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Alex Rins Declared Unfit For Opening MotoGP Round At Jerez

Alex Rins will not take part in the first race of 2020 MotoGP season. The Suzuki Ecstar rider was declared unfit by medical staff on Sunday morning, the right shoulder injury suffered being too severe for him to take part.

Rins faces a difficult few weeks. Though the Spaniard is keen to race next week, when the series returns at Jerez, the injuries to his shoulder may prevent that. Rins suffered a fractured humerus (bone in the upper arm) as well as muscle and tendon damage in the right shoulder. In the press release, MotoGP surgeon Dr Mir speaks of a long recovery process, with surgery not an option.

With four more races in the next five weeks, Rins will have little time to recover his fitness, even if he does manage to race.

Below is the press release from Suzuki:


ALEX RINS DECLARED UNFIT FOR SPANISH GRAND PRIX

Team Suzuki Press Office - July 19.

Alex Rins has been declared unfit for today’s Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit of Jerez Angel Nieto, following the heavy crash he suffered in the closing moments of Saturday’s Q2 session.

Yesterday afternoon Rins was diagnosed at the Hospital Jerez Puerta del Sur with a fracture and dislocation in his right shoulder, he also sustained muscle damage to the surrounding area.

MotoGP Medical Director Ángel Charte carried out a round of examinations this morning and declared Alex unfit for the race.

Further assessments will be carried out ahead of next weekend’s Andalucia Grand Prix.

Davide Brivio - Team Manager:

“We are very disappointed that Alex can’t race, especially because we felt we had the chance for a good result. Alex was really fast with good pace, so it’s a pity. For this to happen with such a short season makes it even harder. He can’t race today, but during next week we will all try our best to get him back on track next weekend.”

Alex Rins:

“It’s impossible to race today here in Jerez. It’s really disappointing that I suffered this injury because my feeling with the bike had been really good during the whole weekend. But right now, I need to think about getting well as soon as possible, the doctors will help me with rehab during next week and they have given me some stronger painkillers. I’ll try my maximum to ride next week.”

Xavier Mir - MotoGP Traumatologist:

“After the crash Alex underwent an MRI scan at the Hospital Jerez Puerta del Sur and this confirmed some injuries such as the muscle and ligament damage, and fracture to the shoulder. Furthermore, he presents an injury in one of the rotary tendons of the shoulder. This means it is a multiple injury with a potentially long recovery time. We decided he should not need surgery, and instead he will begin magnetotherapy to reduce the edema. He will also have assisted rehab with electro stimulation in order to try and race next week. We agreed that it will be impossible to race today, and Dr. Charte administered some more powerful analgesics.”

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Alex Rins Taken To Hospital With Suspected Fractured Shoulder

Alex Rins has been taken to hospital in Jerez with a suspected fractured shoulder, and a dislocated shoulder. The Suzuki Ecstar rider crashed heavily in Turn 11 during Saturday's Q2 qualifying session, tumbling through the gravel at Turn 11. The Spaniard was holding his shoulder as he walked out of the gravel, and was taken to the medical center at the circuit.

After preliminary examination at the medical center, Rins was sent to hospital for further scans. At the moment, no decision has been taken on his possible participation in Sunday's opening race of the 2020 MotoGP season, but the seriousness of the injury does not bode well for the Spaniard.

Exactly why Rins crashed is uncertain. But riders have been reporting issues at Turn 11 with the wind, and track conditions, with temperatures approaching 60°C, it was easy to lose the front as the brakes are released.

Further updates once Suzuki issue a press release.

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Fabio Quartararo And Sergio Garcia Penalized For Unauthorized Practice - UPDATE

Fabio Quartararo and Sergio Garcia have both been handed penalties for using unauthorized machines to practice on track. The pair have been punished by being forced to miss the first 20 minutes of FP1 when action resumes on Friday.

The two were punished for separate incidents, Garcia for riding at Aragon in June, Quartararo for riding at Paul Ricard in the same month. Both riders admitted that they had broken the rules, but claimed the infraction was unintentional. The relative lenience of the sentence would appear to back that up, the penalty being in line with previous incidents.

