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Finland MotoGP Race Draws Closer - Test Teams To Try Track In August

The chance of there being 20 races on the MotoGP calendar in 2020 drew closer today, with the announcement that the track will be ready to host a MotoGP test later this year. On the 19th and 20th August, the factory test teams will spend two days trying out the surface and facilities at the Kymiring in Finland. 

The circuit has let Dorna know that the track will be ready to host a test on those dates. There, the factory test teams will test the surface and gather data for Michelin, to allow them to select the appropriate tires for the race to be held there. 

If the test is deemed a success, then the Kymiring will be added to the MotoGP calendar for 2020. That will bring the total number of races up to 20, the current maximum specified by the contract between the teams, IRTA, and Dorna. It is uncertain whether there will be a test with the full MotoGP grid ahead of any race at the circuit, as scheduling a test could be difficult. Instead, practice could be extended to give the teams and riders more time to find a setup during the race weekend. 

The press release announcing the test appears below:

Finland test dates confirmed

The KymiRing will host manufacturers’ test teams in August

Saturday, 09 March 2019

Information on Official MotoGP™ Tests was recently published and further details about an aforementioned test for MotoGP™ manufacturers’ test teams in Finland can now be confirmed.

The two-day test will take place on the 19th and 20th of August 2019. The Kymiring has announced that the track will be in a condition to complete Grand Prix testing.

This test with MotoGP™ manufacturers’ test teams will provide valuable data to all MotoGP™ class teams, as well as the technical suppliers, ahead of the KymiRing’s inclusion on a future MotoGP™ calendar. Every manufacturer will be present and represented by at least one rider.


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MotoGP Introduces Long Lap Penalty For Exceeding Track Limits

The Grand Prix Commission has approved the long lap penalty trialed by the MotoGP riders during the Qatar test last weekend. From the first race in Qatar, riders who exceed track limits, or are deemed to have unfairly gained time, will be punished with being forced to take a trip through a lane placed on the outside of a slow corner, handing them a penalty in the order of approximately three seconds. The penalty is to be used instead of forcing the rider to drop a position, although both penalties will remain available for the FIM Stewards Panel to impose as they see fit. 

The penalty of dropping a position had come into question after an incident with Jonas Folger during the Moto2 race at Misano in 2014. In that race, Folger was handed a punishment of being forced to drop a position, while sitting several seconds ahead of the rider behind him. Giving up the position cost him over five seconds, and dropped him into the middle of a group scrapping for position. It also took Folger so long to drop back to the group that he was handed an additional penalty in the form of a ride through.

Folger's penalty was a symptom of a larger problem. As grass runoff has been replaced by asphalt, it has become easier and more tempting for riders to run wide, or as is the case at tracks like Misano, Qatar, Barcelona, Le Mans cut a large part of some corners. Up until the incident with Folger, dropping a position was the automatic penalty handed out by Race Direction (and now, the FIM Stewards Panel). But dissatisfaction with that punishment led to time penalties being imposed. 

Though the time penalty system appeared fairer - times were taken through a series of additional timing loops at the track, and the time gained calculated on the average of a rider's laps through a particular section - the penalties were opaque to teams and fans who did not have access to the timing data. 

And so Race Direction looked for an alternative, and fairer, option. What they came up with was adding a lane on the outside of a slow corner at each track, through which riders would have to pass. Passing through the lane would automatically impose a time penalty of around three seconds, Race Direction calculated, though when asked at Qatar, the riders felt it would be a little longer. 

"They say that you lose three seconds," Valentino Rossi explained. I" think a little bit more, but it's not so bad. For me, it's more right compared to giving up one position, because sometimes if you give up one position, sometimes you lose half a second, but sometimes you lose five seconds. So this loop is always the same, so it's not so bad."

