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Subscriber Feature: The Future of Moto2

At the end of the 2018 Grand Prix season, the engine contract for the Moto2 class comes up for renewal. The existing Honda CBR600RR engine is in line to be replaced as the spec Moto2 engine, as Honda is set to stop selling the bike in Europe, and has no plans for a successor.

What does the future of the Moto2 class look like? With the end of the current contract two years away, Dorna has started the process of defining what is to replace the current Honda engine. The first order of business was to explore every possible option, and evaluate the positives and negatives. Nothing was out of bounds: options evaluated included continuing with Honda, opening up the engine supply to competing manufacturers, having a bespoke engine built, and even a return to two-stroke engines.

In the end, though, Moto2 will remain a single, spec engine supplier from a major manufacturer again. The Moto2 teams have threatened mutiny at any suggestion of opening the class to competition, from fear of spiraling costs. The current situation makes Moto2 extremely affordable: running a Moto2 team costs roughly half what it costs to race in Moto3.

Who is likely to replace Honda? All my inquiries through official channels met with failure, sources refusing to comment. IRTA Secretary Mike Trimby told me, "We are in the middle of planning for the future of Moto2. But as this involves sensitive commercial negotiations, I'm afraid I can't comment."

This is the first in what will become a semi-regular series of insights into the world of motorcycle racing, exclusive for MotoMatters.com site supporters. The series will include background information, in-depth analysis, and opinion pieces. Though the vast majority of content on MotoMatters.com is to remain free to read, most notably the daily round ups at each MotoGP event, a select amount of content will be made available solely to those who have taken out a subscription.

The aim is to increase the number of site supporters and be able to move away from online advertising altogether, a model which is broken, as the rise of ad blockers demonstrates. Adding exclusive subscriber content adds value for site supporters, in addition to the desktop-sized versions of Scott Jones' photos for the site. The hope is that this will persuade more of our regular readers to support MotoMatters.com financially, and help us grow and improve the site. 

If you would like to become a site supporter, you can take out a subscription here. If you are already a subscriber, you can read the full article on the future of Moto2 here.

Scott Jones at Misano - Part 2


This was Ducati's home race, and they tested here in preparation. That did not pay off


The eyes of a winner. Lorenzo Baldassarri went on to win the Moto2 race at Misano


Lean angle. Mean angle


When is a teammate a teammate?


Dani Pedrosa is not currently avaiable to answer that question


Cal Crutchlow is crashing less. But he's still crashing on occasion


Special home helmets. De rigeur


Number twos


That was a championship-winning ride from Brad Binder


Old friendships do not fade


Alex Lowes continues to impress as a replacement. He's pretty much up to speed after two weekends


Moto2 is getting closer again. Which is good, because it needed to


Gigi Dall'Igna, Ducati's big brain


September in Italy: bikes, beaches, sun, heat, a sea of yellow


Maria Herrera blows hot and cold. It's tough running in your own team


No stopping the Samurai


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KTM Enter Moto2 With Binder and Oliveira

KTM is to enter the Moto2 class. The Ajo team is to expand its current Moto2 operation to two riders, with Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira taking the place of the departing Johann Zarco. The team is also to switch from Kalex to KTM, as part of KTM's project to provide a career path for young riders from the FIM CEV Moto3 championship through all three Grand Prix classes to MotoGP.

The names of the riders involved should come as no surprise. Brad Binder is a race or two away at most from becoming the 2016 Moto3 world champion, and Miguel Oliveira came very close to winning the Moto3 title in 2015, as Binder's teammate in the Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto3 team. Both riders are highly rated both by KTM and by team boss Aki Ajo.

The KTM chassis project is interesting. The KTM Moto2 bike comprises a steel trellis frame and aluminum swingarm housing a spec Moto2 Honda CBR600RR engine, using WP suspension. The use of a steel trellis frame is consistent with KTM's design philosophy in Moto3 and now also MotoGP. 

