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Morbidell Joins Marquez In Marc VDS Estrella Galicia Moto2 Team

Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS has taken a lot longer to take shape than expected. Though team manager Michael Bartholémy had agreed terms with his chosen rider quite quickly after the summer break, actually getting contracts signed has proven to be a much more difficult affair. Existing contract entanglements and haggling over contract extensions has meant that the original plans, to have Moto2 announced at Misano, and when that didn't happen, all of the team's riders announced after Aragon, have all gone awry.

Slowly, however, the Marc VDS team manager is managing to untangle the knotty web woven mainly by others. After announcing last week that Tito Rabat would be moving up to MotoGP with the team for 2016, this week, the team has announced their Moto2 line up. It comes as no surprise: Alex Marquez is to remain with the team for a second year in Moto2, while Franco Morbidelli is to join Marc VDS from the Italtrans team. After a difficult start to his rookie season, Alex Marquez has come good in the second half, becoming a regular fixture in the top 10. Morbidelli has completely outperformed his teammate Mika Kallio, an impressive feat given that Kallio was runner up in the Moto2 championship in 2014. 

There are still obstacles on the way to the remainder of the Estrella Galicia Marc VDS line up being announced. Jack Miller is to be placed in the Marc VDS MotoGP squad, to ride alongside Tito Rabat, but there have been discussions on how much of the tab HRC is to pick up for the rider they have signed to a contract. With the Australian Grand Prix up next at Phillip Island, it is likely that a deal for Miller will be announced there. 

The Moto3 squad is proving a little more problematic. Jorge Navarro is to remain with the squad, after an impressive display in his first full year of racing. But filling the seat of the departing Fabio Quartararo is proving decidedly thorny. Sources indicate that the team have already signed Enea Bastianini, but actually finalizing that deal is proving to be tricky. The problem, Spanish magazine Solomoto revealed, is that Fausto Gresini is trying to hold Bastianini to his contract. The team have a contract with Bastianini for 2015 and 2016, but Emilio Alzamora is trying to move Bastianini into Estrella Galicia, with the backing of HRC. Complicating the issue is the fact that Gresini looks likely to drop their Moto3 team for 2016, as Aprilia are unhappy to have the team which is running their MotoGP project have a formal association with HRC to run Hondas. According to Solomoto, Alzamora has got the team association IRTA involved trying to resolve the situation.

Below is the press release from Marc VDS announcing their 2016 Moto2 line up:

Márquez and Morbidelli confirmed at Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS

Motegi, Japan – 11 October 2015: Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS can confirm that Álex Márquez and Franco Morbidelli will be the two riders with whom the team will contest the Moto2 World Championship in 2016.

For Márquez it will be his second year with Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS in Moto2 and the reigning Moto3 world Champion will start the new season as one of the title favourites. However, the 19-year-old Spaniard can expect a serious challenge from his new teammate.

Morbidelli made his debut in the Moto2 World Championship as a replacement rider in 2013, the same season he was crowned as European 600 Superstock Champion. Top 20 finishes in the three races he contested that season were enough to secure him a permanent slot on the Moto2 grid for 2014.

The 20-year-old Roman, who is part of the VR46 Riders Academy project, secured his first podium finish in the Moto2 category at Indianapolis this year, finishing an impressive third after a titanic battle with Johann Zarco, Dominique Aegerter and Álex Rins.

Morbidelli has been absent from the Moto2 grid since fracturing his tibia and fibula in a training accident ahead of the Silverstone race, but he is now fully recovered and will return to the championship for the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.

Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal

“Álex has shown with his progress since the summer break that he will be a contender next season, which was exactly how it was planned from the start. However, he won’t have it all his own way, of that I’m sure, because Franco is also one of the riders that I expect to see running at the front and challenging for wins next season. After all, that’s why we signed him! I think for the fans the 2016 Moto2 season will be an exciting one, as we have four or five riders in the class who are more than capable of fighting for the race win every weekend.”

