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Announcement Monday: Petronas Extend Morbidelli For 2 Years, Repsol Honda Sign Pol Espargaro, Alex Marquez To LCR, Crutchlow Out

A bumper crop of announcements this morning, and though the contents had long been expected, there was still room for a surprise. The announcement that Pol Espargaro would be joining Marc Marquez in the Repsol Honda team had been long trailed, but today we got confirmation that the Spaniard had signed a two-year deal with HRC to race in the factory team, forcing Alex Marquez out. You can read about the possible consequences of that move, and what effect it will have on Marc Marquez, here.

Alex Marquez has some consolation for the demotion, in the form of a two-year deal to race inside the LCR Honda team, for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. But this means that Cal Crutchlow has been forced out of LCR, with Honda choosing to retain Takaaki Nakagami instead. Rumors persist that Crutchlow could go to the Aprilia MotoGP squad for next year, and Dorna would like to keep the popular British rider in the series, as contracts with UK broadcaster BT Sport are up for renewal soon.

The final announcement came at Petronas Yamaha. Franco Morbidelli has been kept on for two years, something which Petronas Yamaha team managers told me they were very keen to do. There had been some expectation that Petronas could announce the signing of Valentino Rossi today, but that may have to wait.

The press releases from Honda and from Petronas Yamaha appear below:


HRC sign Pol Espargaro

Honda Racing Corporation are pleased to announce the signing of Pol Espargaro. The former Moto2 World Champion will join the Repsol Honda Team on a two-year contract. He will join eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez aboard the Honda RC213V. Espargaro is one of the most experienced riders on the grid, having raced in the World Championship since 2006 and with 104 premier class Grands Prix contested.


HRC extend agreement with Alex Marquez

Honda Racing Corporation are proud to announce the renewal of Alex Marquez, extending his current agreement until the end of 2022.

During 2020, the former Moto3 and Moto2 World Champion will race in the premier class aboard his Honda RC213V in the Repsol Honda Team.

After winning the title in the middleweight class, Marquez has a whole season ahead to gain experience and make progress in HRC’s long term project, which sees the 24-year old Spanish rider join the LCR Honda Team at the end of 2020.

HRC would like to extend their thanks to Cal Crutchlow for his diligent and tireless work since joining HRC in 2015. With three wins and 12 podiums, the British rider has been a valuable asset on and off track – a constant source of excellent feedback for the engineers and a key part of developing the Honda RC213V in recent years. HRC wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

Alex Marquez 73
Rider – MotoGP

“I am very proud to announce my renewal with Honda Racing Corporation. HRC gave me the opportunity to arrive in MotoGP and I am glad to join the LCR Honda Team at the end of 2020 and compete in a big team with great experience in MotoGP. I want to thank HRC and the LCR Honda Team for their trust in me to be able to continue in the Honda family and I will work hard to prove their confidence with results. Now, I am eager to start the season in Jerez and I am completely focused to give my best this year.”

Yoshishige Nomura
HRC President

"HRC are happy to continue working with Alex Marquez through the learning process in the MotoGP category for the next two seasons. After deep consideration and a thorough analysis of the current situation, we believe Alex has a great opportunity to grow in the premier class with full factory support inside the LCR Honda Team. We believe that by following this path over the next three seasons, we will achieve the results both HRC and Alex look for.”


PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team retains Franco Morbidelli

PETRONAS Yamaha SRT will retain Franco Morbidelli for two years

PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team is pleased to announce that Franco Morbidelli will be retained for the 2021 and 2022 MotoGP seasons.

The Italian rider, who was MotoGP Rookie of the Year in 2018, joined PETRONAS Yamaha SRT in 2019 for the team’s debut MotoGP season.

The year saw Morbidelli make four front row starts and claim seven top-six finishes aboard his Yamaha YZR-M1. In addition to this, Franco was also vital in helping to secure the 2019 Top Independent Team honours for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT, finishing 10th in the riders’ championship with 115 points to his name.

The Malaysian-based team now looks forward to being able to see Franco back in action at the first MotoGP round of 2020 in Jerez (17-19 July).

Razlan Razali
Team Principal

We are delighted to confirm that Franky will continue with us next year. He is an extremely talented rider and a great asset to the team as we look to build on our rookie season. Franky was always in our plans for the future so it is beneficial for us and him to be able to confirm that he will ride for us in 2021 and 2022 now.

Franky has the potential to reach the top step of the podium and this is what we’ll all be working hard to achieve. We have absolute faith in Franky even before this season has started. We are confident that Franky has what it takes to be competitive from Jerez and know that he will develop and mature in all areas through the years ahead. Franky will provide the team with stability and competitiveness and we can’t wait to be back on track!

Franco Morbidelli

I’m very pleased to be renewing with PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team as we had such a great season together last year, working with a great drive to achieve success. I think it’s important for me to continue with the same team, bike and environment going forward as it feels great to work with them. We all work well together and it’s great fun to work with all the PETRONAS SRT crew. I want to thank them for this opportunity that they are giving me as it’s such an honour to ride for them. I will be working hard to give them even more and even better results than we achieved in our first year together. I’m now looking forward to getting racing again to show our potential and I’m just so happy to have the chance to keep on doing what I love to do with a team I love.

