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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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2018 MotoGP Rider Line Up, Late August - Three Seats Left To Fill

With Taka Nakagami and Karel Abraham signing contracts for 2018 over the weekend, and another announcement due at Silverstone, we can update the 2018 MotoGP rider line up. Just three seats remain open: the second seat at Marc VDS Honda, and both seats at Avintia Ducati. A single question mark behind the name of a rider indicates a very strong rumor. An asterisk indicates an alternative rumor for a signed contract.

Teams/Riders Bike Contract ends
Factory Teams
Movistar Yamaha
Valentino Rossi Yamaha M1 2018
Maverick Viñales Yamaha M1 2018
     
Repsol Honda
Dani Pedrosa Honda RC213V 2018
Marc Márquez Honda RC213V 2018
     
Ecstar Suzuki
Andrea Iannone Suzuki GSX-RR 2018
Alex Rins Suzuki GSX-RR 2018
     
Gresini Aprilia
Scott Redding Aprilia RS-GP 2018
Aleix Espargaro Aprilia RS-GP 2018
     
KTM Factory
Bradley Smith*1 KTM RC16 2018
Pol Espargaro KTM RC16 2018
     
Factory Ducati
Jorge Lorenzo Ducati GP18 2018
Andrea Dovizioso Ducati GP18 2018
     
Satellite Teams
Pramac Ducati
Danilo Petrucci Ducati GP18 2018
Jack Miller Ducati GP17 2018
     
LCR Honda
Cal Crutchlow Honda RC213V 2019
Taka Nakagami Honda RC213V 2018
     
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha
Jonas Folger Yamaha M1 2018
Johann Zarco Yamaha M1 2018
     
Marc VDS Honda2
Franco Morbidelli Honda RC213V 2019
? Honda RC213V ???
     
Aspar Ducati
Alvaro Bautista Ducati GP17 2018
Karel Abraham Ducati GP16 2018
     
Avintia Ducati3
Tito Rabat? Ducati GP17? ???
Xavier Simeon? Ducati GP16? ???

1. There were reports from Austria that KTM is losing patience with Bradley Smith, and that they may swap his role with Mika Kallio, promoting Kallio to the MotoGP team and making Smith the test rider.
2. Marc VDS are expected to make an announcement about a second rider at Silverstone. The official word from the team is that it will almost certainly be "a rider with MotoGP experience". Current favorites are Sam Lowes and Stefan Bradl.
3. Avintia will probably have one Ducati GP17 at their disposal, with the option of a second one, if they can sign a competitive enough rider. Both Tito Rabat and Xavier Simeon are strongly rumored to be close to a deal at Avintia, both riders bringing substantial funding with them.

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Karel Abraham To Stay With Aspar For 2018

The Aspar Team have announced that they have extended their contract with Karel Abraham. The Czech rider will continue to race for the team in 2018, with Abraham likely to get a Ducati Desmosedici GP16 for next season, while his teammate Alvaro Bautista contests a GP17.

With Abraham confirmed at Aspar, as we predicted yesterday, and Taka Nakagami announced at LCR Honda, that leaves only three seats still open. The second seat at Marc VDS will probably be announced at Silverstone this weekend, with all signs pointing to "a rider with previous MotoGP experience" as the favorite to race alongside Franco Morbidelli. The two Avintia seats could take longer to fill, but are also believed to be close to a deal, with Tito Rabat and Xavier Simeon being penciled in to take the place of Hector Barbera and Loris Baz.

You can find the latest updated version of the 2018 MotoGP rider line up here.

Below is the press release issued by the Aspar Team announcing the contract extension with Abraham


Aspar Team and Karel Abraham to continue in 2018
Sunday, 20 August 2017 16:51

The Czech rider's first season with the team has seen his best result in MotoGP, with seventh place at Assen

The Aspar Team and Karel Abraham will continue together in 2018. The Czech rider will contest his second season with the Spanish outfit after showing a high level of performance already in 2017. Abraham rode the Ducati GP15 to his career best MotoGP result at Assen, where he crossed the line in seventh position.

Karel Abraham returned to the elite category of motorcycle racing after a season in World Superbikes. Over the first eleven rounds of the year the Pull&Bear Aspar rider has a best qualifying position of second in Argentina as well as two top ten finishes and a total of five races in the points in one of the closest championships in memory.