Marc van der Straten: President, Marc VDS Racing Team

“Álex has shown that he now has the measure of Moto2 and I expect we’ll see him get even stronger in the last three races of this season. Next year we have high expectations of him and I’m confident he will rise to the challenge and become a regular frontrunner in the championship. I am looking forward to Franco’s arrival in the team. We were lucky enough to spend some time with him recently and I was impressed by both his determination and his attitude. He will fit perfectly into our racing family and I’m confident he’ll realise his full potential with us in 2016.”

Alex De Angelis Injury Update - Still Critical, But Now Speaking

Alex De Angelis remains in hospital in Japan after his horrific crash during practice at Motegi. He suffered multiple injuries in the accident, including fractured vertebrae, broken ribs and contusions on the lung. He also took a severe blow to the head, rendering him unconscious. Though CT scans of his brain showed no initial damage, on Sunday, the Italian developed some intercranial bleeding, or bleeding in the brain. De Angelis was kept under sedation, to reduce the pain from his fractures, and to allow the doctors to stabilize his condition.

On Monday, Dorna issued an update on De Angelis' condition. So far, the intercranial bleeding is stable, a positive sign that it is under control, for the moment at least. The doctors were able to reduce his level of sedation, and De Angelis was able to speak to them, and tell them that he knew where he was and what day it was.

De Angelis is still being listed as in a critical condition, and is under constant monitoring in Dokkyo Hospital. The Italian is set to have more CT scans in the next couple of days to ensure the intercranial bleeding does not get worse. The contusion on his lungs is also being watched closely, as lung injuries can develop into serious respiratory problems and and cause infections. It usually takes three to five days for pulmonary contusions to be resolved and start to show signs of improvement.

While De Angelis is still in Dokkyo Hospital, Dr Michele Zasa of the Clinica Mobile is staying at the hospital with the Italian to help coordinate his treatment and monitor his situation. More news on De Angelis' condition will follow whenever we get it.

Alex De Angelis Injury Update

Alex De Angelis has suffered serious injuries as a result of a very heavy fall during the FP4 session of practice for the MotoGP class, losing control of his bike on the exit of Turn 9 and ending up against the crash barrier on the opposite side of the track before turn 10. The crash caused Race Direction to red flag the session, while De Angelis received treatment on track. Fortunately, De Angelis was soon reported as being conscious and able to move his limbs. 

The man from San Marino was taken first to the medical center, then airlifted to the nearby Dokkyo Hospital in Mibu. After examination, De Angelis was found to have fractured several vertebrae, with initial reports stating five vertebrae, and later reports bringing the total to seven vertebrae, including three where the vertebra body was fractured, the round part of the bone which encases the spinal cord. Doctors are working to stabilize those fractures, to ensure De Angelis does not suffer spinal injury, of which there is currently no sign. De Angelis also suffered three broken ribs and a bruised lung, which is a cause for concern. The lung is being monitored for bleeding and infection, both of which could cause breathing difficulties.

De Angelis took a very heavy blow to the head in the crash, and is unable to remember anything about the accident. Though no brain trauma has been found, the doctors are once again monitoring his condition very closely to ensure nothing untoward turns up.

The Italian will remain in hospital in Dokkyo for the next few days, and is likely to be flown back to Italy as soon as he is stable enough to be moved. He is almost certainly out for the rest of the season, and given the difficulty of finding a replacement rider at such short notice, right at the start of three back-to-back flyway races, it seems unlikely he will be replaced soon.

There is a statement on the Ioda Racing website on De Angelis' condition, as well as a quote from MotoGP's medical director Dr. Macchiagodena on the website.

Nicky Hayden Switches To WSBK In 2016 - Joins Honda Hoping For Another Title

So at last it's official. "This will be my last year in MotoGP. I will be moving to World Superbikes next year with Honda and the Ten Kate team," Nicky Hayden told the press conference at Motegi. The move had been long expected, as Hayden's options of a competitive ride had petered out. "These last two years haven't been so good, I haven't been able to get the results on an Open Honda to really keep a high level bike in MotoGP," he acknowledged.