Speaking to Neil Morrison, Race Director Mike Webb explained the thinking behind the new penalty. At some tracks, there were a lot of riders exceeding track limits, especially in Moto3 and Moto2, Webb said. "When there’s a lot of [riders exceeding the track], it's difficult to manage from our point of view. If we give them the standard penalty, the change of position penalty, it's difficult to manage during the race. Plus it's quite unfair, depending on how close the rider behind you is. You can be giving up more time or less time by dropping a position. We’ve been looking to find a more fair and easy penalty for quite a while. This is our latest attempt.'

The penalty was inspired by the 'joker lane' in Rallycross, and similar penalties in Formula E. The aim is to have a consistent penalty for all riders, and at all tracks, making it independent of where other riders are on track. "The target is to give a penalty that is the same for everybody, so it doesn’t depend on their track position," Webb said. "And it’s going to end up being, in the amount of time lost, a bit more than dropping a position. We’re happy about that, because the track limits is a nightmare. It’s targeted at track limits infractions during the race, not practice."

In some cases, the existing penalty of dropping a position was barely a punishment at all. When large groups of Moto3 riders are battling for position, giving up one place means ceding a few meters, and hardly affects the outcome of the race at all, Webb explained. "One good thing is that, compared to a Moto3 race, when everyone’s in a group, losing one position is nothing. So losing a significant number of seconds is a greater deterrent and we’re happy about that."

Webb added that the new penalty was not limited to exceeding track limits, it could end up being applied in other situations as well. Any time a rider is seen to gain an advantage unfairly, the FIM Stewards could choose to impose this penalty. "A three-four second penalty is a reasonable penalty for something that happens on track," Webb said. The penalty will be communicated by the rider via board held out by Race Direction staff saying 'Long Lap', and by a message with 'Long Lap' being sent to the dashboard of the bike.

Where the penalty lane is placed will be important from a safety perspective. Race Direction and the FIM Stewards will examine each track for an appropriate area to place the 'Long Loop Lane'. That will always be in a slow corner, where the risks of an incident are minimal. "We want a slow speed," Webb said. "We wouldn’t want turn one. And where there’s an asphalt run off, or where there’s a safety area that you can do something off track. We’ve got our rider experts looking at the safe places at all the circuits we go to and we’ll do a similar thing wherever we go." 

It had taken some time to get to this situation. But with all parties happy, including the riders, the proposal was put to the Grand Prix Commission, who adopted it. At Qatar, it gets its first outing.

The press release announcing the change 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 an electronic meeting held on 1 March 2019 made the following decision:

Sporting and Disciplinary Regulations


Long Lap Penalty

When the FIM MotoGPTM Stewards impose a Change of Position penalty on a rider, for Track Limits, or any other reason, there is a possibility of it being unfair, (depending on whether a rider is close to others or not) and it is also difficult to monitor when there are multiple infractions.

To make a more fair and verifiable penalty, the Grand Prix Commission, after consultation with the Safety Commission, have agreed to introduce a new “Long Lap Penalty”.

At every circuit a route will be defined and marked at a safe point around the track, (usually an asphalt runoff area outside of a turn), which is some seconds slower than the normal racing line. The penalised rider must ride through the defined area within 3 laps of being notified, thereby suffering a penalty equivalent to several seconds, (typically 2 or more seconds), on that lap. Procedures will be in place to enable the Stewards to use an equivalent time penalty in case the rider is unable to complete the Long Lap, (e.g. in case of a red flagged race).

This penalty will be added to the list of sanctions available to the FIM MotoGP Stewards, and whilst it is primarily intended for track limits violations, it may be used in any circumstances deemed appropriate by the Stewards. The drop position penalty will continue being available to the Stewards.


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Indonesia To Host Both MotoGP And WorldSBK From 2021

Indonesia is to get a round of MotoGP and WorldSBK from 2021. Confirmation of the news came faster than we expected yesterday, as Dorna issued two press releases on Saturday, announcing that both World Championship series it manages will race at the new circuit to be built at Mandalika in Lombok.

