Another piece of the MotoGP puzzle has been fixed into place. It was widely known that Eugene Laverty would be riding a production Honda for the Drive M7 Aspar team in MotoGP next year, but official confirmation of the fact only came today. Laverty is to line up alongside Nicky Hayden aboard the uprated production Honda, now called the RC213V-RS, taking the place of Hiroshi Aoyama.
Laverty's path into the Aspar team was far from straightforward. The Irishman had been in talks with Aspar, who at the time were also talking to replacement rider Leon Camier and Frenchman Loris Baz. Aspar then signed a precontract with both Baz and Laverty, subject to the condition that Aspar could not secure the services of Scott Redding. Once the deadline for Redding's signature passed, Aspar found themselves with two contracts on their hands. They quickly moved to break the contract with Baz, declaring that they had not known that the Frenchman was 1.92m, despite the fact that Baz' height is a matter of public knowledge. That left Laverty in line to take the seat at Aspar, despite having offers from Ducati to ride at Pramac, and having had talks with Forward Yamaha.
Laverty returns to the Grand Prix paddock after six years in World Supersport and World Superbike. Laverty was twice runner-up in World Supersport, to Cal Crutchlow and to Kenan Sofuoglu, as well as finishing second in the World Superbike championship to Tom Sykes. After a hard year on the Suzuki in World Superbikes, Laverty has been looking for either a more competitive ride, or a switch back to MotoGP. The Honda RC213V-RS will have a 2014 Honda RC213V engine, without the seamless gearbox, but should be a much more competitive package than the current RCV1000R.
Below is the press release from the Aspar team announcing Laverty's signing:
DRIVE M7 Aspar Team strengthen MotoGP line-up as Eugene Laverty joins for 2015
Spanish team see Ireland's former World Supersport and World Superbike runner-up as a solid bet for their latest project
Whilst the 2014 season heads into its decisive phase, the DRIVE M7 Aspar Team is already shaping its plans for 2015 and is today pleased to announce the signing of Eugene Laverty for its MotoGP project. The current World Superbike rider began his international career in Grand Prix, competing in the 250cc category in 2007 and 2008, and he has gone from strength to strength since then, meaning that the DRIVE M7 Aspar Team will now welcome a talented and experienced rider back to the paddock.
Laverty, from Toomebridge, Northern Ireland, has twice finished as runner-up in World Supersport (2009 and 2010) and was also runner-up in World Superbikes in 2013. In six seasons of production racing the 28-year-old has ridden a host of different machinery for various manufacturers, winning races for all of them, showing his great adaptability as a rider. Aside from this obvious talent, the DRIVE M7 Aspar Team sees him as a gifted rider with the potential to continue improving, and is pleased to offer him the opportunity to ride a Honda in MotoGP next season.
Jorge Martínez ‘Aspar’: “Eugene Laverty is a rider we were already in contact with last year, we tried to sign him then and even though we didn't manage it at the time he is a rider we have been interested in for a long time. I think he is a rider with great potential, he has produced some incredible races in Supersport and Superbikes, and he has a lot of wins on his record with a lot of different manufacturers, which says a lot about his capacity to adapt. Maybe he hasn't had the luck that you always need to win a world title but I am sure that he will be giving 100% to the DRIVE M7 Aspar Team. I am sure he will continue to develop as a rider and he can bring a lot to this team. He is ready to make the step to MotoGP. Next year we will have a new, more competitive Honda, and I have a lot of hope invested in our MotoGP project. I am sure we will achieve great results together.”
While the rider line up for the MotoGP is very near to being settled, there are still a lot of things up in the air in the Moto3 class. Though the teams were all required to submit their official entries, and pay a deposit to secure their rides at Aragon, there were only a few official announcements by the end of the weekend. Enough, however, to make a rundown of the latest developments for the 2013 season.
Though this year's title protagonists will be moving on to better things - Jack Miller to MotoGP, Alex Marquez and Alex Rins to Moto2 - the Red Bull KTM and Estrella Galicia teams are likely to be at the forefront in 2015 as well. With the Red Bull KTM team having signed Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder, they are the team which looks most likely to be fighting for the title, against Team Sky VR46's Romano Fenati. The Estrella Galicia team will have a couple of rookies in Fabio Quartararo and Maria Herrera, while Jorge Navarro will have learned a great deal during his first half season in Moto3 replacing Livio Loi.
Enea Bastianini will be remaining with Gresini, but the team has been tempted away from KTM and on to Honda, the Japanese factory taking a keen interest in the sensational Italian rookie. Bastianini has been impressive in his first season in Moto3, and has overshadowed the other Red Bull Rookies who joined the class. Karel Hanika may have had the upper hand when he raced in the Rookies, but so far, Bastianini has been the better rider. Perhaps with a year of adapting to Grand Prix racing, Hanika's potential will start to show through.
Jorge Martin will be hoping to follow the example of Bastianini rather than Hanika. The young Spaniard won the 2014 Red Bull Rookies title with relative ease, and has been signed to race for Aspar. Aspar are now the factory Mahindra team, and should be capable of pushing the project forward for the Indian manufacturer.
Mahindra may have lost Brad Binder to KTM, but they will be getting Binder's younger brother Darryn as compensation. The young South African is moving up to take the place of Brad Binder in the Ambrogio Racing team aboard a Mahindra. The Binder pairing brings the number of brothers racing in Grand Prix to three, along with the Espargaros and the Marquez' brothers. As an side, Aleix Espargaro will not only be racing in MotoGP, but also running a team, having applied for two seats in Moto3.
