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Avintia Confirm Johann Zarco Signed For 2020 MotoGP Season

Johann Zarco has been confirmed as the final piece of the MotoGP puzzle. The Avintia Racing Team have announced that Zarco will be riding a Ducati Desmosedici GP19 for them in 2020. 

The press release brings to an end weeks of speculation about the future of the Frenchman. Rumors of a move to Ducati had first come at Valencia, then been fueled further by the news that Karel Abraham had been sacked by Avintia. Zarco then told French journalist Michel Turco that he would be racing for Avintia in an interview for the magazine Moto Revue last week. 

There had been some skepticism around the move, after Zarco had told reporters he only wanted to ride for a top team, and had described Avintia as 'not a top team'. But Ducati have offered extra support and guarantees to both Avintia and Zarco to make the agreement possible. 

Zarco has signed a contract directly with Ducati, rather than with the team, guaranteeing him better support. In the press release, Avintia state that they will have more support from Ducati, with two electronics engineers and two track engineers from Ducati joining the team.

That is also beneficial for Ducati, Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna told Israeli journalist Tammy Gorali. Avintia's status as perennial backmarkers did not make Ducati look good, so having what Ducati can hope is a very strong rider in the team should help lift the level of the team's achievements. 

The loss of Abraham, who brought money and sponsorship to the team, could pose a problem for Avintia. With Zarco signed for Ducati directly, that should relieve the strain on Avintia, as Ducati will be supporting the Frenchman with equipment. Zarco also has the backing of French GP promoter Claude Michy, and as a consequnce, Dorna, which has a lucrative TV contract with French broadcaster Canal+. That is likely to see extra support for Zarco and the team coming from the organizers as well.

Zarco is currently recovering from the ankle injury he sustained at the final race of 2019 at Valencia. He should be fit in time for the first test of 2020 at Sepang in early February.

The press release from Avintia appears below:


Johann Zarco, new rider of the Reale Avintia Racing Team

The Reale Avintia Racing Team is pleased to announce that Johann Zarco will be the rider to race with Tito Rabat at the next MotoGP World Championship in 2020. The Ducati satellite team will be joined by two track engineers and two Ducati Corse electronics that will follow the activity of the two riders of the Demosedici GP19 throughout the coming season. Zarco, two-time Moto2 World Champion, has signed a one-year agreement directly with Ducati and will be on track for the next season for the first time in the winter tests scheduled at Sepang from 7 to 9 February.

Raúl Romero, owner of the Reale Avintia Racing Team:

“I am really happy and excited with the arrival of a great rider like Johann Zarco to our team from the hand of Ducati. This further strengthens the growth of the team after extending the contract with the Manufacter of Borgo Panigale, making a leap of quality in terms of material by becoming a satellite team. All this package will allow to reflect in the circuits the effort of the structure in the last years. We hope to see Johann and Tito assiduously in the top ten and become a reference team soon. Finally, we would like to thank all our sponsors for their efforts in recent years, without them this would not have been possible.”

Johann Zarco has commented on his new challenge:

“I am very pleased to officially announce my signature with Ducati for 2020 season in MotoGP category racing in the Reale Avintia Racing Team. My left ankle is recovering well, I can enjoy now my winter time having rest with family and training again very soon!”

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The Zarco Saga Nears Completion - An Avintia Seat Beckons

The Johann Zarco Saga appears to be drawing to a close. The long journey, which started when he announced he would be leaving KTM at the end of 2019, looks to have taken him to Ducati. In an interview for the French magazine Moto Revue, the Frenchman told journalist Michel Turco that he will be racing a Ducati Desmosedici GP19 with the Avintia Racing team in 2020.

Zarco's statements bring to a close a long and confusing chapter in MotoGP. Zarco was summarily dismissed from the Red Bull KTM team on full pay after the race in Misano, the Austrian manufacturer wanting rid of a disruptive factor in the factory team. After Thailand, it emerged that Zarco would be temporarily replacing Takaaki Nakagami in the LCR Honda team after Motegi, to allow the Japanese rider to recover from shoulder surgery in time for the 2020 MotoGP season.

That move led to speculation that Zarco could replace Jorge Lorenzo in the Repsol Honda team. But by the time Lorenzo announced his retirement ahead of the final round at Valencia, Emilio Alzamora, who manages the Marquez brothers, had persuaded HRC to sign Alex Marquez to ride alongside his brother Marc in the factory Repsol Honda squad.