That MotoGP would race there is not a surprise, but that WorldSBK would also visit had not been much talked about. But this follows the same pattern as the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand, where WorldSBK was sent to the track first as a trial run, before MotoGP went to race there. The agreement announced by Dorna envisages both series going in the same year, starting in 2021.

The races are to be held at a circuit to be built inside a giant tourist resort on the south coast of the island of Lombok. The track will run on what are ostensibly the public roads inside the resort, but the roads will be laid out with a circuit in mind, making this nothing like traditional street circuits like Macau or the Isle of Man. Run off should not be an issue, and the rest of the circuit facilities are due to be built inside the resort. The Mandalika resort is a project of the Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation, which is looking to expand tourism to Lombok, as tourism on Bali is starting to approach its natural limits.

Where the Indonesian races would fit in the calendar is hard to say. The obvious spot for the WorldSBK round would be between Phillip Island and Thailand, but this might end up reducing the crowds for those events. A similar argument could be made for MotoGP, where the easy answer would be to schedule Indonesia in the middle of the flyaways. That would not be popular with either Thailand or Sepang, which have a lot of fans who travel from Indonesia. What's more, a lot of Australian fans travel to Sepang as well, and they may be tempted to go to Indonesia instead.

The addition of Indonesia is likely to see the schedules of both series reconfigured. Indonesia could end up near the start of the MotoGP season, and near the end of the WorldSBK season, as that would make more sense both in terms of weather and in terms of climate. The MotoGP schedule will have to change in 2020 when the Kymiring, the new circuit being built in Finland, joins the calendar.

The two press releases issued by Dorna appear below:

DORNA Sports SL and ITDC announce their partnership to bring the world’s most popular motorcycle racing events to the island of Lombok in Indonesia

Saturday, 23 February 2019

DORNA Group, the exclusive commercial and TV rights holder for the world’s leading motorcycle racing Championships, and ITDC, Indonesia’s largest integrated tourism developer and operator, jointly announce the signing of two separate Promoters’ Contracts namely for the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix, more commonly referred to as the FIM MotoGP™ World Championship, as well as the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship. The signing was conducted by Mr Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of DORNA and Mr Abdulbar M. Mansoer, CEO of ITDC at DORNA’s office in Madrid, Spain on the 28th January 2019, in front of Senior Management team by both parties and witnessed by Indonesian's Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary for Spain, Drs. Hermono M.A.

The agreement confirms that Indonesia will welcome MotoGP™ and the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship in 2021 to the island of Lombok, more specifically within the Mandalika, which is a large-scale integrated tourism estate.

Dorna Group CEO, Carmelo Ezpeleta commented, “What a unique project this will be, having an urban, world class circuit in a country where MotoGP has such a huge following. Indonesia is a key market for us with a considerable percentage of motorsport fans living here and the MotoGP atmosphere will be even stronger once the circuit is complete. Also, by including Lombok to the WorldSBK calendar makes this offer more attractive for local fans having two World Class events in the area during the year.”

CEO of ITDC, Mr. Abdulbar M. Mansoer also adds, “We are very excited to have partnered up with DORNA and are delighted to be able to bring world-class motorsport events to Indonesia and the Mandalika in Lombok together.”

Both parties will be making additional statements in due course.

Indonesia to host WorldSBK in 2021

Lombok prepares to welcome the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship and MotoGP™

ITDC, Indonesia’s largest integrated tourism developer and operator, and Dorna Sports SL are delighted to announce that the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship and the FIM MotoGP™ World Championship will be racing in Indonesia in 2021.

The signing of the agreement was conducted by Mr Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of DORNA and Mr Abdulbar M. Mansoer, CEO of ITDC at DORNA’s headquarter in Madrid, Spain on the 28th January 2019, in front of Senior Management team of both parties and witnessed by Indonesian's Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary for Spain, Drs. Hermono M.A.

The agreement confirms that Indonesia will welcome the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship and MotoGP™ in 2021 to the island of Lombok, more specifically within the Mandalika, which is a large-scale integrated Tourism Estate.

