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Sylvain Guintoli To Replace Alex Rins At Le Mans And Beyond

Sylvain Guintoli is to replace Alex Rins at Suzuki from the next race at Le Mans onwards, until Rins is fit to return. To help him prepare for his return to MotoGP, Guintoli will test the Suzuki GSX-RR on Monday, at the official test.

Choosing the Frenchman to replace Rins at Le Mans is an obvious choice. Guintoli has previous experience in MotoGP, having ridden a Yamaha and Ducati in 2007 and 2008. Guintoli even led the MotoGP race at at wet Le Mans back in 2007, before crashing out in front of his home crowd. He is currently racing in BSB for Bennetts Suzuki, and with BSB on a hiatus until mid June, Guintoli will also be available for Mugello.

Rins is hoping to be back for Mugello, but it is extremely unlikely he will be fit in time. His best hope is to try to return at Barcelona, though even that will be tight. The double displaced fracture of the bones in is left arm will take some time to recover. If Rins is not fit for Barcelona, then Guintoli will fill in for the Spaniard there as well, before he returns to race in BSB the following weekend.

The press release announcing Guintoli's ride appears below:


Team Suzuki Press Office – May 4.

The Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli has been designated the rider to race Suzuki´s GSX-RR in the French GP in Le Mans on May 21st and following races, until Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s factory rider Alex Rins is fully recovered and able to return to competition.

Guintoli will join Team Suzuki MotoGP, already in Jerez, to take part in Tuesday´s test day, to get acquainted with the factory MotoGP machine and start his adaptation process. He will succeed Takuya Tsuda aboard Rins’ GSX-RR, after Tsuda´s participation in the Spanish GP and the test on Monday after the race.

The choice of Sylvain Guintoli to substitute the injured Alex Rins is a sort of natural choice for the team: not only he has been Superbike World Champion in 2014, but he also already has experience in MotoGP, and he is already a Suzuki rider. He is currently competing in the British Superbike Championship with team Bennetts Suzuki aboard the brand new Suzuki GSX-R1000R. He is actually in 12th position with 15 points, and participation in the MotoGP rounds will not clash with any races of the BSB calendar.

Sylvain Guintoli was born in Montélimar (France) on June 24th, 1982. He won the National title in France in 2000. The same year he was offered a wild card in the French GP of the World Championship. In 2001 he was on the entry list to his first season of the 250cc World Championship, where he stayed until 2006. He got his first podium in 2003, in Assen, only taking a break in 2002 when he raced in the MotoGP premier class. He went back to the top class in 2007 and 2008, after that he moved to Superbike, where he became World Champion in 2014.

Davide Brivio - Team Manager

“For us it’s a good opportunity to be able to substitute Alex with Sylvain, who is a rider with strong and solid experience in racing, both in Superbike and MotoGP. He is a former World Champion in Superbike and he is already racing for Suzuki in the British Superbike Championship, so he is already part of the Suzuki family. With him we will try to carry on with the development of our GSX-RR, trying to improve it more and more. Also, during the races, hopefully we will be able to prepare an even more competitive package for Alex when he returns to us. Of course we hope this will happen very soon, that he is at 100%. In the meantime, we’ll try to fully take advantage of these races. I want to give a warm welcome to Sylvain from our team, and all we ask from him is to enjoy his time with us and make the most of this opportunity. We are also happy to give this small token of affection to our French fans, who will have another Frenchman racing the MotoGP in their home GP.”

Sylvain Guintoli

"First, I would like to thank Suzuki for giving me this fantastic opportunity. Being able to ride the GSX-RR, currently one of the fastest racing machine in the world is a very exciting prospect, let alone at my home race in front of the French fans. The ‘Le Mans Grand Prix’ brings back a lot of strong memories, the best one of course was leading the MotoGP race for a few laps in 2007. This is going to be a very difficult challenge, adapting to the very powerful prototype MotoGP machine and the Michelin tires, but my main goal is to enjoy the experience and give 100% commitment to the Team SUZUKI ECSTAR. The test on Tuesday will give us some time to adapt and to start understanding this amazing motorcycle. Finally, I want to wish a very good recovery to Alex."