Quartararo has appealed against his penalty, however. The hearing for that is yet to be heard.

~~~ UPDATE ~~~

The FIM Appeal Stewards rejected Fabio Quartararo's appeal. The Frenchman will sit out the first 20 minutes of FP1 on Friday morning

The press release from the FIM appears below:


FIM MotoGP™ Stewards Notifications of Sanction: Fabio Quartararo and Sergio Garcia

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Please find attached sanctions for MotoGP™ rider Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Moto3™ rider Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) following hearings to investigate possible breaches of the FIM Grand Prix Regulations covering practice and testing, specifically Article 1.15.1. c) Rider Training and Track Familiarisation, regarding the type of machines permitted for rider training.

Both have been suspended from the first 20 minutes of the FP1 session of the Gran Premio Red Bull de España.

Fabio Quartararo has appealed the decision and more information will be provided as soon as available.


FIM MotoGP™ Appeal Stewards Notification of Decision: Fabio Quartararo

Thursday, 16 July 2020

Following an appeal from Petronas Yamaha SRT and MotoGP™ rider Fabio Quartararo, the FIM MotoGP™ Appeal Stewards held a hearing yesterday at 18:30 (GMT +2) and made a decision today.

The sanction given by the FIM MotoGP™ Stewards is confirmed. The FIM MotoGP™ Appeal Stewards' decision is final.

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The 2021 MotoGP Rider Line Up: Who Goes Where, And Who Fills The Still Vacant Slots?

It was a busy day for MotoGP rider announcements. Three riders were confirmed in teams, with a fourth confirmed as leaving. The announcements were hardly a shock, but there was room for the odd raised eyebrow or two.

At Honda, there was the expected reshuffling to make room for Pol Espargaro in the Repsol Honda squad, the Spaniard offered a two-year deal alongside Marc Marquez. This bumped Alex Márquez down to the LCR Honda team, with a two-year contract as compensation. Alex Márquez may have lost his ride in the factory team before a wheel has turned in the 2020 MotoGP season, but at least he is now assured of three seasons in the premier class to prove himself.

If there was a surprise in the announcements, it was that Cal Crutchlow was being released to make room for Alex Márquez. The Englishman has been a valuable asset in the development of the Honda RC213V, his feedback highly rated, and he is a firm favorite in the LCR squad, bringing a lot of media exposure to the satellite team.

The LCR shuffle

It had been thought that Takaaki Nakagami would lose his place, to free up a seat at LCR Honda for Alex Márquez. But Honda remains keen to keep a Japanese rider in MotoGP, and though there is a new cohort of fresh young Japanese talent rising through Moto3 and Moto2, they are still a couple of years away from breaking into the premier class. With HRC needing both a seat and a factory-spec Honda RC213V, losing Crutchlow was their best option.

The decision had not come as a shock to Cal Crutchlow. The Englishman told the MotoGP.com website that he had known for three months there would be no room for him with HRC next year. But he also said he did not believe he would be retiring. He acknowledged there was interest from Aprilia, but he also said there was still a chance for him to stay at LCR.

Lucio Cecchinello is keen to keep him, Crutchlow told MotoGP.com. the problem is that for Cecchinello, keeping Crutchlow would be expensive. The LCR team would have to pick up Crutchlow's salary, and find the funds to run that side of the garage. At the moment, HRC pays Takaaki Nakagami's salary, and picks up the tab for the Japanese rider's side of the garage, with help from Idemitsu, the Japanese oil firm which backs Nakagami.

Making a splash

The fourth rider signing concerned Franco Morbidelli, who has been signed to a further two years in the Petronas Yamaha SRT squad. Petronas boss Razlan Razali played the media on Sunday night, posting a picture of himself aboard a flight destined for Spain with the comment that "The announcement that the fans have been waiting for will be tomorrow." That led to speculation that Valentino Rossi's arrival at the Sepang squad would be announced, but instead, it was Franco Morbidelli.

In a way, this was a smart play by Razali. It paid the rider which he signed – as opposed to having a rider thrust upon the team – a compliment, and generated more media interest for Morbidelli's signing than might otherwise have been expected. Morbidelli's renewal was almost a formality, given that Petronas bosses were already expressing their hopes of retaining their 2019 rider line up beyond 2020 last year. Losing Fabio Quartararo was inevitable, given the Frenchman's meteoric ascension in the MotoGP firmament. That made keeping Morbidelli all the more important.

That Rossi's deal was not announced is mainly because it has not yet been signed. Though it is all but inevitable that the Italian will end up in Petronas, the precise details of who goes with him – mechanics, trainers, coaches, photographers, etc – are proving very tricky to hammer out. Rossi expects to be able to choose more or less whoever he wants. That might have been the case if Petronas had chosen to sign Rossi, but they are having Rossi foisted upon them by Yamaha, on the basis of promises made by Yamaha to the Italian. There are far, far worse riders to have stuck in your team, but the expectations of the two parties are still a long way apart.