Delighted to welcome the most famous production-based motorcycle series and MotoGP™ in Indonesia, CEO of ITDC, Mr. Abdulbar M. Mansoer said: “We are very excited to have partnered up with DORNA and are delighted to be able to bring world-class motorsport events to Indonesia and the Mandalika in Lombok together.”

Dorna Sports SL CEO, Carmelo Ezpeleta commented: “What a unique project this will be, having an urban, world class circuit in a country where MotoGP™ has such a huge following. Indonesia is a key market for us with a considerable percentage of motorsport fans living here and the MotoGP™ atmosphere will be even stronger once the circuit is complete. Also, by including Lombok to the WorldSBK calendar makes this offer more attractive for local fans having two World Class events in the area during the year.”


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Indonesian Round Of MotoGP Draws Closer: 2021 Target Date For First Race

The chances of Indonesia finally hosting a round of MotoGP have grown over the past few days. On Wednesday, CNN Indonesia reported that a deal has been agreed with Dorna to host MotoGP in the country for three years, starting in 2021. has learned that an announcement of the deal could come within the next few days. 

Abdulbar M. Mansoer, Managing Director of Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), told CNN Indonesia that they have signed a deal with Dorna to host MotoGP. The deal will see races held on a circuit based on the streets around a private tourist resort of Mandalika Beach, part of the Mandalika Resort Area currently being developed by the ITDC on the island of Lombok. 

The deal has been on the cards for some time, and received a boost last year when Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta visited Bali and met with senior figures in the ITDC before the Sepang round of MotoGP. Initially, it had been hoped that a circuit would be ready for 2020, but the earthquake which devastated the north of Lombok last year put the project back. The objective is now to host a race in 2021.

The circuit is to be a 'street circuit', though this is something of a misnomer. The race will be held on the streets of the resort, which will be laid out with the safety of MotoGP in mind. 

Holding a race in Indonesia has long been a goal for both Dorna and the manufacturers active in MotoGP, as the country is a massive market for both parties. Indonesia is arguably the most MotoGP-mad country in the world, and also one of the largest markets of scooters and small capacity motorcycles. A growing middle class are also starting to purchase larger capacity motorcycles, Indonesia also being very fast growing markets for Ducati and Triumph. 

The problem facing anyone wanting to organize a race in Indonesia has always been endemic corruption and political legal difficulties, including dealing with customs. As Mandalika is in a special economic zone, and just 17km from Lombok International Airport. Holding the race, and housing the paddock staff, inside a private resort which is itself a special economic zone with special customs arrangements, should address many of these problems.

One possible objection to the location on Lombok is the relative lack of accommodation in the direct area. But the ITDC expects there to be 1200 hotel rooms inside the resort by 2021, and 5,500 five-star hotel rooms in the immediate vicinity. There is also plenty of other accommodation at the other resorts spread around the island, which is a couple of hours from Mandalika.

The arrival of Indonesia, along with the addition of Finland in 2020, would exceed the maximum of 20 races specified in the contract between the teams and Dorna. As a result, a race would have to be dropped. That will almost certainly be one of the Spanish rounds, with either Valencia or Barcelona the most likely candidates, as those two races have the most problems consistently raising the necessary budget. However, the idea of removing Valencia as the final race would not be popular with Dorna, as it is so close to the company's home base in Barcelona.

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Motorcycle Racing Is A Profitable Investment: Bridgepoint Sells Dorna To Itself

Motorcycle racing is a profitable business, it turns out. The leading UK financial paper Financial Times reported yesterday that Bridgepoint Capital, the private equity firm which owns Dorna, among many other assets, has hit upon a relatively novel way of paying out investors, by transferring the roughly 40% of Dorna which it owns between one Bridgepoint fund and another. 

The proposed sale is a result of a review carried out by merchant bankers Lazard at the end of last year, with the aim of fixing a value and finding potential buyers. According to the FT, several private equity firms expressed an interesting in buying Bridgepoint's stake, including former owners CVC. 