With the door at Honda shut, the focus moved to Ducati. Over the Valencia weekend, rumors surfaced that Dorna was trying to get Zarco onto a Ducati  for 2020. Reports initially linked Zarco to Avintia, where he would replace Karel Abraham, but Zarco showed no interest in riding for Avintia, preferring to look at Moto2 rather than staying in MotoGP.  "I want a good team and a good bike and for me Avintia is not a top team," the Frenchman said at Valencia. Rumors then had Zarco moving to the Pramac Ducati team, to take the place of Jack Miller, who would be moving up to the factory squad to replace Danilo Petrucci.

At the Jerez test, it became clear that if Zarco was going to land anywhere, it would be at Avintia. Karel Abraham told top Israeli broadcaster and journalist Tammy Gorali that he had been fired by Avintia, freeing up a place in the Andorran team. 

Yet there was still no obvious way to reconcile the statements Zarco had made with him being offered a seat at Avintia. The interview with Moto Revue cleared some of that up. 

In the interview, Zarco tells Michel Turco that he has a contract directly with Ducati, rather than with Avintia. Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna had told Zarco that he could be confident of getting good support from Ducati, and that had given him the confidence to sign to ride for Avintia, Zarco said. The Frenchman had also spoken to his former crew chief Massimo Branchini, and Branchini had told him to have faith in Dall'Igna, and that Ducati would find him a competent crew chief.

Though Zarco's statements leave nothing open to interpretation, a few question marks remain. There is as yet still no official confirmation, neither from Ducati nor from Avintia, that Zarco will be riding for them for 2020. As 2019 has made abundantly clear, even signed contracts can be broken if circumstances demand it.

There is also the question of how Zarco will fit in with the Avintia squad once he arrives. The team will not have forgotten his words, and he is unlikely to receive a particularly warm welcome. Trust is the rock on which the relationship between rider and team is built, and without trust, things can quickly sink into the mire.

Zarco's personality does not help in that respect: the Frenchman speaks his mind, whether that is a good idea or not, as he found to his cost in KTM. Even if Zarco goes well on the Ducati, any public criticism of the team is unlikely to be well received. A close and happy team is the difference between success and failure - see the change in Maverick Viñales' fortunes since switching crew chiefs this year - and that is hard to build where both sides are suspicious of one another. 

Why would Ducati and Avintia want to sign Zarco? There has been a great deal of pressure from Claude Michy, the promoter of the French MotoGP round at Le Mans. Michy is a longtime supporter of Zarco, and wants Zarco on the grid to help sell tickets to French fans, as Zarco is seen as more authentically French than Fabio Quartararo, who left France to go and live in Spain at a very young age. 

Zarco also had the support of Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, who had also been acting as his confidant in the latter part of the season. With the weight of Michy and Ezpeleta behind him, Ducati were inclined to take a chance on Zarco. 

It is in the interests of all parties that the gamble pays off. Zarco's stated objective is to finish consistently in the top ten, then inside the top seven as the season goes on. The aim is to earn a seat in the factory Ducati squad in 2021, when all of the contracts in MotoGP are up for grabs.

That will not be easy. Firstly, finishing inside the top ten will be difficult: Marc Marquez will be set on defending his 2019 MotoGP title, there will be four competitive Yamahas and four Ducati GP20s on the grid, as well as two fast Suzukis in the hands of Alex Rins and the rapidly improving Joan Mir. The GP20 looks to be a big step forward for Ducati, the bike turning much better than its predecessor. Even the KTM RC16 has shown real signs of progress with its new frame. Then there are riders like Cal Crutchlow and Taka Nakagami, who are both capable of top tens on any given day. If Zarco wants to finish in the top ten, he has a lot of bikes he will have to try to beat.

Even if he can score regular top sevens, he also faces stiff competition for a seat in 2021. There is strong interest in the current crop of Moto2 riders for 2021, and there could be as many as five or six youngsters vying for seats in MotoGP. Zarco will be 30 by the time the second half of the 2020 season starts, and youth-obsessed managers may prefer to sign a youngster from Moto2 over an older Frenchman. 

Zarco has damaged his prospects of a 2021 seat with his behavior this year. The way he handled the KTM situation - especially his constant and public criticism of the team - did not sit well with factory bosses. That may even have cost him for 2020, as KTM team boss Mike Leitner will have made his feelings about Zarco's behavior clear to Repsol Honda boss Alberto Puig, the two men being good friends with a long history together. Yamaha had already cut ties with Zarco, after the Frenchman turned down a role as a test rider, and bad blood remains between Zarco and Suzuki after Suzuki took Rins over the Frenchman for the 2017 season.