Jorge Martínez "Aspar", general manager: “For the Aspar Team it is a source of satisfaction to renew with Karel Abraham. When we signed him last year we felt he could do a good job but the results he have achieved have been a very positive surprise. He has done much better than we expected, right from preseason, and as the races have gone by he has continued to improve and achieve great results. We think we can continue to improve with him in the future. It is a simple choice, he is happy with the team and we are happy with him, so we are going to continue in the same way and chase even bigger goals.”

Karel Abraham: “I am very happy to have re-signed with the Aspar Team and to continue with the same group of people is very important to me. I am very happy, I am already looking forward to a new challenge next season but right now I need to concentrate on the rest of this season, which is the most important. As I said, I am very happy, but we have to focus on the here and now.”

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Takaaki Nakagami Confirmed As Second LCR Honda MotoGP Rider

The MotoGP grid is set to expand to 24 riders for the 2018 season. As had been widely expected, the LCR Honda team is to add a second bike for next season, with Japanese rider Takaaki Nakagami moving up to MotoGP. Nakagami will operate alongside Cal Crutchlow in the LCR Honda team.

Like Crutchlow, Nakagami's contract is directly with HRC, rather than with Lucio Cecchinello's LCR squad. Unlike Crutchlow's deal, however, Nakagami's contract is only for 2018 at the moment. Nakagami's wages will come directly out of Honda's pockets, but the bike will largely be funded by money from Idemitsu, the Japanese oil company already backing Nakagami in Moto2.

Nakagami has been a very up and down rider in Moto2. The Japanese rider has one win and 12 podiums to his name, and has at times shown outstanding speed. At other times, however, he has been faceless, circulating in mid-pack at best. He currently sits seventh in the Moto2 championship, 128 points behind leader Franco Morbidelli.

With Nakagami signed, seats are filling up fast. There are officially four empty slots left on the grid now: the second seat at Marc VDS, the second seat at Aspar Ducati, and the two Avintia Ducatis. The Aspar seat will almost certainly go to Karel Abraham again, a team source indicating to us in Austria that they were close to a deal. 

Marc VDS is likely to come down to a choice between Sam Lowes, ousted from Aprilia, Stefan Bradl, who is desperate to escape the clutches of the Red Bull Honda WorldSBK team, and Tom Luthi, the only man keeping Morbidelli honest in Moto2. A choice could be announced as early as this coming weekend.

The two Avintia Ducati seats also have favored candidates. Tito Rabat looks set to take one of the two bikes in that garage, after parting ways with Marc VDS. Belgian Moto2 rider Xavier Simeon is widely tipped to take the second seat in the Avintia team, with rumors of big-money backing helping to open doors for him. Like Nakagami, Simeon also has a single victory in Moto2, but his record is a good deal more modest otherwise.

Below is the press release announcing the signing of Nakagami:


LCR Honda DOUBLES UP AS NAKAGAMI MAKES MotoGP MOVE

We are delighted to announce that Takaaki Nakagami will join the LCR Honda MotoGP Team for the 2018 season. The 25-year-old Japanese rider (a race winner and 12 times a podium-finisher in Moto2) will race alongside British star Cal Crutchlow in the premier class of MotoGP on board a Honda RC213V.

Lucio Cecchinello (LCR Honda Team Principal): “We are very happy to confirm Takaaki Nakagami as the newest member of our Team; a Team which will be expanded with crew members who boast vast experience. This project, alongside our current programme with Cal Crutchlow, marks the fulfilment of our sporting ambitions. I am truly delighted, and in the name of the whole LCR Honda Team, I think it is fair to say that we are all extremely motivated to work with a rookie like Taka, because ever since he made his debut as a youngster he has shown huge potential. From myself, the team, and from HRC Takaaki will have the best support possible to take on the next challenge in his career."

Yoshishige Nomura (President, Honda Racing Corporation): “Nakagami continues his journey into 2018 as an HRC contract rider, and using his passion and riding skills to their fullest, will undoubtedly become a rider that the younger generation from Japan, and the Asia region, will aspire to be like. I believe his dreams will drive him to become a top-class rider who will impress many fans.”