There was an issue with WP suspension, however. As WP is a subsidiary company of KTM, KTM came to a gentlemen's agreement with Kalex on the matter of suspension technicians. KTM will only use suspension technicians who have not previously worked with Kalex in Moto2, to avoid any appearance of using Kalex data to help set up the KTM.

The entry of KTM into Moto2 does not mean that the Austrian manufacturer is a candidate to replace Honda when the engine contract comes up for renewal at the end of 2018. At the presentation of the KTM MotoGP bike at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, KTM CEO Stefan Pierer made it clear that they had no interest in become spec engine supplier for Moto2.

Below is the press release from the KTM Ajo team:


Red Bull KTM Ajo to make exciting move up to Moto2 in 2017

The successful Moto3 structure will participate in next season’s Moto2 World Championship with new KTM bike and riders Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira.

09/13/2016

Red Bull KTM Ajo will increase their presence at Grand Prix level in 2017 with a new team in Moto2 and a new KTM bike. KTM will thus become the first manufacturer to have a presence in all three classes: Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP. Alongside them as they take this important step, Red Bull KTM Ajo will run riders Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira in the project.

Red Bull, KTM and Ajo Motorsport join forces once again in 2017, building on their success in Moto3 with an expansion to the intermediate class. In their five years of collaboration to date, the team have taken a World Championship (2012), two runner-up spots (2014 and 2015) and a current lead of 106 points in the overall standings in Moto3. Red Bull KTM Ajo will also be the only team using the new KTM Moto2 bike, which debuts in the category. For Ajo Motorsport, this will be their third season in Moto2; last year they achieved the title, while this year they lead the standings with 3 points in the overall standings.

The rider lineup will consist of familiar faces, who have come up through the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup and Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto3 team. Brad Binder, currently the Moto3 leader with 106 points, stays with the team and accompanies them on their exciting new venture. The South African, who came into the team last year, has a total of 5 wins and 11 podiums in five full seasons at Grand Prix level.

Miguel Oliveira returns to the structure with which he was proclaimed World Championship runner-up in 2015. The Portuguese, who this year debuted in Moto2, has 6 wins and 7 podiums to his name, all in Moto3.

This new project, which has already enjoyed positive tests over the past year, will begin in earnest from November 16th, when the riders will get onboard the new KTM for the first time.

Pit Beirer - KTM Motorsport Director

"We've now enjoyed five years of successful collaboration with Aki Ajo in Moto3. We are very happy that he and our main sponsor Red Bull are offering us the perfect structure to move into Moto2 so we can have a presence in all classes of Grand Prix Racing in 2017. We see the intermediate class mainly as a platform for keeping riders in the KTM Family, which begins with the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup and will run right through to MotoGP. The WP motorsports department has been fully integrated into KTM, and just as it is in Moto3 and MotoGP, the new Moto2 bike is being developed and built completely in-house. Brad Binder has had a very successful season this year and hopefully he will wrap up the championship. Now we're happy that he can step up into the new Moto2 team. Also, we're very pleased to welcome Miguel Oliveira back into the Orange Family after one year in Moto2."

Aki Ajo - Team Manager

"Firstly, I am very happy to continue the cooperation with Red Bull and KTM and make this move together in Moto2. Now we will all be much closer to each other, working together in two classes and with the whole Red Bull KTM family in all three classes, which is something historic. We are very grateful to be part of this great project with KTM and Red Bull. It is also nice to start out with a pair of riders who we already know well. Brad [Binder] has spent two seasons with us and Miguel [Oliveira] had an incredible season last year in the team. Both have won races with us, so I cannot be more expectant than this: We have two riders who we know, who are young, eager, and with a positive attitude for this project."

Brad Binder - Rider

"First of all I want to say I am very grateful for this new opportunity given to me by the team in Moto2. I want to thank Aki Ajo and all the people and partners who have been helping so I could take this step up. After how this year has been, there is nothing that could excite me more than staying at Red Bull KTM Ajo and competing in Moto2. I really like this team; I like the respect between all the members and I know that the decisions they make are always the best to keep the team and riders on top.