So while it appears that one chapter of the Zarco Saga appears to be drawing to a close, it is not hard to believe that a new chapter is about to open. And if 2019 is anything to go by, it could well prove to be rather dramatic.

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Grand Prix Commission Tweaks Testing Regulations Further

The Grand Prix Commission is working through the unintended consequences of the decision to restrict testing in all three Grand Prix classes. Those restrictions have been a positive aid in reducing costs, but have made it impossible to use riders not currently under contract unless their contracted riders are absent due to illness or injury.

Adding a further layer of complexity to this is the current state of the MotoGP rider's market: with everyone out of contract at the end of 2020, and a large crop of Moto2 riders looking to step up, the factories want to take a look at riders not currently on the MotoGP grid. In previous years, such rookies would be given a private test - that happened with Johann Zarco, Alex Marquez, and Brad Binder, to name a few. But with private testing now banned, that has become impossible. 

As a result, the GPC has decided to allow non-contracted riders to run alongside contracted riders at MotoGP tests, subject to the proviso that they share riding time: i.e. only one of them can be on the track at the same time. So for example, should Yamaha decide to give current Moto2 rider Luca Marini a test, he could share a garage with Valentino Rossi, but Marini would have to ride in the morning, Rossi in the afternoon.

This measure also allows the four MotoGP manufacturers without concessions to get a shot at younger riders. The testing restrictions do not apply to factories with concessions, so Aprilia and KTM are free to give Moto2 riders or riders from other championships a test on the bike at private tests.

The fact that this has come up as a subject - with the objective of evaluating future riders mentioned explicitly - suggests that this is something factories and teams are currently looking at very seriously. It is another sign that the riders market for 2021 could be very hectic, and shake up the grid significantly.

The first test where we are likely to see young riders given some time on the bike is probably Barcelona. The preseason tests at Sepang and Qatar are too important for the start of the season, and the post-race test at Jerez is the first chance the teams get to bring updates for the season, and try to find solutions to problems uncovered by the first few races. 

The other rectification to the regulations was to align MotoGP wildcards and MotoE. For example, as a concessions manufacturer, Aprilia have the right to enter test rider Bradley Smith as a wildcard rider in six events. However, wildcard riders are currently forbidden from appearing in consecutive events. 

With Smith also racing in MotoE making it impossible to wildcard and race in MotoE on the same weekend, and other test riders also having race programs outside of MotoGP on a fixed schedule, that rule has been dropped.

The press release from the Grand Prix Commission appears below:


FIM Grand Prix World Championship
Decision of the Grand Prix Commission

The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Paul Duparc (FIM), Herve Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA), in the presence of Carlos Ezpeleta (Dorna), Mike Trimby (IRTA, Secretary of the meeting), Corrado Cecchinelli (Director of Technology), Danny Aldridge (Technical Director), Mike Webb (Race Director and Franck Vayssié (CCR Director) in a meeting held in Madrid on 27 November 2019, made the following decisions:

Sporting Regulations

EFFECTIVE SEASON 2020
TESTING REGULATIONS

Currently, teams have only been allowed to test not contracted riders at tests by replacing their contracted rider for injury or another reason.

Furthermore, as there is no longer private testing in the MotoGP Class, (only allowed for manufacturers with concessions) it makes it difficult for the rest of the MotoGP manufacturers and teams to test other riders for the future.

The Grand Prix Commission has approved a change to the regulations as follows:

All Classes:
Teams may substitute their contracted rider for all or part of a test, provided that the maximum number of test days is respected, and that the substitute takes the place of the contracted rider, i.e. both cannot be on track at the same time. Such substitute riders must be approved the Selection Committee.

Moto3 and Moto2 Classes:
Any replacement or substitute rider is deemed to be the original rider for the purposes of counting test days, so test days accumulate for both rider and team (that is, a team cannot have more test days by changing riders and a contracted rider cannot have more test days by changing teams).

The effect of these changes is that teams will have the opportunity to evaluate the competence of non- contracted riders for future use as a substitute or replacement rider. It also gives the opportunity for teams, and the selection Committee, to assess the performance of riders who might be proposed as contracted riders for subsequent seasons.

Wild Cards – MotoGP Class
Currently, MotoGP class Manufacturers are not permitted to nominate wild card entries for consecutive events.

The Commission have agreed that this restriction should be removed for those manufacturers who benefit from concessions. Such manufacturers are permitted a maximum of six wild card entries and scheduling applications for events that are not consecutive has proved difficult, particularly when some riders are also committed to other Championships like MotoE.

