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German MotoGP Extends Contract, Finland Joins Calendar for 2018

Two major announcements for the MotoGP calendar came at the Sachsenring on Sunday. That the organizers of the German Grand Prix have extended their contract for another five years, securing its future through 2021. And that Finland is to host a MotoGP round from 2018 onwards.

The announcement of the German Grand Prix had been expected. What the agreement does not cover, however, is which circuit the race will be at. The Sachsenring is the current favorite, and extraordinarily popular with the fans, but the organizers have struggled to make the race profitable. There have been talks with the Nurburgring, but the fear is that attendance would suffer, as it has historically been low at the circuit. The race could end up alternating between the two tracks.

The announcement of Finland was more of a surprise. There have been rumors of Finland making a return for the last year or so, but a deal was finally announced today. The race will mean a return to Finland after 36 years of absence, the race last held at Imatra. The Finnish round of MotoGP will be held for the first time in 2018, at the Kymiring about 150km from the Finnish capital Helsinki. 

With Finland joining the calendar in 2018, the MotoGP schedule could grow to 20 races. Thailand is highly likely to join the calendar in 2017, with the current three flyaway races being split up into two pairs of races. Whether Finland replaces a race in Spain or becomes the 20th race remains to be seen.

The press releases from Dorna announcing the races are shown below:

Finland poised to join MotoGP schedule

The FIM MotoGP World Championship is set to reach new territory in Scandinavia, with Dorna Sports delighted to announce an agreement has been reached for Finland to join the schedule in 2018.

The new KymiRing track in Iitti is currently under construction, with the FIM and Dorna working in close collaboration with all parties involved for the circuit to be homologated in time for the 2018 World Championship season.

Today’s announcement that MotoGP is set for a return to Finland for the first time since 1982 reflects the global appeal and growing popularity of the FIM MotoGP World Championship.

Future of German Motorcycle Grand Prix secured

ADAC and MotoGP rights holder DORNA renew contract

Germany will continue to host fixtures on the MotoGP World Championship calendar. During the GoPro Motorcycle Grand Prix of Germany weekend at the Sachsenring, Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of the MotoGP rights holder DORNA Sports, and ADAC Sports President Hermann Tomczyk agreed to extend the existing contract by a further five years. Germany will therefore be hosting the MotoGP Motorcycle World Championship until at least 2021.

“We are pleased that collaboration with our longstanding partners at ADAC has been extended for another five years,” said Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of DORNA Sports. “We and the ADAC will be making a joint announcement in the next few weeks concerning the venue for the German MotoGP round.”

ADAC Sports President Hermann Tomczyk: “The Motorcycle Grand Prix is ​​one of the sportingevents in Germany that draws the biggest crowds. We are very pleased that we have secured the future of the German round of the World Championship for the next five years. The world’s top motorcycle racing stars will be lining up on German tracks until at least 2021. I would like to thank Dorna for being such excellent partners and also everyone on our side for their commitment over recent months in securing the future of the German Motorcycle Grand Prix. We are already on the home straight in our negotiations with the Sachsenring to serve as the venue for the next five years. We hope to get the thumbs-up from our partners in Saxony by mid-August at the latest.”



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Johann Zarco Joins Monster Yamaha Tech 3 MotoGP Team For 2017

The long-awaited news of Johann Zarco's MotoGP contract has been announced. The Frenchman is to join Jonas Folger in the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team for 2017. Zarco's contract is for one year, with the team holding an option on the Frenchman for a second year. 

The deal took some time to sort out, as Johann Zarco had already signed a preliminary deal with Suzuki. That deal saw him get to test Suzuki's MotoGP machine in Japan, and he had agreed to race the Suzuka 8 Hour with the factory endurance team. However, after Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins were confirmed at the factory Suzuki team, and a satellite team failed to appear, Zarco opted out of his contract and joined Tech 3 instead. Untangling the Suzuki contract was a time-consuming process, but it has been completed ahead of this weekend's race in Germany.

The press release on Zarco's contract appears below, and more details of the story behind the contract are contained in a piece on by Paddock Pass Podcast's Neil Morrison.

Zarco to join MotoGP with Tech3

The Monster Yamaha Tech3 team is pleased to announce the signing of the exciting French talent, Johann Zarco for the forthcoming season. The 2015 Moto2 World Champion and current joint leader of this year’s intermediate contest, will move up to the premier class with the French team and make his debut on the Yamaha YZR-M1 at the post season Valencia test. The Cannes born rider began his Grand Prix career in 2009 where he competed in the 125cc class, with his highlight in the lightweight series being the runner up in the championship standings in 2011. The 25 year old then stepped up to the intermediate class and since then has produced some determined and eye catching rides across the five seasons so far, where he has amassed 11 victories, 9 pole positions and 14 podium finishes as well as his well deserved world title in 2015. This year Zarco is looking to seal back to back championship wins in the ultra competitive Moto2 class and will be joined by series rival Jonas Folger in the all-new line up for the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team in 2017, with the Frenchman’s contract including an option for a second season.