Vacancies down

The official announcements made to day bring the total of officially signed riders for 2021 to 15. The factory Yamaha, Honda, KTM, and Suzuki teams are full, while Aleix Espargaro and Jack Miller have been confirmed at Aprilia and Ducati respectively. Among the satellite teams, the Red Bull Tech3 KTM squad has a full compliment of riders in Danilo Petrucci and Iker Lecuona, while Morbidelli and Alex Márquez mean that half of the Petronas and LCR seats are filled. Tito Rabat still has one year on his contract with Avintia, meaning his seat is safe for 2021.

Despite there still being seven officially open seats left in MotoGP, all but two are already provisionally taken. Nakagami looks almost certain to keep his seat at LCR, and Johann Zarco can be sure of an offer from Ducati, though he may not be delighted that it is at Avintia. Pecco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin look set to fill the Pramac Ducati squad, though a shuffle is not unthinkable if Zarco outperforms Bagnaia.

Which leaves only two seats open, and both are at factory teams. Cal Crutchlow looks to be the firm favorite for the Aprilia seat at the moment, though he insists that there are still other options. That is not necessarily true for Aprilia, however: it is looking less and less likely that Andrea Iannone will escape a long ban for testing positive for drostanolone, a banned steroid. The Italian is supposed to have a hearing in front of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, or CAS, in August. But the CAS website still lists no hearings for the case. Furthermore, Iannone finds the might of WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency ranged against him, who are appealing against the leniency of the FIM's 18-month ban.

Dovi vs Duc

The most interesting seat at the moment is the slot in the Factory Ducati team. Andrea Dovizioso has still not signed a contract with Ducati for 2021, despite his long association with the Italian factory. Unsurprising, perhaps, given that he has been asked to take a pay cut, not just for 2021, but also for 2020, the current season, and a season which is covered in his current contract.

Dovizioso's manager, Simone Battistella, has even suggested that the Italian might prefer to take a year out of MotoGP, in the hope of securing a better contract on his return. This seems vanishingly unlikely. Riders who leave MotoGP rarely, if ever, return. And when they do, it is never to a better opportunity than the one they left behind.

The most recent examples that spring to mind are Max Biaggi, who was forced out of MotoGP after losing his ride at Honda. After a year off, Biaggi moved – with a great deal of success – to the World Superbike paddock, but he never got another chance in MotoGP.

Sete Gibernau left MotoGP at the end of the 2006 season, after losing his Ducati ride. He came back after two seasons away, riding for the Grupo Francisco Hernando team, a squad set up with the backing of a controversial building magnate in an attempt to persuade Teodoro Obiang, the president of Equatorial Guinea and the man widely regarded as the worst dictator in the world to sponsor the team and grant a building contract in the country. Gibernau scored 12 points from six races in an already thin field, and the team withdrew halfway through the season.

No alternative

If a sabbatical is not a great option for Dovizioso, losing the Italian would not be great for Ducati either. Their options are severely limited, with nobody of Dovizioso's experience or talent readily available. Rumors continue to bubble up around Jorge Lorenzo, but the Spaniard is looking far too happy in retirement. And he has made plain that the Ducati was not the ideal bike for him.

If Lorenzo had been offered a shot on the factory Yamaha, he might have jumped at it. The M1 fits him like a glove, and he would have had a realistic shot at a title. Winning a championship on the Ducati would be very, very hard work, and much more of a long shot, the Desmosedici being some way away from Lorenzo's natural riding style. The only thing that could tempt him back would be a large pile of money, and the lack of that is precisely what is preventing Ducati from extending Dovizioso's contract.

In the end, Dovizioso and Ducati seemed doomed to spend at least one more season together. Until Ducati are certain that Jack Miller is the future for the brand, and they are ready to sign a young rider – or they finally get a shot at Marc Márquez, Maverick Viñales, or Fabio Quartararo – Dovizioso is their best bet. For Dovizioso, in turn, Ducati is his best chance of winning a title. It seems merely a matter of time before the two sides come to an agreement. But it won't be any time soon.

Implicit message

Pol Espargaro's move to Repsol Honda makes sense for both parties, given that Espargaro has a very similar approach to riding to Marc Márquez. "It's a bike which needs a rider who is ambitious, who gives absolutely everything, who leaves nothing on the table, and who knows how to suffer. This is what I have learned at last," Espargaro told the Spanish publication AS.com.

But it is also an implicit admission of a lack of faith in Alex Márquez. Repsol Honda team boss Alberto Puig told MotoGP.com that the LCR Honda team was a place where he could develop with less pressure than in the Repsol Honda team. But that didn't stop them from putting a rookie and 250cc champion directly into the Repsol Honda team in 2006, in the shape of Dani Pedrosa, or putting a Moto2 champion and rookie directly into Repsol Honda in 2013, in the shape of Marc Márquez.