One of the biggest problems for the teams was the disappearance of Kalex. KTM decided not to support outside chassis builders from next season, leaving the teams currently racing Kalex KTMs scrambling for alternatives. Many appear to have turned to Honda, the NSF250RW proving a much more competitive machine than the first version of the bike. Both Kiefer Racing and RW Racing have made the switch, with more expected to follow suit.
Below are the Moto3 signings made so far:
|Red Bull KTM Ajo|
|Team Sky VR46|
|Estrella Galicia 0,0|
Press releases announcing various Moto3 signings and projects:
Red Bull KTM Ajo sign Brad Binder for 2015
Red Bull KTM Ajo are proud to announce the signing of South African as team’s new rider for next season’s Moto3 World Championship.
Three-time World Championship winning team in the lower cylinder class (125cc in 2008 and 2010, Moto3 in 2012) Red Bull KTM Ajo have reached an agreement with Brad Binder for next year. This past weekend at MotorLand Aragon, Team Manager Aki Ajo and the South African rider struck a deal for their collaboration in next season’s Moto3 World Championship. This will be the fourth full year that Binder has competed in Grand Prix racing.
Brad Binder, 19, made the leap to World Championship via the Red Bull Rookies Cup, where he raced for three seasons. Born in the town of Potchefstroom (South Africa) on August 11th, 1995, he has improved year-after-year and managed to take his first podium this season with second at the German Grand Prix. Already in 2014 he has more points to his name than in the entirety of 2013, with 4 races still remaining. His continuous upward progression has been valued by the Red Bull KTM Ajo as suitable for him to ride their KTM machinery in the Moto3 World Championship.
Aki Ajo - Team Manager
"I am thrilled to start this journey together with Brad [Binder]. I have seen that he is a rider who is highly motivated and eager to grow in the World Championship. One can see that Brad is a great person, calm and hard worker in a team, respecting all those who cooperate with him. He has great potential and I think that with the team, KTM, Red Bull and other large partners that support us, next year he can show this for the first time on the track. We will do this together."
Brad Binder - Moto3 rider
"Honestly, the feeling after joining Red Bull KTM Ajo is truly amazing. Since I started in Moto3 my goal has been to join a top team like this. Entering such an important structure as the KTM factory team, with partners like Red Bull and other large enterprises, is a unique opportunity. This will be a great chance for me and it's time to show what I can really do.
Being on this team, the target cannot be anything less than to fight to place as high up as possible. We have potential to do so, we have the perfect bike-team package to attempt it, and I am excited about the future."
Darryn Binder and Alessandro Tonucci with WWR in 2015
From Binder to Binder. World Wide Race, the Company that owns and manages the team competing in the Moto3 World Championship this year as Ambrogio Racing, has decided for Darryn Binder as team mate of Alessandro Tonucci next season. Darryn, 16 and currently competing in the Rookies Cup, is Brad Binder's younger brother. The same Brad who is playing a leading role in Ambrogio Racing's racing season, and will move to another team next year. The Binder family will be currently the third to entry two brother in the same class of the World Championship.
Darryn Binder “Since the start of the season I've been watching closely what my brother does in the box, trying to learn as much as I can about the data and all that, because I never worked to anything like that before. My brother and I are very close, so we are always together: he shows and teaches me everything he can and I try to learn as much as possible. It's probably five years since I've been racing against him – it was in the 125cc, South African championship. To be honest, I don't know what to expect from the next season. For sure I'll do the best I can. As always. Let's see how it goes”.
Brad Binder “It's really good to have back my brother competing in my same championship after a while. The first year is always to be difficult for everybody, in the World Championship, and I'm so glad to see him here and in this team. An advise? To be honest, my only one is do not expect too much too soon, because unfortunately in GP nothing happens overnight. It takes time and efforts, but I know my brother is a really good rider and I'm sure he will handle it all well”.
Fiorenzo Caponera (Team Manager) “I've been quite a long in this business, but something like this did never happen to me before. When I think to it, I say to myself: well, it is not going to be different from other seasons; our team loves to work and rise young riders, and we did it so many times. We did it with Brad, and are going to repeat the experience with Darryn. We are happy to welcome him as a full time member of the team, after a year in which we saw the guy so often in the garage with his big brother. And are very happy to continue our relationship with the Binder family: we did and are doing a good job together and are going to do a good one also in the future”.
Team Aspar incorporate young champion Jorge Martín into Moto3 ranks
The Spanish rising star shows great promise, as the new winner of the Rookies Cup, heading for the World Championship ready for anything
True to form and building from the ground up, nurturing young motorcycle talent, the Aspar Team have decided to incorporate Jorge Martín into their ranks. The Spaniard is the recently crowned new champion of the Rookies Cup. The rider was the series runner-up last year and has dominated the junior championship this season. Martin, a 16 year-old from San Sebastián de los Reyes, arrives in the World Championship keen to continue developing in one of the best teams in Moto3.
The Aspar Team therefore enjoys an optimistic outlook preparing for next season. The Valencian squad will also become the official team of the Indian giant Mahindra in the Moto3 category, as was recently announced. It will also feature one of the best young Spanish talents, Jorge Martín. He has spent most of his young career in the Bancaja Cuna de Campeones, a successful format devised and designed by the Aspar Team. The good feelings are enhanced with the news of the confirmation that Juanfran Guevara will also continue with the Valencian team. Since joining the Aspar Team the Lorca rider has continued to grow, becoming one of the strongest riders in the lightweight category in the second half of the season.
