2018 Laguna Seca World Superbikes Preview: What To Expect At The Dry Lake

Laguna Seca is one of the world's most famous race tracks and it could play host to a memorable race this weekend. Yamaha are on a roll, Kawasaki are in the midst of what could become a difficult break-up, and Ducati are looking to recapture lost form at a venue of past glories.

Can Yamaha keep it up?

Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes have combined to win three of the last four WorldSBK races but few circuits have uncovered the R1's shortcomings in recent years like Laguna Seca. A best result of fifth since 2016 has seen the US become a round to forget in the past. However" the progress made this year could change their fortunes and see the PATA squad head to California like the prospectors of 200 years ago. There's glory in the hills of Northern California and their confidence could see Yamaha spring a surprise again.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why Lorenzo is winning

The vital importance of straight-line braking in MotoGP’s Michelin era explained and the big question: can Lorenzo win the title for Ducati?

Over the years there have been many weird and wonderful world championships, but this year’s may be the weirdest and most wonderful of all.

There’s a three-time MotoGP world champion struggling to find his way with a recalcitrant motorcycle. His lack of results cause him to fall out with the factory management, so he looks elsewhere for employment, but none of the other factories want him. There are rumours of retirement and talk of a ride with an independent team, which doesn’t even exist. But this seems his only option.

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2018 Barcelona MotoGP Post-Race Test Round Up: What They Did And Didn't Tell Us

The Monday test at Barcelona felt like a proper test. Normally, such tests descend into a simple shoot out in the last fifteen minutes, frail egos demanding to finish fastest, especially when only pride is at stake. But perhaps the Barcelona race had taken a little too much out of the protagonists, or the hot and humid conditions were simply not conducive to spend even more energy risking everything for pointless pride, or perhaps the riders realize that the season is now so tightly packed with no summer break that they cannot risk injury when it doesn't count. Whatever the reason, at the test, people concentrated on testing.

Not that the riders or teams were particularly forthcoming about what exactly they were testing. Some were more open than others: Suzuki said they were testing a new swingarm, and engine update, and retesting the new chassis they have been using since Mugello. Danilo Petrucci tested a new exhaust, a new gearbox, and a new swingarm, which he promptly broke by taking it for a tumble through the gravel.

Show and tell

Some had nowhere they could hide: KTM debuted a new aerodynamic package taken straight out of the HRC playbook, which had in turned been "inspired" by Yamaha. Repsol Honda debuted a new bike in carbon fiber fairings, not the 2019 bike, they insisted, but rather a potential update for this season. But Honda were so intensely secretive that I would not be surprised if they had merely slapped a black fairing on it to distract from parts they were testing on the Repsol bike, as much as I detest conspiracy theories.

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2018 Barcelona MotoGP Sunday Round Up: A War Of Attrition, Internal Politics, And Friendship Between Rivals

How do you win a championship? There are two schools of thought. Casey Stoner believed that the way you won world titles was by focusing on winning races. "If you win races, the championships will look after themselves," he said when he was still racing. Others argue that consistency is key, that you win titles by getting the best result available on the day, and hope that you don't make mistakes. After all, Emilio Alzamora became 125cc World Champion in 1999 through sheer consistency, without winning a single race that season.

The riders in contention for the 2018 MotoGP title have mixed opinions about the best way to win a championship. Marc Márquez wanted to win every race he started in, until the 2015 Honda RC213V got the better of him, and he had to push too hard to try to be competitive, crashing himself out of contention. Since then, he has tamed his approach, winning whenever possible, but understanding that sometimes, he has to grit his teeth and settle for whatever is available on the day.

Valentino Rossi, wily veteran that he is, follows the same approach, take what you can, where you can, and wait to see where it takes you. That's how he came close to racking up title number ten in 2015, and that's how he has remained in contention every season since he came back to Yamaha in 2013. On Sunday night, Andrea Dovizioso affirmed that he was thinking about the championship in every race as well. "My approach to the race is always thinking about the championship," the Ducati rider said. "If I fight for the championship or for another position, I always race for the championship."

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