I know it will be very difficult, but I'm very motivated for this and I am already looking forward to it. It will be nice to start in a new class, with everything new and a lot to learn. My goal is to go out each day and give 110% to learn as quickly as possible. I am very happy to be back sharing a garage with Miguel [Oliveira], I learned a lot from him in 2015 and sure we will push each other; we will have fun. Everyone knows that if Red Bull KTM Ajo make a motorcycle, it will be good."

Miguel Oliveira - Rider

"I'm very happy to be returning to the Red Bull KTM Ajo family, and to a very professional team that brought me a lot of success. In fact, my most successful season to date came with them. I'm very happy and grateful to Aki [Ajo] and KTM for choosing me and for trusting in me to start this ambitious project with the KTM Moto2. I believe a lot in this new project, that I will have a very strong team alongside me, and that we will be able to get the best results possible. I will give my all in this new venture. I will be back sharing a garage with Brad [Binder], a very good person and rider, and I am sure that we will work very well together to gather the best data possible and take the KTM to the top."

 

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No Wings or Bulges - MotoGP Aerodynamic Regulations Published

The aerodynamic rules for the 2017 MotoGP season and beyond have been published. At a meeting of the Grand Prix Commission at Misano, a proposal from Dorna's technical team was accepted banning aerodynamic devices in as general a wording as possible. Wings, bulges, and anything protruding from the front of the fairing is now banned.

The proposal was drawn up by a small group consisting of Director of Technology Corrado Cecchinelli, Technical Director Danny Aldridge and Race Director Mike Webb. Their main focus was to keep the wording as general as possible, so as to avoid loopholes for engineers to exploit. Technical Director Danny Aldridge will have the final word on any fairing protrusion, precisely to prevent any doubt about workarounds. 

The rules also remove the possibility of using the space at the front of the fairing to create aerodynamic downforce. The front of the fairing may not extend more than 150mm beyond the axle of the front wheel. This should prevent too much experimentation with fairings such as tried by the WCM team at the end of 2000, or extending the lips of air intakes into "beak"-style structures, such as seen on some road bikes.

The official press release is shown below:


FIM Grand Prix World Championship
Decision of the Grand Prix Commission

The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Ignacio Verneda (FIM CEO), Herve Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA) in the presence of Javier Alonso (Dorna) and Mike Trimby (IRTA, Secretary of the meeting), in a meeting held on 9 September at Misano (RSM), made the following decisions:

Technical Regulations

Effective Season 2017

Streamlining and Aerodynamic Devices

It was already announced that aerodynamic wings are banned in all classes from 2017. The wording of the regulation covering this matter was confirmed:

Devices or shapes protruding from the fairing or bodywork and not integrated in the body streamlining (e.g. wings, fins, bulges, etc.) that may provide an aerodynamic effect (e.g. providing downforce, disrupting aerodynamic wake, etc.) are not allowed.

The Technical Director will be the sole judge of whether a device or fairing design falls into the above definition.

Furthermore, to avoid that the front of the fairing is wing-shaped, with unpredictable safety results, the front of the fairing cannot protrude more than 150mm beyond a vertical line drawn through the front wheel spindle. (It should be noted that all fairings in current use already comply with this).

Moto3 Wild Cards

In 2017 all manufacturers in the Moto3 class will supply engines to the contracted riders on a rental basis. Engines will no longer be sold to teams.

The Championship is keen to retain the possibility for wild cards to participate. But to ensure that their engines comply with current regulations it will be a requirement for wild card entries to seek approval from the engine manufacturer and to use the homologated ECU maps.

To permit the possibility of wild card riders using machines from other manufacturers, they may also use engines approved for the FIM CEV Junior World Championship. Such engines must comply with FIM Moto3 World Championship regulations with regards to engine specification and ECU requirements.

A regularly updated version of the FIM Grand Prix Regulations which contains the detailed text of the regulation changes may be viewed shortly on:

http://www.fim-live.com/en/sport/regulations-and-documents/grand-prix/

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Scott Jones at Misano - Part 1


Home boy


Brembo - the aim is to emulate a brick wall, but with control


All hail the conquering hero. But that was last week...


