Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Can Yamaha give Rossi a winning bike?

Valentino Rossi’s chief engineer Silvano Galbusera explains what went wrong last year and what needs to go right this MotoGP season

Yamaha has a lot of work to do: the factory needs to win back the MotoGP world title and (for the sake of Dorna and millions of fans) build a bike good enough to keep Valentino Rossi racing for another season or two.

Achieving both those goals will keep Yamaha busier than any of the other factories, because it’s got to dig Rossi and Movistar team-mate Maverick Viñales out of a big hole. Last year was one of Yamaha’s worst MotoGP seasons, with just four wins from 18 races. But it wasn’t only last year that was bad. Since the start of MotoGP’s new technical era – different tyres and electronics – Yamaha’s win rate has slumped by more than 50 per cent. Indeed the factory won fewer races in 2016 and 2017 combined than it did in 2015 alone.

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Opinion: 2017 – A Year Of Change, A Year Of Farewells

2017 has been a strange year in motorcycle racing. We have had one of the best ever seasons of racing in MotoGP, with close finishes and a surprise title challenger. We have seen one of the best ever WorldSBK riders stamp his authority on the series, though that has also seen the championship suffer partly as a result. We have seen young talent come through in the support classes, and older talent recognized and appreciated. There has been much to celebrate.

But there has also been much to mourn. 2017 saw two of the most iconic names in motorcycle racing lose their lives, ironically, both in traffic accidents and not on motorcycles. Nicky Hayden was killed while out training on his bicycle, hit by a car as he crossed a road at a treacherous crossroads. Angel Nieto suffered head injuries when he was hit by a car while out riding a quad bike on Ibiza.

Nicky Hayden – great rider, great human

Though Nicky Hayden is not a candidate for the greatest rider of all time from a results perspective, his impact on the sport is undeniable. He may only have had three Grand Prix victories to his name, but the way the American won the 2006 MotoGP championship etched him indelibly into the memories of racing fans for all time. The emotional highs and lows of that season, the dedication and consistency he put into it made him a popular champion, despite beating Valentino Rossi, something Rossi's fans tend to regard as unforgivable.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Ducati: all about the middle of the corner

The second in our series of tech investigations into all six MotoGP factories: this week we reveal the main aims on Ducati’s 2018 R&D list

Last season Ducati played its best MotoGP campaign since its glory days with Casey Stoner. The factory won six races, fought for the riders title to the final round and very nearly made it into the top two of the constructors' championship for the first time since 2008.

It’s been a long road through the wilderness since Ducati lost Stoner’s racing genius. Ducati Corse engineers have had to throw away many of the Desmosedici’s unique features to make the bike competitive again. First, the screamer engine was replaced by a big-bang configuration when Valentino Rossi arrived, then the carbon-fibre chassis went before he was gone.

After Gigi Dall’Igna joined, crankshaft rotation was changed to improve steering. Now the factory is working to make the Desmosedici more like the other bikes through the crucial mid-corner phase.

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Chaz Davies Interview: Rolling with the punches of 2017

2017 left a mark on Davies but he's keen to get back on the bike and get back to work

Chaz Davies at the Jerez World Superbike test, exiting the Ducati garage

Defeat leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of any world class athlete and Chaz Davies is no different. The Welshman has been the foil to Jonathan Rea's title winning campaigns in recent years, but having come off second best he knows that the margins between winning and losing are remarkably fine.

A split second decision can change anything and everything has consequences. For Davies, there are moments that he'd like to have back from throughout the season, but he also admitted that “we were second best for a reason in 2017 and with or without our mistakes it wouldn't have been enough to beat Johnny.”

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Honda’s MotoGP tech plans for 2018

First in a series looking at the lessons learned by each MotoGP factory in 2017 and their plans to be faster in 2018. This week, Marc Márquez’s chief engineer Santi Hernández discusses Honda’s RC213V

If you look at the MotoGP gongs that Honda has won over the past seven seasons – six constructors' titles and five riders' titles since 2011 – you’d think the company wouldn’t have much to do for 2018.