Takaaki Nakagami: “Since riding a pocket bike when I was four years old, I have always aimed to compete with the world’s best. This opportunity has become real thanks to all of my associates and fans. There are still seven Moto2 races left this season, including the Japanese Grand Prix. I’ll be concentrating on these races, while gaining the abilities I need for next year. I hope everyone will continue to support me the way they have up to now.”

Takaaki Nakagami biography:

Born in Chiba, Japan on February 9th, 1992, Takaaki Nakagami was part of Dorna’s MotoGP Academy initiative. As a 14-year-old he became the youngest-ever winner of the Japanese 125cc Championship in 2006, and in 2007 he entered the Spanish Championship (CEV) under the Academy banner.

Graduating to the World Championship in 2008, he achieved his best result of the year with a top-ten finish at Donington Park, and he continued in the Championship in 2009. Stepping away from the World Championship for two years, he then won the All-Japan Road Race Championship J-GP2 class (600cc) title in 2011 and was drafted back into the World Championship by the Italtrans team at the Japan GP as a substitute rider.

The team offered him a full-time seat for 2012, and in 2013 he just missed out on a maiden race victory on numerous occasions - not least when he scored four consecutive second-place finishes in the middle of the season. He switched to the Idemitsu Honda Team Asia for 2014 but had a tough first year, before a return to the podium with third in Misano in 2015. He has remained with that team since, and finally in 2016 he took his first win at the Dutch TT in Assen. In 2017 he has already scored a further three podiums, before announcing his graduation to the premier class with the LCR Honda MotoGP Team.

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Marco Melandri Signs On With Aruba Ducati For 2018

The Aruba.it Ducati team has signed Marco Melandri for a second season. The factory-backed Ducati World Superbike squad has extended Melandri's contract through 2018, and the Italian will once again line up alongside Chaz Davies next season.

The contract extension comes on the back of a successful return to racing for the Italian. After parting ways with Aprilia in the middle of the 2015 season, Melandri was forced to take a season away from racing in 2016. Ducati gave Melandri a second chance for 2017, and so far, that gamble has paid off well. Melandri has won one race so far this season, and had six other podiums.

The press release announcing the contract appears below:


The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team and Marco Melandri on track together also in 2018

The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team officially finalized its roster for the 2018 WorldSBK Championship extending for one more year its professional collaboration with Marco Melandri, who will ride once again alongside Chaz Davies.

The synergy between the 35-year-old Italian and both the team and the Panigale R was clear from the very beginning, and Melandri showed his competitiveness to collect seven podiums – including a memorable win at Misano in front of the home crowd – in eight rounds thus far. Melandri will share the pits again with Chaz Davies, who signed a two-year contract in 2016, to form one of the most successful pair in WorldSBK with a collective prize record of 44 wins and 115 podiums to date.

“I’m really happy for the opportunity to prolong this professional collaboration, which represented a new beginning in my career as a rider,” said Melandri. “Together with Ducati and Aruba.it, we enjoyed some really memorable moments, while in other occasions I think my long break from racing affected our performance, so I’m sure there’s still plenty of room to improve. To this end, continuing with the same team and the same bike represents the best possible opportunity to achieve higher goals. I’m ready to tackle a new season with more experience and confidence, and it’s a challenge that makes me incredibly happy. First of all, however, we need to finish the current championship as strongly as possible. With five rounds to go, we’ll always give our 100 percent and assess our performance in the end.”

Luigi Dall’Igna, Ducati Corse General Manager:

“We’re really happy to consolidate our efforts in the WorldSBK Championship based on continuity, both in terms of the technical package and the riders’ roster. One year ago, Marco started a new adventure with great enthusiasm, showing his talent since the very first outing with the Panigale R despite coming back from a long absence. His qualities are quite obvious, as shown by the results achieved thus far this year. That said, we believe we can reach even more ambitious goals together. With Melandri and Davies, our target is obviously the championship title, both in the Riders and Constructors standings.”

Stefano Cecconi, Aruba S.p.A. CEO and Team Principal:

“From early on, Marco seamlessly integrated within our ‘family’, showing both great speed and professionalism. He worked constantly together with Chaz to develop and improve the package, stepping on the podium already in the opening round of the season, at his official debut with us, and steadily fighting for top positions. Therefore, our priority was to confirm the current riders’ roster. Both Marco and Chaz can aim at the title, and we’ll do our best to always give them the necessary tools to win.”