That sale is now off the table, it appears. Instead of selling Dorna to an outside party, Bridgepoint is now investigating setting up a separate, internal fund and moving it from one fund to another, paying its investors from the transfer between the two funds. The sale allows Bridgepoint to pay out Dorna's increased value to investors who put their money into the fund Bridgepoint set up to hold Dorna in 2008, after it had performed a similar maneuver between 2006 and 2008.

Though the sale will have little practical effect on Dorna's operations and running of MotoGP and WorldSBK, the report does allow a glimpse into the finances of a privately-held company. Dorna's earnings are said to be growing by double digits in recent years, with a margin of 44%, according to reports via  

However, what remains unclear is why Bridgepoint decided against selling Dorna, angering some potential buyers. The appearance is now that Bridgepoint used the review process solely to set a market price to reimburse its investors, rather than actually try to sell Dorna. But with strong growth in earnings and a solid margin, the private equity firm may regard the Spanish company as a solid long-term investment.

The advantage Dorna, along with other sports rights management companies, has, as the FT article points out, is that a large part of its revenue stream is largely based on medium-term contracts. One third of Dorna's income comes from the sanctioning fees paid by circuits for the right to organize a race, while at least another third comes from TV broadcasting rights. Both TV broadcasters and circuits sign multi-year contracts, guaranteeing a steady income base largely unaffected by volatility in the global economy. 

Another factor may be the current health of MotoGP. The sport continues to grow in popularity, and the changes to the rules made since the global financial crisis in 2008 has ensured close and exciting racing, with young talent entering the series, and plenty more waiting in the wings. That excitement, Dorna hopes, will help diminish the inevitable blow to the series' global popularity once Valentino Rossi retires. Back in 2008, Rossi's retirement would have been a near-fatal blow. In 2019, the series is easily strong enough to sustain itself after Rossi stops racing. Moreover, the Italian shows neither the desire nor the necessity to stop. 

As a result, Dorna looks like a solid investment for the foreseeable future. That, as much as anything, may be why Bridgepoint decided not to sell. They may be hoping that the company will continue to increase in value as it has over the past 13 years.

Below is a table of how Dorna's value has increased in the years since Bridgepoint first purchases it. For comparison, the value of FTSE 100 grew by 25% over the same period, the Dow Jones Industrial Average grew by 126%, and the NASDAQ grew 336%.

What Year Stake Sum Total valuation Growth
CVC sells its 71% stake to Bridgepoint, after being forced to divest because of purchase of F1. 2006 71% €550,000,000 €774,647,887  
Bridgepoint sells 39% stake to Canadian pension board CPPIB 2012 39% €400,000,000 €1,025,641,026 32%
Bridgepoint transfers its stake internally from one fund to another 2019     €2,500,000,000 223%

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Scaphoid Surgery Forces Lorenzo To Skip Sepang Test

Jorge Lorenzo has had successful surgery to fix his fractured scaphoid, but the surgery means he will miss the Sepang test. The Spaniard had a titanium screw inserted to hold the broken scaphoid together, but the recovery period needed means he will not be fully fit in time for the start of the Sepang test, and Repsol Honda and Lorenzo have decided to skip Sepang and focus on the Qatar test at the end of February.

Despite the surgery, Lorenzo will be present at the launch of the Repsol Honda team in Madrid, to be held on Wednesday, 23rd January. 

Lorenzo's accident puts Honda in a difficult situation for Sepang. Marc Marquez is still recovering from major surgery on his left shoulder, to fix a chronic problem of dislocation. Though Marquez' recovery continues apace, he is far from full fitness, and has not been able to train the way he normally would. Cal Crutchlow is still recovering from a massive ankle injury which he suffered at the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island last year. Though he is cycling, he still has some pain while walking, and so his condition is far from 100% for the test.

