Latest MotoGP News
Thursday at Valencia was one of the strangest days in MotoGP that I have known since I first started covering the sport professionally. Maybe it's just the fact that the usual schedule was disrupted. Every race weekend has a rhythm: on Thursday, it's a late start, then rider debriefs, then a press conference, then work; on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, it's an early start, watch practice, rider debriefs/press conferences and then work.
That rhythm was wildly out of sync at Valencia. Earlier start, Moto3 press conference, HRC press conference, a couple of rider debriefs. Then an unnatural lull, as the riders headed into the press conference room for their meeting with the Permanent Bureau, consisting of Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta and FIM president Vito Ippolito addressed the MotoGP riders and their team managers. Ten minutes after the riders started streaming through the paddock on their way to the meeting, they were all heading back out again.
What happened in the meeting with the Permanent Bureau? The first rule of meeting with the Permanent Bureau is don't talk about meeting with the Permanent Bureau, apparently, as no one was willing to tell us about it, apart from some platitudes from Jorge Lorenzo about it being interesting to get different perspectives from people to get new ideas. Not that anyone truly believed that the riders came out with new ideas, but still.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport has rejected Valentino Rossi's request for a stay of his penalty, given to him at Sepang. The 3-point penalty, handed to him at Sepang for the incident he was involved in with Marc Marquez, means he will start from the back of the grid for the final race of the season at Valencia.
Rossi will still be entitled to participate in Q2, if he finishes in the top ten after the three sessions of free practice, but the position he secures in Q2 will not count for his grid position. Everyone who qualifies behind him will be moved forward one position on the grid.
The CAS ruling is only on Rossi's request to have the penalty suspended for Valencia. The full case will still be heard in front of the panel of arbitration, but that will still take between six and twelve months, and will have no impact on the outcome of the the 2015 championship. It also means that Rossi has now served his penalty, and he will not have to serve it again after the hearing has completed.
Here is the one thing which everybody has wrong about Valencia: the 2015 MotoGP championship isn't over by a very long chalk. Whether Lorenzo qualifies on pole or the front row, whether Valentino Rossi starts from his qualifying position or the back of the grid, the championship won't be done until the last rider gets the checkered flag. Everything is still to play for.
Why is the championship still wide open? Because Valencia is a fickle mistress, with a record of throwing up more than one surprise. Both Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo have won here, and both men have lost championships here. Both men have dominated, and both men have crashed out. Races at Valencia are rarely straightforward, throwing up startling results more often than not. Throw in a spot of unpredictable weather, and anything can truly happen.
The cause of those surprises? Running a race at the beginning of November in Valencia means the weather is always a gamble. Even when it is dry and sunny, as it is expected to be this weekend, the cold mornings and strong winds can cause tires to cool, turning Valencia's right-hand corners – few and far between – into treacherous affairs. If it rains or is damp, the wind means a dry line forms quickly, turning tire choice into a gamble.
One decision has come early in the hearing before Court of Arbitration for Sport on Valentino Rossi's appeal against his penalty at Sepang. Today, the CAS announced that it had rejected a request for intervention by lawyers representing Jorge Lorenzo. With that request rejected, the case will now be solely between Valentino Rossi and the FIM. The outcome of the preliminary hearing to suspend the penalty issued against Rossi will be made public by Friday, 6th November at the latest.
Lorenzo made a request to intervene in the proceedings under rule R41.3 of the CAS procedural rules. Lorenzo did so as a third party having a material interest in the outcome of Rossi's appeal, and more especially, his request for a stay of the penalty he had been given. Rossi appealed to the CAS in the hope of getting the three-point penalty imposed on him at Sepang suspended, so that he will not be forced to start from the back of the grid, and give him a better chance of defending his championshp lead. Lorenzo requested to intervene in that appeal as he has an interest in Rossi starting from the back of the grid, to give him the best chance of winning the championship at Valencia. The fierce battle the two men have fought out on track during the year has been extended into the courts.
In another twist to the Rossi vs Marquez tale at Sepang, the FIM today announced that all of the teams and riders in MotoGP have been called to a special meeting with the Permanent Bureau on Thursday, ahead of the final round of MotoGP. The Permanent Bureau, consisting of the president of the FIM Vito Ippolito and the CEO of Dorna, Carmelo Ezpeleta, are to talk to the riders at 3:30pm local time on Thursday, in an attempt to calm the situation down. To further ensure that the situation is not made even worse, the pre-event press conference to be held on Thursday has been canceled.
