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KTM's Claims Honda Exceeded The Moto3 Rev Limit: Substance or Specter?

Were Honda exceeding the Moto3 rev limit in 2015? This is the accusation made by KTM Sports Director Pit Beirer in a story on the German-language website Speedweek. Beirer alleges that KTM came across the issue when talking to riders who switched from Honda to KTM this year, who were complaining of how abruptly the KTM hit the rev limiter. Beirer further claims that KTM were able to look at the data of the Honda Moto3 machine held by a former Honda mechanic. In that data, he alleges, the Honda ran flat out to the 13,500 RPM rev limit, then gradually tailed off to 13,600 RPM.

These claims, if they are true, would be a massive breach of the Moto3 regulations. Though Beirer does not mention Danny Kent by name, the insinuation was that this may have been a factor in a Moto3 title which ended up being decided by just six points.

We spoke to Peter Bom, crew chief to Danny Kent both this year and last, during his successful Moto3 championship campaign, and a key factor in the Englishman's title. Bom denied the allegations, and explained that the claims can only be based on Beirer misinterpreting the facts. The difference between the Honda and KTM Moto3 rev limiter strategies was marked, Honda having invested a large amount of time and money in optimizing both gear change and rev limiter strategies, making the bike as smooth as possible and as easy to ride.

A primer on rev limiters

To understand the issue at stake, some background is needed. In every race series with a rev limiter, factories expend a lot of energy in optimizing the point at which the rev limiter cuts in. It is not a matter of the bike being under full power at (in the case of Moto3) 13,500 RPM, and all power being cut as soon as it hits 13,501 RPM. If that were to happen, the consequences could be very dire. If a rider hit the rev limit while still leaned over in a corner, they could easily be thrown from the bike and injured.

What happens when an engine hits the rev limit is that the ECU detects that the engine is at the rev limit, and decides to cut power. The speed at which it can make that decision depends on the processing power of the ECU. The spec Dell'Orto ECU is a very basic unit, with limited power, and so cannot react quickly enough. The result is that for a split second, the revs exceed the limit, before being cut by the ECU. As the engine speed drops below the rev limit, the ECU is slow again to return the sparks to the ignition, causing it to drop below a little way below the limit before ignition returns. This causes the engine to sputter as it hits the limiter, the ECU alternating between cutting power and returning it again.

KTM vs Honda

This process appears to be at the core of Beirer's accusation. KTM has made a conscious decision to allow full power all the way up to the rev limiter, making it a very hard transition. As the rev limiter is at or around peak power of the engine, this allows the rider to extract the maximum performance from the bike. The downside is that it is much harder for the riders to manage the transition around the rev limiter. The bike is unsettled, and requires more input from the riders.

Honda have chosen a different approach, putting in a vast amount of work aimed at smoothing the transition where the rev limiter cuts in. Their engineers have worked hard at optimizing engine management strategies to make it less abrupt, while retaining as much power as possible, yet giving the riders the feeling they need to shift up.

Feeling the switch

The accusations by Beirer had stung Peter Bom, and prompted him to go through his data, to see what could have triggered the claims by KTM. Before having Danny Kent under his wing in 2015, Bom was crew chief to German rider Luca Gruenwald in 2014, the Kiefer team using KTMs that year.

"It's true that the young riders switching from Honda to KTM are complaining that the KTM rev limiter is a lot more abrupt," Bom said. "That's just a difference in the strategies the two bikes use. Honda worked really hard on the rev limit strategy, putting a lot of work into getting it right. The rev limiter and gear changes were really strong for Honda, because of the work Honda did on using the spec Dell'Orto ECU. The gear changes on the Honda almost feel like a seamless gearbox. That's just all down to getting the strategies right."

Had Honda been cheating? "I really didn't understand the nature of the accusations," Bom said, "so I went back and looked through my data, comparing it to Luca Gruenwald in 2014. It's a bit difficult to make the comparison, Danny was fighting for the championship, Luca was much further down the field. And the rev limit was changed this year, so the Honda was only allowed to rev to 13,500, the 2014 KTM was still allowed to rev to 14,000 RPM."