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Danny Kent To Test KTM Moto3 Bike, Wildcard At Le Mans

Danny Kent is to test KTM's Moto3 bike at Jerez on Tuesday, and is to race as a wildcard at Le Mans. Aki Ajo, team manager of the Red Bull KTM team, who knows the 23-year-old Englishman well from his previous stints in the Ajo team, has seized the opportunity to use Kent's experience in Moto3 to help develop the bike, which is struggling against the Honda at the moment.

This has thrown Kent a temporary lifeline, after he decided to leave the Kiefer Moto2 team before the race in Austin. That decision came as a shock to the team, though Kent had struggled through the first two races of the season. 

At the moment, the plan is only for Kent to do a test and then the race at Le Mans. Kent will be hoping that if he can score a good result, then he may get a second chance in Moto3. A team as well funded as Ajo's may be able to find the resources to put on more wildcard rides for Kent, or if he is capable of running with the front runners at Le Mans, convince other Moto3 team managers to take a gamble on him.

The test will also provide useful data for KTM and for Ajo. So far, the KTMs have struggled in Moto3, and the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders Niccolo Antonelli and Bo Bendsneyder have not performed as expected. If Kent also has problems with the bike, and his feedback matches Antonelli and Bendsneyder, that would point to a problem with the KTM. But if Kent is much quicker than the current riders, that would indicate the problem lies with the riders.

Below is the press release from the Red Bull KTM Ajo team:

Kent to test KTM Moto3 bike

British rider will participate in a day of testing next Tuesday at Jerez with Red Bull KTM Ajo, and enter the French GP as a wildcard.

05/04/2017 - Jerez Circuit, Spain

Danny Kent will take part in a day of testing with the KTM Moto3 bike next Tuesday at Jerez, following the Spanish Grand Prix which takes place at the track this weekend. He will be testing alongside the rest of the Red Bull KTM Ajo team.

The Briton has four years of experience in the lower cylinder class, and rode for Red Bull KTM Ajo in 2012 and Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo in 2014. He has been chosen by the Austrian factory to evaluate and give his point of view on the KTM RC250 GP used in the World Championship. Kent will complete his collaboration with Red Bull KTM Ajo by entering the French Grand Prix as a wildcard, alongside the team’s regular riders Niccolo Antonelli and Bo Bendsneyder.

Aki Ajo - Team Manager

"After learning of Danny Kent’s situation in the World Championship, the team, Red Bull and KTM had the joint idea of asking him to test and develop our bike. Danny is a rider who has already been part of our team in the past; we know well how he works and he knows us, and we believe that with his experience he can give us a very interesting point of view for the technical development of our bike. In addition, what every rider needs is to compete, so we have offered him the possibility of a wildcard ride at Le Mans with us. I am convinced that the outcome of this collaboration will be very satisfactory for both parties."


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Alex Rins' Surgery Successful, Out For Six Weeks

Alex Rins has had two titanium plates fitted to fix the left wrist he broke in practice in Austin. The Suzuki rider will be out for the next six to eight weeks, meaning he will miss at least Jerez, and most likely Le Mans and Mugello as well. Suzuki test rider Takuya Tsuda, who was scheduled to be in Jerez for the official test on the Monday after the race, will replace Rins for the Spanish test, and most probably for the remaining races.

Rins crashed on Saturday morning in Austin, breaking his ulna and radius, the two bones in his forearm. It was a serious injury, both bones being fully broken and displaced. The young Spaniard had preliminary treatment in Austin, the bones being put back in place, but surgery was only possible on Thursday, once the inflammation of the injury had subsided. At the Dexeus Institute in Barcelona, Rins had two titanium plates fitted to fix the bones in place.

It was not the only damage Rins sustained in the crash. In Barcelona, doctors also diagnosed damage to the ulnar nerve. This nerve runs from the elbow down to the hand, and helps operate the pinky and ring finger. Rins is due to be reassessed in two weeks' time, but even if the damage does prove permanent, it should not restrict his riding. Ulnar nerve damage tends to cause pain and tingling in the two fingers, and may cause some weakness. But as it is in the left hand, the clutch hand, Rins should be able to strengthen his other fingers enough to compensate.

