Latest MotoGP News

2018 Valencia Race Round Up: KTM Cleans Up, New Tires Make The Difference, Emotional Farewells, And A 2019 Testing Preview

It has been a strange and intense year in MotoGP, so it seems fitting that we should end the year with such a strange and intense weekend. Three races defined by the weather, by crashes, and by riders holding their nerve and playing their cards right. And at the end, an explosion of emotion. Exactly as it should have been.

There were no titles on the line on Sunday – no serious titles, though the riders vying for Independent Rider and the teams chasing the Team Championship may choose to disagree – but the emotional release on Sunday was as great, or perhaps even greater, than if all three championships had been decided. We had records broken in Moto3, a new factory on the podium in MotoGP, and a farewell to old friends in all three classes, as riders move up, move over, or move on.

The weather figured prominently, as you might expect. Moto3 and Moto2 got off lightly, the rain falling gently and consistently, keeping the track wet, but never to a truly dangerous degree. That did not stop riders from falling off, of course, and dictating the outcome of both races. Those crashes – two races, two riders crashing out of the lead – were just as emotional as the riders who went on to win.

In with the new, out with the old

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Grand Prix Commission Introduces MotoGP-Style Qualifying For Moto2 & Moto3

The Grand Prix Commission, MotoGP's rule-making body, has decided to change the qualifying system used for the Moto2 and Moto3 classes and adopt the same system used in MotoGP. From next year, the fastest 14 riders across all three free practice sessions will pass directly into Q2, the rest going into Q1. The four fastest riders from Q1 will then also go to Q2, meaning 18 riders will fight it out for the front 6 rows of the grid.

The changes are aimed at achieving two ends. Firstly, to homogenize the qualifying procedure across all three Grand Prix classes, and helping Moto2 and Moto3 riders prepare for MotoGP. Secondly, to improve the show in qualifying, and make it more attractive and exciting for viewers, as has happened in MotoGP. 

Though both these aims are laudable, the new system may have an unintended negative consequence as well. At the moment, towing is mainly a problem during qualifying, as riders - especially in Moto3 - try to find a fast rider to follow in an attempt to improve their own qualifying position. It has created many dangerous situations during qualifying, with near misses as slower riders sit on the racing line while riders going full speed approach.

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2018 Valencia MotoGP Saturday Round Up: Compartmentalizing Pain, Six Factories And Three Rows, And A Fiery Affair

The most remarkable skill of truly great motorcycle racers is their ability to compartmentalize everything. Break down every situation, put each part into its own separate container, and not let one thing bleed into another. Private lives – often messy, sometimes chaotic – stay in the box marked private life, and don't cross over into racing. Pain stays in the section reserved for pain, and is not allowed to encroach in the part set aside for riding. Crashes are to be analyzed, understood, and then forgotten, but not to be allowed anywhere near the part of a racer's mind where they keep their fears. That is the theory, at least, and the better a rider can manage to live up to the theory, the greater their chances of success.

Marc Márquez gave a masterclass in the art of compartmentalization during qualifying at Valencia. The Repsol Honda rider went out on his first run in Q2, and on his first flying lap, lost the front going into Turn 4, the first right hander after a whole sequence of lefts. It looked like a harmless low side, of the sort which Márquez has so often, and which he usually escapes without harm. But whether it was due to the bars being wrenched out of his hands, or due to his arm being folded up awkwardly beneath him as he tumbled through the gravel, he managed to partially dislocate his weak left shoulder.

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2018 Valencia MotoGP Friday Round Up: Wet Tracks Which Drain, Yamaha's Wrong Turn, And Reigniting Old Rivalries

It seems fitting that a year which has seen some pretty wild weather – from the heatwave in Brno to the deluge at Silverstone – should end at Valencia amid thunderstorms and torrential rain. It was so heavy at one point that the FP1 session for MotoGP was red flagged for 30 minutes, as pools of water gathered in a few corners around the track.