Where the difference is

The most accurate comparison Bom could find was at Mugello. Both Kent in 2015 and Gruenwald in 2014 had been fighting in a large group during the race, though for different positions. Both had been leading the group at points, in the slipstream at others, and both had been flat out in sixth gear at the end of the straight just as they crest the hill and start to go downhill. "If I look at the data, I can see that when Danny's engine was on the rev limiter, the revs were bouncing around by about 50 RPM. Luca's KTM was bouncing around the limiter a lot more, maybe 100 RPM or so." Perhaps, Bom said, there was something in the way that the data which KTM had seen which led them to interpret it as having gone over the rev limit.

The engine speed data needs to be treated with some caution in terms of accuracy, Bom explained. "Dell'Orto (who make the spec ECU) define the sampling rate for each of the channels in the ECU. I don't know exactly what the sampling rate is for the engine speed, but it feels way too low. 200Hz would be normal, 500Hz would be ideal, but asks a lot from an ECU." The Dell'Orto spec ECU does not have the processing power to spare on that kind intense workout. As a result, the ECU isn't sampling every single revolution when the engine is at the rev limit. At 13,500 RPM, a Moto3 engine is spinning 225 times per second, and if Bom is correct, and the engine speed is being sampled a much less than 200Hz, then the ECU will be having to average out the signal to calculate the engine speed.

Bom denied outright that the Leopard Moto3 team had exceeded the rev limit last year. "100 RPM is not going to make that much of a difference," Bom said. "The rev limit is fixed by Dell'Orto before they hand us the ECU, so we couldn't break it if we wanted to." Bom also said that his data had been checked several times by IRTA, and been found to be within limits. Everything they had done had been perfectly legal.

Investigations continue

MotoGP's Technical Director Danny Aldridge confirmed this. "At every event, the data was taken from the first 3 places, plus 1 or 2 random riders after every qualify and Race," Aldridge told MotoMatters.com. "For example Danny Kent data was taken direct from his machine 20 times in 2015, the most of any rider." Aldridge acknowledged that Pit Beirer had contacted Director of Technology Corrado Cecchinelli and himself a few weeks ago, and IRTA and Dorna were investigating the claims. "Of course we take any alleged cheating very seriously, especially if it comes from a manufacturer. Since the report we have informed Dell'Orto, who in turn are checking the data from 2015."

The process will take some time, Aldridge said. "We are just asking for time to make sure we carry out this investigation correctly," he added. IRTA had not received the information from KTM which the article on Speedweek had alleged they had supplied, Aldridge confirmed. "I am sure you can understand that this is making everything take a lot longer," he said.

Were Honda really exceeding the rev limit by 100 RPM last year, as KTM claim? Was Danny Kent's championship really obtained through fraudulent means? Peter Bom is adamant that it wasn't. The title was earned as a result of the hard work by Danny Kent and his team, and Honda had put in the work to extract the maximum potential from the spec Dell'Orto ECU. One of the reasons the Honda Moto3 bike was so expensive to lease was because of the work HRC had done on the ECU, and making it work for the bike.

The affair is now in the hands of Dorna and IRTA, with Corrado Cecchinelli and Danny Aldridge leading the investigation. They have informed Dell'Orto, who are going through their 2015 data looking for anomalies. There is no timescale of when results are expected, but such serious allegations need to be checked thoroughly and carefully, so it will take some time.


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2016 Aprilia RS-GP - Press Release and Photos from First Test

The brand new Aprilia RS-GP prototype has made its debut in the hands of factory riders Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista at the Losail circuit in Qatar. The press release is very light on detail, other than mentioning that the 2016 bike, a brand new machine designed from the ground up, was a big improvement on the 2015 machine. The lack of detail is hardly surprising, the entire test was shrouded in secrecy, with even normally well-informed sources not being able to extract any information.

