Enea Bastianini got the better of Jorge Martin to top the timesheets on the second day of the Moto3 test at Jerez. The Leopard Racing rider destroyed the Moto3 lap record, a result of the circuit resurfacing which took place last year after last year's Grand Prix at Jerez in May.
Dorna issued the following press release confirming the shortening of races in all three Grand Prix classes, as we reported earlier. Seven MotoGP races are to be shortened, ten Moto2 races are to lose laps, and eight races in Moto3. The press release explaining the full list of changes appears below:
FIM MotoGP™ World Championship race durations to change
The number of laps in MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 races are to be adjusted to ensure greater parity in race duration.
Red Bull KTM MotoGP rider Pol Espargaro is to miss the upcoming MotoGP test at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand, KTM have announced. The 26-year-old Spaniard is suffering with a hernia in his L4 vertebra, for which he underwent surgery on Monday night in Barcelona.
Pecco Bagnaia has underlined why there is so much interest in him from MotoGP teams by topping the first day of the Moto2 test in Jerez. The Sky Racing VR46 Team rider topped both dry sessions, the lunchtime session seeing very little action on a wet track.
Jorge Martin has topped the timesheets on the first day of the Moto3 test at Jerez. The Gresini Honda rider got off to a strong start topping both dry sessions in the morning and in the afternoon, the lunchtime session having been hit by rain and a wet track.
The official start of the WorldSBK season is less than two weeks away, with practice for the first round set to kick off at Phillip Island on Friday 23rd February. And to get fans in the mood for the return of actual racing, the coming week sees a full program of testing take place.
The week kicks off in Jerez, where the full grid of Moto2 and Moto3 has now assembled. After skipping the Valencia test last week, the Marc VDS Moto2 team, Sky VR46 team, and Swiss Innovative Investors team are all on track together in Jerez. The test will last for three days, from Monday through Wednesday 14th February, with the Moto2 and Moto3 classes taking to the track in separate sessions.
In the second part of my interview with Suzuki team boss Davide Brivio on talent, the Italian talks about the process of identifying and developing talent. We talked about Johann Zarco, and Suzuki's decision to choose Alex Rins over Johann Zarco, and the difference between being a factory and a satellite rider. We discussed the merits of having a feeder system, teams at various levels of racing to channel talent into MotoGP.
Brivio also spoke at some length about how he came to choose to sign Maverick Viñales. He compares that process to the decision to sign Alex Rins, and how he goes about identifying and deciding on talent. There are no guarantees, Brivio says, but all you can do is follow a process and hope the gamble pays off.
The second half of the interview appears below. Though the second half of this interview stands up on its own, reading it in combination with the first half will put it into a better perspective, and add more depth. The first half of the interview with Davide Brivio can be found here.
Q: Do you regret not signing Johann Zarco? [Suzuki had a pre-contract with Zarco during the 2016 season, but ended up taking Alex Rins instead.]
Contract season is upon us in MotoGP. Everyone bar Cal Crutchlow and Xavier Simeon is out of contract at the end of 2018, and only Maverick Viñales has signed a new deal to remain where he is. The coming Silly Season could either be hyperactive and extended, or given the early Viñales signing, it could be all over in a few weeks.
One of the key players in the coming rider reshuffle is Valentino Rossi. At the moment, all signs are pointing to Rossi signing on for at least another year with Yamaha, and probably two. But if he doesn't – and there will come a time in the future when even Valentino Rossi has had enough and decides to retire – then Yamaha face some difficult choices. Who to choose to take the place of the Italian legend?
Through the first half of last year, I spoke to three factory bosses about how they would go about the task. Taking the need to replace Rossi as the starting point, the conversation expanded to the wider underlying question of identifying talented riders before they make it to the premier class, and how you approach building a team of two riders with different needs and abilities.
The two other interviews – with Ducati's Paolo Ciabatti and Livio Suppo of Honda – were published last year, but still well worth reading. The final episode, with Suzuki team boss Davide Brivio, the man who persuaded Rossi to go to Yamaha in the first place, is the most expansive of the series. In a lengthy and fascinating conversation, Brivio talked about Rossi's place in the Yamaha team, Suzuki's choice to sign Maverick Viñales, their decision not to sign Johann Zarco, how to build a successful team, and what he learned working with some of the greatest riders in the world.