Rins is set to miss the Spanish round at Jerez in nine days' time, and probably more. Doctors believe he will be out for between six and eight weeks, meaning that Rins would miss at least Jerez and Le Mans, and possibly Mugello as well. Rins should be fit in time for his home Grand Prix in Barcelona, on June 11th. Rins will be replaced at Jerez by test rider Tsuda, who was scheduled to be present in Jerez anyway, as he will be taking part in the one-day test to be held on the Monday after the race. 

Below is the press release with full details of Rins' surgery:

Team Suzuki Press Office – April 27.

Alex´s fractures were fixed with two titanium plates
The rider will start rehabilitation within 10 days
Suzuki test rider Tsuda will be his replacement in Jerez race and test

Alex Rins was successfully operated on this morning at the University Hospital Dexeus in Barcelona where they repaired both the ulna and radius displacement and dislocation fractures in the left forearm that he suffered as a result of a serious accident that occurred last Saturday in the FP3 of the Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

The 21-year-old Catalan, who was treated by Dr. Austin Hill, orthopedic traumatologist at the University Medical Center Brackenridge, on the same Saturday of the fall to stabilize the fractures, returned to Barcelona on Monday. However, it was not until today when he was able to undergo surgery due to the inflammation that was still more than visible in the left arm.

A few hours ago Rins underwent an operation by Dr. Xavier Mir, Head of the Hand Unit and Coordinator of the MotoGP Traumatology Service, through which the broken bones in the forearm and the wrist were fixed in place by two titanium plates. As a result of the crash, the rider suffered an injury to the ulnar nerve as revealed by Evoked Potentials (neurologic test). This issue will be re-evaluated in a couple of weeks with an electromyography test.

The rider will undergo his first treatments next week at the same hospital in Barcelona, while the active rehabilitation will start after a period of 10 days. Doctors will try to accelerate, as much as possible, the recovery process of the rider. The timeline for the rider’s return to the track are not yet clear, but doctors estimate between six to eight weeks.

In related news, the test rider of the Hamamatsu brand, Takuya Tsuda (Wakayama, Japan), 31 y.o., will now take over Rins´ role starting from the Spanish GP. He will be participating at the Jerez circuit for the next Spanish Grand Prix (May 7th), both to compete in the race and to complete the IRTA test scheduled for Monday, May 8th. He will have the chance to officially compete in his first grand prix in the highest category of motorcycling.

Tsuda, who has previously competed in the All Japan Championship and has participated numerous times in the Suzuka 8 Hours race, is the usual test rider for Team SUZUKI ECSTAR. Tsuda has already participated with Andrea Iannone in the winter´s test that Suzuki had at the Jerez circuit last December.

Dr. Xavier Mir - Head of the Hand Unit and Coordinator of the MotoGP Traumatology Service

“Alex Rins has been operated on for displaced and dislocated left ulna and radius fracture, performing an open reduction and internal fixation with two locked titanium plates. Furthermore, yesterday he underwent a neurological test (evoked potentials) that confirmed an ulnar nerve injury by contusion. Within ten days he will begin the functional recovery of the wrist and forearm. An electromyography will also be performed to evaluate the recovery time of the ulnar nerve”.

Davide Brivio – Team Manager

“We are very happy that Alex surgery went well. This is the most important thing. Starting now he is facing a recovery period, but we are awaiting his comeback to 100% and we will be eager to have him back on our GSX-RR so he can display all the talent he has inside. Meanwhile, unfortunately, we have to replace him. And for Jerez we decided to give his bike to Takuya Tsuda, our test rider who will have his first opportunity to get real race experience. We will try to use the occasion to further the development of the bike.

I would like to wish a fast and good recovery to Alex. We will be waiting for him and until then, we will try to prepare him the best bike possible for when he returns.”

Alex Rins

“The surgery went very well according to what Dr. Mir told me. I would like to thank him personally for all his care and attention since the fall in Austin last Saturday, him and all his team for care they have given me these days in hospital. The messages I have received through social media have really encouraged me, especially the kindness that has been shown by every member of Team Suzuki. This fills me with the energy and desire to immediately begin my recovery and return to competition as soon as possible.”


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Scott Jones In Texas: Qualifying And Race Day, Part 1

Marc Marquez. Always riveting in Austin

Over the hill? I don't think so

Bad starts are a thing of the past for Dani Pedrosa

Maverick's magic streak came to an end in Austin

Miller and Rabat play follow my leader

Plenty to think about for Johann Zarco

Eyes on the prize for Lorenzo. But the prize is still a little way ahead

Romano Fenati gets a sense of perspective

"And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven;"

How Jonas Folger deals with the stress before the start

Technically, that is know as running wide

It all goes pear shaped at the start of the Moto2 race...