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Reigning WorldSSP Champion Randy Krummenacher Splits With MV Agusta

In a surprise move, reigning WorldSSP champion Randy Krummenacher has announced that he is splitting with the MV Agusta Reparto Corse team with immediate effect.

The Swiss rider gave only vague reasons for the split. In a press release, he blamed "serious breaches on the part of the company that compromise both the rider's performance as well as his professionalism, reputation, and personal integrity." Serious claims, but then splitting right before the season restarts at Jerez on the weekend of August 2nd is a big move to make.

Krummenacher won the WorldSSP championship in 2019, riding for the Evan Bros Yamaha squad, clinching the title by just 6 points from his teammate Federico Caricasulo.

What Krummenacher does next is unknown. For the moment, the Swiss rider is left without a ride for the remainder of 2020, and must hope to get a chance with another team, or if a rider is injured. His best hope may lie in replacing Leon Camier at Barni Ducati, the Englishman still recovering from a long-standing shoulder injury picked up last year.

The press release from Randy Krummenacher appears below:


RANDY KRUMMENACHER WILL NOT CONTINUE THE 2020 SEASON WITH MV AGUSTA REPARTO CORSE

With this press release, rider Randy Krummenacher confirms his intention to dissolve his contract with MVRC srl, (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) due to serious breaches on the part of the company that compromise both the rider‘s performance as well as his professionalism, reputation and personal integrity.

Krummenacher has sent the company formal notification, in which all the reasons leading to his decision are clearly outlined.

Krummenacher has also moved to inform the competent bodies, responsible for verifying any technical irregularities.

The Supersport 600 World Championship title holder has reached this difficult decision after having carefully evaluated the risks involved in dissolving the agreement, on the one hand, and the values for which he has always stood, professionally and personally-speaking, on the other.

RK: "This is not a pleasant situation and I never wanted any of this. The aim was to fight for the world title once more but unfortunately, the foundations needed to move ahead with the project with MV Agusta Reparto Corse are not there. I have had to take this decision in order to preserve my moral and professional integrity, as well as my safety. Throughout my career, I have always tried to do the right thing, giving it my all in any situation, even the most challenging. But this time there was only one decision I could make. I cannot say more about my motives at this time, but further details will be communicated in due course."

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Valentino Rossi To Announce Petronas Yamaha Deal At Jerez

Valentino Rossi at the 2020 Qatar MotoGP test - Photo Cormac Ryan Meenan

It appears that the deal is done. Italian media, including La Gazzetta dello Sport and GPOne.com, are reporting that Valentino Rossi has reached agreement with Yamaha for a new two-year deal to race in the Petronas Yamaha squad. The deal is to be announced during the weekend of the first MotoGP round once it resumes at Jerez next weekend.

The deal will initially be for 2021, with an option to extend the contract for a second year to 2022. Rossi will take a seat in the Petronas Yamaha squad alongside VR46 protege Franco Morbidelli, who should also be announcing a new contract soon.

The announcement will bring a long period of speculation to an end. Valentino Rossi appears to have enjoyed spending so much time at home during lockdown, with his family and girlfriend, giving rise to rumors he was seriously considering retirement. Rossi had previously said that he had wanted to wait until after the first few European races in 2020 before making a decision on his future.

Ducati's aggressive pursuit of both Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo had already forced Yamaha's hand at the beginning of the year. The two youngsters were signed to the factory Monster Energy Yamaha team for 2021 and 2022, complicating Rossi's decision further. If he wanted to continue racing, he would have to move to the satellite Petronas Yamaha squad. Yamaha at least promised him a fully factory-supported Yamaha M1 if he did decided to continue.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing disruption to the 2020 MotoGP season wrecked Rossi's initial plans to wait before making a decision. With the first half of the season canceled, postponed, or rescheduled, Rossi was forced to reconsider his options. It would not be possible for the Italian to make his choice based on results; the criteria he had previously given to make a judgment was whether he felt he could be competitive.

Given the curtailed 2020 MotoGP season and the very different environment in which it will take place, it seems that Rossi did not feel that this year would be a good yardstick by which to judge whether he is still capable of winning races, or perhaps even a championship. And as a consequence, he has decided to keep racing for at least one more season, with an option to assess his performance in 2021 with a view to racing in 2022 as well.

So far, there are no details on what exactly is included in the deal. Previously, the sticking point between Petronas and Rossi involved the number of people the Italian wanted to bring into the Petronas squad. In all his previous moves, Rossi has brought his entire crew with him every time he has switched manufacturers.