From photos, the bike looks like a cross between the former Aprilia RS-GP and Honda's RC213V machine. The bike now has two separate exhaust routes, featuring separate pipes for the front and rear cylinder banks of the V4 engine. It is believed that the angle between the cylinder banks has been enlarged, though that is not immediately visible from the photos.

The press release issued by Aprilia appears below, with more pictures from the test underneath the press release:


THE NEW APRILIA RS-GP 2016 ON THE TRACK

ALVARO BAUTISTA AND STEFAN BRADL ARE PLEASED AFTER THREE DAYS OF TESTING IN QATAR

ALBESIANO: "THREE INTENSE AND POSITIVE DAYS. THE 2016 BIKE HAS GREAT POTENTIAL"

Losail (Qatar), 23 February 2016 - The first true tests of the Aprilia MotoGP project have just been concluded. In fact, the three days of testing had the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini hard at work on the new RS-GP, the prototype developed entirely at Noale that will be used in the upcoming 2016 season.

Despite the extremely recent debut of a completely new project, the Aprilia garage is highly optimistic. Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl began working on development straight away, immediately noticing promising room for improvement in the new prototype. There really isn't one single area where efforts were focused: the new RS-GP has nothing in common with previous Aprilia projects except for know-how. It is a completely new MotoGP bike in every component without exception, developed based on the data gathered during the 2015 season with last year's laboratory bikes.

The Aprilia RS-GP machines will be back on the track in Qatar just a few days from now for the official IRTA tests that precede the first race of the season.

ROMANO ALBESIANO (Aprilia Racing Manager)

"After the Aragon shakedown with the test riders, Alvaro and Stefan began to get to know the new Aprilia RS-GP here in Qatar. These were three very intense and positive days of work. We are bringing home a lot of information and some growing pain problems we need to solve, but above all we are leaving with confirmation that the new bike's dynamic performance is significantly better than the 2015 bike. We have an important development path ahead of us that will be necessarily accelerated, but we are confident that this will be a season of growth toward a decidedly interesting level."

FAUSTO GRESINI (Team Manager)

"Hearing the positive comments from our riders after the first kilometers ridden astride a completely new bike was exciting. The RS-GP seems to have gotten off on the right foot. Alvaro and Stefan noticed a clear improvement in dynamic performance compared to the 2015 bike. Now we have a big development schedule ahead of us but we know we are starting from an extremely solid base.”

ALVARO BAUTISTA

"In these three days we explored the new bike, doing a lot of work with short sessions since this was the first real test with the 2016 RS-GP. Obviously we are not at 100% but we have a very good starting point. I think that we are already at a similar level as the end of 2015 with the difference being that we are just at the beginning. There is a lot of room for development whereas with the old bike we were at the limit. We still need to work on a lot of things but I'm pleased with the work Aprilia has done. In the next tests I hope to be able to lay the foundation for the new season.”

STEFAN BRADL

"This test was really important as it was the first contact with the new bike. First impressions are good. I see a clear difference compared to the old bike and we are moving in the right direction. At the moment I have a good feeling despite the fact that we have a long way to go before we'll be able to say that we're satisfied. That was to be expected at the beginning. This is a completely new and decidedly demanding project, but we can truly say that we are off on the right foot.”

Ducati Desmosedici GP 2016 MotoGP Launch Photo Gallery


The 2016 Ducati Desmosedici GP, or Desmo 16 GP


Wings feature prominently, and are now color matched. But for how much longer?


Lower exhaust nicely tucked away


2016 is Ducati's 90th anniversary


Whatever you think of the wings, they look much better in color


The office


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Andrew Gosling's Photos from the MotoGP Test at Phillip Island


46 heading into 2016


The most famous tail in racing


Heavy rain at Phillip Island. Summer is a relative concept on the Bass Strait


Lorenzo's advantage from Sepang disappeared in Australia


Honda is starting to fix their problems


Now officially a superstar


Scott Redding - not as close as at Sepang, but still a strong start on the Ducati


Pol Espargaro is under a lot of pressure this year. Has to prove himself


Sharp, but not quite as iconic as the rear end of an RC213V


Valentino Rossi, fast, happy, determined


Even the shoes are fast


What is the collective noun for strakes? A dragonfly?