Stefano Manzi's enthusiasm got the better of him, taking Julian Simon out in the process

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


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Avintia To Continue With Ducati For 2018 MotoGP Season

The jockeying for manufacturers among satellite teams has begun. First out of the gate is the Reale Avintia Racing team, who have renewed their contract for another year with Ducati. Ducati will supply two Desmosedici GP17s to the team for the 2018 season.

The question of who will follow is still open. The Tech 3 team is firmly tied in with Yamaha, and the Marc VDS team has a strong commitment from Honda, though the results they have booked with the RC213V have not been as expected. The LCR Honda team were rumored to be interested in Suzukis last year, but the role Cal Crutchlow has played with Honda makes it more attractive to stay with Honda.

The Pull&Bear Aspar team could also make a switch from Ducati. Paddock gossip suggests contact between Aspar and Suzuki, but there are also suggestions Aspar could seek to renew ties with Aprilia, who they have a long history with in the 250 and 125 classes.

The press release announcing the Avintia contract renewal appears below:

Reale Avintia Racing and Ducati renew their contract for 2018

Reale Avintia Racing are pleased to announce the renewal of their contract with Ducati Corse to race the bikes from Borgo Panigale in the 2018 MotoGP World Championship. The contract has been signed this weekend at the Circuit of the Americas and the team will have two sets of Ducati Desmosedici GP 2017 bikes next season.

The team started to work with the Italian manufacturer in the last races of 2014 and since then, the team has been getting stronger every season and has established a close relationship with the factory. This early renewal of the contract is another step forward with Ducati and a clear signal of mutual confidence.

Raúl Romero | (CEO Esponsorama)

“I’m extremely happy to announce that we will be racing with Ducati next season. We are like a family and we are fully integrated in their MotoGP project. We had some more options for next season, but the confidence showed by Paolo Ciabatti and Gigi Dall’Igna over these years made the decision easy to sign so early in the season. We feel an incredible support from the factory and the guaranty to have this year’s factory bikes for next season is really important for the team. Now it will be easy to find more sponsorship and to keep growing.”

Paolo Ciabatti | (Ducati Corse Sporting Director)

“We are really happy and satisfied to be able to continue our relationship with Reale Avintia Racing in 2018. It is a team that started to work with us at the end of 2014 and since then they have never stopped growing together with Ducati. We believe that the team will have a great opportunity to do a fantastic job again next season, as they are doing now and as they did in the last years working with us.”


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Scott Jones in Texas: Friday Photos

This is what total control looks like

Hustle by Petrucci

HRC are experimenting with a different exhaust, to modify the engine character. Results so far not promising

Dani Pedrosa, about to crest T1

The changed seat position is working out for Lorenzo. But it's not a magic wand

One end of the KTM

The other end of the KTM with legal winglets/aero fairing

The mystery continues at the back of the Ducati GP17

One of Tech 3's rocketship rookies: Jonas Folger

Cal Crutchlow holding his own after Argentina

A dry clutch, or spinny roundy bit, to give it its technical name

Tech 3's other rocketship rookie: Johann Zarco

Scott Redding is outshining his teammate so far. Not being given the 2017 lab bike turns out to be a good thing

Still crazy after all these years

One way of fighting wheelies: get as far forward as possible

Andrea Dovizioso is a big fan of motocross. Not so much of race tracks which have MXGP style bumps

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


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Brad Binder Has Broken Arm Replated In Barcelona

Brad Binder has had surgery to fit a new plate to his broken left arm. The original plate, which had been fitted over the winter after he had broken the radius in his left arm, had worked loose, and was not holding the bone together properly. Binder has now had that issue corrected in Barcelona.

The South African had broken his arm in a big crash at Valencia in November, and had undergone surgery to fix the bones in place. This surgery had not taken properly, however, the bone not knitting together properly. Binder had ridden despite the pain, but in Argentina, the pain had become much worse. An examination of the arm showed that the plate had become partially detached, and the bone had broken again. Despite the pain, Binder rode to a tenth place finish in Argentina, a remarkable result all things considered.