Andrea Iannone's last home race for Ducati did not last long. A fractured vertebra in FP1 brought it to a premature end


Numbers don't lie. An accelerometer on the end of the Ducati's swingarm bears witness to their dedication to data


Home races mean special helmets. Andrea Dovizioso's was a gem


Xavi Fores found himself in at the deep end at Misano


Can't keep a racer away from a race track. Loris Baz came to see how his replacement would do


When Dani is on it, he's on it. He was on it at Misano


A peek under the hood. CNC machined rocker covers are a thing of beauty


Pol Espargaro started well at Misano. The finish, not so much


Aprilia found a little bit of magic around Misano. They need to find a little bit more to be competitive


How physical is riding a Honda RC213V? Crutchlow is out of the seat, pushing himself forward over the tank to keep the front down


Last one to the corner is a rotten egg


Ready to rumble


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Scott Jones at Silverstone - Part 2


Definitely trying


Andrea Dovizioso practices his thousand yard stare


Red Bull & KTM - this is what they are doing in Moto3. Just wait till they get to MotoGP


Michelin have taken a lot of stick over recent races, but riders post race sang their praises


Lucio Cecchinello had something to celebrate again. And it wasn't the weather


Maverick Viñales. Something special about that young man


It's raining. Just taking the bike out for a spin...


What does confidence do for you? It gets you a pole and a podium


Home heartbreak. And real anger for Sam Lowes


Fans. They start young


Story of the MotoGP race, right there. Nobody is catching Maverick


If anyone thought Marquez and Rossi would be friends again, Silverstone disabused them of that illusion


All that hard work, just to waste some sparkling wine


Talent in WorldSBK is good. Alex Lowes proved that


Bagnaia, Bastianini, Antonelli. Only Pecco would remain from the all-Italian front row in Moto3


That reminds me, must get new T-shirts done ...

 


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Scott Jones at Silverstone - Part 1


Silverstone. Suzuki territory?


Things didn't look so bad Friday. Saturday, however...


Pitching it in, GOAT style


Silverstone is tougher on the right side of the tire than on the left


Jack Miller rode, despite cracked vertebrae. Strong enough, was the diagnosis


First British winner since Barry Sheene. It shows, and it shines


Blue train


Another winner, and another rider brimming with confidence


Meticulous lockwiring


Losing Laverty will be a bad thing for MotoGP


Rain or shine, Marquez is there


Dani Pedrosa is adapting to the Michelins, but slowly


Alex Lowes has turned a lot of heads so far this weekend


Loris Baz, in his element


The Michelin fronts are working well so far at Silverstone. This time, it's the rear tire the riders don't like

 

 


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Michael van der Mark Confirmed at Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Squad for 2017

In the latest round of poorly-kept secrets emerging at last, Yamaha have announced that they have signed Michael van der Mark for the 2017 season. He will join Alex Lowes in the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK squad for next year, replacing Sylvain Guintoli.

The move had been long expected. It became clear over the summer that Van der Mark would be leaving the Ten Kate Honda team, with whom he has had a long relationship. Once the signing of Stefan Bradl alongside Nicky Hayden at Honda was announced, there was only one destination Van der Mark could be heading.

Part of Van der Mark's motivation for moving has to do with MotoGP. The Dutchman is known to be keen to move to the Grand Prix paddock, but could not find a competitive package, or a deal with hopes of progressing towards a factory team. A switch to Yamaha may smooth his path in the future, though with the Tech 3 team having signed two rookies for 2017 and 2018, that route could also be more difficult.

Below is the press release announcing the move:


Van der Mark joins Lowes as Yamaha Young Guns Spearhead 2017 WorldSBK Attack

Yamaha Motor Europe is pleased to announce its official challengers for the 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, as talented Dutchman Michael van der Mark joins current rider Alex Lowes in the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team. Continuing for his second season aboard the WorldSBK-spec YZF-R1, Lowes is eager to reap the rewards of 2016's developmental year, having assisted the Japanese marque as it returned to international Superbike competition. Alongside him, and showing consistently impressive pace throughout his career so far, 2014's Supersport World Champion van der Mark will move to Yamaha for his third season in the Superbike class.