In this rain? No takers


"The worst test of my career." Adding insult to injury was his teammate going fastest


Cal Crutchlow's beard: LCR Honda's own attempt to match Ducati aerodynamically?


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Weather Reduces Jerez Moto2 and Moto3 Test to One Day

Intense winds, with gusts of over 70 km/h made riding impossible yesterday, on the first of the two-day test at Jerez for the Moto2 and Moto3 classes. The teams sat in the garages, hoping for better weather which never came. Monday was a different kettle of fish, the sun returning and the wind dying down to much more tolerable levels, the assembled teams all finding time to put in plenty of laps. Fabio Quartararo, riding a KTM for the Leopard Moto3 team, even managed to rack up a grand total of 99 laps before the track closed.

Present at the test alongside the Leopard Moto2 and Moto3 teams were both Ajo teams, the Red Bull KTM Moto3 team of Brad Binder and Bo Bendsneyder, and the Moto2 team of reigning world champion Johann Zarco. The Dynavolt Intact, Schedl GP Racing Moto2 teams, and the Drive M7 SIC  Moto3 team. It being a private test, no times were recorded, though everyone claimed in their press releases to have put in a strong lap. Though the sun was out, and the wind was less, there were still a few fallers. Johann Zarco and Sandro Cortese fell without injury, Miguel Oliveira slightly injured a finger on his right hand in a fall. Oliveira expects to be fully fit for the official IRTA test which takes place at Jerez from 2nd to 4th March, and back on track next week for a private test.

Jerez will continue to be a busy place, as Moto2 and Moto3 teams come and go. Several teams, including the Marc VDS Estrella Galicia team, will take to the track on 18th and 19th of February, and a week later, on 23rd and 24th, the Leopard Moto2 and Moto3 teams return to Jerez. The entire field then reconvenes for the final time ahead of the start of the season on 2nd March.

Below are the press releases issued by the Ajo and Leopard teams after testing had completed:


Red Bull KTM Ajo round off second preseason test

Brad Binder and Bo Bendsneyder continue work with their KTM bikes on Monday at the Circuito de Jerez, accumulating track time after rain and wind cancels their Sunday plans.

02/15/2016 - Jerez Circuit, Spain

After a first test last week in Valencia, the Red Bull KTM Ajo team travelled to Jerez for the second stage of their preseason schedule. Although unable to ride on Sunday due to bad weather, Brad Binder and Bo Bendsneyder did get out on track on Monday to prepare for the 2016 campaign –which begins in just over a month’s time in Qatar.

The first of the two days of testing scheduled at Jerez had to be suspended due to rain and wind, with gusts that reached 70km/h. On Monday the asphalt remained damp and temperatures only reached 5ºC, leading to further waiting. Bendsneyder emerged from the garage at 11am and completed 56 laps, followed by teammate Binder at 12pm (62 laps), as they navigated a still-slippery surface. The Red Bull KTM Ajo riders focused on adding kilometres of experience on their bikes, rather than working on their setup, and avoided the crashes that caught out several of their fellow competitors.

The next time Bendsneyder and Binder will be on their KTM bikes will be in a fortnight’s time, at the Official Test at Jerez between March 2nd and 4th.

Brad Binder,

"It was difficult to go fast early in the day, but we were able to confirm some things that we had seen at the Valencia test. This is very positive, because it allows us to have options to change how we set up the rear shock. We have seen that one way works well when the track conditions are good, but the other is better when there is not as much grip. Today's conditions were not very good, it was very windy and the asphalt was slippery, but the times we set were very good, so I'm very happy with the results."