The briefing is a sign of just how far out of hand the situation has gotten. Though the two protagonists have been laying low in recent days, the conflict still hangs in the air. Canceling the press conference is not likely to make the situation any better. Instead, riders will be given the chance to speak individually at their press debriefs, which may lead to even more inflammatory statements. Though the meeting will take place behind closed doors, what is said in the meeting is sure to leak out, especially as the camps around Rossi and Marquez will want to add their spin to what goes on.
Below is the press release from the FIM:
MotoGP™ riders and teams to be summoned by the Permanent Bureau
The FIM have released another provisional calendar for the MotoGP series, in response to yet another shake up of the F1 calendar by Bernie Ecclestone. With F1 and MotoGP having an informal agreement not to have their dates clash, and with MotoGP losing out in terms of TV audience whenever they do, the MotoGP calendar released in September had too many conflicts with F1.
As a result of those clashes, four races have now been moved to different dates. The German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring has been shifted back a week to 17th July. Silverstone, scheduled to be held on the 17th, has been moved to the 4th September. The Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang has been moved from the start to the end of the Asia-Pacific triple header, and will now be run on 20th October. That shift means that the Valencia race has been pushed back a week, to 13th November.
The bike KTM is preparing for their entry into MotoGP has made its track debut. At the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria, Alex Hofmann took the KTM RC16 for a shakedown test, to see how the bike would hold up on a circuit. The aim was to check whether the bike would hold together on an actual track, to see if they ran into any unforeseen problems with the basic design. Although both the engine and the chassis have been subjected to many hours of testing on dynos and test beds, this was the first opportunity KTM had to see how it stood up in the real world.
Though neither a press release nor official photographs were issued, there were witnesses to the roll out. One Facebook user posted some footage of the bike on Facebook, which shows the bike quite well, and allows you to hear its engine note. The video confirms what we knew: the KTM RC16 is a 90° V4, sitting in a trellis frame. The bike uses an aluminium swing arm, with underbracing, as is common practice in MotoGP. The bike is using WP suspension (a KTM-owned company) and Brembo brakes.
Valentino Rossi has lodged an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the penalty imposed upon him at Sepang for his role in the incident between Marc Marquez and himself. Rossi has asked the CAS to issue a stay of the penalty, effectively suspending it until the full case can be heard before the court. A ruling on the stay is to be issued by 6th November.
The penalty was imposed on Rossi after he and Marquez collided on lap seven of the Sepang round of MotoGP, causing Marquez to crash. At the time, Race Direction ruled that Rossi was to blame for the crash, and imposed three penalty points on Rossi. That brought his points total to four, meaning that he must start at Valencia from the back of the grid, regardless of the position he obtains in qualifying. Rossi immediately appealed against the penalty to the FIM Stewards, who sit in judgment at every MotoGP round to rule on Race Direction penalties.
With the Race Stewards upholding the Race Direction penalty, Rossi could no longer take his appeal any further within the FIM. However, he did have the possibility to take the case to the CAS, which rules on conflicts between interested parties (usually athletes) and the international federations and governing bodies of sports. Rossi had five days to submit an appeal, deciding to go ahead with the appeal on final day.
Alex De Angelis is home at last. After spending nearly two weeks in a hospital in Japan, recovering from serious injuries suffered in a big smash at Motegi, the Iodaracing rider was flown home on Sunday, where he received further treatment in the State Hospital of San Marino. With the doctors happy that he was well enough to go home, De Angelis was discharged from hospital yesterday.
Given the severity of his injuries - fractured vertebrae, broken ribs and a badly bruised lung - De Angelis faces a long rehabilitation process. He will have to wear a back brace for 45 days, undergo continuous medical checks and start physical rehabiliation to recover his fitness. The doctors have ruled out a return to racing in the short term, but say that it may be possible for De Angelis to be fit for MotoGP testing in Sepang, at the start of February 2016.
The Iodaracing press release appears below:
ALEX DE ANGELIS DISCHARGED FROM THE HOSPITAL
Terni, 28 October 2015 – The Team e-motion Iodaracing MotoGP rider, Alex De Angelis, was discharged from the Hospital of the State of San Marino and returned home this afternoon.