25-year-old British rider Lowes secured an impressive victory in the prestigious Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Road Race in late-July, competing as part of the Yamaha Factory Racing Team with MotoGP's Pol Espargaro and Japanese race and test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga. 2016 has seen his notable pace and talent used to enhance and fine-tune the development of the YZF-R1 in its debut year in WorldSBK, with Lowes qualifying on the front row twice in the opening six rounds before a broken collarbone dampened his initial progress. The recent showing in Suzuka proving the former BSB Champion is back to full strength, Lowes is looking forward to continuing Yamaha's WorldSBK evolution in the latter part of the 2016 season before returning to the series in 2017, determined to challenge for victory.

Dutch rider van der Mark has achieved many successes in his 23 years, becoming champion in both the FIM European Superstock 600 and Supersport World Championship in 2012 and 2014 respectively. Progressing to World Superbike in 2015, he has secured eight podiums and one pole position to-date across the past two seasons and showed an increasing maturity, speed and hunger to win. Van der Mark's drive to succeed is a perfect complement to Lowes and the YZF-R1 for 2017, ensuring Yamaha has the best tools to fight for victories from the opening race.

The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team and Yamaha Motor Europe would like to emphasise their full commitment to Sylvain Guintoli for the remaining four events of the 2016 WorldSBK season, continuing the partnership when the Frenchman returns from injury in Germany next month. Yamaha, the Crescent team and Title Partner Pata would like to thank Sylvain for his hard work in 2016 and wish him all the best in his future career.

Eric de Seynes – Yamaha Motor Europe Chief Operating Officer

"Yamaha's new commitment to the Superbike World Championship has started in 2016, and now we look forward to using the lessons learned in this 'comeback season' and the increasingly strong relationship with our racing partner Crescent, in order to challenge for the top positions in 2017. Despite many challenges this year, we believe strongly in the speed and talent of Alex - as clearly shown by his superb performance in Suzuka - and Yamaha wants to see this talent develop and mature to the winning level together with us as we develop and improve the YZF-R1.

"We are also delighted and excited to have Michael joining Yamaha in 2017. At only 23 years of age, he is already a World Champion and is fighting at the front of WorldSBK - this is very impressive! Importantly, the rider line up demonstrates our philosophy of choosing two young riders, both who not only have the talent to fight for victory in WorldSBK but also the capacity to potentially grow their careers with Yamaha in the future. In this way, Yamaha would like to use the World Superbike series as a platform to demonstrate its racing spirit with the production based YZF-R1 and also to develop further the family of Yamaha riders - Michael is a perfect fit inside this philosophy and we are very excited to welcome him to the team.

"Finally, I would like to personally thank Sylvain for his partnership with Yamaha in 2016. He has suffered some very bad luck and some frustration since the beginning of the year and we hope that the end of this season will bring us some success and smiles together. I really wish Sylvain all the best wishes in his racing career and life in the future."

Michael van der Mark

"I'm very much looking forward to this new challenge with Yamaha. I could see the potential of the R1 during its first World Superbike season this year and I'm convinced that with further development and the full support of Yamaha and the team I will have the right package to fight for the World Superbike title next year.

"It is never an easy decision to leave a team and a manufacturer after so many years and successes, I will always remain grateful for the support received and I will give my maximum for the remainder of this season to get as many podiums as possible."

Alex Lowes

"Despite some challenges in the WorldSBK comeback season for Yamaha this year, it has been a pleasure to be part of the project from the start and I cannot wait to capitalise on the work we've all done when we start the 2017 season. The YZF-R1 is a magical bike to ride and we are now very close to a truly competitive level in this championship. I really feel part of the Yamaha family, the team is improving all the time and I couldn't be happier to continue together into 2017. Michael is a very fast rider, I am sure we will push each other all year, and I look forward to him joining the team."

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Alex Lowes to Replace Bradley Smith for Silverstone and Misano

A week after getting his first taste of a MotoGP bike, Alex Lowes has learned he will spend two full weekends on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha machine, replacing Bradley Smith. 