WET RACE START PROCEDURE FOR MOTO3 AND MOTO2
To bring this procedure into line with similar regulations that involve a delayed start. The Commission have agreed that the restarted race will be 2/3 of the original race distance.

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

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

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Superbike Commission Moves To Preemptively Restrict Active Aerodynamics In WorldSBK

The launch of the Honda CBR1000RR-R has caused the Superbike Commission, the rule-making body for the WorldSBK series, to take preemptive action to restrict the use of active aerodynamics. In a press release today, announcing a series of rule changes for the 2020 season, the biggest change is putting limits in place on how dynamic aerodynamics can be used.

The new rules limit the amount of movement available for active, dynamic, or movable aerodynamic parts. Moving parts will be restricted to the range of motion used on the production bike, even if the parts allow greater freedom of movement.

The objective is to prevent manufacturers from building a fairing with movable wings, but fixing the wings in one position on the road bike, or limiting the amount they can move, and then employing the full range of motion on the WorldSBK-spec machine. In theory, it would be possible to sell a bike with very limited moving winglets, but spend a lot of money to optimize the movement of the winglets on the race bike to maximize downforce at lower speeds, then reduce the downforce to reduce drag at much higher speeds.

The restrictions are a response to the patents Honda have filed for active aerodynamics on the Honda CBR1000RR-R. Those patents had raised speculation that the new Fireblade might use moving winglets inside the side ducts on the bike, but the model introduced at the EICMA show had a fixed set of winglets, which did not move. Should Honda decide to introduce an updated version of the CBR1000RR-R SP with active aerodynamics, the racing versions will be limited to the range of motion the road bikes have.

The press release contained a host of other changes, but most of those were only minor tweaks and updates to the rules, the sporting regulations changing to bring them in line with the MotoGP and EWC rules, the technical rules aimed at clarifying the rules in the three WorldSBK classes.

The FIM press release appears below:


FIM Superbike & Supersport World Championships
Changes to the Regulations for 2020

The Superbike Commission composed of Messrs Gregorio Lavilla (WorldSBK Sporting & Organization Executive Director), Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA Representative) and Franck Vayssié (FIM CCR

Director) in the presence of Mr Paul Duparc (FIM CCR Coordinator and secretary of this meeting) met in the Dorna Headquarters, in Madrid, on 27 November 2019.

The Superbike Commission made the following changes for the 2020 FIM Superbike & Supersports World Championships Regulations:

Sporting Regulations

Sporting and Disciplinary Regulations – Effective Season 2020

Various clarifications in order to simplify the rules and to adapt them to decisions taken during the season were adopted. The most emblematic decisions were as follows:

Track limits on the last lap of the race
Any excursions of track limits on the last lap of the race that may have affected a race result must indicate that the rider in question was disadvantaged. If the FIM Stewards panel decide that there is no clear disadvantage, the rider will be penalised with a change of position or a time penalty.

Black Flag with Orange Disk
In harmonisation with the EWC and GP Regulations, riders who are required to leave the track by display of this flag must be authorised by an official to re-join the track.

Helmets
The Commission reminded everyone that the new standards established by the FIM for all circuit racing disciplines managed by the FIM. This means that the single enhanced standard for helmets, (replacing the various national standards used before) will be applied for the Supersport riders in 2020.

Materials Used in “Sliders”
Some riders use knee sliders to which had been added metal studs. The sparks generated could disturb the following riders. It will be therefore prohibited to manufacture or modify knee or other sliders to include any material that, when in contact with the track surface, may cause a visual disturbance to other riders.

Management of the hand carried generator during the start procedure:
The current regulations limit the use to a hand carried generator with a maximum output of 2 kw. Current practice is for generators to be incorporated into a service cart with toolboxes, spare wheels and other equipment. If generator/equipment cart, trolleys and airblowers must be removed from the grid as soon as the board “3 Minutes” is presented, for organisational reasons, it was clarified that these generators, must have been disconnected prior the board “3 Minutes” is shown.

