With Taka Nakagami and Karel Abraham signing contracts for 2018 over the weekend, and another announcement due at Silverstone, we can update the 2018 MotoGP rider line up. Just three seats remain open: the second seat at Marc VDS Honda, and both seats at Avintia Ducati. A single question mark behind the name of a rider indicates a very strong rumor. An asterisk indicates an alternative rumor for a signed contract.
The Aspar Team have announced that they have extended their contract with Karel Abraham. The Czech rider will continue to race for the team in 2018, with Abraham likely to get a Ducati Desmosedici GP16 for next season, while his teammate Alvaro Bautista contests a GP17.
One day, Valentino Rossi will retire from MotoGP. That day won't come next year, and if Rossi is as competitive next year as he has been this year, it probably won't come in 2019 either. But at some point, age will creep up on the Italian, and he will be forced to hang up his leathers.
When that time comes, Yamaha will be faced with a problem. Valentino Rossi leaves some huge boots to fill. Finding a rider with the same charisma and fame outside of the sport is impossible, but even finding a rider capable of matching his results will be tough. Should Yamaha poach a top-level rider from another factory? Should they give one of the Tech 3 riders a chance to move up? Or should they look to a young rookie to partner Maverick Viñales? And whoever they do choose, what role does Viñales play in all of this, and how much say does he have in the choice?
How do you replace the irreplaceable? I spoke to three factory team managers about how they see the dilemma facing Yamaha once Valentino Rossi retires. They all talked about the various options open to Yamaha, and the strategies for assembling a team. They gave a fascinating insight into dealing with rider selection for a factory team.
First up in this series is Paolo Ciabatti, Ducati Corse Sporting Director, the man who oversees the sporting side of Ducati's race department. Ciabatti talked about how he saw Valentino Rossi, and the role Rossi plays at Yamaha. He discusses the options for replacing Rossi, and the pitfalls of looking for a new rider. Ciabatti was also open about Ducati's strategy in rider choice, and why they chose Jorge Lorenzo to partner Andrea Dovizioso.
Notes on the second WorldSBK race of the weekend from our man on the ground at Lausitzring:
Press releases from the organizers and teams after Sunday's races at the Lausitzring:
WorldSBK standings after the second race in Germany:
The WorldSSP standings after the eighth race of the season:
The MotoGP grid is set to expand to 24 riders for the 2018 season. As had been widely expected, the LCR Honda team is to add a second bike for next season, with Japanese rider Takaaki Nakagami moving up to MotoGP. Nakagami will operate alongside Cal Crutchlow in the LCR Honda team.
The Motegi circuit in Japan has reached agreement with Dorna to extend its contract to host MotoGP for a further five years. The circuit will now host the series through the 2023 season.
The press release from Dorna appears below:
MotoGP™ to remain at the Twin Ring Motegi until 2023
Japanese venue celebrates 20th anniversary of its opening with new five-year deal to host the FIM MotoGP™ World Championship
World Superbike race two in Germany and Stefan Bradl was declared fit to take part in the twenty one lap race.
World Supersport would be 19 laps with a slightly changed grid as Niki Tuuli was put back to ninth place for irresponsible riding. Kenan Sofuoglu started the race five points behind Lucas Mahias in the championship fight.
Notes from the first WorldSBK race in Germany from our man on the ground:
Press releases from the World Superbike teams and organizers after the first race in Germany:
World Superbike standings after the first race at the Lausitzring:
World Supersport Superpole qualifying took place after the World Superbike race and before any rain.