But, of course, HRC has plenty to do for 2018. Two years into MotoGP’s new tech era, none of the manufacturers have fully got their heads around the control software and Michelin tyres. And that includes HRC, which has probably made bigger machinery changes than any of the major factories over the past two years.

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MotoMatters.com Holiday Hiatus Is Here - Taking A Break Until The New Year

It has been a long year in motorcycle racing. A rewarding, entertaining, surprising, and wonderful year, but with so much going on, it has been hard to keep up. So much so that we have been left exhausted at trying to cover it all, and depressed at how utterly we have failed to cover just a fraction of all the things which happened this year.

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No 2018 MotoMatters.com Calendar - Our Apologies

The MotoMatters.com calendar has earned a loyal following and customer base through the years. However, for a variety of logistical reasons, it has proven impossible to put together a calendar for 2018. So if anyone was holding out for a Christmas present, we are very sorry to disappoint you.

We are hoping this is only a temporary hiatus. The plan is to bring the MotoMatters.com calendar back for next year. Fingers crossed we will not face the same insurmountable problems we did this year. 

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2017 Superprestigio Superfinal Result: JD Beach Triumphs In Close Battle

JD Beach has won the fifth edition of the Barcelona Superprestigio indoor flat track race. The American passed Toni Elias in the first couple of laps and led for almost the entire 16 laps of the Superprestigio Superfinal. Beach entered the Superfinal as favorite, having won all three of the Open class final races to face off against the best of the roadracing world in the Superprestigio class.

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Barcelona Superprestigio Qualifying Results

Qualifying is over for the 2017 edition of the Barcelona Superprestigio, and the Spanish rider and Copa Rodi champion Ferran Cardus will start the evening as fastest overall. The Spaniard was a fraction quicker than his compatriot and fellow Open Class rider Gerard Bailo, while French Supermoto star Thomas Chareyre was third quickest. Toni Elias was the quickest of the Superprestigio riders, just ahead of Xavi Vierge and Albert Arenas.

Qualifying determines the seeding in groups, and choice of starting slot. The actual racing kicks off tonight at 6:30pm local time.

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FansChoice.tv To Live Stream The Barcelona Superprestigio To The US

This Saturday sees the staging of the fifth edition of the Superprestigio indoor flat track race in Barcelona. For US fans who can't make it to the Palau San Jordi, on Barcelona's Montjuic hill, the event is to be live streamed on FansChoice.tv. The FansChoice website will have full coverage of the races, with commentary from AMA Flat Track legend Chris Carr. Coverage starts at 12 ET, with the racing starting half an hour later.

The press release with more details on how to watch the race appears below:

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2018 Provisional WorldSSP300 Entry List

The FIM announced the provisional entry lists for the WorldSSP300 class for 2018. Yamaha YZF R3s dominate the field once again, with 15 of the 34 entries riding the R3, while 12 riders have chosen Kawasaki's Ninja 400. There 6 entries on a KTM RC 390, and 3 Honda CBR500Rs. The Netherlands has a very strong contingent of riders in the class, with 8 Dutch riders on the grid, followed by 6 Spaniards, and 3 riders each from Italy, France, Germany, South Africa, and Indonesia. There will also be two women on the grid, Maria Herrera joining Ana Carrasco in WorldSSP300.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The Yamaha MotoGP bike you never knew existed

Almost two decades ago Yamaha built a single-crank new YZR500 to beat Honda and Valentino Rossi to the final 500cc title. The bike remained a secret, until now…

Yamaha has won plenty of MotoGP titles since the four-strokes arrived 16 years ago, but the factory had a miserable time in the final years of the 500cc World Championship. Yamaha was defeated nine years in a row, mostly by Honda, which is why its engineers built an all-new bike for the final 2001 season of 500s, when Honda and Valentino Rossi would be their greatest rivals.

This bike was tested in Europe in the summer of 2000 by Marlboro Yamaha riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa, less than 18 months before the final 500 GP, but never raced. And somehow, Yamaha managed to keep the project secret. Until now.

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