The vast majority of his team accompanied him from Honda to Yamaha, from Yamaha to Ducati, and back again from Ducati to Yamaha. But Petronas team boss Razlan Razali told The Race's Simon Patterson that they did not want the disruption which bringing an entire garage crew in for possibly just a single season would involve. Razali told The Race that Petronas would only have room for two crew from Rossi's factory team, one of whom would almost certainly be the crew chief. How many people make the switch, and what happens to the mechanics and engineers who don't move with Rossi remains to be seen.

Rossi's deal removes one of the larger question marks hanging over the 2021 grid, but a couple of major issues remain. What happens in the factory Ducati squad, whether Andrea Dovizioso returns, and whether Cal Crutchlow takes the second seat in the factory Aprilia team will likely take a little longer to play out.


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Austin Round of MotoGP At The Circuit Of The Americas Canceled

The Grand Prix of the Americas will not happen in 2020. Today, in a post on social media which has since been deleted, the Circuit of The Americas announced that the Austin round of MotoGP had been canceled, and a date set for the 2021 edition, to be held on April 18th.

The news hardly comes as a surprise, given the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Texas, and the growth in cases in the US in general. That has prompted the EU countries to put the US on a list of countries from which all non-essential travel is still banned, with no sign of that being lifted.

The chances of races outside of Europe happening were already very slim. Though no announcements have been made, the Argentina round at Termas de Rio Hondo looks almost certain to be canceled, while the Sepang and Buriram rounds the only races with a chance of happening. Today, the Bangkok Post quoted the Thai deputy government spokesperson Traisuree Traisaranakul as saying the Thai government hoped that a race at Buriram would be possible, with November 22nd as a possible date, a week after the last currently scheduled round at Valencia.

The most peculiar thing about the COTA announcement is that the social media post was taken down, and no official press release issued. The MotoAmerica series did issue a press release (below), announcing that both the MotoAmerica round in Austin and the MotoGP round had been canceled. The MotoAmerica press release states that an announcement was made by Dorna, but no such announcement was made. The most logical explanation is that the US circuit and series jumped the gun, with a Dorna press release to be made in the very near future.

Below is the press release from MotoAmerica:


COTA Round Of MotoAmerica Series Cancelled

No U.S. GP And No MotoAmerica In Austin In 2020

IRVINE, CA (July 8, 2020) – With the announcement coming today from Dorna and the Circuit of The Americas that the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, scheduled for November 13-15, has been cancelled, MotoAmerica is also announcing that it will not be racing at the Austin, Texas, facility in 2020.

MotoAmerica, however, is working diligently on options to keep its 20-race HONOS Superbike Series intact for 2020.

“It’s a shame that we have to cancel the MotoAmerica round at COTA,” said MotoAmerica President Wayne Rainey. “The race is a highlight of our schedule and it’s always good to combine our efforts with Dorna to put on a great show in Austin. COVID-19 has made it virtually impossible for the MotoGP series to travel to the U.S. so we fully understand the issues they are facing in 2020. We look forward to returning to COTA with MotoGP in 2021. In the meantime, we are working on a solution to find a replacement round as we continue to strive towards having a 20-race Superbike Series.”

The COTA round was scheduled to be the MotoAmerica HONOS Superbike Series finale.

The 2020 MotoAmerica Series continues with round three of the championship at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, July 31-August 2.

For the complete 2020 MotoAmerica Series schedule, click HERE
To purchase tickets for any of the 2020 series round, click HERE
For information on how to watch the 2020 MotoAmerica Series, click HERE

About MotoAmerica
MotoAmerica is the North American road racing series created in 2014 that is home to the AMA Superbike Championship. MotoAmerica is an affiliate of KRAVE Group LLC, a partnership that includes three-time 500cc World Champion, two-time AMA Superbike Champion, and AMA Hall of Famer Wayne Rainey, ex-racer and former manager of Team Roberts Chuck Aksland, motorsports marketing executive Terry Karges, and businessman Richard Varner. For more information on MotoAmerica, visit www.MotoAmerica.com. Also make sure to follow MotoAmerica on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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Two Riders To Face FIM Stewards Over Training Infringements

Two unnamed riders have been caught infringing the Grand Prix testing and practice regulations. In a press release issued today, the FIM announced that breaches of the rules had been reported, which would be investigated during hearings to be held at the (re)opening of MotoGP at Jerez, on July 19th.

Though neither the names nor the specific infraction were mentioned in the press release, the wording of the announcement makes clear that the incident involves either Moto2 or Moto3 riders, and that they are accused of having used bikes which were not eligible to be used for training.

Since circuits opened again, and training restarted, riders have flocked to tracks all over the world to get back the feeling of speed. They have taken every opportunity to ride at tracks like Barcelona, Misano, and Jerez, to prepare for the restarting of a packed schedule.

In the frenzy to restart, it appears that two riders have not paid careful attention to the rules and regulations. All practice on a Grand Prix track with a bike of the same make as the rider races in their specific class cannot be of the same capacity.

For Moto2 riders, they are not allowed to practice on a Triumph with an engine within 100cc (bigger or smaller) of of the 765cc motor powering the Moto2 class, which would rule out the previous model of Triumph 675, including the very popular Street Triple.