For most riders age is just a number, but for Loris Baz it's also a virtue. Despite already having six years' experience in world championship racing, the Frenchman returns to WorldSBK as one of the youngest riders in the field
When Loris Baz first raced in WorldSBK he was one of the rawest prospects on the grid. For Pere Riba, his former crew chief, he was a rough diamond that could be molded into a star. Three years working with the Spaniard turned Baz into a race winner. Three years in MotoGP turned him into a much more complete package, and returning to WorldSBK for 2018 Baz feels primed to show his true potential.
“When you ride with the best guys in the world in MotoGP on a bike that's a bit older you improve a lot,” reflected Baz. “You are always trying to find solutions and find some extra speed. That experience from MotoGP has definitely made me a much better rider and if I had this experience when I was racing in WorldSBK I would have been winning races.
Mattia Pasini has finished the final day of the Moto2 test at Valencia on top of the pack, the Italian heading the second session of the day to take top spot. Pasini ended just ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri, who had been fastest on Wednesday and topped two of Thursday's three sessions. Simone Corsi finished as third quickest, making it an all-Italian, all-Kalex clean sweep.
The final day of the combined Moto2 and Moto3 test at Valencia was another sunny but cold one, restricting the usefulness of the morning sessions for the riders. Jorge Martin ended the day as the fastest of the Moto3 riders, just edging out the Italian Enea Bastianini. Marco Bezzecchi was the first of the KTM riders, finishing fractionally behind Bastianini and ahead of Aron Canet. Niccolo Antonelli ended the day in fifth, apparently benefting from a switch from KTM to Honda over the winter.
At its core, motorcycle racing is a war of diminishing returns, where manufacturers, teams, and riders dive ever deeper into the details in search of an advantage. The latest battleground is in rider coaching, with riders and now teams using rider coaches / spotters / observers / analysts to help riders identify where they are strongest and weakest.
Spotters and rider coaches have been around for a while. Wilco Zeelenberg started working with Jorge Lorenzo at Yamaha in 2010, and now has a similar role for Maverick Viñales. Jonathan Rea has worked with Keith Amor in WorldSBK, Amor also filming Rea to help him perfect his technique. More recently, Valentino Rossi started working with former 250cc world champion Luca Cadalora, and has employed a rider coach for the VR46 Riders Academy, the talent pool of young Italian racers Rossi has taken under his wing.
Current Red Bull KTM MotoGP rider Bradley Smith was also a relatively early adopter. The Englishman has worked with former 500cc legend Randy Mamola since his entry into MotoGP, and is fulsome in his praise of the idea. "I had Randy and I see that as a massive help just in terms of having eyes outside of the track," Smith said. The Red Bull KTM spoke about rider coaches, their role and benefits, to a small group of journalists at the Sepang test.
Lorenzo Baldassarri has topped the second day of testing for the Moto2 class at Valencia. The Pons HP40 rider took over top spot after a crash by Miguel Oliveira meant the Portuguese KTM rider was unable to finish the final session of the day, though Oliveira was unhurt in the crash.
Mattia Pasini set the third fastest time at Valencia, the Italian a third of a second behind Baldassarri, but two tenths faster than Marcel Schrotter on the Dynavolt Intact Kalex. Fabio Quartararo ended the day as sixth quickest on the Speed Up, two thirds of a second behind Baldassarri.
Gabriel Rodrigo was the fastest of the Moto3 riders at a dry but chilly Valencia circuit. The Argentinian rider just pipped Jorge Martin for the top spot, while Marco Bezzecchi set an impressive third-fastest time.
A dry track, in contrast to yesterday, the first day of the three day test, meant a lot more track action for the Moto3 riders assembled at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit. But the cold weather saw a spate of falls: six riders took a tumble, including Tatsuki Suzuki twice, though all walked away unhurt.
No team has undergone more change than Ten Kate Honda this winter. With a new team manager and rider line-up will they have a change of fortunes?
It's hard to imagine a more tumultuous season than the one Ten Kate went through in 2017. On and off the track the team faced incredible challenges. The death of Nicky Hayden robbed the team of their leader and hindered the developed of a troubled bike. They had a season unlike any other and the winter has seen them make drastic changes for the 2018 WorldSBK season.
The introduction of the new Fireblade was supposed to be a game changer rather than a headache. A season that saw a best finish of seventh illustrated the task ahead of the team and wholesale changes have been made for 2018. Kervin Bos has been promoted to team manager, and Leon Camier has been brought in to lead the team as a rider.
For Bos, a long-time Ten Kate employee and former rider, the challenge is huge. The 30 year old replaces Ronald ten Kate, and inevitably with any change of management, the vision and direction of the team also changes.