Echoes of Silverstone? Not quite. The company which resurfaced Valencia ensured that water drains quickly. The amount of rain having fallen was unheard of at the Ricardo Tormo circuit, yet the surface was quickly usable again. Was there more rain here than at Silverstone, Jack Miller was asked? "Way, way, way more and we are still out there riding," he replied. "It is night and day compared to Silverstone as the track has really good grip in the wet for one and I felt I could almost get my elbow down in some places this morning. So the track has got really good grip and there are some puddles but they are quite close to the kerbs so you can avoid most of them. Much more rain here than Silverstone – I am no meteorologist but I think so."

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2018 Valencia MotoGP Preview: Turning Left, Fond Farewells, And Yamaha Looking To The Future

It's been a long season. The difference between 18 and 19 rounds is more than the 5.5% increase it implies. The wear and tear of 19 races – well, 18 races and a day of hanging around in the rain at Silverstone – has taken its toll on the bikes, on the riders, on the teams, on the paddock. So what better way to round the season off with a giant party at the Circuito Ricardo Tormo near Valencia?

There are probably half a dozen or more places better suited to holding the last race of a MotoGP season. Phillip Island would be warmer, and guarantee an exciting race. Jerez would be less likely to see heavy rain or cold temperatures. South Africa, Argentina, even Sepang or Thailand would be more suitable, in terms of climate.

Yet Valencia still has an awful lot going for it. The track might be too tight for MotoGP bikes, but it sits in a bowl, forming a natural amphitheater, giving the fans in the stands a view of every part of the track. The fans turn up, too: 100,000 or more, creating a real party atmosphere, exactly what you need at an end of season race. The fact that it is under four hours from Barcelona, Dorna's base, meaning that most Dorna staff can sleep in their own beds on Sunday night (or for the lucky ones, on Monday, after Sunday night's prize-giving ceremony and blowout party) is a bonus.

Spaghetti hoops

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Tom's Tech Treasures: Preparing MotoGP Bikes For Sepang's Tropical Heat


Air cooling system on Kalex (Marc VDS), for water
Peter Bom: Moto2 engines automatically enrich the fuel mixture over 80°C in order to cool the engine. This rich mixture causes a slight loss of power and in the extremely tight Moto2 class, every detail is worth looking at. Here we see the MarcVDS team, cooling down there Moto2 engines while the bike waits in the pit box.


Air duct for front calipers (Yamaha YZR-M1)
Peter Bom: Air ducts to guide air to the brake caliper, and no covers over the carbon brake disks. Carbon brakes have a fixed temperature window in which they operate well. Too low and they don’t work (very low coefficient of friction), too high and they get damaged.

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Cal Crutchlow Out For Valencia, Aiming For Return At Sepang

Cal Crutchlow is out for the rest of the 2018 season, as well as for the winter tests at Valencia and Jerez. The injury the LCR Honda rider sustained in practice at Phillip Island is so severe that it will take at least until the beginning of next year before Crutchlow will be fit enough to attempt to ride.

Crutchlow sustained a so-called 'Pilon' fracture of the tibia, fibula (the two bones in the lower leg), and talus (the bone which hinges the two leg bones, and joins them to the feet). That fracture (Pilon comes from the French word for pestle) is the result of the foot smashing into the ground, and the three bones being crushed together by the force involved.

Crutchlow had surgery to fix the bones, which involved the use of two plates, eight screws and some artificial bone. The severity of the injury is such that he has had to keep his ankle immobile, and with no weight on it. He hopes to start moving it again soon, and will start cycling again this week. But with a typical recovery period of between six and twelve months, Crutchlow has been forced to miss all testing this year.

The LCR Honda rider is aiming for a return at the Sepang test on February 6th, three months after his surgery. The chances of the Englishman being 100% are slim, but he should be fit and strong enough to manage testing and prepare for 2019.