That had prompted his decision to finally move to World Superbikes. "I've always thought World Superbikes might be something I'd like to try, I've always liked the racing there," Hayden said. "The opportunity just felt like it would be a good fit. Obviously I'm getting a bit older, but I still enjoy the sport and the game, and thought it would be a fresh challenge and a new opportunity, to go there and try to have a bit more fun. Of course I'll miss MotoGP. I had a great opportunity here. Was part of some great teams and worked with some great people. But nothing lasts forever, and that's life. Have to keep moving. Go to Superbike with Honda and hopefully have some fun."

Hayden is to stay within the Honda family, and join the Ten Kate squad in World Superbikes. He will be with the team for two years, the first year on the aging Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade, the second on a rumored updated version of the bike. According to the Dutch magazine MOTO73, that bike will be based on the current SP version, but with an improved engine with an extra 10 to 15 horsepower. Given the results with the underpowered existing bike, 15 more horsepower should transform the Fireblade into a much more competitive package. Rumors also about of a new bike to replace the Fireblade based on Honda's V4 powerplant. But given that such rumors have been doing the rounds since the turn of the century, they should perhaps be regarded with a pinch of salt.

Honda was not Hayden's only option. While we had always expected the move to World Superbikes, Hayden had long been linked with Aprilia, the idea of being on a competitive bike an appealing prospect for both Hayden and Dorna, who are keen to have a fast American in the series to help boost its international profile. But a future at Aprilia was uncertain, the factory having recently announced they would not be fielding a factory team in WSBK, as the MotoGP project was using up more resources than they had planned. After a long courtship, Hayden rejected the deal and decided to stay with Honda instead, continuing his relationship with the manufacturer which has existed for most of his career, interrupted by a five-year stint at Ducati.

Ducati was his first option to head to World Superbikes. After it was announced that Cal Crutchlow would be taking his place in the Factory Ducati team in MotoGP, Hayden was given the offer of a factory ride with the Italian manufacturer in World Superbikes. Hayden rejected that move at the time, as he was in talks with Aspar, who were due to run Open class Aprilias with factory backing for 2014. When that deal fell through, in part with as a result of the departure of Gigi Dall'Igna to Ducati, Hayden found himself on board the Honda RCV1000R. Despite being teased by Honda as being just a few tenths of a second off the pace of the factory bike, the Open class Honda proved to be woefully underpowered. The uprated version for 2015 has been only a little better, having plenty of horsepower, but lacking the factory electronics and seamless gearbox to put that power on the tarmac.

Hayden will get his first taste of the WSBK Honda at a test in November. He faces plenty of challenges: he must adapt to the much softer Pirelli tires used in WSBK, and to a heavier, much softer bike. Hayden still has issues with the wrist he damaged in 2011, though the surgery to remove the row of bones in his right hand has made a huge difference there. The combination of less stiff Pirellis and a more pliant chassis may make it a little easier on his right wrist for the next few years.

Hayden's departure from MotoGP leaves the series without an American rider for the first time in 40 years. He leaves big boots to fill, as Hayden has always had a huge following, and more significantly, he is the last American rider to win a MotoGP title. The MotoAmerica series is still in the early stages of rebuilding after years of decline in the hands of DMG, but there are hopeful signs that it can produce new talent. Cameron Beaubier, Joe Roberts, Jake Gagne, JD Beach and Hayden Gillim have all been touted as future world championship contenders, but none of them have yet made the jump across the ocean. Ironically, the US' best chance of a championship could come in the shape of the man likely to be Hayden's teammate at Ten Kate. PJ Jacobsen is reported to be close to a deal with Ten Kate for 2016 to race in the World Supersport championship. The American will finish as runner up to champion Kenan Sofuoglu this year, and along with Jules Cluzel, was the only rider to take the fight to the Turkish multiple champion. With increased support from Honda next season - either as part of Ten Kate, or with Ten Kate backing inside the CORE Motorsports team - Jacobsen has a good shot at a title.