Technical Regulations

Technical Regulations

The Superbike Commission approved a number of clarifications and editorials with regards to the Technical rules:

In Superbike:

  • Wings and Aerodynamic Aids - For active or dynamic aerodynamic parts ONLY the standard homologated mechanism may be used. The range of movement must be the same as that used by the homologated road machine in normal use - not the mechanical maximum.
  • Concession parts – updates
  • Option parts – updates
  • Rev limits – updates
  • Tyre pressure - Riders may be stopped in the pit lane during the exit from the box at any time by the SBK Technical Director or his appointed staff to check the tyre pressure.
  • Concession part - The ‘optional’ cylinder head as used by the reference team must be available from the concession parts supplier.
  • Generator, alternator, etc.- Only the originally homologated or approved concession flywheel may be used.
  • Frame and sub frame - Important clarifications.
  • Wheels - Angled air valves are compulsory.
  • Bottom streamlining section – Important construction requirements

In Supersport 600:

  • Concession parts - Clarification
  • Rev limit – new values (tbc)
  • Minimum weight – new weight values (tbc)
  • Tyres – maximum quantity, logistics (timetable) and clarifications.
  • Tyre pressure – Riders should be ready for possible tyre pressure control at any time in pitlane
  • Camshafts – Clarification, price and availability
  • Transmission – Important clarifications: definition, allowances and limitations
  • Electrics and electronics – Important changes and clarifications
  • Wheels - Angled air valves are compulsory

In Supersport 300:

  • Tyre stickers - Logistics (timetable)
  • Tyre pressure - Riders should be ready for possible tyre pressure control at any time in pitlane
  • Crankcase covers – made from titanium are no longer accepted/permitted.
  • Rev limits – New rev limits for 2020 (tbc)!
  • Control electronics – Clarification: a) only accepted those listed on the approved parts list.
  • Software and firmware used must be from the list of legal software/firmware versions published at www.fim-live.com
  • Additional sensors/channels permitted to be replaced are - Front speed sensor (From ABS sensor) and Barometric air pressure Where external modules (may be fitted) – additional clarifications
  • Data loggers – additional clarifications
  • Suspension - Clarifications pre-load adjusters.
  • Wheels - Angled air valves are compulsory
  • Fuel tank - No heat reflective material permitted (attached) to the bottom surface of the fuel tank.
  • Fairing: - Air ducts cannot be added if they are not present on the original machine.

The 2020 FIM Superbike & Supersports World Championships Regulations will be available at FIM-LIVE.COM within the next weeks.

Source: 

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Marc Marquez Undergoes Surgery On Right Shoulder

Marc Marquez has had surgery on his right shoulder, to fix the problems he picked up in crashes earlier this year. The reigning MotoGP champion crashed on his right shoulder a couple of times this season, most notably at Sepang, when he tried following Fabio Quartararo during qualifying, and got caught out on a cold rear tire. A further big crash at the Jerez test on Monday prompted the plans for surgery to be brought forward.

The operation is similar to the one he had in December 2018, on his left shoulder. That shoulder was in a much worse state than the right one, but after developing an issue in the right shoulder as well, Marquez and his team decided to take preventative action to avoid the shoulder getting worse.

Marquez now embarks on a long and intensive period of recovery. In 2018 and 2019, he was spending 5 hours a day doing physiotherapy to get in shape for the test in Sepang. Even then, Honda restricted his time on track to avoid stressing the shoulder. This year, he has an extra two weeks to prepare, meaning he should be in a little better shape by the time the test starts.

The press release on Marquez' surgery appears below:


Marquez undergoes successful surgery on right shoulder

With his most successful premier class season to date finished, eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez elected to undergo surgery at the Hospital Universitari Dexeus-Quiron today, November 27. The operation was performed by Dr. Xavier Mir, Dr. Victor Marlet and Dr. Teresa Marlet, all part of ICATME (the Catalan Institute of Traumatology and Sports Medicine).

After experiencing some discomfort with his right shoulder, and after his Monday crash at the Jerez Test, the Repsol Honda Team rider elected to have the operation as a preventative measure after medical consultation. The operation is similar to the one performed on his left shoulder at the end of 2018 but less aggressive in nature.

Marquez will be discharged within the next 48 hours. He will then begin his recovery and winter training in preparation for the Sepang Test at home in Cervera.

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UPDATE: Marc Marquez To Have Surgery On Dislocated Right Shoulder

The fallout of qualifying in Sepang is having serious consequences for Marc Marquez. The Repsol Honda rider had a huge highside during Q2, when he was trying to follow Fabio Quartararo. It was plain to see that Marquez banged up his knees and ankles in the crash, but it now appears he also dislocated his right shoulder in the fall. 

The injury was serious enough to warrant a full medical examination, and the possibility of surgery to fix the shoulder. At the Jerez test, Marc Marquez told Israeli journalist and TV commentator Tammy Gorali that he would be having his right shoulder examined in Barcelona on Wednesday. 

The action was further prompted by Marquez' crash at the Jerez test. On Monday, Marquez crashed in the final corner, and had to be taken to the medical center for further examination. That crash came on top of a highside at Turn 13 during the Valencia test, which also saw him land on his shoulder.