For Moto3 riders, they are not allowed to practice on the brand they are racing, and a bike within 50cc smaller or larger of the 250cc of the Moto3 class limit. KTM, in particular, makes a lot of engines for Enduro and MX bikes in these capacities, including 250cc four strokes and a 300cc two stroke, though Honda also make 250cc MX and Enduro bikes. If a rider fitted 17-inch wheels to an MX bike and used it on a Grand Prix track, that would count as a violation of the rules.

KTM riders do have an alternative, however: the KTM RC390 falls outside of the rules, and KTM Moto3 riders would be able to use such a bike.

The fact that the press release does not mention names suggests these infractions are only minor, and the riders may get away with only a warning. When Aleix Espargaro was found to be riding a Suzuki GSX-R1000 with carbon brakes and slick tires while with Suzuki in MotoGP, he was handed a warning and told to put the bike back to standard.

The FIM press release appears below:


FIM Grand Prix World Championship
INFORMATION AND REMINDER

The FIM MotoGP™ Stewards have been advised of possible breaches of the FIM Grand Prix Regulations covering practice and testing, specifically Article 1.15.1. c) Rider Training and Track familiarisation, regarding the type of machines permitted for rider training.

As a reminder and following the decision of the Grand Prix Commission published on 27 May 2020, riders in Moto3 and Moto2 classes are not permitted to make further private testing in 2020 until further notice, the same applies to MotoGP class riders unless they are riding for Manufacturers that qualify for concessions. Practice and testing restrictions for all classes are expressly provided for in Article 1.15.1 of the FIM Grand Prix Regulations, including details of what machines are allowed to be used for Rider Training and Track Familiarisation.

Hearings for riders who may have broken the rules should be scheduled to take place at the 2020 Gran Premio Red Bull de España at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto, in order to hear from the parties concerned and to allow further time to investigate the details.

At this stage the FIM will not make any further comments on this matter.

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Michael van der Mark To Leave Yamaha WorldSBK Team At The End Of 2020

Yamaha have announced that Michael van der Mark will be leaving their WorldSBK team at the end of the 2020 WorldSBK season. After what will be four seasons with the Pata Yamaha squad, the 27-year-old Dutchman has decided to leave for pastures new.

There is as yet no confirmation of where Van der Mark is heading, but reports on Speedweek suggest his destination is likely to be BMW. With Kawasaki already having signed Alex Lowes and Jonathan Rea, and little interest from either Ducati or Honda, BMW is the obvious choice.

That would also automatically lower the combined age of the BMW team. At 27, Van der Mark is 7 years younger than either Tom Sykes or Eugene Laverty, who are both 34. Which one of the two is likely to stay is as yet uncertain. Tom Sykes has proven himself to be competitive on the S1000RR, but Eugene Laverty's development feedback has been rated extremely highly wherever he has ridden. That could be a crucial factor for a pairing with Van der Mark, who is not known for his feedback, though his speed is never in question.

Why would Van der Mark leave Yamaha? There is a strong possibility his departure is linked to the arrival of Toprak Razgatlioglu in the Pata Yamaha squad. For years, Van der Mark was seen as the up-and-coming young talent in WorldSBK, until Razgatlioglu arrived on the scene. For the young Turkish rider to be signed into the Yamaha squad, and then feted for his victory in race 1 at Phillip Island, the first WorldSBK race of 2020, would have been tough for Van der Mark to bear. If he believed, or felt he deserved, the number one position in the team, this would have dented his confidence that this was so.

Who replaces Van der Mark at Pata Yamaha is also unclear. The obvious choice would be to take a rider from the GRT Yamaha team, or perhaps even Loris Baz from Ten Kate. But there are no signs of a choice having been made there yet.

The Yamaha press release announcing Van der Mark's departure appears below:


Yamaha and Van der Mark to Part Company at Conclusion of 2020 WorldSBK Season

Yamaha and Michael van der Mark will part ways at the end of the 2020 FIM Superbike World Championship season, with the 27-year-old Dutch rider opting to take on a new challenge in 2021. Van der Mark's departure brings to a close a four-year partnership that has so far brought three WorldSBK race wins and two victories at the prestigious Suzuka 8 Hour race.

Van der Mark joined the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team in 2017 and twice finished on the podium during his debut season. The following year saw the Dutch rider secure his first WorldSBK race win, and Yamaha's first since returning to the championship in 2016, with victory in Race 1 at Donington Park. Van der Mark doubled up with a win in the following day's Race 2 and, with eight additional podium finishes over the course of the season, ended the year third in the championship standings.

The former FIM Supersport World Champion added to his win tally in 2019 with victory in Race 2 at Jerez but was sidelined by injury in the following round at Misano following a crash in free practice. Despite missing out at Misano and riding injured at the following two rounds, Van der Mark racked up eight podium finishes in 2019 to end the season fourth in the championship standings.

