Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP 2018: peak silly season

Where will Joan Mir, Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Iannone end up next year? MotoGP’s silly season is about to reach its climax

Many MotoGP journalists spend a lot of time chasing contract stories. I gave up years ago, even though I know that you lot love wheeler-dealing tales from the paddock.

I gave up partly, mostly because when journalists put contract questions to riders, personal managers, team managers and factory bigwigs, they are answered with forked tongues. And how could it be otherwise? There’s a lot at stake – the careers of riders, the reputations of manufacturers and many millions of Euros – so why would anyone in their right minds tell a journalist the truth?

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Corrado Cecchinelli On Why The Spec IMU Is Coming, And How Cheating Might Happen

One of the ways in which MotoGP has attempted to control both cost and performance has been through the use of spec electronics. The first step was to make the ECU, the computer hardware, standard, allowing factories to continue to run their own software on the spec Magneti Marelli ECU adopted in 2014. This move prevented factories from developing their own specialized hardware and leveled ECU performance.

In 2016, MotoGP switched to spec software on top of the spec hardware. With everyone forced to use the same, standardized software, factories could no longer throw large numbers of software engineers at the problem to try to figure out more elegant and efficient ways of control the behavior of the bike, through traction control, engine braking, and anti-wheelie strategies. Dorna had hoped to create a level playing field with this move.

Of course, there is nothing engineers love more than challenge of finding ways to tilt a level playing field in their favor. Since the adoption of spec software, the different factories have find different ways of trying to extract an advantage from the current rules.

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The Importance Of Test Riders, Part 4 - Michele Pirro On The Life Of A Test Rider

In the final part of our series on test riders, an interview with Michele Pirro, Ducati's workhorse and arguably the rider responsible for taking the concept of a test rider to a higher level. Pirro's path to Ducati ran through the CRT bikes, spending a year on a Honda-powered FTR bike with the San Carlo Gresini team in 2012, after graduating from Moto2.

In 2013, he was hired by Ducati to work as a test rider under Bernhard Gobmeier, who was brought in as head of Ducati Corse after the Italian factory had been bought by Audi. A year later, when Gigi Dall'Igna took over as Ducati Corse boss, Pirro was given even more responsibility in helping to turn the program around which had lost its way in the years after Casey Stoner left Borgo Panigale.

Since then, Pirro has been charged with pushing forward the development of the bike. Pirro's speed has been key to helping the Desmosedici improve, the Italian consistently capable of running in or around the top ten. His best finish last year came at Misano, where he crossed the line in fifth, equaling his best result in MotoGP. Wildcards are just one way in which Pirro remains fast, he also races in the Italian CIV championship, which he wins with relative ease. But his dream remains to return to MotoGP, and to have a shot at proving he is not just a great test rider, but a great MotoGP racer.

Andrea Dovizioso, who came to Ducati at the same time as Pirro, is clear about his importance as a test rider. "His work about test the rider is amazing, because he’s able to make a similar lap time, so we are very lucky to be in this condition. He is testing a lot." I spoke to Pirro at the 2018 Sepang test, on a day he was not testing the GP18. Pirro was very open about his aims and goals, and also about the process which had brought him to where he is today, and about the development he has engaged in for Ducati.

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2018 Donington Park WorldSBK Notes: What We Saw At Donington

Round 6 of the 2018 Superbike World Championship saw Michael van der Mark make history and Toprak Razgatlıoglu claim a first career podium. It was the shot in the arm the series needed, and after great racing across all four classes there is a renewed optimism within the paddock.

Double Dutch

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2018 Donington World Superbike FP4 Result: Rea And Sykes Still On Top

Jonathan Rea was around a second off the qualifying record and six hundredths of the race record in this morning's untiled session, with his Kawasaki teammate Tom Sykes very close behind. While Sykes was quicker in the first half of the track, Rea was the faster man in the second half. The Yamahas of Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark were next quickest, ahead of Eugene Laverty and Chaz Davies. 

Results:

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