On Thursday, Binder had surgery at the Dexeus Hospital in Barcelona. There, Dr Mir removed the old plate, inserted a bone graft to help reattach the bone, and inserted a new plate, allowing Binder to rotate his arm correctly.

Binder now faces a three-week period of rest, before he can start to exercise again. He is certain to miss the US round of Moto2 at Austin next weekend, and is unlikely to be fit in time for Jerez. The most likely time frame for the reigning Moto3 champion is that he will make his return at Le Mans. Who will replace Binder is as yet unknown, but given KTM have Mika Kallio on the books as a test rider, he is the obvious choice.

The press release from the Red Bull KTM Ajo team appears below:

Brad Binder undergoes successful operation on left arm

Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto2 rider undergoes surgery at Hospital Universitario Dexeus in Barcelona, to reposition the plate in his left forearm. Binder had suffered the original injury in November of 2016.

04/13/2017 - Barcelona, Spain

Brad Binder underwent a successful operation on his left arm this Thursday afternoon at the Hospital Universitario Dexeus (Barcelona), required after the South African had experienced discomfort in the radial fracture he had been treated for before the start of the season. The discomfort felt at the Argentinian GP led to him being examined at the circuit medical centre, where it was confirmed that the bone continued to be broken and that the plate applied to the injury had moved. The procedure on Thursday, lasting 120 minutes, was undertaken by Dr. Xavier Mir and his team.

The original injury had occured in a crash by the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider in preason testing in Valencia in November of 2016. Binder was operated on by Dr. Mir that same week in Barcelona, followed by a further operation in South Africa at the start of this year.

Dr. Mir, Head of Surgery and Microsurgery of the Upper Extremities at the Hospital Universitario Dexeus; Head of Traumotology for MotoGP.

"Today we operated on Brad Binder, who had suffered a loosening of the plate on his left forearm. The operation consisted of three phases: The first, removing the old plate, which had lost the pronator axis. Secondly, we placed a new plate with the correct axis of the radius, so that it could do twisting movements; Finally, a graft removed from his arm to wrap around the old fracture and ensure that the bone heals as soon as possible. He will remain in hospital for between 24 and 48 hours and we believe that he will be able to begin recovery exercises in three weeks."

The Red Bull KTM Ajo will be unable to participate in the Grand Prix of the Americas, and the evolution of the injury will decide his return date. Despite the problems experienced in the race last Sunday, Binder was able to place in the Top 10 at Termas de Rio Hondo, demonstrating his great progress onboard the KTM Moto2 bike.



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Post Argentina News Round Up: Binder Breaks Arm, Riders Want Qualifying Change, WorldSBK In Argentina

Along with a thrilling weekend of racing, several interesting items of news emerged in Argentina. Brad Binder and Remy Gardner were injured, and face surgery. Discussions were held in the Safety Commission on deciding who progresses to Q1 and Q2. And at a press conference, Dorna announced that the WorldSBK championship will be racing in Argentina in 2018, at a new circuit in the west of the country.

Binder breaks arm, Gardner damages ankle

First, to the injury news. Brad Binder had his best result on the KTM Moto2 bike so far, but his weekend was far from a success. The reigning Moto3 champion has been struggling all off season with a broken arm which was healing slowly, after a plate put in his arm to fix the broken bones in place had only partially succeeded in doing so. Speaking at the Jerez test in February, he described his arm as being "nowhere near where we'd hoped it would be." Progress has been slow since then.

Things got worse during practice in Argentina. After his arm had swollen up overnight, Binder had the arm X-rayed on Sunday morning. That revealed that the arm had broken again, and the plate holding the bone together had shifted. Binder raced anyway, and achieved his best result of the season, finishing in ninth place. It was an act of remarkable fortitude, given the pain he must have been in. He joked to BT Sport reporters Gavin Emmett and Neil Hodgson, "the Clinica have some really good painkillers," after the race.

Binder is now flying back to Barcelona, where new surgery is planned to fix the plate in place again. The recovery period from that surgery is likely to be six weeks, meaning he will miss at least the Austin and Jerez races, but could be back in time for Le Mans. While the KTM Ajo team are waiting for the results of surgery, there has been no word on a replacement.