With Lorenzo out, Marquez far from fit, and Crutchlow questionable, HRC will have limited testing resources to rely on. Stefan Bradl will be present as HRC official tester, and Honda could elect to use one of their Japanese test riders. Whether they will hand some of the work to Crutchlow's LCR Honda teammate Takaaki Nakagami remains to be seen: unlike Crutchlow, Nakagami is contracted to LCR rather than HRC. However, Nakagami did finish the Jerez test as the fastest rider.

If there is one saving grace for Honda, it is that much of the engine development work has already been done for 2019. A new engine spec was tested at both Valencia and Jerez, together with a different air intake system, aimed at boosting power. Jerez and Valencia are tracks which show up the deficiencies of engines, and so the focus for HRC has switched to the chassis, and especially the front end of the bike. This is where Marquez will struggle to do much work if he still has pain in his shoulder, though Crutchlow may fare better with a painful ankle.

No doubt we will learn more at the Repsol Honda team presentation in Madrid on Wednesday. The press release on Lorenzo's surgery appears below:

Lorenzo completes operation on scaphoid

Jorge Lorenzo sustained a broken left scaphoid while training, the Majorcan then undergoing successful surgery to repair the break.

While continuing his preparations for the 2019 MotoGP™ World Championship, Jorge Lorenzo suffered a fall while riding just outside of Verona, Italy. After multiple checks, it was unfortunately confirmed that the five-time world champion had sustained a broken scaphoid.

Lorenzo elected to have surgery on the injury, a titanium screw inserted via a minimally invasive technique. He will remain in hospital for 24 hours for further observation. Four days rest will give the injury sufficient time to heal from the operation and physiotherapy can then begin.

Due to the nature of the injury, Jorge Lorenzo and the Repsol Honda Team have elected for Lorenzo to miss the Sepang Test to focus fully on his recovery. His aim is to return fully fit for the Qatar Test, February 23 to 25. He now heads to Madrid for the 25th Anniversary Repsol Honda Team launch on January 23 alongside Marc Márquez. The event will be streamed live here.

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2019 MotoGP Calender Confirmed - No Changes Made

The FIM today officially confirmed the 2019 MotoGP calendar. There were no changes made to the provisional calendar released in September last year. There will be 19 races, starting in Qatar on 10th March, and ending in Valencia on 17th November. There will be tests after the race at Jerez, Barcelona, and Brno, while the first test of 2020 is expected to take place after Valencia.

There could be an extra test in the schedule, to be held directly after Silverstone. If the new Kymiring circuit in Finland is finished on time, the riders will head to Finland at the end of August to try the new circuit, and generate important data for Michelin.

The official calendar appears below:

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

* Evening race


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Jorge Lorenzo Fractures Left Scaphoid In Dirt Track Accident - Surgery On Monday

Just days before the Repsol Honda team launch in Madrid on Wednesday, Jorge Lorenzo has suffered a wrist injury. The Spaniard fractured his left scaphoid in a training accident while riding dirt track. Lorenzo underwent examinations in Italy and Spain, and is due to undergo surgery in Barcelona on Monday, with Dr. Mir set to operate.

The accident occurred in Italy on Saturday afternoon, and became public when Lorenzo turned up at the Clinica Pederzoli in Peschiera del Garda, in the southeast corner of Lake Garda in Italy. News of Lorenzo's incident emerged on the website of the local Corriere del Veneto paper, who reported that that Lorenzo had spent a couple of hours at the clinic. He was accompanied by two people, a man and a woman, who confirmed that Lorenzo was seeking treatment for a painful hand, but offered no other details.

The news was eventually confirmed on social media, with the Repsol Honda Team Twitter account confirming that Lorenzo had fractured his scaphoid. Italian website has more information on the injury. 

Scaphoid injuries are extremely common among motorcycle racers, as it is the bone in the base of the hand, which usually hits the ground first. The list of riders who have broken their scaphoid is very long indeed: Lorenzo joins such names as Casey Stoner, Nicky Hayden, Stefan Bradl, Jack Miller, Kevin Schwantz, and many more. How badly the injury affects a rider can vary enormously, as the bone receives very little blood and tends to heal very slowly. A fracture can be fixed quickly with screws, but the fracture itself may not heal for a very long time. 