The challenge for Hayden is greater, especially given that the 2016 Honda CBR1000RR will still be lacking performance. But his goal will remain the same, to become the first rider to win both a MotoGP title and a World Superbike title. Max Biaggi and John Kocinski both won WSBK titles after becoming champions on a 250, but nobody has won titles in the premier classes of both series.

Tito Rabat Fractures Arm In Training Injury, Will Race In Japan

Tito Rabat has suffered a fracture of the radius of his left arm. The reigning Moto2 champion crashed while training at Almeria in preparation for the Pacific triple header, falling and injuring his arm. He immediately underwent surgery to have a plate fitted to his arm, and is to fly to Japan where he intends to try to race.

The cause of the crash is not clear. Rabat blamed the crash on a technical problem, causing him to fall at the chicane, but due to his injury, he has not been able to take a look at the bike to determine what caused the problem. This is Rabat's second training-related injury this season, having also broken his collarbone earlier in the year after a crash at Almeria.

Rabat's decision to race is forced by his desire to defend his title. Johann Zarco leads Rabat by 78 points, so if Rabat wants to keep his title hopes alive, he has to score 4 points more than Zarco at Motegi. Even then, Rabat will need the Frenchman to score a number of DNFs. But riders are not willing to give up on a title until the mathematics says it is impossible.

Below is the press release from the Marc VDS Racing Estrella Galicia team:

Rabat ready to race in Japan despite training injury

Gosselies, Belgium – 6 October 2015: Tito Rabat heads to Motegi determined to race in the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend, despite fracturing the radius in his left arm in a training crash at Almeria on Monday.

Rabat sustained the injury after a technical failure caused him to crash heavily at the Almeria chicane. The reigning World Champion was initially treated at the track by circuit medical staff, before being transported to the Clinica Mediterráneo in Almeria.

Doctors at the hospital operated to stabilise the fracture with a metal plate, after consulting with Doctor Ángel Charte in Barcelona. The surgery was a success and Rabat now heads to Japan determined to race this weekend, although his participation will only be confirmed once he’s undergone a medical examination on arrival in Motegi.

Tito Rabat:

“The bike cut out in the chicane and I went down quite hard. I’m not sure yet what caused the crash, as I haven’t had a chance to check the bike over. Once again the marshals and medical staff at Almeria did a fantastic job of taking care of me. They immobilised my left arm at the track and I was in hospital less than an hour after the crash. The doctors in Almeria spoke to my doctors in Barcelona and we decided that surgery to stabilise the fracture was the best option. The surgery last night was a success and this morning I am more confident than ever that I will be able to race this weekend in Japan with few issues.”

Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal

“With three races in as many weekends ahead of us, Tito’s injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. The fracture may only be minor, but he will have no time to recover fully until we return to Europe at the end of this month. It will be a tough three weeks for him but, as he showed in Sachsenring earlier in the season, he’s no stranger to riding injured and it doesn’t impact massively on his performance. What is clear is that we need to review Tito’s training methods. It’s important for a rider to train, but we need to minimise risk as much as possible in future.”

Jorge Lorenzo Sprains Shoulder While Training, Will Race In Japan

Jorge Lorenzo has sprained his left shoulder in a training accident. The four-time world champion was training on a minibike with some other riders, when he fell heavily on his left shoulder. The pain was severe enough for him to travel to a medical center in Barcelona, where he was diagnosed with grade 1 sprain of his left shoulder. Grade 1 sprains are the lowest level injury, a mild sprain. Sources speaking to both Motocuatro and classified the injury as "not serious, nothing to worry about."

Lorenzo is already underway to Japan, and intends to race at Motegi, the first of three back-to-back flyaway races. How much the injury will hamper him remains to be seen, but given the mild nature of the injury, it should not trouble him too much. Motegi does have a lot of heavy braking, but it is mostly for right-hand corners. From there, the circus heads to Phillip Island, which is a left-hand circuit, but which does not feature much heavy braking. Then to Sepang, which is a mixture of braking for both left and right handers.