Seven days ago, we were talking about how the 2015 MotoGP season will go down in history as one of the greatest of all time, with the Australian Grand Prix as its glittering highlight. A week later, we saw its low point. There were some truly remarkable and admirable performances in all three classes. Dani Pedrosa confirmed his return to form with a formidable victory, his second of the season. The arm pump surgery has been a huge success, and if Honda can resist the temptation to build an unrideably powerful engine, Pedrosa will be back in title contention again next year. Johann Zarco proved once again he is the class of the Moto2 field, stalking Tom Luthi all race and riding to the very limit of physical endurance to snatch victory from what seemed like a foregone conclusion. And Miguel Oliveira demonstrated that he is capable of dominating the second half of the Moto3 season the way that Danny Kent dominated the first half, denying the Englishman the title and taking the championship to Valencia.
The trouble is, those stunning performances were overshadowed by one of the ugliest weekends of racing we have seen in a very long time. The tragedy may not have been physical this time, but it was tragic nonetheless. Three great champions let their masks slip at Sepang, revealing the egotism, spitefulness and petty rivalries that underly their success. And the fans added insult to injury, booing at a result they did not like.
So we shall skip past the victory by Dani Pedrosa, failing to shower him with the praise which he deserves. We shall overlook the stunning ride by Jorge Lorenzo, passing riders at will and subduing everyone but Dani Pedrosa. Instead, we must focus on the battle for third, the clash between Valentino Rossi and Marc Márquez. On the breathtaking battle that went sour, after Rossi finally lost his cool at Márquez' provocation and unwillingness to surrender, and precipitated Márquez' crash.
Valentino Rossi Given Three Penalty Points For Marquez Clash - Will Start From Back Of Grid At Valencia
Valentino Rossi has been given three penalty points for his clash with Marc Marquez during the MotoGP race at Sepang. The pair tussled after Jorge Lorenzo passed Marquez for second place early in the race, but Marquez put up a much stiffer battle against Rossi. The pair swapped places starting on lap three, the battle getting tougher as the race went on. Marquez did everything in his power to stay ahead of Rossi and slow him up - well outside the spirit of the rules, but still inside the letter of the rules - treating the spectators to fifteen passes in just a couple of laps, culminating in nine passes in just a single lap. Rossi grew increasingly frustrated, and in his frustration, tried to push Marquez out wide, slowing all the time. As Marquez turned in, the two made contact, and Marquez crashed.
2015 Sepang MotoGP Saturday Round Up: The Mundane Reality Behind Mind Games, The Tow That Wasn't, And Some Title Mathematics
The atmosphere hangs heavy over the Sepang International Circuit, both literally and figuratively. The thick gray haze casts a pall over the circuit, dulling the light, restricting vision, cloying at the throats of everyone at the track, and in the region. There is another oppressive weight over the proceedings, this time of expectation. There is the pressure of a MotoGP title battle going down to the wire, and a Moto3 championship that should have been wrapped up two races ago, before a new rival emerged on the scene. Then there is the electric tension created by Valentino Rossi, when he decided to use the pre-event press conference to accuse Marc Márquez of helping Jorge Lorenzo at Phillip Island.
Since then, it has been impossible to view any action by either Rossi or Márquez with an objective eye. Rossi's accusations, Márquez' defense, and Lorenzo's entry into the arena color everything that happens, on and off the track. Coincidences disappear, otherwise common behavior is highlighted, and conspiracies, real and imagined, spiral wildly out of control. All eagerly egged on by MotoGP rights holder Dorna, the TV director picking up and highlighting each and every encounter between the protagonists. There have never been so many clips from practice, interviews and specials up on the MotoGP.com website, and TV broadcasters – especially in Spain and Italy – leap onto the bandwagon with their own speculation, interviews, stories and angles. And before anyone points an accusing finger at me, mea maxima culpa.
So when Marc Márquez came up on the back of Valentino Rossi as the Repsol Honda rider prepared to start his time attack in FP3 on new tires, to ensure passage to Q2, he slowed up, unwilling to give him a tow. Rossi, looking back and preparing for his own attack, saw Márquez behind him and slowed to let him down. The pair got slower and slower through the third sector of the track, going through it in over a minute, instead of the normal 38 seconds or so. It looked like a sur place, a standoff in track cycling where two cyclists come to a standstill with a couple of hundred meters to go, each waiting for the other to lead off the sprint. Mind games?