Below is a statement taken from the LCR Honda press release: 


Cal Crutchlow

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Ducati And Casey Stoner To End Collaboration

Ducati announced on Tuesday that they would not be renewing their collaboration agreement with former double world champion Casey Stoner. The move had been widely rumored since the middle of the year, and the announcement was merely a formality.

For Ducati, the bulk of the test work will continue to fall on Michele Pirro, who did most of the development work. Stoner's input was valued by Ducati as he was able to lap at similar lap times to Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo, while Pirro is a couple of tenths slower than the factory riders. Stoner had helped with development of both the Ducati Desmosedici and the Ducati Panigale V4. 

What happens next for Casey Stoner is unknown. Rumors continue to circulate that Honda are interested in seeing Stoner return as test rider, though official sources remain quiet on the subject. 

Below is the press release from Ducati on ending their relationship with Casey Stoner:


Casey Stoner and Ducati conclude their collaboration

Ducati and Casey Stoner will not continue the collaboration agreement that has seen them work together since 2016.

The accord had been stipulated on a three-year basis (2016-2018) and in these three years, thanks also to Casey’s important contribution, Ducati has constantly improved the performance of the Desmosedici GP, which is now considered to be one of the most competitive bikes in the MotoGP World Championship.

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Tom's Tech Treasures: Studying The MotoGP Bikes At Phillip Island


Torque sensor on the Yamaha M1
Peter Bom: Like all current MotoGP engines, the Yamaha M1 has a torque sensor fitted to the drive shaft. By measuring the amount of torque delivered on the track, the manufacturer can validate their engine dyno torque maps and fine tune them on the track. Note that Yamaha don’t use them on Sunday, that’s when everything should be sorted out. Left of the sprocket is an ‘inside-out’ or inverted sprocket which the external starter motor slides into.


Reinforced chassis on the Suzuki GSX-RR
Peter Bom: By gluing carbon fiber onto specific points, Suzuki can increase the stiffness of their chassis exactly where they want, and how much they want.

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Grand Prix Commission Close Down More Electronics Loopholes

The Grand Prix Commission is to tighten the noose on electronics a little further, in an attempt to prevent cheating. The GPC today issued a press release containing the minutes of their meeting held at the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang. There, they agreed restrictions on the ECU, agreed to limit riders in all classes to FIM homologated helmets, and increased the penalty for speeding in pit lane.

The two changes to the electronics are aimed at restricting the ability of teams to alter the data on the official ECU. The first change allows the Technical Director to use an official approved laptop to download the data directly from the datalogger on the bike, connected to the ECU, rather than relying on the team to provide the data. By downloading the data directly, the idea is to ensure that the data has not been altered for whatever reason.

The issue for the teams is that their data is then stored on a computer outside their control. To ensure that such data does not leak to their rivals, a safeguard has been put in place to have the data deleted once it has been verified by Technical Control.

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Carmelo Ezpeleta Visits Bali - First Step Towards An Indonesian Round Of MotoGP

On Tuesday, Dorna issued a press release together with the Indonesian Tourism Development Company, or ITDC, that brought an Indonesian round of MotoGP one step closer to reality. If the plans come to fruition, MotoGP could be racing on a specially-adapted street circuit on the island of Lombok as early as 2021.

Carmelo Ezpeleta and his son (and MotoGP Sporting Director) Carlos visited Nusa Dua, in the south of Bali, one of Indonesia's favorite destinations for tourists, as guest of the ITDC. While he was there, they hopped across to Lombok, the next island east of Bali, to visit the Mandalika tourist resort on the south coast of Lombok, which is currently under development. 

The plan is for a race to be organized on a circuit using the public roads inside the resort. This is the 'street race' which was rumored much earlier in the year, but about which few details had emerged. Safety concerns are much easier to address, as the layout of the tourist resort will feature wide roads and plenty of open spaces, with plenty of room to create gravel traps and run off. 

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