Johann Zarco:

"It goes without saying that I am very happy to join the MotoGP class with Tech3 and I am confident that we can form a solid partnership. The team has a deep relationship and long history with Yamaha and they have proved that they can manage well in every situation and have had a good package year after year. This pleases me and it gives me extra motivation for reaching my targets in the 2017 season. Of course, it seems like a logical step for a French team and a French champion to work together, and now finally the deal is done which is certainly positive news. I really will do my best and prepare myself for the maximum because I think it’s more than possible to get some top results in MotoGP after my long experience in the intermediate class."

Herve Poncharal - Team Manager:

"After the long wait, I am delighted to announce that Johann Zarco will join the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team for next year. We haven’t had the chance to work with a French rider in our MotoGP team since Sylvain Guintoli in 2007 but I am certain that Johann will do a great job. We have been following him closely since he won the rookies cup and he has gone on to have further success in the 125cc class and Moto2. Last season was incredible for him and he won the championship in a masterful way. For me, Johann joining the team is a big and exciting challenge and he will be working with Guy Coulon’s side of the garage. We are very confident of this relationship being strong, as we already know that Johann and Guy will have a lot of similar points of view. In addition, I have to mention Laurent Fellon, his coach, friend and someone who has been on Johann’s side since the beginning of his career. The two of them have brought a new way of working to the sport and their efforts over the years will pay off and I cannot wait to see what he can do on our bike. The best pages of the Tech3 history book have been written by French riders and include Olivier Jacque, who won the 250cc title, with Dominique Sarron, Jean-Philippe Ruggia and Sylvain Guintoli all achieving success as well, so I am sure Johann can add to this list. I want to give him a really warm welcome and we can’t wait to see him on the bike after."


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At Home With Scott Jones: Laguna Seca WSBK Photos, Part the Third

He'll be comin' down the mountain when he comes...

The 2016 WorldSBK championship, encapsulated

Magic Mike's Naked Blade

Toni Elias has found a second life in MotoAmerica. It's nice to win again

A place for everything, and everything in its place

Tom Sykes' career highlights: a gold, two silvers, and a bronze

Rea's Race Face

An an object lesson in braking: front fully compressed, rear skimming the ground, starting to turn in

Chaz, onit

Lorenzo Savadori pays homage to Johannes Vermeer

The Corkscrew remains remarkable

At home with #69

Kouichi Tsuji, one of Yamaha's biggest racing bosses

Honda vs Ducati, not an easy fight to call at Laguna

Not carbon, still trick

Fast by Kawasaki

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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At Home With Scott Jones: Laguna Seca WSBK Photos, Part 2

Seeking shade at Laguna Seca

Nicky Hayden at Laguna Seca? Always a good bet for the podium

Top of the hill, just before you plunge down the Corkscrew

"The best package on the grid," is how other riders describe the Aprilia RSV4

It came from the Laguna

Ducati / Akrapovic, up close

Alex De Angelis has recovered extremely well from his horrific crash at Motegi last year

How to keep your clutch plates in order, by Ducati

Alex Lowes, still not completely fit, but still fast

Davide Giugliano, dapper gentleman

With an occasional tendency to end in the gravel

Bottom of the Corkscrew, pretty as a picture

Life's not easy for the reigning BSB champ Josh Brookes

Attention to detail

Magic Michael van der Mark

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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At Home With Scott Jones: Laguna Seca WSBK Photos, Part 1

Nicky Hayden is home again. Pity the Honda hates hills

Eyes of the champ

Ducati - Fast by Akrapovic. The Slovenian exhaust maker had a big hand in making the Panigale more manageable

Best looking bike on the grid? The Yamaha R1 is definitely a contender

The difference between MotoGP and WSBK is that in WSBK, they keep the tech porn on display

Jordi Torres has not made the progress he had hoped for in 2016

Can Chaz Challenge The Champ?

Goin' back to Cali

These boots are made for winning

Hard on the gas out of the final corner

Tom Sykes seems to get stronger every race

The Corkscrew is cute, but Turn 1 separates the men from the boys


Davide Giugliano's Ducati Panigale R - the seat everyone is chasing ...

... especially Xavi Fores. The Spaniard has been very impressive after switching from the IDM championship

Ambition burns as brightly as ever for Nicky Hayden

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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Ducati & Aprilia Complete Two-Day MotoGP Test At Misano

Aprilia and Ducati have wrapped up their two-day private test at Misano. The Italian factories had a grand total of three riders out on track, with Casey Stoner riding the Ducati Desmosedici GP, and Sam Lowes and Mike Di Meglio riding the Aprilia RS-GP.