The Pata Yamaha rider was a contender for the win in all three races at the opening round of the 2020 season in Australia but was unfortunate to miss out on the chance to add to his podium tally. Since the Phillip Island round, racing has been suspended due the coronavirus pandemic, but Van der Mark will return to action next month, with the WorldSBK season set to resume with back-to-back races in Jerez and Portimão.

Both Yamaha and Van der Mark head into the rescheduled 2020 season determined to end their successful four-year collaboration on a high note, by battling for race wins and, ultimately, challenging for the World Championship title.

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Andrea Dovizioso Has Collarbone Plated, Expects To Be Fit For Jerez

Andrea Dovizioso has been discharged from hospital after having surgery to fix the collarbone he broke in a regional MX race on Sunday. The Italian broke his left collarbone on a landing after a jump, and was taken to hospital in Modena, where he was operated on by a group of surgeons led by professor Giuseppe Porcellini on Sunday night.

Dovizioso suffered a displaced fracture, meaning the collarbone was broken completely at the end closest to the sternum, and the two sections had separated. Surgeons inserted a plate and six screws to bring the collarbone back to its original position and size, and declared themselves to be very happy with the outcome.

Dovizioso was discharged on Monday morning, and sent home to start rehabilitation. The factory Ducati rider expects to be fully fit in time for the season start on July 19th, now just under three weeks away. Recovery times for collarbone surgery tend to be short for racers, and Dovizioso should not lose too much time training.

In the press release (below), Ducati sporting director Paolo Ciabatti explicitly states that the Italian factory had given Dovizioso permission to take part in the MX race at his request. Dovizioso believed that he needed a genuine competitive environment to recreate the pressure and tension of racing which it is hard to simulate during training.

The press release from Ducati appears below:


Andrea Dovizioso underwent successful left collarbone surgery at Policlinico di Modena

The Ducati Team rider was operated yesterday evening a few hours after getting injured. Since the operation had a positive outcome, he will be able to start physiotherapy immediately to be ready in time for the first 2020 MotoGP race, scheduled for the upcoming 19th July at Jerez de la Frontera.

Andrea Dovizioso underwent surgery at Policlinico di Modena yesterday evening after sustaining a left collarbone injury yesterday afternoon during a motocross race at Monte Coralli race track, in Faenza province.

The Ducati Team rider, following consultation with Professor Giuseppe Porcellini, decided to undergo immediate surgery to fix a plate on the injured collarbone to speed up his recuperation in time for the first 2020 MotoGP race in Jerez.

The operation took place yesterday evening with a positive outcome, and Dovizioso has been discharged this morning and will be able to start physiotherapy rehabilitation already this afternoon. The rider from Forlì will, therefore, participate in the next Spanish GP scheduled for the upcoming 19th July, and has declared to be confident to be able to arrive at the first meeting in Jerez in the best possible conditions.

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team, #04)
"The surgery went well, and I want to thank all the medical team that did the operation so quickly. I don't feel much pain, and that makes me very optimistic. I came home this morning, and during the afternoon, I will plan my rehabilitation. I am confident that in these weeks I will be able to recover and that I will be in full shape in time for the first 2020 GP in Jerez."

Prof. Giuseppe Porcellini (Policlinico di Modena)
"Andrea Dovizioso underwent surgery to correct a displaced fracture of the sternal margin of the clavicle. We proceeded with the internal fixation of a plate with six screws with anatomic reduction and, from a mechanical point of view, we are delighted with the outcome of the operation. Apart from me, the medical team was composed by Prof. Fabio Catani, who personally supervised the operation, Prof. Luigi Tarallo and Doctor Andrea Giorgini. I want to thank the Direction of the Policlinico di Modena that made the operating room available in three hours, and all the staff who made possible to perform the surgery quickly".

Paolo Ciabatti (Ducati Corse Sports Director)
"Although we know that motocross is an activity that presents several risks, we had still allowed Andrea to participate in this regional race, because he had explained to us that he needed to rediscover those stimuli and sensations that only a real competition can give. On the other hand, motocross is also the discipline with which many of the MotoGP riders train regularly. So, in the end, we must be relieved that the injury did not have serious consequences and that Andrea will be able to be regularly at the start of the 2020 championship in Jerez".

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Andrea Dovizioso Taken To Hospital With Suspected Collarbone Fracture After MX Crash

Andrea Dovizioso has been taken to hospital with a suspected broken left collarbone after crashing during a regional motocross race in Faenza, Italy.

The Italian had been given permission to take part by Ducati. The race, at the MX track in Faenza, was part of the regional MX championship of the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy. He had crashed on a landing after a jump, injuring his left shoulder. Dovizioso was taken to hospital in Forli, his home town, for further examination, and to confirm whether the collarbone is broken or not.

Dovizioso becomes the second rider to injure himself training ahead of the (re)start of the 2020 MotoGP season. Last week, Marco Bezzecchi injured his leg in a training accident.

The Italian is a very keen MX rider, and has permission to participate in some MX races from Ducati, because he believes it makes him a better rider in MotoGP. It has helped him improve his starts, he told Italian website GPOne.com, who interviewed Dovizioso ahead of this weekend's race.