In Repsol Honda, you are expected to succeed, as Marc Márquez himself pointed out at the 2019 team launch in Madrid. "Being in this team means fighting for victories, podiums and the championship. If not, it's actually failure." By first moving Alex Márquez into the Repsol Honda team, then deciding to move him out again before he has even had a chance to race and prove himself suggests that HRC don't believe that Alex Márquez will be capable of fighting for podiums. At the same time, they are making it clear that this is exactly what they expect Pol Espargaro to do.

In the short term, this might look like a sensible move by Honda, putting Alex Márquez in a lower-pressure environment where he has a chance to thrive. He showed good progression during preseason testing, and looks to be on course for solid results once racing gets underway. After the disruption of the 2020 season, he may well prove to be a formidable rider on a factory Honda RC213V inside the LCR squad next year.

But in the medium term, as I wrote previously, this looks like the first step towards the end of the Honda/Márquez relationship. Though Marc may deny it, it must be hard to see how HRC has handled the situation with brother Alex. That will grate for the next year or two, by which time, he might feel the need to move on to another manufacturer, one which hasn't shown his family a certain lack of respect.

That announcement, that press release will do more than raise an eyebrow or two, if it ever comes.

The current confirmed and expected/rumored rider line up for 2021. Riders' names in italics are expected, names in italics ending in a question mark? are still just rumors.

Rider Bike Contract until
Factory Teams
Monster Energy Yamaha
Maverick Viñales Yamaha M1 2022
Fabio Quartararo Yamaha M1 2022
     
Repsol Honda
Marc Márquez Honda RC213V 2024
Pol Espargaro Honda RC213V 2022
     
Suzuki Ecstar
Alex Rins Suzuki GSX-RR 2022
Joan Mir Suzuki GSX-RR 2022
     
Ducati Factory
Jack Miller Ducati Desmosedici GP21 2021 (option for 2022)
Andrea Dovizioso? Ducati Desmosedici GP21  
     
Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Aleix Espargaro Aprilia RS-GP 2022
Cal Crutchlow? Aprilia RS-GP  
     
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Brad Binder KTM RC16 2021
Miguel Oliveira KTM RC16 2021
     
Satellite Teams
Red Bull KTM Tech3
Danilo Petrucci KTM RC16 2021
Iker Lecuona KTM RC16 2021
     
Petronas Yamaha SRT
Franco Morbidelli Yamaha M1 2022
Valentino Rossi Yamaha M1  
 
LCR Honda
Alex Márquez Honda RC213V 2022
Takaaki Nakagami Honda RC213V  
     
Pramac Ducati
Pecco Bagnaia? Ducati Desmosedici GP21  
Jorge Martin? Ducati Desmosedici GP20?  
     
Avintia Ducati
Tito Rabat Ducati GP20? 2021
Johann Zarco? Ducati GP20?  

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Announcement Monday: Petronas Extend Morbidelli For 2 Years, Repsol Honda Sign Pol Espargaro, Alex Marquez To LCR, Crutchlow Out

A bumper crop of announcements this morning, and though the contents had long been expected, there was still room for a surprise. The announcement that Pol Espargaro would be joining Marc Marquez in the Repsol Honda team had been long trailed, but today we got confirmation that the Spaniard had signed a two-year deal with HRC to race in the factory team, forcing Alex Marquez out. You can read about the possible consequences of that move, and what effect it will have on Marc Marquez, here.

Alex Marquez has some consolation for the demotion, in the form of a two-year deal to race inside the LCR Honda team, for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. But this means that Cal Crutchlow has been forced out of LCR, with Honda choosing to retain Takaaki Nakagami instead. Rumors persist that Crutchlow could go to the Aprilia MotoGP squad for next year, and Dorna would like to keep the popular British rider in the series, as contracts with UK broadcaster BT Sport are up for renewal soon.

The final announcement came at Petronas Yamaha. Franco Morbidelli has been kept on for two years, something which Petronas Yamaha team managers told me they were very keen to do. There had been some expectation that Petronas could announce the signing of Valentino Rossi today, but that may have to wait.

The press releases from Honda and from Petronas Yamaha appear below:


HRC sign Pol Espargaro

Honda Racing Corporation are pleased to announce the signing of Pol Espargaro. The former Moto2 World Champion will join the Repsol Honda Team on a two-year contract. He will join eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez aboard the Honda RC213V. Espargaro is one of the most experienced riders on the grid, having raced in the World Championship since 2006 and with 104 premier class Grands Prix contested.


HRC extend agreement with Alex Marquez

Honda Racing Corporation are proud to announce the renewal of Alex Marquez, extending his current agreement until the end of 2022.

During 2020, the former Moto3 and Moto2 World Champion will race in the premier class aboard his Honda RC213V in the Repsol Honda Team.

After winning the title in the middleweight class, Marquez has a whole season ahead to gain experience and make progress in HRC’s long term project, which sees the 24-year old Spanish rider join the LCR Honda Team at the end of 2020.