Marc Marquez' injury may also have necessitated a change of testing plan. At Valencia, Marquez shared testing duties on the 2020 Honda RC213V prototypes with Cal Crutchlow and Stefan Bradl. At Jerez, the two remaining 2020 prototypes (less the one too badly damaged in Stefan Bradl's crash) were parked in Marc Marquez' garage, the work of assessing the bikes placed firmly on the reigning champion's shoulders.

Marquez continued to ride after he was injured. The Spaniard finished second at Sepang, and then won the race at Valencia, despite the pain in his shoulder. He also rode in the Valencia test, and now also the Jerez test.

There is as yet no official confirmation of the medical schedule for Marc Marquez. That confirmation is expected to come soon.

UPDATE

The Repsol Honda team have confirmed in their press release that Marc Marquez is to have surgery on this right shoulder to fix the problem. More details were announced: problems had started at Motegi, but the crash at Sepang had made the problem much worse when he dislocated his shoulder. The crash at the Jerez dislocated the right shoulder once again, and though the issue with the shoulder is not as severe as with his left shoulder in 2018, Marquez elected to have surgery as soon as possible to try to avoid the shoulder getting worse in the future.

This means that Marquez faces another long winter of rehabilitation, of physio multiple times a day to recover from the surgery. It was something which Marquez had found hard in 2018 and 2019, and he faces the same process again through this winter.

Below is the Repsol Honda press release announcing the surgery:


Rain ends Jerez Test early for Repsol Honda Team

Midday rain meant the final day of testing in 2019 was cut short, teams making the most of the morning before the conditions worsened.

With the forecast looking bleak, Marc Marquez was among the first riders on track in Jerez as the final day of 2019 commenced. An early in the day 1’37.820 immediately had the World Champion atop the day’s timing table and second overall. More track time would have been welcomed as there is always more to test, but Marc and team are content with what has been accomplished since the flag dropped in the Valencia race.

Likewise, Alex Marquez was left wishing for better track conditions in order to improve his feeling on the RC213V. A best time of 1’39.224, set on the morning of the second day, leaves the 23-year-old as the fastest rookie of the test. The reigning Moto2 World Champion will now begin an intense off season to prepare himself for his debut in the premier class when the lights go out in Qatar.

Marc Marquez will now travel to Barcelona for an operation on his right shoulder at the Hospital Universitari Dexeus-Quiron on Wednesday, November 27. The Repsol Honda Team rider has elected to have the operation as a preventative measure after medical consultation. The operation will be similar to the one performed on his left shoulder at the end of 2018.

The Repsol Honda Team will be back on track for the Sepang Test, February 07 to 09.

Marc Marquez 1'37.820

“Theses two days were very positive for us, working with the 2020 items we have and trying to find the right direction. On the first day we tried a lot of things and then today we started with the best of what we found yesterday. Unfortunately, we only did 20 laps before the rain came. It wasn’t wet enough to properly test in the wet and it certainly wasn’t dry. Now it’s time for the staff in HRC Japan to analyse everything.

“This winter I would have liked to have a nice holiday and enjoy a bit of quiet time after a great 2019 – but it is time to have surgery on the right shoulder. As everyone knows, last winter was very tough for me with the operation on the left shoulder, which was very, very damaged. I want to avoid the situation where my right shoulder is in this condition in the future so I spoke a lot with the doctors to see what our options were. Before Motegi I had some issues with the shoulder and then after the crash in Malaysia I had a subluxation. Here at the test I had another subluxation after the crash, so we decided with the doctors that it was best to have the surgery to avoid the situation we had with the other shoulder. It will take more or less the same time and we will work in the same way to arrive at the Malaysia test as strong as possible.”

Alex Marquez 1'39.224

“The weather was like it was, which wasn’t perfect but in the morning we were able to make another step and improved our time on used tyres. This is good news for us. Like yesterday, when we put new tyres in it started to rain so this is still something we have to look at. We were able to try the bike a little bit in the wet and it felt good. I’m happy with this second day of testing even if there’s still a lot of work to do. I know what I need to do at home to be ready in Sepang.”

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The First Shoe Drops: Avintia Terminates Contract With Karel Abraham, Abraham Ends MotoGP Career

Karel Abraham is to cease racing in the MotoGP class for the foreseeable future. The 29-year-old told a meeting with fans on Saturday night that he would not be returning to the Avintia team for 2020, and that it is likely he will end his active racing career altogether.