Bo Bendsneyder,

"Today we started a little late, because it was cold early in the day and the track was a bit wet. Yesterday it rained and today the surface was a little slippery, even though the wind helped to dry the track. In general, this has been a positive test, in which I've set good times and maintained a consistent pace, so I'm happy. We still have room for improvement with the rear, and from now on we will focus on working on this issue. We weren’t able to get a really good hot lap in because the track is not in perfect condition, but for now things are going well and I'm very happy with how the test has gone."


Zarco tests in tricky conditions at Jerez

Reigning Moto2 World Champion continues preparation for the 2016 season, in second test affected by wind and rain.

02/15/2016 - Jerez Circuit, Spain

Johann Zarco and the Ajo Motorsport team made the trip to southern Spain this week, for the second preseason test of 2016. The two-day test initially planned was reduced to a single day on track, owing to heavy rain and strong winds on Sunday. Heavy gusts of up to 70km/h made riding unwise on day one.

The Ajo Motorsport rider took advantage of the improving weather to continue adapting to his 2016 Kalex. Despite conditions that were still far from ideal, due to a cold and slippery track surface, Zarco emerged from the garage at just past midday. A crash on his fourth lap saw him return to the pits, where he stayed until going back out at 3pm and finally completing 53 laps.

Reigning Moto2 World Champion will be hoping for more favourable meteorological conditions on his next visit to Jerez, where the Official Test takes place from March 2nd-4th.

Johann Zarco,

"In the end we only had one day of testing here at Jerez, due to the rain. Today the conditions were not very good and I crashed on my first run. I need to find new references, but it was difficult to ride so slowly –and when you want to go too fast you have the risk of a crash. Luckily the bike was not damaged and the team did a good job repairing it. In the afternoon I was able to do some laps but it was hard to feel good, because the wind was very strong and the references for the track were quite different to normal. It is better that we have this now, because it means we are more prepared for the Spanish Grand Prix and the somewhat special conditions here. We’ll be back here again in a few weeks to continue working at the Official test."


ONE DAY OF TESTING FOR MOTO2

The two riders of the Leopard Racing team could only exploit the second of the two days scheduled. They will return to Jerez next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Miguel Oliveira and Danny Kent engaged in yet more development of the Kalex bikes with which will compete in the Moto2 World Championship, the season now just around the corner. Without rest, the two companions of the Leopard Racing squad left Valencia and headed straight for Jerez de la Frontera.

Once at the circuit, the team saw their program slowed down due to bad weather conditions, which with low temperatures and strong gusts of wind removed the first day of the two days of testing. Crew chiefs and riders therefore decided not to take to the track yesterday, not wishing to risk a crash on this important occasion and save the energy.

A good choice, for today the sun kissed the Andalusian circuit, and, thanks to the absence of wind, allowed the Britain’s Danny Kent to make over 75 laps on board his Kalex. In the early afternoon his teammate, the Portugal’s Miguel Oliveira, lost the front at Turn 9, fortunately reporting only a slight bruise to the ring finger of his right hand, which will heal in time for the next test. Testing continues next week, on Tuesday the 23th and Wednesday the 24th, again here at the Jerez Circuit.

#44 Miguel OLIVEIRA:

"Today, the feeling was quite good, although the conditions were a little difficult and the track was not quite as fast as in previous tests conducted here in November. At the entrance of Turn 9 I closed the front and crashed: Fortunately, I have just a small bruise on my finger, and there were no fractures. In a week I'll be back in the saddle, so there will be no problems for the next test."

#52 Danny Kent:

"What should have been a two day test was cut down to just one day. Even though we only had the one-day it was a successful day because we learned a lot with the bike, as did my crew chief. It was good for me, I’m starting to get used to the Moto2 riding style and I’m changing the way I’m riding. It was a successful day, my crew chief wanted to change a few more things to see which direction to go in if we encounter certain problems. It’s good as if we encounter these problems during the year he knows which direction to take. If we have any problems we should know which direction to go, this is good because in a race weekend you don’t have as long as even in a single test day.”