HRC would like to extend their thanks to Cal Crutchlow for his diligent and tireless work since joining HRC in 2015. With three wins and 12 podiums, the British rider has been a valuable asset on and off track – a constant source of excellent feedback for the engineers and a key part of developing the Honda RC213V in recent years. HRC wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

Alex Marquez 73
Rider – MotoGP

“I am very proud to announce my renewal with Honda Racing Corporation. HRC gave me the opportunity to arrive in MotoGP and I am glad to join the LCR Honda Team at the end of 2020 and compete in a big team with great experience in MotoGP. I want to thank HRC and the LCR Honda Team for their trust in me to be able to continue in the Honda family and I will work hard to prove their confidence with results. Now, I am eager to start the season in Jerez and I am completely focused to give my best this year.”

Yoshishige Nomura
HRC President

"HRC are happy to continue working with Alex Marquez through the learning process in the MotoGP category for the next two seasons. After deep consideration and a thorough analysis of the current situation, we believe Alex has a great opportunity to grow in the premier class with full factory support inside the LCR Honda Team. We believe that by following this path over the next three seasons, we will achieve the results both HRC and Alex look for.”


PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team retains Franco Morbidelli

PETRONAS Yamaha SRT will retain Franco Morbidelli for two years

PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team is pleased to announce that Franco Morbidelli will be retained for the 2021 and 2022 MotoGP seasons.

The Italian rider, who was MotoGP Rookie of the Year in 2018, joined PETRONAS Yamaha SRT in 2019 for the team’s debut MotoGP season.

The year saw Morbidelli make four front row starts and claim seven top-six finishes aboard his Yamaha YZR-M1. In addition to this, Franco was also vital in helping to secure the 2019 Top Independent Team honours for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT, finishing 10th in the riders’ championship with 115 points to his name.

The Malaysian-based team now looks forward to being able to see Franco back in action at the first MotoGP round of 2020 in Jerez (17-19 July).

Razlan Razali
Team Principal

We are delighted to confirm that Franky will continue with us next year. He is an extremely talented rider and a great asset to the team as we look to build on our rookie season. Franky was always in our plans for the future so it is beneficial for us and him to be able to confirm that he will ride for us in 2021 and 2022 now.

Franky has the potential to reach the top step of the podium and this is what we’ll all be working hard to achieve. We have absolute faith in Franky even before this season has started. We are confident that Franky has what it takes to be competitive from Jerez and know that he will develop and mature in all areas through the years ahead. Franky will provide the team with stability and competitiveness and we can’t wait to be back on track!

Franco Morbidelli

I’m very pleased to be renewing with PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team as we had such a great season together last year, working with a great drive to achieve success. I think it’s important for me to continue with the same team, bike and environment going forward as it feels great to work with them. We all work well together and it’s great fun to work with all the PETRONAS SRT crew. I want to thank them for this opportunity that they are giving me as it’s such an honour to ride for them. I will be working hard to give them even more and even better results than we achieved in our first year together. I’m now looking forward to getting racing again to show our potential and I’m just so happy to have the chance to keep on doing what I love to do with a team I love.

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Reigning WorldSSP Champion Randy Krummenacher Splits With MV Agusta

In a surprise move, reigning WorldSSP champion Randy Krummenacher has announced that he is splitting with the MV Agusta Reparto Corse team with immediate effect.

The Swiss rider gave only vague reasons for the split. In a press release, he blamed "serious breaches on the part of the company that compromise both the rider's performance as well as his professionalism, reputation, and personal integrity." Serious claims, but then splitting right before the season restarts at Jerez on the weekend of August 2nd is a big move to make.

Krummenacher won the WorldSSP championship in 2019, riding for the Evan Bros Yamaha squad, clinching the title by just 6 points from his teammate Federico Caricasulo.

What Krummenacher does next is unknown. For the moment, the Swiss rider is left without a ride for the remainder of 2020, and must hope to get a chance with another team, or if a rider is injured. His best hope may lie in replacing Leon Camier at Barni Ducati, the Englishman still recovering from a long-standing shoulder injury picked up last year.

The press release from Randy Krummenacher appears below:


RANDY KRUMMENACHER WILL NOT CONTINUE THE 2020 SEASON WITH MV AGUSTA REPARTO CORSE

With this press release, rider Randy Krummenacher confirms his intention to dissolve his contract with MVRC srl, (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) due to serious breaches on the part of the company that compromise both the rider‘s performance as well as his professionalism, reputation and personal integrity.

Krummenacher has sent the company formal notification, in which all the reasons leading to his decision are clearly outlined.