Abraham made his decision after being told not to come to Jerez for the two-day MotoGP test due to start on Monday. The email had come as a hard blow, Abraham told the fans, as he had a contract to continue racing with the Reale Avintia team for 2020. But on Friday night, he had received an email terminating the contract, though Abraham disagreed with the reasons given.

The way in which the contract was ended made the Czech rider not want to have anything more to do with the team, he told the fans present at the event. Something like this should be dealt with before leaving for the flyaways, or at least in a face-to-face meeting, Abraham said.

Abraham accused the Avintia team of financial problems, claiming that a number of mechanics did not travel to the Malaysian round of the championship in Sepang. Abraham accused Avintia of not having paid some mechanics. In turn, Abraham stands accused of not having fulfilled his contract with Avintia by paying the agreed sponsorship amount.

Abraham's departure opens the way for Johann Zarco to take the seat there. The Frenchman had originally turned the team down, saying they were 'not a top team'. "I want a good team and a good bike, and for me Avintia is not a top team, so if I have to lose more myself in that place, I will move to Moto2," Zarco had said on Saturday at Valencia. 

But after the weekend, Zarco was spotted holding meetings with Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna, where he is believed to have been offered assurances about the level of support at the team. Zarco also has the backing of French GP promoter Claude Michy, who has persuaded Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta to back the team.

However, top French journalist Thomas Baujard spoke by phone to Johann Zarco about a move to Avintia during the test at Valencia, and at that point, Zarco was still to be convinced. At the moment, the seat left vacant by Alex Marquez in the Marc VDS Moto2 team was still available, but talks between the team and Zarco have been difficult.

As of Saturday night, there is still no sign of Zarco having made a decision about taking the ride on a Ducati with the Reale Avintia team. With that seat now empty, it would be logical for Zarco to fill the seat and try to win a much better ride in 2021. But the Zarco saga is so long and complex that logic has long since been abandoned. We await official confirmation of the next move.

Even if Zarco does take the Avintia seat, he is unlikely to ride at Jerez. The Frenchman is still recovering from the ankle injury picked up in his crash during the race at Valencia, and is far from being fully fit to ride. There will also have to be some papering over the cracks left by the Frenchman's comments about the team.

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2020 WorldSBK Calendar - 13 Rounds, Qatar Moved, Oschersleben Returns

The FIM has announced the 2020 WorldSBK Calendar today. The series will hold 13 rounds in 10 different countries, starting at the end of February in Phillip Island, and ending on 11th October in Argentina.

The calendar sees a certain amount of reshuffling. The Qatar round of WorldSBK has been moved from the final race of the year to be second, and takes place a week after the opening MotoGP round at the Losail circuit. Qatar takes the place of the disappearing Thai round at Buriram, which has dropped WorldSBK in favor of MotoGP.

Oschersleben returns to the calendar, bringing WorldSBK back to Germany, with that race being held at the end of July. And Barcelona is to host both MotoGP and WorldSBK, the Superbike round to be held from 18th-20th September next year.

The calendar sees just one clash with MotoGP:  the races in Assen are to be held on the same weekend as the Argentina round of MotoGP from 17th-19th of April. Given the snow that fell during the 2019 round of WorldSBK, that is a risky proposition. Mid-April can either be sunny and 20°C, or windy and sub-zero temperatures.

The 2020 calendar:

Date Country Circuit WorldSBK WorldSSP WorldSSP300
28 Feb – 1 March Australia Phillip Island  X X  
13 – 15 March Qatar Losail X X  
27 - 29 March Spain Jerez X X X
17 - 19 April The Netherlands Assen X X X
8 - 10 May Italy Imola X X X
22 - 24 May Spain MotorLand Aragón X X X
12 - 14 June Italy Misano X X X
3 - 5 July United Kingdom Donington Park X X X
31 July - 2 August Germany Oschersleben X X X
4 - 6 September Portugal Portimao X X X
18 - 20 September Spain Barcelona X X X
25 - 27 September France Magny-Cours X X X
9 – 11 October Argentina San Juan Villicum X X  

2020 OFFICIAL TESTS

  • 24 - 25 February, Australia, Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit (WorldSBK and WorldSSP)
  • TBA, Official Mid-season test
     
Source: 

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Alex Marquez Confirmed Alongside Brother Marc In Repsol Honda Team For 2020

Repsol Honda have officially confirmed that Alex Marquez will partner his brother Marc at the Repsol Honda team for next year. It is the first time that a pair of brothers have raced in the same team in MotoGP. There have been other brothers riding in the same class at the same time - Aleix and Pol Espargaro the latest example of that, but never before have brothers raced in the same team in either 500cc or MotoGP. 