The Aspar Team has high hopes for next season and the new collaboration with Mahindra. The riders will be Juanfran Guevara and Jorge Martín, although the Spanish team is not ruling out a surprise announcement in the near future. The team's efforts will be fully focused on Moto3 next season, with it’s Moto2 project temporarily delayed.
Jorge Martínez 'Aspar': "Firstly congratulations to Jorge for winning the Rookies Cup. The whole project with Mahindra excites us greatly. I’m happy with this new challenge that will involve both the new World Junior series and the Moto3 World Championship. Undoubtedly Jorge Martin is a rider who has earned the respect of us all, he is doing very well and deserves a chance, so let's go for it. In the future I hope to continue seeing him as a star in big races. He is eager to do things the right way. I like him because he is a fighter who wants to learn and always tries to improve himself. I talked to him and I already mentioned some aspects that we would like to improve on. Most importantly though, with him being so young, is to continue with the vision and desire to take risks and grow. He is young and now is the perfect time to soak in everything that happens around him, both in training and racing."
Jorge Martin: "I'm living an amazing experience, I hope to continue enjoying and learning a lot from my jump up to the World Championship. Lately I'm having trouble sleeping due to excitement as I have wanted to start working with the Aspar Team already. I am convinced that I am joining a very close team. For me they are one of the best in the World Championship and have always been a top team. I hope to match up to the opportunity. Jorge told me that he hopes I enjoy every moment and to try to learn everything I can. The important thing now is to continue to grow as a rider. Looking from outside, the Moto3 class seems to be very hard, but I think I'm a strong rider and I hope to adapt as quickly as possible. I consider myself a consistent rider and I try to improve every time I go on track. That's what makes me go fast."
RW Racing GP with Honda and one rider in Moto3 2015
The Dutch RW Racing GP team will compete with Honda and one rider in the Moto3 class in 2015. The team is talking with a number of riders, amongst who current RW Racing GP rider Scott Deroue.
Team manager Jarno Janssen is delighted with today’s announcement that Eurosport has gotten the broadcasting rights for the Netherlands and Belgium, meaning that the practices and races of the Moto3 class will be live on an open channel for the next four years. “First of all we are very happy to have a competitive bike for next year. We thank Honda for this token of faith, which means a lot to us, given the fact that we are going through a difficult year that doesn’t match the expectations we all had. This has been one of the reasons we are cut back to one rider for next year, but we hope to be back with a line-up of two riders in 2016.”
Which rider will be on the bike in 2015, is still a matter of negotiations. Team manager Janssen: “A number of riders have shown their interest to ride with us and there are some serious options with top riders as well as young talents. Scott Deroue is one of them. It isn’t just a matter of nationality or budget, Honda has an opinion too.”
Having a competitive bike again and with Moto3 back on an open channel in RW Racing GP’s home country, Janssen sees new opportunities for a team sponsor. “We are negotiating with a few big companies about a long term relationship. Moto3 is an extremely popular class with spectacular races. As a team we have shown we can be running for podium positions. We hope to be back in front next year.”
One of the last few pieces of the rider puzzle for 2015 has slotted into place. Today, Pramac Racing confirmed that they have reached agreement with Danilo Petrucci to race for them for the next two seasons. Petrucci will race the Desmosedici alongside Yonny Hernandez in 2015 and 2016.
The move had been widely expected, with Pramac keen to have at least one Italian rider in the team for the sake of their sponsors. Andrea Iannone had been a useful asset for the team, and they needed an Italian to replace him. The other riders linked to that ride - Loris Baz and Eugene Laverty - were less attractive to Pramac's Italian sponsors.
With the second seat at Pramac taken, that leaves just four seats unfilled. Eugene Laverty is believed to have signed to take the seat at Aspar Honda alongside Nicky Hayden, while Loris Baz is close to a deal with Forward Racing to race the Open Yamaha alongside Stefan Bradl. Only the second seat at Gresini Aprilia, and the second slot at Avintia, aboard the Open Ducati remain unfilled.
The press release confirming the signing of Petrucci appears below:
Agreement between Pramac Racing and Danilo Petrucci
Pramac Racing Team is pleased to announce the formalization of the partnership with the Italian rider Danilo Petrucci for the 2015 and 2016 MotoGP season joining Yonny Hernandez.
Danilo Petrucci's first words:
"I am very happy to have reached an agreement with Pramac Racing, a team that has shown great care and ability to promote the growth of young riders. I am also proud and extremely motivated for the chance to ride a Ducati, especially in light of the relationship of mutual respect that has developed these recent years with the Borgo Panigale. And this is for me a great start and I will try to give everything to make the most out of this opportunity for which I thank Pramac Racing. I also wanted to thank Giampiero Sacchi for giving me the opportunity to start racing at the highest level in MotoGP. "
Suzuki have revealed yet another of MotoGP's worst-kept secrets (and the competition has been tough for that claim this year) at the Intermot motorcycle show in Cologne, Germany, officially confirming that they will be returning to MotoGP from next season, after an absence of three seasons. Suzuki team boss Davide Brivio unveiled the latest version of Suzuki's MotoGP bike - now dubbed GSX-RR - and announced that Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales will race for the team. At the same time, Suzuki also confirmed that Randy De Puniet will race as a wildcard on the bike at the final MotoGP round of the season at Valencia.