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Scott Redding Confirmed At Aprilia For 2018

Aprilia have today confirmed another of the worst-kept secrets in the paddock, announcing that they have signed Scott Redding to replace Sam Lowes in the Gresini Aprilia MotoGP team for the 2018 season. 

The news came as no surprise, after it became apparent that Aprilia had decide to break Lowes' contract at the end of this season. Lowes had been contracted for two seasons in MotoGP, but Aprilia decided to invoke an escape clause after the Englishman had struggled at the start of the season. For the full background to the story, read the Friday MotoGP round up from Austria.

With Redding confirmed at Aprilia, that leaves five seats officially still open for 2018. Most of those seats are close to being filled, however. Aspar is very close to extending their deal with Karel Abraham for another year. The second seat at LCR (if it happens, as that is still not 100% certain) will be filled by Taka Nakagami. 

The seats at Avintia Ducati are also still open, though the list of candidates there is very small. It looks like Hector Barbera and Loris Baz will be out from the team, despite Baz posting some solid results. Tito Rabat is believed to be close to a deal for one of the bikes in the Avintia garage, while there are strong and credible rumors that Xavier Simeon could take the other seat. That would be a surprising move, as Simeon has had a thoroughly nondescript career in Moto2, after a single notable victory at the Sachsenring in 2015. But he is said to have the backing of Belgian TV and several other interests, and be bringing around €1 million to the team.

That leaves only the seat at Marc VDS. Sam Lowes is one rider under discussion for that seat, after he was ousted from Aprilia. Stefan Bradl is also talking to the Marc VDS team, in the hope of returning to MotoGP after a disastrous year in WorldSBK. The choice looks to be between those two riders, though rumors persist of Tom Luthi moving up from Moto2. Luthi seems an unlikely candidate, however, as having two rookies from Moto2 in the team at the same time is a risky step to take. Risky, but not impossible, as Tech 3 has demonstrated this year.

More news is likely to be announced in the next few days. The last few seats in MotoGP should be filled before MotoGP leaves Europe for the flyaways.

Below is the official press release from Aprilia on the deal with Redding:


SCOTT REDDING WITH APRILIA IN MOTOGP FOR 2018
ESPARGARÓ AND REDDING TOGETHER TO FORM A MOTIVATED, WELL-ROUNDED DUO WITH GREAT POTENTIAL
ROMANO ALBESIANO: “HIS TALENT AND THE GROWTH OF THE RS-GP FOR IMPORTANT RESULTS”

British rider Scott Redding will team up with Aleix Espargaró and Aprilia Racing astride an RS-GP in the 2018 MotoGP World Championship.

Romano Albesiano, Aprilia Racing Manager, commented: “Scott is a rider who, in spite of his young age, has significant experience in MotoGP. We are pleased to have him join our project and we think that his talent and the continued growth of the RS-GP will allow the team and him to achieving important results.

Our bike has grown consistently, race after race. The goal to battle stably in the top ten has been more than achieved. And while further steps in technical development are on their way already this season, with this agreement with Scott, we are preparing for next season. Aprilia will be at the starting line with a pair of quality riders that have interesting potential. Aleix is demonstrating more and more that he is a high quality rider and a guarantee for the team. With Scott's contribution, we expect that the team's work will bring Aprilia even closer to the top of the championship, into the positions that such a glorious brand deserves to occupy.

At the same time, we bid Sam Lowes farewell, certainly thanking him for his commitment and efforts during this, his rookie season in MotoGP, and for the contribution he has made to the team's growth. He is a rider who will doubtless be able to express his talent, but right now we must make choices that allow us to fulfil our commitments to the Piaggio Group and our fans. We will continue to work together with the efforts we have always made so that he can have a good season finale and we wish Sam all the best for his career in the future.”

Born in 1993, Scott Redding took his first steps in World Grand Prix Motorcycle Racing astride an Aprilia in the 125 class. In the 2008 season, his rookie year, he took a win at his home GP in Donington Park. In 2010 he moved over to Moto2, where he would remain for four seasons, taking 3 wins and 11 podiums. In MotoGP since 2014, as his best result, he boasts a third place finish at Misano in 2015 and Assen in 2016.