Krummenacher has also moved to inform the competent bodies, responsible for verifying any technical irregularities.

The Supersport 600 World Championship title holder has reached this difficult decision after having carefully evaluated the risks involved in dissolving the agreement, on the one hand, and the values for which he has always stood, professionally and personally-speaking, on the other.

RK: "This is not a pleasant situation and I never wanted any of this. The aim was to fight for the world title once more but unfortunately, the foundations needed to move ahead with the project with MV Agusta Reparto Corse are not there. I have had to take this decision in order to preserve my moral and professional integrity, as well as my safety. Throughout my career, I have always tried to do the right thing, giving it my all in any situation, even the most challenging. But this time there was only one decision I could make. I cannot say more about my motives at this time, but further details will be communicated in due course."

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Valentino Rossi To Announce Petronas Yamaha Deal At Jerez

Valentino Rossi at the 2020 Qatar MotoGP test - Photo Cormac Ryan Meenan

It appears that the deal is done. Italian media, including La Gazzetta dello Sport and GPOne.com, are reporting that Valentino Rossi has reached agreement with Yamaha for a new two-year deal to race in the Petronas Yamaha squad. The deal is to be announced during the weekend of the first MotoGP round once it resumes at Jerez next weekend.

The deal will initially be for 2021, with an option to extend the contract for a second year to 2022. Rossi will take a seat in the Petronas Yamaha squad alongside VR46 protege Franco Morbidelli, who should also be announcing a new contract soon.

The announcement will bring a long period of speculation to an end. Valentino Rossi appears to have enjoyed spending so much time at home during lockdown, with his family and girlfriend, giving rise to rumors he was seriously considering retirement. Rossi had previously said that he had wanted to wait until after the first few European races in 2020 before making a decision on his future.

Ducati's aggressive pursuit of both Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo had already forced Yamaha's hand at the beginning of the year. The two youngsters were signed to the factory Monster Energy Yamaha team for 2021 and 2022, complicating Rossi's decision further. If he wanted to continue racing, he would have to move to the satellite Petronas Yamaha squad. Yamaha at least promised him a fully factory-supported Yamaha M1 if he did decided to continue.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing disruption to the 2020 MotoGP season wrecked Rossi's initial plans to wait before making a decision. With the first half of the season canceled, postponed, or rescheduled, Rossi was forced to reconsider his options. It would not be possible for the Italian to make his choice based on results; the criteria he had previously given to make a judgment was whether he felt he could be competitive.

Given the curtailed 2020 MotoGP season and the very different environment in which it will take place, it seems that Rossi did not feel that this year would be a good yardstick by which to judge whether he is still capable of winning races, or perhaps even a championship. And as a consequence, he has decided to keep racing for at least one more season, with an option to assess his performance in 2021 with a view to racing in 2022 as well.

So far, there are no details on what exactly is included in the deal. Previously, the sticking point between Petronas and Rossi involved the number of people the Italian wanted to bring into the Petronas squad. In all his previous moves, Rossi has brought his entire crew with him every time he has switched manufacturers.

The vast majority of his team accompanied him from Honda to Yamaha, from Yamaha to Ducati, and back again from Ducati to Yamaha. But Petronas team boss Razlan Razali told The Race's Simon Patterson that they did not want the disruption which bringing an entire garage crew in for possibly just a single season would involve. Razali told The Race that Petronas would only have room for two crew from Rossi's factory team, one of whom would almost certainly be the crew chief. How many people make the switch, and what happens to the mechanics and engineers who don't move with Rossi remains to be seen.

Rossi's deal removes one of the larger question marks hanging over the 2021 grid, but a couple of major issues remain. What happens in the factory Ducati squad, whether Andrea Dovizioso returns, and whether Cal Crutchlow takes the second seat in the factory Aprilia team will likely take a little longer to play out.


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Austin Round of MotoGP At The Circuit Of The Americas Canceled

The Grand Prix of the Americas will not happen in 2020. Today, in a post on social media which has since been deleted, the Circuit of The Americas announced that the Austin round of MotoGP had been canceled, and a date set for the 2021 edition, to be held on April 18th.

The news hardly comes as a surprise, given the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Texas, and the growth in cases in the US in general. That has prompted the EU countries to put the US on a list of countries from which all non-essential travel is still banned, with no sign of that being lifted.