The official announcement had been a long time coming, despite the riders and team being an open secret. The wait had been down to a request from Suzuki headquarters at Japan, who had wanted to combine the team launch with the launch of Suzuki's 2015 road bike line up at the Intermot show. The presence of senior Suzuki staff at the launch was seen by the team as a powerful display of support by the Japanese factory.
More interestingly, the launch of the MotoGP team alongside the road bikes underlines Suzuki's view of the strength of MotoGP as a marketing tool. The rebranding of the bike as the GSX-RR provides a very strong link to Suzuki's GSX-R line of sports bikes, as is the decision to switch from a V4 to an inline four for the engine design. Suzuki's MotoGP project is now much more closely aligned with their road heritage.
The announcement that Randy De Puniet will race as a wildcard at Valencia is also proof of Suzuki's commitment to MotoGP. The Frenchman will give the GSX-RR its first race outing, while Espargaro and Viñales will test the bike from the Monday after the race, at the traditional post-race test. De Puniet is reported to be moving on to a role with Suzuki, testing the Michelins for the factory. He is also rumored to be in the frame as the second rider in the Voltcomm Suzuki team, alongside Alex Lowes.
Suzuki pulled out of MotoGP at the end of the 2011 season, when they did not have a 1000cc MotoGP machine ready to race when the new rules came into effect for 2012. Suzuki had been struggling more and more in the preceding years, cutting from two to just one rider for 2011, before pulling out altogether. Suzuki asked for permission to continue racing their 800cc GSV-R from 2012, but that request was turned down. After three years developing a new bike, they are ready to return to the premier class.
Below is the press release from Suzuki and further photos of the new bike:
SUZUKI ANNOUNCES 2015 MOTOGP PARTICIPATION
Team Suzuki Press Office – September 30.
Suzuki announces its participation in the world’s top motorcycle racing series Road Racing Grand Prix (MotoGP) from 2015.
Suzuki Motor Corporation has announced that it will participate in the MotoGP class of the world’s top motorcycle racing series, the FIM*1 Road Racing Grand Prix (MotoGP), from 2015, at the press conference of the INTERMOT International Motorcycle, Scooter and Bicycle Fair held in Cologne, Germany from 30 September to 5 October, 2014.
With the development of the MotoGP machine and team structure prepared, Suzuki has decided to participate in the MotoGP series from 2015, and announced its newly-developed MotoGP machine, the GSX-RR, team riders, and team structure. Also, prior to its participation, Suzuki will make a wildcard appearance at this season’s final race, the Valencia GP.
Suzuki had temporarily suspended its participation in MotoGP from 2012, but has been continuing with the machine development toward its return. Through MotoGP racing, Suzuki will develop more attractive products by giving technical feedback to the products, and improve the brand image.
MotoGP machine GSX-RR
The development of the GSX-RR was started in 2012 with the aim to achieve high performance in the MotoGP class, as well as to give technology feedback to production models such as the GSX-R range.
It utilises a newly-developed in-line four-cylinder engine that realizes a strong, flexible engine character, fuel efficiency, and durability at a high level.
The frame has a layout that keeps its width slim for both maneuverability and aerodynamic performances, and optimizes body strength and weight balance.
The aim was to develop a highly competitive MotoGP machine that can bring out the straightforward maneuverability developed over the years with the GSX-R.
Basic specification of the GSX-RR:
Overall length x width x height: 2,096mm x 720mm x 1,140mm.
Body weight: 160kg (based on FIM regulation).
Engine type: Water-cooled, four-stroke in-line four-cylinder, DOHC four-valve.
Maximum output: Over 169kw (230PS).
Frame type: Twin-spar aluminum.
Tyres (front/rear): 16.5in/16.5in.
Front suspension: Ohlins, inverted fork.
Rear suspension: Ohlins.
Brakes (front/rear): Carbon disk/steel disk, Brembo.
Team name: Team Suzuki MotoGP.
Team riders: Aleix ESPARGARO (Spain): currently racing in MotoGP/ Maverick VIÑALES (Spain): currently racing in Moto2.
Team Manager: Davide BRIVIO (Italy): current test team manager.
The first of the official announcements to be made over this weekend has arrived. Today, the FIM released the provisional version of the 2015 calendar for MotoGP.
The schedule is a virtual carbon copy of the 2014 calendar this year, with the order of the races the same as this year. A few minor tweaks have been applied to the calendar: the series kicks off in Qatar on 29th March, a week later than originally planned to avoid a TV clash with the soccer game between Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain. Two weeks later, the circus heads to Austin, and the following week to Argentina.
Having the two races in the Americas back-to-back will create a much easier schedule than this year, where the teams faced a very long journey back from Argentina to arrive on time for Jerez. With a year of experience under their belt, Dorna's logistics and TV crew are now certain they can get the Termas de Rio Hondo track ready within the few days they have after Austin.
The series then heads to Europe, and an almost identical schedule through to the summer break. After a four-week break, MotoGP returns at Indianapolis on 9th August, before returning to Brno the week after. From Brno, the series heads to Donington, the only major change on the calendar, after the British GP was switched from Silverstone. The remaining races are in the same sequence, and at the same time as this year, the series heading to Misano and Aragon, before the three flyaways to Motegi, Phillip Island and Sepang. The 2015 season then wraps up at Valencia, on 8th November.
The big name missing from the calendar is Brazil. MotoGP had been hoping to add a Brazilian round of the series for next season, and had been speaking to the Autodromo Ayrton Senna at Goiania. However, the track is not ready to host a MotoGP race, and in the aftermath of the World Cup in 2014, and with the Olympics in 2016, there is little leeway to spend the money upgrading the circuit to get it up to MotoGP standard.