Testing continued as it started on Wednesday, with Stoner giving the GP16 a proper run out, working in the main on chassis and electronics. The test was private, and no times were recorded, but paddock gossip believes Stoner was quick straight out of the box, posting times which matched those of the factory riders. Though Stoner did not speak to the media, Ducati did issue a press release with a statement from the Australian, shown below. Stoner will now stay on for the World Ducati Week, which starts this weekend at Misano.

At Aprilia, while Mike Di Meglio got on with developing the 2016 Aprilia RS-GP, testing chassis and electronics, Sam Lowes had another day on last year's RS-GP. The process of adapting went well, Lowes quickly growing accustomed to the feel and the power of the bike. In a statement in the official press release, Aprilia boss Romano Albesiano declared himself more than satisifed with the pace of Lowes, and the level of his feedback. 

The press releases from Ducati and Aprilia appear below, after  the photo supplied by Ducati Corse:


Misano World Circuit, 30th June 2016:

“We’ve had a very positive test, this being my first time on a European track since 2012 and my first time in Misano since 2011. It’s been a long time and it’s really nice to ride these European-style tracks again and get a feel for what a bike is for basically 70 or 80 percent of the season. Everything we have done has been very positive, we got 95% of our test done over these two days so it’s been very good. We got some direction with Michelin and were able to get a bit of direction between the chassis’ and the electronics etc. I’m really looking forward to seeing what comes from this for the next stages and also what the factory riders really think of the steps we’ve been able to make. The next few days are going to be really interesting. I haven’t been to World Ducati Week for a long time! It’s hard to remember what it was like back then, but now I’m looking forward to the whole weekend and seeing so many fans, everyone who turns up, the amount of bikes. The 90th anniversary of Ducati is such a big celebration and I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”




Sam Lowes tested the Aprilia RS-GP for the first time in view of his début in the Grand Prix Motorcycle Racing premier category for the 2017 season. He got the chance at Misano, during a two-day test conducted by the Aprilia test team on the Romagnolo circuit.

Sam came to grips with the RS-GP straight away on Wednesday morning. The very first outing lasted two laps, just long enough to have his first taste of a MotoGP bike's power, the carbon brakes, the electronics package that manages the V4 and naturally the Michelin tyres. Then the excursions got longer and by the end of the day Sam had logged 60 laps.

On the second day he continued getting to know a bike that is very different from the Team Gresini Kalex he rides in the battle for the Moto2 title this season. At the end of the day, with 69 laps on the sheets for the second day, everyone was satisfied and it was farewell until the next tests.

Test rider, Mike Di Meglio, was also on the track at Misano, continuing development of the RS-GP after the excellent work that Bautista and Bradl, the official riders, demonstrated in the last two championship races at Barcelona and Assen. The new features that were tested involved primarily new chassis components and electronics management strategies.


“It went well. I'd say that we could not have had a better start. Sam got on a bike that he had never seen before, having to deal with a series of new features that range from the available power to the carbon brakes. He was at ease straight away and he also proved to be very analytical and precise in the indications he gave the team, as well as with his work method. Naturally, we were not looking at times, but even from this point of view we are quite pleased with these two days. We continued the RS-GP development programme with Mike, focusing specifically on the new chassis parts and working on the electronics, especially in terms of torque output. We will obviously be taking every solution that proved to be effective to the races straight away”.


“My first laps on the Aprilia RS-GP were an experience that I'll never forget. When I twisted the throttle the speed I could feel was incredible. It was a brilliant feeling. On the second run, I had already begun to manage the power better and I tried to understand how to take the best advantage of it. There were a lot of new things to discover and they all astonished me. The first ones were definitely the power and speed, and then the carbon brakes. The third is the seamless gearbox, which is really incredible, and the fourth is obviously the electronics, which I felt comfortable with straight away. And then the RS-GP surprised me with an agility that I hadn't expected, so much that the night before the test I was quite nervous because I was imagining a much harder bike to ride, but that's not at all the way it was, although nothing is easy on a MotoGP bike. Last, but not least, I want to emphasise how comfortable I felt working with the entire team. In short, it just went really well”.

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Lowes and Stoner Start Two-Day Test at Misano

Aprilia and Ducati had their first day of a two-day test at Misano on Wednesday, with two big-name riders. Casey Stoner returned to action with Ducati, testing the Desmosedici GP (as the 2016 bike is officially known), as part of Ducati's official test team. For Aprilia, Sam Lowes got his first taste of the RS-GP, testing the MotoGP bike alongside Aprilia's official test rider Mike Di Meglio.