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Danny Kent Signs Two-Year Deal With Speed Up For Moto2 From 2018

Danny Kent is to make a return to the Moto2 paddock for 2018. The 23-year-old Englishman is to race for the Speed Up team in Moto2 for 2018 and 2019. 

The deal has been something of a coup for the former Moto3 world champion. Kent split with his Leopard Moto2 team at Austin, after disagreements with the team over bike setup and preparation. Since then, he has replaced Iker Lecuona in the Interwetten team at Mugello, raced as a wildcard and replaced Niccolo Antonelli in the KTM Ajo Moto3 team, and is this weekend replacing the injured Marcel Schrotter in the Dynavolt team.

Kent follows in the footsteps of another British rider at Speed Up. Sam Lowes rode for the Italian team for two seasons in 2014 and 2015, with some success.

The press release issued by Speed Up appears below:


Moto2-SPEED UP RACING TEAM CONFIRMS DANNY KENT FOR 2018 AND 2019 SEASON

Speed Up Racing announces the signing of Danny Kent to ride for the Speed Up Racing Team for 2018 and 2019.

Danny Kent, born in Chippenham (England) on 25th November 1993, made his World Championship debut in 2010 in the 125cc Class. His racing career highlights include the victory of the Moto3 World Championship in 2015.

DANNY KENT#52

“I’m really excited about this new opportunity with Speed Up and I can’t wait to get on the bike. I’d like to thank Luca and all the team for their belief in me, I’m working hard towards the end of season tests and already excited for 2018! This weekend I’m replacing Marcel Schrotter which will be good to get some time back on the Moto2 bike. I’d also like to thank Alpinestars and Nolan for their support. 2017 has been tough but it had made me even more determined for the future.”

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Jack Miller Joins Pramac Ducati For 2018

Pramac Ducati have announced they have signed Jack Miller for the 2018 MotoGP season. The Australian will ride a Desmosedici alongside Danilo Petrucci next year. Miller's contract is directly with Ducati, however, rather than Pramac.

The move had been rumored for some time, and had been expected to be announced last week at Brno. But last week, Miller was still waiting for details of the package his current Marc VDS team could offer. Marc VDS, in turn, were waiting for confirmation from HRC of exactly what equipment they would be supplying, and more importantly, which personnel would be available.

Reportedly, Miller was keen to keep his current team together, but as his crew chief and much of the crew were employed by HRC rather than Marc VDS, he was dependent on what Honda wanted to do. When no information was forthcoming from HRC, Miller accepted the offer from Ducati, which had been on the table for several weeks. Miller will ride a Desmosedici GP17 at Pramac.

Miller's move to Pramac raises several questions elsewhere. First of all, his departure from Marc VDS leaves an open seat at the team. Secondly, his arrival at Pramac leaves Scott Redding looking for a seat. It is tempting to put two and two together, and see Redding return to the team with which he had so much success in Moto2, but that is by no means a foregone conclusion. Marc VDS is said to have a long list of potential candidates to fill the seat, though obviously Redding remains a possibility.

Other names in contention include Stefan Bradl, but it is believed the German would not be a popular choice for the team. Marc VDS is also looking at other riders in Moto2, but the most obvious candidates to make the move up to MotoGP are already signed up, either in Moto2 or MotoGP.

The press release from Pramac Ducati appears below:


Octo Pramac Racing announces agreement with Jack Miller for 2018 MotoGP season
The Australian rider, directly under contract with Ducati, will defend the colours of the Team on board a Ducati Desmosedici GP

The Octo Pramac Racing team wishes to announce that it has reached an agreement for 2018 with Jack Miller. The Australian rider, who will be directly under contract with Ducati, will defend the colours of the Tuscany-based team in the MotoGP World Championship on board a Ducati Desmosedici GP bike as team-mate to Danilo Petrucci.

Born in Townsville, Queensland, on 18th January 1995, Miller made his debut in the 125 cc World Championship in 2011 and then moved immediately into Moto3, where he finished runner-up in the 2014 season. The Australian rider then joined MotoGP the following year and, in 2016, scored his first win in the Dutch GP at Assen.

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Pata Yamaha Confirm Alex Lowes For The 2018 WorldSBK Season

Yamaha today confirmed their rider line-up for 2018 with Alex Lowes re-signed to the Japanese manufacturer.