The released calendar is still provisional, though few changes are likely. There are question marks over the date of the British GP, as 30th August is a Bank Holiday weekend, with Monday 31st an official holiday. This means that there are a lot of events that weekend, with all of them competing for resources such as security, temporary fencing, etc. However, moving the British GP to a week earlier would put three races back to back, something which the series would not be keen on.
Below is the provisional calendar
|19 April||Argentina||Termas del Rio Hondo|
|03 May||Spain||Jerez de la Frontera|
|17 May||France||Le Mans|
|14 June||Catalunya||Catalunya - Barcelona|
|16 August||Czech Republic||Brno|
|30 August||Great Britain||Donington|
|13 September||San Marino & Riviera di Rimini||Marco Simoncelli Misano|
|27 September||Aragon||MotorLand Aragon|
|18 October||Australia||Philip Island|
|08 November||Valencia||Ricardo Tormo-Valencia|
Alex Lowes has extended his contract with the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki team for another season. The 24-year-old Englishman is to stay in World Superbikes for 2015, where he will race the GSX-R1000.
Lowes' decision brings an end to rumors that the Englishman was set to join his brother in the Grand Prix paddock. Lowes had explored a number of options in Moto2, but none stacked up against remaining with the Voltcom Suzuki team in WSBK.
Who Lowes' teammate will be is uncertain. With Eugene Laverty set to move to MotoGP with the Aspar team, there is an empty seat in the team. The departure of Aprilia from WSBK puts a number or riders on the market, with Leon Camier and Loris Baz the top riders still without a ride
The press release from Suzuki announcing the re-signing of Lowes appears below:
LOWES RE-SIGNS FOR VOLTCOM CRESCENT SUZUKI
Team Suzuki Press Office – September 25.
Alex Lowes will continue his partnership with Voltcom Crescent Suzuki for the 2015 eni FIM Superbike World Championship season.
Lowes is confident his progression with the Suzuki GSX-R will allow him to become a consistent front-runner during his second season in the Championship and the British racer is eager to return to the tracks he has been learning as part of his apprenticeship year.
Extending his contract with Voltcom Crescent Suzuki for a further 12 months, Lowes will remain with the team until December 2015, and will be back in action on his GSX-R1000 next week at Magny-Cours in France for the penultimate round of the 2014 Championship.
Despite a rocky start to his rookie year aboard the Yoshimura-powered GSX-R1000 - fracturing his left foot during the season’s opening qualifying sessions at Phillip Island in Australia – the reigning BSB Champion has developed well on the World stage, demonstrating huge speed and achieving two podiums and two fastest-laps in 2014 so far with four races left to run.
“My first year with Voltcom Crescent Suzuki in the World Championship hasn’t always been easy but overall it’s been great! You learn a lot about yourself and the team when things don't quite go right and now at this stage of the year we know exactly where we need to improve, both on and off track. I'm really enjoying my riding again after some injuries early in the year and looking forward to continuing my improvement and being more consistent in 2015.
“The World Superbike Championship is a fantastic series to race in, it's been great to race at so many new tracks but it has also meant I've had a lot to learn! My second year will allow me the opportunity to continue my development with the benefit of a year’s experience, so I’m really looking forward to the next stage in my career.
“I want to say a huge thank you to the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki team and all the sponsors and partners for their continued faith in me, bringing me up from BSB Champion to the World level and continuing that support into my second year as a World Championship racer. I’m confident we can challenge at the front with the Suzuki GSX-R next year and will be aiming, as ever, to achieve my very best for all involved.”
Paul Denning –Team Manager:
“There have been a lot of challenges for Alex this year; new Championship, new team, new bike, new tracks, and learning the electronic control strategies used at World level. It’s not easy to jump straight-in from a domestic series and be competitive, but Alex has clearly shown his raw speed, determination and understanding of what’s needed to run with the fastest riders.
“Alex’s most important attribute in terms of our decision to extend the contract is simple – he is blindingly fast. The second year together will allow us to make better decisions, improve consistency and to understand what’s needed circuit-to-circuit to achieve the best performance. In some cases, that might mean settling for a result that is below our target but is the best that can be achieved on the day; and that approach will come with time and experience. However, when the opportunity is there; we need a rider who can win – and Alex fits that bill perfectly.”
The Gresini team may have abandoned Honda in the MotoGP class, but they have not left the Japanese manufacturer altogether. Today, the Italian team announced that they will be switching from KTM to Honda in the Moto3 championship. They will be keeping Enea Bastianini as their main rider, while Andrea Locatelli replaces Niccolo Antonelli on the second bike.
The switch to Honda comes with the encouragement from HRC. Honda is keen to bring Bastianini under their wing, the 16-year-old Italian having had a fantastic debut season in Moto3, scoring three podiums so far this year, living up to his nickname of 'Bestia', or The Beast. Gresini has signed a two-year deal with Bastianini, with an option to move him up to Moto2 for 2016.
The press release announcing the deal makes no further mention of Go&Fun, suggesting that the sponsorship deal with the Italian manufacturer of energy drinks will end not just in MotoGP, but in all three classes.
The announcement by Gresini is likely to be just the first of many this weekend, with the Moto2 and Moto3 entry lists due out this weekend. Below is the text of the press release from Gresini:
GRESINI RACING TO RACE IN THE 2015 MOTO3 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP WITH HONDA AND AN ALL ITALIAN LINE-UP
Gresini Racing's commitment to support young Italian talents in the Moto3 World Championship will continue in the 2015 season with Honda machinery and an all Italian line-up, composed by Enea Bastianini and Andrea Locatelli.