"Ducati has understood how useful these races are for me," Dovizioso said. "That these races have helped me and continue to help me to be fast in the early phases of a race."

The prognosis for a fractured collarbone is usually a fairly rapid recovery. The Italian should not have any difficulty being fit again in time for the opening race of the season, on July 19th in Jerez.

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Misano Private Test: Oliveira Fastest After Two Days, Aprilia And Ducati Test New Aero

It has been a busy couple of days at Misano, with the KTM and Aprilia MotoGP teams, and test teams from Suzuki and Ducati, joined by WorldSBK representatives from the KRT Kawasaki squad, and a small army of Ducati teams. The MotoGP and WorldSBK riders have been able to try out the new asphalt at Misano in the blistering heat of an Italian summer.

Miguel Oliviera is fastest after the first two days, the Red Bull Tech3 rider just a couple of tenths faster on Wednesday than Pol Espargaro had been on Tuesday. Oliveira's best time of 1'32.9 is two thirds of a second off Maverick Viñales' pole time set last September, two tenths off the outright race lap record set by Andrea Dovizioso in 2018, and 1.3 seconds slower than Jorge Lorenzo's pole record from the same year.

Ducati MotoGP test rider Michele Pirro is third quickest, ahead of Aleix Espargaro on the Aprilia RS-GP. The elder Espargaro is half a second slower than Oliveira, and a third of a second off the time of his younger brother on the KTM. Rookies Brad Binder and Iker Lecuona are two thirds of a second slower than Lecuona's Tech3 teammate Oliveira. Bradley Smith was half a second behind Aprilia teammate Aleix Espargaro, while Suzuki test rider Sylvain Guintoli was just under 1.4 seconds off the pace of Oliveira.

Aprilia seem to be less concerned about lap times, as they have come to Misano with a clear purpose. Aprilia have two different engines to assess for homologation for this season, and the start of next season, with the main objective being reliability. At earlier tests, reliability of the brand new 90° V4 was questionable, and though the engine is a huge improvement in terms of character and performance, those mean little if they cannot get across the line in one piece.

Ducati appear to be assessing new aerodynamics, as always, while Aprilia also have aerodynamic upgrades. According to photos published by GPOne.com, Ducati appear to be testing an additional aerodynamic cover for the fork leg stanchions. With teardrop covers for the fork legs, and covers for the bottom half of the wheel, the only part of the Ducati's front end now unfaired is the brake caliper.

Though it is a little hard to be certain, Ducati also appear to be testing a new swingarm spoiler, though with this iteration, any pretense that the spoiler is for cooling the rear tire has been dropped. The spoiler appears to be much more of a wedge-shaped scoop, rather than a spoiler with lateral internal winglets.

This is almost certainly experimental, however. The FIM regulations appear to state that swingarm spoilers are now a part of the aero body, meaning that changes to the design are severely limited. For Ducati, they cannot change the design of their spoiler homologated before the (now canceled) Qatar race, and will have to start 2021 with the same spoiler, before being allowed to change it during the 2021 season, as one upgrade is allowed to each area of the aero body. The fairing over the fork stanchions falls outside of the aero body, and so Ducati are free to change that as much as they like.

Meanwhile, Aprilia's hiring of aerodynamics engineers is also on display at Misano, Aleix Espargaro pictured on GPOne using lower front wheel covers very much in the mold of the Ducati Desmosedici's.

Scott Redding was the fastest of the WorldSBK riders, taking to the track in earnest after a brief shakedown on Tuesday. Redding was just a fraction faster on the factory Aruba.it Ducati than Michael Rinaldi was on the Go Eleven Panigale, while Jonathan Rea was the fastest of the Kawasakis, despite a huge crash at the fast left hander of Turn 11. Rea was unharmed, and able to continue a full testing program for the rest of the day.

Both the MotoGP and WorldSBK teams have one more day of testing at Misano, the test concluding on Thursday.

Combined times from the first two days of testing, courtesy of Speedweek.com:

Pos Rider Bike Time Diff Prev Day
1 Miguel Oliveira KTM RC16 1:32.913     Wednesday
2 Pol Espargaró KTM RC16 1:33.070 0.157 0.157 Tuesday
3 Michele Pirro Ducati GP20 1:33.124 0.211 0.054 Wednesday
4 Aleix Espargaró Aprilia RS-GP 1:33.427 0.514 0.303 Wednesday
5 Brad Binder KTM RC16 1:33.588 0.675 0.161 Wednesday
6 Iker Lecuona KTM RC16 1:33.591 0.678 0.003 Wednesday
7 Scott Redding (WSBK) Ducati Panigale V4R 1:33.957 1.044 0.366 Wednesday
8 Bradley Smith Aprilia RS-GP 1:34.000 1.087 0.043 Tuesday
9 Michael Ruben Rinaldi (WSBK) Ducati Panigale V4R 1:34.043 1.130 0.043 Wednesday
10 Sylvain Guintoli Suzuki GSX-RR 1:34.287 1.374 0.244 Wednesday
11 Jonathan Rea (WSBK) Kawasaki ZX-10RR 1:34.381 1.468 0.094 Wednesday
12 Alex Lowes (WSBK) Kawasaki ZX-10RR 1:34.745 1.832 0.364 Wednesday
13 Chaz Davies (WSBK) Ducati Panigale V4R 1:34.900 1.987 0.155 Wednesday
14 Leandro Mercado (WSBK) Ducati Panigale V4R 1:35.183 2.270 0.283 Wednesday
15 Leon Camier (WSBK) Ducati Panigale V4R 1:35.773 2.860 0.590 Wednesday
16 Sylvain Barrier (WSBK) Ducati Panigale V4R 1:37.000 4.087 1.227 Wednesday
Source: 