Despite having consistently being the man most likely to break the Kawasaki and Ducati monopoly Lowes' future had been uncertain until his Suzuka 8 Hours success. Having stood on the WorldSBK rostrum twice for Yamaha this year it had looked like a foregone conclusion that a new contract would be signed, sealed and delivered early in the summer. As it was patience was key for Lowes but in the end he got the deal that he had been chasing.

“The most important thing for me is that I want to be in a position to win the WorldSBK championship in the future,” said Lowes. “I believe that I can be world champion but it's been a tough four years for me in WorldSBK. I believe that I can achieve a lot in this championship and it has been difficult to not have that success.

“I've got a great relationship with Yamaha now and we're continuing to build that relationship. When the time is right and the we're ready I think that Yamaha and myself will be in a really strong position. I'm delighted to be staying here because it's the best option for me and all year it's where I've wanted to be for 2018. We made steps over the winter and we can keep making progress together.”

Yamaha has already made big strides this year with the R1 this year but Lowes is keen to stress the importance of continuing to progress. In the second year of their return to the series they have been able to challenge at the front on a weekly basis. From the season opener in Phillip Island the blue bikes have been able to challenge the Kawasaki's and Ducati's but it's clear that another step forward is needed.

“Suzuka is important because when you're in the box and all the key Japanese people are with you can talk to them and see that they do care about WorldSBK. They want it to be successful. I think that there's support from Japan and there will be opportunities for us to work closer with them to improve the bike. I think that it's probably more likely that at the end of the year we'll start to get some help from those guys for the 2018 season.

“I think that there's lots of areas we could learn from. I don't think that it's one thing that we could bolt on the WorldSBK bike and it would be a massive step. I really believe that having the respect and a closer relationship with the Japanese is the most important thing that would help us improve on all the areas of the WorldSBK bike.”

The WorldSBK season will resume in Germany on August 18.

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Ducati's Flexible Fairings - New Aerodynamic Package Allows Variable Internal Vanes

The new fairing unveiled by Ducati yesterday was not entirely complete. On Saturday morning, the fairing fitted to Danilo Petrucci's Pramac Ducati revealed an added layer of complexity and variability. Below is the new fairing used by Jorge Lorenzo, and fitted to the bike yesterday:

 

Funky fairing on both of Lorenzo's bikes, but not on Dovizioso's

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The aerodynamic package consists of a side pod on each side, with two large aerodynamic surfaces at the top and bottom.

But that is not the complete package. As you can see from Petrucci's fairing below, the side pod allows the number of internal vanes to be varied. Petrucci's bike has a single internal vane added (in white in the picture), which will increase the amount of downforce.

 

Extra internal vanes on Petrucci's bike, for more downforce. Only one of his bikes has the fairing.

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It is clear from the design that the side pods are meant to be swappable to change the amount of downforce at different tracks. If you look closely at the top of the side pods, you can see that the outer vertical element of the pod is attached with a couple of screws at the top, and a couple of screws at the bottom. That makes it possible to unbolt an element with no internal vane and replace it with one with an internal vane quite quickly.

That is allowed under the rules. The aerodynamic regulations mean that only the external shape has to be homologated. What happens on the inside of the side pods is completely free. Yamaha exploited the same loophole in the design of their aerodynamic package, using different numbers of internal vanes at different tracks. Interestingly, Yamaha are not using their aerodynamic package at Brno, while Ducati and Honda experiment. Suzuki, similarly, are not using their aero fairing.

However, the side pods on Petrucci's and Lorenzo's bikes are different. Petrucci's extends much further down the side of the fairing, the lower part containing a lower wing. The question is whether these have been homologated as two fairings or as one. Technically, the rules say that the outer shape must remain unchanged. However, teams are allowed to attach and detach bolt-on parts, such as is the case with the Honda aerodynamic package. If the upper and lower sections are regarded as detachable parts (which the prominently visible screws suggest they are), then the entire package may be regarded as a single, homologated part. This can be cleared up by MotoGP Technical Director Danny Aldridge. We shall attempt to get an affinitive answer from him later.

Another note on the size of the side pods of the Ducati. In the flesh, the side pods aren't as large as they look in photos. They are still significant - roughly the size of Ducati's winglets last year - but they are not abnormally huge.

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