Brought to debut this year by Gresini Racing, 16-year-old Bastianini turned out to be the great surprise of the season thanks to the three podium finishes claimed at Barcelona, Brno and Silverstone. Results which has attracted the interest of Honda, which will be Gresini Racing’s technical partner for the 2015 Moto3 campaign. The two-year contract with Enea Bastianini represents a long-term strategy, with a possible transition to a higher category in 2016.
Alongside Bastianini there will be 17-year-old Andrea Locatelli: the rider from Bergamo, grew up as part of the Honda Italia Racing Project and 2013 Moto3 Italian Champion, is currently racing his first season in the Moto3 World Championship aboard a Mahindra managed by Team Italia FMI.
“I am delighted to continue to race for Gresini Racing: already at the beginning of the year I became convinced to stay here for the future, because I found myself immediately at ease. I’m having fun and I can work well together my technicians and my mechanics: this is also a factor that makes the difference. In 2015 I will be aboard a Honda and to race for such an important manufacturer is undoubtedly exciting; moreover, the bike is already proving to be very competitive and there is every reason to think that it will be even faster next season. My debut season in the World Championship is going particularly well, more than I expected: I can say that I’m getting used to fight at the top, however we keep our feet on the ground. The goal for 2015 is obviously to continue to improve, although in some ways we will start again from scratch”.
“I’m very happy to continue my experience in the Moto3 World Championship with Gresini Racing: 2014 is representing for me an important year of apprenticeship and to be able to continue my path in one of the best teams in the class will surely help me to take a step forward. I will race with a Honda, a very competitive bike, so there is every requirement to do well and of course I will give my best in order to succeed. This year I did’nt know most of the tracks and I have collected a lot of experience that will be valuable ahead of the 2015 campaign. However, I don’t want to say too much before the first test, but it would be nice to start the next season with the right foot”.
“I’m pleased to have defined our young riders development project for next year and to continue in the Moto3 class, which we consider essential to breed future champions. Bastianini, great revelation of this year and our great discovery, will be again with us: with Enea we decided to plan a long-term commitment, over two seasons. Depending on the results, we will choose in which category to participate in the 2016 season. Andrea Locatelli is a rider we already know from the Italia Honda Racing Project trophy and whom I respect very much: we see in him a good potential to work on, so we decided to give him this important opportunity. Finally, we decided together with the riders to choose Honda as a technical partner for 2015: we are obviously confident and happy to be able to count on this great manufacturer for our young riders development project”.
Nicky Hayden is to get back to action after four races away recovering from surgery. The American had an operation to remove a row of bones in his right hand after the Sachsenring round of MotoGP, to deal with a chronic problem of pain and arthritis in his wrist. That problem stemmed from an injury he picked up back in 2011 at Valencia, his wrist, and especially his scaphoid, never fully healing again afterwards. Hayden had the scaphoid and two other bones removed, to prevent them from causing further problems.
Such a drastic surgical procedure required a long recovery time, Hayden having been absent from the MotoGP paddock for over two months. But his recovery has been progressing well, with strength and motion returning. Hayden has spent a lot of time riding dirt track, to get back the feel of racing a motorcycle, and now feels fit enough to attempt to ride a MotoGP bike again. The differences between riding dirt track and a MotoGP bike are large, and will show whether Hayden's wrist is strong enough yet or not. The American's aim at the moment is just to get the feel of riding a MotoGP bike again, and test his wrist. With three races back-to-back coming up after Aragon, it is a sensible precaution to try his wrist first, with time for it to recover afterwards.
The return of Hayden means that there will once again be an American on the GP grid. With Hayden absent, Josh Herrin having lost his Moto2 ride at the Caterham team, a 12-year string of races with at least one American on the grid starts came to an end. Hayden's return marks the start of a new streak, with news emerging that a second US rider will be on the grid at Aragon. The Teluru JiR Team hinted on their Twitter account that they will have an American rider replacing the injured Tetsuta Nagashima at Aragon. They then went on to thank Palmeto Kawasaki, who run the Kawasaki team in the Spanish CEV Superbike championship. Palmeto have three riders: The Venezuelan Robertino Pietri, the Spaniard Lucas De Ulacia, and the American Kenny Noyes. That suggests that Noyes will be back in action on a Moto2 machine, after an absence of three years. Noyes is currently involved in close, three-way battle for the championship in the CEV, but the dates of that series do not clash with the MotoGP calendar. Whether that means that Noyes will be replacing Nagashima for the rest of the season remains to be seen, though the fact that he spent 2 years in the class, scoring a pole position in the process, makes him an obvious choice.
Below is the press release from Aspar on Hayden's return:
Nicky Hayden excited to return to MotoGP action
DRIVE M7 Aspar returns after four-race absence and hopes to quickly recover strength and speed
The MotoGP World Championship returns to Spain for the third time this season this weekend as the final round on European soil before the season-defining flyaway races takes place at Motorland, Aragon. Motorland is one of the 'newest' additions to the calendar and also one of the most challenging, with virtually every kind of corner and two long straights packed into its 5km layout. After victory for Valentino Rossi at Misano last time out, Jorge Lorenzo is the only rider in the top four yet to win a race this season so he will be looking to put that right on Sunday, whilst Marc Márquez cannot win the title on home soil this weekend after failing to make the podium for the first time this season at the San Marino round.