Another rider flew back to Barcelona on Monday for surgery. Tech 3's Remy Gardner was taken out by another rider for the second race in a row. Unlike in Qatar, where the Australian escaped relatively unharmed, Gardner suffered a suspected fractured ankle in the crash at Termas De Rio Hondo. Once he arrives in Barcelona, he will be examined by Dr Mir at the Dexeus Institut to assess whether he will require surgery to fix the ankle.

It is an unfortunate turn of events for Gardner. The young Australian had been showing improving form since joining the Tech 3 team, but bad luck in races – brought on in part by qualifying well down the order – means he is yet to complete a lap in a race. Whether Gardner will be forced to miss any further race will be assessed once a decision has been made about his injured ankle.

From Free Practice to Qualifying

The Safety Commission in Argentina had plenty to discuss. Along with the saga of the additional Michelin front tire, it appears the riders also discussed an alternative approach to qualifying, according to the Catalan radio station Catalunya Radio.

The idea under discussion is that times from FP1 and FP2 would no longer count towards deciding who goes straight through to Q2, and who would have to pass through Q1 instead. The free practice sessions on Friday would then return to being about bike set up, and FP3 on Saturday morning would turn into a pre-qualifying session for determining Q2. According to Catalunya Radio, the riders asked Dorna and IRTA to consider the proposal at the next meeting of the Grand Prix Commission at Jerez.

The issue for the riders is that the have to spend time every session trying to put in a "banker lap", a single flying lap fast enough to ensure safe passage to Q2 in case rain spoils the remaining sessions. It means that in practice, the riders and teams only get around 35 minutes of actual set up time, while having to dedicate a couple of laps to setting a quick time. By having pre-qualifying concentrated in FP3, they could focus more on setup on Friday.

While this would be good for the riders and the teams, it may not be as attractive for the fans. Because each session now actually matters, counts towards who lines up in Q2, it adds a welcome note of tension to all three free practice sessions. Free practices 1, 2, and 3 all have an element of excitement about them, and give crowds and TV viewers more reason to watch them. Dorna will have to weigh up how much of a factor that added excitement is in helping to sell TV rights packages to broadcasters.

Dropping FP1 and FP2 from pre-qualifying may have unintended consequences on the racing as well. Giving the teams more time to focus solely on setup would remove a random element from the equation. The more time teams have to work on setup, the greater the gap between the big, successful factory teams and the smaller independent teams.

Factory teams have more engineers going over the data, and more resources to find the right setting for each rider at each track. Independent teams have fewer resources, and need to get the setup very close right from the start of the weekend. Less setup time means less time for the factories to exploit their advantage (an advantage obtained solely as a result of having more money to throw at the problem) over the independent teams.

WorldSBK in Argentina

Finally, there was a non-MotoGP announcement at the Termas De Rio Hondo circuit. On Saturday, Carmelo Ezpeleta and Daniel Carrera of Dorna, along with Sergio Uñac, the Governor of the Province of San Juan, and Orly Terranova of the OSD Group announced that they had signed a three-year agreement to hold World Superbikes at the Villicum Circuit, at Albardón, near San Juan, in the west of Argentina.

The circuit is currently under construction, and is due to be visited for homologation later in the year. If the circuit is approved, then the WorldSBK series will visit the track from 2018 onwards. Where it will fit in the calendar is still to be determined, but the most likely place in the schedule will be after the opening flyaway rounds in Australia and Thailand, or before the final round of the season in Qatar.

The reason for building the circuit where it is is because of its proximity to the Andes. It is situated beside Route 40, the main road which runs from north to south just east of the Andes, and is a tourist destination in itself. The track is also 550km from the Chilean capital Santiago, making it a likely destination for race fans from Chile, as well as Argentina.

The press release announcing the deal appears below:

Argentina prepares to host WorldSBK in 2018

Province of San Juan joins the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship Calendar

The Government of the Province of San Juan (Argentina), Dorna WSBK Organization and the OSD Group are pleased to announce the signing of a three-year agreement to host WorldSBK Rounds at the Villicum Circuit, which is currently under construction.

In the province of San Juan, near the city of Albardón the new Villicum Circuit is in the process of being built, which was designed by Argentine architect Leonardo Stella. Work began in October 2016 and will make Argentina the 26th country to host a Round of the world´s fastest production-based motorcycle series. Riders and fans will enjoy the action and excitement of a 4.2 kilometre track with 19 corners - 11 left and 8 right.

