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Valentino Rossi Breaks Right Leg In Enduro Training Crash

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

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

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

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

Further details will be posted when we get them.

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Tony Goldsmith At Silvertone, Qualifying Photos


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


One day, the gremlins will leave Aleix Espargaro alone


Silverstone, flattish

 

 


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Thailand MotoGP Contract Signing Means Provisional 2018 Calendar Is Nigh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Below is the press release from Dorna:


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

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

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

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Tony Goldsmith At Silvertone, Friday Photos


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


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


Home boy fastest at home


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


Marc Marquez brings the hustle


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


Though sometimes messages take a while to sink in


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


Scott Redding slides his way through Northamptonshire


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


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


The past, present, and future of the sport


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

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

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

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

Below is the official press release from Dorna:


Test of new MotoGP™ bike swap procedure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Below is the press release announcing the deal with Lüthi:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marc van der Straten: President, Marc VDS Racing Team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The main objective of the test, Davide Tardozzi told 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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