The paddock will be pleased to welcome back one of its most charismatic figures as DRIVE M7 Aspar Team rider Nicky Hayden returns from a four-race absence. The American underwent surgery on his right wrist in July but he has undergone an intense recovery programme and after riding some dirt-track in recent weeks he feels ready to test himself on his MotoGP bike again at a circuit where he stood on the podium in 2010. His DRIVE M7 Aspar team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama has been one of the most consistent riders in 2014 and after making some solid recent progress the Japanese rider is aiming to maintain this trend until the end of the season.
Nicky Hayden: “I am really happy to finally return to action this weekend. Racing motorcycles is not only my job but my passion and it hasn't been easy for me to miss so many races. I just focused on getting back as quickly as possible but riding a MotoGP is not something you can test your fitness for until you try it. I have been riding quite a bit of dirt-track lately but I can't say for sure how strong I am so I am looking forward to getting on the bike and seeing the results of the operation. At the moment I don't want to set any objectives other than to get back out there and see how I feel. I am looking forward to seeing the team again and I can't wait to get back to the serious work on Friday. My arm and wrist feel quite strong and the movement has improved. I didn't want to come back until I knew I had done everything I could to recover and I am happy with the result. I managed to get on the podium the first year we raced at Motorland, I quite like the circuit and it has some fun corners.”
Hiroshi Aoyama: “I am excited about racing at Aragón this weekend. There are only five races left this season and I want a good result from each of them - especially Motorland because it comes directly before my home Grand Prix in Japan so I want to go there in good form. Aragón is also an important race for the team because it is one of their home races. Motorland is a cool circuit, I guess the long straight will penalise us in respect to some of our rivals but the rest of the track should suit our bike. Misano didn't go as well as we hoped but we are making decent progress at the moment and hopefully we can continue to do so this weekend.”
Michael van der Mark will be moving up to the World Superbike class for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. The move had been widely expected, after the 22-year-old Dutchman had shown a very strong progression in his second World Supersport season, culminating in clinching the title with a thrilling at the last round in Jerez.
Van der Mark is to stay with the Ten Kate team, who recognized his talent early and supported him throughout his European Superstock 600 and World Supersport career, putting him on the CBR1000RR in the Pata Honda WSBK squad. Though Van der Mark will be staying with the team, his contract is now directly with Honda, rather than with Ten Kate. The deal with Honda is a three-year one, with Van der Mark aiming to make the move to MotoGP after two seasons in World Superbikes with Pata Honda.
The Dutchman will be taking the place of the departing Jonathan Rea in the Pata Honda team. Though Rea had come close to signing a deal in the MotoGP paddock, where he had several offers, the 27-year-old is to make the switch to the Kawasaki team, where he will attempt to dethrone his new teammate and World Superbike champion Tom Sykes. The second slot in the Pata Honda team will be taken by Sylvain Guintoli.
Below is the press release issued by the Pata Honda team:
Two years of World Superbike for van der Mark and Honda
Honda's new World Supersport champion Michael van der Mark has signed a two-year agreement to race with the Pata Honda team in the World Superbike championship in 2015 and 2016.
The 21-year-old, who secured the 2014 World Supersport series title with two rounds to spare on 7 September in Jerez in Spain, will ride the Pata Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP from next season. It was confirmed on Friday 19 September that Pata will be with Honda for further two years in the World Superbike championship.
Although he has raced on Honda’s CBR600RR for four years - winning the European Superstock 600 championship in 2012 before stepping up to World Supersport last season - van der Mark is no stranger to Honda’s 1000cc flagship sportsbike.
The Dutch rider has won the last two editions of the prestigious Suzuka 8-hours World Endurance championship race in Japan, impressing many with his outright pace on the larger machine.
Van der Mark still has two rounds remaining in this year’s World Supersport championship at Magny-Cours, France on 5 October and at Losail in Qatar on 2 November. However, the team’s testing schedule and the calendar for the 2015 World Superbike championship are yet to be announced.
|Michael van der Mark|
|Date of birth||26 October 1992|
|Place of birth||Gouda, Netherlands|
|Home town||Rotterdam, Netherlands|
|2015 race machine||Pata Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP|
|First race||2005 - Assen, Netherlands, Dutch Jr. Cup|
|World Supersport debut||2012 - Moscow, Russia (wildcard)|
|World Supersport races||20|
|First World Supersport podium||2013 - Phillip Island, Australia|
|Total World Supersport podiums||11|
|First World Supersport win||2014 - Assen, the Netherlands|
|Total World Supersport wins||5|
|2005||4th, Dutch Junior Cup - Aprilia|
|2006||2nd, Dutch Junior Cup - Aprilia|
|2007||2nd, ONK Dutch 125cc championship - Honda|
|2008||ONK Dutch 125cc champion - Honda|
|3rd, IDM 125cc championship - Honda|
|Selected CEV Spanish championship - Honda|
|26th, Dutch 125cc GP - Honda|
|2009||ONK Dutch 125cc champion - Honda|
|Selected CEV Spanish championship - Honda|
|18th, Dutch 125cc GP - Honda|
|2010||125cc Grands Prix - Lambretta|
|7th, Dutch 125cc GP|
|Debut, European Superstock 600 championship - Honda|
|2011||3rd, European STK 600 championship - Honda|
|Wildcard - Moto2 GP, Assen|
|2012||European Superstock 600 champion - Honda|
|2013||Winner, Suzuka 8-hours - Honda|
|4th, World Supersport championship - Honda|
|2014||Winner, Suzuka 8-hours - Honda|
|World Supersport Champion - Honda|
Michael van der Mark
I’m really, really happy with this next step. It’s been going in two-year stages for me with the team, so this next stage in World Superbikes is fantastic and really exciting. It’s a good and safe place to be with Honda for 2015 and 2016. I’ve had a great experience with this team for the last two years and there was never really any question that I would be going anywhere else. World Superbikes in 2015 is going to be really interesting – there are new technical regulations and I think there will be a few surprises next year. Although the electronics will be a big change for me, I have shown that I can ride a superbike and now I really can’t wait to get started.