Nicky Hayden had to have a row of bones, including the scaphoid, removed, after the scaphoid he injured in a crash at Turn 1 at Valencia turned arthritic and failed to heal. Casey Stoner had to have surgery on the scaphoid five years after originally breaking it. On the other hand, Toby Price won the 2019 Dakar Rally with a pinned scaphoid, after breaking it in December. 

With just two-and-a-half weeks to go before the Sepang test, the timing of Lorenzo's injury is extremely unfortunate. Lorenzo should be fit enough to test at Sepang from 6-8 February, but he will likely still be in some pain. With Marc Marquez still recovering from shoulder surgery in December, and Cal Crutchlow still in some pain after breaking his ankle at Phillip Island last year, HRC face the first test of 2019 with none of their factory-backed riders at full fitness. 

A press release with details of Lorenzo's surgery is expected on Monday, once he has been under the knife.


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Launch Season Is Upon Us: Ducati Kicks Off Weeks Of Team Presentations On Friday

As we inch closer to the official start of the MotoGP season at Sepang, where the first test of the year is set to be held from 6th-8th of February, we enter the season of team and factory launches. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, all of the MotoGP teams and factories will present their 2019 color schemes and riders at a series of events.

Ducati is the first to present its plans, as is the tradition. On Friday, 18th January, the Italian factory will present the MotoGP team of Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci at an event in Neuchatel, Switzerland. The location - the Phillip Morris R&D Cube in Neuchatel - has been chosen as a reflection of Ducati's partnership with Phillip Morris, and the tobacco giant's move to promote its electronic smoking device. Whether that will also translate to iQOS branding on the fairings remain to be seen: tobacco advertising and sponsorship remains banned throughout most of world, and especially in the key markets where MotoGP races. 

The launch is to start at 6pm CET on Friday, 18th January. It will be streamed live on the website.

Repsol Honda is next, presenting their brand new line up of Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo at Repsol's main Campus in Madrid on 23rd January. It will be the first time that Lorenzo will be able to speak freely and publicly about his switch to Honda, though he is more likely to speak openly to journalists afterwards, rather than during the public presentation.

The Repsol Honda launch is on 23rd January in Madrid, and starts at 10:30am CET. That event will also be streamed live on the website. will be attending both the Repsol Honda and the Factory Ducati launch.

A week after the Repsol Honda launch, the Sepang Racing Team will launch their full racing program in Kuala Lumpur. The SRT will present their MotoGP, Moto2, and Moto3 teams at the Petronas towers on the 28th January, at 8:30am CET. Three days later, on 31st January, the Suzuki Ecstar team will launch their 2019 MotoGP effort. And on 4th February, the factory Yamaha - now Monster Yamaha - team will launch their 2019 campaign at a special event in Jakarta, Indonesia. A day later, Yamaha will present its international racing program at the Sepang Circuit, with the Monster Yamaha MotoGP team being joined by the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK team of Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark.

KTM will wait until after the Sepang test to make their presentation. The Austrian factory will launch their MotoGP effort - both the Red Bull factory team and the Tech3 satellite squad - at an event in Mattighofen, Austria, on Tuesday 12th February.


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News Round Up: KTM Open To Marquez Approach, Ducati Looking At 2020 Already

The MotoGP riders are just two weeks into their shiny new contracts, but already, there is talk of what happens next. In Italy, there is a discussion of who gets the factory Ducati seat alongside Andrea Dovizioso in 2020. In Spain, they are looking ahead to 2021, and the option of KTM offering Marc Márquez a contract.

To start with Márquez first. The Repsol Honda rider is still in the midst of rehabilitation after his shoulder surgery in December. That is proceeding reasonably well, as Márquez' post on Instagram, showing him participating in the Fita973, a 13km cross country run organized by the Márquez brothers in Catalonia, demonstrates.