2015 Sepang MotoGP Friday Round Up: Marquez And Lorenzo's Right To Reply, And There Was Practice Too
After the raft of accusations he had made on Thursday, Valentino Rossi decided to keep his council on Friday. When asked by the English speaking press about the responses of Marc Márquez and Jorge Lorenzo to his charges, Rossi cut them short. "I said everything yesterday, and I don't have anything else to say." To the Italian press, he was a little more expansive, but still insisted that he had had his say. When told that Márquez had said he had been surprised by the accusations Rossi had laid against him, Rossi rejected the suggestion. "Marc said he was surprised? I don't think that's true. And now, I have said everything, I have nothing left to say."
As it turned out, he did have a little more to say, but it was short. When told that Márquez has said that all Rossi needs to do is finish ahead of or directly behind Lorenzo at the next two races, Rossi had a cutting response. "Tell him I already know that." Did he think that he would be safer on track with Márquez, now that he had had his say? "I don't know. I took a risk, but I could not remain quiet. Maybe my words will have a positive effect, maybe negative, but at least I can sleep well at night now."
The accusations made by Rossi on Thursday had left the paddock mystified, struggling to work out exactly what he had hoped to achieve. "After some hours, I'm still surprised, like everybody," Marc Márquez said. "I respect Valentino and I will always respect him, but I understand also his situation. That he is fighting for the title, he is really close to getting his tenth title, but he knows Jorge is really strong." Márquez said he had no desire to be involved. "In the end, he needs to beat Jorge on the racetrack. I prefer to be out of this battle."
The pre-event press conferences held on the Thursday ahead of each MotoGP round can vary a good deal in interest. For the most part, they are full of pleasantries and platitudes, both riders and journalists doing their best to look interested and not start playing with their phones. After the utterly entrancing race at Phillip Island four days ago, we expected this to be one of the less interesting ones, the only mild interest being the dismal air quality in Malaysia.
How very wrong we were. Yes, there was the discussion of the obvious, of how the championship chances of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, and of Danny Kent in Moto3 would play out. But there was also an explosion of interest once Rossi made accusations that Marc Márquez was trying to help Lorenzo win the championship, accusations he pressed home further once the press conference finished.
It first livened up once Andrea Iannone and Valentino Rossi were asked what they thought of the abuse which had been plastered all over the Facebook and Instagram feeds of Iannone after the race at Phillip Island, where Iannone finished ahead of Rossi and took valuable points in the championship. Iannone shook it off, saying that 90% were positive, and the rest were "just an opinion."
Rossi was much stronger in his condemnation of the behavior of people calling themselves his fans. "I think that in reality they are not my real supporters," he said. "Is a great shame, because these people are very stupid. Unfortunately, this is the time of the social network where everybody can say his idea, even if it's a very stupid idea. The people like to speak bad about other guys that are more lucky than them, with more talent, and more happy, because they do with their life what they want." Rossi pointed out that he held no grudge against Iannone for beating him. "He just did his race, and is normal that he try to beat me."
Mika Kallio is to be KTM's test rider to help with the development of their MotoGP bike. The 32-year-old Finnish rider is to make a return to the Austrian manufacturer and work to get the KTM RC16 ready for its debut season in MotoGP in 2017.
Kallio has a long association with the Austrian marque. He rode for them for four seasons both in 125s and 250s, finishing as runner up twice in the junior class, most controversially in 2005, when he lost out to Tom Luthi by five points after his erstwhile KTM teammate Gabor Talmacsi stole the win from him at Qatar. When KTM decided to pull out of Grand Prix racing at the end of the 2008 season, out of frustration at the decision to abandon two-stroke racing in the intermediate class, Kallio was forced to leave, moving up to MotoGP with Pramac Ducati.
After two years in Ducati, Kallio returned to Moto2, where he was once again championship runner up in 2014. He has not had the same level of success since leaving the Marc VDS team, despite starting the 2015 season on essentially the same bike. Approaching the age of 33, and with only mediocre results this season, Kallio may have decided he has a better future testing with KTM. From KTM's perspective, Kallio already has two years in MotoGP with Pramac Ducati, and worked as a test rider for the Suter MotoGP project which ran under the CRT rules in 2012.