WorldSBK is expected to visit the circuit in 2018, as the Government of the Province of San Juan and OSD Group are hoping to have the track homologated by the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) later this year.

The region of San Juan has an outstanding history in motorcycle racing and motorsport in general. The world-famous Dakar Rally has passed through the province in recent years, and the El Zonda circuit continues to host racing events across the year.

The new circuit is located on the symbolic Route 40, a 5,000km road which stretches from the north to the south of Argentina, along the breathtaking Andes. Route 40 is a tourist attraction not only for motorsport fans, but for all travellers who go to discover the best landscapes in the country.

The Governor of the Province of San Juan, Sergio Uñac said that the new circuit "is a project which will position San Juan at the heart of the sport, as the best categories of motorcycling and the motoring world will discover a stunning circuit with The Villicum, creating an unbeatable thrill".

"As well as this," added Governor Uñac, "there will be a hotel nearby - the old La Laja hotel. We are also talking with interested parties to build a hotel in front of the racetrack, which is one of the necessities in order to put this racetrack the highest international level”.

Carmelo Ezpeleta, Dorna Group CEO, expressed his satisfaction at WorldSBK's arrival to South America for the first time in history. "Without doubt this is very good news. Knowing that Argentina will have a World Superbike Round is a solid step forward. The presence of the two of the most important world championships in motorbike racing in Argentina, reflects the passion of a country which has a vast and deep rooted history in motor sports."

Orly Terranova, CEO of OSD: "I am very pleased that the new Villicum Circuit - which has already received the first approval from the FIM - allows us to work with another world-class international event like WorldSBK. As well as this it provides us with a definite option of attracting other categories of motorsport. In addition we believe that this is the opportunity for Argentina to have one or more riders competing, as the category will be a great platform for Argentine and Latin American motorcycling. Undoubtedly, the new racetrack - located on the legendary Route 40 - will generate a positive impact in the Cuyo region, increasing the levels of tourism the province of San Juan has to offer.”

Daniel Carrera, Executive Director of WorldSBK said: "We are very proud that the government of San Juan selected WorldSBK to help develop the economic activity of the Circuit, and the province of San Juan. In recent years WorldSBK has been present in destinations around the world such as the United States, Thailand, Australia or Qatar, where events have been developed with great results. The Villicum Circuit is projected as a top-level facility, with an exciting track that will surely be welcomed by our paddock and all the fans of our sport in Argentina."

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Additional Front Tire Withdrawn After Getting Stuck In Customs

The MotoGP riders will not have the additional soft front tire at their disposal for the Argentinian Grand Prix. In a meeting of the Safety Commission on Friday night, the riders agreed that they did not need the tire, as the current allocation of three fronts was sufficient for safety purposes.

The decision is unlikely to make much of a difference to most riders. With rain expected on Saturday for both practice and qualifying, the riders would not have been able to use it anyway. That would have left them with the option of trying it out during morning warm up, but actually running it in the race would have been a big risk based on very little data in Argentina.

The additional tire is basically the prototype tire which the MotoGP riders used at Valencia at the end of 2016, which uses the 2017 profile but a stiffer carcass than the current tire. Though it worked well in  Valencia, Argentina is a very different track with a lot more very fast corners, which stresses the tire differently. Getting it to work properly would have required more work than just a brief session.

The news of the tire withdrawal, which first appeared on the French website Paddock GP, is partly a result of a customs strike in Argentina. The tires were held up in customs, and did not arrive at the circuit on time on Friday. With so little time to test it, the riders decided not to use the tire. The additional front is outside of the normal allocation of tires, and additional tires are normally only used for reasons of safety, such as when Michelin is uncertain a tire will last the entire race distance. However, all three existing front tires were judged to be performing well, and so with no safety grounds to allow it, the riders decided to postpone using it. The tire will be trialed once again later this year, either at the next race in Austin or at the post-race test on the Monday after Jerez. 


