the year.

The main objective for most of the factories was preparing for the race at Misano. Especially for the riders in contention for the title, arriving at the race with a working setup can mean the difference between victory and missing out on a podium. With the title fight so close this year, the smallest details are making the difference.

When Yamaha took to the track on Sunday, they had one main focus: to solve (or at least improve) the issue of excessive tire wear which has plagued them all season. After an impressive start to the season, the Movistar Yamaha team riders have struggled. The issue has been a major problem since MotoGP returned to Europe. At Jerez and Barcelona, the Movistar Yamahas struggled badly, but it has been tough at other tracks as well. A large part of the tire wear issue can be solved with electronics, but bike balance and swingarm parts will be vital as well.

For Honda, the focus was on bike balance. At the Brno test in July, HRC made a major step forward with the RC213V, by shifting the balance of the bike towards the rear. The Honda had been designed around the Bridgestone tires, and was the ultimate weapon when it came to exploiting the rigidity and grip the Bridgestone front offered. But the very different characteristics of the Michelin meant that weight balance developed for the Bridgestones didn't work.

At the Brno test, and since then, Honda have worked to change the balance of the RC213V. They have found acceleration they were missing, sacrificing braking performance to obtain it. That change has paid off: two victories and a podium in three races for Marc Márquez, and three more podiums for Dani Pedrosa. Work has continued at Misano on that development.

After Michele Pirro and Danilo Petrucci tested at Misano over the summer, it was the turn of the factory riders on Tuesday. Once again, the two riders had nothing radical to test, but were instead focusing on setup for the race. Andrea Dovizioso tested the old and new fairings back to back, while Jorge Lorenzo continued to focus on the new fairing with the aerodynamic package. That aerodynamic package is key to Lorenzo's feeling with the front, and he is likely to run it at every race from now on.

The main objective of the test, Davide Tardozzi told, was to work on suspension and electronics settings for the race. Tire wear is crucial at the recently resurfaced Misano track, and with Dovizioso still so clearly in the title chase, a win at Ducati's home race would be vital.

For Aprilia and KTM, there was much development work to do. Aleix Espargaro and Sam Lowes were testing for Aprilia on Monday, while test rider Matteo Baiocco was joined by WorldSBK rider Lorenzo Savadori on Tuesday, with both riders continuing in to Wednesday. Factory riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith continued their work for KTM, along with test rider Mika Kallio.

While testing continues for the test riders, the MotoGP regulars are headed to the UK. The British Grand Prix at Silverstone awaits, where at least some of the lessons of Misano will be put into practice.

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