Ronald ten Kate - team manager
In a way, I’m a little sad that we have to let Michael go from his contract with Ten Kate Racing for 2015. But in reality, I am absolutely happy and proud that he has been given this fantastic opportunity with Honda. There is now a clear plan and vision to grow his impressive talent in the future. We have been working with Michael now for four years – two in Superstock 600 and two in World Supersport – so this next step for him feels completely natural. He fully deserves this chance and we are all looking forward to taking these next steps together with him.
Robert Watherston - head of motorsports, Honda Europe
We are absolutely delighted that Michael has found his niche with Honda. He has gelled with the CBR range from day one in European Superstock where he became champion in 2012. Now he has a world title with Honda and the CBR600RR and we’re looking forward to the next two-year cycle as we target our common goal of another world championship together.
The news that KTM would be building a MotoGP machine has been public since the beginning of August. In an interview with the German website Speedweek, KTM CEO Stefan Pierer confirmed that the Austrian manufacturer would be building a V4 MotoGP machine ready for the 2017 season.
KTM's MotoGP plans were confirmed again last weekend at Misano. KTM's head of motorsport Pit Beirer told the MotoGP.com website that they would indeed be building a MotoGP bike, and that work on the machine had already started. The bike, Beirer told MotoGP.com, would be a V4, would use a steel trellis frame, just as their Moto3 machines do, and would be kitted with WP suspension. Design work on the bike was already underway, with the bike scheduled to make its debut on track "at the end of next summer," Beirer said.
There would be no prospect of an early entry, however. The bike is to be prepared for the 2017 season, with testing going on from late 2015 onwards. The bike would be designed around the Michelin tires, which will be replacing Bridgestone as the spec tire from 2016 onwards. The bike would also be designed with the spec electronics and unified software package in mind, which is also to be compulsory from the 2016 season.
The entry of KTM to MotoGP will bring the number of manufacturers in MotoGP up to six, with Suzuki and Aprilia set to join from next year. However, unlike the other manufacturers, there will be no KTM factory team, as the bike KTM are building is a pure production racer for sale only. The MotoGP machine will be much more powerful version of a track-only bike to be sold to wealthy private individuals. Where the MotoGP machine will cost around €1 million euros, the track bike will go for some €150,000-200,000.
Though the idea of selling a track version of their bike is an interesting one, only choosing to sell the bike to teams is a risky strategy. The problem KTM will face is finding customers for a machine that has not been proven in the hands of an existing rider. By 2017, the teams will not be short of competitive machinery. Next year, in addition to the sixteen Factory Option bikes (four Hondas, four Yamahas, four Ducatis, two Aprilias and two Suzukis), there will be eight Open class bikes, consisting of four Honda RC213V-RS machines in the Aspar, LCR and Cardion AB teams, two Forward Yamahas in the NGM Forward team, and two Open Ducati GP14s in the Avintia squad. In 2016, when the distinction between the two classes disappears, the factories are likely to provide year-old versions of their current bikes to the private teams at around the €1 million a year mark, though the bikes will be leased rather than sold. By then, all of the bikes sold to private teams should be fairly competitive, and be capable of mixing it with the satellite bikes on any given day.
Persuading one of the private teams to choose a KTM over a year-old Honda could be very difficult indeed. KTM will need some way of proving that the bike is competitive. The normal way of doing so is to compete as a factory team, but KTM have said explicitly they are not interested in doing so. That makes financial sense, as the cost of competing as a factory is huge, and the returns uncertain. Private teams are incredibly conservative and unwilling to take risks, as the fact that the Moto2 class is on the verge of becoming a de facto single-make series proves. Teams and riders would prefer to stick with something they know, or something ridden by others, than take a chance on something altogether new.
There will also not be any new teams coming into the class to sell the bike to. Dorna and IRTA believe the ideal size for the MotoGP grid is 22 bikes. This number is predicated in part by talent: the number of teams capable of putting a bike on the grid which can compete at the highest level, and the number of riders capable of racing competitively in the premier class. But it is also a question of money: each team on the grid receives free tires from the single tire manufacturer, a freight allowance for transporting equipment to the overseas rounds, and financial support in the form of travel allowance, to help with the logisticial cost of competing in MotoGP. The total financial support is equivalent to around €1.7 million per rider, per season. Unless Dorna can increase the revenue they generate from the sport, they cannot afford to subsidize more teams in MotoGP. So far, Dorna have been singularly unsuccessful at drastically increasing income for the series.
Whether KTM can attract customers for their MotoGP bikes or not, the fact that the bike is being tested for MotoGP will at least create the halo effect necessary for selling the track-only bikes to the wealthy clientele they are targeting. The fact that the bike has been developed for MotoGP but is not racing in the series may even be a marketing benefit. Not racing at all may be better for sales than racing around at the back. Unproven potential may be more marketable than a lack of success at the track, especially with halo products such as a track-only sports bike.