WEATHER SLOWS DOWN TESTING PLAN FOR MOTO3

The three riders of the Leopard Racing team end the Jerez test, making the most of the second and final day.

A single but important day of testing at the Circuito de Jerez de la Frontera for the Leopard Racing team. Yesterday’s weather reduced the test due to strong gusts of wind that at times had reached 70km / h , thereby preventing all riders present to lap at the Andalusian track, technicians and mechanics took the opportunity to study, measure and better understand the KTM RC 250 GP.

The bikes from Mattighofen were able to put their wheels on the track today, in the second and final day of testing, which welcomed the riders with mild temperatures, fortunately very different from those of the day before. Despite the lack of asphalt grip, Fabio Quartararo, Joan Mir and Andrea Locatelli took advantage of all the time available to them, lapping continuously until 6 pm.

Testing continues next week, on Tuesday the 23rd and Wednesday 24th, again at the Jerez Circuit.

#20 Fabio QUARTARARO:

"It’s been a very busy day, but really positive. In the morning the wind bothered us and the track had no grip, but we ended up being satisfied. We have tried many things; I even completed 99 laps, at the end I also caught a good time. My team did a good job, I want to thank them all. I can go home with a smile and with more confidence for the next test."

#36 Joan MIR:

"I'm pretty happy with how things went in this first event here in Jerez. We made a big step forward compared to the first outing at Montmelo. We must try to improve more on the front and with grip. All day long I kept a good pace and, I did not get the perfect lap, we can look forward having found a good set-up."

#55 Andrea LOCATELLI:

"Too bad that we had only one day instead of two. Yesterday there was too much wind and the track was wet: we preferred not to run. Today, apart from some movement in the rear in the morning, we were able to locate the right direction and, consequently, to improve lap after lap. I am especially pleased because I have been consistent and in the end I made a good lap time."

2016 Aprilia RS-GP Gets First Shakedown At Aragon

With Ducati refining the already competitive GP15 into the Desmo16, and Suzuki bringing a seamless gearbox and new, more powerful engine for the GSX-RR, the battle among the manufacturers in MotoGP is getting closer. The one exception so far has been Aprilia, who soldiered on through 2015 with an uprated version of the ART machine, which was still based on the RSV4 production bike, while they worked on a brand new prototype.

That prototype has at last made its debut at the track. On Wednesday, Aprilia test rider Mike Di Meglio took the 2016 Aprilia RS-GP out for its first official spin. Di Meglio was performing a basic shakedown test, making sure that everything worked and there were no unexpected problems with the bike, giving Aprilia time to address them before factory Aprilia riders Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl get their first chance to ride the bike at a private test at Qatar, two weeks before the official IRTA test at the circuit. 

There was no press release after the shakedown test, as the bike will be officially launched later this month, along with the first official photos. However, our Italian friends over at GPOne.com managed to obtain a single snap of the RS-GP. That picture does not reveal very much: the bike looks physically smaller and more compact than the ART machine it is based on, and bearing more of a resemblance to the Honda RC213V than the ART from previous seasons.

Aprilia have said very little about the new bike, other than to acknowledge that it will be some 10kg lighter than last year's bike, bringing it in line with the rest of the bikes on the grid. Romano Albesiano has said that he would be changing the angle between the cylinders as well, though he would not be drawn into precise details. Paddock speculation suggests that the RS-GP will sport a 75º V4, rather than the 65º V4 the ART bike inherited from the RSV4 road bike. There is also speculation that the Aprilia uses a counter-rotating crankshaft, as both Ducati and Yamaha are believed to do. The benefits of a counter-rotating crankshaft are that it makes the bike easier to turn, the gyroscopic forces of the wheels being counteracted, and it helps to reduce wheelies. Whether any MotoGP bike uses a counter-rotating crankshaft remains a matter of speculation: journalists may draw conclusions from photographs, or be passed information by engineers, but they have no way of checking and independently verifying such information.