The chances of races outside of Europe happening were already very slim. Though no announcements have been made, the Argentina round at Termas de Rio Hondo looks almost certain to be canceled, while the Sepang and Buriram rounds the only races with a chance of happening. Today, the Bangkok Post quoted the Thai deputy government spokesperson Traisuree Traisaranakul as saying the Thai government hoped that a race at Buriram would be possible, with November 22nd as a possible date, a week after the last currently scheduled round at Valencia.

The most peculiar thing about the COTA announcement is that the social media post was taken down, and no official press release issued. The MotoAmerica series did issue a press release (below), announcing that both the MotoAmerica round in Austin and the MotoGP round had been canceled. The MotoAmerica press release states that an announcement was made by Dorna, but no such announcement was made. The most logical explanation is that the US circuit and series jumped the gun, with a Dorna press release to be made in the very near future.

Below is the press release from MotoAmerica:


COTA Round Of MotoAmerica Series Cancelled

No U.S. GP And No MotoAmerica In Austin In 2020

IRVINE, CA (July 8, 2020) – With the announcement coming today from Dorna and the Circuit of The Americas that the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, scheduled for November 13-15, has been cancelled, MotoAmerica is also announcing that it will not be racing at the Austin, Texas, facility in 2020.

MotoAmerica, however, is working diligently on options to keep its 20-race HONOS Superbike Series intact for 2020.

“It’s a shame that we have to cancel the MotoAmerica round at COTA,” said MotoAmerica President Wayne Rainey. “The race is a highlight of our schedule and it’s always good to combine our efforts with Dorna to put on a great show in Austin. COVID-19 has made it virtually impossible for the MotoGP series to travel to the U.S. so we fully understand the issues they are facing in 2020. We look forward to returning to COTA with MotoGP in 2021. In the meantime, we are working on a solution to find a replacement round as we continue to strive towards having a 20-race Superbike Series.”

The COTA round was scheduled to be the MotoAmerica HONOS Superbike Series finale.

The 2020 MotoAmerica Series continues with round three of the championship at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, July 31-August 2.

For the complete 2020 MotoAmerica Series schedule, click HERE
To purchase tickets for any of the 2020 series round, click HERE
For information on how to watch the 2020 MotoAmerica Series, click HERE

About MotoAmerica
MotoAmerica is the North American road racing series created in 2014 that is home to the AMA Superbike Championship. MotoAmerica is an affiliate of KRAVE Group LLC, a partnership that includes three-time 500cc World Champion, two-time AMA Superbike Champion, and AMA Hall of Famer Wayne Rainey, ex-racer and former manager of Team Roberts Chuck Aksland, motorsports marketing executive Terry Karges, and businessman Richard Varner. For more information on MotoAmerica, visit www.MotoAmerica.com. Also make sure to follow MotoAmerica on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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Two Riders To Face FIM Stewards Over Training Infringements

Two unnamed riders have been caught infringing the Grand Prix testing and practice regulations. In a press release issued today, the FIM announced that breaches of the rules had been reported, which would be investigated during hearings to be held at the (re)opening of MotoGP at Jerez, on July 19th.

Though neither the names nor the specific infraction were mentioned in the press release, the wording of the announcement makes clear that the incident involves either Moto2 or Moto3 riders, and that they are accused of having used bikes which were not eligible to be used for training.

Since circuits opened again, and training restarted, riders have flocked to tracks all over the world to get back the feeling of speed. They have taken every opportunity to ride at tracks like Barcelona, Misano, and Jerez, to prepare for the restarting of a packed schedule.

In the frenzy to restart, it appears that two riders have not paid careful attention to the rules and regulations. All practice on a Grand Prix track with a bike of the same make as the rider races in their specific class cannot be of the same capacity.

For Moto2 riders, they are not allowed to practice on a Triumph with an engine within 100cc (bigger or smaller) of of the 765cc motor powering the Moto2 class, which would rule out the previous model of Triumph 675, including the very popular Street Triple.

For Moto3 riders, they are not allowed to practice on the brand they are racing, and a bike within 50cc smaller or larger of the 250cc of the Moto3 class limit. KTM, in particular, makes a lot of engines for Enduro and MX bikes in these capacities, including 250cc four strokes and a 300cc two stroke, though Honda also make 250cc MX and Enduro bikes. If a rider fitted 17-inch wheels to an MX bike and used it on a Grand Prix track, that would count as a violation of the rules.

KTM riders do have an alternative, however: the KTM RC390 falls outside of the rules, and KTM Moto3 riders would be able to use such a bike.

The fact that the press release does not mention names suggests these infractions are only minor, and the riders may get away with only a warning. When Aleix Espargaro was found to be riding a Suzuki GSX-R1000 with carbon brakes and slick tires while with Suzuki in MotoGP, he was handed a warning and told to put the bike back to standard.