Marc Marquez has made no secret over the years of his desire to share a team with his brother Alex, Alex being given a test ride on the Repsol Honda as a reward for winning the Moto3 title in 2014. Alex also filled in for the injured Tom Luthi at the test in Jerez in November 2017. There was a belief that Marc would try to bring Alex into the team in 2021, once Jorge Lorenzo's contract ended. But when news of Jorge Lorenzo's retirement broke, an opportunity opened up earlier.

At first, the younger Marquez brother was just one of a handful of candidates, a list which included Johann Zarco, Cal Crutchlow, Takaaki Nakagami, and even Alvaro Bautista. But as the weekend went on, it became increasingly clear that Alex Marquez would get the call, specifically at the request of brother Marc.

It is a risky move by Repsol Honda. The justification for taking Alex Marquez straight into the factory team is that he is the reigning Moto2 champion, and as such, deserves a slot in MotoGP. Honda can also argue that Jorge Lorenzo's decision to retire so late in the season forced their hand, limiting their options to find a suitable replacement. And the benefit of having Alex in Repsol alongside Marc is that the two are much more likely to work together than create friction inside the team. 

But there are many dangers to having Alex Marquez alongside Marc. The first is that it obviously looks like the fact that Alex is Marc's brother played a major part in the decision. Whatever the merits of Alex Marquez having a seat in MotoGP - and as reigning Moto2 champion, he certainly deserves a chance in the premier class - it is unusual for rookies to go straight to factory teams outside of Suzuki, which has no satellite team. 

There is also a huge risk that Marc Marquez will be distracted. If Alex does not adapt quickly to the Honda, Marc will be inundated with questions about whether it was a mistake to put Alex into such a high-pressure situation. Marc is also likely to feel obliged to try to help Alex, further taking his focus away from the job of winning the championship again in 2020. And if Alex doesn't immediately adapt to the 2020 RC213V, Honda will face a barrage of criticism for giving the ride to the younger Marquez brother, and be seen as weak in not standing up to the six-time MotoGP champion.

There could be a benefit in the longer term, of course. At the moment, Marc Marquez has no interest in making the Honda RC213V easier to ride, as long as it can do the things he needs it to do. The problems of other riders are not his concern at the moment. 

But if Alex struggles, Marc may have an added motivation to try to improve the areas which would help all the Honda riders. It is in Marc Marquez' interest for his brother to be competitive, and if that means making the bike easier to ride, then he will surely be inclined to do that.

We will get to see how Alex Marquez gets on with the Honda from Tuesday. The reigning Moto2 champion will test at Valencia, though he will be testing the LCR Honda bike, the 2019-spec Honda RC213V which Takaaki Nakagami is due to get next year. What he tests at Jerez, and which garage he works out of, is as yet unanswered. Alex will get an extra three days of testing as well, alongside Brad Binder and Iker Lecuona, rookies being given permission to test during the MotoGP shakedown ahead of the Sepang test in February next year.

Alex Marquez leaves a vacant seat in Moto2 - most Moto2 contracts have a specific clause in them allowing the contract to be broken if the rider is offered a place in MotoGP - in the Marc VDS team. Johann Zarco is the most likely candidate to fill that seat, after the Frenchman turned down the chance to stay in MotoGP with Avintia Ducati.

The Repsol Honda press release appears below. 


HRC sign Alex Marquez

Honda Racing Corporation is pleased to announce the signing of double World Champion Alex Marquez. The young Spanish rider will join the Repsol Honda Team on a one-year contract.

He will move from the intermediate class to partner eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez in 2020 for his debut season in the premier class aboard the Honda RC213V.

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Race Day Schedule For Valencia Changed: Warm Up 30 Minutes Later, MotoE Race After MotoGP

The cold conditions at Valencia have forced Dorna to change the schedule for Sunday. The Moto3, Moto2, and MotoGP race times are all untouched, but warm up has been moved half an hour later, to avoid the unusually cold conditions in the morning.

Warm up sessions will start from 8:50am, with MotoGP running from 9:50 to 10:10. That has also forced the MotoE race to be pushed back after the MotoGP race. The MotoE race will now start at 15:30.

New schedule:

Time Class Session
8:50 - 9:10 Moto3 Warm Up
9:20 - 9:40 Moto2 Warm Up
9:50 - 10:20 MotoGP Warm Up
     
11:00 Moto3 Race (23 laps)
12:20 Moto2 Race (25 laps)
14:00 MotoGP Race (27 laps)
15:30 MotoE Race (7 laps)
Source: 

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