Though the shakedown of the 2016 Aprilia RS-GP was a private affair, away from the prying eyes of the world's media, a few details did emerge. Aprilia Racing boss Romano Albesiano told both GPOne.com and Speedweek that the test had been a success, and had encountered few problems. The only minor issue was a crash for Mike Di Meglio, the Frenchman falling due to a cold tire. The crash was serious enough for Di Meglio to be taken to a local hospital for a check up, bringing the test prematurely to an end.

The test plan now is to have Bradl and Bautista ride the bike at a private test on 21st-23rd February at Losail in Qatar. The Gresini Aprilia riders will then join the official IRTA test from 2nd-4th March, the aim being to be able to verify the findings of the initial test at the same track and under similar conditions.

2016 MotoGP Calendar Finalized

The FIM have today at last finalized the 2016 MotoGP calendar. The two circuits which were still subject to contract, Brno and Jerez, have now had their contracts confirmed. The calendar is unchanged from the provisional calendar published between Sepang and Valencia last year.


FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix
2016 Calendar, 10 February

The FIM and Dorna are pleased to confirm that the FIM Grand Prix World Championship calendar published as provisional on November 2 is now final.

Date Grand Prix Venue
20 March Qatar* Losail International Circuit
03 April República Argentina Termas de Río Hondo
10 April Americas Circuit of The Americas
24 April Spain Circuito de Jerez
08 May France Le Mans
22 May Italy Autodromo del Mugello
05 June Catalunya Barcelona - Catalunya
26 June Ne therlands TT Circuit Assen
17 July Germany Sachsenring
14 August Austria Red Bull Ring - Spielberg
21 August Czech Republic Automotodrom Brno
04 September Great Britain Silverstone Circuit
11 September San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli
25 September Aragón MotorLand Aragón
16 October Japan Twin Ring Motegi
23 October Australia Phillip Island
30 October Malaysia Sepang
13 November Comunitat Valenciana Comunitat Valenciana - Ricardo Tormo

* Evening Race
 

 

MotoGP in Indonesia - Probably Delayed Until 2018, Probably Not at Sentul

It is no secret that Dorna and the manufacturers active in MotoGP are keen to stage a race in Indonesia. The sport enjoys unrivaled popularity in the Southeast Asian country, and as one of the biggest markets for scooters and small capacity motorcycles in the world, Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki are desperate to race there. The burgeoning middle class in Indonesia also make it a key target market for European manufacturers such as Ducati, who have seen their sales explode in the region, albeit from a very small base.

Throughout 2015, Dorna officials met with senior figures in Indonesia, including the Minister for Youth and Sports, Imam Nahrawi, and the CEO of the Sentul Circuit Tinton Soeprapto, in an attempt to hammer out an agreement. So far, Dorna have a letter of intent signed by the Minister, and a preliminary deal which would see the race staged in Indonesia for three years, starting in 2017.

There is one problem, however. The Indonesian government do not want to use Sentul Circuit. For the track to be homologated for MotoGP, the surface and facilities would have to be totally renewed and upgraded. Hermann Tilke, the man responsible for many circuits designed for F1 around the world, has been contracted to upgrade the circuit, and modify the layout to make it safer and long enough to qualify as a Grand Prix track. Such a renovation would require major investment, which would have to come from the Indonesian government. The government does not want to supply funding to the private owners of Sentul, for fear that much of the money would disappear in corruption and bribes.

This disagreement has already caused a delay. The Indonesian government has missed the deadline to submit a master plan and contract for the race, but the Minister for Youth and Sports has negotiated an extended deadline. Hosting a race in 2017 will be very difficult indeed, but the government hopes to have everything in place for 2018.

The most crucial element of that plan is a circuit. Several alternative locations have been proposed, including a number of planned new circuits. One circuit is planned to be build in Southern Sumatra, but the objections to that are the distance to a major international airport and population centers. There are also rival plans for circuits in and around the Indonesian capital Jakarta, including a track to be built in the western part of Java.