It is worth noting that Andrea Iannone suffered a much more serious injury the week before the Aragon round of MotoGP. The factory Ducati rider dislocated his already weak shoulder, and had to have the joint put back into place in a local hospital. Iannone went on to finish a highly commendable fourth, much where you would have expected him to finish without the injury.

This is also not the first time that Lorenzo has suffered a shoulder injury and gone on to race. The 2013 race at Assen is one of the Movistar Yamaha rider's most memorable races, Lorenzo having broken his collarbone in a big and very fast highside during FP2 on Thursday. That night, he was flown to Barcelona for surgery to plate the collarbone, returning the following evening. After a medical inspection on Saturday morning, Lorenzo went on to finish a brave race in fifth position, after starting from twelfth on the grid.

Jorge Lorenzo is the second rider to injure himself ahead of Motegi. Last week, Marc Marquez fell while riding his mountain bike, and broke a metacarpal bone in his left hand.

Marc VDS Confirms Tito Rabat To Race In MotoGP For 2016

The first piece of the Marc VDS / Estrella Galicia puzzle has officially been put in place. Today, the team announced that Tito Rabat will be moving up to race for the team in MotoGP for 2016. Rabat will take the place of the departing Scott Redding, riding a factory-backed Honda RC213V. Rabat got his first spin out on the bike on Monday after Aragon, ostensibly as a reward for winning a title, but the suspicion was always that the team had done this to allow Rabat to get at least a feel for the bike ahead of next year.

That this was the only announcement from the team is something of a surprise. The original plan, understands, was to announce the entire line up all in one go. This was intended to make life easier for the team and its many sponsors, allowing them to coordinate their announcements. However, when asked about progress on this, team sources made it clear that the intention was still there, but that getting all of the deals done, contracts signed and sponsors ready was a little like herding cats. 

More news is likely to emerge from the Marc VDS team in the next week or so, including announcements of Jack Miller to race alongside Rabat, on similar material, the arrival of Franco Morbidelli in Moto2, and Enea Bastianini partnering Jorge Navarro in Moto3.

Below is the press release from Marc VDS on Rabat's deal:

Tito Rabat to move up to MotoGP with Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS

Gosselies, Belgium – 1 October 2015: Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS are pleased to announce that they have reached an agreement with Tito Rabat that will see the reigning Moto2 World Champion contest the 2016 MotoGP World Championship aboard the team’s factory Honda RC213V.

Promotion to the premier class is a fitting reward for the 26-year-old Spaniard, who brought Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS their first World Championship title after a recording breaking 2014 season. Rabat dominated in Moto2 that year, scoring more points than any other rider in the 67-year history of the intermediate class and taking seven wins and 14 podium finishes on his way to the world title.

It is this record, and his commitment to the Estrella Galicia 0,0 backed development project in which the team play a major part, that made Rabat the obvious choice to succeed Scott Redding as the team’s MotoGP rider for the 2016 season.

Rabat is looking forward to the new challenge, having tested the team’s factory Honda RC213V at Motorland Aragon after the Grand Prix at the same circuit. The Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider completed 60 laps and was immediately impressed by both the power and potential of Honda’s MotoGP machine.

Testing for the 2016 MotoGP World Championship will start in earnest immediately after the Grand Prix of Valencia, but Rabat’s focus now is on the last four races of this season and the fight to keep his championship hopes alive after winning last time out in Aragon.

Tito Rabat:

“The objective of my life was to, first of all, arrive to MotoGP and then to make results in the premier class. This is the first step and for that I would like to thank Marc van der Straten, the team and Estrella Galicia for this chance and their confidence in me. I know stepping up to MotoGP on the factory Honda RC213V isn’t going to be easy, but I have all the winter to prepare, to make sure I’m strong and ready for preseason testing. It’s going to be a steep learning curve, but the goal will be to improve step by step so that we’re ready for the first race in Qatar.”