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MotoGP And WorldSBK Back On Track: Three Days Of Testing At Misano

World championship motorcycle racing takes another step back to the season returning at Misano. The next three days sees both MotoGP and WorldSBK teams testing at the Italian circuit, preparing for the resumption of hostilities at Jerez in July and August.

Present are the MotoGP teams of KTM and Aprilia, allowed extra testing due to their status as concessions teams. Aleix Espargaro and Bradley Smith are riding for Aprilia, the second test for the Italian factory. Espargaro was forced to miss the first test, unable to travel to Misano, and so waited for this test to get back on track, as he explained to Tammy Gorali in an interview a week ago. He joins Bradley Smith, promoted from test rider to permanent rider for 2020, to replace Andrea Iannone, still suspended after a positive doping test.

Both KTM teams are there, Brad Binder joining Pol Espargaro now that the South African has completed his two-week quarantine after returning to Europe, while the Tech3 duo of Miguel Oliveira and Iker Lecuona will also be riding.

Without the benefit of concessions, and unlimited testing with contracted riders, Suzuki and Ducati are only allowed to send their test teams to Misano. Michele Pirro is riding for Ducati and Sylvain Guintoli testing for Suzuki at the Italian circuit, where two races are scheduled to be held on September 13th and 20th. Neither Yamaha nor Honda are present, Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis recently telling Speedweek that there was little point testing if they didn't have anything significant to test.

The MotoGP teams are to be joined by a bevy of WorldSBK teams from Wednesday, with Kawasaki sending Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes to Misano, while a full cast of Ducatis will be there as well. Factory Aruba.it Ducati riders Scott Redding and Chaz Davies will be at the track, along with Leon Camier of Barni Ducati, Michael Ruben Rinaldi of Go Eleven, and Leandro Mercado of Motocorsa.

The test will conclude on Thursday. As it is a private test, no official timing will be released.

Below are press releases from the Kawasaki Racing Team and Go Eleven Ducati teams previewing the test:


KRT WorldSBK SQUAD READY FOR A HIGH TEMPO RESTART

After an enforced absence from track action the official Kawasaki Racing Team will get its intense schedule of tests and races underway this week with a two-day test session at the Misano circuit on the Adriatic coast of Italy, on Wednesday 24th and Thursday 25th June.

After a strong start to the season for the pairing of five times WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea and proven race winner Alex Lowes, KRT has spent the Covid-19 lockdown working hard in the background while eagerly anticipating the chance to get back into direct action in their natural environment of race circuits. With their championship-winning Ninja ZX-10RR machines all prepared and ready to go again, that wait will soon be over.

This forthcoming test will be unlike any other due to the ongoing pandemic. All the team members have been tested and will be health tested and checked during the period of track testing. There will be no regular hospitality unit as such on-site at Misano, with the team getting meals supplied at the track by team staff. For the entire duration team staff will be practicing social distancing and putting in place numerous anti-viral protocols such as facemasks, frequent hand sanitation and adhering to demarked working zones.

Even the confirmed arrival of the team members into Italy just in time to prepare for the Misano test has been a challenge, right up to the last minute. This has been an evolving process considering that the fluid nature of lockdown restrictions are being eased in little-by-little by governments and national bodies, and the team itself features several nationalities in its largely Barcelona-based makeup.

Rea has even travelled to the Misano test in a small panel van he normally uses to transport his motocross bikes in, while Lowes travelled to Italy last Saturday, with his Moto2 racing brother Sam and their respective partners. They will stay in a house rather than a hotel close to the circuit itself for the duration of the test.

After two days at Misano the team will relocate back to Spain for another two day test at a circuit all new to WorldSBK racing – Montmelo – just a stone’s throw from the team’s headquarters in Granollers. With one full WorldSBK round already completed in Australia in early March (during which Lowes and Rea won a race apiece) the season restarts at four Iberian circuits – Jerez, Portimao, Aragon (twice) and then Montmelo - in what will be a busy period for all involved in the exciting 2020 WorldSBK championship fight. The season is set to restart for real at Jerez, with racedays scheduled for Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd August.