However, MotoMatters.com has learned that the prime candidate is a new circuit to be built not far from the center of Jakarta. The track will be located to the west of the city, between the airport and the city center. Sources indicate that funding is already in place for the track, and work could begin very soon. The new circuit would be publicly owned, and could potentially be ready for 2017.

There are still many obstacles on the road to a MotoGP race taking place in Indonesia, but the process of making it happen appears to be picking up pace. Given the massive interest in Indonesia, it is merely a matter of time.

With thanks to Ali Yusuf, Taufik of TMCBlog.com, and Scherezade M.S. for the additional background information.

Funding Appears for Circuit of Wales - MotoGP at Track from 2018

The Circuit of Wales is edging ever closer to becoming a reality. BBC Wales is reporting that UK insurance giant Aviva will be backing the Circuit of Wales project, and providing funds to allow building work on the track near Ebbw Vale in South Wales to start. Construction will take some time, however, and Silverstone will continue to host the British round of MotoGP for the 2016 and 2017 seasons, the race only moving to the Circuit of Wales from 2018 onwards.

The news that Aviva is to provide financial backing for the Circuit of Wales still leaves many questions unanswered. It is not clear from the reports by BBC Wales exactly how much money Aviva will be putting into the track. The circuit needs £300 million in private investment, on top of roughly £30 million in public funding in the form of loans. Whether Aviva will be providing the full £300 million for the Circuit of Wales, or sufficient seed money for building work to start is unclear. 

Senior management at the circuit told BBC Wales that they were close to securing full funding. The project's CEO Martin Whitaker told the BBC that financial negotiations were at a very advanced stage, and they expected to be able to make a full announcement soon. Once those details have been finalized, then a complete timeline for construction of the project would be announced.

Even once funding is in place, the circuit will still face formidable challenges. The provision of public funds for the circuit is certain to come under attack from other tracks in the UK, none of which receive public money. Jonathan Palmer, head of MSV, which owns several UK tracks including Brands Hatch, and the driving force behind the British Superbike championship, has stated publicly that MSV will challenge the provision of public funds to the Circuit of Wales.

There are practical problems too. A 600mm high pressure gas line, which supplies a large portion of South Wales, crosses the site, and the environmental plan imposes several severe conditions on dealing with the gas pipeline, demanding that large groups of people are kept more than 195m away from the pipeline, and that building be done with care.

That is the type of detail which will be dealt with during the due diligence phase, in which financial negotiations currently find themselves. According to the BBC Wales story, that phase should be completed soon. Once it is, we shall soon find out just how solid the financial basis for the circuit is.

Marquez' Management Company Confirms Official Split With VR46 Merchandising

As we reported back in January, Marc Marquez has ended his agreement with Valentino Rossi's VR46 Racing Apparel company to produce and sell merchandising for the Spaniard and his younger brother. Today, official confirmation came in the form of a press release from his management company, Alzamora Communications. The agreement with VR46 RAcing Apparel has been officially terminated.

The ending of the contract is part of the fallout from the incident between Marquez and Rossi at Sepang, in October last year. That episode effectively destroyed any relationship that existed between the two riders, though it had been gradually deteriorating throughout the 2015 season. Rossi's accusations, both after Sepang and especially after Valencia, caused Marquez to lose any faith he may have had in Rossi, and made him decide to sever all business ties with Rossi and those linked to him. In addition to the merchandising deal, Marquez will also be ending his association with GP Rooms, the room rental business run by the Nieto family, after Marquez felt that they had taken sides against him.

The press release from Marquez' management company is below:


PRESS RELEASE

Barcelona, 8th February 2016

AC Management, company in charge of managing the image rights of the riders Marc Márquez and Alex Márquez, informs that they have agreed with the Company VR46 Racing Apparel, S.r.l. to terminate the license agreements previously in force and under which the latter was in charge of the exploitation of both riders’ merchandising.

Both parties appreciate services rendered while the agreement was in force and wish each other success in future endeavors.

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