“The test at Aragon aboard the factory Honda RC213V was an incredible experience. The first time you ride this bike you just aren’t prepared for it. There is so much speed, so hard acceleration and the corners arrive far too early! To be honest, it was the best experience you can have on a bike. Once I’d adapted to the speed, the power and the carbon brakes I was able to understand a little more how the bike works and go a little faster. I would like to have ridden for longer but, unfortunately, they wanted to close the track!”

Marc van der Straten:

“I am happy to see Tito step up to race our MotoGP bike next season. His approach to racing, his work ethic and his determination to succeed are the same attributes on which our team was built. It is fitting that we should have a rider such as Tito in the premier class to act as the perfect role model for the younger riders making their way through our development program. To race at the very top level is never easy, but Tito has shown that he has the ability to adapt rapidly and his commitment to this project is absolute. I am confident he will do us proud next season.”

Marc Marquez Fractures Left Hand While Training - Fit For Flyaways

Marc Marquez has broken his left hand for the second time this season. While out training on a mountain bike, the reigning MotoGP champion fell, and fractured the fifth metacarpal of his left hand. He underwent surgery on Wednesday morning at the Dexeus Institut in Barcelona to fix the bone. Dr Mir inserted a titanium plate to stabilize the bone.

Marquez will start physical rehabilitation immediately, and intends to fly to Japan and contest the three flyaway rounds of MotoGP, at Motegi, Phillip Island and Sepang.

This is the second time he has injured his left hand this year. Before the Jerez race, Marquez crashed while riding dirt track, and fractured a phalange bone in his left pinky finger. This injury is to the same finger structure, the fifth metacarpal being the bone in the hand which the pinky finger is connected to.

Below is the press release from HRC on Marquez' injury:

Marc Marquez undergoes successful operation on left hand fracture after mountain bike crash

Reigning MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez was operated on this morning at the Universitario Dexeus Hospital in Barcelona, to treat a fracture to the fifth metacarpal of his left hand. The Repsol Honda rider suffered the fracture on Tuesday whilst mountain bike training on the outskirts of Cervera. The operation was carried out by Dr. Xavier Mir, Head of the Hand and Upper Extremities department of the Universitario Dexeus Hospital, who declared the operation a success. If post-operation recovery goes as expected, Marc should be fine to ride in the Japanese Grand Prix, which takes place in ten days’ time at Motegi.

After the surgery, Dr. Mir stated: “We have operated on Marc Marquez to treat a torsion fracture of the fifth metacarpal of his left hand. The surgery consisted of a reduction and internal fixation of the bone, through screws for compression and a neutralising titanium plate with six holes. After the insertion, the soft tissue has been closed up and we have placed a protective bandage around the finger, supporting it with the adjacent finger. Marc will remain in hospital for 24 hours, and in 48 hours will begin functional rehabilitation.”

Aragon Michelin Test - Crashes Show French Tire Maker Still Has Work To Do

The day after an intense race at the Motorland Aragon circuit, MotoGP held its first full Michelin tire test since Sepang this year. The track was open to any teams wishing to give the Michelin tires a spin, or work on the setting of their bikes. Fourteen riders elected to make use of the opportunity, including both Repsol Honda riders, the Tech 3 Yamaha duo, both LCR Honda riders and the Aprilia men, along with Scott Redding, Aleix Espargaro, Danilo Petrucci and Valentino Rossi.

Michelin had brought three rear tires and four front tires to Aragon, keen to get some data from the circuit, as they have not had much testing at the track, and very little in the dry. That they needed the data became clear in the morning, as cold temperatures caught a number of riders out, including Bradley Smith, with several crashes happening. Those problems disappeared in the afternoon when the temperatures rose. 

But not entirely. Valentino Rossi managed to crash in the afternoon, falling at Turn 2 and suffering some minor abrasions and bruising to his right arm. The cause of the crash, Nicolas Goubert told Speedweek, was because Rossi had slowed down a lap earlier and then pushed hard to test the bike. Turn 2 saw a lot of fallers during the weekend, as it is the first right hander after a long straight and a couple of left corners. The right side of the tire tends to cool rapidly in the wind which blows across the exposed Aragon circuit, causing problems when the bikes are tipped in to Turn 2, and precisely this appears to have happened to Valentino Rossi.