The FIM press release appears below:


FIM Grand Prix World Championship
INFORMATION AND REMINDER

The FIM MotoGP™ Stewards have been advised of possible breaches of the FIM Grand Prix Regulations covering practice and testing, specifically Article 1.15.1. c) Rider Training and Track familiarisation, regarding the type of machines permitted for rider training.

As a reminder and following the decision of the Grand Prix Commission published on 27 May 2020, riders in Moto3 and Moto2 classes are not permitted to make further private testing in 2020 until further notice, the same applies to MotoGP class riders unless they are riding for Manufacturers that qualify for concessions. Practice and testing restrictions for all classes are expressly provided for in Article 1.15.1 of the FIM Grand Prix Regulations, including details of what machines are allowed to be used for Rider Training and Track Familiarisation.

Hearings for riders who may have broken the rules should be scheduled to take place at the 2020 Gran Premio Red Bull de España at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto, in order to hear from the parties concerned and to allow further time to investigate the details.

At this stage the FIM will not make any further comments on this matter.

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Michael van der Mark To Leave Yamaha WorldSBK Team At The End Of 2020

Yamaha have announced that Michael van der Mark will be leaving their WorldSBK team at the end of the 2020 WorldSBK season. After what will be four seasons with the Pata Yamaha squad, the 27-year-old Dutchman has decided to leave for pastures new.

There is as yet no confirmation of where Van der Mark is heading, but reports on Speedweek suggest his destination is likely to be BMW. With Kawasaki already having signed Alex Lowes and Jonathan Rea, and little interest from either Ducati or Honda, BMW is the obvious choice.

That would also automatically lower the combined age of the BMW team. At 27, Van der Mark is 7 years younger than either Tom Sykes or Eugene Laverty, who are both 34. Which one of the two is likely to stay is as yet uncertain. Tom Sykes has proven himself to be competitive on the S1000RR, but Eugene Laverty's development feedback has been rated extremely highly wherever he has ridden. That could be a crucial factor for a pairing with Van der Mark, who is not known for his feedback, though his speed is never in question.

Why would Van der Mark leave Yamaha? There is a strong possibility his departure is linked to the arrival of Toprak Razgatlioglu in the Pata Yamaha squad. For years, Van der Mark was seen as the up-and-coming young talent in WorldSBK, until Razgatlioglu arrived on the scene. For the young Turkish rider to be signed into the Yamaha squad, and then feted for his victory in race 1 at Phillip Island, the first WorldSBK race of 2020, would have been tough for Van der Mark to bear. If he believed, or felt he deserved, the number one position in the team, this would have dented his confidence that this was so.

Who replaces Van der Mark at Pata Yamaha is also unclear. The obvious choice would be to take a rider from the GRT Yamaha team, or perhaps even Loris Baz from Ten Kate. But there are no signs of a choice having been made there yet.

The Yamaha press release announcing Van der Mark's departure appears below:


Yamaha and Van der Mark to Part Company at Conclusion of 2020 WorldSBK Season

Yamaha and Michael van der Mark will part ways at the end of the 2020 FIM Superbike World Championship season, with the 27-year-old Dutch rider opting to take on a new challenge in 2021. Van der Mark's departure brings to a close a four-year partnership that has so far brought three WorldSBK race wins and two victories at the prestigious Suzuka 8 Hour race.

Van der Mark joined the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team in 2017 and twice finished on the podium during his debut season. The following year saw the Dutch rider secure his first WorldSBK race win, and Yamaha's first since returning to the championship in 2016, with victory in Race 1 at Donington Park. Van der Mark doubled up with a win in the following day's Race 2 and, with eight additional podium finishes over the course of the season, ended the year third in the championship standings.

The former FIM Supersport World Champion added to his win tally in 2019 with victory in Race 2 at Jerez but was sidelined by injury in the following round at Misano following a crash in free practice. Despite missing out at Misano and riding injured at the following two rounds, Van der Mark racked up eight podium finishes in 2019 to end the season fourth in the championship standings.

The Pata Yamaha rider was a contender for the win in all three races at the opening round of the 2020 season in Australia but was unfortunate to miss out on the chance to add to his podium tally. Since the Phillip Island round, racing has been suspended due the coronavirus pandemic, but Van der Mark will return to action next month, with the WorldSBK season set to resume with back-to-back races in Jerez and Portimão.

Both Yamaha and Van der Mark head into the rescheduled 2020 season determined to end their successful four-year collaboration on a high note, by battling for race wins and, ultimately, challenging for the World Championship title.

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