As this is a private test, no information regarding lap times was available, and Ducati were keeping very quiet on exactly what they are testing. From Casey Stoner's Twitter feed, we know that he was testing the GP16, though exactly what he was testing is unknown. Stoner did post the following video on Twitter:

As for Sam Lowes, the Gresini Moto2 rider spent his day riding the 2015 version of the Aprilia RS-GP. This was the Englishman's first time out on a MotoGP bike, so his primary focus was gaining an understanding of the Michelin tires and carbon brakes, rather than testing the latest machinery. Aprilia boss Romano Albesiano was pleased with how well Lowes had adjusted to a MotoGP bike, telling Italian website GPOne: "This morning it was impressive to see how quickly he adapted to the new bike and at the same time I was struck by the great methodology with which he took on the various issues." No lap times were released, but paddock rumor suggest that Lowes was much quicker than expected.

While Lowes worked on learning to ride a MotoGP bike, the real work of development fell on the shoulders of Mike Di Meglio. The Frenchman did short runs in sweltering heat to test new chassis components for the 2016 bike, but focused especially on the electronics, according to GPOne. Electronics is one area where Aprilia have struggled, making the switch from their own proprietary software to the spec software this year.

Lowes, too, posted updates to his social media stream, including the following photo on Instagram:


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Scott Jones Shoots Assen - Part 3, Race Day

It's called a "shoey" apparently. Though why anyone would want to consume alcohol from their footwear is a mystery in the Northern Hemisphere

Torrential rain meant a MotoGP race cut short

What victory looks like - Pecco Bagnaia celebrates his first win in Moto3

That will probably buff right out

Assen was not so much a flag-to-flag race, as a red-light-to-red-light race

The Ducatis reigned supreme in the wet. Well, almost

Now that's what I call monsoon conditions

Post-crash rituals: step 1 - argue with a marshall

Never give up

Jack Miller leads Marc Marquez, all the way to the line

Second place, but celebrating it like a victory. Marquez took a big step forward in the championship at Assen

The Moto3 freight train never gets old

A victory has been a long time coming for Takaaki Nakagami. He took his first with style

A message from the junkies

Brad Binder had a lucky escape from a bad mistake. Lost ground, but still scored a lot of points

Belgian beer billionaire Marc van der Straten, making dreams come true

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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Scott Jones Shoots Assen - Part 2

Rain. At Assen. Who would have thought?

A good way of getting pole: follow a fast rider

Determination. Not enough to save Dani Pedrosa's weekend

Last minute instructions to Yonny Hernandez

Moto3 freight train

Aleix Espargaro and crew chief Tom O'Kane, a strong partnership in Suzuki

Marc Marquez had plenty to think about on Saturday

Marshalls, the true heroes of motorcycle racing. Going above and beyond the call of duty

When you're 30 hp down, wet conditions are a boon.

46, still fast at 37

Whoops. Aron Canet crashed at the GT chicane, taking out Juanfran Guevara in the process

There was a lot of this about on both Saturday and Sunday


What victory looks like - Pecco Bagnaia celebrates his first win in Moto3


Did anyone bring an umbrella?

In a factory team, riders have someone to hold the handlebars and make "vroom, vroom" noises for them

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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Aleix Espargaro Confirmed at Aprilia For 2017 and 2018

The last of the factory seats has been officially filled. Today, the Gresini Aprilia team announced that Aleix Espargaro will be joining Sam Lowes at Aprilia for the next two seasons.

The announcement did not come as a surprise. Rumors had emerged at Barcelona that Espargaro would be going to Aprilia, Espargaro telling the media on Friday that he had already signed a contract, but that he was unable to announce who with.

Espargaro's signing leaves both Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista out of a job. Bautista is expected to sign with the Aspar Ducati team for 2017, where he is likely to partner with Eugene Laverty, while Stefan Bradl is being linked to several rides in the World Superbike paddock.

Below is the official press release announcing the news:


Aleix Espargaró, Spanish rider born in Granollers on 30 July 1989, will ride an Aprilia RS-GP in the MotoGP World Championship. The agreement signed with Aprilia Racing is for two years, covering the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

Bringing Espargaró on board is part of Aprilia's development plan - which aims for an increase in competitiveness, in line with the progress already demonstrated this year - and it reaffirms the Piaggio Group's commitment to an excellent technological and sport project aimed at making the Aprilia brand a protagonist on the track and on the road.

Aleix Espargaró was the Spanish champion in the 125 category in 2004. After a series of placements in the 125 and 250 categories, in 2009 he made his début in the top class where he drew attention during the 2012 season astride the ART (the CRT bike developed by Aprilia Racing), finishing the season as the best rider in the category. This excellent result was repeated the next season as well, again on the ART - Aprilia Racing bike. Overall, in MotoGP, he has taken two pole positions and a podium finish, as well as seventh place in the rider standings (his personal best) for the 2014 championship season.


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