STATEMENTS:

Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “I am super-excited to get back on the bike - not just to ride again but to see all the team and simply enjoy the working together. I missed that during lockdown. I think this is probably the longest period I have been off the bike! Misano is a great track to get back into the swing of things at. I know our ZX-10RR very well and I know Misano well too. We will have four hot races at the beginning of the re-started season this summer, in Spain and Portugal, so it is perfect to come and test at Misano at this time, as the weather should be similar. The track itself at Misano has a bit of everything – fast corners, both fast and slow changes of direction, and some stop-and-go corners. Because of the lockdown and the quarantine restrictions in the UK I have driven here to Italy in my MX van. I am in here with my bikes, my training gear - pretty much my life is in a van at the minute! I am excited by the journey and getting to test again. It should be a great two days if we keep on working, because we were one of the strongest in Australia. It is really nice to go into this test on the back of securing my future with KRT beyond this season as well. The atmosphere should be pretty nice and we can focus on this year completely. It was great for the team to have been able to get us to this test despite the global situation and I am grateful to Dorna and the circuits for working out the new calendar for us. I cannot wait for the lights to go out on the grid at Jerez on the 1st of August. I will be ready.”

Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “I am really, really excited to get back on my bike! Obviously I am living my dream job so it has been frustrating not to be able to ride, so to get back out this week? I will be like a kid at Christmas the night before we test! I just want to get back out on my ZX-10RR now. In terms of work and what we are trying to achieve, I am looking forward to picking up where we left off with a good feeling on the bike. The number one target of this test is to get the feeling back with the bike and team, and also enjoy it! This is my first season on the ZX-10RR so is going to be nice to try the Kawasaki at another track with Marcel and the guys. Hopefully by the end of the tests we will be up to a good speed and working on that base setting that worked so well in the winter. I am happy if we get hot conditions at Misano because it will be important for me to work with the bike in that way. I am already out in Italy, getting some training in the sun and riding little bikes. It is red hot right now!”

Guim Roda (KRT Team Manager): “This test is our real starting point after the long Covid-19 delay. We have to restart again mainly to get into the rhythm with the riders. It is also especially important to understand the health and safety conditions we will find in the next rounds of the championship, and refine our working conditions. We will take all of this very this carefully to not spread the virus inside the paddock. We will need to work in a very calm way, trying to keep our distance and still make a good test. We will have antibody tests every time we meet together. All of this has led to extra jobs and extra difficulties to operate the team but all of it is necessary. We know our riders have been working a lot since Australia, although with some limits of course, so we need to know how they will be when they arrive at the tests. In general we need to organise everything particularly well and with a short calendar after the re-start we have a smaller margin for error. We want to keep winning to the end of the year. We are calm also that both riders are confirmed with KRT for next year now, so we are all fully focused on this championship season. We need to make an especially good job because Kawasaki and our sponsors, like Monster Energy, Motocard, Showa and Elf, understand the present difficulties and they have kept up their support in the project and in their own human inputs. A lot of success and coverage is needed right to the end of the year to repay all their support!”


TEAM GO ELEVEN IS BACK ON TRACK, AFTER THE SANITARY EMERGENCY!

The world motorcycling long period of pause has finally come to an end!

Team Go Eleven goes back on track, with the whole team participating in WorldSuperbike Championship, for the two-day test at Misano circuit. On June 23-24 Michael Rinaldi will ride the Go Eleven's V4-R, with which he's not riding from the Australian stage of Phillip-Island, four months ago. It will be an excellent test for all the technical staff, that has to come back to action and resume habits and feeling from the beginning of the season. The twenty-three years old rider from Santarcangelo di Romagna will take advantage of the kilometers at Misano circuit to get back to the feeling and the speed shown at Phillip Island; it will be fundamental to be ready and to be physically prepared to high temperatures, a constant that will be with us at the restart of the season. Team Go Eleven will experience these two days as a real racing weekend; fairings, box, clothing, truck and compulsory masks will be in official WorldSBK livery, with the aim of providing the maximum image and visibility possible to our partners!

The Misano tests were organized in view of the hottest summer ever: Dorna has issued a definitive calendar in recent days, which currently includes six stages: Jerez de la Frontera, Portimao, double appointment in Aragon, Barcelona and Magny-Cours with four more stages to be confirmed for the season finale! From August to September there will be five thrilling stages that will give life to the championship of the series derivatives. We still have to understand how we can access the stages, whether with the public and guests or without, but, for sure, there will be fun!

Michael Rinaldi:

"I am very happy to ride again with my team after months and months of inactivity! Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to get back on the bike with the Ducati Test Team and this allowed me to get back a bit to the automatisms, but to return with your team is like starting from the beginning, because we are at home from Australia, held at the end of February. Our plan is very precise, we have some things to try and we will try to be prepared for the season; we will not go in search of performance, but we will have the aim to work for race pace. We have a lot of work to do, the temperatures will be high, but both the team and I need these tests to resume the automatisms we missed. We will see optimism and happiness, that's what we need after such a difficult time for everyone!"

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