Smith injured himself when he crashed heavily during practice for the final round of the FIM Endurance World Championship. The Englishman had been drafted in to boister the YART Yamaha team, in response to a request by friend and former World Supersport racer Broc Parkes.

The aim was to help YART win the FIM EWC title, but Smith's assistance ended before the race had even begun. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider collided with another rider, suffering a very deep cut to his leg and damage to his knee. Fears of a broken femur proved unfounded, fortunately.

Smith's injury means he will miss both Silverstone and Misano. Alex Lowes was the obvious replacement for Smith, with rumors emerging that the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK rider would fill in for Smith over the weekend. Lowes has strong Monster backing, meaning no sponsor clash, and rides for Yamaha in the World Superbike championship.

Lowes is in Yamaha's good books for helping Pol Espargaro and Katsuyuki Nakasuga clinch their second successive Suzuka 8 Hours title in July. After that race, Espargaro spoke very highly of Alex Lowes, praising his speed and talent. The two things combined earned Lowes a spin on the Tech 3 bike during the MotoGP test at Brno on Monday.

That test did not go entirely to plan. The Pata Yamaha rider put in 15 laps, posting a best time of 1:59.558, just over four seconds off Jorge Lorenzo's fastest lap. His test came to an early end when he crashed the Tech 3 bike at Turn 3, losing the front and sliding into the gravel. The damage to both bike and rider was minimal, Lowes returning shamefaced to the Tech 3 pits shortly before the Yamaha M1 arrived. Lowes apologized repeatedly to the team for the damage to the bike.

The crash had come because Lowes felt he need to try to push the bike to try and understand it better. "The carbon brakes are a bit more grabby," he explained. "It was my last couple of laps of the day and I tried to push a bit much without understanding everything; tried to brake a bit more, lifted the rear a bit and when a bit wide. The track was a bit dirty and I just lost the front a little bit."

"I never know if I'll have another opportunity to ride the bike so I wanted to try and understand everything," Lowes said. That chance will come sooner than Lowes will have dared to hope. He will throw his leg over the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha again on Friday morning, during free practice at Silverstone.

Below is the Tech 3 press release announcing Smith's absence and Lowes' role as his replacement:


Injured Smith out for the back to back races Alex Lowes to replace him

Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Bradley Smith will unfortunately miss his home Grand Prix at Silverstone as well as the San Marino Grand Prix following a crash in the Oschersleben 8 Hours practice session last week which caused ligament damage to his right knee. As a result, the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team announces that Pata Yamaha Official World Superbike Team rider Alex Lowes will fill in for Smith at both races, having recently sampled the Tech3 Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP bike for the first time at the post-Czech GP test. The talented 25-year-old from Lincoln in England is currently in his third full season in the World Superbike series, where he has achieved three podium finishes. Lowes was also part of the 2016 Yamaha Factory Racing Team, which dominated the Suzuka 8 Hour event. The Tech3 team wants to thank Paul Denning and the Pata Yamaha Official World Superbike Team for their cooperation in allowing Lowes to ride and would also like to wish Bradley Smith a quick and full recovery.

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Scott Jones Checking in from Brno - Part 2


Three laps can seem like a very long time when you're waiting for your team's first win in MotoGP


Still hungry as ever


Michelin. Hot topic after Brno


Andrea Dovizioso, symphony in red and white


Faster than the bike


Brad Binder and John McPhee were in a class of their own at Brno. McPhee was the smarter racer, and won


Good thing it rained for Moto2. Or Rins would have finished where Zarco did.


Brothers


The eyes of a winner. Jonas Folger managed the Moto2 race to perfection


What's the first thing you do after winning your first MotoGP race? Phone your wife and new daughter


Key to the MotoGP race: it was wet early, and dried out slowly


Marc Marquez put in an incredible lap to take pole on Saturday


20 valuable points for Valentino Rossi


Ducati looked on course for their second win in two races in the early laps


But Cal Crutchlow was coming through


... to get the first British win in the premier class since 1981


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

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