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Michelin - Argentina An Important Test For Tires

The Termas de Rio Hondo circuit proved to be quite an ordeal for Michelin in 2016. In their first year as official tire supplier, Michelin arrived at the Argentinian circuit with only limited data from testing. They were not entirely to blame for that situation: test riders had ridden at the track in 2015, but had the weather conditions against them. A damp track and the slower pace of test riders meant that the tires did not get the workout they needed to stress them to the limit.

That did happen during practice for the race. The rear Michelin of Scott Redding's Pramac Ducati delaminated during FP4, causing a radical shakeup for the race. The race was once again cut in two, and compulsory pit stops added. As a result of that event, Michelin responded by becoming a lot more conservative in their tire selection, producing tires which were much more hard wearing, but also provided less feel and less grip.

The MotoGP circus arrives in Argentina in 2017 much better prepared. Michelin have had a year to work on new tires, and have a full race weekend of data from competitive riders to base their new tires on. The French tire manufacturer will be hoping that the work they have done over the past year will rule out any further surprises. 

Conditions at the track will be difficult, however. Sadly, the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit sees very limited use during the year, and so is usually covered in dust and dirt on arrival. Complicating matters further, rain is expected on Saturday and Sunday, at least, leaving the riders with a dirty track to cope with in Friday, and possibly a wet track to handle during qualifying and the race. Michelin's rain tires could be the ones getting a workout this weekend.

For more details on Michelin's tires, see the Race Card they issue before every race, and the press release below:

An Argentinian adventure awaits Michelin in Latin America

Michelin has embarked on one of the most challenging trips of the MotoGP™ calendar as it heads over the equator to Latin America and then across Argentina to Termas de Rio Hondo for round two of the championship as the Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina is held at one of the most demanding circuits of the year.

Initially constructed in 2007 and opened the following year for a round of Argentina´s Touring Car championship, the circuit was completely redeveloped, enlarged and restructured in 2012 to make it ready to stage MotoGP, which it has done since 2014 and this season will see Michelin making its second visit to one of South America’s safest and most modern circuits. The track is one of the fastest on the calendar and is very demanding on tyres, it features fast sweeping bends, high cambers and hard-braking zones throughout the circuit’s layout of nine right-hand bends and five left-handers, allied to a straight over one kilometre long. With such demands, the range of MICHELIN Power Slicks will have a lot of work to do to cope with the high temperatures that are created and the abrasive nature of the surface. Michelin’s series of tyres to handle these challenges will be the soft, medium and hard compound options for the front and rear, these will be identifiable by white bands, no bands and yellow bands respectively. The soft and medium rear compounds will feature an asymmetrical design with a harder right-hand shoulder, whilst the hard option will be a symmetrical version.

The nature of the circuit and its location – situated in the Province of Santiago del Estero approximately 1,100km from Buenos Aires and close to the Andes mountain range – can mean that weather can play a large part in proceedings. From very hot conditions which can be a big test on the riders’ stamina and requires careful tyre management to get the best performance from their respective machines, to cooler, wet conditions. To combat any precipitation the MICHELIN Power Rain tyres will be available in a soft and medium compound for both the front and rear of the bikes, these will be identifiable by a blue and no band on the side of the tyre respectively.

Track action in Argentina will begin on Friday 7th April with two Free Practice sessions, the third Free Practice will be staged the following morning. The all-important qualifying sessions to establish the grid positions for the 25-lap race will take place on Saturday afternoon. Sunday’s race will start at 16.00hrs local time (21.00hrs CEST, 19.00hrs UST/GMT, 20.00hrs BST).

Piero Taramasso – Manager of the Two-Wheel Motorsport Group:

“This is one race that everyone at Michelin is very focused on. We learnt many things from the event in Argentina last year and it altered the course of our plans in 2016. The target now is to improve at the tracks where we struggled last season and Termas is one of those, so we will be looking to make big steps there. The track is not used very often and we expect it to be quite dirty when we first arrive, so the first session will be more of a cleaning exercise, but after that we expect improvements throughout the weekend – conditions permitting. The asphalt is very abrasive with some very fast and long corners, plus very hard braking zones, all of which is expected to result in one of the highest average speeds of the year, these characteristics put big demands on both the front and rear and the weather can also be very unpredictable in that area at this time of the year. This is a race with many variables, but with the knowledge we have gathered, and the evolutions we have made over the last 12-months, we are ready for any eventualities, and the determination from the whole team to do well is as strong as it has ever been.”


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