With the attention of the world turned to the Dakar rally, Spanish sports daily Marca, which also runs a radio program, called Marc Coma, former five-time Dakar winner and now head of KTM Spain, to talk about the rally currently going on in Peru. During the interview, Coma said that he wouldn't rule out an approach to Marc Márquez. "Marc was part of the KTM family in the past," Coma said. "KTM's MotoGP project is evolving in the right direction. When the bike is ready to win, why not have Márquez with us?"

Coma also admitted that this was not the first time KTM had approached Márquez. "KTM already made an attempt last time right. They made him an offer of a contract," Coma said. "Personally, I would love for Marc to sign with KTM."

Silly Season starts two years early

Despite the fact that the next round of contract negotiations is at least a year away – and the KTM RC16 currently looks to be more than a year away from being capable of winning a MotoGP race – the battle for Marc Márquez' signature is already hotting up. This should hardly come as a surprise: since entering the class, Márquez has won five out of six championships, several times on bikes that were clearly inferior to the competition. Only a truly difficult Honda RC213V, and a lack of experience in handling adverse results, kept him from making it six out of six.

MotoGP manufacturers hoping to win a championship understand this, and are angling to sign the Spaniard. In the previous round of contract negotiations, as Marc Coma confirms, KTM made an approach to Marc Márquez. And Ducati also offered Márquez a large amount of money last winter to ride for them. When the next round of negotiations start, at the end of this season, Ducati will once again be targeting Márquez for the 2021 season and beyond.

Whether Márquez will move remains an open question. First of all, Márquez will not switch without taking his entire crew with him. Factories are not keen on this, and Ducati doubly so, after their failed experiment with Valentino Rossi. When a complete crew arrives, it means there is no one with experience with the bike to help guide the way. That, some in Ducati feel, is one way the Rossi experiment failed.

It will also be interesting to see if Honda would be willing to let Márquez leave. So far, they have understood that their future is tied inextricably to that of the young Spaniard. But the arrival of Jorge Lorenzo may embolden them to feel they can still win titles without Márquez, if Lorenzo is up to speed quickly enough. The approaches from KTM and Ducati will certainly strengthen Márquez' hand in the bargaining. Lorenzo's results in his first year could play a role in determining how far Honda will go to hang on to Marc Márquez.

Ducati's dilemma

Before 2021, there is the question of the second seat in the Factory Ducati squad. Before the 2019 season has even started, and before the launch of the Ducati team in Switzerland on Friday night, there is already speculation over who will race alongside Andrea Dovizioso in 2020. Danilo Petrucci has been promoted from the Pramac Ducati team after Jorge Lorenzo left to go to Honda, and Ducati signed Pecco Bagnaia before the start of the 2018 Moto2 season to move up to the Pramac squad for 2019. Bagnaia joins Jack Miller, the Australian who made a solid debut on the Ducati GP17 as Petrucci's teammate at Pramac in 2018.

"The results of Petrucci, Jack, and Pecco will help us decide which rider will be in the factory team in 2020," Ducati boss Paolo Ciabatti told's Oriol Puigdemont last week. Petrucci has worked his way from Superstock to make it all the way to a factory team in MotoGP, a living testament to hard work and determination. Jack Miller learned from a tough couple of years in MotoGP that talent is worthless if you're not prepared to back it up with work. And Bagnaia is widely regarded as one of the greatest talents to enter the class in several years. Ducati think so highly of Bagnaia that they signed him before he had even won a race in Moto2.

Logically, it would seem that Bagnaia is the future of Ducati, especially given that they have paired him with Cristian Gabarrini, arguably one of the very best crew chiefs in the paddock. But Ducati have also shown themselves to be ruthless when it comes to riders, as the first half of 2018 with Jorge Lorenzo demonstrated: what counts are results, and the rider who books the results will get the ride.

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