The crash, along with others, suggests there are still several problems with the Michelin tires which need ironing out. The front, Goubert acknowledged, still needs some improvement, and the French tire maker is working on a range of compounds to solve the issues. Testing during the current season, with bikes set up mainly for Bridgeston es, is still a tricky affair, as the character of the two tire brands is so radically different. The Bridgestone front is incredibly strong and very planted, and can be trusted implicitly into corners, while the rear does not excel in producing grip and drive. Michelins are precisely the opposite, the rear being outstanding, while the front does not have the grip of the Bridgestone. MotoGP bikes are set up with a rearward weight bias for the Bridgestones, the front not needing any help to gain grip. The opposite is needed for the Michelins, the front needing all the help it can get, while the rear grips and drives easily. The real testing of the Michelins will start at Valencia, on the Tuesday after the race. From then, the teams will be focused entirely on the Michelins, and will start work on setting the bike up around the new tire brand.

Because of the pre-existing agreement between Michelin, Bridgestone and Dorna, no times were released from the test, though Nicolas Goubert told Speedweek that the times were comparable to the best times set during the race weekend. Whether the tires can maintain the same level of performance throughout the race remains to be seen.

Along with the new tires, there were also a few new bikes on display. Repsol Honda had brought a version of their 2016 RC213V to the test, which got a few laps round the track. But there was no extensive testing, as tires and electronics will change for next season. The spec electronics have been tested on the dyno, and are due to make their debut on the track in the coming month, when test riders will try them for the first time. How the spec electronics will affect the bikes, and perhaps more importantly, the tires, is still an unknown. Valencia will prove a wealth of information in that respect.

Danny Kent To Move Up To Moto2 With Leopard

Danny Kent has finally made a decision on where he will be racing next year. Today, the Leopard Racing team announced that Kent is to remain with the team for 2016, and move up to Moto2. There, he will partner Miguel Oliveira aboard Kalex Moto2 machines.

Kent's decision had been a long time coming. Ducati had tried to tempt the Englishman to go straight to MotoGP, Kent already having spent a year in Moto2. Kent had first been linked with Pramac, but had lost that ride when it was taken by Scott Redding. Aspar had made a late play for Kent's signature, but on Saturday morning, Kent decided his best option was to stay with his current team and go back to Moto2. 

Below is the press release from the Leopard Racing team:


Leopard Racing proudly announces to continue their collaboration with Danny Kent, though the Englishman will step up to Moto2 category from next season onwards.

After the announcement that Miguel Oliveira will take part in Leopard Racing’s Moto2 efforts next year, it is confirmed that Danny Kent will ride alongside the Portuguese rider in the team’s completely new challenge for the upcoming season. An equivalent agreement finally was reached at the Gran Premio de Aragón this weekend.

Kent has proven his potential as he leads this year’s Moto3 series thanks to six race wins thus far in comfortable style so the 21-year from Chippenham in the UK will make his step up to the Moto2 class, which is a comeback for him as he already raced in this highly competitive category back in 2013.

#52 Danny KENT:

“I’m really happy to sign for Leopard Racing in 2016 for Moto2. We experience a great season this year so I’m really excited to start our challenge in the intermediate category. A massive thank you to all people in the team for believing in me and I’m pretty sure that we also can have a great season in 2016 together.”

Miodrag KOTUR (Leopard Racing):

"We are happy too to continue our collaboration with Danny who has shown not only his potential as a rider but also his loyalty for Leopard Racing for many times. We are also pleased to be able to offer him a great opportunity in Moto2. For now we look forward to start our new project with two very talented rider soon after this season is concluded. Our riders line up is complete both in Moto3 and Moto2 for next year. But first we must stay focused on our current exciting 2015 campaign.”